Loss

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Loss. It’s painful. Loss activates emotions often surpressed or undiscovered.

Loss, activates memories, or those we wish we’d have had time to create.

Loss is never easy-er to deal with depending on the circumstance or age. Loss is loss. It’s hard. You wish you could go back and change things somehow.

Loss cuts deep- and then keeps going. Crying out from a pit of despair and sadness you never knew existed.

Disbelief that someone once was or could’ve been- has now had their story cut short.

No amount of time here on this earth is ever long enough.

No amount of notice or preparation, is ever enough. Loss is always too soon. Loss is still loss.

Loss gets easier with time- they say.

Loss, simply becomes something we gradually find a way of handling so that we can move on with day to life. To regain some kind of focus. Loss never becomes easier. Time, gives us time, to find our own way of being able to remember our loss, and yet not let those memories and crushing thoughts, debilitate us.

Loss is still loss. Those moments you remember what could’ve been. Where you catch a glimpse of past memories. Where you reflect on what could’ve been done differently – even if you know there was nothing you could’ve done differently, you convince yourself there was.

Loss is hard. It stops you in your tracks and draws the breath right out of your lungs. Breathless.

Loss is expected at some point in time, and yet it is alien. How do you begin to cope, to accept, to move forward? How do  react? How do you express what is suddenly so alien and earth shattering?

Loss also unites. Unites families and friends. Unites a community. Loss stirrs up appreciation, often where there has been a lack of gratitude.

Loss arises. Arises a warrior within you to keep going. To make the most of the time God has graced us with on this earth. To make memories and do life with those He’s placed around you. To live now, not tomorrow. To use your time well- for you never know the day nor the hour God will call you home. 

Together

 

These two are quickly becoming my most favourite duo!

My photo gallery is quickly filling with THE sweetest moments captured of my girls side by side.

This is how they are learning to do life. Together. Side by side. It’s not a race, nor a competition. It’s not a lack of independence (and if you know my girls, you’ll know they are far too independent for their own good!) But they don’t want to do it alone. They are heart meltingly forming the sweetest friendship and unbreakable bond. It’s not been without hardship. They’ve fought, and had to learn to accept that they are very much in each other’s life at this stage. They’ve had to learn the hard way what actions hurt and are unkind, and I don’t doubt will continue to learn this. But they’ve also grasped what makes their relationship grow. Love, and spending time together.

I know in life, it’s not possible to have the insurmountable time together that my precious girls currently have. I’m aware that once grown they’ll soon discover how much they’ll have to work at their sisterhood, to strengthen and maintain this bond they have.

But as I watch this rare insight into a relationship forming from the very beginning, I am reminded of the one person we can do life with, daily, hourly- God.

We can, if we so choose, spend time with Him, talk to Him, get to know Him. Love, seek comfort and refuge under His wings in the hard times. Run, holding His hand swinging it back and forth with delight in the joyous times!

To do life with Him, side by side. Whatever we’re facing or celebrating.

He’s all about the details

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Details. I love them.

I’m also a planner, which is perfectly matched with details.

When Carl and I are in conversation, I become so easily frustrated when I ask ‘how’s your day been?’ or ‘what did the electricity company say when you rang them?’ And he responds with- ‘yeah fine, it’s all sorted!’

My lips curl, fists tighten as I hold back the statement, ‘is that it?’

I need to know what happened in the day, exactly what the electricity company said. I need details.

It’s a good job God gave me Carl as a husband. He’s not the least bit stressful, or over complicated. His version of the phone call is probably relayed to me in its simplest form, to avoid my worrying and stressing over the details I so desperately wanted in the first place.

And in getting caught up in detailing why I love details, I’m completely getting off track.

So now you know my love of details, you might understand where I’m coming from with the following statements.

Today I’m in London. I’m not exploring the sites or shopping on Oxford St- not this time. No today, I’m taking time to rest. To read. To not change a nappy or be wiping up remnanents of partly chewed food all day long.

And in prep for my day trip to London, I checked the weather as I do most days (the information helps determine my outfit!)

Warm and sunny was the forecast to my delight. So I excitedly put on my long denim skirt (because I’m a Mum now- not that I ever was the mini skirt type of gal) and a tea shirt. No cardigan or extra layers needed for me- no sir!

