Opinions Are Like Belly Buttons

Opinions Are Like Belly Buttons

When is expressing our own thoughts and opinions a problem?  Please join me for this post evaluating our tendency and ability to do so.  I pray it challenges all of us to look at where our words may land in the life of another.

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Guest Post: Nothing is Impossible with God


*a special post from special guest Dr. Rachel Davis-Jackson* I was a little black girl born to a custodian and a laborer for a cement factory. At nine years of age, the Lord put a dream in my heart and I told my mother I was going to be a doctor. My father and mother divorced but my mom was a tough single mother. She made sure I stayed on track with grades. We weren’t rich but we weren’t poor either. My mom worked three jobs at times to give me all I needed and most of what I wanted. My mom brought me to church on Sundays and I went to catechism school. I completed all the lessons and ceremonies required by the Catholic church.

I was raised to be strong and independent. I have been working since I was 15 years old and obtained my license on my 15th birthday. I went through college without a break; working and studying. Looking back, I was driven. Didn’t realize at the time it was God’s dream in me driving me to fulfill my destiny.

I met my soon-to-be husband in my sophomore year of college and we were married by my 1st year of medical school. I knew of the Lord, because of my upbringing but did not have a relationship with Him at that time in my life. That goes to show you; God had a mission for me and He drove my life, my actions and my interactions from behind the scenes. He knew I would need a partner like Kevin.

When I met my husband, Kevin, I was at a point in my life that I didn’t want a boyfriend. Kevin knew way before I did that the Lord put us together. Even when I would tell him, “I just want to be friends.” He would always say, “I’m going to make you mine.” Obviously he did what he said.  We were married for over 25 years. 

The Lord revealed to me that not only had He placed in Kevin everything I needed to help me achieve my destiny, He also had placed in me, everything that I needed to give to Kevin. God placed in me all the love, patience, understanding and caring to repay Kevin for sufferings he endured early in life.

Kevin and I were married on December 29, 1990. Our marriage was filled with ups and downs. One of our biggest trials came on March 10, 1993. Our first child together was born at 26 weeks, 1 pound, 8.5 ounces. The doctor gave her less than a 50% chance of survival. I was devastated and knew she would die.

Not my husband. He worked with some God-fearing, praying women. He went to work and they prayed together. My husband heard from God and from that time on all he would say was, “ She is going to be fine.”

She is better than fine. She is a smart, beautiful Baylor college graduate. During those times, I doubted Kevin’s faith and his relationship with the Lord. However, while my faith was tested and I was the one doubting God, Kevin had enough faith for both of us. We both had been raised in the church and had strayed away but through trials the Lord brought us back to Him.

We had two other children and I was on bedrest for months for both pregnancies. My husband worked and took care of me and the baby. With God’s help and strength we both survived very troubling times. I completed medical school, pediatric residency and a pediatric subspecialty training by 2002 and had three babies during this time. All of which we could not have accomplished without the grace of God. Kevin used to say, “Baby, it’s me and you against the world.” God’s Word says He will supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Christ has always been there for me, even when I didn’t even acknowledge His presence as I do now.

My relationship with the Lord grew as we went through all those trials. After specialty training, I was working in a small NICU; definitely not being able to use all my skills and training. I had been praying for some time for the Lord to move me. His answer was to be content where I was and in due season He would move me. I did just that, I made the best of a less than opportune situation and early in 2006 things changed. The Lord told me to turn in my resignation and tell my job that I would be gone in six months. I obeyed and then started looking for another job.

I went on several interviews until the last one scheduled was in Oklahoma. I had never even considered Oklahoma as an option. My husband and I went on the interview. My prayer was, "Lord if this is where I’m supposed to be please tell Kevin too." I was sure he would never agree to move from Louisiana, after living in New Orleans for greater than 10 years, to Tulsa, Oklahoma. That showed me that what God has planned will come to pass, no matter what. After the interview, I asked Kevin what he thought. Without hesitation, he said, “Let’s try it, Bae.” I was floored. Long story short, we moved December 2006 and since being here, God has blessed me and my family above and beyond our wildest dreams. I started as just another newborn intensive care doctor with the group and the Lord promoted me to medical director of one of the two largest newborn intensive care units in the state of Oklahoma. I was doing what I loved to do, taking care of sick babies and being blessed by it.

My family and I have had our trials over the past 10 years but we also have had so many blessings and so much favor bestowed on us. For example, my oldest son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He went through two surgeries to remove it. I was terrified but I trusted God. I kept having to say, “Lord I believe, just help me with my unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24) God does answer prayers. My son recovered from both surgeries with no deficits and he is healthy and cancer free to this day.

Remembering my trials and my blessings reminds me of what the Lord told me before we moved from Louisiana. “I will bring you into your land of milk and honey.” He also told me that He would give me the man of my desires in my husband. God did all that and more. My relationship with the Lord continues to grow and my relationship with Kevin just got better and better. My prayer was “Lord, bring Kevin and I closer together and closer to You.” We didn’t have a perfect marriage with no problems, but the last 10 years were the best of our 25-year marriage.

It seems the closer I got to God the more trials I have to endure. But His Word says, to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). I have to say that God is requiring a lot of me since He called the love of my life home to Him on July 26, 2016.  Kevin had just made 52 one month prior.

It was unexpected and almost unbelieveable. My husband’s presence was always larger than life. He lived a blessed and highly favored life, especially the last 10 years. His absence was felt like a tidal wave in a calm sea. The love and support that I and my family received after his passing, was immense. To look back now, I know I could have not made it through this ordeal without the Lord supplying me with all my needs through so many wonderful people.

During this time, I have also had two beautiful grandchildren born, such a bittersweet blessing. They will never get to know PaPa who loved them before they were born. This has truly been the hardest trial of my life. I miss my mate of 30 years and husband of over 25 years. My children miss their father, who has always been father and mother to them when mom was working. By God’s grace and mercy, we are all hanging in there. Our broken hearts are mending slowly. My prayer is “God heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)

My God has never failed me and I know with time and His presence in my life, I will be healed. I thank God for the time I had with Kevin and the three beautiful children we conceived and the one beautiful girl that is my child because she is Kevin’s. I know one day I will see my love again. In the meantime, I stand on God’s words, “I will give you beauty for ashes and double for your trouble.” (Isaiah 61:3-7 The Message)

A Little Thought From Heather:Our lives speak a message.  I have half a blog post composed on that thought alone.  But Dr. Jackson's life is a message I've received from for years now.  I first met her during nursing school gaining some insight into the world of NICU Nursing as an extern in the summer of 2011.  In addition to the beautiful views from our unit, another one of the "pros" on my list to work there was this neonatologist who took time to routinely write words of inspiration for the staff.  I watched her gown-up for a lumbar puncture and after all protocols were followed for a time-out she paused, closing her eyes to pray.  Not too much time passed till I was working as a NICU nurse caring for a terminally ill baby.  Dr. Jackson came in the room, motioned for me to give her my hands, and we stood together and prayed over that little life together.  Dr. Jackson has ministered to my life as I've observed hers. And the message she speaks through it is a beautiful testimony of God's strength and faithfulness through all of life's moments-- the ones of rejoicing and the ones of pain.  I cannot express how grateful I am for her to share her story with us.  I pray the Lord continues to use the words of her journey to encourage and strengthen you on yours.  He is faithful.... in every season. ❤ Heather

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Guest Post: Murder Couldn't Kill God's Love

*a special post from special guest Teresa Nichols* February is known as the month of love so I wanted to share our story about God’s love.

God tells us over and over the importance of love, that no matter what we do for others, or in the name of God, if we do it without love in our hearts then it is nothing, He even gives a complete description of what Love is in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.


Then He tells us His greatest commandment is to love Him, then to love one another.

Yet sometimes things happen that we don’t understand in this life and we want to shake our finger at God and say, “How can You say You love us?

I can’t, in any way, say I understand the ways of God. Why some live and some do not. But I can tell you I believe what John 10:10 tells us, that the enemy is the one who steals, kills and destroys. God tries to teach us how important it is to love one another, but no matter how much we feel we love others, it is nothing close to the magnitude of God’s love for each and every one of us.

I know this first hand—by the way God has shown His love for me through our tragedy. God began showing me His love through miracles and blessings that He poured out on our family as we regained our strength to stand again.


On March 28th of 2011 we made a move to Tulsa, Oklahoma from our small hometown in Iowa with our youngest son Ethan who was twenty, and his friend Casey, twenty-one at the time. Our little town had been quickly loosing businesses and unemployment was very high. My husband Scott left his job of thirty-two years so we could all have a new start in life. Our twenty-six-year-old daughter Leanne was already in Tulsa finishing her second year at Rhema Bible College.  We had prayed and asked God about making this move and He answered in a way that left no room for any doubt that we were to move.  This would be just one of the ways God showed us His love. 

Life was good. Within a month we all had jobs and were having a wonderful time. Along with jobs we had found the best places to play Frisbee golf, some favorite eating places, and a church home. We had all pretty much settled into our routines.

