What I Found in June and July

 

“I have been finding treasures in places I did not want to search. I have been hearing wisdom from tongues I did not want to listen. I have been finding beauty where I did not want to look. And I have learned so much from journeys I did not want to take”.  ― Suzy Kassem,

So time for a look at what I’ve found in the months just gone. I do this because I love a good find and yes good things are often found in the most unlikely of places. This looking back gets me thinking and remembering and taking notice and that always serves me well.

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June you were brisk in speed and in temperature,  July you followed suit yet the sun shone warm and faithful about everyday and that blue sky too seemed to take the bite right out of winter. These finds did too.

My best five finds for June/July

1. By the roadside

This mirror

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Yes I’ve been at it again – checking out what other people are throwing out. This find was kind of special though. It came on one of those blah days that sometimes happen when life is just springing more leaks than I can plug with two hands and I feel  like everything I do is adding up to nothing.  Finding this sweet old fashioned mirror on THAT day felt like an  “its OK, keep going” from heaven,  an “I see it all and its not for nothing”. Thats a lot to get from one dodgy old mirror but there it is. A sweet find. Seems to like it on my front verandah for now.

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This side table

Husband found this one. Road side again. It matches Olivia’s existing bedroom furniture just about exactly. Its narrow and fits along the wall nicely and will serve a few purposes. It can hold her school bag that always ends up in he middle of the floor for me to trip over  and a few other odd things she needs regular easy access too.

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 Photos taken after it was unceremoniously shoved into Livvy’s room and the TV plonked on it. Real life, real mess and I might say one heck of a mess going on in there at the time of this photo but that story I’ll save for another post.

2. Online

This one was Olivia’s find  bless her – a story  of reclamation and rescue that she was soooo excited about. I’m sure you’ll love it too.

3.  On Instagram

A few of my favourite finds on Instagram

And these words from Ann Voskamp I’ve come back to time and time again in the last month – some words just grab on and don’t let go.

… Home may be the most powerful word known. And, you know, sometimes home isn't a place you find — but home becomes the place wherever you are. . Sometimes home is tiny, like a quiet crevice in a wild world you can crawl into & exhale & listen to your heart beat & hear His whisper. . Sometimes home is a dream come true simply because He who is Truth led you there. . And then sometimes home isn't what you hoped for but Hope can find you anywhere. . So the Farmer backed up his pick-up & hooked on to that #tinyhouse — the little @TheSelahStudio — to haul east, back across country, because maybe what all our worlds need right now is Selah, a pause. Maybe home is always about finding Selah — a sacred pause. A pause to create, to be safe, to be held, to gather, to circle round, to be. . Love is a roof & hope is a window & Jesus is the only door & He is our safest home. . He is always our way home. . (Tiny 🏠by our kind friends: @handcraftedmovement) #findinghome #tinyhousecrosscountry #tinyhouse #farmtoocean #Voscampers #TheBrokenWay

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… sometimes you feel most at home where no one else feels at home at all. Sometimes where others feel out of place, is right where you get into your groove. . Sometimes you need your little ole world to grow smaller even when there's a whole wide world out there that says success means growing larger. . Sometimes when you feel like an outlier is when you feel most ushered into the presence of God. . So, yeah, you just go ahead & take the back roads & you just take the long way around & when others have all the answers, you just decide to have all the grace & taking the road less travelled may be how you become more. Do not be afraid — & don't be afraid of even being afraid. . Grace is always coming down every road to meet you & carry you toward home. . #tinyhouse 🏠by our friend, Matt: @handcraftedmovement #findinghome #tinyhousecrosscountry #farmtoocean #Voscampers

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And a house shaped favourite.

This one will make you happy just looking at it – so much colour and of course that mismatched vintagy feel that is just my cuppa tea

 

5. Now to the bookshelf

In the last couple of months I’ve started on three books that I had to put down half way through out of sheer boredom. Some books promise a lot but deliver little in the way of believable /interesting characters and plot  – so after three duds I was beginning to wonder if I would find me one that I couldn’t put down which is is what I’m always looking for in a book.  This one I found at a local Community Centre that had a community bookshelf. You can take a book or two and then bring them or a few others back. Love this idea.

