Monthly Archives: July 2015

Favorite Children’s Book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”, Depicts Daily Drama for Us Adults…

One of our boys’ children’s books continues to amuse me. All three of our boys, John Jr., Gordy and Woody, absolutely loved If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.

Its’ premise of cause and effect, better known as one-thing-leads-to-five (or more!) is so true of our lives and this crazy culture in which we live. Hubster and I were discussing this over some of his stellar Starbucks coffee just this morning…

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You may recall, in the book, a merry little mouse is given a chocolate chip cookie by a cute little boy, clad in blue jeans and bright red high top sneakers…

The cookie makes the mouse thirsty,

and he asks for a glass of milk,

and a straw,

then a napkin,

then a mirror to be sure he’s not left wearing a milk mustache.

The challenges ensue, flat wearing out the little boy who supervises the mouse’s antics, and the cycle starts all over.

John and I have just engaged in a similarly incredible one-thing-leads-to-five scramble.

Ring of blue persons isolated on white background

After thirty-one delightful years of marriage, I’m pleased-as-punch to announce we’ve finally bought a king-size bed. Whenever we travel, we always choose a king, so why not at home for the love of Peter, Paul and Mary??? After all, Hubster is six feet and four inches tall!!!

Further miraculous, we ditched the double bed in Woody’s room (which is now the Guest Room) and moved our four- poster queen-size bed in there. It now “looks” more like a guest room and our guests will appreciate not having to cram themselves into a double bed.

Guest Bedroom

Ahhhhh, but as you know, it doesn’t end there. Queen-size sheets don’t quite fit on a king-size bed. And certainly one needs more than one set.

FORT COLLINS, CO, USA - SEPTEMBER 16 2014: Bed Bath & Beyond Inc

Plus (See how this works???) a new bed needs a mattress pad, and a blanket,

and a comforter,

and the king-size width now requires three pillows,

and three euros,

and decorative shams for those six new pillows (!!!)

and there you go.

(Thanks to Bed, Bath and Beyond, they take as many 20% off coupons as your little purse can hold.)

Once we got said bed assembled, we realized we needed a headboard!!! And oh, the choices!!! And bigger groaning: oh, the prices!!! (FYI—found a super deal via Home Decorator’s: www.homedecorators.com)

Headboard and new bed

I will not continue to confess how this has gone WAY BEYOND If You Give a Mouse a Cookie! May I just suggest that some reupholstering and a lot of painting presented themselves into the equation.

Not exactly sure how to arrive at a point of spiritual value here for us since I’ve wildly veered off the let’s-be-wise-stewards road. This is more of a take off on Fixer-Upper on HGTV.

However, I believe this can be a fun plug to all you Grandmothers and Mothers of young ones out there, who love to read to your babies. (I’ve saved loads of the boys’ favorite books for our someday grandchildren.) We all know the value of reading to our children and we love it when they remember years later!!!

Grandmother And Granddaughter Reading Book On Garden Seat

Here are some more of Laura’s books for when you’re itchin’ to read to your kids (or yourself!)

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If you take a mouse to school

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Laura’s newest book, published in 2014, Raising a Hero looks really good too. Jump onto her website, www.lauranumeroff.com and watch the video about this book and service dogs! The dog steals the show!!! It’s in a new series called Work for Biscuits. The book benefits Canine Companions for Independence www.cci.org

Work for Biscuits

Finally, let’s not forget that while If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is now considered a classic, the very best book you can read to your children and for yourself is The Good Book, God’s Word.

Try The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones. It’s fantastic for children and adults! Like when we read The Message to try to figure out a passage, the Jesus Storybook Bible helps us envision stories from the Bible we might not grasp by ourselves.

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We’re never too old to read… To ourselves, to the elderly, and to the young.

Let’s close by reviewing these three verses:

Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Psalm 145:4 says, “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.”

Psalm 71:18 is my favorite: “So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come.”

‘Til next time!