A short time later Ethan met an eighteen-year-old young woman named Carissa. We were all sure she would one day be his wife.


Their days consisted of Ethan working and Carissa’s studies in Music Composition at ORU. Their evenings and weekends were filled with exploration throughout the town’s parks. 

On September 18th 2011, six short months after moving to Tulsa, Ethan and Carissa went for a jog at Hicks Park. As the sun was setting, they were surrounded by two men with a gun. They were robbed and forced to their knees.   Then, they were both shot in the head.

Nothing could have prepared us. Our world stopped and we felt as if our hearts would stop too. There was even a time I wished mine would because with every beat came unimaginable pain. Nothing could stop it. The loss of a child is unbearable in its own, but to lose them in such a violent-senseless way made it so much worse. Even though we knew they were with God the very moment they left this world, it still couldn’t stop our pain.

Ethan had always known God and was baptized as a young boy. But as this beautiful woman of God came into his life he had grown to be a Man of God. They had built their relationship around God first, praying together before they had even spent time together face-to-face. They both had such a trust and love in God. Even when I would try to warn him to be careful he would look me in the eyes and say, “I have God what do I have to be afraid of?

At first there was just the heartache and sadness but then came the “WHYS” and there were so very many.

As my mind darted from one thought to another in sort of a random-scrambled way trying to make some sense of things, it seemed every thought was attached to a WHY.  Those whys were quickly followed by condemnation, guilt, and “IF ONLYS.

IF ONLY, we would have not gone to a movie that night. IF ONLY they hadn’t gone to that park. IF ONLY we hadn’t moved to Tulsa.

And it was the same for Scott.

It was the question about moving to Tulsa that God opened my eyes to first. One day as this why came to me again God reminded me, “Teresa, you prayed- I gave you a clear answer. Do you doubt Me now? How can you condemn yourself when the answer was so clear that you were to go?” With that I began to realize that Satan was using all the whys to pull us down, to try and fill us with guilt. But with that one truth I also realized God had already made sure we could not have guilt for that, He had covered us.

I knew I had to take authority over Satan and hold tight to God's truth. For me the scripture Romans 8:28, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.”

When Satan would try to push the whys into my thoughts I would tell him to be gone in the name of Jesus Christ. I also knew I needed to stop asking why all together and just let it go. Once I stopped asking “why,” God slowly started giving me answers. They did not come all at once but steadily, as my heart needed them.

One day I was having an exceptionally emotional day, I longed to hold my baby boy and nothing seemed to help me get past that longing. I finally decided to go have lunch with Scott. Although we tried, comforting each other was really impossible. It just does not work when both you and your spouse are hurting so bad. Yes we knew we needed to be together, but you cannot pull someone out of the ditch that you are stuck in too. You can only hold them tight when they need it. But God will slowly ease you out, giving you time to heal before pulling you up a little farther. This kind of deep loss does not disappear. It has to go through stages.

On this day I really needed my husband to hold me, even if it was just for a few minutes. But as I left from lunch to drive back home I could feel the longing coming back strong.

I decided I did not want to go home to sit in the house alone so I stopped at a clothing store and decided to just look around a bit. I found a shirt I wanted to try on so I went into the dressing room to see if it would fit. When I came out of the room to look in the big mirror a woman came out of the adjacent dressing room with the same exact shirt on. We laughed a bit, then wound up in conversation, and I eventually shared about Ethan.

I could see the sadness in her eyes but there was something else too. As we walked out the door to the parking lot she asked if she could share something with me. She told me she was a prayer warrior and that she was getting ready to go next door to get a coffee, but God asked her to go try on some clothes. She tried at first to say she really didn't need anything but she could feel Him telling her to go. She told me that she had been praying for me and our family since she saw the story on the news.


That obedient prayer warrior gave me confirmation that God was there with me. He knew I needed that particular encounter with this stranger to help give me strength to get through that rough day. What an amazing and wonderful God we have! 


This was not the only time God made sure I knew He was with me. There were many different ways and so many blessings as we went through the weeks. But it took me awhile to realize the biggest blessing He gave me.  It was not something that I noticed right away but it became clearer to me as we went through counseling. Through our counselor I learned that no two people ever go through the healing process at the same pace. I had to let Scott heal for himself and not try to push him to where I was or vice-versa. 

This is where I first realized I had no anger. Scott, Carissa's parents, and many other people around me were very angry. I understood why they were angry but I couldn't understand why I was NOT angry.

You see I, like many of you mothers out there, I am like a mother bear. You might come around and see me playing gently with my cubs, but the moment anyone threatens my kids in any way I become a furious fighting animal with claws out and teeth bared to protect them. It doesn't matter how big or mean you may be, I would take you on in a second just to keep them safe. But I felt NO anger. Believe me I searched for it, but it was not there. Even at the preliminary hearing where I looked at the two murderers in the face for the first time there was not any anger.


You see I do not do anger well. It takes a bit of pushing to get me angry but when I do it is not good in any way. Then it is almost always followed but a tremendous let down, followed by tears and sadness. I know God knew I couldn't handle anger so He took it from me.What a loving God! Because of this, forgiveness came easy for me and forgiveness must come in order to heal completely

This is just a small peek into of some of the ways God covered me throughout our time of loss. Even though my heart will always miss my baby boy my spirit leaps when I think of how God loves me. I wanted to share this with you so that you can see the love God has for each of us. He is always there reaching out to us. However, He is a polite and patient God. He will not push Himself upon us. We must invite Him in.

I ask you as we go through this month of love remember what God asks—love one another. There is no greater love than the love of our God.

A Little Thought From Heather: The enemy has netted so many people out of their tragedies-- they blame God and turn away instead of seeking Him for hope and healing. Teresa and Scott’s journey is an example of how hope and healing can unfold for those who choose to turn to God. A story that illustrates how much more powerful His love is than even the most unimaginable heartache. I am honored for Teresa’s willingness to share with us. I pray her words continue to strengthen our confidence and security in His mighty love.   Happy Valentine’s Day ❤ Heather

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Sponsored Post: My R+F Product Experience


***I’m excited to introduce Karen to you. I’ll touch back at the end of the post, but first, let’s hear from her heart. -Heather ❤***

Like Heather, my story begins as a young child. At the age of ten, I had my first surgery to remove a golf-ball-sized tumor from my left upper neck—right where we all feel around to see if our lymph glands are swollen when we’re sick. It wasn’t long and the tumors grew back. At twelve-years old I was sent to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The sights my eyes beheld that day took me far away from any concern for myself.

I saw children, of all ages, bald and pale, and terribly thin, some in wheelchairs while others walked with their IV stands. My heart broke. I still see these children in my memories and they help me determine that my challenge has been small by comparison.

Being that my struggle was with a benign tumor disease and not cancer, St. Jude’s sent me to another doctor.

Dr. Fleming’s surgery skills were a gift from God! He performed three surgeries on my neck and face when I was thirteen, fourteen and twenty, removing those tenacious tumors that grew little tentacles, planting seeds along the way. With each surgery, Dr. Fleming’s blessed hands had to be more invasive to remove radical sections, raising the chances of permanently paralyzing the left side of my face. Fortunately, I was spared any permanent damage.

At the age of twenty, I married, moved to California, and had three beautiful babies. It wasn’t until I moved back to Oklahoma that I went to see the doctor again, seeing the one remaining doctor who knew me as a young child.

Dr. Garber and the board of doctors at St. John’s Hospital sent me to MD Anderson because they had researched and found an effective treatment. And besides, this surgery was going to be even trickier than any I’d had before. The senior and junior doctor, as I refer to them, removed a great number of tumors again, including one the size of a cigar that had grown along the bottom of my mouth. Unfortunately, there would be no escaping permanent damage this time. On top of that, they found thyroid cancer and then, prescribed twelve weeks of radiation to thwart any future tumors.

Radiation. Temporary situation. Right?

One of my mottos is “I can get through anything, as long as I know it’s temporary.” As I endured the burns, the weight loss, the pain, and the loss of hair, I would say “Temporary!” When they said that my saliva glands would not regenerate, I said “Ha!” and they grew back. When they said that I would eventually go deaf in my left ear, I said “Ha!” and almost twenty years later I have perfect hearing.

What I didn’t realize is that radiation continues to burn for years after the treatments have stopped, and that left me permanently scarred, permanently damaged, and I thought of myself as permanently unattractive.

If you’ve had radiation, you know the terrible after-effects on your skin—not just how it feels, but how it looks. My parents would buy different products to help my skin, as did I! Nothing I tried made an impact on the pain from the ever-tightening skin, nor did any of it make my skin look better.


Fast-forward fifteen years when my friend introduced me to Rodan + Fields.