I struck a winner at last

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Bread Alone by Judith Ryan Hendricks (or Judi Hendricks) 

I chose this one purely because of the title.   Bread – simple honest, essential, nourishing – symbol of basic sustenance – worth a try.  After looking online I realised I have the cheap airport lounge copy with the awful graphics on the front and the small print  but – – – the contents are the same and such a good satisfying  story.

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How much prettier is this cover. The short of it – Wyn the main character gets unceremoniously fired from her “job” as trophy wife to a rich LA advertising exec – a life she hated but a husband she loved. With no other choice she heads north to Seattle to her best friend and accidentally  back to the  soothing charms of  bread baking – healing and  restorative – it  helps her navigate the path from a life she didn’t want or recognise to a life that feels like home  – “And soon she finds that making bread—the kneading of the dough, the scent of yeast hanging in the air—possesses an unexpected and wondrous healing power—helping her to rediscover that nothing stays the same: bread rises, pain fades, the heart heals and the future beckons”. Source.There are recipes, lovely descriptions of the bread baking magic, a good dose of humour and a relatable honesty about it that swallowed me right up.

Funny how  the tiniest perfection can make you believe everything’s going to be all right.  Bread Alone

I put off reading the last chapter because I didn’t want it to finish but  the other thing I was happy to discover online is that there is a second novel taking up where the first left off. Called The Bakers Apprentice I think I might be downloading that one on my iPad.

So thats my finds but before we go  – – – –

To finish – a quick couple of projects because they’re my favourite

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I do love a tiny table – hall, side, coffee – I don’t mind. They work so well in small houses and can be easily dragged all over the house at will for various purposes whenever they are needed or I feel like a change. The round side table was not so much a find but an inheritance from my mums house when she was downsizing. The hall table I found at a market years ago and left it just the way it was until inspiration recently.

The shape of this one I liked but the dismal brown I did not.

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Round table got a coat of orange paint along with my hall table – a much more delicate looking creature altogether.  Hall table got its second coat but the paint had dried up by the time I got back round to doing the second coat on the other. No photo with first coat of orange paint sorry  – too busy painting.

Heres a quick before and after of my hall table.

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IMG_8497Paint was slapped on then sanded back a bit once dried to make it look a bit chippy. No skill required whatsoever but I’m happy with the result and now in my bedroom – a handy spot for iPhone and iPad charging

 

 

Back to the round table  – I had to come up with a Plan B for the final coat so I had a forage in the garage and found a a soft  grey green that I thought might look nice. Once it dried I rubbed it back to reveal a bit of the orange and thought I had a total disaster on my hands – Olivia agreed and she’s usually my biggest fan.  I left it for a day or two while I came up with a Plan C  and in that time decided I quite liked it after all. I just repainted the top of it as I’d gone a bit overboard there with the rubbing back. Goes to show its worth stepping back for a bit before launching into disaster control. Not my finest painting effort but I like it anyway. More proof like many things in my house that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful. 

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So thats my finds for the months just past with a random project thrown in for good measure.

Any finds your way? Any projects in progress? Would love to hear.

Love from my home to yours

Tracey xx

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Linking up today with

#Porch Stories with Kristin Hill Taylor and Chasing Community with Brenda Braford Ottinger

 

 

 

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More or Less Part Two

I’ve been thinking a lot since I wrote this post.

IMG_6711Thinking and staring into cupboards and rifling through drawers and wondering if I’ve even scraped the surface of this decluttering thing.

I’m convinced less is more

My heart says yes

but my cupboards aren’t so sure

and the drawers say not even nearly.

I’m no hoarder, not even close, I don’t need an excess of stuff to keep me feeling OK in fact its quite the opposite but still I find my cupboards filled to the brim and more than a few of my shelves  laden down.

