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Welcome to the hectic years

Hi, I'm Mindi.

And this is our Hectic Life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Trip

Last night I took my kids to the grocery store to get toilet paper. We were down to the last roll and I figured that buying some food would also be helpful. The kids were getting tired of eating things I could throw together from the pantry.
Which at this point would mean something dipped in ranch, ketchup, or mustard. And that something would be French fries. Or animal crackers. Although Callie’s eyes lit up when I mentioned 'dinner' the rest of the kids made a face only a mother would ever love.
So I packed them up and away we went.
On the way I had to tell Hunter a bazillion times (a mom of four knows that is a REAL number and how big it really is) no he couldn’t eat a sucker. The last time he had a sucker before the grocery store he started hiding in the stacks of toilet paper. He pouted, but the sucker stayed in the car.
Our first stop was the pharmacy counter, because I was low on insulin needles for the diabetic dog. After telling the kids ‘no you can’t shove your foot into the blood pressure cuff machine’ and ‘no, we don’t need THOSE kinds of pills’ and ‘I’ll explain what that is when you’re older’ and dragging hunter back from trying to check out the transformers we made it to the counter.
The lady drug out the big box of suckers and set them on the counter. ‘Here you go kids!’
Callie at this point was climbing on the cart, trying her best to tip it over. Lex was laying on the bottom of the cart and Gwen was being a quiet little angel. But when the sucker box came out, the kids turned into stampeding buffalos. So much for the fruit snacks I gave them to eat while at the store. One of which Hunter picked up off the floor to eat because of the ‘five second rule’. And so much for the ‘no sucker’ rule. The lady behind the counter just grinned at me. Real funny lady.
For a while they were pacified and first stop over, we made our way to the back of the store. By this time Lex was again laying in the bottom of the cart and I was stacking things on top of him. He sandwiched himself between two pillows and glared at me, but refused to move.
The last time we went to the store I wound up with about fifteen things I didn’t need. This trip I figured out who was the culprit when I turned around and saw Callie strategically hiding cookies between the pretzels and the yogurt. When I caught her, she immediately threw the cookies out of the cart and on the floor. Then walked away, as if I didn’t really see anything at all.
And she's only three.  I think I'm in trouble.
Hunter and Gwen were doing okay, besides for ooohing and ahhhing at the clever marketing techniques used in the Halloween Yogurt packs and asking for something about every 2.35 seconds. I decided to record myself on my phone saying ‘No’ and play it over and over. They weren’t fooled in the least.
I've recorded 'what' in response to them saying 'mom' a double bazillion times a day.  That doesn't work either.
But the kids were starting to get loud at this point, and when I found Hunter sitting on the shredded cheese I knew we had to move a little faster. And when Gwen and Hunter started giving Callie piggyback rides and then setting her in various displays and giggling, I knew we were in trouble.
We were getting stares, which I’m used to, but would rather do without. Yes, they are from the same parents. NO, they don’t really look alike. But there is no question I am their mom, trust me on that one.
We finally made it to the toilet paper. I picked some out and set it on Lex in the cart. He was really starting to get annoyed with me, but again, wouldn’t get out of the cart or even sit up. He was very comfortable hidden among stacks of cheese and biscuits and sour cream. Though he complained the milk was a bit cold.
I lost sight of Hunter, and when I turned around, he was hiding in the stacks of toilet paper. Darn those suckers.
Gwen grabbed a feather duster and started dusting Callie.
It was about time to go.
We finished our shopping in somewhat record time, although I wound up with various crackers and candy I did not put in the cart. When I looked at Callie, she acted innocent and wide-eyed. I was actually looking for it, and was unsure how all of that got into the cart in the first place. We had no need for three extra large bags of m and m’s. Or the chocolate frosted flakes. Yuck.
As I started loading bags in the cart Lex finally decided to get out. Other than a few lines from laying in the cart and having groceries on top of him, he looked none the worse for wear. We trekked through the pouring rain to the car, attempted to load the too full trunk the kids conveniently ‘forgot’ to empty, and made our way home.
After starting dinner and unloading the groceries I was feeling a lot better.
Another trip averted without major disaster.
Yes, the trip took about 1.5 hours and cost me $150, and we originally went for toilet paper, but still.  At least we had some chicken to dunk in Ranch dressing now.
Hunter still on a sucker high, now sword fighting with Lex, suddenly looked up and said ‘Where is the toilet paper mom?’
My heart stopped and I said 'No.  Really?'
Lex was grinning guiltily because apparantly at some point he got up and threw the toilet paper out of the cart.  It was 'squishing' him.  But somehow the large boxes of cereal and bag of apples were not?
A $150 trip for toilet paper, and we forgot the toilet paper.
Lex gets the newspaper for his next trip to the bathroom.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