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A Man Walks into a Bar…(When Today May Be Your Last)

Lest you think I’m vying for Late Night TV, a man really did walk into a bar.  John and I were right there, and this is no joke…

Being empty nesters for a handful of years, Hubster and I have developed hilarious habits. My favorite of which happens to be eating out. (Emphasis on O-U-T.)

Recently, while dining at one of our favorite haunts, Porcini’s (www.porcinilouisville.com ), something happened which opened our eyes… porcini-store-front2 John and I were talking to one of our favorite waitresses who informed us EMS would be arriving soon. Seems a guy literally walked in off the street and hollered, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”

Sure enough, we began to hear sirens. A fire truck and an ambulance pulled up out front. Before we knew it, the EMT’s were whisking a stretcher, occupied by this guy, thru’ the door, and up into the ambulance. Off they went. Ambulance car back at the white background While I don’t know the outcome, it sure made me think: What if that evening, that man didn’t live to see the next morning?

Which of course leads me to pose three huge questions to us all:

What if today was your last day on this Earth?

– Are you sure you’re Heaven bound?

– While you’re at it, are you aging gracefully?”

This week at Middletown United Methodist Church, we are finishing up the Bible study on Acts of God—Why Does God Allow So Much Pain? by Bob Russell. As God would orchestrate, we’re on Chapter Eleven which discusses the trials of aging.

Bob shares the painful process of watching his Mother succumb to Alzheimer’s. Several of my friends are dealing with this very scenario as I type. It’s not easy by any stretch. My own Mother died of Advanced Dementia.

Bob tells about two final encouraging visits he had with his Mother, long after she quit recognizing him. They began as seemingly futile. One visit, when Bob was about to leave, he decided to read the 23rd Psalm to his Mother. Like a switch was turned on, she began to quote it with him, word for word. psalm23 On another visit, Bob and his brother, John, began singing a hymn, and their Mother suddenly sang along with them. Bob said, “God is at work in ways we never see. I thanked Him and praised Him on my way home.”

Here’s the bottom line: “It’s only human to fear the unknown, of course, but at some point, genuine trust in God should make the difference.” May we truly trust, daily.

Bob reminds us, “Revelation 2:10 is a promise from the mouth of Christ: ‘Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.’”

Bob talks about people aging gracefully, and of some who do not. You’ll be astonished to learn about Florence Nightingale.

You’ll get tickled when Bob discusses those who get so consumed with all their aches and pains take themselves out of the battle before it’s fought. Anyone or several who come to mind for you? Clouds and female hand waving with a white flag to surrender Or have you heard, “Oh, we must make the trip, for this could be Aunt Edna’s (or fill-in-the-blank of your longest living relative) last Thanksgiving!” Bob says if we are to age gracefully, we must “live life to the fullest, and let God decide when the curtains are going to close.”

Finally, one more point to consider: “The truth of heaven should also impact our feelings of urgency in sharing the Gospel with those we love.” Old Bible With Sword Do you have a friend or family member who needs to hear the Good News? I keep thinking of that man John and I saw who came into the restaurant, right off the street. Did he know the Lord? I pray so.

Bob concludes, “Every act of God carries more meaning than our minds can grasp. No matter how we mourn, no matter how sad some days can be, we must believe that God is loving and good, and that someday, in His presence, we’ll see the whole picture and understand that the darkest moments of this life were necessary ingredients to the brightest miracles he was planning.”

May our eyes be opened to those God places in our path.

Press on, friends.

Be ready.

‘Til next time!

(FYI: The teaching DVD’s to Acts of God are incredible. They include clips from the movie of the same name, memorable teaching by Bob, and helpful nuggets from God’s Word. I highly recommend it for your small group/Bible study. You can find these, on special right now, at The Living Word Bookstore, www.livingword.org or, you can order these from www.actsofgodthemovie.com or www.cityonahillstudio.com )

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Let’s Get to Know Nicodemus Better…Thanks to “A Heart for Truth” by Joyce Cordell (Beware, You May See Yourself in Nicodemus!)

