You’re God’s Girl! *GIVEAWAY* and book review!

Confession: I don’t have a tween-age girl. What I do have is a girl who is 7 going on 17, so I think it’s safe to say I’m not crazy for getting ready for the tween years.

And that is why I was excited to be given this book, You’re God’s Girl by Wynter Pitts to review! It’s a devotional especially for tween girls, and I have to say, it’s FANTASTIC.

I seriously wish I’d had this when I was younger. The intro to the book talks about the importance of spending time with God and every day there is a devotion that is challenging and engaging, but also encouraging and not so long to be tiring. 

Each devotion touches on a real issue that tween girls think about and deal with, and each one finishes with an activity or writing challenge (even crafts!) and is all tied in with scripture. The graphics in the book are cute and endearing.
Resources like this lessen the dread of (and actually make me excited about) these upcoming years, so I’m storing this one somewhere safe til my girl gets just a tad older to really benefit from this!

You can get your own copy here!

AND there are a couple really cool extras available too:

You’re God’s Girl Coloring Book

*Sterling Silver Necklace for your God’s girl

They would make a great combo gift for like, birthdays, Christmas, Tuesdays… whatever!

I was given a copy of this book to review. All opinions are honest and completely my own!

**GIVEAWAY TIME**

Wanna win your own copy of the devotional?? All you gotta do is share this review post on social media somewhere and leave me a comment here with your favorite color and where you shared it! Each share qualifies for a new comment! For example, “My fave color is purple and I shared on Facebook” is one entry, “My favorite color is still purple and I shared on Instagram” is another entry! Winner will be randomly selected  (and emailed!) on October 31st!

EDIT: GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Winner has been randomly selected! Congratulations, Lorraine! 

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When the Mama Bear inside You Comes Out

I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

I worked 2 summers in Yellowstone National Park and I watched many times as a baby bear cub played happily and a tourist started to get close to take a picture. I always cringed and shouted, “Hey!! Back up!! Mama bear is close by!” Sometimes they  heeded my words and when mama showed up, there was nervousness (from everyone), but she quietly collected her cubs and left.

But there was that one time, when that person kept inching closer and mama bear arrived ready to fight. Thankfully, nothing horrible came of it, but I’ll never forget the way mama bear looked that day. Her eyes were wide, her mouth open, fur on her back bristled, and the concentration? Fierce. She was ready to take that guy down, and fast.

As parents, the same can happen to us. Our alarms go off from time to time when questionable things happen with our kids and sometimes, when a real attack rears its ugly head, we bristle, tighten our fists, ready for a fight.

When Naomi was in Kindergarten, I thought, “What could possibly happen?” because apparently I forgot what kids are like once they start talking.

She quickly excelled, was given special tasks, and was made a leader. She taught others what she was learning and it was well received by the other kids – except for one. Yup, one girl who was none too thrilled that Naomi was special. And she reacted. Naomi came home more than once confused and one time in tears because the girl teased her and never had a kind word for her, even yelled at her more than once.

My first reaction? Bristle. I could feel it coming, the readiness to fight. I didn’t want to fight that little girl, but I was ready to confront the teacher with the issue and the parent of that kid. But, I’m glad to say, I remembered how I’m supposed to react. I took a minute to digest and remember that while this was small, it still required a holy response.

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The Bible clearly shows us what to do in times of attack:

  1. Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; protect me from those who rise up against me; deliver me from those who work evil, and save me from bloodthirsty men. Psalm 59:1‭-‬2
  2. I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalm 57:9‭-‬10

Naomi and I talked about how her classmate was probably jealous of the attention she was getting. And while her motivations didn’t make her actions okay, it made it easier for Naomi (and me) to calm down a bit. And then we prayed.

We prayed for the classmate’s heart and we prayed that God would protect Naomi as He saw fit. We talked about how good God is. He put these words in the Bible to give us a real example through David of what to do when attacked in both big and small ways.

