Archive for the ‘Door County Life’ Category

I Am Returning —- slowly!   Leave a comment

After much time away for various reasons, all of which I will write about in the near future, I am slowly making my way back to blogging again.  It seems there are some folks whom I love dearly who really do read and follow our lives here at Joyfulhouse……. sweet things!   I also am using this blog to document our life so in light of that and the fact that I would not want it to seem we all disappeared for a year, we are foster parents and that could raise questions, I will resume —  🙂

Coming back to this blog will also have to be a slow re-entry as WordPress has changes in the last year.  How unfair to me that they would change everything in such a short matter of time.  I will learn what all these new and fancy buttons are for over time and hopefully not delete with a push of a button all of my work — been known to happen —

2013 — August —

Let’s just sum up the summer of 2013 as fun, and lots of hard work.  I live in Door County remember and although we live in a tourist area, we work so that the tourists can enjoy their stay, and then we squeeze in some fun when we are able.

As foster parents we are always ready for THAT CALL, the one that says we are needed to take in another child, it is a phone call that we await as our hearts are drawn to this ministry of caring for children as the Lord brings them.  Sometimes they are the unexpected, as was the one that we received last August.  We knew there was a baby soon to be born in the fall but because we still had our Miss S we were sure we would not get the call for that baby as well.  But, we did.  We prayed and knew it was a yes to take this little guy, Mr. A, born 6 weeks early with some special needs.  He was 2.5 hours away in a NICU by himself so we drove as often as we could to see him and bond with him the first few days.  Soon we realized  that he was being given some very strong meds and the nurses explains that  he would need to be on them for 30 days for sure which was protocol for these babies.  That was too much for my heart to bare as I held this little 4 lb. bundle who was suffering physically and sequestered away in a private dark room for many reasons.  I prayed for healing, I asked my family to pray  for him, I asked friends and our church to pray and literally 2 days later as I called to check on him, the nurses said, in a surprised tone, that his numbers were coming down and that they had never seen this before.  Oh do I love when God works quickly!  Remember, at this time we had been told that he would not be coming home to our home until October, maybe the first 2 weeks.  This was Sept. 2, he was a week old and it was Monday.  I went to see him and the nurses taught me to tube feed him and start on the bottle feeding and they again mentioned how surprised they were that he was doing so well — I was blessed with the opportunity to tell another nurse about God and how He answers prayers –.  On Wednesday they called and said he was coming off the strong meds because he didn’t need them anymore!  They had been slowly removing him from the meds as he quickly healed but it was progressing so fast that at this point the NICU doctor was astounded — and I got to tell her about prayer!  On that Thursday they also told us to be ready to take him on Saturday!  The problem was that we had been praying but not acting as in getting ready!  Thank the Lord for daughters who helped me transform our bedroom nook into a nursery, buy a crib and all the items necessary for a baby, and a tiny baby at that!  On Sunday Rick and I drove down to pick up our Mr. A.  He was so tiny that the little car seat seemed huge compared to his little body.  I remember The Fisherman and I looking at each other and I started to laugh — what was God doing?  Did He not know we are in our 50’s?  As we drove out we prayed, and felt the complete assurance from God that this was indeed what we were to be doing, and that yes, it would be hard in many ways but that our Big God would supply all of our needs.

He did! — He gave me the ability to feed Mr. A every 3 hours around the clock — 2 oz. at a time for the first 3 weeks.  It would take him about 30-40 minutes to do the 2 oz. I would get back to sleep for 2 hours then need to get back up and feed him again.  But such a joy!  It became my delight, on most nights —  to pray over him and bless him with God’s Words for his life.  God met every need for us as a family to take care of this little man and boy did we fall in love, and Miss S did as well!

Mr. A is one of the reasons that I did not blog for a while — my life became very consumed with the needs of getting a tiny baby healthy and caring for him, Miss S and our family —   And it was all good!.  God is so awesome and this journey is so exciting and real — Oh how I love what He brings and how He takes us through the good and the very hard things, and it has been a year of culmination in my life — all for good as I will share.