“Gifted” at recognizing other Pharisees, I rarely recognize my own pharisaical tendencies. “Surely I’m not like one of those…”, I frequently tell myself. Perhaps I need to order a slice of humble pie…

Just wait until you read A Heart for Truth: The Story of Nicodemus, an Unlikely Believer by Joyce Cordell. Joyce introduces us to Nicodemus, taking us on an arduous journey with him where he shows his true colors and learns more than one lesson about what real faith looks like.  We may just see ourselves in this story…. NicodemusCoverRev For starters, Nicodemus’ prejudice against lowly shepherds lands him, you guessed it, in the care of a family of shepherds. So as not to spoil the story, may I just say Nicodemus’ rigid-rule-following-eyes are opened and you may chuckle more than once!

The further into the book I got, the more hooked I became. The Holy Land and its’ inhabitants, animals included, come to life. Shepherd And Flock You find yourself watching Nicodemus’ encounters with Jesus and praying for him to turn to Him, not scoffing at Him as his fellow Pharisees did. You see our Lord’s piercing-yet-compassionate eyes reach into Nicodemus’ heart. The experience will melt your heart.

Joyce’s characters are so well developed (some appealing and some with nauseating personalities), you find yourself saying, “Well, of course he’d do that. Typical!” You can almost hear a crowd booing had this certain character entered stage left.

One of Nicodemus’ many encounters involves a woman named Ruth. Ruth’s keen insight figures Nicodemus out pretty quickly. Could romance result in this pair? Will it be too late? Ahhh, you’ll have to read the book to find out!

Joyce’s extensive research and her own visit to the Holy Land is an asset to the story. She also includes a helpful Appendix in the book with “verses used in the background of the story.”

Her goal in writing this Historical Biblical Novel is “to discover what might have been the rest of the story for these characters, telling it with as much authenticity as possible and staying true to the culture and to Scripture.” She concludes with:

May we all learn from Nicodemus’ story that it’s not enough to be clean on the outside.

We must be humble enough to give attention to the inside in order to have clean submissive hearts where God’s truths can take root.” very old tree from the czech forest Each chapter begins with an epigraph. Joyce chose Scriptures which foretell what will happen in the chapter. Sometimes you may find yourself saying, “oh no!”, forgetting that yes, it is in the Bible. 

God graciously crossed my path with Joyce Cordell via Book Club at Southeast Christian Church several years ago. I discovered she’s a writer and we’ve enjoyed several fun conversations as well as frequent e-mails.

A Heart for Truth is her second book to be published. Ears to Hear is her first book about Malchus. She loves to write about characters we often miss in the Bible. ears_to_hear Her weekly blog, “Searching His Word, Seeking His Heart”, is like doing a Bible study with Joyce. You can find it by visiting her website: www.joycecordell.com Joyce-Framed Joyce and I recently met for a fun lunch at North End Café. I got to find out a little more about her. She and her husband, Jim, have been married for forty-eight years. They have two children who are married and seven grandchildren. She’s about to have all of them visit for a week of fun.

Joyce has been writing for years.  She has written devotions, scripts for plays, and moments in between music programs when she taught elementary music and led children’s choirs. Her love for reading has expanded in many directions! One thing led to another in her experiences, including help with ideas of publishers from the Kentucky Christian Writers. www.kychristianwriters.com

When I asked her how she was able to persist and keep writing (it took her seven years to complete A Heart for Truth), she offered her favorite quote: “The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us.”

Be listening for Joyce to be interviewed on Joyce Oglesby’s radio show, “Just Ask Joyce” soon. You can find the program weekdays at 3:00 p.m. on WFIA FM. www.justaskjoyce.com

Let’s close by reflecting on a prayer Nicodemus prays near the end of the book. I believe it will resonate with all of us:

“Oh, Lord, like those straying sheep, I too have strayed.

I have concentrated so intently on the letter of the law, worried so about pleasing men, and have indulged in self-exaltation that I am far from you.

My mindless, routine prayers are of little account.

My heart is cluttered with laws and man-induced rules.

