Wait

Wait.

Something I am not good at.  But today, God has made it clear that I am to wait.

The last couple of months have been life-changing for me.  If you read my previous post written in March, you read I was in a frustrating season.  I was praying and asking God to fix something and trusting that He was going to do it.  But let me let you in on something.  God did not fix it.  God did not do what I asked Him to do and what I completely trusted that He was going to do.  And as the months went on, it became more and more apparent that my greatest fear was going to become my reality.  I tried my hardest to fix it myself and probably made things a lot worse than they were.  I may have and probably did behave in ways that were not honorable to God.  No, I did not do anything crazy, but I definitely did not honor God with my words, actions, attitudes and thoughts.

Towards the end of the summer, I was tired.  I was exhausted and had nothing left.  This inner battle that has tormented me for over a year had taken away my peace, my joy, my life.  It caused disagreements in my marriage and led me to begin pulling away from everything.  That is my defense mechanism…to tuck and run.  And normally I try not to run, but this time I felt like God clearly said “I want you to run.  But I want you to run towards me.”

So I did.  I took some time to block out the noise and I consumed my mind, heart and soul with Jesus.  For weeks I felt He was calling me to be deliberate about spending time with Him so I set out time after dropping off the kids to do my quiet time.  I began to notice that this time would get interrupted with the daily tasks in my life so I began to feel God pressing me to wake up before everyone and spend time with Him.  5am was the time that He set in my heart.  It took about two weeks to fully adjust.  I would stay in bed too long and then some days I would not get out of bed until 5:30am.  But I kept at it and decided to make this time a priority.  Before too long, I began to crave this time and ever since then, it has become my favorite time of the day.

In August I began to sense God placing different areas of my life in front of me to be evaluated if you want to call it that.  First, it was my prayer life.  Then I began to feel like He was wanting me to look at my relationship with my kids and the way that I spoke to them.  We began positive affirmations and prayer at night.  Oh the stories I could tell you about how this has changed our lives!  After this, I felt God telling me there were areas in my marriage that I needed to look at closer. So He placed a book in my life that challenged me to see the way that I love and respect Joseph.

Every couple of weeks, He placed something new in my heart and revealed an area in my life that I needed to test and examine. Last month, I began listening to a podcast by Jennie Allen called Made For This and the entire season was on building deep relationships.  It was powerful!  It made me see so much through God’s eyes and made me desire deep, real and raw relationships.

During this time, I began to read a book also by Jennie Allen called Anything.  I’ve had this book for almost eight years.  When I first bought the book, I could not bring myself to read it.  I read the first couple of chapters and I became afraid.  I really thought God was going to tell me to go be a missionary somewhere.  I wasn’t willing to give up my life.  You see, this book is about choosing to pray the anything prayer.  Which means, God whatever you want for my life, that is what I want.  I will give up and do anything if it will make you known to the world and glorify your name.  So eight years ago, I tucked this book in my bookshelf and left it there.  During the course of listening to the podcast, this book kept popping up in conversation until I finally felt God telling me I needed to get it out and read it.  And I am so glad that I did.  Because my heart was ready.  My soul was ready.  I was ready to pray the anything prayer.  Reading this book was part of the process and journey that the Lord has me on.

So why am I sharing all of this with you.  Honestly, when I first set out to start typing I had no idea what I was going to share.  Lately I have felt that my words have left me.  I have struggled to pray and write.  My prayer is that God release my words, so here I am typing.  And I am praying that what I am about to share will be God-inspired and will encourage and bless someone today.

After reading the book, Anything and firmly believing that I was ready to do anything for Jesus, I asked God to show me my next step.  I was excited and I could feel it.  He was going to do something soon!  For the last couple of weeks I have begged God to give me a sign and to show me how I am going to fulfill this purpose that He’s placed in my heart.  I am not going to lie, I have began to get a little discouraged.  I started to battle some feelings of insecurity and wondering if any of this is real.  Even Though I wanted to doubt God, He used my time in His word to remind me to keep pressing on.  To keep believing and trusting Him.  So I did.  I refused to let the negative thoughts take hold of my mind and continued to press on.

This morning I read about the story of Joseph.  God gave Joseph a dream.  He shared that dream with his older brothers and they didn’t like it too much.  I mean if your younger brother came to you saying that you were going to bow down to him how would that make you feel?  So they sold him and told their father that he was dead.  I’ve heard this story referenced twice during the last two months and this time, I got it.  You see, Joseph had this huge dream but instead of trusting God’s timing, He decided to go spill the beans to his brothers.  I wonder now what would have happened if he would’ve waited on God to make the dream come true instead of prematurely sharing it.

It took twenty years of waiting on this vision.  And those years were not peachy.  You can find the story in Genesis 37-50.  During those years, Joseph had to choose to trust God.  He had to….wait.

So as I sat there this morning I realized that God’s message for me today was that I am to wait.  And as if I didn’t hear Him clearly the first time, I was listening to a new song a friend recommended and when that song was over, guess what the name of the next song was…. Wait for you.  And!  Do you want to know what the name of the next song was?  Wait Upon the Lord!!  I literally said, I get it now.  I gotcha God.  I will wait.

I will wait and trust that this dream that I have will come to fruition.  I will wait and trust that even when I don’t see Him or feel Him He is certainly working.  I will wait and trust that everything that I have gone through has been for a purpose and that there will be good that comes from it.

My frustrating season didn’t end the way I wanted it to end.  But I can tell you today that it ended the way it was supposed to.  It began a refining process in me and ultimately brought me to a place in my life where I could pray… anything.  I could confidently tell the Lord that I was willing to do anything for Him.  This refining season was a little overwhelming.  Well who am I kidding, it was very overwhelming.  Every couple weeks, feeling like something else came up began to make me feel a little bit like I was trying to overachieve at the “christian life.”  So I asked God to check my spirit and asked God to show me if I was doing this for the wrong reasons.  In a podcast that day, they were talking about this very thing.  We wonder when we will feel like there’s nothing in our lives that needs work, but the truth is we won’t experience that on this side of heaven.  This is called sanctification.  Becoming more like Jesus.  And then I knew right then that I was on the right track.