It took a while, but I finally get it.  I'm somewhat stubborn (yes, I did just admit that), and it takes a while for me to get the point that someone is trying to make.
I heard it all the right things being said, over and over again.
But still I fought and disagreed and complained, and when the world was turning upside down, I would still manage to dig a hole and hide in it for a while.
And what was the end result?  That I felt horrible.  Alone.  Scared.  Unsure if life would ever be on the right road again.
In the last couple of weeks, I have finally listened to what was being said to me. 

Romans 12:2

New International Version (NIV)
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will.

I finally understood that I had to change my thinking.  The negative thoughts about life were dragging me down and stealing my peace.  They were disrupting my future plan, my life, and the joy in the very act of living.
Yes, things have been hard in all aspects of my life.  But who hasn't experienced trouble?  Who hasn't had a mountain to climb, a river to cross, a storm to weather?
Just because there were obstacles everywhere I looked did not mean that God was placing them there.  He wasn't making my life harder, more difficult.  It's just the way things are right now.  And when I finally understood that being upset by these obstacles was not helping me, but hindering me, I was able to find a way to overcome them.  Instead of staring at them and saying 'Why me?  Why now?  what in the world am I going to do?  Where is the justice in all of this?' I decided to pray, and ask God for peace.  Direction.  An ability to make my way through this storm that hasn't quite ended.  And to trust that God does indeed have a plan, and eventually He will unfold it.
And in the meantime, why not enjoy this world He has given us?
I try and count my blessings.  There are a lot of them.  I have a beautiful home, a car to get us where we need to be, a job to pay the bills.  And four absolutely gorgeous children.  I would not trade anything in this world for those kids.  They are God's greatest gift to me.  Even on days when I want to run away and hide (still fighting that feeling, it's a strong one to overcome), I thank God for giving them to me. 
Yes, life is hard.  And will continue to be so.
But I also believe that God is good, and He will bless me, and show me a clear direction and plan in my life.  Eventually.  Yes, the waiting is hard.  But that's what Faith is all about.  Believing, even when you're still in the midst of the hurricane, that the sun will shine again.  And one day, the waters will be smooth and calm.
I'm on the right path, and the peace that I find here, it the best thing I have found in quite a while.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Summer List

Daily activities alone consume me.  Having four small children and a job is enough to keep my busy forever.  There are days I barely have time to breathe.
But to make things even more complicated, I am selling our house.  It's the right thing to do, it's the sane thing to do.  Yes, it will be hard to walk away from the forest of trees in the backyard, the horses in the front.  The flowers that I have worked on for years.  The apple trees that I have yet to see an apple from.  The corner jacuzzi tub that is my sanity escape.
But there is so much to gain by moving closer to work, moving to a home that doesn't require mowing several hours each time. To a home in a neighborhood with close neighbors and kids running around to play with my own.
It's a difficult decision, but when it comes down to it, the only one that makes sense.  And the way I see it, if this is God's plan for us, the house will sell and we will move.  If it's not His path for us, we won't find a buyer.  So we shall wait and see what God has in mind for our family.  I have finally decided to throw my hands up and let God decide our fate.  His planning skills are better than mine anyway.
In the meantime, getting lost in the details of cleaning and organizing and fixing everything wrong with a house in order to sell it, I don't want to forget that it's summer.  That I have kids that will never get this summer back.  They will never be 9, 8, 5, and 3 ever again.  So I vowed to take time out to enjoy summer with them.  To feel the sun on our face, the wind in our hair.  To run through the field while chasing a frisbee, to explore and learn and enjoy this life that God has given us.
Because though sometimes we forget, each day is a gift.  Each day is something to enjoy, to cherish.  Who knows if there will ever be a tomorrow.
I have a friend at work that is facing his mortality and told me he wrote a bucket list.
I decided to write what I call
'The Summer List'.
Maybe we'll get to all the items on the list, maybe we won't.  But here are a few that we have already enjoyed...