But for those of you who know me, you’ll remember that I feel the cold more than most. And in knowing that, you’ll understand why when the temperature suddenly dropped and clouds covered any sunshine, my enthusiasm for reading a book in a picturesque spot of Hyde Park, was quickly dampened!

Stubborn, adamant (or determined I like to call it!) I still aimed for the Park. I would not be disheartened! I’d come all this way,  had a date with a bench, a good book and was not going to cancel!

So, there I sat. Little me, cold. No. Let’s be honest, FREEZING, on my bench in a rather overcast and gloomy looking Hyde park. If my lack of attire in a clearly mild climate and cold wind wasn’t enough, the goosebumps (or shall we say ‘hymalyas’) rapidly forming on my legs and arms, were an obvious sign I was in fact, cold. I darent look up from my book for fear I’d meet with ‘the eyes.’ The disapproving, typical tourist eyes you get when you’ve clearly tried to pre-empt glorious weather, and marvellously failed- except this didn’t look quite that marvellous. More hilarious.

So as I sat, cold, restraining my body from its natural response to shiver, my nails (thankfully painted cream) quite handily disguised the purple rapidly morphing through indicating circulation was not reaching my fingertips- in all that, God gave me the sweetest kiss.

He caused the sun to shine!

Ah it was gloriously warm and a tonic to my oh so shivery body!

And in that moment I praised God! He knows I like a warmer climate, he knew I was cold, he knew I had nothing else with me to keep me warm (before you ask why I didn’t choose one of the many surrounding shops to buy a jumper… I tried, but the shopper and practical gal in me will only buy what I actually like/need. I saw nothing!)

He knew I’d envisaged this picturesque scene on a bench in Hyde Park, and that it was not quite turning out as expected.

He knew all that, and caused the sun to shine on my face.

The sun had not broke free from the clouds all morning, and yet as I sat on that bench, determined, he met me there.

I could go into detail about how God can cause the sun to shine in even the dullest and coldest seasons. But I wanted to simply share this. That God cares. He not only cares about the details (because of course look around you- He created everything in SUCH detail) but He cares about the details important to you.

Maybe the sun shone and broke through the clouds at just the right time, just over my spot, just at the time I’d found a bench, just as I pulled out my lunch and book- praying the weather would warm up.

Maybe.

But I’m choosing to believe it was a kiss from heaven. Just when you think God is too busy to care about the details, He shows us just what a misconception that is.

The unnoticed is the sweetest

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The girls are of an age where I can leave them to play in the front room now while I attend to a few duties in the kitchen. And as I did, I could hear sweet murmurings of Avas voice. I subtly twisted the tap off, and silently walked over to the entrance of the front room. Leaning edged against the doorway, I thankfully caught my girls sharing.

No big deal you might say, but we are constantly encouraging Ava to share with her sister. It’s a daily battle at times. You just think you’re making headway, and then you’re back to square one.

So for her to share on her own accord- is a big deal.

She didn’t choose this act to gain credit, approval or even praise. She did it in secret. And it was the sweetest of moments to watch.

I was reminded of so many verses where the bible reminds us that when we do things we think are unnoticed, our father always sees it.

And I guess that goes for good and bad.

But I felt nudged out of this wonderful encounter, to encourage someone that if you feel all that you do is going unnoticed, God notices. All the hard work you put in. The extra hours at work you don’t get paid nor credit for. The kind gestures offered to your neighbour or family, yet never get recognition. The endless effort you put into a friendship getting nothing in return. The extra work you put in at uni or college yet the other students get rewarded. God sees.

You are so valued, so loved and God sees your heart. He sees the good you do, and covers you with an overwhelming crown of praise.

I pray we will always endeavour to act out of the heart my daughter did today. Not for any applause, but out of kindness and love.

Matt 6:1-4

When you give to the poor, don’t let anyone know about it. Then your gift will be given in secret. Your father knows what is done in secret, and he will reward you.

 

A rant from one Mum to another!

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Some days, being a Mum is just unexplainably hard. Period.

(I would’ve used a more appropriate word there, but will try to remain professional, and Christian!)

As much as I’d like to leave it there, the writer in me has more words that need to be said.