Its taken me a while to work it out.

While I’ll happily let go of things we no longer need or have grown out of or that are broken or for whatever reason  I no longer want

There are other things I have a whole lot of trouble letting go of.

Things:

  • that might come in handy one day,
  • that are still useful or  pretty or I really like but for whatever reason I never use.
  • clothes that I love that I wore when I was  pregnant or thinner or younger, T shirts and outfits the kids wore and wore and loved when they were three and I look at them and remember how tiny they were
  • favourite toys from when they were little

These are the items that do my head in because they have that heart attachment.

Heres the other thing I haven’t been good at letting go of –  the excess of volume. Its the difference between having five sets of pillow slips and twenty five, same goes with towels and sheets and maybe shoes and plastic containers.

So its the excess I’ve been working on recently rather than the heart attachment stuff simply because its easier and less mentally draining.

Before we get into that though heres a couple of things I have worked out from underneath this mountain of stuff

The  space is worth more to me than the stuff.

Even if I do let go of something that I may need later on – its OK –  the space I have created is still more valuable that the item I may have to replace somewhere down the track.

An excess of  stuff steals your time, your peace, your enjoyment of your home and it just takes far more than it gives.

Letting go of unneeded, unnecessary things makes room for the things that actually matter –  heart wise, home wise, soul wise.

So I  bought a twelve pack of the largest garbage bags I could find – they’re the stand up on their own kind which is very handy but I found out impossible to lift when they are full  so maybe not such a good idea but anyhoo I  decided that I was going to fill everyone of them up for donation before Christmas arrives.

Three down – nine to go.

Unbelievably I filled one with just random things sitting around the house without even opening a cupboard so that was kind of scary.

I filled two cleaning out my linen cupboard. Now keep in mind I have cleaned out this cupboard many a time before but somehow things it just seems to fill up.

Heres the before – I accidentally chopped off the very bottom section with the random shoes and plaster casts and dust collecting and God knows what else.Unfortunately theres no way of making this before shot look good even with the morning sun streaming in .

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Very bleak to open your cupboard door and be faced with that. So I launched in  one shelf at a time in twenty minute stints. No I didn’t pull everything out  onto the floor in one go and then step over it for a week as has been known to happen. One shelf at a time is far less dramatic but on the upside I retain my sanity and my motivation.

Heres the middle progress

And heres the after.

Not perfect but a vast improvement. As you can see I did a little makeover on the shelf fronts with an old map I had on hand – details are below. I had a rearrange as well and folded everything as neatly as I could which I might say is not as easy as it may sound. Now it may not stay like this for long but amazingly I can now find a pillow slip or a sheet when I want one.  The containers and tubs have always worked well for things like fitted sheets which are impossible to keep neat and for the smaller items like pillowslips to keep everything corralled and out of sight. And now that I’m done I see I could do with a few more cause those folded clothes aren’t looking too pretty to me.

Regards the makeover of the shelves I had thought about painting the whole interior of the cupboard but I didn’t want this to turn into a six week project. Somewhere in the process of folding sheets I got the idea to do something with just the shelf fronts.  I love a quick little project and this one was very  very simple. I cut five strips of map the width and length of the shelf fronts. I applied a coat of Aquadhere craft glue onto the shelves and just pressed the strips on. That’s where I discovered my cutting could have been a whole lot straighter but too late to worry about at that stage.  I let them dry overnight then sanded the edges very lightly to get rid of any slight overhang then I put on one coat of clear Estapol. That was it. I love the soft mottled colours in maps so I like the result.

This is what I let go of

  • Most of flat sheets because we rarely use them anymore.
  • At least 15 pairs of pillow slips.
  • The double bed sheets and doona covers as we only have single or queen size beds here now.
  • Some lovely table cloths that I never used
  • Anything I had to iron before it could be used
  • Everything on the very bottom shelf.
  • Scrap pieces of pretty material that I have had forever and haven’t used
  • A couple of random blankets

So I’m happy with the result, happy I can now find things in my linen closet and happy my little map project didn’t go pear shaped as I thought it might.

