A Pathway Guaranteed to End A Relationship

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Yeah, well, when you are sitting at a table in your favorite coffee shop gazing into the eyes of the most beautiful human being you’ve ever met in your life, the last thing you are thinking about is a break up. Life is too full of sunshine and joy to ever imagine this could end. In fact, break ups happen to anyone and everyone else. A crushing end is the furthest thing from your mind. Besides, you’re too busy just being in the moment and loving every second.

Now, close your eyes. Breath deeply for a moment. Feel the pure joy. Feel the tangible happiness. Feels great! Right?

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Likewise, imagine, you’re sitting in the office of a company that you desperately want to work for. You’ve just completed an interview that you are confident went really well. You admire the manager who has so eloquently conducted the interview and you are certain that together the two of you will do amazing things for the success of the company. You just know it.

Take a mental picture. You’re gonna need it.

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Here’s the thing, a lot of my relationship lessons have been learned after-the-fact or at best mid-stream while trying to keep my head above the water so I didn’t completely drown.

Do you know how painful that is? How many painful hours I have spent in tears -wondering, “What went wrong?”

I sat chair side for some of the best dentists in the USA for almost 20 years and one message I heard repeatedly over those years was “preventive medicine is the best medicine” or “early detection increases the chances of a successful outcome.” What we don’t know can and does hurt us. Knowledge is power (just saying that makes me want to dust off my superhero cape, except I don’t have one. Can I borrow yours? Please?). But it’s true.

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A cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best-outcome with a side of everything-will-work-out-fine because we are wonderful people approach isn’t working. It’s painful. And confusing.

After my marriage of 18 years ended, I was crushed. I had no self-esteem left. I had no working knowledge for how to go through a divorce (because I wasn’t ever going to be a divorcee) or deal with the court system. My philosophy was justice and truth will prevail (where is that cape?). I learned the hard way that there are loop holes in the system, not knowing what you are doing will kick you right in the seat of the pants and you can loose because the guy on the judge’s bench is just a guy trying to figure it all out. He doesn’t have knowledge about your life therefore, he has to hold the stories up against the law and the best story wins.

Believe me, it was another, “What went wrong?” kind of day. In the infamous words of Madia, “what had happen was” in my emotional state of mind, I handed the decision making power over my life to a guy who knew nothing about me or my values. Believe me, this knowledge is now knowledge with power behind it. I won’t do that again.

We need to know. We need the how to’s for life.

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We all desire, hope for and even long for strong relationships that make our lives happier, brighter, more worthwhile. We are ecstatic when we find them. We don’t plan for the very relationships we longed for to become the bane of our existence. Yet, if we don’t learn and apply skills in a proactive way, we are putting our relationships at risk of failure.

And no one wants to fail.

Whether it’s a friendship, business, career, community or family relationship, we enter the relationship full of hope that we can succeed.

I learned the hard way. Please let me share some information about this painful pathway before you start taking the hike.

There are warning signs when a relationship begins to break down. No one goes to sleep one night and wakes up the next morning and announces, “I’m done. I’m not going to do this anymore. It’s been real. I’ve had a lot of fun but I’m just stopping now”. Long before you quit, you can see big flashing red signs that say, “This is not working for me!”

Communication breakdown is the most common reason given for failed relationships of all kinds. It’s like the doorway to the dark side. Once you walk through it, the temptation to give into other destructive behaviours seems like a vacuum tunnel that pulls you away from your core focus.

If you want to guarantee relationship failure all you have to do is allow communication to make a wrong turn and travel the pathway of criticism followed by contempt then defensiveness and finally stonewalling. This pathway is fatal. You can avoid even stepping one foot onto it.

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Strong communication is a two-way street. The issue at hand is considered and all participants in the relationship contribute. Ideas are weighed and a decision is made. Gosh, that sounds so simple. Bam. Problem solved. Right?