So…

Countless days I scroll through social media posts of idyllic squeaky clean houses, Mums hair and makeup- perfection, kids stylishly dressed without a stain in sight. Then there’s the cute could just eat you photo with the whole family looking in the right direction with a kiss on Mums cheek for good measure! Or what about the image of a child playing sweetly with their sibling, when what you’re actually amazed at is the disgustingly clean house canvas behind them!

It drives me crazy! And these images on social media, places an unnecessary pressure on us mums who just can’t do all that. We don’t have the sweetness photos, instead, we have reality- blurry photographs with real mess in the background. And often the cute moments are ones where your camera isn’t within reach, kids are still in pj’s with encrusted cereal remnants from breakfast, and hair which covers their eyes due to refusal of either a hair cut or bobble being used! Often any photos I have on social media, have took at least ten attempts to take, with lots of pleading to please smile for Mamma!

My 2-year-old was photographed more than I ever imagined in her first year. I was that Mum. It’s highly likely, I was the Mum I now marvel at and wonder how she does it! Nap times and evenings were a pleasurable experience, as I scrolled through the many milestones I’d captured during the day. The majority of which, had her encapsulating blue eyes glaring back at me. Sometimes I would even give her a quick clothe change before the photography commenced – laughable! With the house relatively tidy and all jobs pretty much up to date, nap times would consist of either a date with a book, or film- even endless mental capacity to write! Cooking tea was an enjoyable experience shared between Ava and I as she played drums with the pans while I cooked- aah, sweet moments!

Since having a second child, reality has become my friend, and a rather slap in the face! Gone are the serene moments of capturing a new milestone. My two-year-old neither wants to be photographed nor smile at the camera, and the baby (who is now mobile) moves way too fast for me to capture a remotely recognisable photo.

Reality has also revealed to me, that you neither have the time, nor the energy to have your phone within reach. Countless conversations with my husband start with ‘you never answer your phone!’ to which my reply resounds something to the effect of ‘I don’t have my phone on me all the time you know!’

Often I’ll be feeding the baby in the lounge, and hear the distinct vibrations  of my phone on the kitchen table (classically for me, on silent.)

Or, it’ll be flat (also classic for me) due to having had the Jungle Books ‘Bear neccesities’ on repeat for the past hour!

The sweetest moments I wish were captured on film, rarely are. Then when you want to recreate the moment, naturally, the kids don’t want to fake it by doing what they just did out of spontaneity!

Reality has proved, that I can still manage to get showered and dressed, but as for making furtherance effort, it’s just not going to happen!

There are days I’m filled with exuberance and energy overspills, but on the whole- I’m knackered!

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve assembled and collapsed my buggy this week, let alone in the past year. My husband uses the car for work, so walking has become our mantra.

On a stunningly beautiful day, where the sun reminds you it still exists and you finally find a purpose for your shades (hidden where you actually can’t remember it’s been so long!) On those days, walking is glorious!

But in the winter, and even just on a drizzly grey morning- walking is not fun, nor does it motivate you to step outside the front door! Lets not even discuss getting waterproofs, wellies on and off. And yes I know, walking with kids in the rain can be fun! Excitedly splashing in the puddles and singing in the rain- which we do on occasions. My girls certainly aren’t shy of the rain. But with an 8month old and 2-year-old (who now refuses to sit in the pram because shed rather walk) juggling a double buggy and all its contents, sweating with all the layers you piled on because it’s cold out there, while you’re on your way to somewhere you actually have to be…then, it’s not all fun and games!

Reality has shown me that having a tidy house, is only partly doable once children are down for the evening- that is, if you have any energy left! Repetition has become my bodies natural reflex. I scoop up the same toys I just tripped over, pile up the same books and fluff up the same cushions on my sofa. The same dishes are washed and bottles sterilised. I look around half the time, and wonder if there is any point in tidying up- tomorrow will be the same!

And with that in mind, reality has taught me to not just accept, but allow ‘mess’ to sit right with me. Exhaustion most days, is my bodies reflex, and leaves no prisoners for ‘tidying up.’ I have learned to be ok with the mess. It means my children are happy and playing. It also means they still have a lot to learn about what it means to put things away. But they roam with free access to toys at their disposal.

My mum once bought a sign for her home which said something along the lines of ‘excuse the mess, my children are busy making memories.’