That little 5 year old’s jealousy didn’t have much lasting effect, but it was still doing damage. It was still an attack. And these small attacks are practice for what is guaranteed in the future — troubles.Jesus said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Her troubles are fairly light right now in her 1st grade life, and it’d be easier (yet not helpful) for them to stay that way, but it’s been guaranteed that they won’t. There will come a time when confrontation is needed and we are called to act (prayerfully), but these verses will still apply. God uses these small tribulations to prep her for the big stuff to come.

Oh, yeah, and prep me too, because heaven knows I still need it.

A Prayer for When Mama Bear Shows Up:

“Dear God, it is so easy to get riled up, to get defensive, to be ready to pounce. Please up us help our girls learn to rest in You amidst all things and listen for Your guidance. You will be our refuge always and deserve all the glory for it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

This post originally was published on the Prayers for Girls Blog

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Trading Out the Bubble Wrap

Picture it: Georgia, August 2015. She was the smallest one waiting for the bus that first day, standing with the other “seasoned” bus riders. I tried to talk to friends, but mostly I was working to keep from imploding. My Naomi was entering kindergarten and this would be her first time on the bus. I hugged her hard, watched her climb those big stairs with her little legs. Waving maniacally (sorry, not sorry), I was that weirdo mom with her hand still outstretched as the bus disappeared.

I remember being five. It was awkward and nervous, quiet and a little fearful, happy but guarded. Those memories came flooding back that warm August morning, so I prayed. I prayed fervently for safety, that there’d be no meanies, that she wouldn’t be nervous without me. I prayed that she’d easily find her class, that she wouldn’t get pushed around by older kids, that she wouldn’t get hurt, or miss me too much. I prayed her teacher would be gentle so my girl wouldn’t be overwhelmed. I prayed she wouldn’t spill her lunch or get lost. I prayed these almost daily for five months.Fast forward to about January of 2016. Not so little, Naomi handled the bus with ease. She had confidence, was thriving, her writing was amazing, she was a reading wiz, and I was so proud. And I also felt so uneasy. Looking back over the year, I realized I’d received exactly what I’d prayed for and I was grateful. Mama bear wanted nonstop goodness and safety and ease for my girl. I wanted to wrap her in the world’s longest sheet of bubble wrap, but my heart was overcome with a much bigger burden.

In 2015 I chose the word “intimacy” as my word of the year and as God slowly gave me that, my heart wanted to radically serve others more. I was starting to more clearly see the image of God in strangers, neighbors, foreigners, family. But I also wanted my kids to marvel at God’s beloved. As 2015 ended, I learned if I sheltered myself (and my girls) from everything, we wouldn’t be able to get dirty in the trenches of life and really change hearts. It was time to rearrange my prayers.

For 2016 I chose the word “fearless” and I was determined to pray the same for my girl. It was/is hard. Almost painful to pray. Did I trust God with her life? Would I trust Him to be there when she got hurt? Because seriously, you get out there in the midst of humanity and you get hurt, you get dirty, you make mistakes, have conflict. I started praying she’d be an encouragement, helpful and loving to everyone no matter who they were. I prayed she would lean on God and His word in every situation, that she’d absorb and use what she learned at home and church. I prayed she’d seek God’s approval most and that when conflict came, she’d be fearless. HARD PRAYERS.

The safety, the grades, the nonstop smiles – that’s comfy and I do pray for those but they aren’t top priority because it’s not what people need. Loving our neighbor, laying down our lives… yeah, those prayers. It’s so hard, friends, but the rewards are immeasurable. And the joy? Without comparison. It’s still hard for me to pray those big, sometimes scary prayers. But God’s working. He’s faithful.

I had an impromptu meeting with her teacher in May to go over the upcoming summer. That meeting quickly turned into a deluge of answered prayers. I found out there were kids with no friends until Naomi included them. A few kids could read because she taught them, one on one. There were frustrated and struggling kids she helped and encouraged and they were succeeding. I was told she always showed kindness, she discouraged derogatory talk,she was patient with even the slowest in her class. I was in tears.

