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What Happens in the Wilderness?

June 24, 2016

Have you ever wandered in the wilderness?

To some, it’s a place uncultivated and natural. To others, it’s a metaphor, a state of mind, a feeling of disconnectedness or wandering aimlessly, lost.

New seasons of life can feel like a wilderness. The lost kind. Am I right? Have you felt that way too?

Life can go from familiar to uncharted. And all we did was blink.

It hit me hardest when my roles changed. Once I was a young wife, a mom of littles, and had a career that began at age 19. Then the littles grew up, the wife was minus the young (but still young at heart), and that 29 year career was over. It was the strangest feeling. I didn’t feel like me. This new territory felt like a wilderness. But I learned that I am not merely the roles I fill and the wilderness isn’t always what we think.

When we’re feeling like a wanderer or a little lost in the wilderness, here are a few facts that should encourage us:

The Lord speaks in the wilderness (e.g., to Moses Exodus-Numbers)

You can be in the wilderness and still be free. (Exodus 14:30)

God leads us into the wilderness to humble and test us. (Deuteronomy 8:2)

David sought refuge in the wilderness. (Psalm 63)

The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness. (Psalm 29:8)

God split rocks in the wilderness, providing an abundance of thirst-quenching water. (Psalm 78:15)

John the Baptist baptized and preached in the wilderness. (Mark 1:4)

Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. (Matthew 4:1)

Jesus often withdrew into the wilderness to pray. (Luke 5:16)

God is with us in the wilderness and He still provides in the wilderness.  (Deuteronomy 2:7)

How about the parable of the lost sheep? We focus on the lost one, but the ninety-nine others waited behind in the wilderness. And they weren’t lost.

It’s good to know being in the wilderness doesn’t mean we’re lost. And it doesn’t mean we’re alone.

Holy things happen in the wilderness.

If the season we’re in feels uncharted, we need not be anxious. We can be assured God has already charted all our plans well in advance. My plans and yours too.

God is wild about us and isn’t that the beginning of wilderness?

The vastness of the wilderness can cultivate an intimacy with God.

Have you ever wandered in the wilderness?

 

 

 

 

 

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Shortest Post Ever on Trust

June 3, 2016

Well friend, this takes the cake for being my shortest post ever. Aren’t you glad? Just kidding. So why so short? Because I’m missing community. I want to give you an opportunity to chime in. I don’t want to do all the talking, I want to have a conversation. Your voice matters to me. Your voice matters.

Today I’m sharing a quote from my book “Goodbye, Regret” on trusting God. Some days are harder than other days, aren’t they?

Hard to breathe, hard to pray, hard to take just one more step. It’s in those times and on those days our trust is tested.

Will we trust God with the outcome? Will we trust that God knows best? Will we trust God enough to surrender our fears, our provision, our kids, our lives? Will we trust Him enough to use our past for His glory? Could my past mistakes somehow be used for a purpose?

Surrendering my worry and fear to God has been a true test. I’ve come a long way. I’d say for me, surrendering my children and grandchildren has been my trust test. Truth is, we don’t get everything right.  We’ve been entrusted with these precious ones, but they truly belong to Him anyway. It was key for me to grasp that truth and it helped me release what was not mine to begin with; I’d have to trust God no matter the outcome.  The result of that trust? Peace.

“Trust God, even when it’s hard –

because the true test of trust doesn’t happen in the easy.”

                                              Goodbye, Regret ~ Forgiving Yourself of Past Mistakes

So now I invite you to share.

When has trusting God been especially hard for you? What has been your trust test?

 

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A Word About Mats, Monkees, and Our Calling

May 13, 2016

Remember Kindergarten?

For you learners like me, here’s what Merriam-Webster says about it:

Origin of Kindergarten: German, from Kinder children + Garten garden
First Known Use: 1852

Isn’t that a beautiful word picture? A garden of children.