Effective communication is like a dance. Moving together provides a beautiful flow. You might step on each other’s toes a few times but you correct the wrong move and continue dancing. The problem starts at the point where the ideas we offer are met with criticism. “That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard!”, “Who thinks like that? Stupid idea”, “Look, my way of thinking is the only way to go and well, I can’t even imagine why you think like you do.” Critical reactions leave us fearful of opening up. We feel foolish, rejected and unheard. If this occurs often, we make the decision to shut down. “It’s not worth it. I’ll keep my thoughts to myself”.

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This feels like a safe solution. Problem is the heart then takes a second step on the pathway. Criticism leads to contempt. Dear one, contempt starts quietly in the deepest, darkest part of your heart. Left unchecked it spreads like wild fire. Believe me. Contempt is the birthing place for disrespect. Here, we might begin to speak under our breath and say things like (I’ll be nice here although usually, we aren’t so kind) “Idiot”, “Jerk”. This stage is most common for women. Do you recognise these comments: “Fine”, “Nothing”, “Go ahead”, and “Whatever”? We joke about women giving these answers. But it’s really not funny. She is signalling to you (spouse, boss, friend) that you aren’t valuing her input and she resents it. Feelings of disgust and disdain begin to surface to the point that she is disregarding the person altogether.

Contempt shifts the focus from the issue to how we now feel about the person. Remember, you have heard me share the wisdom that as a man thinks in his heart so is he? Basically, that means what you entertain in your heart becomes behaviour. In the case of contempt this is where it starts getting ugly. The saying “beautiful inside and out” turns to “ugly to the bone”. Contempt is where this change begins.

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We might think that we are hiding our true feelings even if we don’t say “it” to their face. But we’re not. Contempt shows. It begins to scream at the other person, “I can’t stand you!”

Still have that mental picture stored in your mind’s eye? This is not how you felt about this person when you first met, is it? The warm fuzzies are quickly dissipating.

Typically, when contempt is used the next step is defensiveness. One or both parties can experience this. Becoming defensive is a very normal response to being treated with contempt. Defensiveness is really a way of blaming the other person. In effect, we are saying the problem isn’t me, it’s you. The original problem isn’t resolved but the conflict has just escalated.

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Once the conflict has escalated, one or both parties will tune the other person OUT! This is known as building up walls or stonewalling. This is more common in men. It’s what my husband calls “too hard”. I have learned in NZ that if someone here says, “Too hard” whether it’s work, marriage, or a friendly conversation, they are telling the world that they are done. They are not talking about it anymore. They are not responding. They are finished. Now, my husband and I have learned to stop for a while, go think about our approaches and come back to it later.

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We have finally come up with a plan that refocuses us back to the issue so that we are working together again. However, if you don’t rethink the “how to” approach communication properly this is the stage that people quit. Marriages end. Teenagers just walk away. I have quit jobs. I have quit and sat in silence for far too many days on end with family members. I have walked away from friendships without giving the relationship a fair chance. I think we all have. This left me miserable and wounded deep with my heart. This is where we begin to misplace our ability to trust other people and close our hearts so tightly that no one can get in.

Closed down behind a stone wall is not what we bargained for. We want to be happy. We want to succeed. We want abundance.

We can turn this whole thing around or prevent even travelling down this pathway if we are willing to look honestly at the warning signs and change direction.

It can be as simple as applying the right skills. If the situation is advanced to a dangerous place, help might be necessary. However, preventive measures are more beneficial than attempting to repair or revive a failing relationship.

No matter where you are in your relationship journey, you can get off this destructive path.

Let me know what you think. Was this helpful? Do you know someone who might benefit from this information, please feel free to share it with them.

The sun is shining bright today, I think I’ll take my husband out for a walk.
Have a great day!
D

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Teaching Children the Art of Negotiation and Ending Squabbles

2013-04-13 14.31.06.jpgSiblings squabble. My darling grand babies are no different. They are learning to interact with the world by interacting with each other. Both of these two possess precious hearts but sometimes they disagree. Don’t we all? Learning to share, finding peaceable solutions to conflict and dealing with irritations can be difficult. Even as adults we know how hard working together rather than against each other can be.

They love to come to my house and enjoy a bit of spoiling. They love to explore all the places I will be “grandmommie” and bend the day to day rules of home. We stay up late. We eat lots of sugar. We choose what we want for dinner minus any of the yucky stuff we don’t want to eat. It’s a short amount of time and well, it’s nothing but time for guilty pleasure.