I thought I would keep photographing and sharing decluttering progress as I make my way through my various cupboards. I’m gonna just go ahead and assume your as interested as I am in what’s going on with other peoples cupboards and share away.

Now I’m no expert on the topic of decluttering or organisation so please feel free to weigh in. Any thoughts? any tips or tricks? anything in progress your way  – would love to hear.

Love as always from my home to yours xx

 

Linking Up with Chasing Community and Porch Stories today

 

 

 

 

 

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#MySundayPhoto – Far From the Madding Crowd

 

The sky is the daily bread of the eyes. Ralph Waldo Emerson

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The Shoalhaven River, near Nowra, NSW

I had the pleasure of spending this last week gazing at clear blue skies, country roads and endless green. Now thats the romantic side to the camping experience. The not so romantic side is the freezing cold, sleeping in a tent which we discovered had developed a mysterious hole in the roof since we set it up last and some very chilly dashes to the amenities at all hours of the night.

But what  makes the sometimes “treacherous”  conditions worth it of course  is  the kids up to their armpits in the great outdoors. They had no other agenda than to play and have fun and play hard they did, riding their bikes all day, the dirtier they got the happier they were. Showers were few, sleep was limited but good old fashioned fun was plentiful. They discovered too that heat doesn’t always come by the flick of a switch, that hot water bottles are miraculous things and that they can get along very happily without iPads and wifi and fast food. Me too

I loved the smell and warmth of the campfire, drinking early morning coffee with the fog still hanging down low to the ground, cooking outdoors although tricky at times and the long sunny days spent for the most part reading and gazing at said sky.

Camping in the middle of winter – yes daunting but very doable and worth every little bit of inconvenience. My only tip –  take ALL the blankets and woolly things you own.

Take a look at what others have shared at  #MySundayPhoto 

http://photalife.com/my-sunday-photo/

Five Minute Friday – Blessing

Five Minute Friday  – written on a Saturday, posted on a Sunday  but it still works the same way. Prompt word, five minutes, just write. No overthinking, no over editing

This weeks prompt word BLESSING

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Well theres been a few this week.

There were late starts at work and a drive up the  mountain with friends on Friday  and almost getting blown away but oh my goodness this view.
 
And I remember I get to live  here and look at this. The best bit though was picking up where  I left off with old friends not seen in forever but we chatted like it was yesterday and there are fewer things as precious in life as good and faithful friends who take you just the way you are no matter what.  And I had to take this warts and all selfie because I wanted to remember the moment we were  up above the world,  three of us together.
There were  these  clearance roses that made me happy just looking at them. They match my table  and who knew coral pink could be so pretty.
And in amongst the regular worry of my boy and what will he do and how will he get on because a star student he is not  –  he brings home this.
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First in his class for Visual Arts this term and I remember that in this he excels and always has  – the one bright and shining A on his report card each year when the rest of it makes me want to weep. The relief of remembering  that while  dotting his I’s and crossing his Ts and tucking in his shirt and handing assignments in on time is not his thing,  drawing and painting and creating and thinking wildly outside the lines is.  And I think maybe there will be a place for him and his unique gifts without him having to be anybody else but himself.
And today –  is about as icy cold as I ever want it to get around here  but the sky is clear and blue and that sun hitting the front of my house  is doing me all sorts of good and warming me through on the inside.
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Funny how  the tiniest perfection can make you believe everything’s going to be all right.  Bread Alone – Judi Hendricks

Some blessings blatant and brilliant and gobsmacking and others in strange disguises and hiding round corners waiting to be found.  Life flows this way and that – it rips and ravages and just about breaks us in two sometimes but theres no mistaking the sheer profound blessing of it. This  chance to breathe and love and be a part of it all is no small thing.  This chance to rub shoulders with eternity and with the ground and with each other makes no earthly sense  – but here we are.
Blessed beyond measure whichever way we look at it.