That was last fall —

It is that time of year again but we do not have Mr. A anymore.  He is in a very good place with family which is a true blessing and another answer to prayers.  We miss him.  It was last April when we said our goodbyes as we met with the family member, a beautiful kind woman, and passed him to her along with all of his belongings and special gifts from us.  As we sat in the hotel room, Mi-mi, A, The Fisherman and myself, we gathered around him to lay hands on him and pray.  We knew there was a good chance that we would never see him again on this earth.  We prayed over his life, lifting him before the throne of God.  As my big fisherman husband prayed he choked back sobs, joining the tears of our two beautiful daughters which broke my heart, his love and their love for this little boy pouring out in words over his life.  We hugged him and said our goodbyes.  As we were heading out of the hotel room I asked Mimi and A if this was too much for them, too hard to give up the foster children, even if it was to a very good place.  I will never forget A turning to me with more than a little fire in her eyes and saying “Oh sure mom, make it easier on us and leave children without a good safe home to go to??”  I knew then that even though we were all a wreck it would be ok eventually, God does heal hearts, He would help us through missing this precious little life in which we had seen miracles and experienced such joy.

He did help us, because He is faithful and He is kind.

Foster care is a wild ride — wouldn’t want life to be boring!

Thankful for the opportunity to love a little man, bless his life, teach him about Jesus and pray over him, change his diapers and spend time in the night with him showing him what love looks like!

 

 

Blessed as always because of Jesus

Joyce

Posted September 3, 2014 by joyfulhouse in Around the house, Door County Life, Family, Foster Care

These Days!   1 comment

Yesterday was Melody’s birthday and we celebrated all day long —  We actually started the celebration on Tuesday with a trip to Green Bay and dinner with Uncle Randy.  We Johnsons love to celebrate and birthdays celebrations are often a week or more — seems kind of Biblical as God like to celebrate in weeks to!

Turning 15 is a big deal in our home and my husband allows the girls to wear make-up starting on this birthday.  So…. off to Appleton we went to go to the Clinique counter and have a make-up stylist do her make-up and purchase her skin-care routine.  Then, off to Sephora and Ulta to buy mascara and eyeshadows and some lip glosses.  Those stores blow my mind with all the different kinds of makeups and brands and assortment of fixes for all of our “facial problems”.  It was a bit overwhelming to see it all and I was heavily aware that the message being sent to us as women is that we are indeed not “perfect” and that we don’t need to worry, “they” have something to fix everything.

My problem with that message is that my husband and I see our girls as beautiful, delightfully so, completely so.  That is one of the reasons Rick does not want his girls wearing make-up until they are fifteen.  He wants them to be sure and confident of their beauty without make-up before they start the make-up routine.  Even when they start using cosmetics he wants them to remain natural looking and not heavily made-up —  easier said then done sometimes.  As we gift Melody we want to make sure that she understands once again that her real beauty is in how God created her and her allowing Him to give her beauty from the inside out.  Beautiful Spirit filled heart = beautiful joyful countenance.   Every growing, maturing, changing as God does His work in her, in each one of us!

I remember when our first daughter was about 10 and she was sitting at the table for mealtime when the sun crossed her face and I could see that she was wearing my foundation.  Being just a child it was streaked across her cheek and down her chin and I stood amazed that she had tried to apply make-up on at such a young age.  She was innocently exploring what she saw me do when I was going to town or church and wanted to see how that would look on her.  My amazement, unfortunately turned to anger and I told her to get a towel and wipe it all off of her face.  I was upset because my daughter, thinking she was adding to her beauty as she had seen me do, was to me marring her precious face, a face which to me did not need anything to  be more perfect.  Her long blond hair and big blue eyes, creamy white complexion and her sweet innocence did not need one bit of help to be more beautiful to my eyes and that is what stirred up such strong emotion in my heart.  I wish I would have handled it better but I reacted and did not take the time to use this experience to teach the deep lesson of beauty to one so tender.  She was my first experience with a daughter and God graciously allowed us four more!  These beautiful daughters amaze their father and I, over and over again, as they go through the teen years and into full womanhood and their beauty grows each year.  What a joy!