There is little room for truth, mercy, grace, love.

And like a sheep that has gone astray, I have caused others to stray as well.

Forgive me, oh Lord. Forgive me.” New Zealand green grass farm sheep lambs Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—everyone to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (ESV)

Just as Nicodemus’ Father told him, “Always seek the truth”, may we all look to our Lord for answers, not ourselves.

‘Til next time!”

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Dash to Danville for Dinner and a Play: Angela Correll’s novel, Grounded, comes to the stage July 7 – 18 at Pioneer Playhouse

Friends! If you live anywhere near Danville, Kentucky, make plans NOW to attend the play, Grounded. It’s based on Angela Correll’s excellent novel of the same name. Grounded The best part? It’s G-rated….so bring family and friends. It runs from July 7th to the 18th. (Go to: www.pioneerplayhouse.com for ticket information.) PPGroundedFlyer This opportunity gets even better for this non-cooking girl. The Pioneer Playhouse serves dinner before the play!!! (Options for tickets with or without dinner are available.)

Pioneer Playhouse calls Grounded an “uplifting play about family, faith, and the choices we make.” Kentucky Monthly says, “Grounded is a play about second chances and the lure of the land we call home.”

Pioneer Playhouse also tells us, “Grounded is part of our annual ‘Kentucky Voices’ series, which celebrates local writers and stories. (Read more about the Kentucky Voices series on Pioneer Playhouse’s website.)

If you want to hear the astonishing backstory of how this all came about, including a shooting from 100 years ago which involved one of Angela’s family members and one of the Playhouse’s owner’s family members, read Steven Vest’s article from May 26, 2015, Creative Connections, in www.kentuckymonthly.com

Once you pick your jaw up off the floor, and google what a hoosegow is (!!! Well, some of you may know and some of you may not. I obviously haven’t watched enough Westerns.), you’ll love learning that Angela said, “I really see this as a redemption of our family history in many ways.” Beautiful.

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Pictured here are the Hensons, whose family has owned and run Pioneer Playhouse for over sixty-five years with Angela in the middle. Heather and Angela met in the 7th grade at Bate Middle School!

This entire experience (having a playwright create a play from one’s novel) made me super curious. I asked Angela how she felt about someone doing this. Did it make her nervous? Excited? Did the playwright flip things around a lot?

Several of my author friends have admitted getting a book published is like birthing a baby…Call me crazy, but I think it could be tricky to have someone else adjust one’s “baby”??!!!

Angela said she’s not met the playwright, but that her agent negotiated the contract with her which gave her artistic control.   She added, “When a book’s adapted for the stage (or a movie), changes have to be made since they are very different media. I understood that and knew the play needed to have some things that would heighten drama and make for a good show.”

Here’s my favorite thing Angela relayed, “My concern was to make sure it didn’t lose the ‘heart’ of Grounded. I also wanted it to stay G-rated.” I love that she kept the integrity of her book.

Chelsea Marcantel (pictured below) is the playwright who is currently a Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwright Fellow at The Julliard School in New York City, studying under renowned Kentucky playwright Marsha Norman. Angela got to see a rehearsal of the play recently and found herself getting emotional. (Can you imagine seeing your book and its’ characters come to life???) This makes me all the more excited to see the play. ChelseaMarcantel02--240x300

Angela will be at the playhouse every night signing copies of her novel and will talk about her writing. There will also be demonstrations and tastings (can this experience get any better???) from vendors of locally made products such as Marksbury Farms, Kentucky Soaps and Such, Buster Bees, Wilderness Trail and others.

Ever since my buddies the Butter Babes and I ventured to Stanford I’ve been dying to take my better half, John, there too. I’m happy to report Hubster and I’ll be making the trip, staying in one of Angela’s newly remodeled guesthouses (www.wildernessroadguest.com) and then going to dinner and the play in Danville. (Stanford’s only ten miles from Danville.)  This is a primo opportunity with our upcoming 31st Anniversary next week!!!