Thing is, it sounds heavenly for my kids to have perfect grades, perfect friends, all the smiles. But I’m learning what I’d love even more is for them to be kind and patient, unselfish, uplifting, to be a good friend and an advocate for those that need one. To help, to fight for good, to truly love like Christ –  those are my prayers now. The safety, the grades, the nonstop smiles – that’s comfy and I do pray for those but they aren’t top priority because it’s not what people need. Loving our neighbor, laying down our lives… yeah, those prayers. It’s so hard, friends, but the rewards are immeasurable. And the joy? Without comparison. It’s still hard for me to pray those big, sometimes scary prayers. But God’s working. He’s faithful.

As we go into a new school year, I ask you… could you petition God to help you start the big, Kingdom-changing prayers? Crack that door open a little, you’ll see how trustworthy He is.

A Mother’s Prayer

God, you gifted us with these precious young lives that we want to hold close and protect. Help us to remember, though, they belong to you and are here for the same purpose we are — to bring your Kingdom to others. Thank you for the chance to do that. Amen.


What is your big, hard, scary prayer for your daughter right now? 

This was originally posted on August 10, 2016 on the Prayers for Girls website.

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This here is a title… about a new title.

A few months into my oldest’s Kindergarten year, I discovered a Facebook group called Prayers For Girls. The creator, Teri Lynne, was speaking directly to my heart, addressing all my concerns for my girls in this rough world, all with scripture and daily prayers. I was hooked. For example –

Fast forward to this past summer and she started a blog, and didn’t just start a blog, but asked little ole me to be a regular contributor and you guys, I became a writer. I am a wife, I am a mom, I am a friend, I am a writer. I am so blessed. 
As things started to come together for the blog, she asked me to write why I wanted to be part of Prayers For Girls. This is what I said:

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I am an excellent planner.

No really, I can plan and prep and gather all the info and present you the “10 reasons why” or “5 steps to” or the greatest road trip route.

So, in 2009, when I became pregnant with my first child, I read all the books. I knew what to expect when I was expecting, I had equipment researched, a sleep training schedule drawn up, and pureed meals in the freezer about 5 minutes after the pink line appeared.

Baby came and she had obviously read the same books in the womb because she was relatively easy and I enjoyed being a mom and thought, “I got this.”

Fast forward 4 years and not only did I have another baby who obviously did NOT read the books in utero, but challenged everything I knew, everything I read, everything I planned. And I’m glad she did. I learned that all the “this” I had was only by the grace of God and the more I prayed, the more He gave.

And then my oldest started Pre-K. And all the questions started. I read so many parenting books and more parenting articles. And I was overrun and overwhelmed. And I prayed but it seemed flailing and without focus. God met me there, despite my scattered brain.

Time went by and then my oldest started Kindergarten. She came home doing the whip and nae nae, asked me why that girl yelled at her and called her “ugly”, and how could some of her friends have just a mom at home and no dad.

Holy smokes.

I was immediately transported back to my school days when kids called me black and I ran around the playground with a black marker shouting, “I’M BROWN, THIS IS BLACK.” And when I watched a friend get bullied and did nothing and it still hurts my heart. And I remembered how I didn’t really know what putting others before me meant until I was an adult – and I wish I’d understood it much younger. I wish I’d been more selfless, more Christlike, more wise. I knew my people-loving, people-pleasing, sweet hearted girl could be in for a world of hurt/regret. But I had life all planned, what could I do but share all my experiences and hope they stuck?

I could pray. And God directed me to Prayers for Girls. Being based on scripture, the screaming of my heart was met with a gentle “See? It’s all right here, in My word” from God. And this makes me passionate for Prayers for Girls. Every day my worries and fears are met with scripture and every day I can pray God’s holy word over my daughters. My girls are going to be in the world, every day, but I can pray that they not become of the world. I won’t (and can’t) shield them from life, but I will pray that they will be equipped with what they need to love others and actually do Kingdom-building work. There will be troubles, Christ told us that, but I can pray holy words daily that point my girls to Him who has overcome the world (John 16:33).