Make-up is fun and they all enjoy wearing it — but their natural beauty is most precious as it comes from their hearts!

So here we are with our baby — wearing make-up, and pre-paring to start drivers ed next — fifteen and fabulous!

Blessed to be a mother of daughters

Blessed to be married to a strong man who is a good father to his five daughters!

Joyce

 

 

 

Posted April 27, 2013 by joyfulhouse in Door County Life, Family

Vacation???   Leave a comment

We left Wednesday in the early morning…. suburban full, but not to the brim as when we traveled with six children.  This time we have our two youngest daughters and the car seat with Miss S.  and baby paraphernalia filling the seat beside her car seat.  We made it off at a decent time for our annual trip to visit family in TN.  It was a few hours into the trip that Miss S coughed in a way that triggered concern to me right away.  She had been healthy for a couple of weeks, much to my delight… and I was hoping for good health for this trip so that my nights would not be consumed with being up with her more than our normal one or two middle of the night get-togethers.

We arrived on Wed. night late and took Miss S to the pediatrician on Thurs. morning.  Things did not improve as we had prayed and hoped and last night we spent hours praying over her as her fever rose higher and higher even with the tylenol.  As I sat rocking her in the night I was pursued by the thoughts of dismay that she had to get so sick, that this is our only vacation and here I am spending it with a very sick little girl and with very little rest or sleep.  I prayed and asked God to explain how this was His best for me this week.  I wish I could say that I received beautiful words of prose from my Heavenly Father, but that did not happen.  I did receive peace that He is with me and that rocking this little girl, praying over her immediate needs and for her future life were indeed His best plans for my life the last few nights.  In fact, that I was able to hear His voice in my tired mind at 1:00 in the morning was in itself a beautiful blessing.  This is not my way or desire of how to spend my vacation but God has a plan.  I may miss church tomorrow and I so love attending other churches, especially this one here in TN, but I will worship Jesus tomorrow here at the gram’s house with a sick little one wiping her little nose and telling her how much God loves her and has plans for her life as well.  It does not seem much like vacation at this time but God knows.

The words of this hymn have blessed me tonight —

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

On vacation — being blessed!

Joyce

  1 comment

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The fish docks — looking pretty barren these days, and COLD!
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Beautiful snowy Door County backroad.
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                                                        Annie and Mandy at our birthday dinner celebration.
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We were able to drive down last weekend to Appleton and celebrate Mandy’s birthday.  I love how little S just gets into the girl mode so easily….. here she is applying powder to her face and hair!  So cute.
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Jeni, made a beautiful bundt cake for Mandy’s birthday — unfortunately the parking lot by Mandy’s was sheer ice and  the cake did a very impressive flip!   It still tasted delicious!
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Me and the birthday girl  —  our beautiful daughter Mandy.  Mandy has had a great year with lots of changes in her life in many areas and answers in prayer for her with her VERY stressful job and with her church.  Yeah God!
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Miss S has been getting up early — on top of not sleeping through the night.  This was one morning this week where she refused to let Rick leave for work until he had read her a book!  This was around 6:30 in the morning and she was very pleased with getting some time with her Mister before he left for work.  🙂
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Melody took a cake decoration class last month for her home-ec class.  The cake was beautiful and SO delicious!
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Foster Care Reality!   Some days 13 month olds, like Miss S, just do not want to be put down and sometimes I am the only one who she wants to be with even though she loves all of our family!  This was the other day where within an hour of being up I knew it was going to be a back-pack type of day —  so here we are brushing our teeth together!  It was a bonding moment for Miss S and her NaNa!   🙂
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Matthew came up yesterday with his girlfriend Emily.  We had dinner together and visited and then we went out for pictures and after that nice one my son tried to throw Emily into the snow bank but she held on and ended up taking him down with her….  it was hilarious!   He was so surprised that he didn’t know what to say!  Ha.  I was so glad that he could come up and snowmobile after not being well for almost the last month.  I prayed all last week for more snow and decent weather for him to get to snowmobile and God answered my prayers.  We had such a wonderful day!
Blessed —
Joyce