So what do you remember about being in the garden of kinder? I remember a mini-kitchen, books, blocks, jump-rope, snack time, music time. So basically playing, singing, and eating. We only went for half the school-day since I guess they thought the whole day would make us wilt. We didn’t have computers and I’m a Believer by The Monkees was #5 on the charts. Don’t bother googling, the year was 1967.

We each had our own miniature mat for nap time. We’d roll them out on the carpeted area and scrunch our little bodies to fit within the confines of it’s borders.

Reminds me of the sick man in John 5. He was confined to his mat for thirty-eight years.

Jesus asked the sick man:

“Do you want to get well?” John 5:6b

A simple “yes” would have sufficed, but this man shared how he tried to get well, but someone always stepped into the healing pool before him. Ironically this time, it was his Healer standing before him.

I’m sure Jesus patiently waited for the man to finish his story. Then He said to him:

“Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” John 5:8

He didn’t need the healing water, he had Jesus. The man didn’t laugh or call Jesus crazy.

The man got up.

What if that man refused to stand? What would he have missed out on for the rest of his life?

What if he had grown so comfortable in the life he knew, that it kept him back from a brand new life?

Let’s not stay in the confines of our mat. Let’s pick up our mats and walk. Think of what we’re missing sitting on the couch.

We learned in school a noun is a “person, place, or thing” but God didn’t create a bunch of nouns. And isn’t the thought of being a verb more exciting?

How can we pick up our mats and walk in our calling?

  • The #1 most important step is pray and obey. God provides answers. But how? It may be through strong conviction, a peace, confirmation through His Word, or really, however He chooses. Trust Him. Yesterday, two different women said the same exact thing to me. One spoke this word to me in the morning, and the other in the evening. Two different times, two different places, and they don’t even know each other. I’m taking that as a divine message.
  •  Let’s not allow our temporary tiredness to steal the spiritual exuberance that comes in fulfilling God’s call. Keep your eyes on things eternal. If needed, take a nap.
  • Do not fear. Fear is not discernment so let’s not confuse the two. Discernment is spiritual direction and God has not given us a spirit of fear. Dispel fear with faith. We can do all things through Christ. Stretch beyond the comfortable if His answer is go. We don’t need to fear, we have Jesus.
  • It may or may not be what we would choose, but it will always be fulfilling when the Lord directs our steps.

Believers all have a gift and probably more than one.

A wrong match for our gifts is a quick route to burn-out. Do what you are gifted to do. You’ll probably find God has been equipping you all along.

If we never go, we’ll never grow. It’s time to pick up your mat and walk in your calling. tweet

Although we’re no longer kinders, we’ll always be gardens because gardens are meant to grow.

And I’m a Believer. Perhaps that was prophetic. I was a fan of the Monkees by the way.

Be encouraged. People are counting on us. We never know how God will use our “yes” to change lives and change the world. Pick up your mat and walk. God is expanding our borders.

Let’s get it done together.

Peace & Joy In Him,

 

 

Scripture taken from the New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Romans 10:17 Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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“Goodbye, Regret” and Exciting News!

April 30, 2016

Dear Friend,

Ever find yourself dwelling on past mistakes?

One of my most shared blog posts dealt with this subject. If you missed it, you can find it here.

The response to that post, as well as my own past experiences, inspired me to write a book.

I am excited to share with you the upcoming plans to launch my new gift book:

Goodbye, Regret ~ Forgiving Yourself of Past Mistakes.

As a Walking Deeper email subscriber, you encourage me greatly and I would love your feedback as I share updates and quotes from the book.

I’ll be offering freebies and surprise give-a-ways as well!

Friend, will you help me spread the news? I’m putting together a launch team to help get the word out. I’ll provide all the info you need to share on Facebook and Twitter. I’ll make it easy and launch team members will receive a free copy of the book prior to it’s release!

If you’re interested, please use the “contact me” form. I’ve also created a launch team group on Facebook and would love for you to be a part of it.

You’ll find a quote from the book below and I would appreciate your comments.

Do you find this quote encouraging?

Thank you again for your friendship and readership.

Love & Blessings of Peace and Joy,

 

 

 

 

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Tired of People?