Immediately, I knew I wanted to use the “little blue roller” (AMP MD) and the NRS (night renewing serum) on my face and neck. Why? Because the AMP MD roller tricks your skin into thinking it is injured and thereby, it increases collagen production and the NRS is specially formulated with peptides and retinol to seep into those little roller pricks to “amp up” the collagen production. And sure enough, after two weeks of using it nightly, I started feeling some relief. After three weeks, I was becoming quite happy with the progress. But at four weeks, I went to see my parents and my mother just looked at me and started crying, crying tears of joy! She could see my skin didn’t hurt anymore!!

I believe we all experience different challenges in life and when we meet someone with a similar challenge, we should offer to help them. Through my years, I offered to help friends and family of friends who have been diagnosed with cancer. I had learned a lot from my experience.

When I read one of Heather’s blogs, I could only imagine that Heather’s burn scars were painful like mine were. Even though the AMP MD is a tool that has been FDA approved for use on the face and neck, we have found it to be effective on other areas of the body. So, I reached out to Heather and asked if she would want to try the AMP MD and NRS on her scars, and….

~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~         ~

This is the very first collaborated post we’ve had. It’s also the very first sponsored post we’ve had!

Over the last four years of sharing little doses of inspiration, joy, strength and encouragement on this blog, we’ve never chose to advertise. There’s been a few opportunities, but call me “controlling,” cause honestly, it’s true; but that characteristic and advantage of being able to regulate whether or not something is promoted on this site, has secured our efforts to share what we feel aligns with our message.

Karen reached out to me through this blog and shared not only her story with me, but extended her compassion for my own journey. While I was very interested in the delivery of what the product boasted, I had to share with her one important detail—my scars don’t hurt. Tenderness? Sure. Sensitivity? No doubt. But nothing, that in my experience, would qualify as pain.

Nevertheless, she convincingly felt it would be a great product for me to try.

I began what I referred to as my washing-and-rolling-nighttime routine back in September.

Now, allow me to be very transparent with you. I guess I have a healthy dose of skepticism for being an optimist. Plus, we’re major budgeters in our family. Meaning that skin-care spending falls in the frivolous category. I didn’t see myself using it long-term. However, I was all-in, following the step-by-step system every night.

Well. You know where the story goes. The fact alone that we’re sharing this on our blog as our first advertised product ever, speaks to the effectiveness of it.

Maybe it’s a mom-thing, but my mom’s reaction was similar to the one Karen’s mom had. While I’m only using the product on my face, my mom commented on how smooth and “not so red” the scar appeared. She noticed a change within the first month of me using the product.

Okay—so maybe you don’t have any scarring on your face. Let me share with you one more thing I absolutely love about my nighttime-rolling routine—I’m not so shiny!

Shiny only looks good on me if it’s coming from my heart and soul. Shiny soul– it’s a classification created by one of my sweet friends! I just love that! Anyway, shiny on the face is a problem of the oily-skinned people like me. Our make-up doesn’t last as long and it smears and it’s just blah. But that nuisance has been eliminated since I’ve used this product. I’ve read that it “improves skin texture, minimizes the appearance of pores and helps reduce and soften wrinkles while increasing skin firmness and elasticity.” A few snazzy words from the company that having now used the product I can say, “yep—it sure does!

I really wanted you to meet Karen and know her story—it’s why she does what she does. It’s also the reason why I’m recommending you contact her and explore what skin care products she has that may work for you.  The AMP MD and NRS has been a great experience for me. As we do in all our posts, I’m sharing this life experience with you.

I hope the information is helpful, and I also hope we see and seize the moments God provides in connecting us with others. He may be working something really good into our lives through it!

Hebrews 10:24 NLT Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.

contact Karen on Facebook or through email or on her website

karenforsythe Did you enjoy this post? Want to join in the journey with Heather? ****Three ways to help us grow—sharecommentsubscribe.**** Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact Heather! Choose this link to see a video of Heather's story

Some R+F Before and Afters

marianne-grimes walter-bryski-45-daysbobby-tillman6-months-of-redefine-and-amp-mdbald-headreverse-ac-pack-kristen-breen-25-days reverse-transformation

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FakeBooking: Living Real in a Social Media World

img_0392 Mom, Aunt Donna and I all went to get pedicures last week. It was a special occasion. Actually, after pulling off my socks it appeared one could conclude it as a rare occasion! The only attention I had given my toes since October was a trimming. The French pedicure had nearly grown off—off, off and away! What remained on the quarter top portion on my great toe was chipped, somewhat discolored and left a residual white color even after the polish had been removed. Talk about embarrassing—when the pedicurist is filing the top of the toe in efforts to buff out that funky look.

I would certainly have never snapped a “before” pic of my little piggies to share with my social media friends and family. I do imagine the image along with the typical getting-a-pedicure caption would have acquired some comments. Like, “it’s about time,” or “how long has it been?” or “should you see a doctor for that?

Oh, honestly, it may not have received the comments, because my social media people aren’t social media trolls, but it would have at the least, created some similar thoughts. I know it seems unheard of, especially after the political social media funnels of the last couple weeks. Actually, I’ve been tempted to chime in a time or two, even wrote a blog post, but had to trash it. I call it a “funnel” because it appears to take social media’s intention of connecting people in one direction. Down. And down really, really fast. People unfollow or defriend or step away from participating altogether. I’m not sure some “friends” would even acknowledge one another if they saw each other in the store after some of the exchanges I’ve read. But moving on….

Overall, people really do know how to keep negativity to themselves. We haven’t forgotten Disney’s classic film, Bambi and that sweet little rabbit who was working on keeping thoughts to himself. Yes, God bless Thumper! We all know the feeling, “if ya can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Nevertheless, we tend to only share what we think would be well-received. Or what we’re proud of. Those not-so-stellar realities in our life don’t need to be showcased. I mean, how many times have we cropped dirty dishes out of the pic or tried to eliminate our kitchen’s cracked grout from making the photo? I could go on. The pile of laundry, the busted fence pickets and falling braces—I know, sounds crazy but it happens around here. Ya know what else happens around here? Shattered light fixtures from soccer balls and basketballs. From the patio to the playroom we’ve got a few that have bit the dust. Then there’s the challenge of avoiding the ongoing sheetrock repair! At the moment, and I figure it may not be a very extended one, but at the moment we have every area of sheetrock repaired and painted! Did you hear the angels sing?! It’s a glorious thing!

Life is just life. And sharing it with others doesn’t require perfection. I mean, you’re probably gonna notice when The Meadows need to mow under the trampoline in a few of our backyard pool pictures. We just don’t like moving that thing every time we mow. So it gets to looking a bit shabby. Or creepy. Like potential snake-home creepy. Now I’ve gone too far. Shared too much. Let me get back on track.

My approach to sharing socially is to follow Thumper’s approach—only share, or say, what is nice. If I don’t have anything nice, I just don’t share. Which explains why there are occasional periods of no participation.

Even here on this blog, we’ve shared some un-pleasantries, but not until we have something to offer from it. A difficult season isn’t for our misery, it’s for our development. Seeking the Lord and gaining insight through the season creates a gift in us to share with others in the right time. Please Note: in the right time.

It’s my heartbeat every reader who visits our online home will receive a little dose of inspiration, strength, joy and encouragement. Personally, some of life’s moments drain those qualities from me. Like the challenging season with our daughter or the unexpected job loss with my husband. I couldn’t write about those when they were unfolding. I had nothing good to give from it. But in time, the Lord turned those into trophies for His Kingdom and tokens of encouragement for us on earth. *check out Living in a Layoff or The Other Side of Failing

When we’re scrolling Facebook, or Twitter or Instagram, or hanging out on LinkedIn, or browsing Pinterest, and any other social media site (cause I just can’t account for or even know them all), let’s remember that those are the highlight reels. We aren’t sharing the behind-the-scenes. Not because someone is faking it, but because they may be in the waiting period—waiting for something good to come from it.

In honor of this post, I’m sharing my toes. Recently pedicured! I chose to go bare. No polish. First of all, I’m so grateful I have my feet, but I’m not a fan of the look. My yucky bone sticks out on my right ankle and my toes curl under. But nevertheless, here is something I wouldn’t typically share—my little piggies. Overgrown-grass-under-the-trampoline pics coming soon (summer will be here before we know it)!

Ephesians 4:29 ESV Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

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How Could I Possibly Be Thankful?

My heart has been heavy approaching this day of Thanksgiving. I’m thinking of the mother facing the holidays for the first time after the tragic loss of her daughter; the family who lost their baby this week; the daughter whose holiday gatherings have been years without her mother and just recently will now be without her father; the wife waking up for her first holiday morning without her husband of over twenty-five years; the woman who lost the anticipation and excitement of her baby’s first Thanksgiving in a miscarriage; a family welcoming a precious new healthy baby but losing the young, beautiful first-time mother. One can’t help but grieve with these who are hurting.

Grief has been known in my family. We’re familiar with the breath it takes out of you, the way it changes you, how it can overwhelm you and make your body feel physically ill. And we know that it never completely goes away. Every birthday, date of death, every milestone moment, and yes, this time of year, each holiday celebrated accompanied with traces of grief.