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing today.  I am not sure what your past, present or future hold, but I can tell you that if you run to Jesus with your whole heart He will embrace you in His arms.  The process will not be easy.  It will hurt some days and other days it will break you down to tears.  But if you are willing to go there.  If you are willing to tell Jesus that you are willing to do anything….He will bless your socks off.  And I am not talking about material blessings either.  I am talking about a life so in love with Him that your heart just aches to spend every minute with Him.  Whatever your burden, let it go and let God take it from you.  You may not see it today, but good will come from your hurt.  Joseph’s dream was fulfilled.  God did it.  But he had to wait.  And in that wait, God changed Him and molded Him into who He wanted Joseph to be.  And He is doing the same with you and with me.  He is preparing us.

We go through struggles and have a hard time trusting that God has a plan and that all things will work out for the good of those who love Him.  But I believe that with the innermost parts of my soul.  When I lost my dad, it hurt to say that something good would come from it.  But oh how much good has come.  It has shown me the importance of leaving a legacy for my children.  It has taught me the importance of praying.  And it has ignited a fire in my soul to fulfill the purpose that my dad saw in me.  This purpose that God has placed in my heart.  But I didn’t see that good until I surrendered and trusted Him fully.

You may be in a waiting season, too.  I know the waiting can get exhausting and lead us to possibly questioning if this is all worth it.  But I want to encourage you to press on.  Keep trusting God during this season.  There is something He wants to show you.  He wants to teach you something.  In my season of waiting, He has opened my eyes to areas in my life that I had not surrendered to Him. He has began to free me of many things that were holding me captive and keeping me from living free.  Even in the waiting, we are fulfilling our purpose and that is to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind.

So let go today.  Surrender to Him and choose to trust and wait.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 40:31

Dear Lord, thank you for your word today.  Even though at first, it wasn’t a word that I really liked.  You have shown me that even in my waiting you are working.  I pray for anyone today that is struggling with their current season of life.  Life is hard and everyone is going through their own battles.  I pray that you will draw them close to you and comfort them with your overwhelming peace.  May they feel your love today Lord.  May you use this season to refine them and make them more like you. Thank you for loving us so much that you are willing to let us find our way back to you.  And when we do, you accept us with open arms.  May we run to you, Lord.  May we surrender and depend on you to renew our strength. Thank you Jesus! And it’s in your name I pray, Amen

He Goes Before Us

I think it’s safe to say that we have all found ourselves in a frustrating state of mind at one point or another.  Maybe you are in a season of waiting, a season of heartbreak, a season of dealing with a three-year old toddler or a rebellious teenager.  In every season, there are ups and there are downs.

During this particular season of my life, I found myself frustrated and running out of patience with my situation.  I began praying for something months before and tried my best to keep a positive outlook, but everything seemed to be against me.  There was no light at the end of the tunnel, there was no glimmer of hope and this situation seemed to get worse and worse by the day.

I was tired, frustrated and ready to give up, but I wasn’t going to do that without a fight.  Let’s just say my Latina, as my husband calls it, was about to come out.  I was about to take matters into my own hands and handle the situation my way.  The enemy was trying hard to convince me that my situation wasn’t at the top of God’s list and I was entitled to take matters into my own hands.  I needed a quick fix and God wasn’t giving me the quick fix I needed.

I was bombarded by my thoughts, insecurities, feelings and frustrations.  As I sat there about to lose it, I looked over at my devotional book and picked it up.  I turned to the reading for the day and read the following:

“Dear Lord, Don’t let me give into my fears.  Instead, stand in front of me and let me see the peace I crave.  Amen.”

I put my book down and went on with my day.  Later in the afternoon, something happened that allowed me to experience a glimmer of hope and see a little light at the end of the tunnel.  God didn’t answer my prayer that day, but He did give me hope through the means of a conversation.  This conversation allowed me to see that I was about to make a huge mistake.  And God knew this.  He knew that I was about to possibly make my situation much worse than it was and He stood in front of me and reminded me that I needed to trust in Him.

When we grow weary we begin to take our focus off God.  As for me, I realized that I was letting fear rule my heart and my life.  I feared what could be.  Feared that the end result would not be what I wanted.  I was fixated on my situation and I imagined all of the worst case scenarios.

God made me see that day that He is still at work around me.  He is working all things for good no matter how hopeless a situation may feel.  I took this as His response to continue to wait and so that day, I backed off.  I thanked God for standing in front of me and letting me see the peace I needed.

Dear friend, I don’t know what your situation is.  I don’t know what season you find yourself in.  But I get it.  I may not be going through what you are going through, but I’ve experienced my share of pain, regret, loss, financial hardship, rejection and so much more.  I know how it feels to beg and plead God to answer, only to feel like He isn’t listening.

I think of the story of Hannah.  As she poured out her heart to God, Eli watched her and thought she was drunk.  In 1 Samuel 1:15-16 she replies,

I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord.  Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.” 

I’m not sure the exact number of years that Hannah prayed for a son, but God did grant her request.  He answered at the right time.  And He will do the same for you and for me.  I know we are human and if you are like me, I can be very impatient.  But instead of taking matters into our own hands we need to stop and ask ourselves, “what is my focus on?”  Turn on the worship music, read the Bible, pray and give Him thanks!  Surround yourself with Jesus and ask Him to bring you the peace you crave.  Don’t look at your situation as the end.  Look at it as the means that God is using to make you an incredible woman.

As my devotional said, “choosing to trust God changes my perspective and gives me the strength to persevere.”  Choose to trust Him, friend.  Even when the odds are stacked against you, even in the pit you find yourself in, even in the regret, heartbreak and loss, choose Him.  He is there for you.  He will turn your mourning into dancing and lift you up again.

Dear Lord.  Thank you for standing in front of us and keeping us from making some of the greatest mistakes.  But also, thank you for loving us when we end up making the wrong decision and find ourselves living out the consequences.  You are so good to us.  You are faithful in your promises and gracious to forgive us time and time again.  I pray for my sisters who find themselves in situations that may seem hopeless.  I pray that you will stand in front of them and go before them.  I pray that they will turn their eyes back to you and ignore all of the whispers from the enemy.  Help their unbelief and allow them to see you in every situation.  In Jesus name, Amen.