April 14, 2016

Tired of people not being who we think they should be?

Let’s take a breath.

Not everyone will hear what we say, read what we write, or act how we feel they should act.

And we mean well, don’t we? We want people to live the life they were meant to live. Trouble is, they won’t always choose to. Or maybe they’ve taken a detour.

So where does that leave us?

A farmer can plant a seed but he can’t make it grow. It’s God who provides the sun, soil, and water.

And different plants have different needs, don’t they?

I would love a blooming rosebush in my yard, but there’s too much shade. Not enough sun. It wouldn’t thrive.

That same rosebush? It may thrive in my neighbor’s yard.

Just like a rosebush, we can’t expect people to thrive when they’re standing in the dark. Too much shade and not enough Son. And we want so desperately for them to walk out of the darkness, don’t we?

So as we stand in the Son we can pray those in darkness will be drawn to the light. It may be by way of our yard or via the neighbor’s yard. Either way, the credit goes to the Lord.

We shine in unity and thrive in community. Some are called to plant seeds or cut back vines to allow light in; others are called to show those shade-wanderers how to walk in the light. After all, we’ve all been shade-wanderers at one time or another.

And you know what? Our roles can continually change. Because God knows who needs what and who He plans to send to meet that need. And you don’t need a green thumb, because if so, I’d be in big trouble.

We just need to be willing and available.

We can’t change people, only God can. But He uses people to change people.

Never lose hope:

“Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search carefully until she finds it?…” Luke 15:8 NKJV

Turn up your lamplight.

Stay the course. We’re all on the ship but we’re not the Captain. Aren’t you glad?

We don’t need to save the world, we just need to share the Word.

It’s Jesus who came to save.

And not just our family, our friends, and our country. He came to save the world.

So don’t give up on people, k? Even when they’ve given up on us; when they say we’re too “churchy” or too “goody-goody” or too “holy-rolley” it’s not personal, even though it feels that way.

And let’s not judge, because while they’re saying we’re “too” this and that, we’re saying we’re not enough. Not good enough, not holy enough.

Insecurity is not from God. As believers, we are sanctified-set apart for a purpose.

He uses the weak to confound the strong. He uses us.

 “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…” 1 Corinthians 1:27 NKJV

And who do people seek when they need help? A friend who is steady and grounded.

Something is getting through.

So don’t give up on people.

God didn’t give up on us.

Keep praying. It’s worth it.

Joy and Peace to you, friend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Confessions of a Faker-Baker

March 24, 2016

I’m a faker-baker.

You too?

I buy cake mixes in colorful packages, add oil, eggs, and poof, oven-ready batter.

Cookies? Same thing. I’m usually buying what the dough-boy is selling.

I used to feel inadequate for my lack of skills in the from-scratch department. It felt like a cheater, like that woman in the commercial dousing herself in flour, as if. Oh the guilt of depriving my family of the infamous Proverbs 31 woman. I’m sure she baked from scratch.

Truth is, I don’t love baking, I don’t even like it. Is it okay to say that out loud? Aren’t women supposed to bake scrumptious delights?

Maybe you have mad baking skills but you struggle in other areas, like parenting, gardening, balancing work and home, putting together an outfit minus the sweats…

Before we pull a muscle reaching for that bar we’ve raised too high (way too high) let’s remember, we are more than adequate in Christ. His grace is sufficient and His power is made perfect in our weakness. I’m not sure if that refers to baking or gardening, but no matter what, His grace is sufficient.

Aren’t we glad our worth isn’t measured by crafts, skills, or whether we’re first or last in the parent-pick-up line?

It’s okay if we bake cakes from colorful boxes. Do what brings joy.

Finding joy in everyday moment opens our eyes to God’s amazing gifts.

We don’t need to pretend we’re someone we are not. Let’s just be us. Let’s use the true gifts we’ve been given. A less-stressed us will bless our family and friends.