The local drive-in movie.  Complete with a smattering of stars overhead, glow-in-the-dark bubbles, citronella candles, blankets (chilly nights still!), and a bowl of super buttery popcorn.

Waiting for the movie

And the movie begins!!

Fireworks.  they are more commonplace than when I grew up, but watching the kids chase down parachutes floating from the sky is a fun way to enjoy the summer.  And you can't beat sparkler letters.  Of course that's something we have to work on - Gwen was trying to make an 's' in this one!

Gwen pausing to 'model' for me

Lex catching his parachute

Hunter and my Dad amassing a huge pile of debris in the driveway!

Homemade sidewalk paint from Pinterest.  Easy, colorful, perfect for pics.  True to form, Callie painted herself more than she painted the concrete.  She said it 'felt good' to paint her feet.

Callie's kick off to summer. She turned 3!!

This was during work hours, so no kids.  Just the annual strawberry festival on the circle.  And an awesome lunch - a strawberry shortcake piled high with fresh berries, ice-cream, and whipped cream.  A perfect summer day with a beautiful sky overhead, in the middle of a beautiful city.

Swimming is always on the list.

So are good times with good friends!

Snow Cones!!

And we have many, many more items on our list.  Included are - 

Catching lightning bugs.  Camping.  Homemade bubbles.  Glow-in-the-dark homemade t-shirts.  Making at least three kinds of homemade ice-cream.  Picnics.  Exploring, a treasure hunt.
No, these activities are not just for the kids.
They are also for a very stressed mom who needs time to unwind and enjoy life.
A summer to remember.
Until next year, when we top it with another 'Summer List' ....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Single Mother

I used to be a military wife.  One who faced training, deployments, and support of a spouse that was gone for long periods of time.  I had to get used to doing things on my own (including parenting) because what other choice was there?
A long time ago, I read a set of posts where military wives were comparing themselves to single moms.  Said that while their husbands were gone they had to hold down the fort, so it was just like being a single parent.
The actual single moms were incensed, because they said it wasn't the same at all.
And in the last year, the one thing I have learned, is that the single moms were correct.
It isn't the same at all.
For those who don't know what has happened to my family, I won't go into the details.  They are too personal and too intense.  To painful and too real.  But the end result is that I am raising four young children on my own and have been for a very long time.
There are some days that the high demands of these four tiny lives are so much for my heart to handle.  My soul hurts, and it bends under the weight of the responsibility that has been given to me.
I know that my feelings aren't that different from any normal parent that is having a tough day.  A day where they question all that they do.  Where they wonder if they are helping or hurting their kids, and what if the mistakes are compounding themselves so that things just get worse instead of better?
But there is one really big difference.
I'm doing it alone.

Although I have told myself a hundred times in the last few months, and will continue to tell myself the very same thing, that even though I feel alone I am not.
God is with me in all that I do.  He always has been, and He always will be.
I'm going to keep writing it and telling myself that until I no longer feel the sting of loneliness.
This weekend was rough.  I didn't get anything done.  Well, 'anything' besides cooking meals, doing dishes and laundry, sweeping floors, cleaning Gwen's room, my room, and a hundred surprise messes.  Making a grocery list and shopping for everything on that list.  Paying bills.  Reading books to the kids.  Playing barbies.  Painting the fingernails of my little girls.  Being silly with balloons.  Being a parent that has too much to do, and too little time to do it in.
As a matter of fact, right now I'm enjoying a yummy chocolate milk shake.  Yep, at 11:00 pm at night when I have to get up in about six hours.
When I'm struggling, chocolate is my ray of sunshine.
But I know everything will be alright.  Because although I feel alone, I am not.
And I never will be.