“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

 

Finding the Peace Within

I began this post a year or so ago…..It’s been sitting in my drafts folder and today, I finally finished it….

I can’t get something off my mind from the message at church yesterday.  The pastor talked about solving conflicts.  He began with talking about the conflict within ourselves and how we have a lot of pressure within us.  The pressure within us is what causes conflict in our marriages, families and relationships.

This morning on my run I started to think about the peace within and how I could make sure that I had that peace.  How can I make sure that my soul is at peace?

I am reading a book called Love Lives Here.  Excellent book-you should read it!  Yesterday I read a chapter about comparison.  I know I’ve talked about this before, but the author quoted Theodore Roosevelt when he said “comparison is the thief of joy.”  Isn’t that the truth?  She says, ”  It (comparison) will rip us off and steal our lunch money every time.  Rather than running away, it just stares us down as it blocks our path forward…  It doesn’t just dominate the room, it burns it down-with you in it.  It whispers to us that we’re not good enough or smart enough or talented enough or brave enough.  It hisses and bubbles in the hallway and says there’s no way around it.  But the fact is, comparison is a liar.  The way forward isn’t over it or through it; it’s simply to ignore it completely.” (Maria Goff, Love Lives Here, P.46-47)

This morning as I ran, all I kept thinking about was “the peace within.”  How can I be at peace?  How can I live a life of joy?  A life of purpose and a life that I am proud of?  You see, I’ve always struggled with comparison.   Especially in my early years of mommyhood.  I was a depressed, anxious, overwhelmed stay at home mom .  We lived paycheck to paycheck and some weeks only by the grace of God did we make it.  Oh how I would wish things were different.  I always found myself comparing my life to other moms who appeared to have it all together.  I say appeared because now I know, no one has it all together.

After my run that day, I came home and decided I would look up verses in the bible that talked about peace and one in particular stood out…

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.” Col 3:15

You know….what Maria Goff said about comparison is true, but it could also be said of all the things that steal our peace.  Those triggers in our life that dominate our lives.  They bring us down and whisper to us that we are not worthy.  They tell us that our past mistakes are the only things people see.

The enemy lies.  He uses all of that to take our peace away.  And then it trickles down into the rest of our lives.  It ruins our marriages, our families and our relationships.

So how do we find peace?

We ask for it.  Every day.  Cry out to Him and ask Him to surround you with His peace.  When any anxious thought or lie from the enemy tries to come into your mind, rebuke it and replace it with the Word of God.  Wake up each day and choose to be in a gratitude state of mind instead of a comparison trap.  I know our circumstances are not perfect.  I know you may be living paycheck to paycheck.  You may be going through some health issues.  You may have just lost a loved one.  I get it.  I’ve been there.  But instead of focusing on what God has “taken away”, let’s focus on what He continues to give us.  I read something recently that hit me hard.  It said that God is still the God of everything that is left in your life.  When my daddy died.  God didn’t stop being God.  He is still God.  And He is still the God of my life.  He gives us His peace freely.  All we need to do is ask.

John 14:27 says, ” Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Sweet friends, God doesn’t give as the world gives.  His love is not the kind the world offers.  People will disappoint us.  They will break our hearts.  Our loved ones will die.  Sickness does exist. But God tells us to not let our hearts be troubled and to not be afraid.  He comforts and strengthens us.  He is there with us through the ups and downs of life.  Nothing is insignificant to Him.  That request you may think is insignificant to God? It is not!  It is just as important as any other.  So present your requests to God.  All of them and stand assured that the peace of God will guard your hearts and your mind just as it says in Philippians 4:7.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 

When we are at peace, we bring a person at peace to our marriages, our families and our relationships.  That is God’s desire for us.  The enemy is after our marriages and our families.  Don’t let the whispers from the enemy steal that peace that God has given you.  Hold onto it tightly and ask for it daily.

Dear God, thank you for your peace.  Thank you for your love, your faithfulness and your reassurance that you are with us.  Life is crazy.  So many things are pulling at us, trying to steal our peace.  Help us stand firm on your promise to not be afraid.  Guard our hearts and our minds dear Lord.  Send your peace.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

-Maggie Eterno

I’m Doing It!

For as long as I can remember, writing has been my outlet.  From a teenager writing in my diary to a newlywed going through the darkest time of my life of battling depression and anxiety, writing has been my way of coping through the many seasons of life.

As a preacher’s kid, I was able to serve in many ministries in our church.  Very early on, I began serving in the youth ministry and then became the youth group leader for a couple of years.  After I got married, I had the opportunity to lead the women’s ministry.  Part of the position included giving the message at the Easter Sunrise Service.  I was so nervous but as I prepared, It was amazing how God gave me exactly what I was supposed to share.  I remember battling thoughts of fear and unworthiness.  I felt so incapable and unqualified.  How in the world could this 23-year-old newlywed have something worth sharing?  But God reminded me of the story of Him calling Moses.  In Exodus 4:10-12 it says,

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”  

And God fulfilled that promise to Moses in my life that day.  He made me see that all He expects from me is my obedience to do what He has called me to do.

As the years went on, I had many more opportunities to write, speak or lead a bible study.  And on instances when I would, the response was humbling.  To me, it served as a confirmation that this is what God placed me on this earth to do.

But life happened.  And sadly, life’s disappointments and struggles created a detour in my life.  After my dad died, I went through a very dark time.  I completely separated myself from the Lord and lived a very selfish life.  My way of coping only took me so far before I began to see the consequences of my choices.  It was like I was walking around looking down and then one day I looked up and I didn’t even know where I was.  Our family was a mess.  My marriage was a mess.  My life was a mess.

I was so angry with God for “taking” my dad that I allowed myself to pull away and try to fix things myself.  I chose to do the things that would satisfy momentarily instead of choosing to trust that God had a plan in all of this.  But God.  He was still there.  He still had a plan for my life.  He brought beauty from ashes.  He never left my side and He was patient with me as I lived a life apart from Him.  I see it now.  His love.  How great it is.  He truly does leave the 99 just to come back for you and for me.