Lord willing, we’ll grab breakfast the next morning at Angela’s restaurant, The Bluebird Café (www.bluebirdnatural.com), and then we’ll go shopping at Angela’s store, Kentucky Soaps and Such (www.kentuckysoapsandsuch.com). Her goat’s milk body cream is the best product on the planet. I have multiple friends who are hooked.

Back in May, I wrote about the Babes’ visit to Stanford plus Angela guest posted a wonderful article called “A Time for Everything”. Here’s the link FYI: “Why Can’t Anyone See I’m Still Mourning?”

Please join me in praying for this endeavor starting July 7th through the 18th: for all the actors, the production, the details, the weather (even tho’ they do have Plan B inside!!!), and for ALL attendees, who perhaps may not know the Lord, that they will be drawn to Him after watching this.

Hebrews 10:25 says, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.”

Hope to see you at the play!

Be watching for Angela’s next novel, Guarded, due out in December.

‘Til next time!

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When a Film Crew Arrives on Your Doorstep….(Video to Accompany Liz Curtis Higgs’ New Book, It’s Good to be Queen—Becoming as Bold, Gracious and Wise as the Queen of Sheba will also release 7/21)

Monday mornings don’t especially thrill me. You?

Gifted at overcrowding my calendar, I have to mentally gear up for the week, fussing at my own self for what I signed up for.

Oh, but….this past Monday? This was sure to be a Super Special Monday. It was to be “filming day” in our home with my dear friend, Liz Curtis Higgs, who just happens to also be a fabulously talented author and speaker. www.lizcurtishiggs.com

Her new book, It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba, releases July 21st  .  This past Monday featured Liz teaching five of my sweet friends, one-on-one, all about the Queen of Sheba from the ten chapters of her book. Thus July 21st is a double bonus day: Watch for the book at your favorite book store (or better yet, you can pre-order it from http://www.itsgoodtobequeen.me .  You’ll also receive Scripture cards with a quote from each chapter, only available by pre-ordering) plus the video will pop onto www.vimeo.com/lizcurtishiggs . Don’t forget:  July 21st!

The “film crew” arrived, pulling in behind Liz. What you may not know, also caused me to stand there, mouth agape: In strolls Bill, Liz’ dear husband, armed with lighting equipment, sound boards, cameras, tripods, and laptops. I still can’t figure out how he got all of that in his car!!!

Bill was followed by Beth Higgs, their darling-n-gifted daughter-in-law who would be filming the shoot. Beth was followed by Lilly, Liz and Bill’s very creative daughter who always blesses my socks off. Lilly was the tech consultant juggling all the Higgses which was sheer fun to observe. (A ten-talent family comes to mind.) Who knew?

All we were missing was a tub of popcorn!!!

Naturally there was a morning rainstorm. Thankfully the rain subsided as we unloaded Liz’ outfits. Never mind she had sloping hangers which allowed one top to spiral downward smack dab in the middle of a rain puddle. Thank you very much, Satan.

Ahhh, but we wouldn’t let him get us down. Liz asked if we could set up an iron and ironing board. Scurry we did. Hugely tickled at our efforts, I simply said, “It takes a village.” (A very fun one at that!)

Trying to think of everything which could potentially wreak havoc for a taping, we took our perpetual puppy, Gracie, to Tatter, a phenomenal dog sitter/whisperer for a “play day”. Then, I unplugged the phones.

Thinking all was set, I never considered our Grandfather clock which chimed all day long! Funnier, it’s twelve minutes fast (???), so while the film crew thought to watch for the hour, the clock chimed at twelve before the hour. By God’s grace, this did not ruffle their feathers. grandfather clock My post, a/k/a the “Holding Area”, was in Hubster’s  “Man Cave”. You must know this little cottage, across from our home, is the real reason we bought this house. Amazingly, females are allowed. (Kidding, sorta.)