You can read what other people have done with their five minutes here 

Or you can join in with some story telling and heart sharing at #porchstories right here.

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Lessons from an L Shaped Hallway

This post written for Women Connect. You can read more about that here .

“the in-between place is still a place” Christie Purifoy 

I read these words a few weeks ago now and as sometimes happens with words that strike a chord, they’ve stayed with me.

They made me think of my narrow L shaped hallway.

IMG_8553Its an in-between place.

In between the living areas of the house and more business end of the house.  I charge down this hallway arms full on one mission or another day in and day out. Another towel being delivered to the bathroom because no one in this house remembers to take a towel with them to the shower. Or on my way to the laundry, another load of clothes to go in or come out or be hung up, sometimes all three. School uniforms to be ironed, hair to be washed, a bath to be filled. Always something.

Theres the familiar give in one tiny section of the floor where a board has cracked that my feet always seem to find. Dust collects along the skirting boards and gathers in corners and seems on a mission as well – to constantly collect in great heaps just to taunt me. Swishing a mop along those edges right up to the front door feels like a victory in itself but that dust  – it has a way of finding its way back.

 

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I wonder how many miles I do in a day,  early morning, late at night, up and down – how many do we all do –  feeling like we’re getting no where fast

And yep a  lot of life is lived in in-between places. Not where we were but not where we want to be either. Between what was and the place our hearts compass has us pointed – the longed for job, the house finished, our goal weight, the debt paid off, something to come or something to go, a big break, a move, a healing,  an answer.

And a couple of things can happen.

We can either be in one heck of a rush to put some space between where we are now and where we want to be or we get a lost in the throws of the everyday hard work,  the up and down of the same hallways, the in and out, the dust piling up again and lose sight of where we are headed. Drowning not waving.

Either way the difference its the same – we can miss  the gift that is the “right now”, we can miss the unique shape and rise and fall of it, we can miss what it might tell us and teach us, we might even miss its beauty.

And I get it  “right here” might not be where you thought you would be because you know as well as I that  life can’t be trusted to stay the same or to do whats its told. Right now  might feel about as  bent out of shape as it can get with so many “not yets” and “what ifs”, with so many questions and so much waiting –  that somedays we might wonder whose life we are living because it sure doesn’t feel like ours.

Yet even in the in-between place are signs and signposts of the eternal running right beneath our fingertips, just below the surface of our daily work. They point the way , they remind us of who we are are and where we are going, they remind us  of the story God is writing with our lives right here, right now.

So I’ll tell you a few other things about my skinny hallway

Ken  calls it “the gallery” as a bit of a joke but space is short in my tiny house so each part has to play its part – even the most ordinary of parts. So its lined with paintings  – mostly the thrifted kind and mostly Australian landscapes  because I love a country landscape and they make me feel peaceful just looking at them. Photographs too – wedding photos and the cutest of the squishy faced baby photos some in ornate frames some in old vintage frames because I like the mix of the old and new and I love their little faces. I’ve positioned them all in groups so there is a “view”  as you come out of each door. Destinations for my eyes – like mini breaks and a diversion from the dust.IMG_8547IMG_8546In one corner theres nothing. A  hall table was there for a very long while and now that its  moved the clear space too is a relief for my eyes. No furniture to wash around, nothing in the way just clear uncluttered space.

On the walls theres maybe a 100 tiny nail holes  that have been made in the wrong place – evidence of my picture arranging and rearranging and arranging again and not measuring ever. I’d like to think I was more precise and methodical but the nail holes tell the real  story.