I’m thankful for the people who God placed in my life during this time.  Strangers that became friends who led me back to God.  A dear friend that I will forever be grateful for because she invited me to a bible study she was hosting in her home.  As much as I wanted to say no, I knew I needed this.  During the bible study, my heart softened.  I was reminded of who God is and that even through life’s tragedies, He is still who He says He is.  My life didn’t immediately change even though I was part of this bible study.  There were still areas in my life that I needed to work on.  I needed to learn to trust God again.  I needed to choose Him above everything else.

During this season, Joseph and I went through the hardest time in our marriage.  There was a span of months where we fought daily.  We didn’t know how to fix what was going on.  We are not a couple who fights.  We have disagreements and heated discussions, but this was so out of the ordinary for us.  It only got worse as time went on.  We did our best to put up our best front because that’s what humans do, right?  We put up a front.  We put on our masks and hide our true selves.  We can’t let others see our struggles, our pain our loss.  It wasn’t until we began to see things in our children’s lives.  Their actions, their choices…they weren’t horrible kids, but it was evident that we failed them as parents.  We failed them in pointing them to Christ.

God began to work in our lives last summer.  I hope to share this soon….It is a beautiful story of redemption.  A story that is still ongoing.  But as the months have gone by, I have felt that desire once again.  The desire to write.  The desire to speak.  The desire to minister to women of all ages.  They are my passion.  This is my calling.  I’ve fought it for a long time because of fear.  I fear people’s judgment for my past choices and mistakes.  I fear their criticism and fear being talked about behind my back.  I feel unworthy, incapable.  I feel that I’m not qualified to do this.  As I’ve felt this desire fire back up, the enemy has brought out all the tricks.

The enemy has a way of tearing you to pieces.  He pours salt on your wounds and makes you dwell on your circumstances.  But I’m done.  I’m done giving the enemy power over my life.  And why?  Because my God is greater.  He’s already won this battle and given me the victory.  He has forgiven me for all of my screw ups and He doesn’t hold it over me.  He loves me with a love that I can’t begin to comprehend.

This morning as I read “It’s not supposed to be this way” by Lysa Terkeurst the following spoke so much truth….

“If you have ever experienced an unexpected darkness, a silence and stillness you aren’t used to, know that these hard times, these devastating disappointments, these seasons of suffering are not for nothing.  They will grow you.  They will shape you.  They will soften you.  They will allow you to experience God’s comfort and compassion.”

Our hardships, our disappointments, they are not for nothing.  God is molding us and preparing us for His purpose.  But it also takes us doing our part.  It takes us saying, “God, whatever it takes, wherever it takes me.  I want you!”

I had a hard time doing that.  For years, I knew what I needed to do, but I wasn’t willing to let go of certain things.  But today.  I am ready.  I am ready to go wherever God takes me.  So today, I want to share with you that I am pursuing my calling in writing and speaking.  What that will look like?  I have no idea, yet.  I am just at the beginning of this journey, but I am excited and anxious to see what God is going to do.  I want to share this because I know that I have a lot of friends in many different churches and ministries.  And I would love the opportunity of speaking at one of your events.

You can reach me through email at maggieeterno@gmail.com.  I would love for you to help me share the word, but most importantly I would appreciate your prayers.

Something that will never leave me are the words of my dad before he passed….he would say that he saw me on a stage speaking in an auditorium full of people.  He saw it.  And today, I am claiming that vision.  Because I know, this is what I’m supposed to do.

I can’t wait to share this journey with you!

-Maggie Eterno

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  Thanksgiving 2017 is in the books!

I hope you and your family had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  We had a busy but great day.

And just like every Friday, I am linking up with Erika, Andrea and Narci to share our FAVORITES for the week.

ONE

We’ve had a great week off with the kiddos.  Now, I’m not going lie, Monday was rough.  It started off great.  The girls sat by the fire and played while I read.  I thought, maybe this will be the break when they all get along. Ha!  Yeah, Monday was rough.  I am not sure what was wrong with my kids, but evil monsters they were!

I did snap this picture before the horns came out LOL!!!

So peaceful right?  Yeah…didn’t last long!

TWO

Tuesday, Jojo had a hair appointment.  While he was getting his hair cut, one of his best buddies came in to get his cut as well.  So of course, scheming began and Jojo ended up hanging with him the rest of the day.  I love those boys!

Since it was just me and the girls, we enjoyed lunch at Chick-Fil-A!

THREE

I am a wimp when it comes to cold weather.  I hate being cold so the rower has been my best friend.  Y’all, I prefer a rower to a treadmill!  If you are looking for something to have at home, I definitely recommend one!  I try to get a couple of 5Ks each week if I can.

FOUR

One year ago, we had our island installed in our kitchen.  We moved into our house two years ago and have loved making it our own.  We’ve made a lot of changes and still have a couple more to go, but the kitchen is by far my favorite room in our house.  We still need to replace the light fixtures above the island and our appliances.  We are also debating changing out the black granite to more of a white.  Here’s our progress so far…

Before

After

Our cabinets are Divine White and our walls are Revere Pewter.  Perfect color combo!

FIVE

A couple of weeks ago, we had Friendsgiving with our small group and my friend brought a blueberry dump cake.  It was delicious.  I’ve made it three times since then and it’s been a hit every time.  If you are looking for something yummy and easy, try this!

SIX

As always, love our CrossFit 30549 family!  Enjoyed working out with our crew Thanksgiving morning.

SEVEN

We had a great Thanksgiving Day!  Lunch at Joseph’s Nana’s and then back to our house for dinner with my family.  So thankful for this crazy crew I get to call mine.

I am known to be a little OCD.  Ok, maybe not a little ha!  I always want the kiddos dressed nice and sometimes even coordinate outfits.  But this year, I let them dress themselves.  I took a more laid back approach to the holiday. I am trying my best to not sweat the small stuff and enjoy all moments, big and small.

And that wraps up this week’s Friday Favorites.  I am off to pack and clean the house.  Joseph and I leave for our anniversary trip in the morning.  Please say a prayer for us and our kiddos.  Pray for my sister who will stay with our kids while we are gone.

I get super anxious when I fly.  This message has definitely been a timely message for me.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and week!  I will see you all soon!