While I pray for them, I can pray these prayers for me too. I can pray for wisdom to know how to help my girls understand and love families that look different from ours. I can pray that I defend and stand up for those who can’t. I can pray I don’t throw out my back perfecting the perfect nae nae. I can plan to pray, every day, that Christ is glorified. Best plan ever.

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I Lost My Toddler Today.

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The #1 takeaway for me from the stories of the Cincinnati gorilla that was shot:

I really, really hope that none of my imperfect parenting moments happen in public or my normal good parenting moments make the news. My gosh, that mom was blasted. People out there (and on all social media) sure can attack people they’ve never met about incidents they never witnessed.

Today Noelle (2 yrs), Naomi (6 yrs), and I went to our local Atlanta Zoo. We were there 5 hours. At the end, they have an awesome splash ground. The girls got nice and wet and had a blast for about half an hour. Then, amidst much protesting, we went to the bathroom to change out of wet clothes.

The bathroom was busy, full, and we were shoved in a corner behind the door while I tried to dig out dry clothes for the girls. Naomi was dutifully changing her clothes right there without complaint. I got Noelle half undressed and then reached back into the depths of the stroller to get the shirt I thought I’d already grabbed. I finally freed it from under all the bags and turned around and Noelle wasn’t there. I stood there a second, looking around the big bathroom. Then I went to each stall and looked for feet. No Noelle feet. Naomi and I looked back at each other, panicked. I yelled, “stay there!” to Naomi, pulled open the heavy door, and ran outside. Looked left toward the train, not there. Looked right and finally saw her, all the way back at the other side of the splash ground. I guess when someone came into the bathroom, she went out. There would have been no way she could open that door.

She was probably out of my sight for a little less than a minute. So many things could have happened in that minute. She could have been abducted. She could have climbed somewhere she shouldn’t be (she’s excellent at that). Who’s fault would that have been? Mine for being inattentive and lazy? No, I was not. I was being a good parent. But I have had imperfect moments where I’m not paying 100% attention and SO HAVE YOU (parent or no).

Would it have been the zoo’s fault? No. There would be no fault to be placed. I’m not siding with any opinion in the gorilla incident. I am no gorilla expert and I’m the glad the child came out unscathed. But I do wanna ask this:

Do you know the mom? Maybe she IS lazy. Maybe she wasn’t paying attention. Maybe she was picking her nose or on Facebook or making out with her husband, I don’t know. Maybe she is usually a great mom. Maybe she was reaching for much needed water, tying a shoelace so there’d be no tripping, sneezing into her elbow. I don’t know.

Maybe this whole thing was easily preventable. Maybe it really wasn’t. Maybe the gorilla would have done nothing. Maybe he would have killed the boy in one swoop. I don’t know.

Where you there?

Must we so vehemently criticize her? Especially since we don’t know? We weren’t there?

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~ Fayelle

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The Royal Story Teller

Okay, so that sounds like a pretty cool job. A royal story teller. Like, you get to go to the castle, tell people interesting stories, have the king’s full attention, and be admired far and wide for your awesome stories. And of course, they’d all have very teachable morals and the world would grow wise because of your amazing story telling abilities. Heck, don’t stop there, then the wisdom spreads and hearts of the world grow 3 sizes and world peace falls like manna from heaven.

Okay, so maybe that’s a LITTLE far fetched, but royal story tellers were real occupations and I got to read a cool book that includes a pretty special story teller, Seth.

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The Royal Story Teller is a beautiful book written by Roe Bradley about a present-day class of pretty amazing children with special needs and even more special compassion and gifts. This unique book not only highlights the beauty despite special needs, but showcases the beauty because of special needs. I’ve never read a children’s book like this before. Reading it to Naomi (my 6 year old) the first time took a while because she had so many questions. She wanted to know more about the disabilities and she wanted to imagine life with them. It was neat watching her try to physically pretend she had some of the disabilities and we talked about how life would be different. The characters of the book are unique and very lovable and, even more, reading their reactions to a Bible story from 2 Samuel is really fun. I’ve read kids’ books, and I’ve read Bible stories, but I’ve never read kids’ reactions to Bible stories. It’s great.