Speaking of friends, how about those friends who seem to have it all-together? We know comparison is the thief of joy, so instead of comparing ourselves to others let’s do this:

Let’s compare our old self to our new self. Let’s be thankful in how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown. For me, it may not show in my baking skills but rather in what I’ve learned.

Baking the easy way doesn’t make me less of a woman and my family still loves what comes out of my oven.

I have gifts, you have gifts. Praise God they are not all the same. How boring would that be?

God is faithful, we’re a work-in-progress, and I’m so glad growth isn’t measured in sugar cookies.

How about you? Have you struggled with feeling less-than too?

Sister, when we start feeling those feelings rise up, let’s shut off the oven and let them fall flat.

I’m peeling off the label I plastered across on my own forehead. I’m not a faker-baker.

I’m a God’s girl who doesn’t love baking and that’s okay.

What label will you peel off today?

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

                                                                                                                                                     2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peace or Complacency?

March 1, 2016

Have you ever thought about it?

The difference between peace and complacency?

We all want peace, don’t we? But it got me thinking about how easily complacency can disguise itself as peace.

There’s something I used to pray about continually. Something important. I don’t worry about it and I feel at peace about it, but then it struck me. Although I’ve surrendered it to God, I’ve also stopped praying about it. Perhaps rather than having true peace I’ve become complacent. Satisfied with things as they are and not as they could be.

How many times have we heard someone say, “I’m good.” And how many times have we said it, too? And we’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s all good.”

So is it? Or have we excepted things as they are, and that’s it.

Good is good. God is good. I’m not dissing good. As long as it doesn’t mean we’re settling. That we’ve quit doing what we’ve been called to do. That we’ve quit praying for that thing or that person or that people.

That we’ve just plain given it up. Retired from the vibrant life we’ve been created for to settle for just existing.

Here’s the definition of complacency straight from Merriam-Webster:

Complacency – a feeling of being satisfied with how things are and not wanting to try to make them better : a complacent feeling or condition

Now here’s the definition of peace also form Merriam-Webster:

Peace – freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions: harmony in personal relations

Side by side, which would you choose?

Check this out:

You women who are so complacent, rise up and listen to me;
you daughters who feel secure, hear what I have to say!
In little more than a year you who feel secure will tremble;
the grape harvest will fail, and the harvest of fruit will not come.

Isaiah 32:9-10 (NIV)

Now this:

And the work of righteousness will be peace,
And the service of righteousness, quietness and confidence forever.

Isaiah 32:17 (NASB)

When we become complacent, we’re probably good when things are good. But what happens when the trials come? If we stray from our firm foundation we’ll crumble like a cookie.

Here are a few dangers of complacency:

  • It stunts our spiritual growth.
  • It blurs the lines between comfortable and comfort.
  • It causes us to settle for less than God’s best.
  • It keeps us stuck when we need to move forward.
  • It makes us lukewarm, neither hot nor cold.
  • It temps us to withdraw-to become isolated.
  • It will distance us from God.

Are we experiencing the comfort of true peace, or settling for the comfortable of complacency?

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.   John 14:27 NASB

I didn’t see the words PEACE or FREEDOM in the definition of complacency, did you? Of course, Jesus peace is supernatural. You won’t find that definition in Merriam-Webster. That’s why God says it’s a peace that surpasses all understanding. We can have it even when it doesn’t make sense.

  • Stay in prayer. Without  ceasing. Which means don’t give up.
  • Stay close to the sisterhood-Isolation is a dangerous place. Don’t go there.
  • Stay alert because the enemy loves when we’re distracted.

The world needs to know that true peace is found in Jesus.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you ever become complacent?

Peace out and go in peace sisters.

 

 

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Cursing in the Face of the Cross

February 6, 2016

Today I welcome my new friend Katie Axelson to the blog. I first met Katie through a writer’s community, Tribe Writers, and invited her to guest post on Walking Deeper. I read her ebook, Jesus Shoes: Following His Footsteps Through the Latin American Mission Field, and it’s a-ma-zing. Check out her bio at the end of her post and learn how you can grab your free copy. Thank you Katie, for inspiring us to live a story worth telling.