Someone is missing. How unnatural it feels to keep living life when life no longer feels like the life we knew. How bewildering it is seeing people go about their daily business, not even aware that someone so special, and so significant, is no longer on this earth. How empty it feels sitting down to a table with all our family, except our loved one lost.

After loss, I picture grief taking up a large part of our heart. Through healing, the element of grief becomes smaller and smaller, yet remains. Why?

The Lord uses the sorrow in my heart to believe for His healing, His joy, and His peace for others. These losses grieve me so deeply because I know how I’ve grieved for those I’ve lost. It’s so painful. It hurts. It’s dark. However, my losses fuel my intercession for others who mourn. Romans 12:15 ESV says it’s one of the marks of a true Christian, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”

How has my family been able to be thankful in, through and after tragedy?

It’s difficult to praise God when so much is wrong. It’s a challenge to worship with a heavy hurting heart. However, praise, worship and thanksgiving are vital to healing.

Think about Paul and Silas sitting in prison. What did they do? They began to sing. Sorrow can feel like a prison. The release comes through the worship. Worship shakes the foundation to our grief, doors are swung open and bonds are unfastened. (See Acts 16:25-26).

Worshipping the Lord in our grief is a sacrifice. God honors the sacrifice of worship. Worshipping not because we feel like it, but worshipping because He is worthy. I remember being in church two days after my Dad’s funeral. Imagining his casket at the front of the sanctuary was hindering my worship. I was so grieved. But then we began to sing “Blessed Be Your Name.” Yes, there was pain in the offering, but that is authentic worship. Hebrews 13:15 ESV “Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.”

The act of sacrificing thank offerings to God—even for the bread and cup of cost, for cancer and crucifixion –this prepares the way for God to show us His fullest salvation from bitter, angry, resentful lives and from all sin that estranges us from Him. – One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp

Thankfulness doesn’t negate our grief. Thankfulness brings joy in the grief. How? Thankfulness brings us closer to God and as we are closer to Him we receive of His glorious riches. His light, His love, His joy, His peace.  This isn’t denial. This isn’t fairytale, make-believe. This isn’t lying to ourselves. This is walking, not in the natural tendency of our nature, but in His supernatural power to transform our hearts in His presence. Habakkuk 3:17-18 ““Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering. The converse does. The brave who focus on all things good and all things beautiful and all things true, even in the small, who give thanks for it and discover joy even in the here and now, they are the change agents who bring fullest of Light to all the world. When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. – One Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp

I pray for you, sweet readers to be the “change agents.” Our place is not in this world. Our place is destined to be with the Father. In the imperfections of this life we live, I pray for your heart of Thanksgiving to transcend every trial, displaying the light of His glory through your joy.

Much love.

Much sympathy.

Much hope.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Visit the link for the song: Blessed Be Your Name by Matt Redman

*If you are waking this day with pain and loss, I invite you to read this touching post my friend shared. *

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The Good Things

This week we had the opportunity to sit in our kitchen and visit with some fine folks from a local television show. After the microphone was tucked away, the camera packed up and the vehicle pulled out of the driveway, I got to thinking about how God doesn’t just open doors, He opens them in ways we often don’t even anticipate. The Explore Tulsa show door opened because of a thank you note. Over the summer I had written a thank you note to Video Revolution. They’re people who not only know cutting edge electronics, but they have heart too. Almost a year ago, Brandon shared with them how the Lord was calling us to share our story, and our need to video the events. They captured the vision and met the need. The least I could do was write a thank you note. Well, who would’ve known Video Revolution sponsors the Explore Tulsa show? That one note led to an email, a phone call, an interview, and soon a segment to air covering our story. God is so creative.

It’s a statement I find myself repeating over and over again. The creative plans of God are far above what we can think or imagine. I certainly would’ve never imagined how He would take such tragedy, loss and sadness and bring life, joy and abundance out of it.

One of my favorite, slightly embarrassing, but really funny stories about God’s creative plans goes back five years ago. I was in my first semester of nursing school at OU. I was in the 3pm-11pm clinical group. We had two back-to-back clinical days each week. The patient I was assigned to on day one was going into surgery the next day. As a student I desired the chance to observe the surgery. When the elderly patient asked me if I would be there, it gave me the motivation I needed to inquire of the possibility.

The next day, we’ll call surgery day, was the day the nursing students were assigned to be working a health fair for the Tulsa Run registrants. It was a late night before, and an early morning start. That may not sound like pertinent information, but it explains why I never took the time to eat. I stayed at the health fair until my clinical instructor gave me the green light to leave a little early, making it to the hospital for the patient’s surgery.

I checked in at the OR where I was escorted to change out of my nursing student scrubs and into surgical scrubs. Afterwards, a nurse accompanied me to the OR where I was encouraged to find a place out of the way, and not to draw any attention, or ask any questions, because the surgeon didn’t like students. Wow! Talk about intimidating. But I found a corner, where I assumed I’d be able to see, and I planned to be inconspicuous.

Shortly thereafter, the door swung open and a man walked right up to me and asked, “Are you the student?” I said, “Yes, I am.” Then another question, “Do you want to see something you’ll never see again in your life?” I said, “Absolutely.”

I walked with him over to view an X-Ray as he explained to me that the patient had an amyand hernia. Then this surgeon, who supposedly didn’t even like students asked, “do you want to scrub in?” WHAT?!?! No. That’s what I said on the inside, but allow me to use quotations so you’ll realize how composed I was on the outside. “What does that entail?” He said, “Come on. I’ll show ya.”

So over we went to scrub in. As I washed and washed, up to my elbows, Dr. Johnson inquired of my burn injury. The questions, “how were you injured?” and “where did you receive your care?” revealed that Dr. Johnson not only knew my surgeons, but remembered my case. It was a neat moment to say the least.

Do you feel all the nice warm fuzzies? Hang on to those. It gets better.

There I was all scrubbed in, donning the sterile gloves and sterile gown, we moseyed up to the surgical field. Dr. Johnson instructed me to put my hands right up there by his. The surgery started, the incision was made and the cauterizing began. Now is the time I should remind you I hadn’t eaten that day. As the fat was cauterized the smell overwhelmed me. I remember the voice of Ms. BDub (our nickname for our clinical instructor) ringing in my head, “Don’t let anyone take away your opportunity to learn.” I was telling myself to pull it together, not wanting to throw the opportunity out the window from my own doing.

I’ve never completely passed out, but I was on my way that day. My head was sooo light. I was trying so very hard to hold it together. I believe I took a step back, keeping my hands in position on the sterile field, I then leaned over about to go down. Dr. Johnson yelled, “Grab her.” Suddenly, someone’s arms were around my waste and everyone was asking, “what’s her name,” “what’s her name?” I answered in a barely-with-it slur, “Heeeaaattthhherrrr.”

Oh dear. There was a whole need to scrub back in. Not for me. No, they found me a little stool to sit on for the duration of the surgery. Nevertheless, I was shocked when Dr. Johnson invited me in for the next case. It was nothing I could’ve ever anticipated. It was a skin graft on a burn patient.

What an incredible moment seeing for the first time what I had experienced so many, many times before. It was surreal. In my spirit I prayed for the patient, anticipating his pain upon awakening for him. Bless his heart. Skin grafts are not pleasant.

Couldn’t get much more incredible than that could it? One wouldn’t think. But with God life holds incredible moments when we least expect them.

A few weeks later I got a call from the marketing team at Hillcrest, the hospital I had received my burn care and the same hospital I was then doing my clinicals at, over twenty years later.

Dr. Johnson had suggested me for a marketing campaign they were launching.

Who would’ve ever thought? The girl who got excused early from community nursing hours to attend a surgery where the surgeon had a reputation of not even liking students, to getting an invitation to scrub in and practically blowing it by nearly fainting, to getting another invitation for a very personal experience on another surgery, to topping it off with a request to be a part of a television commercial and newspaper ads? You’ve got to be kidding!

Only God. Only God.

Every door He opens I know is His equipping of every good thing to accomplish His will.

In this post I hope you’ve had a little laughter and received a lot of hope.   The Lord uses everything. His ways are higher. His plans are creative. He wants you in the middle of it all!

Hebrews 13:21 (NLV) May God give you every good thing you need so you can do what He wants. May He do in us what pleases Him through Jesus Christ. May Christ have all the shining-greatness forever! Let it be so.

Explore Tulsa airs locally on: Saturdays Channel 19 at 6pm Sunday Channel 6 at Midnight Wednesdays Channel 47 at 10pm segments are also on their website

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video from the Hillcrest Changing Lives Campaign

Exlpore Tulsa- interviews December 5th 2015

Part 1

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Water Damage

Around our home there is a light-hearted joke that the laundry room is my favorite room in the house. Seems to be a place I am frequently located. Brooklyn still gets a kick out of telling the time I asked her to set the table saying, “We’re eating in the laundry room tonight.” She repeated it back to me in question, with emphasis as given, “We’re eating in the laundry room?” I realized what I had said and corrected, “the dining room, the dining room, we are eating in the dining room tonight.” The girl still gets a good laugh each time she recalls it. I’m so grateful my mode of an overloaded brain brings such joy to the home when it can. Like my brain, which overflows at times with more information than my mouth can accurately articulate, my washing machine did something similar, malfunctioning, releasing all of its water onto the floor. Of course, we were not home when this occurred, [as I’m a big fan of setting the delay button to have the load ready for the dryer when we return], but it was quite evident the moment we arrived, because the laundry room is one of the first rooms we see when walking in the door.