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The illustrations are simple, but effective – Naomi saw Seth on the mat and it reminded her of the man on the mat that Jesus healed. She was sad that Jesus wasn’t there to heal him but that led to a discussion about how sometimes God doesn’t heal and while that’s hard, that’s ok. The characters in the book showed us that there is so much more to each person than a physical or mental disability. I really think everyone could benefit from this book. Not only is it relatable (in my non-special-needs opinion) to families with special needs, but is EXTRA great for families without. The book opened a whole new avenue of discovery for Naomi and she got to realize God has given everyone special gifts, and was reminded how precious each person is – even when something looks drastically different.
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(Cindy even looks like Naomi!)

This book is available for purchase from Amazon here. Go check it out!


~ Fayelle

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion and review. No other compensation was given and I was not swayed in any way. My opinions are my own and completely truthful!

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The Leap Days

Friday March 18, was my husband’s and my 10th wedding anniversary. A whole decade, I can barely believe it. Ten years of wedded bliss.

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Oh it’s bliss alright, but bliss comes in many varieties. The wedded kind isn’t identical to, say, the creamy, dark chocolate kind. Wedded bliss involves more struggle and growing pains and arguments about really stupid stuff, but the good times are amazing (however, like chocolate, wedded bliss can affect the size of the hips – but I don’t mind). I don’t think every marriage has wedded bliss, but a good, mostly healthy marriage is a lot of crazy work and lots of satisfying, happy times and that’s some bliss right there.

For those that don’t know, my husband and I have a pretty unique love story – here are the very bare basics:

-2000 become pen pals (him in Ghana, me at college in Alabama)
-2004 He asks me to marry him
-2006 I travel to Ghana for 5 weeks, we get married
-2008 He finally moved to the U.S. as a permanent resident (that’s a whole ridiculous, expensive process my gosh – and please note, I didn’t get to see him once during that full 2 years of working to get him here)

If you want more specifics, you can check out an article a friend of mine wrote about us over at Southern Bridal.

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I like to reminisce on special days and I was thinking last night how, on whatever day it was in the year 2000, I received a fun letter from a guy I would end up pledging my undying love to 6 years later, and who would do things like annoy the absolute crap outta me and also make my heart grow patience and a servant’s attitude in ways I never thought possible. The guy who would make me roll my eyes so many times I wonder sometimes if they’ll get stuck that way, and yet who can literally still take my breath away with a single word or gesture. The guy who STILL doesn’t know that the small appetizer bowls go on the bottom shelf and the bigger cereal bowls go on the top shelf but can (and does daily) save people from death. Odd combinations but I’d never trade em.

Recently I had some extra questions come up about our story and I thought some of you might be interested in hearing the answers too.

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Did you continue to write/call during the 2 years apart? – Yup. We called more than wrote. I had a decent-ish job and could afford the $15 – $20 a week on prepaid calling cards. How much talk time does a $20 card get you when calling to Ghana (back in 2006)? About 2 and a half hours, assuming you don’t lose the connection repeatedly (story of our lives). So we’d usually talk every Saturday morning and a couple times during the week. He’d call a little too, but it was mostly me doing the calling.