Busy Week of Faith   Leave a comment

It has been quite the week here in Gills Rock, and quite the week of faith.
Our son Matthew had a flare up with a terrible illness he is fighting.  It ended up making him lose a lot of weight and the become weak in his strength.  It is an awful thing to watch one’s precious son suffer, or child for that matter.  This bout has lasted three weeks and last Wednesday it became apparent that it was time for the family to step in and help.  Rick, Annie, Melody and I all sat in the living room and joined in prayer for Matthew as we asked God to intervene on his behalf.  The whole family hardly slept on Wednesday as we prayed through the night for Matthew’s health.  Thursday morning I made his favorite soup, ham and potato and put homemade apple sauce and other foods together and packed the girls all up and we headed out to Green Bay.  The timing was perfect as we were trying to make the drive in-between snow storms.  We came into the second storm about 30 minutes from Matthew’s home and had to drive slowly on the icy snow covered roads and saw cars in the ditch as we drove.  I was so glad to get there and again was thanking the Lord for our old suburban which hauls through this northern weather, and also that my husband did not listen to me when I thought we should trade it in when we bought the Ford Edge in Dec..  He was correct in saying that all-wheel-drive is no match to the suburban and that trip down and the last few days of driving have proved it!  It also has room for all of our stuff and the baby paraphernalia that come along with a 13 month old!
 
On Friday, Mandy came up from Appleton and Uncle Randy came over and we had a wonderful time visiting with Matthew and encouraging him and getting him to smile.  Mandy is always good for that!  We cooked food and cleaned up and just practiced “being-with” which was what Matthew needed most of all.  God really spoke to me a lesson about helping those who are alone — there is a real need to go and “be-with” single folks when they are hurting or suffering so that they are not alone during those times.  I realized last week that God is showing me another way to love and mentor the single folks that He has put in our lives.  No need to come with an agenda, just some simple food and my bag of knitting or books to read and then just sit there and “be-with”.  Matthew has lovingly expressed to us all that this blessed him most.
 
Friday night Emily, Matthew’s girlfriend, came up and since we were there she spent the night so we could have more time together.  She was a blessing and as always our time of sharing together was sweet and wonderful.
 
We spent Thurs. and Fri. there with him and then headed north on Saturday to get little miss S to her visit with her parents.  As we left that morning, we gathered around Matthew and I laid hands on him and prayed over him and as I did little Miss S reached out her little hand and put it on Matthew’s shoulder — so precious!   She is learning to pray!
 