While the crew was filming, I got to chat with whoever was next to be filmed.   When they finished filming with one gal, Bill would come to fetch the next “student”. For me, it was like having long lunches to catch up with my buddies. STELLAR. Man Cave So you can have a sneak peak into our day, let’s hear from my friends what Monday was like plus here’s a Scripture which depicts our day as well:

“Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are children of God, and that they are getting to know Him better.” (1 John 4:7 TLB)

Liz Points Something Out

This is how each shoot mostly looked, with a side view of the student and Liz teaching. Pictured here is Amy Cooper. She was our youngest student and was amazing.

Liz with Amy

Liz also introduced each of her students so you could see a full shot of them as well.

Sherry Leavell said, “I’ve known of Liz Curtis Higgs for many years, having heard her speak and having been a fan of her books and Bible studies. This was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one and get to know her in person.

The one word that comes to mind and what I discovered is that Liz is authentic. I looked that word up and the definition says, ‘genuine, real, lack of falsehood or misrepresentation.’ It could’ve had Liz’ name beside the definition.

She’s the real deal. She laughs at herself, she loves the Lord, she loves God’s Word and she loves others. She made me feel so comfortable and affirmed.

Another blessing from the day is that I was able to share this experience with my daughter, Amy…One last thought: I do believe we turned John’s Man Cave into a Woman Cave for the day!.” Major laugh out loud…..

Elizabeth Jeffries said, “Elizabeth, I felt like a queen, even tho’ I missed the Tiara bit! Waiting my turn and chatting with you in the Man Cave, catching up with Bill and the Higgs gals, observing the elaborate production of the taping (wow!), learning about Sheba and laughing with Liz….All special moments! What a blessing this video will be to all of us!”

Diane Kennedy said, “Since I was the first session of the morning, I had the opportunity to see some of the technical set up with audio/video and to chat with Liz…As you know, the tech team was her family. Nothing more authentic than working with the ones who know you best! And they worked seamlessly! I sensed great respect and love for our Lord all around.

When the camera came on, Liz put me at ease right away with her charm and seasoned teaching skills! I honestly felt as tho’ I’d been to Bible study.”

Denita Arnold said, “Liz, your family is precious. I loved seeing the Higgs family in action as Kingdom workers. God is certainly blessing your efforts to show us all who HE is thru’ your wonderful encouragement and teaching. You are a treasure and I am so grateful to have been able to sit at a table with you.

It was an answer to prayer that I’ve prayed. I’d hoped that one day I would get to visit with you…anything else is just frosting.” Smile. Liz with Denita And, finally from Lizzie: “Elizabeth, What a blast we had, taking over your beautiful house on Monday! I loved meeting your friends one-by-one, and opening the Word with them. It was my joy to teach them, but even more thrilling to learn from their helpful comments. So FUN! We could never have done it without your superior hostess skills in the Man Cave. THANK YOU!”

Ah, well, dear, dear Liz, it was MY joy, honor, and privilege to be included. Our friendship is one of my favorite gifts from God.

Before we wrapped up, Liz and I did a brief shoot for the camera because she wanted to talk about our friendship and our mutual love of opening God’s Word together. We were going to do this first thing in the morning, but the set-up of all the equipment took longer than we thought, so we did this at the end of the day.

By this time, we were a tad on the slaphappy side, so for more giggles, we donned tiaras. Check it out: Liz Laughing with Elizabeth How many girlfriends can you do that with???!!!! Thank you Liz, Bill, Beth, and Lilly for a day beyond my wildest dreams. And many thanks to my good friends who dared to do something a little out of the ordinary, stepping out of their comfort zone. You will be blessed!!!

Don’t miss the Queen of Sheba (Crown Jewels) jewelry also available thanks to the wonderful women from www.vibellajewelry.com Vibella helps “provide employment, education, and opportunities to artisans in Hairi, Mexico and the United States.” It’s very affordable, adorable, and a wonderful way to help these ladies!

Let’s close with my top three favorite pieces of  “Wisdom from the Queen of Sheba” (out of ten!!!):

Encourage everyone who crosses your path.

Praise God in all things and in every season.

End well by loving well all the days of your life.” (From the final chapter in It’s Good to Be Queen.)

‘Til next time!

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