-Maggie

Be a Good Friend Mags: Session Five

Good morning ladies!

I normally try to kick off the week with a video post, but that is not going to happen.  Let me give you five words….Kids are out of school. Ha!  Everytime I tried to start the video there was a scream or a fight beginning between the kids and then I would hear a “MOMMMMMMM!!!!!!”  So I gave in and decided to write a post instead.  The screaming and “Moooommmmmms!” are still happening, but at least now you can’t hear them. Let’s just say all electronics have been taken away and they are in their rooms indefinitely!

I really do enjoy my kiddos being home.  This morning was so amazing.  We turned the fireplace on and the girls played nicely while I read and watched session five’s video.  But then they turned into evil monsters and decided they were going to hate each other for a couple of hours.

But such is life with kids right?

Enough about that, let’s kick off session five!

I am so excited for this week.  I always struggled in the friendship department.  For years, I would beg God to give me a friend.  A person who I could hang out with, be close with, do life with.  I went through a very lonely season a couple of years ago.  I didn’t really have any close friends and I remember dropping Mary off at Pre-K one morning and crying the whole way home.  I specifically remember asking God to help me be ok with being alone in the girlfriend department.  I remember repeating through my tears, all the way home, “You are enough, You are enough for me God.”

And that season lasted a couple of years, but God truly worked in my life, teaching me to enjoy my husband and my children. 

But as women, we all need our girlfriends.

In the last couple of years, God has brought some pretty amazing women into my life.  For years I tried to force friendships.  I would put up a front and pretend like I loved everything you loved because then I felt like you would think I was the best person in the world ha!  If you loved pink, I loved pink.  If you loved to craft, I loved to craft.  Newsflash…..Maggie IS NOT crafty!

During that lonely season, God taught me to be ok with me.  He taught me to be happy with the life He blessed me with and be content with what I had.  It took many years, many tough lessons, but I finally learned to be content.  Now that doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with contentment, because one of my biggest struggles is comparison and jealousy.

I loved Melanie’s video and I took a lot from it.  It is so important to have friends.  People in our lives who we can relate to and feel normal around.  People who know the real us and still love us.

God places people in our lives on purpose.  Just like He brought David and Jonathan together, He does the same in our friendships.  I loved how she made mention that Jonathan not only chose David over his father, He chose David over himself!  Wow!  In this season of life, God is really teaching me to be selfless in my relationships.  As a wife, mom and friend.

Being loyal and trustworthy is so important when it comes to friendships.  We’ve all been burned.  Even Jesus was hurt by one of His disciples.  He knew what it felt like to be betrayed.  I’ve been there too.  This is why I kept that wall up for years.  When I would feel myself getting close with someone, I would sabotage the friendship because I had been hurt so many times. In the last couple of years, God has challenged me to work past this and has allowed me to have some pretty amazing frienships.

Our friendships should be a safe place.  We should love our friends as we love our self.  This being said, Melanie talked about comparison and jealousy.  We all are unique, we have our own gifts and we are walking our own journey. But with social media these days, it’s so hard to not compare our lives with others.  Melanie says, “And I know for me I never get more distracted than when I start looking at somebody else’s life and what they’re doing.”

Isn’t that the truth?  We can be going about our day so happy with life and what God has given us.  But then with a tap of our finger and a scroll through Facebook we can go from content and happy to thinking we are the worst wife, mom, friend ever.  Why?  Because we compare ourselves with the best version of others.  All while not knowing what they are battling because you better believe they have struggles.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side…this is something that has taken me years to learn.  We are all human.  Life isn’t perfect no matter how perfect it appears.  We have struggles and hardships.  Every single one of us.

Theodore Roosevelt said it well when he said, Comparison is the thief of joy.

Ladies, do you want to know when I am the happiest?  When I am not worried about what everyone else is doing and I am focused on walking my road.  When I set a limit on my social media time. When I invest in the people around me.  When I try to bless others and make someone else’s day better.  When I focus on my home and getting things done. This is when I’m the happiest.

We all want to know the secret of being happy.  We are constantly reading books about being happy and not comparing ourselves with others but it is simple.  Look to what God gives you.  Walk your walk.  Be happy for others.  Realize that your friends’ successes take nothing away from yours.  You are you.  Focus on what God has given you and realize that the life you are living right now, is the life God intended you to live.  He wants you to be happy with what you have.  Look around, name your blessings, thank God for those blessings and be happy for others.

And lastly, our true friends should strengthen our grip on God.  Melanie says that friends are small everyday miracles that God gives us.  Every person in our life is in our life for a reason.  We need friends who are also walking close with God.  Friends who are like-minded and will encourage us and pray for us.  Friends we can do life with.  Girlfriends that will cry with us, laugh with us, rejoice with us.  Friends who will be there for us no matter the time of day.  Friends who show us the love of God through their actions.

You know…God has taught me so much in the last couple of weeks.  But one thing He is teaching me currently is that He restores.  We learned last week that nothing is too far gone for Him.  He heals us and uses the broken pieces of our life and makes us whole again.  He can do this for you and for that relationship you’ve given up on.

There is nothing more beautiful than letting God work in our lives and our relationships with others.  Nothing, absolutely nothing is too far gone for God.  Maybe you need Him to restore a relationship in your life.  Ask Him to help you.  You may find out that He wants you to work on you first.  This is what happened to me. Maybe there’s something in your life that prevents you from being a good friend.  Like me, you may struggle with comparison and jealousy.  Ask God to heal your heart.  Ask Him to help you be content with the life He has blessed you with.

What is God revealing to you about your friendships?

Dear God, I ask that you will be with us this week as we talk about friendships.  You show us throughout the Bible how important it is to have people in our inner circle.  People who will pray for us and encourage us, but that will also challenge us.  Lord I ask that you will help us look at our frienships and reveal to us what you want us to see.  Help us be better friends to those around us.  Whatever our struggle may be that seems to sabotage our relationships, I pray that in Jesus name you take it out of our life.  Help us focus on the race you have set before us.  The journey you are having us walk.  Help us stay focused on the blessings in our life so that we can be happy for others.  Help us be genuine, intentional and happy for others’ successes.  Thank you Jesus for being the perfect example of what it is to be a friend.  There is no friend like you.  Help us be more like you.  In Jesus name…

-Maggie

Praying for our Children

I don’t know how these bloggers do it y’all.  Blog every single day.  It’s hard stuff.