And I love that. So often, in all my tidying, I’ve missed pivotal moments- those you wish you’d caught on camera.

So, as a rant from one Mum to another- parenting is hard work. Exhausting, exhilarating, excruciating, and any others E’s you can think of- not those E’s!

It’s hard yet rewarding, which is the cycle I often find myself on.

There are moments you wonder how you’re ever going to get through the next 5 minutes let alone the day ahead. Likewise, there are moments you wish would last forever, and appreciate just how blessed you are to be a parent!

 

Thank you…

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God, thank you that when I don’t know what to say, still you are there.

Thank you, that when I travel through waves of uncertainty and doubt, still, you are there.

Thank you that though my walk is inconsistent at times, you don’t disqualify me when I think I’ve blown all my chances. Instead, still you are there.

Thank you that when things don’t seem to be going my way, when others get their blessing and ours takes forever, you don’t curse or disapprove of my thoughts. Instead, still you wait with me in my waiting, still you are there.

Thank you that when troubles come which I don’t understand, when pain and heartache cloud and question your love and reliability, you don’t stiffen your compassion and numbingly tell us to trust. Rather, you weep and your heart breaks with us, still you are there.

Thank you that when betrayal and broken relationships unsettle and upset us, still you are there.

Thank you that when floods of jealously contaminate our minds, you don’t judge and curse us, instead you loving tell us to shift our lens and our focus to the blessings we already have. Thank you, that still, you are there.

Thank you that when we look in the mirror and dispise the very reflection glaring back, you counteract our thoughts saying- beautiful one, there is no flaw in you. Thank you that still, you are there.

Thank you that when harsh and irretrievable words are spoken, and the guilt paralysis us wishing we could take it all back, you wipe our slate clean with undeserved grace and forgiveness, no grudges held. Thank you that still, you are there.

Thank you that when I think my dreams will never come to fruition, you whisper gently ‘wait’ and are my biggest encourager. Still, you are there.

Thank you that when I think I have an inability to use my skills and an insecurity in self-belief that crushes all my dreams, you remind me that you have good plans for me and have designed me with a purpose. Through all this, still you are there.

Thank you that even when I compare myself against others, you remind me that you made me to be like no one else- unique. Thank you that you see me as beautiful, always. Thank you that still, you are there.

Thank you that when I embark upon a dream you’ve placed within me, and insecurity coupelled with self doubt volumises, ‘you’re unqualified, you can’t do this!,’ thank you that you don’t call the qualified, but qualify the called. Thank you that alone we can’t do it, but with you, all things are possible. Thank you that still, you are there.

Thank you that when I’m ready to give up on me, you never do. Still, you are there.

Thank you that when a new day comes and we mess up all over again, still you are there.

 

 

Cling to Him

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In this picture you see my eldest daughter, Ava clinging tightly to my leg. Why? Because she was afraid of something- geese! Which I’ve recently discovered are also known as, a ‘gaggle’ of geese- so there you go!

To be fair, I don’t blame Ava for her reluctant approach to say ‘Hi.’ Their threatening attitude caused even me to back away as they sniffed out our family picnic. But like any parent would, I shouldered my fears and modelled how to be brave- by quickly ushering us and our picnic to a ‘geese free’ zone!

As she clung tightly to my leg for safety though (and I have to admit, one of the sweetest moments as a parent- I didn’t want her to let go!) Jesus prompted me.

When facing a situation that makes us afraid, do we cling to our Father like never before, or walk head on into the storm- alone?

I’m all for facing storms head on. Jesus tells us in fact, that He can calm the storms, so we don’t drown in our disappointment, our grief, pain, our brokenness. But the deal is, He needs to go with us.

 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”

Isaiah 43:2 NLT

It’s a simple image, yet one that has struck a cord with me today. Are we going to face our problem, our circumstance, head on & alone or with Jesus?

Often, despite knowing Jesus is with us, we choose to go on alone. The anxiety and depression bubbling over- we choose to battle it alone. The grief and pain- we choose to grieve alone, to cure the pain, alone.

Ava clung to my leg for safety, why? – because she trusts me. We have developed a strong relationship built on trust. She recalls memories of overcoming past fears with me, or her Dad by her side. The nostalgia of security and yet strength to face her fears head on, not alone, but rather with us right there to place her back on firm ground if she should fall.