For those who remember some of the posts composed from this past summer’s events and the storms I mentioned in Meadows in Massachusetts, Nurse's Cry, Deflated, and Crummy Mom, you won’t be surprised at all to know that of course, the washer malfunctioned around the same time. Didn’t seem like too big of a deal then. We cleaned up all the water and started toting laundry down to my Mom’s during the interim of having the washer replaced. Let me say, I’ve never been so grateful to have purchased an extended warranty. We had only had the washer fourteen months. We don’t typically go for extended warranties, but as much as we use our washer and as much as a service technician charges, we figured it was worth our while. Evidently, it was.

Unfortunate bummer inconvenience, but simple fix, right? We thought so. That is until our wood floors buckled.

Apparently the water released from the washer that day ran under the laundry room wall which backs up to our dining room and kitchen, flowed completely through the kitchen even reaching into the living room! It was incredible and unbelievable at the same time. Who would’ve thought it could flow that far and who would’ve thought it could cause so much damage?


Disappointingly, this incident marks a first for Brandon and me…our first homeowner’s claim. We’re counting our blessing that in the sixteen years we’ve been married, this is our first, but you people who carry higher deductibles feel our pain. It’s not a fund you plan to dip into, nevertheless, are so grateful it’s there. Occurrences like these emphasize the importance of those annual budget meetings for sure.


Thursday was another first. Movers came to pack up our entire downstairs. Since the wood has to be replaced, it has to be refinished; therefore, so do all the rooms. We’ve never had movers before. I kept trying to help and they were so polite, “It’s okay, we’ll get it Ma’am.” I won’t chase the squirrel of being called “Ma’am.” It’s such a courteous reference, and I receive it as such, I just still feel a bit young for the name, so I’d encourage them, “Oh, please just call me ‘Heather.’” Regardless, I was in the way and needed to let the nice men do their job, so I met my Mom for breakfast.


I continued to run errands for the day and returned home to the demolition in full swing.

I got out the vacuum and started cleaning up what I could. We’re living in the house for the first week of the project, sleeping in Caden’s room; watching TV, folding laundry and working on the computer in Brooklyn’s room; and using our good ole laundry room for coffee, making sandwiches, washing dishes, feeding the dogs, oh yes, and for laundry too. Jaron and Gavin are packed in as well, storing some of our downstairs items in their rooms. Therefore, the floors needed to be relatively clean for our continued stay in the house.


While cleaning up a bit, my mind pondered that question, “Who would’ve thought it could flow that far and who would’ve thought it could cause so much damage?”

My heart became stirred thinking of our words. Thinking about the damage the flow of the water caused, illustrates the damage caused when we allow our words to flow. Like the washing machine releasing the water, sometimes we release our words without first taking into account what it may damage.

Proverbs 11:9 NLT

With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.

“With their words…” And we’ve all seen it happen. Words can destroy.

Our wood floors and sub-flooring have been removed and we are hanging out in our home without starting any work to replace them for several days. Why? Because the concrete, our home’s foundation, has to have time to dry. Otherwise, we’d be laying new floor over a moist surface providing for substandard results.

Unfortunately, many of you are feeling exactly what I’m talking about. You’ve been wounded by words. Someone felt their opinion was of so much value that they were going to speak it whether it was right, whether it was helpful, and regardless if it was hurtful. Let me share some encouragement with you, The Word says “but knowledge will rescue the righteous.” After you rip out the warped wood, while you’re allowing your foundation to dry, go back to what God’s Word says, and stand firm in who you are in Him.


Perhaps you’re the washing machine. Perhaps you released a flow of words and have seen the damage it’s caused. You know, the beautiful thing about our relationship with the Lord is He knows all so well how human we are and how, despite our progress to grow and mature spiritually, sometimes we find ourselves walking in the flesh. So what do we do? Philippians 2:3-4 “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Lay out your motives before the Lord. Allow Him to search your heart. Forsake pride and humble yourself for the interest of the one you hurt. It’s not for the weak, because you may be rejected, but it will honor God because it’s all about your heart.

Maybe there isn’t any water damage in your life right now. Maybe there haven’t been any words spoken or received in a destructive manner.

First of all, take just a moment and say, “Thank you, Jesus for the peace I have in my relationships. I ask that you wrap your protection around each individual I love and guard our hearts that we may not hurt one another, but continue to love one another as You love us. Unconditionally, faithfully, and genuinely.”

Secondly, take a moment to soak in some of what Proverbs teaches us about our words. You may have heard people say they read a Proverb a day. Since there are 30 to 31 days in a month, and there are 31 Proverbs, it is a great benefit receiving of the wisdom found there daily.

When using our words, choose which side of the Proverb you will stand.

Proverbs 10:11

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions.

Proverbs 10:21

The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.

Proverbs 10:32

The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words.

Proverbs 12:18

Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.

Proverbs 15:28

The heart of the godly thinks carefully before speaking; the mouth of the wicked overflows with evil words.

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Making Scents

On my drive home from work Sunday night I could smell the approach of rain. I drove by a freshly mowed lawn and took in the fragrance of fresh cut grass. As my senses were stirred, so were my thoughts. I thought about the word “aroma” and scriptures referencing how important smells are to our God. Smells are pretty important to us too. We can instantly recall memories when we take in a familiar scent. If there is a fragrance of coconut in shampoo or conditioner, it takes me back to being five years old using my Grandma’s shampoo. I loved that stuff. And how about perfume? I can be standing in line at the grocery store, or pass by someone at the mall, and catch the scent of Paula Rogers’ perfume, my former Pastor’s wife. I’m instantly taken back to those precious moments we spent praying at the altar together.

Recently, my work friend, Molly gave me a Bath and Body Works candle. My heart was deeply touched by her thoughtfulness. I’m reminded of her generous gesture as the sweet smell fills our home each time it’s lit. It is a pleasing aroma.

Considering how we’re affected by our sense of smell, and how we are made in the image of our Maker, I can only imagine what joy it brings to God to take in pleasing aromas. And I think we have a lot of fragrances to offer to Him, but we misclassify them. We think something stinks when in reality it brings much joy to our Lord when we give it to Him.

The project Brandon and I finished last week reflected how the Lord took something smelly and turned it into something sweet.

In the time since we have stepped out to be used in the public, motivational speaking role, we’ve realized the need for somewhat of a synopsis of our story and an idea of what some of the events look like.

Brandon felt completely confident about making a short video. I, on the other hand, felt we needed to call in professionals. Well, we didn’t have the budget for a professional, so Brandon’s proposal was very convincing. We started discussing what it needed to include. I said, “Oh, there is this song and it says something about being a little girl and something about crying and how God was there through it all.” Problem was, I didn’t remember any specific lyrics, nor could I remember who the artist was.

Can we just say when God wants something to happen, He will make it happen? Yes. Of course we can, because He does.

A few days later a short phrase of the lyrics popped in my mind as I was scurrying around the house. A short Google search later, I had Britt Nicole’s All This Time song pulled up, crying as I took in each word, as this truly is my story.

Each video clip and picture fell into place seamlessly. Really. Because remember, we are not professionals.

Assembling this project met the need for it; but it did far more than that. It reminded me how the Lord takes something so terrible, so unpleasant, so painful, physically and emotionally, and He turns it into something beautiful. It’s the beauty I see every time we have the opportunity to share, to see the brokenness of this journey connect with another in theirs, or to make one a bit more compassionate identifying all the brokenness around us.

I think that is a pretty sweet aroma to the Lord. Like the scent of rain, fresh cut grass, coconut shampoo, Paula’s perfume or Molly’s candle. I think the Lord takes in a full breath of our hardest times and is full of joy at our obedience to let Him use it.