He is faithful

I cursed the cross once.

I’m not proud of it but it happened.

The month we lived in Ecuador my friends and I picked up a new favorite hobby: hiking volcanoes.

I didn’t hate it.

But neither did I love it.

It stretched me, grew me, and challenged me.

And I don’t just mean physically.

That’s how I ended up cursing the cross.

We were told the volcano would take forty-five minutes to hike. Oh and you could do it in heels.

We skipped the heels but used that time estimate when we planned our day.

The bus schedule left little margin for error and time adjustments.

Forty-five minutes into the hike we figured we were getting close.

SURELY we HAD to be getting close.

up the volcano

Spoiler alert: we weren’t even close.

We rounded a corner of the trail and saw the cross—the destination, the top of the volcano—still further away than we’d already come.

That’s when I said a naughty word.

It wasn’t meant at Jesus. Though His name might have come out with it.

It was in frustration. In desperation. In exhaustion

And that’s where Jesus always meets us: in frustration, desperation, and exhaustion. tweet

It’s in those moments when nothing but the naughty words come, those moments when we don’t think we can take another step, those moments when we’re done.

When we’ve been lied to.

Cheated on.

Left behind.

Excluded.

We’re ready to call it quits, turn around, and go back to where we came from.

Those moments are just plain hard.

But I learned a long time ago that hard journeys are better traveled in pairs.

So my hiking buddy and I started to laugh.

First at my naughty reaction to the beautiful symbol of our redemption.

Then at how muddy our tennis shoes were—because after all, this hike supposedly could be done in heels.

The time constraints of the day faded away as we looked around at the picturesque scenery.

Yes, something good was indeed happening.

Both around us and within us.

We were walking in, breathing in, and dwelling in His presence.

He was walking along side us—giving us the strength to put one foot in front of the other.

He was walking before us—guiding us, leading us to the top.

He was walking behind us—pushing us upward closer to Him.

He was walking within us—allowing us to see what He sees.

And He was offering us more grace, love, and mercy that we could have ever imagined.

Even to the missionary who says dirty words.

Even to the son afraid to come home.

Even to the daughter too exhausted to lift her head.

He reaches out His hand, lifts it for her, and holds it gently to His chest.

He takes the angry words, swallows them, and transforms them into love flowing from His eyes.

Let Him love you—even if you don’t want to be loved.

Even if you don’t think you deserve (or need) the kind of love He’s offering.

Let Him offer grace—even if you think you have to earn it.

Let Him offer freedom—freedom to dance, to sing, to hike, and to laugh.

Let Him be both the destination and the journey partner.

We eventually made it to the top of the volcano (and back down again).

Our mud-caked clothing recovered, our sore legs strengthened, and our hearts refreshed.

It was worth every step, every slip, every missed bus, and every foul word.

Because it reminded us that He is indeed faithful.

What in your life reminds you of His faithfulness?

 

God calls Katie His daughter and lets her earn a living as a writer, editor, and speaker. She’s striving to live a story worth telling and in 2014 that story took her around the world as a missionary. She used those stories to write a book called Jesus Shoes: Following His Footsteps Through the Latin American Mission Field. It’s available for free at KatieAxelson.com. You can also find Katie on all of the miscellaneous social media sites (@KatieAxelson).

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When We Can’t See What’s Coming-Positive Thoughts on Waiting

January 21, 2016

It never fails.

I’m in the turn lane. A clear view of oncoming traffic. I’m calculating in my mind where the break is. The turning point. Then, as if a wrench falls from the sky, another car pulls into the opposite turn lane.

Now I can’t see. I know you can relate.

So I wait. Because if I don’t, I’m taking a chance. And my decision affects others too, doesn’t it?

Today I passed by two cars waiting in opposite turn lanes. In my rear-view mirror, I could see at least one of them had a clear path. But they couldn’t see it.  And I couldn’t tell them. They had to find it out for themselves.

When they could see clearly again.