While there, Annie was picked up, along with dear friends Jean and Heather as they headed out to Honduras to work in an orphanage there.  
I asked God to give me extra faith for this time as I was praying for Matthew’s well being and then Annie’s as well.  God is good and He gave me such a gift of faith and peace to go with it.  Isn’t He just wonderful?  He always, always, gives me more than I asked for!  🙂
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We had a snow day last week and it was during the time when we had taken in a little boy who was abandoned.  He was three years old and such a precious little boy.  We are thankful that they found a family member to take him in and care for him as a safe family member is always better than foster care.  The other boy in the picture is also in foster care and lives with my good friend Heather.  We loved the snow and the fun and being snowbound for the day!
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Visiting at Matthew’s house.    I have to cover little Miss S’s face to keep her identity hidden per foster care rules.
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Annie and Heather heading out!
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Back at home, I started working on taxes in the office.  Little Miss S loves to help but she has also discovered our terrier is a fun toy and as she is walking better all the time she is starting to track the poor dog down and grab at Jazmin — which does not make Jazmin happy!   I discovered that the gate makes them the best of friends!
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Little Miss S baking Valentine’s Day cookies with Melody!
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Every Valentine’s Day Rick buys all of his girls (who are not married) flowers.  Of course I get a beautiful bouquet of roses as well!  These were Kristi’s flowers .  He is such a sweetheart-   The apple did not fall far from the tree as Matthew sent a beautiful big bouquet of roses to Emily as well!  I made Rick steak and shrimp, baked potatoes, salad and garlic bread for supper as my treat to him.  he enjoyed it very much.  He had worked all day at construction and then went and plowed for four hours so he was tired and the warm meal made him so happy.
Today — I have already prayed for Matthew and Annie.  Matthew called last night and said that he is doing a bit better and we are so thankful.  Annie called and although she got sick on Wednesday, she is doing better.  She is having a wonderful time!   I will spend the better part of  today in the office working on taxes and getting accounts in line.  I also need to wrap up the music for Sunday, iron some shirts for my husband and when then baby naps, work on some drawing and water color art with Melody for school.  I also hope to get the Christmas tree down!  I KNOW, this is a record.  We went to take it down last week but the door to our outside metal barn, where we store the Christmas stuff, was totally iced shut and even Rick could not get it open..   Maybe today!  Rick just doesn’t want me lighting up the tree so the neighbors driving by see that the tree is still up!!   What a riot!
Faith — beautiful gift from God according to His Word — it is what keeps a mother’s heart from breaking, over and over again, as we cry out to our God to work on behalf of our children.  There are many things that I am asking God to give me faith for right now and I am thankful beyond words that I can trust Him during this time, knowing that in His perfect timing all will be accomplished.  He is loving, kind, and always GOOD!
Blessed with faith today!
Joyce

This Chilly Morning!   Leave a comment

 

 

 

 

Hot pink sunsets are often seen in the fall here in Gills Rock and this one from the other night was brilliant in all of it’s color.  Wow, does our God like to use pinks!

I am sitting by the wood stove with my toes as close as I can get for warmth.  As Thursdays are our very busy day away from home, the fire was neglected and went out.  I was focused more on the VP debates last night when I finally made it hone from Bible study so the first thing on my list this morning following Rick’s leaving, was to get a fire going.

Often I will beg my sweet husband to make the fire for me, but rarely is there time on these Oct. mornings, but he does give me his recipe for starting a fire, it goes like this–  Take two pieces of newspaper, crumple them up, lay 3-4 pieces of kindling on the newspaper and two pieces of wood.  Use ONE match (he always emphasizes that for my benefit!) to light the paper then shut the doors and you will have a roaring fire within a few minutes.  Have I mentioned that my man went to boy scouts and  when he received his little patch for fire starting – if indeed there is such a badge– he was also given a  more than normal ability to start fires.  And, he proves his ability over and over again.  He really can start a roaring blaze with one match!  Not me!  I am getting better  but still use more than two pieces of news papers, more than a few kindling sticks and the one match idea….. I bought myself a butane lighter!

School — going well.  Melody’s good friend, Hannah, is doing Veritas Press with us which includes theology, history and British Lit. as well as geography and English Composition.  We meet Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday for three hours, studying, drinking tea and reading together.  It has gone quite well and we are all enjoying it.  I am not doing so well with correcting but am learning to catch up on that. The best part in being fellow comrades in this schooling is the sweet fellowship and enjoying the discussion and ideas that each of our subjects bring up.  It has been wonderful.  We are reading Pride and Prejudice at this time and I was getting the giggles watching them sitting by the fire, reading aloud the chapter in which Darcy proposes for the first time…. these beautiful fourteen year olds were just delightful as they commented about how romantic this book is and then bemoaning the fact that there are not any young men around our area who are like Darcy in any way.  So fun!  I am thankful for the wonderful literature that gives the girls and I the chance to discuss relationships and civility in our culture, or the lack there of.  That, and the ability to expand our vocabulary makes this book a bonus to read aloud and enjoy together.