But thank God! He has made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.  II Corinthians 2:14 NLT

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Visit the Following Link or Search "Heather Meadows Story" on YouTube

All This Time ~ Britt Nicole

I remember the moment, I remember the pain

I was only a girl, but I grew up that day

Tears were falling

I know You saw me


Hiding there in my bedroom, so alone

I was doing my best, trying to be strong

No one to turn to

That's when I met You


All this time, from the first tear cried

'Till today's sunrise

And every single moment between

You were there, You were always there

It was You and I

You've been walking with me all this time


Ever since that day, it's been clear to me

That no matter what comes, You will never leave

I know You're for me

And You're restoring


Every heartache and failure, every broken dream

You're the God who sees, the God who rescued me


This is my story

This is my story


I hear these people asking me

How do I know what I believe

Well, I'm not the same me, and that's all the proof I need

I felt love, I felt Your grace

You stole my heart that day


You've been walking with me all this time

All this time, from the first tear cried

'Till today's sunrise

And every single moment between

You were there, You were always there

It was You and I

You've been walking with me all this time


Songwriters: David Arthur Garcia, Benjamin Glover, and Brittany Waddell

Published by Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Everything is Awesome

“Mom, do you heal the sick babies or does Jesus?” Gavin’s question was seeking clarity for what I actually do at work. He’s heard me say, “I’m going to work tomorrow to take care of the sick babies, so Grandma will be here with you in the morning.” But his question this particular time was formulated from deep thought. I can understand the confusion; if Jesus does the healing what does Mama do? “Well, it’s really amazing,” I began to explain. “Jesus can heal the babies all on His own, but He knows how much I love to take care of them, so He lets me help Him. Isn’t that wonderful, that He lets me help Him, the same way you sometimes help me?”

Let’s give that some thought. In all our comings and goings, God allows us to accomplish things He could do completely on His own. He doesn’t even need us to fulfill His plan, but He uses us nevertheless, because He loves us and He knows the purpose He placed within our being.

Isn’t that awesome?!

Brooklyn and I had a similar discussion back in April, the day after we learned the once $10,000 priced domain name was going to be given to us in agreement that we would come share our story. It was so much for us to wrap our mind around. How simple our brains operate; not really, if you’ve ever read much about neurological function, but in our planning and pondering, it is absolutely nothing in comparison to our Omniscient God.

While I wasn’t a huge fan of The LEGO Movie, I grabbed a life lesson in the story, along with a really catchy tune… “Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome, when you’re living our dream.” Okay. I apologize. That song will most certainly pop in your mind throughout the day now. I just couldn’t resist.

In the movie, did you notice how the story line changed according to who was manipulating the characters? There was such randomness when the boy was playing with the Legos. Just when things looked like they couldn’t get any worse, out of the blue, a solution would appear. The dad, however, was organized, precise, with no wiggle room for the underdog to rise.

So is life. Our life. The exception for us is free will. God won’t take over unless we ask Him to. I want to be a Lego for the Lord. I want the Lord to move me as He desires. I want His plan to be my game plan. I want His blue print to be my guide.

We’re following His roadmap. And it’s led us to Massachusetts.

How dull. We thought we were simply going to seek out the purchase of But God had bigger plans. This isn’t randomness; this is creativity at work, a divine plan orchestrated.

Now here we are, 1600 miles away from home, sharing our story, making new friends, and celebrating how God uses His people. He gives us purpose and allows us to be His helpers.

Yes—everything is awesome!

Psalm 139:1-6 NLT

O Lord, you have examined my heart

    and know everything about me.

You know when I sit down or stand up.

    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.

You see me when I travel

    and when I rest at home.

    You know everything I do.

You know what I am going to say

    even before I say it, Lord.

You go before me and follow me.

    You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

    too great for me to understand!


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One Magical Year To The Next

There is a family photo, which sits on our bathroom vanity, in a frame that reads, “Once in a while, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale.” And when this season comes around, when we gather the highlights of the year and send our cherished family and dear friends Christmas greetings, we feel incredibly blessed how the Lord gave so many fairy tale moments to such ordinary people like us. Some big news making it at the tail end of 2013 was the newest addition to our family, Libby Lou. We wrapped up a pretty box, put her inside and gave her to the kids on Christmas morning. She is another little black lab, like Miss Daisy Mae. Then in May, a little calico kitten joined our family; we named her, Callie, after Sheriff Callie on The Disney Channel.

Keeping up with the kids is undoubtedly our greatest achievement for the year. We’re not sure how we can go in four different directions. Again, these are the reasons it all feels a bit magical. We must have some pixie dust under our feet to keep up with the schedules!

Brooklyn turned 13 on March 4th. We celebrated her milestone year with a painting party. We transformed the living room into a “studio” where an instructor directed the “artists” in painting their own tiger’s eye on a 16x20 canvas. It was a classy celebration for our classy girl. We’re so proud of the young lady she has become. Her interest and passion for playing trumpet in band, learning Spanish and having her own horse continue to grow. This fall we built a three-stall horse barn; so the next step is to find her fit for a horse. Nana is planning to bring her horse out too. And we can only anticipate the priceless memories they’ll create together.

Jaron is approaching his 11th birthday on December 23rd, our little eve of Christmas Eve baby. He continues to pursue his passion too…sports! He was on a successful basketball team through the winter and is back with the same group kicking off another season. Spring soccer was equally exciting; he even received MVP from one of their tournaments, a great honor considering the talent on that team. This fall, he stepped out for his very first season on the football field. But he surprised us all with his hidden theatrical niche this past March when he participated in the school talent show performing “In Summer,” from the number one animated film of all time, Frozen.

Caden should have a TV show titled, “Everybody Loves Caden.” It was a topic of conversation at his parent/teacher conference this year. Talk about a compliment. Suppose it’s part of God’s design for the third child. His “go with the flow” personality brings balance in a lot of different social settings, like in his family! Caden turned 8 on the 2nd day of 2nd grade, August 15th. We celebrated with cupcakes at school followed by a pool party with lots of classmates at home. Caden followed in Jaron’s footsteps and has enjoyed his experiences in basketball, soccer & baseball, but he’s stepping out on a new adventure and starting gymnastics this winter.

Gavin celebrated his 5th birthday Ninja Turtle style on July 13th. We had family and friends over to swim, drink toxic ooze and eat nothing other than what a ninja turtle would eat, pizza! In August, he started pre-K at Caden’s school, so he is definitely feeling pretty grown-up going to school with the big kids. We are amazed how our socially uncomfortable child has become so, well…social! All in good time I suppose. Being the baby of the family, he gets lugged around to all the activities but we’ve never signed him up for his own. Well, say no more. He is joining his big brother and will start gymnastics this winter.

June marked a momentous occasion for us, and we headed to a couple’s only resort in St. Lucia to celebrate it—our 15th anniversary! It’s hard not to get emotional thinking about those 18 year-old kids who had many unanswered questions but knew two things: they loved God and they loved each other. We aren’t even the same people 15 years later; we’re better, we’re even more in love…with God and with each other. That is definitely something to celebrate! Click here for the Packing for Possibilities” story. We’re blessed to share it.

What made to be a really fun part of our year was that our children assumed we weren’t going on a family vacation since we went on a couple’s trip. Unbeknownst to them, we had secretly booked our annual Disney trip and had plans underway, details lined out and reservations made. We hadn’t been to Disney WORLD in almost five years and we surprised them the morning we left. That story and the video of the surprise are also here on the blog titled, “The Best Kept Secret” and “I’m So Jealous”. The surprise, the trip, the time together was nothing less than magical.

Brandon continues on with his engineering work at Quanta and I continue to love on the sick babies through my nursing ministry in the NICU. We frequently express how much we love what we do. And the Lord continues to stretch us and give us vision. We share our lives through blogging and pursue the plans God has through a variety of speaking opportunities. He has opened doors with nursing schools, elementary schools, women’s groups and churches. Using our story to educate on the different facets of patient care, to address bullying and the importance of a healthy self-image, to motivate, challenge and inspire, as well as helping people examine their purpose and the power of being an overcomer has been fulfilling, healing and challenging in a way only the Lord could orchestrate. Please consider how our story could be used in your special events, workshops, seminars, classes or churches.  Visit the Speaking Events page for details and contact information. We ask for your prayers as we follow His leading in growing this endeavor.

Our year certainly wouldn’t have been what it was without the people we shared it with. We want to thank all of you who supported us to reach our annual $500 March of Dimes goal for 2014. Our family joined fellow Saint Francis NICU co-workers and their families for the walk. Looking toward the 2015 walk this spring, we once again, ask you to consider making a donation to this organization which blesses so many families in getting their sick babies home. click here to donate

More magical moments included getting to take the kids to their very first college football game. We got to see Oklahoma State win over Iowa State at the October 4th home game. Over Mother’s Day weekend we headed to Chicago for our nephew, Charlie’s baby dedication. It was a fast trip, but a celebration we couldn’t miss. Other family moments included time with our England family, Pam & John, when they visited in September and then in October with my cousin Austin and her girls, Taylor and Maddy. Brief time yet cherished memories.

Whatever it is 2015 may hold, we pray you are blessed as you see His hand at work orchestrating your very own fairy tale.

There’s nothing more magical than feeling His love,

Brandon, Heather,

Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden, & Gavin Meadows

and Daisy Mae, Libby Lou & Callie Rae too!