They love to play on my iPad and at bedtime, we pick a movie that they can watch before finally closing their eyes to sleep. However, these two activities can be a real opportunity for squabbles to occur. Jake wants Spider-Man and Ella wants all things Barbie. Jake wants lots of time on the iPad and Ella just wants, well, want she wants when she wants it.

Squabbling makes me cringe. I didn’t like it as a child with my own siblings, with my own children and I don’t like it with my grands.

I decided that I would take the opportunity to teach them a life skill, the art of negotiation. We started with the bedtime movie. And it worked nicely. You might find this helpful with your own children or grand children.

I set down a few rules:
1. They must come to an agreement together. No bullying. No pulling rank. No twisting each other’s arms (literally).
2. Both must win in the decision. This means that neither may get everything they originally wanted.
3. They must speak kindly and not argue.
4. If they can’t agree, we do nothing until they can agree or we do something else. We might read together instead or go straight to sleep without a movie.
5. They have 10 minutes to work on a decision.

I walked out of the room and listened at the door. Ella announces, “Yip, Barbie. We will choose Barbie, k, Jake?” “Norrr! I hate Barbie!” (Their NZ accent has an “r” sound in the word “no” ☺️).

I listen as they discuss their wants, give their reasons and list options. It was quite cute.

At the end of the allotted time, I re-entered the room for their decision.

“We are going to watch Yogi Bear. We both like Yogi.” Bam. Done. Both have smiles. Both are happy with the decision.

When it comes to time on the iPad, they have become even more sophisticated with their skills. They have learned to negotiate the terms before they even ask me for the IPad. “We are going to have 20 minutes each. ” (I usually allow 10 minute increments if I decide). “That’s a long time to wait. Are you both happy with that?” “Yip, we are both happy with that.” They set the timer and take their turns. If someone goes over the allotted time, they have even come up with a fair way to correct the situation.

When they can’t agree they allow chance to make the decision; we toss a coin or they each choose a number between 1-10 and I hold the secret number behind my back. Several times, I have explained to them that this method means that one of them looses while the other person gets fully what they want. I explain that they can’t annoy the other person or say mean things if they are the one who looses. And they have decided the fun of seeing who wins is worth the risk.

They have agreed. Both honor the agreement. Both understand their turn will come.

Negotiation is an important life skill. Coming to terms with the fact that we don’t always get everything exactly the way we want it when we want it is important to dwelling together in peace. It teaches good communication skills, understanding another person’s point of view, listening skills and problem solving.

Children like having choices. I think, learning life skills, like negotiation, early in life can make adult decisions easier later on. Finding areas in their lives that we can offer them the opportunity to discuss how they want to do things will build confidence. A few areas to begin teaching negotiation skills could be sharing entertainment equipment, what they want to wear, when to do homework (immediately after school or after dinner), or who rides gun-shot.

Children will need support, clear guidelines and good examples from adults. They also need to learn to ask for help. Sometimes, at school or on the playground, other children may not have the skills they are learning. When they get into difficult situations, knowing they can find help with mediation is also a useful skill.

Do you have other tips for teaching children to negotiate effectively? Please share them with us in the comments section. I value your insight.
D

My Beautiful Sister

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She was my very first friend,

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One of the bravest souls that I know,

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She is my sister.
In 1983, she suffered a spinal cord injury as a result of an auto accident. Her strength, courage and compassionate heart are beautiful to me.
The great love of her life has always been her children and grandchildren.

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Cee’s Black & White Challenge: What is beatuiful to you.

How To Help Teens Learn Decision Making Skills

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Where’s that parenting manual when you need it most?

Whether you have one child or 19, like my husband’s grand grand mother did, it doesn’t take long to realize that parenting is the toughest and most rewarding endeavor you will ever take on in life.

I was in circle of mothers today discussing how to help teens make responsible decisions and not freak out. It’s tough to hand over a task that you have been solely responsible for in your child’s life. However, as teens grow up and begin to take control of their life, it is important to remember:

1. You have been preparing them for this event each day of their life. They are excited to have the opportunity to put what they have learned into practice.