Yet I know, when storms come our way, seasons of life we find ourselves in- some unimaginable, we try and face them alone.

How do I know? Because I’ve done it many times over. Surely I can’t be the only one?…

I find myself within a tennis match argument when I attempt to understand how mine, and so many others relationship with God works.

It’s as if we never learn. When life is at its best and everything appears to be going our way, then, we give God all the glory! Thanking him for His goodness, His faithfulness. And in those moments, we promise God that we wont forget this moment of provision, of answered prayer- and carry on with life.

Yet when life seems to be going in any direction other than the one we’d like, in our crumbling, we forget God. He receives the only prayer we have left- our last resort. We either blame, or we simply choose to walk this journey alone.

Until the sun shines again…and we’re back to square one- a yoyo faith.

I challenge you to describe any relationship that works constantly ‘one sided.’ Eventually, breakdown will occur, the relationship- fizzled out.

So, whatever circumstance you find yourself in right now, whatever season you’re in- cling to Jesus- sweet friend, you don’t have to face this all on your own. He’s someone you can trust and rely on. He’s holding your hand and won’t let go. He says, “I will be with you.” We just have to choose to take his hand and cling so tight, knowing we can’t do this alone, but only by His strength.

It’s just a wobble!

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This is a term I’ve frequently found myself saying since having children.

However, having a wobble now and then, does not mean you cannot cope!

Parents, please feel supported and embraced when I say this.

I pen these words as a reminder that you are not alone in this ‘parenting world.’ A whole world may seem exaggerated or inappropriate, but is it just me, or does being a parent sometimes feel like we’re living and breathing a totally different world?

I say that, because when my husband arrives home after a busy day at work, his and my day at ‘work’ seem at opposite ends of the spectrum.

My argument often starts with, I know you’re tired, but …I bet you’ve at least had time to sit down today, to eat your lunch at the temperature it was intended- and have it all to yourself. I’m confident you’ve at least been able to visit the loo without intruders, or worry if the kids are ok while you’ve rushed to pee because your pelivic floor just couldn’t hold it in any longer! I’m sure you’ve had time, for some headspace- no tears or or tantrums. No reasoning with a one-year-old!

We end up being caught within a comparison trap.

My aim of these rather outspoken statements, is not to diminish or disrespect our respective other half, working so they can contribute to providing for your family. Or as in my case, so that I can be a ‘stay at home mum.’

I am beyond grateful that I have a husband who has respected my wishes to be a ‘stay at home mum’ before we even had children, and followed through with our decision for me to be just that.

But the very statement that they work, and we raise the children, sometimes makes me feel like I don’t have the right to say that I’m tired, or, it’s been a hard day, or that I’ve not stopped…

Because, all too often, being a mum is not classed as work!

Therefore, we are not entitled to a moan, a wobble or even a good old rant- because we asked for this role.

Yes, we don’t have deadlines on our back, or a manager to report to. Rather, we have ourselves as our up close and personal manager- our own worse critic!

We beat ourselves up and report back to us when our children show signs of misbehaving, or acting in a way that doesn’t line up with our morals.

We may not have targets to attain, but we try to measure up to not only our own, but the expectations of others on a daily and hourly basis.

Have I taught them enough today? Have they watched too much tv today? Did I feed them a healthy diet? Have I given them enough fresh air? Have I given them enough of my time today? And so on…

We may not have a work building to report to, but we report to the cleaner and home maintanence guys on a regular basis- us.

We constantly make sure the toilet is clean enough, just in case a visitor unexpectedly turns up and of course needs to use your loo! We wonder how the home will look when hard working other-half walks in. Will it look like you’ve done nothing all day…because of course, you are at home all day…when would other-half have the time to clean the house, do the washing etc?

So, we become our own personal office. We clean, we cook, and we beat ourselves up on the days we just don’t have the energy. We are always trying to make it look cosy and idyllic, thus comparing with others personal homes and wondering how they’ve designed it so well, how much more spacious theirs is, or just how ridiculously tidy it is compared to your home!