We had a really busy weekend.  Jojo played in a football tournament all weekend.  On Monday, he was exhausted and not feeling great so he stayed home and got some much-needed rest.  I guess sometimes you just need a day.

But over the weekend and the last couple of days, I’ve done a lot of thinking.  I’ve thought a lot about my kids.  I feel like this huge burden has been placed on my heart and I don’t know where it’s come from.  Maybe it’s been there all along and I just haven’t been receptive to it?

At the end of our women’s prayer gathering a couple of weekends ago, we all came together to pray for each other.  For the prisons in our lives that are holding us captive.  PK had us take time to pray for our husbands and for our children.  For the prisons in their lives, because who better to know what our family is struggling with than us.  We are their wives, their mothers.  We know their struggles.

It was at that moment that I realized that not only do I have prisons in my life, my kids do too.  Yes, they are only 10, 9 and 6, but I can see it.  So many children are going through anxiety, panic attacks and struggling to deal with their emotions.  We’ve been through anxiety with our older two.  It’s not fun.  It is the hardest thing that I’ve had to experience as a parent.  Especially as a parent who has also struggled with anxiety.

I began to pray for my kids.  For their insecurities, their emotions, their feelings, their heart and their soul.  I prayed for their friends and their families.  I prayed that they would choose to follow Christ at an early age and would choose to love and serve others.  From that moment until now, this burden of praying for my children and my husband has been heavy on my heart.

I was a little behind on my reading, but truth is, I was right on time.  Isn’t it funny how God brings things to our attention at the right time?  In Church of the Small Things, Melanie wrote about how a student in their community committed suicide after being bullied and how the community was rocked wondering what they could have done differently.  She writes that she may not have all the answers, but she did know a couple of things.  I wanted to share them with you word for word…

“I know the darkness wants to come for our kids.  I know that evil is everywhere and looking for a chance to whisper to them that they are less than, that they’re inadequate, that they’ll never be enough, and that their lives don’t matter.” (Pg. 104)

“What if we teach our kids that true identity and security is found in the fact that they are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for {them} to do (Ephesians 2:10)?” (Pg. 104)

“What if we showed our kids what kindness and compassion look like?  There is never any weakness in showing mercy and grace because those characteristics are the very heartbeat of God.  Let’s live in a way that teaches our children the importance of loving our neighbors and that peers aren’t our competition.  When we begin to see our own value, we realize that no one else’s successes or accomplishments diminish our own but rather we see that God has a unique path for each of us.”  (Pg. 105) Can I get an AMEN on this one???

“What if we instill in our kids the words of the apostle Paul to young Timothy, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:70)?  God doesn’t want us to live in fear.  We can call on His power and love to stand up to the bullies in this world and, maybe even more importantly, to speak up for those who are too broken and have been hurt too badly to defend themselves.” (Pg. 105)

And here is what truly hit home for me…

“The Bible says, “Point your kids in the right direction-when they’re old they won’t be lost” (Proverbs 22:6 MSG), which means it’s our job to give them what is basically a road map for life.  It takes work and perseverance and dedication to raise our kids.  It takes sacrifice and commitment and dying to self as we spend eighteen short-let’s be honest LIGHTNING FAST- years pouring into them and equipping them to be responsible, productive, kind, and ideally, employed adults.  And make no mistake; our kids will model what they see much more than what we say.” (Pg.106)

I was speechless.  18 years.  My oldest is almost 11.  Am I preparing him for the world outside of our home?  Am I showing him to be kind and responsible?  What am I teaching him and my girls with my actions?

Last week, Mackenzie asked me something that left me thinking all weekend.  She asked me if she would have to weigh her food and weigh herself when she grows up so she doesn’t get fat.  And y’all.  This really left me thinking.  She watches me.  Watches me weigh and log in my food. She sees the pictures I take to measure my progress.  Is this wrong?  Absolutely not.  Not saying if you do this, you are doing something wrong.  And I’m not saying that one day, I will come back to this.  But right now, for my family, maybe it’s time for me to focus on something else.

Maybe I should focus on teaching her healthy habits like eating clean and working out.  Focus on health instead of outer appearance…  We do this now, but my actions were showing her something different.  Maybe lowering my body fat percentage is a goal to be saved for later.   All of a sudden it doesn’t seem important anymore because all I can think about is how am I teaching my girls to be happy with who they are?  To be confident and know that they are beautiful and that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, unique in their own way.  Our outer appearance doesn’t matter if our heart isn’t in the right place.  Am I teaching them that our security, identity and significance comes from the Lord?

What Melanie said is 100% correct.  Darkness wants to come for our kids.  The enemy will take whatever it can and use it against us and our children.  It will take their weaknesses and insecurities and blow them up in their face.

Joseph and I have talked so much about our kids and how it’s time to take back our family.  It’s time to place God in the center of our lives again and to fight for our children.  To intentionally pray daily for them and for their friends.  To battle for them.  And by battling I mean praying.  Because prayer is powerful y’all.

Will they mess up?  Absolutely!  But that’s where the lessons of forgiveness and grace come in.  And above all else lessons of love.  Love like Jesus so that our kids will know Jesus.  Am I loving them like Jesus loves me?

I know every family is different.  No judgement here.  Each season is different and our journey is not the same.  But right now, in my season of life, I am choosing to be more intentional.  To take my family back and protect them with everything I have.

And it begins with prayer.  Covering them with prayer every single day.  Praying favor over their lives.

This is a lesson from my daddy.  He prayed every single day for us.  Every morning before we woke up, he was on his knees in our living room praying.  And I know his prayers are the reason that I am who I am today.  Did I mess up?  Gosh yes.  Over and over again.  But I can say that I always came back to what I knew was right.  And that’s all I can ask of my children.  That they will know what is right and that they will always come back to it.

In the end, I want them to have a relationship with Jesus.  That’s what is most important.