Even when things are so hard, so difficult, I don't know what I would do without my kids.  Those four little beings are my life.  I love them much more than I do myself.  They need me to be the very best parent that I can be, and I won't let them down.  I will keep trying, keep struggling, until life gets easier and I no longer have to swim upstream.
I need them and they need me.
Tomorrow we will be smiling, tomorrow
we will just be.
Today was hard, today was rough,
but I see the sun
already peeking through the trees.
Tonight I will sleep
Tonight I will dream.
of a tomorrow where life
is filled with more than we need.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One Step At a Time

Written to the Tune of 'One Step At a Time'

There are times I want to close my eyes and be somewhere else, maybe a year down the road.  Past the difficult days, sleepless nights, and aching heart.
Past the loneliness and the exhaustion.
But then there are times like today.  When I'm running late but I find time to see the beauty around me.  When I see the sun streaming through the trees, and the horses grazing in the fog.
When I hear Hunter nudging me to look at Callie.
And I turn to see her standing in the kitchen, without a stitch of clothes, dancing to the tune of 'God's not Dead'.
And I smile.
Making the long drive to work, I realize that no, I am not where I want to be at some point down the road.  But I am taking the steps to get to where I need to be.  And that is truly what is important. 
There are those who never take those first steps.  They want to run a marathon but never get off the couch.  They want to get a better job, but don't take the time to get the degree they need to do it.   They want a life other than the one they have, but all they ever do is dream about it.  And never really try to live it.
No I'm not where I really want to be in an unforeseeable future.
But I've come a long way.  I've taken those vital first steps, and many more after that.
Honestly, if I look behind me, I can't see the foggy place where I started from.  I've come that far.
And if I were to fast forward to that day in the future, when things finally fall into place, I will have missed a lot.  I will have missed so many things in my kid's lives.
Hunter is growing up.  He is reaching the point where he is more man than boy.  Even his view of the world is changing.  He is starting to notice the struggles I go through, and wants to help his mom.  His budding compassion is truly tugging at my heart.
My kids are a lot like me.  They sing with me, they dance with me.  They grow with me.
As a matter of fact, the way I see it, we're taking these steps together.
Maybe we can't run a marathon quite yet.
But we can't get to the finish line,
if we don't take one step at a time.

Sunday, April 15, 2012


There are choices to make in life.  Lots of choices.  Sometimes they are as mundane as what outfit to wear that day or what to cook for dinner.

But then there are the harder choices.  The ones that can determine your happiness, your life, your future.  
Unfortunately the last few months my life has been filled with the tougher choices.  The ones that make a difference not only in my life, but that of my kids.  And sometimes I'm not quite sure those decisions are the right ones.
You see, I have been broken.  There were horrible things in my life that had shattered my heart and everything I believed.  For quite a while I wasn't sure which way to turn, and how in the world I would climb out of the rubble that surrounded me.  The remnants of a life I once knew.
But even though I felt my life was out of my control, spiraling into a deep abyss, there were still decisions to make.  There were still things I could do to turn things around.
At first it was hard because I was so sure that I had been forgotten by God.  That He had swept me aside in favor of those with a greater need.  I have a vivid memory of sitting in church listening to the pastor preach of light, of having faith in the midst of troubled times.  And I was crying in my seat, praying that God show me this hope and this light because all I could see in front of me was the blackest night that had no beginning and no end.  Just an endless cycle of loss and brokenness.
But somewhere along the way I made a choice to believe.  To see the good instead of the bad.  I used to live one hour at a time, just getting through the best I could.  I can remember how painful that was, how I didn't want to get out of bed and face the ache where my heart used to be.  Back then I had Faith, but it was a very weak faith.  One that didn't believe God had good things in store for me and my family.  Back then, I was making an unconscious choice to drift through life living in the pain.  Drowning in it.
But then I made the best choice I have ever made in my life.
The choice to LIVE.  The choice to see the good instead of the bad.  To focus on the laughter and the smiles instead of the tears.  
Eventually I was able to crawl out of the hole into the sunshine, and finally get to know the God who had loved me for so long.  He was no longer a vague presence somewhere far away, but became a Hand to hold when I needed one.  Someone who brought me friends when I needed them the most.  Good friends, who loved me, and weren't afraid to show me.  Something I needed more than anything....Love.

This weekend I had to make another tough choice, the decision to lose a part of the family.  To end her suffering and her pain.  I know it was the right thing to do...but still.  The pain of her loss is intense.  Miss Callie doesn't understand, and is asking where Moosie is.  Her dog bowl is still sitting on the step.  I still listen for her footsteps down the hall, wait for her wet nose to push my hand, wanting to be petted.
I miss her.
But she know we loved her and did everything we could.  I had to end her suffering, it broke my heart to see the light in her eyes dimming.  
Sometimes, when you love someone, the best thing you can do is to let them go.