Canning– We will be soon done with canning, and I am ready.  When I purchased our honey for the next six months, I talked to the bee keeper, also and avid gardener, and she said that she also had found no wild grapes and few plums.  What a strange year, very strange.  We have never been without grape jelly in 30 years, but we will be lacking this year, and plum jelly as well.  Such a bummer!  Today I plan to sort the canning area in our furnace room and find out exactly where I am at with my canning.  This may be a year where jellies are not given in our Christmas gifts to friends…

Fishing —  WILD — as in the winds.  The winds have been blowing so hard and yesterday they tried to go out but had to turn around, and thankfully they did!  The fish count has not been real great yet but the lift on Tuesday was a little more promising.  We will see.  There was an incident last week where in setting the nets one of the guys got caught in the lines and went over the side.  Another fishermen caught him and was holding him from going under when in the pain of being kept up by his shoulders the sinking fisherman yelled to be let go.  Thankfully the fishermen on boat did not let go and the overboard fisherman was pulled on deck.  Had the fishermen let go the net would have dragged our friend under the water to certain death.  Commercial Fishing is dangerous, especially this time of the year and so we pray every morning for the safety of the guys.  I am so thankful that this life was spared.

I will put pictures up tomorrow as the colors are just gorgeous this year — stunningly so.

Today I am going to work on school and can sauerkraut, clean up canning, clean bathrooms, do bookwork and stack some wood.  I also need to get to a cleaning job and spend a couple of hours working on cleaning there and getting on top of the chore list for that house.  I am looking forward to this evening as it will be our first evening home all week.  I want to crochet and relax with the girls and Rick and just be with my precious family.

The fire has warmed my feet and even my legs are starting to feel nice and toasty.  The flames are beautiful and as the sky is now lightened I feel ready to start the work day.  It is going to be a good day!

Blessed,

Joyce

Today – Friday   Leave a comment

 

 

 

Early morning sunrise at one of my cleaning jobs!   Quite the view for work as the house has 70 feet of windows facing the water!  What a beautiful setting to work in~


I am sitting here in a quiet, and my I add, COLD house.   The fire went out yesterday while I was away for the day grocery shopping in the big city — the REALLY big city, Green Bay.  We got home in time to wrap meat for the freezer, put away some of the groceries, throw some burgers on the grill for supper, deal with our local teen-techy as he re-did our wireless router and then head out the door for Bible study.

The wind is howling this morning and the forecast says that it is supposed to get worse over the next 48 hours.  My sweet fisherman said that this could be wind in the direction that brings the fish in to North Bay.  The way he said it, with a slight uncertainty, speaks volumes to the place we are in as fishermen here in Door County.  We are hoping, but wondering, what the fall fishing will be like and if the winds will bring the fish or if the fish are just too far out, and the lake too low to bring the fish.    We will pray, and we will see!

I shuddered as I kissed my fisherman goodbye as he headed out to the truck in the dark and the cold, to work on the boat in the waves and in the danger.  I pray for him, and the other precious men I love who are out there and then stand in faith that they will all be safe.

As for my day, I am torn between all the work that there is to do, as to where to start.  Some days are like that aren’t they?  I know that I need to do some bookwork, clean and prepare a bedroom for a weekend visitor, clean my floors and do some laundry.  I also need to finnish preparing our cottage for a week long rental, and spend a couple of hours cleaning one of my cleaning jobs.  The wind and expected cooler temps are also making me highly aware that I should go and scavenge the last of the tomatoes and make one more batch of tomato soup and get the last of the cucumbers out of the garden and trim the broccoli back so it will produce for a few more weeks.  I need to bake bread and prepare something fun for the home-ec class that we are doing here, tonight at seven.  It will be a full day!

I am thankful– for the awareness of being thankful!  I am thankful for all the strength that God gives for the work load.  For His gentle reminding me of what needs to get done when I have overlooked things in my daily juggling of the multiple hats that I wear.

I am thankful that my husbands back is much better than it was on Monday, for the ability to stock up on groceries for the months ahead.  I am thankful for children who love each other and give each other opportunity to pray for and support each other in life’s harder times.  I am thankful for friends who care about my heart and what is dear to me.  Most of all, for the ever present love of my Lord who leads me and guides me and will help me figure out how to accomplish this day and get it all done, with grace and love.

Blessed,

Joyce