“Start a youth out on his way; even when he grows old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

Lord Jesus, I pray for the lives of our children.  For their hearts, their souls and their minds.  Lord, I pray that you will guide and protect their every step.  That they may come to know you at an early age and follow you all of the days of their life.  Lord that they will know that hard times will come, but that you will be with them every step of the way.  Lord, help us teach our children that their identity is in you.  That they are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Lord that they will know they are beautiful.  That they are smart and unique in their own way.  I pray that you will surround them with Godly friends who love you.  That they will love and serve those around them and be a light for you.  Whatever prisons they are experiencing…fear, anxiety, depression, insecurity, bitterness, hurt…Lord I pray that you will break those chains.  Lord that you will bring peace to their hearts and minds.  Lord help us as parents, love them like you love us.  Lord teach us to be patient and selfless.  Help us be intentional with every moment.  In Jesus name…

Oh Sweet friend.  I don’t know what you are going through.  Maybe you are dealing with a rebellious teenager or those toddlers have you feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.  Whatever it is, take it to Him in prayer.  He listens friend, He really does.

I love you guys!

-Maggie

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday, friends!  Honestly, I can’t believe it’s Friday again.  These weeks are flying by.

And just like every Friday, I am linking up with Erika, Andrea and Narci to share our FAVORITES from the week.

ONE

Sunday night I introduced Jojo to the show Survivor.  Joseph and I started watching it when Jojo was a baby.  Jojo really got into the episode and asked if he could watch it with me again next week.  It’s crazy to think that we began wactching the show when he was only a couple of months old.  Almost 10 years ago!  Now he’s sitting with us watching it and enjoying it!

TWO

On Tuesday we went to a Patriotic Concert for Mary’s 4th grade class.  Jojo was never big into singing in front of people so he opts out of those events.  But Mary was totally in it.  I wish I would’ve gotten a video of her singing.  My girl was in the front row and sang her little heart out.

THREE

On Wednesday, we went to our local frozen yogurt spot, Swirlees for Mary’s End of the Year Softball Party.  This was her first year playing softball.  We were blessed with wonderful coaches who were patient, encouraging and taught Mary a lot.

FOUR

It was a bit chilly this week in Georgia.  I took advantage of the weather and wore my new boots from Target.

Here’s a better picture from their website.

You definitely need these!  Such a good shoe for fall and winter.

FIVE

So I tried something new this week.  I went to a girl who does lash extensions and decided to give them a try.  I’ve only had them on for about 48 hours, but I love them so far.  I know not everyone likes them and has the time for the upkeep.  I can’t really say since I’ve only had them on two days, but I will let you guys know how it goes.  I have really short lashes so I am loving the longer look.  And I’ve loved that I don’t need mascara!

SIX

My sweet bug is loving Math.  She is learning multiplication tables on her own just because!  Last night she came in the bathroom while I got ready for bed and showed me a new math problem she made up.

SEVEN

Last night we had the big kids’ Art Show at school.  I love love love buying their framed art.  The pieces I have so far are in our media room.  I can’t wait to add these on the wall.  I love how the school does this each year and how they use the same style frame.  It really makes this OCD momma happy!

EIGHT

I am still loving Church of the Small Things.  I am hosting a Virtual Bible Study using the study guide, but I’m also reading the book.  This paragraph really stood out to me this morning.

I can totally relate to her.  I spent so many years wishing and dreaming I had certain things.  I always lived in the future and I missed what was right in front of me.  I missed the blessings God had for me right then and there.  It’s ok to plan and look to the future.  But it is super important to live in the now.  To love and be intentional now.  Even if life isn’t great right now, God is using that time to teach you something.  Maybe it’s something that you will use to minister to others in the future?

And that wraps up this week’s Friday Favorites.  We have a super busy weekend ahead.  I’ll be honest, I’m already tired thinking about it.  I hope you all have a wonderful weekend full of lots of family time and fun.  I’m hoping to start putting up our Christmas decor this weekend.  It’s super early for me, but we are ready!

-Maggie

Workin’ It Wednesdays:

Hi friends!

So today I am linking up with Erika and Shay for their Workin’ It Wednesdays Link-up.  These posts are all about how we “work it” in different areas.  They do them once a month so I thought I’d join in this month.

Today it’s all about planning for the holidays.

So I’ve got to admit, after reading Shay and Erika’s posts, I realize I am so unprepared!  These girls are on it.  They have this planning for the holidays thing down.

Can I just be honest for a second here?  Everyone talks about Christmas being the most wonderful time of year and how much they love it.  For me, Christmas is a time of high stress and anxiety.  Something happens when all of the Halloween decorations get put on clearance at the stores and Christmas throws up everywhere.  I begin to stress.

So I’m doing a little soul-searching this morning.  Here me out for a second.  Growing up, my family wasn’t really into Christmas.  I mean, being a preacher’s daughter, we celebrated Jesus’ birth, but we didn’t go all out into all things Christmas.  We didn’t put up a tree, didn’t do any type of Christmas baking, we might have watched a couple of Christmas movies here and there.  Christmas for us was a couple of Christmas Hymns from the Hymnal on Sundays in December and then a Christmas dinner with our church.  That was it.  No presents, no decorating, nothing.

Growing up, I really didn’t think anything about it.  I do remember one year we had a Secret Santa and we begged mom for a tree, but that was about as “Christmas” as we got around our house.

My Christmas knowledge came from Joseph and his family.  My senior year I experienced Christmas at his Nana’s house.  So as we grew up and got married, I chose to celebrate Christmas like everyone around me did.  I guess we can call it Americanized Christmas ha!

As the internet boomed and social media and blogging became popular, I began to see how the rest of the world celebrated Christmas and all of the traditions they had.  It looked so wonderful, but Joseph and I were living paycheck to paycheck and well, all of that cost money.  We could barely afford Christmas gifts for ourselves and our two kids, much less Christmas gifts for anyone else.  We didn’t really have extra money for baking ingredients, Christmas crafts, Christmas decor and Christmas events.  There were weeks when we had ONE DOLLAR before our next paycheck.

So Christmas became a time of stress, anxiety and worry.  I became very bitter and angry because we couldn’t afford to do much.  It became a season of reminder of what I didn’t have and what everyone else had.  And to make it easier for me, I convinced myself that Christmas wasn’t that great and everyone who decorated with more than one tree was crazy ha!