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Time for Investing

Investments are a very important piece of an individual’s assets. We research and ask questions about investments because we know it is important for our future. We only have so many years of earning power. As we age, we understand the probability that our bodies won’t have the ability or stamina to maintain a full-time job. Therefore, we take a little of what we make now, to invest for a time to come. We do without a percentage of our earnings, to tuck away, to allow and grow, to use later. Brilliant. Except for when things don’t go as we plan. One of my favorite movies is Cinderella Man, the story of James Braddock, a boxer who exhibited the utmost character in a time of detrimental circumstances. You may be familiar with his story. If not, you’re certainly familiar of the history, the time in October 1929 known as Black Tuesday, when the stock market crashed and the country experienced the ten-year turmoil known as The Great Depression.

Our generation counted it’s own financial losses a few years back. The recession of 2007-2009 had a great negative impact on countless people’s investments. We watched the government step in with the Troubled Asset Recovery Program (TARP) bailing out the banks and the auto industry. The housing bubble and credit crisis provided this generation it’s own experiences with unwanted investment outcomes.

We track portfolios of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, cash equivalents, certificates of deposit.  We keep records on our 401K and Roth IRA, we watch our stock tickers, we manage our brokerage accounts, we keep tabs on the Wall Street Journal. We work to insure a strong financial future, but how much attention to detail do we invest when it comes to our relationships?

Just like our financial investments there are life investments we must work to build, work to grow, and work to protect if they are worth any value to us. But what happens when a relationship experiences it’s own “crisis” or it’s own “Black Tuesday?” Do we walk away? Count it a total loss? Or do we fight for what we’ve already got in it? Do we fight for what could be recovered, for what could be re-invested?

In every single detail of our life, we must know, there is an enemy on the prowl. This enemy seeks to devour (I Peter 5:8). We know his intent is to steal, kill and destroy (John10:10). But the better news is, we know who wins! We know greater is He who is in you and me, than that loser thief who is in the world I John4:4. (Okay, loose translation on that last one, but stay with me.) The point is, identify the source of the attack. Call it for what it is and face it head on! We are overcomers! Mighty Men (and women) of Valor (Judges 6)!

People are not disposable. They’ll hurt you. They’ll bruise you. They’ll mistreat you. And I’m not talking about strangers; I’m talking about people we have RELATIONSHIPS with. An offense doesn’t have the impact coming from someone we’re not close to, as it does coming from the person we are. So how in the world do we handle those situations?

Again….can’t repeat this enough—know the source. Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father, and the serpent would love nothing more than to destroy it.

Be strong and courageous. Don’t close the door. Don’t walk away. Who wins if you call “uncle” or tap out? People you love are worth fighting for; relationships are worth saving. And it takes a strong, courageous spirit to commit to resolution. Remember what the Lord spoke to Joshua after the death of Moses. Joshua was commissioned to lead the people across the Jordan River into the Promised Land. Three times the Lord told Joshua to be strong and courageous, Joshua 1:6, 7 & 9. Three times! Why did the Lord repeat it? Because it wasn’t an easy assignment. And it wasn’t a simple suggestion. It was a command. When we are faced with having to do something difficult or challenging, remember Joshua 1:9, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

I highly recommend reading The Bait of Satan. This book about forgiveness points out how the enemy uses offense to bait people. So guard yourself against offense and walk in forgiveness.

Embrace the storm. Another quality point from the book is the concept that when a tree is planted it has a shallow root system. Much like the beginning stages of relationships we form. Storms stimulate the tree to send it roots down deeper for stability. When we face a disagreement or an argument (the storm), we know what the outcome of the relationship can be if both parties refuse offense and reject bitterness (a stronger, deeper more genuine relationship).

Finally, remember, there is life and death in the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18:21, “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences.” Guard your words. Resist the temptation to share your hurt with any other than the person you need to seek resolution with.

There is a relationship management system far greater than any we can implement for our finances. Seek God’s face. Get in His Word. Pray for wisdom and understanding. Relationships are a very important piece of an individual’s assets in life. Your mutual funds aren’t going to celebrate your life when it’s over at your memorial service. Your IRA isn’t going to tell your children the stories of love and compassion you intend to leave them.

Yes, we only have so many years of earning power. Invest wisely.

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My Heart Judged

I love birthdays! And today is mine. It’s inevitable my Mom and I will sit and visit about memories that only she can recall; the actual day of my birth.  I recall the celebrations.

Mom was just reminiscing back to my 9th birthday.  We had traveled to Van Buren, Arkansas to see family friends.  Doyle Williams, the dad, and my Dad were the best of friends.  Their friendship provided for the bond that was formed with the mom, Linda, and their two girls Sara and Leslie.  We spent time together more like cousins.  And my 9th birthday wasn’t the first one we had celebrated together, but it was a special one to celebrate, because it was nearly two years post motorcycle accident, meaning it was also after the death of my brother, Jon.  Birthdays were always special, but became even more precious to us after being impacted by my brother’s death almost two years earlier, when he was only nine years old.


Many people have difficulty with birthdays, because birthdays mean aging.  And aging is synonymous with decline.  My family loves to joke. I grew up with many one-liners.  My Dad was quite witty and would get a laugh at the most unpredictable moments.  I guess you could say that laughter was our medicine.  And even though my Mom says this as a joke, there’s much truth in her words regarding birthdays, “It’s better than the alternative.”  Kind of adjusts the view on aging.

But our bodies were never meant to last forever.  The Lord never intended for this to be it.  Hebrews 13:14 (NLT), “For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”  Makes me want to sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.”

What makes birthdays so grand?  What makes birthdays so special? Well, it’s not the day.  It’s not the birthday occasion alone.  People make birthdays special.  Our family and our friends create the celebration.  Without them, March 23rd is just another day on the calendar.

I asked Caden, my seven year-old what makes birthdays special.  He answered, “Getting new things; spending time with my family; and having a party.”  This prompted me to reflect back on my most memorable birthdays.

Like the one I had in the 8th Grade, my 14th birthday.  The day began as every other, me in my bathroom, with the radio blaring, getting ready for school.  I didn’t have too many birthdays in school, as many of them landed on spring break.  But this particular year, I was in school, and it was my first year at my new school.  During my morning routine, the DJ all of a sudden gave a shout out to a girl who had gotten a ton of calls to wish a happy birthday….Heather Cochrane! Oh my goodness!  Then I got a call from another radio station before school with a birthday giveaway someone had submitted my name for.  WOW!  Once at school, my classmates made the day incredibly special.  I got cards, like the one from my friend Brandon King, who was a funny guy.  He gave me a “custom made” card by crossing out the word “Graduate,” so it would read, “Especially for you, Heather.”  At the end of the day, a boy in my American History class stopped by my locker and gave me a note.  This boy had hardly ever said anything to me.  I waited to open the note and when I did, twenty dollars fell out and I read words that illustrated to me the reality of others observation.  Wes Johnson stated the fact that we didn’t know each other very well, but when he found out it was my birthday he wanted to give me something.  Although we never really spoke, he had evidently observed me enough to draw conclusions, and those appeared to be positive ones.  Wes died from injuries sustained in a four-wheeler accident a year later.  His words impacted my life to be intentional with others.  He taught me you never know whose watching you and whose life you may be impacting.

My 30th birthday was incredibly memorable.  I was once again in school, but not at all happy about it.  I had signed up for a 3 to 11 clinical rotation.  My clinical instructor was well worth the late schedule.  She laid a strong foundation for my development as a nurse.  But March 23rd 2011, I was bummed about being away from my kids while they were at school during the day and away from them that evening too.  I really had to get my thoughts and heart in the right place to get to clinical that day.  While there, my friend told me someone had sent flowers to the floor for me.  They were from my sweet hubby!  Later in the evening, everyone was ready to head down to eat dinner.  Our group had mentioned early in the semester that we should all eat at Subway for the birthdays, but I had brought my lunch and insisted that we did not need to go for me.  But my friends insisted more, and we headed down to the hospital’s Subway.  When we walked in, there was my family!!!  They were all there; all of them, my husband, my Mom, my Aunt Donna, and my Mom-in-law and Dad-in-law.  My husband had coordinated with my precious friend, Kari Murphy and she arranged it with my clinical instructor, Ms. BDub, and the entire group!  They were all in on it and I was completely surprised and it was the best birthday ever!  Here I was having this milestone birthday and I didn’t think I’d even get to see my husband or kids all day, but there they were!  It brings such joy to my heart still!


I couldn’t tell you the presents I unwrapped on these two very memorable birthdays.  But I still experience the joy and happiness those birthdays brought to my heart.  The greatest gift I was given was how others made me feel.  One of my favorite quotes is from The Wizard when he says, “A heart is not judged by how much you love; but by how much you are loved by others”―L. Frank Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  It’s so catchy.  I see the relevance of that statement in occasions such as birthdays.  The love I feel from each hug, from each wish, from each Facebook message, from the mere fact that others realize it’s my birthday and want to take a moment to acknowledge it, is insurmountable.

Today, my thirty-third birthday, my prayer is found in Psalm 39:4 (NLT),“Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.  Remind me that my days are numbered- how fleeting my life is.”

Today, my thirty-third birthday, my heart rejoices with thanks for YOU……

For you, my family.

For you, my friends.

For you, my faithful readers.