2. They may still need your guidance but they also need your support and belief that the can handle what you have trained them to do. They want your trust more than they want to disappoint you.

3. They are going to make mistakes. Goodness, few adults get it right every single time. They are also going to make some choices that you wish they wouldn’t make. This is disappointing…in fact, the first time they do, it’s down right disappointing -even heart breaking. Most adults are wiser than they were in their teen years so the odds are they will become healthy, well adjusted adults like you did. (Are you rolling your eyes as you think of some of the possibilities?)

Keeping the above mentioned in mind, how can we help our teens make good choices? Wise decisions? Fewer mistakes?

Decision making is an important life skill. Without that parenting manual, we struggle answering the above questions in a way that leaves peace in our hearts. I took the “because I said so” attitude. Realising that approach wasn’t as effective as I had pictured in my mind quite frankly freaked me out.

Helping teens learn to make decisions will impact their life for years to come. Let’s look at 6 of the most important decisions teens will make and 6 habits they can develop to help them navigate this new skill.

Sean Covey in his book, The 6 Most Important Decisions You Will Ever Make, discusses decisions that are most familiar to teens. (This is not a sponsored post, I think this is a great resource). These include:

1. School – what are you going to do about your education?
2. Friends – what kind of friends will you choose and what kind of friend will you be?
3. Parents – what kind of relationship will you have with your parents?
4. Dating & Sex- who will you date and what will you do about sex?
5. Addictions – what will you do about smoking, drinking, drugs, and other addictive stuff?
6. Self-Worth – will you choose to like yourself?

My husband and I have 5 children between us. The teens years were maddening at times. We discovered early on in their teen years that each child had his or her own philosophy and approach to life. Many times, they made different choices than we would have made. Thus far, they have all survived each choice and learned from them. Actually, we are very proud of the people they have become but with each of the above areas, each child developed their own way of deciding how to answer those questions. We have rejoiced with them in good decisions and cried with them in not so good decisions.

In order to make effective decisions teens need to prepare and understand key habits they will need in their life-skill tool box.

1. Become proactive. This skill/habit is about being prepared, thinking rather than reacting and developing a plan for how to approach choices when they are presented. Choices need to be based on things the teen can control, not things he/she can not control. They need to learn the value of self-control. What I mean by this is that they don’t want to hand control of their life to someone or something else. Some choices in life can remove their decision making power. Deciding to drink and drive puts control of their life in the hands of the courts. They loose control.

2. What are the principles I will live my life by? Principles are the standards we use in our human interactions- things like honesty, trust, patience, humor, service, love, compassion, charity, freedom, wisdom, fairness, and justice. It takes courage to live by principles. Principles are the key to doing well in all areas of life. Building a solid foundation of principles serves as a compass when making difficult decisions. If your teen understands the principles they want to live by, conflicting decisions are easier to disregard.

3. Understanding what is most important to you and learning to do those things first. Successful living is dependant on making important things happen, in order of priority and putting off/delaying less important tasks. Is your education a higher priority than wasting time playing video games? Practicing this skill helps teens to begin to self regulate their time based on the principles they have set for themselves above.

4. Find the win-win. In business, my husband likes to look for what he calls the win-win for each party involved. He says this means not everyone gets everything they wanted but no one loses out completely either. The concept is that we work together with the best outcome for each person in mind. Listening skills, healthy compromising/negotiating skills and mutual respect are imperative and effective.

5. Celebrate differences. There are times when sharing strengths with others to make something better than we can do alone proves very beneficial. In sports, the differing skills to play each position makes a team unbeatable. Learning to value differences in others to aid us in areas of life that we are weak in provides us with resources, wisdom, and support. This skill/habit will help teens deal with the “I know it all” attitudes. Respecting what others have to contribute can help teens see dangers ahead, develop better skills and improve abilities to reach desired goals.