But, I missed the point y’all.  Christmas isn’t about the stuff or the traditions.  It’s about Jesus.  And to be honest, that is easier said than believed.  Because in a materialistic world with everyone’s life in our faces, it makes it hard to stay focused on the reason for the season.

I know now why Christmas is hard for me.  I’ve been celebrating the wrong things.  I’ve been measuring up our Christmas to those around me instead of focusing on what God has blessed us with.

Throughout the years, I’ve gotten better.  I’ve put up more than one Christmas tree and have worked hard to get in the Christmas Spirit.  God has worked in my life and I’ve fought hard to be content.  To be happy with us.  To be ok with what we have and not worry so much about what everyone else has.

Even now that things are better financially, the anxiety and the stress still come every Christmas Season.  I think it’s because I am still trying to measure up.  And it is so frustrating.

So this year, I am fighting the negative feelings, the reminders that I have to measure up to everyone else and I am going to enjoy this Christmas Season.  I am going to do all the Christmas things and continue in the traditions that our little family has started because I want my kids to have great memories of this time.  I want to instil in them the true reason we celebrate.

So here is my plan for the holidays..

1.Make Lists for Everything

I’ve said it before.  I am a list girl.  Why I don’t use this during the Christmas season, I don’t know.  But I am starting a list for everything.  Gifts for Joseph, kids, family and friends.  Parties I am planning or co-hosting.  Lists of baking ideas and crafts for the kids.

2.  Continue With Our Traditions and Add a Couple of More

We have a couple of traditions already, but I’m going to really incorporate them and add new ones to our list.

We are decorating early this year because Joseph and I are leaving for our anniversary trip after Thanksgiving.  I am going to plan a night of decorating with cookies, chocolate milk and the movie Elf.  We do this already, but have slacked some the last couple of years.

Pajama Christmas Night.  I am going to have all of us dress in Christmas Pajamas, go out for hot chocolate, coffee and donuts and we are going to ride around looking at Christmas lights and listen to Christmas music.  This is an idea Shay shared and I am going to add it to our traditions.

I am going to bake.  Gasp!  Yes, I am baking this season.  And I will use those goodies as gifts for teachers, friends and those around me.  Here are a couple of Christmas recipes from Shay.

North Pole Breakfast.  Our elf, Fritz normally visits us on December 1st or around that time.  I am coordinating with Santa and I am going to do a Christmas themed breakfast with all of our Christmas dishes and maybe Mimosas for the adults!

Christmas Music.  Sounds simple, but y’all.  I don’t listen to Christmas music.  Again, I think I’ve programmed my mind and heart to be a Grinch so this year I am listening to Christmas music.

3.  Serve and Give

The years we spent living paycheck to paycheck, struggling to give our children Christmas gifts have made me appreciate all that God has blessed us with.  I want to pay it forward.  But I also want my kids to be involved.  Operations Christmas is a great way.  Our church has already started talking about it so I am looking forward to doing this with the kids.

4.  Enjoy the Season.  No Stress.

I am going to fight hard to not stress about the material things.  I’m going to be intentional this season and remind myself each day of why we celebrate.  Not only do we celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it’s also a time to spend with our loved ones and to serve and love those around us.  This season is going to be different.

So there it is.  My plan for the holidays.  Anyone else struggle with the material side of Christmas?  What kind of traditions do you have as a family?  Please share, I’d love ideas!

I hope you all don’t think I’m a horrible person ha!  I just wanted to be transparent and real this morning.  Maybe I’m not alone in this.  Maybe I am.  But I am working on it!

Y’all have a wonderful Wednesday!!!

-Maggie

 

 

A Word Fitly Spoken: Session Three

Session three!  We are halfway there ladies.

Last week was very encouraging…this week is very convicting ha!

In all seriousness though, this week is something that I struggle with…my mouth!  Am I alone here?  I hope not.  I am one who speaks before thinking and then feels awful about what I said.

I have asked God to do a mighty work in my life.  I have characteristics that I’ve settled with.  I’ve basically said, “well this is who I am and I’m never going to change.”  But in reality, it’s because I’m still hanging on to those characteristics.  I haven’t given them to God.  I want control and I have a hard time letting go of it.

So this week I am asking God to help me think before I speak.  To remind me that the words that come out of my mouth our powerful.  It’s hard for me to write this post y’all.  It’s hard because this is not a strength of mine.  This is probably one of my biggest weaknesses.  But I am believing that God will work in my life this week.  I am asking Him to help me be more aware of my words before they come out of my mouth.

Luke 6:45 says, “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  

This verse reminds me that I must store up good in my heart.  I must fill my heart with things of God.  It is so important for me to read His word, to go to church, to surround myself with like-minded people.  Not because this saves me or is the reason that I will go to heaven.  Not at all.  It’s important because I need it.  Because it encourages me and keeps me accountable.  His word is a reminder of what I want to be.

Our words are powerful.  They have the potential to ruin lives, relationships.  Just as our words affect others, the words spoken to us do the same.  How have words spoken to us affected our lives?  I love what Melanie said about not letting the rest of our lives be determined by words that were spoken to us in the past.  Whatever words you are believing in your life right now, rebuke them.  Rebuke them in His name and ask Jesus to fill you up with His Words.  You are worthy, you are beautiful.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.  You are worth His life.  He died for you.  You can do all things through Him.

Don’t let past words determine your future.

I think about my childhood and how I was affected by words.  And it makes me think about my kids and how quick I am to say negative things to them.  Who else is going to encourage them if not me?  My words should uplift, encourage.  The same goes with my spouse.  How often I am quick to shoot out negative words?

I am praying that God will help me start within the walls of my home.  I want to be a safe haven for my children.  I want them to know that I am proud of them no matter what.  I want them to feel loved and accepted.  I don’t want them to have to look for that somewhere else.  They are at such a crucial time in their lives.

Goodness…this is a tough subject.  But one that is much-needed.  I am thankful for this conviction and reminder.  If you want to watch my video recap, you can visit my Facebook page here.

I am praying for all of us this week.  May we be an encourager to those around us!

-Maggie