Theres a bookshelf  too – an ordinary looking bookshelf except that it isn’t. My father made it for me what must be 30 years ago now and its still standing strong despite its age. Me too I hope. It was pushed into the hallway just to get it out of the way and it seems like it was made for this space. A happy accident. Its narrow and tucks into the wall barely noticeable but its a spot to put a few nice things on and the extra storage goes a long way.IMG_1335IMG_1337It just so happens that it covers a hole in the wall too. That hole was first made by Ken years ago now. He hit it out sheer frustration when our boy Ethan 18 months old broke his leg for the second time in a year and it felt like our world was coming apart again.  Our only job to protect him and keep him safe and we couldn’t seem to do it. Ken patched the hole later and painted it over but a few years later it was opened up again. Exact same spot. This time by Ethan himself. His hand went through it running full pelt up the hallway playing chasies with a friend on his back. Yes a house full of kids, a birthday party I think, a rollicking good game being had and Ethan a force to be reckoned with. My heart full. I remember Ken being a bit annoyed at the time with the kids “wrecking the house” but truly that ship had sailed a while before and I reminded him, as good wives do why the wall was weak in that spot. I reminded him that Ethan running full pelt anywhere was our prayers of years ago answered, our dreams come true with his bones gaining strength all the time and him growing fast and big and strong. Yes even the things we think broken and gaping, the things we might choose to cover up carry messages of our redemption and are reminders of where God has shown up in our lives.

And in my rushing up and down that hallway I only have to catch a glimpse of those sweet little baby faces and I’m reminded oh this place is good and this life is good. My prayers were answered and I can believe they’ll continue to be answered. The questions and the frustrations and the overwhelm are real but they find there place smaller and less significant than they seemed before because life is a whole lot of dealing with the “bad” but look how glorious is the good.IMG_8549IMG_8548IMG_8550

“Even in the waiting, the listening, and the watching for what’s next, there is still so much right here”. Emily P Freeman

So much goodness, so much life, so much of our  story, so much of God,  more than we often see with our eyes or even touch with our hands.

Even narrow L shaped hallways can remind us of that  somedays

In an in between place:

  • Create some diversions from the dust – some mini breaks for your heart and soul. Make some room for the the things  you love and that make you feel better and more you just by doing them. Even in the smallest increments its like sunshine to our souls and help bring a measure of the peace and perspective we are yearning for.
  • Leave yourself a little blank space, lets call it breathing room. Just give yourself a minute now. Leave yourself some unscheduled time free of lists,  have to do’s, planning, scheming, scheduling or doing. Call it pondering, praying, doodling, staring into space or at the garden or out the window time  –  even just for the littlest of bits it works wonders.  “Choosing to leave practical things undone is a brave act of trust and relinquishment.  And relinquishment precedes the miracle”  Shelly Miller, Rhythms of Rest
  • Let the nail hole shows. Remember our mistakes tell our story as much as our victories. They’re signs we haven’t given up on ourselves or on our dreams or our destination. They’re signs that we are still trying and learning and giving things a shot. No shame there. “Lets not fear making a mess,  lets not fear broken things” Christie Purifoy
  • Celebrate  the “happy accidents” There is so much more good then we might think at first glance –  unexpected goodnesses that come our way by sheer grace –  not planned on, not worked for – just given. The company of a good friend, a good word, a sunset, a blue sky,  a last minute reprieve, ten minutes of silence – windfalls for the heart, just at the right time, in the right place.  They carry us further than we think. Easy to miss, easy to overlook if were not paying attention but “when things aren’t perfect, which is always, you have to choose what you are going to focus on” Myquillyn Smith
  • And finally  – look for the  handprint of God in your life, trace its lines, run your finger along the imprints left and see  how far you have come, see where He has been. Remember “right now” is part of the bigger story being crafted with your life.  Now that casts a better light, that brings some form and meaning and place to the present.  This place is for a reason so lets call it good.

“Surely the Lord is in this place and I wasn’t even aware of it” Genesis 28:16

Yes  God is found in these awkward in between places, in the cracks and crevices of our lives, in the places we feel stranded or squeezed in tight.  The very One who sent Jesus down low to the ground with a purpose,  to embrace us travellers still dusty and dirty from the road  “to steadfastly whisper, I’ve got you, keep going.”

xxx

 

Linking Up with #Porch Stories with Kristin Hill Taylor and Chasing Community with Brenda Bradford Ottinger and Tell His Story with Jennifer Dukes Lee