I have no idea what our future will bring.  I have no clue where God is leading us, or where we will end up.  But this time I choose to believe that He will take us to a good place filled with love and happiness.  And that is the difference in me - to have real Faith.  
I was broken for a reason, and now God is working to build me back up.  I've come a long way, but I don't think He's done with me quite yet.

A song that describes me right now...

Friday, March 9, 2012

I see God

It has been WAY too long since I sat down to write.
And for me, it's something that I need to do.  Something that grounds me, brings me back to reality.  It is what makes me who I am.  In a time of my life when nothing is what it should be, when life is changing every day, writing is something that keeps me sane.

For so many years of my life, I was afraid.
I feared for my kids, my job, what life might bring me next.  It wasn't an obsession, but it was something that lingered in the back of my mind.  What if that semi had hit my car instead of the sedan two vehicles ahead?  What if that had been one of my kids that had drowned in a swimming pool?  Or fallen off the playset and broken his arm?  What would happen to my precious kids and animals if I died of melanoma?
As life dealt me my share of hard knocks, my fears only grew.  I was laid off from a job six days after closing on our first house.  I was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer.  My favorite dog died.  My horse died.  When I took my van in to be serviced, they found a tie rod close to snapping.
But then, out of the blue, one of my worst fears actually came true.  I found myself facing the most difficult struggle I had thus far.  I had never felt so alone in my life, and I had survived deployments with kids and a full time job.
When I would tell women about my experience, I would see the fear in their own eyes.  The fear that if something like that happened to me, it could just as easily happen to them.  And what would they do if it did?  The idea was unfathomable.  The idea that their life could be shattered from one day to the next.  This was something straight out of a lifetime movie.  But unfortunately, I couldn't simply shut off the tv and walk away.  This was my life.  This was my new reality and I had to wake up to live through it each day.
As I waded my way through pain and agony, trying to understand where God was leading me, I began to lose my fear.  What was the point of being afraid?  This one incident was beyond my worst nightmares.  But here I was, surviving, putting one foot in front of the other.  I was still breathing, and God was helping me through.  So why waste time being afraid?  Why spend any of my life fearing something that I have no control over?
Slowly but surely I began to turn my life over to God.  Something very difficult for someone who likes to have a hand in what happens in her life. 
Shortly after this incident happened to me, I was invited to a bible study at a friend's house, so that I could be prayed over.  It was a moving experience that I will never forget.
During the prayer, one of the women said they saw angels stationing themselves around my house, at all four corners, and I remember closing my eyes and seeing them there.  With flaming swords they protected the kids and I from harm.  When I was down to my last shred of hope, God had sent angels to help me through.  Not only angels that I could see as friends, but those that I could not. 
For a long time I had prayed for God to send me a sign that I was going to be okay.  That He show me that He was there for me, helping me, loving me.  At a time in my life when I struggled to get through each minute, let alone each day, I needed His help.  I needed Him to show me His love, mercy, and kindness.
And for the first time in many, many years, at the lowest point of my entire life, God made His presence known.  Through friends who stepped up and gave me their time, love, and listening ears, God showed me without a doubt that I did not have to go through this journey alone.  That even when I felt as though I was, He was there, caring for me and my children.
Somewhere along the way, I started to find peace.  An inner peace that I have not known in years.  There is a certainty that God has a future for us that will be beyond my wildest hopes and dreams, so very far from the nightmare that we have been through so far.

This morning started off as a usual morning.  I was rushing around trying to get four kids ready to go.  There were shoes to find, coats to get on, granola bars to snack on.  Dogs to medicate and feed before I left for the day.  As I put in some blueberry bread for toast, I heard Callie from the living room.
"I see God!"
I stopped for a minute, hearing those words, wondering what she was talking about.  I walked in the living room and saw her staring out the back patio door.  She was looking towards the woods in the back.
"What did you say Callie?"
She pointed.  "I see God!"
"Where do you see God?"
I looked out, but saw only the bare trees, not yet filled with springtime leaves, and the wire fence.
"Right there!  There He is!  By the fence.  Over by the trees."
As I watched the certainty and smile on her face, I felt chills.  I remembered the angels stationing themselves around my property to protect us.  I remembered the picture of them glowing, with their swords, warding off the evil that threatened my children and the very essence of my soul.
And without a doubt, I know that Callie was seeing one of those angels that God sent to protect us.