We may not be able to see what our future holds. But God always has the clear view. Because He is the clear view. He helps us see clearly when we are ready.

He knows all of our turning points. 

So we can trust when He says go, and trust when He says stay put.

We may have to wait to see clearly, but the right move never feels cloudy.  tweet

Great plans take time. And they are worth the wait. Let’s not move forward before we have clear site of our direction.

Until then, we spend time in the waiting room.

Here are some positive thoughts on waiting:

  • Waiting provides more time to pray, seek, and reflect. It’s not buying time, it’s spending it.
  • Waiting could be the difference between settling for good and experiencing great
  • Waiting doesn’t mean time stands still, it means be still until the right time
  • Waiting doesn’t last forever even thought it feels that way

The Holy Spirit gives guidance and direction. And when we pray for wisdom, guess what? We get it.

There comes a time when the wait is over. Aren’t you glad? And we need that wisdom to discern between waiting and procrastinating. When God says move, it’s time to move.

Our turning point.

Are you currently in a time of waiting?

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Electrified Spaghetti and Why God Created Coffee

January 1, 2016

What would you do if you saw a live wire down?

A few months ago, a semi truck drove through our neighborhood. Staying on the straight path would have been fine, but the driver turned onto a side-street, snagging the power lines.

Live wires down. A tangled mess of electrified spaghetti. Sounds like a good name for a band.

We’ve all strayed from the straight path at one time or another. We hit a snag in life. Next thing we know our live wire is down and we’re feeling disconnected. You probably know someone experiencing that right now. Maybe it’s you.

As we roll into 2016, let’s be intentional about staying connected, and let’s not do this:

  • Pull away from God and friends when life gets messy
  • Miss an event or gathering when we know we should go
  • Procrastinate about calling a friend (maybe one with a wire down)
  • Feel defeated before we’ve even tried
  • Live in our comfort zone, all comfy and cozy
  • Place human limitations on what God can do, and what He desires to do through us

Let’s be in community…

  • There are live wires down all over town. Before we become overwhelmed by the need, let’s pray each morning: God, lead me to the exact person You have chosen for me to connect with today.
  • Take a step back. Encourage others to step forward. We don’t need to do it all, and God didn’t plan it that way. We can reach and encourage other women, two by two, but it doesn’t have to be the same two.
  • What about that God’s girl you haven’t seen at church in a while? How about meeting her for coffee?

I’m convinced God created coffee for a purpose far beyond keeping our eyelids from drooping. Hot or cold, it brings people together. The Lord is so wise. If you don’t like coffee, tea works too.

Girls, we need to connect. This is the one time it’s good to get our wires crossed. Even if we don’t have a wire down, sometimes our spaghetti needs to be electrified. We need to stay connected to the Holy Spirit within us, our power source.

Never doubt there’s someone who needs to hear what God wants to say through you. Yes, you.

Why don’t we get to know each other right here?

Share something about yourself in the comments. It doesn’t have to be much, maybe a favorite hobby, a hometown, a talent, a dream, a goal. This is good practice for when we need an ice-breaker.

I’ll go first:

  • Writing is my passion (after Jesus, family, ministry, and perhaps coffee of course).
  • My hometown is Rockaway, NJ (no, I didn’t mean NY, there is a Rockaway in NJ!).
  • I can twirl two batons at the same time. Aren’t you impressed? It will come in handy someday, I’m sure.
  • I didn’t make the cheerleading squad in high school. You can read about it here.
  • One of my goals this year is to publish two books. One of them being a children’s book of all things! If you have children, grandchildren, or know sweet kiddos at church or in your neighborhood, I’d love it if you’d be willing to spread the word. I’ll let you know when it’s available on Amazon 😉
  • One of my dreams, is to plop a Neighbor’s Table smack in the middle of my side-yard, and invite the neighborhood gals over for, I don’t know, coffee? Perhaps a light meal, girl-talk, and however else the Lord leads.

Ok, now it’s your turn! Share some tidbits about yourself.

Have a blessed and joyous New Year my friends,

 

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