For you who love me and support me, who challenge me and sharpen me, who celebrate these special times………much love and thanks to you!

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The Gift of a Year

In continuation with "The Gift" theme, focusing on the priceless gifts of life, I wanted to take a moment to share our annual Christmas letter with you.  The first Christmas letter we sent out was for our very first Christmas in 1999.

My sis-in-law, Nicki and I were discussing how much we enjoy reading others Christmas letters and how we pray that we always have something to write about.  Writing at the end of the year provides a moment to reflect back on the joys and fulfillment God blessed our family with; the gifts contained in each year.

Thank you for allowing me to share it with you!

From my heart to yours, Merry Christmas!

“Another year has gone by…..”

Those are the lyrics to a beautiful Christmas song that so accurately describes the sentiment of the season.  Every year seems to pass with increasing speed, and although we’re having tons of fun, there’s a somber emotion for how quickly this treasured time is passing.  As in Moses’ prayer, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 NLT—our take away is to simply soak it up, each and every moment.  And no season emphasizes those special moments greater than the one that celebrates The One.

Embracing the present, and in anticipation of what 2014 has in store, we reflect back over the precious time we shared in 2013.  Our great gift is that of our family, friends and co-workers with whom we shared many memorable moments.

One of those times was this past February when we lost my Grandpa, whom the kids called Papa Cecil.  He passed away two days after his 91st birthday.  It was a privilege to have him living so close these last few years, giving the kids a unique opportunity to truly know their great grandpa.  He was my last living grandparent, and I can only hope to inherit such longevity coupled with his strong sense of independence.

The summer months brought intense heat and delightful use of our new splash pad.  Adding a pool to our backyard was such a blessing.  We enjoyed parties and get-togethers with family, church family, neighbors, family friends, school friends and work friends.  We hope for many, many more, in the years to come!

Our year included a most joyful event, the birth of our nephew Charles Allen Barr on August 17th.  Going by the adorable name, Charlie, this is Aunt Nicki and Uncle Brandon’s first baby.  The distance between Tulsa and Chicago stretched our patience as we had to wait until October to see him and love on him for the very first time. Although we wish we were closer to see him often, we’re cherishing those special times we do get to spend with him and his mama and daddy, especially his 1st Christmas!

October rolled around and we took advantage of the kids’ school fall break.  We took them out of school for an extra two days and headed south to sunny Orlando.  We spent a day at Universal Studios, then cruised with Disney on a four night Bahamian cruise stopping in Nassau and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay (pronounced Key), came back to land with a day’s visit to Kennedy Space Center and then concluded the trip back in Orlando with a day at Sea World.  We came home on empty, but with a “boat load” of treasured memories—pun intended. ;-)

Some of the highlights are featured on the back of our Christmas card. As you’ll see, we took Grandma along for the fun.  What a delight for all of us to get to share our very first cruise together.  However, it seems that Grandma was most excited of all since she had wanted to go on a cruise for the last 37 years.  It was quite the treat to get to share that highly anticipated trip with her.

The kids are all trucking along with activities and interests of their own.  Brooklyn turned 12 March 4th.  She participated in two horse camps this summer and eagerly awaits the day when she has one in her own pasture.  She started 7th grade this Fall participating in Cross Country for the first time.  She shaved three minutes off her time from her first to her last meet!  She is playing trumpet in band and still taking piano on the side.  Her most joyous occasion for the year was getting her braces off in November.  Her smile is gorgeous- it beams from the inside out!

Jaron is quickly approaching his 10th birthday, coming up December 23rd.  He had a big moment this past spring when he was chosen as his school’s Student of the Month.  He was treated to lunch with his principal, received special recognition in a school assembly, had his name on the school marque and in the town paper, and received a framed award.  We couldn’t have been more honored if the award would’ve had our own name on it!  We experienced inexpressible pride in his achievement.  We feel the same when he sits down to play piano or when he steps on the basketball court, baseball field and soccer field.  He’s quite the athlete.

Caden is following in big brother’s footsteps.  He has a “ball” every time he steps out to play any game.  Caden brings such joy to whatever he’s doing; basketball, baseball, soccer.  He is a true representation of what it is to have a good time.  Caden turned 7 on the first day of first grade, August 15th.  His teacher made it a very special day with singing, prizes and even some birthday spankings!  We took cupcakes and candles and celebrated a big boy in a big way!

Gavin turned 4 on July 13th and it’s wonderful to report that he has indeed finally found his friendly box.  Our shy and abrasive personality child has warmed up into a sweet, sometimes even conversationalist individual.  We loved watching him on the cruise greet and visit with the cast members and other passengers.  He is back at WEE two days a week for preschool and we are anticipating a full time Pre-K program next year for our second boy with the summer birthday.  It’s comforting sending him off as an older student, rather than as the baby of the class; an importantly sensitive category to avoid for the baby of the family who is determined to be big.

Brandon and I are trucking along with the kids’ schedules, oh, and we work too!  Did I hear an, “amen” from those of you in the same season of life?  Brandon passed his 1year anniversary with Quanta Services in August and I marked my 1year in the NICU at Saint Francis in July.  We are both so grateful that we get to do what we love.  We never want to overlook that huge blessing!

Another blessing has been the response to an unanticipated calling and vision for ministry, and that is the one at  The Lord has been faithful to provide for the material and open more speaking opportunities through that door.  But here is the challenge He has placed on my heart; to humbly ask for your support to grow this endeavor.  It would be a blessing and honor to have you share Heather’s Blessed JouRNey with your family, friends, small groups and coworkers and prayerfully consider me as a speaker for any special events or services the Lord may direct in that way.  These are steps of obedience as I don’t know the entire plan, but I know Who does.  And we’re taking it at that, one step at a time, seeking Him with every one.

In this inspiring time of year, may we consider one of our most precious gifts, our time.  It’s a commodity that is spent and can never be regained; nevertheless is always invested.  May we be intentional to invest our time into the priceless value of others; our children, our spouse, our families, friends, coworkers, and community.  Christ came to invest His all for each of us who are priceless to Him.

Love and Feel Loved,

Brandon, Heather,

Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden, & Gavin Meadows

and Daisy Mae too! please help us in our efforts to improve the health of babies by reaching our $500 goal for the Spring 2014 March of Dimes Walk


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The Gift of Friendship

Do you remember the age when you’d get home from school, after being with your friends the entire day, and call them to talk on the phone?  The scene is different today with social media availability and texting options, but connecting with friends is still very important to young people.  And to old.  Friendship is a relationship that spans most of our lifetime, all across the ages. I remember my first school friend.  I was about four years old.  It’s funny I can’t remember what she looked like.  Only that she had long dark hair.  But I remember how much fun I had at Undercroft Montossori with Ashley Parker.  I don’t believe I ever referred to her by first name only.  When I spoke of my school friend it was always, Ashley Parker.  Something about her name must have been fascinating to me at that age.  (Or I was merely attempting to be grown up by sharing the fact that I knew her whole name!)  Then there was my friend, Cheryl whose house I had my first sleepover.  Our parents were friends, thus me being allowed to stay all night at a very young age.  She was a bit older than me and I felt so big in the time we spent together.

Those are my earliest memories of friendship.  And in my reflections, I realize how richly blessed my life has been with the gift of friendship.  I am reminded of that this time of year receiving cards, letters and attending gatherings with people I am so grateful to call “friend.”  Considering that this time in my life doesn’t allow for many opportunities to hang out with friends, the times we do spend together are truly cherished.

One friendship that has proven the test of time, and lack of time spent together, is the one I have with my best friend Amber.  We met, nearly twenty years ago in the eighth grade.  No doubt our friendship was established out of the mere convenience of going to school and church together; regardless, we had a connection.  And all I can really say is the old adage, “opposites attract.”

Amber and I were quite the opposite.  She was incredibly athletic.  I was not, in the least.  I loved to be up in front of people, singing or speaking.  She was quiet and more comfortable in the audience.  She was eager to experience the different facets of life.  I was happy to live within the lines.

We were always somewhat different.  But we had a bond.  And throughout the many different chapters of our lives, we have sustained that special bond.  It’s not a matter of convenience.  It’s not a matter of special interests.  It’s a matter of experience.  We have experienced life together and despite the changes, one thing remains, our friendship.

I haven’t seen my best friend in nine months, but I know when I do, we’ll soak up and enjoy every moment we have, because those moments aren’t available like they use to be.  Long gone are the days of chatting on the phone whenever we wanted.  Now we play phone tag and try to catch each other for chats during commutes in the car.  We give thanks for the memories we have and for the time we aim to get now. Amber says we should go on cruises together when we’re old and retired, and I bet we will because one thing is certain….we’ll still be friends.

Friendship may look a little different in this season of life, relishing the time with our children, running errands, balancing schedules, managing our homes and commitments to our careers.  But it is the security found in Proverbs 17:17 that makes us realize what a gift we have in our friends.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (NIV)

May your life continue to be enriched with the wonderful love of a friend.



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