With angels just outside my door, why should I ever be afraid?

Monday, February 13, 2012


There were times last year when I was sure that I was drowning.  Every time I tried to take a breath, my lungs filled with water instead of air.  The waves kept getting bigger and bigger, and I kept getting weaker.  At times it seemed as though giving into the force that pushed me down was easier than staying afloat.  I had gotten so very, very tired.  I wasn't quite sure I was strong enough to get through.
But as I continued to tread water, my arms got stronger.  Eventually the waves grew smaller.  I could breathe again, really breathe, and was able to tilt my head up to look at the sky above.  A sky that had started off dark and stormy had golden rays of sunshine peeking through the clouds.  I was finally able to see the hope that had been in front of me all along.
I know that with my current station in life, the waves will never completely disappear.  I've decided that there is no point in praying that they will.  Life will simply never be easy for me.  Not with all that I am responsible for.  But what I can do is pray that when the storms come, they don't last very long.  And that God gives me the strength to swim instead of drown.  That He help me keep my head above water.  And hopefully, send me exactly what I need when I need it.
There is truly no way that I can get through this alone.  Although there are many moments in which I still feel completely alone, I am gently reminded that God is with me.  Holding me.  Crying with me.  When my heart breaks, He feels it.  More than anyone else, God knows my pain.  As my storms have evolved, from one issue to the next, He understands and wants to help me through them.
The next time I say that I can't (just last night, as a matter of fact), I am reminded that I can.  The only choice I have left is to try and carry the heavy burden on my shoulders, as though it is mine to bear, or share it with one who wants to lighten it.  Who not only wants me to tread water, but to swim from one side of the ocean to the next.
If I can only get through this current storm, I think I see sunshine trying to break through the clouds...

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

It's Official

So I've been feeling a tad bit overwhelmed lately.  I mean seriously.  When the boys make a bona fide mountain out of their dirty clothes, and laugh as it gets higher and higher, I start to feel as though I'm running a bit behind.
Tonight I came home with the strict intention of doing laundry.  That was the plan.  Wash, fold, put away.  But life, as usual, never goes as planned.  I DID manage to get a load from the washer ito the dryer.  But that was pretty much it.
However, after dinner, I made something pretty cool.  I'm officially addicted to Pinterest.  No, I have no time in which to do the awesome ideas and inspirations.  But at least I can say I pinned them.  And every once in a while, I might have time to use that pin.

The littles needed a bath, so we made shaving cream paint.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but the kids loved it.

No, I didn't get a lot done.  My list keeps getting longer every day.  I managed to get dinner on the table, clean up, give baths, help Hunter with his homework, and Gwen with her missing sock.  Probably buried under that mountain of laundry.
Most of today was not a good day.  But I know that years from now, I won't remember the sadness and the pain.  The overwhelming sense of drowning.
Instead, I'll remember shaving cream paint and the laughter of small children as they make designs on the bathtub wall. 
Maybe I'll find more time for Pinterest and photographs to record the memories, after all.  Laughter does tend to wash away the sadness.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Moving On

Although we are in the middle of winter, our household has been filled with sunshine.
Spontaneous dances in the kitchen, omellettes loaded with cheese and yogurt with sprinkles.
Laughter over silly jokes.
Paper airplanes flying down the stairs, some working, some not.
A tent in the living room for sleeping, using every single blanket in the house.
Sliding across the ice on sleds, since the snow has avoided us so far this year.
We have been having a great month.  Yes, there have been plenty of difficult moments and tough days.  Tears over things not going the way they should.  Most of them mine ;)
But my faith has grown, and my belief in a future greater than I can imagine, is now a certainty in my head.  God has a plan for us, for our life, and He is busy working on making that plan a reality.  All I had to do was give everything over to Him.  And believe.

I dragged out my camera today, and captured the very essence of my kids.  I love them.  They love me.  And right now, we're all loving life...

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