What was the reunion like when he first got to the U.S.?
I lived in Colorado at the time and he arrived in Denver. I paced the waiting area for over two hours while I watched the status of the plane go from
“landed” to “unloading” til I finally saw him. We grabbed each other and hugged and kissed and then he immediately had to go to another part of the unloading area I couldn’t go to because one of his bags hadn’t made it. And while he was dealing with the paperwork involved with that, I sat down and sobbed like a baby (I think I freaked out a woman sitting near me). I hadn’t realized just how stressful those two years had been til they were over. It was such a relief. Then he came back out and there was nonstop grinning for a couple weeks.
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How was it finding work when he arrived?
He had to wait for the gov’t to issue a social security card and that was supposed to take 3 weeks but took 2 months. But we weren’t surprised, because the whole immigration process was supposed to take 6-9 months and took 2 years, so, WHATEV. His first job was at a 5-star/5-diamond resort called The Broadmoor. It’s pretty much the fanciest place I’ve ever seen in every way. He worked hard and well and that job made it pretty easy for him to get hired subsequent places – because he had such an amazing work ethic, he had excellent references.
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Is he a citizen now?
No. To do that he would need to relinquish his Ghanian citizenship since there’s no legal reason why he needs dual citizenship (political, business, etc). And neither of us want him to do that. It’s not holding him back from anything too crucial anyway.
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Have we been back to Ghana since he came here?
Sigh. Nope. It costs a LOT of money to fly to Ghana. And stay in Ghana. And miss work. So that also means the first two grandkids of his family haven’t seen their Grandfather and Aunts and Uncle and cousin in Ghana either. It’s been 8 years since my poor husband has seen his family other than skyping, 8 years since he’s seen his best friends and neighbors back home. 8 years. Previous anniversaries went by with little fanfare because they were so bittersweet for him, reminders that another year has passed far away from those he loves. I was a little nervous about this anniversary for that reason, but he was way more happy than sad this time. We’re really praying that this year a miracle happens and maybe he and our oldest can fly to Ghana this summer.

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Cultural differences?
This took me a while to answer. There aren’t so many now so I had a hard time remembering, but yes, there were in the beginning while he was adjusting to being here and I was adjusting to… him. For example, pets. Majority of the population over there have none. Cats? Their jobs are to roam around killing rodents. Dogs? They roam too (and he doesn’t like them much anyway). I had 2 cats when he moved to the states and it was pretty comical to see him adjust to them. He was shocked to see that I spent actual money on food for them and vet visits and stuff. He did say there was one kind of pet he’d like to have and that’s a parrot (or some other kind of bird) but I really, really, really don’t want any birds, so, no pets for us. Well, he DID agree to fish so we might be growing our family by a few fins this summer. And Christmas trees! Yes honey, we pay money for a tree to be cut down and brought into our house and decorated and then taken down a month later and thrown away. What in the world. Church here lasts a specific amount of time. In Ghana, church can go for hours and hours and some just come and go as they please. He was amazed at how precise things are here. Events start and end at mostly specific times, things that cost money usually can’t be bargained lower and there are SEASONS (Ghana has 2 – rainy and dry).

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What was your favorite part from when you visited Ghana?
Oh my gosh, what a time. I was so unprepared for so much, no matter how much I studied. It is HOT. You’ve never felt this kind of hot unless you’ve been south of the U.S. His town is super close to the equator – I’ve never felt sun penetrate my skin like that before. I’ve never before felt like I was drinking the air 24 hours a day (humidity like a BOSS). I was not prepared for the level of poverty I saw in many parts of the country I visited. But my gosh, that’s not even what I remember most vividly despite it being so prevalant. I remember the joy. I remember the hospitality. I remember how jovial and honest and full of life these people were. There were so many who had no idea where their next meal would come from and yet they were full of joy. It all came from Christ, of course, but I’ve never known how one can truly depend on the Lord they way they did. We, as 1st world citizens can say we depend on the Lord but very, very few of us know what that REALLY meams. Whereas, a majority of those in Samuel’s hometown (including his family) know EXACTLY what that means. Actual life and death, not just a loss of comfort. And the honesty! They could argue loudly and passionately with each other one minute and the next minute go back to being friendly and go get coffee and joke around. There was so little drama (unlike the U.S.), no one cared what you looked or smelled like (did I mention it was HOT?), and they all just genuinely wanted to spend time with each other and help each other and love each other and praise God together. It was beautiful. I think about that often – the liberty of just being yourself. Yes, a place without #firstworldproblems.

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These 10 years are so little like I ever thought my 1st ten years of marriage would be like. They’ve been harder, and sweeter, and I’m a much better person because of them. Thank you, dear Lord, for this man and all that came with the “I do”.

“Oh how the years go by
Oh how the love brings tears to my eyes
All through the changes the soul never dies
We fight, we laugh, we cry
As the years go by”

-Amy Grant, Oh How The Years Go By

~Fayelle

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