And so with all this, not to mention the hormones, the tiredness and sheer exhaustion mentally, physically, emotionally. The worrying about our ever aging body and the haggered face we quickly gaze at as we rush past the mirror we wish didn’t exist. Then consciously thinking about if we’ve messaged a family member or friend today, have we given the people in our world enough time this week, have we given our partners enough attention (if you know what I mean?) and that’s before we even remember the last time we washed our hair or shaved our legs!

With all that, it’s no surprise we have a wobble now and then.

It’s no wonder we have days crying out in despair ‘I just can’t cope any more. I love my kids! But it’s just too hard!’ Or, we lose our temper or come across a little stern at times.

It’s no revelation that, when offered the luxury of having time to go and do something you enjoy, by that point, you actually have no energy or motivation to do anything other than stay seated where you already are.

So a wobble, a good old cry, and a cry for help- does not mean you cannot cope.

It means you are human.

It also means you have every right to a moan and a wobble, and a cry for help.

It is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.

Of selflessness, putting aside your own pride and admitting that you are struggling. And while it will not be forever, right now, you need some additional help. Or even just the opportunity to express how you’re feeling!

It is not a sign you weren’t cut out for this, or that you made the wrong decision to have children.

Nor is it confirmation of why you stay at home with the kids while your partner goes to work. That confirmation being, that you are not cut out for the working world or that you couldn’t bring in a supportive salary. Rather it is being honest and transparent as oppose to fake and opaque!

You admit that this, however you parent, whether you’re a stay at home mum, part time worker or full time, whatever your family stature and makeup- you admit that this is much harder than it appeared when all your friends had children. Harder than you first thought. Harder now because, how you first planned things, hasn’t exactly gone to plan.

And that’s ok.

There will be days you feel rubbish, and days you need immediate assistance to prevent a miniature breakdown – we’ve all had them! There will be days you feel you’re barely managing, and days you feel confident. Days you exude energy and enthusiasm- the days you’d always dreamed of. There will be days you just have to stick on the TV and allow the characters on Cbeebies to educate your kids.

There will be days you feel like a parent who can do it all; bags packed, beach day, smooth transitions, cooperating children… and on those days, that’s where onlookers wonder how you do it!

There will be days you adore being a Mum!

There will be days you miss being you.

Days you feel like you miss out, and days you’re happy to sacrifice the things you used to do before.

There will be days you feel like your wobble will never end

There will be so many different days, sometimes all rolled into one.

And that’s ok too.

A wobble, please here me- a wobble, not every day 365 days a year, is just that, a wobble. It’s a wave of tiredness, of exhaustion, a wave of irritability, a wave of no motivation, a wave of wondering how you’ll get through the day.

And just as waves do. They pass, and the waters become calm.

So don’t permit anyone to tell you that your wobble, means you’re not coping.

Not coping, would be more than a wobble.

So wobble away girls, it’s ok. You’re not alone in this. You are doing an outstanding job, one which is a privilege, though it might not feel it at times. A job which has no instructions or rule book, yet also rewards far beyond any salary could supply. So keep going. Be encouraged. You can do this!

You don’t have to do this by yourself

 

There has been a stirring in my heart all week. And while I’d like to say its been a positive stirring- it hasn’t. Rather an uncontrollable nervousness. A battle of negative thoughts verses what I know to be Gods truth.

 

What is the root? Because I’ve been asked to use my voice to speak publicly about the story God has blessed me and my family with in recent months.

 

As I thought about speaking, something which I am not used to nor feel confident doing. I felt so alone.

 

I wished I was pregnant again just so I didn’t feel alone.

And in that moment, God promoted my heart to go back to one of the first blogs I ever wrote- Kicking on the inside.

 

In that blog, I likened the early movements of our pregnancy with Ava to the characteristics of the Holy Spirit. How you’re never alone- just like when pregnant. How when you’re pregnant, you carry that child with you and recognise its movements, so is the same with the Holy Spirit.

 

You carry him with you, therefore you carry God with you- but with the Holy Spirit it’s all the time, not just 9 months!

 

And so God so sweetly reminded me. One, that I am filled with the spirit. And two, that he is with me all the time, therefore, I am not alone. He is living inside of me and is my helper, my strength, my words when words fail me.

 

Thank you Jesus, that I don’t have to do life alone. 

 

Sometimes the simplest truths are the shortest and sweetest.

 

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