Teens long for the opportunity to begin making some life decisions for themselves. They need your affirmation as they take the responsibility seriously and thoughtfully. Keep talking with them. Communication is about listening as well as instructing/teaching/talking but should not include criticism. Discuss the issue and leave personal attacks concerning ability to make the decision the-way-you-would out of the picture. Share why you have the principles you have. Share examples of how sticking with your principles has proven a good thing and abandoning them went badly. For teens who still live at home, you may have non-negotiable house rules but find other ways to allow some independence. Finally, love them. Make sure they always know that home is a safe-haven and refuge even when accountability is not comfortable.

I always told my children that making adult decisions came with adult rewards and consequences. Deciding to take the responsibility is a big decision in itself. When they make those decisions they must be prepared to accept the responsibility without reverting back to childish expectations like expecting the parent to handle it for them if it goes wrong. This can be heart breaking for both parent and teen. They must understand what their decision will mean for their over all life goals.

Do you have any additional advice you could offer? Let’s synergize! Let’s hear what worked for you – just use the comments below.

I can’t wait to hear your suggestions!
D

your life will not go unnoticed -i will notice it.

your life will not go unnoticed -i will notice it.

The Journey of Friendship

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there are many routes into a person’s heart

which makes you a treasured friend.

each act of kindness.

each moment shared.

each word of praise or comfort.

these are the ways-

the paths, which through time become highways, along which lie

the journey of friendship.
-Stuart and Linda McFarlane

Keeping Peace in Relationships

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peace: freedom from disturbance.

as much as is in your control…and ability…be at peace with those around you.

like to be in control?

grab control of this truth…it is one area where being controlling is a good thing…

don’t give up your peace…keep control!

D

Imprints on the Heart Last

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Imprints on the heart last forever.

Make your mark in someone’s heart today.

D

How to Show Mature Love

20130923-213002.jpghow mature are you when it comes to love?

the last characteristic in my little series of posts on love is…

love never a fails…never stops, never fades, doesn’t become obsolete…it does not end.

in the midst of an argument? you are thinking, “I don’t know what to do.” love…never fails! ego will build defences, anger will inflame the situation, sarcasm will invite a bloody nose 😉, standing your rightful ground will end communication…love never fails.

actually, when i look closely at this wisdom found in the letter to the Corinthians, it is pretty clear to me that love would probably put a lot of relationship issues to rest.

let’s do a quick test. read the list below. choose which of the two words evoke a positive response in you:

1. Patience vs impatience
2. Kindness vs unkindness
3. Trust vs jealousy
4. Humble vs prideful
5. Mannerly vs rude
6. Selfless vs selfish
7. Irritable vs easy going
8. Forgiving vs holds a grudge
9. Supportive vs throwing you under the bus
10. Justice vs injustice
11. Believes the best in you vs accusatory
12. Never gives up vs quits easily

how many of the second of the two words do you wish more people would use more when dealing with you?

none? me, too!

in fact, i have spent a lot of time in my life asking people NOT to deal with me according to the second words of the list. i feel quite passionate about not being dealt with in those ways.

ah-ha moment…then i shouldn’t deal with people that way, right? because i know how it feels…and i DON’T like it. then why act that way myself. should be common sense, eh?

nothing we do, think, or believe is of any importance if used as an excuse for not loving or behaving in a loving way. not what you believe. not what you hope for…although both are awesome…they should not be used in place of love.

that doesn’t include accountability. love IS NoT blind!!!! love acts justly…so if accountability is necessary…love holds us accountable.

i have been posting about what love looks like, how love behaves and the wisest ways to apply love. love requires maturity. at the end of the letter in Corinthians, Paul makes the statement that when he was a child he acted liked a child and when he was old he put away childish things…Paul has not stopped giving wisdom about love.

the second word in my little test are childish behaviors.

watch any 2 year old…you will see them.

have you ever said to someone acting out those second words, “don’t be so juvenile!”? or “grow up,”?

we recognize them as juvenile, behaviors in others… we should be objective enough to call it as we see it in ourselves…if we do…we are applying maturity.

i truly believe that our day to day relationships and our own peace of mind would be so much more successful if we would stop being childish; throwing tantrums, calling names, quitting when we don’t get our own way, being vengeful, irritable or irritating…

and love with a real, mature level of love.

mature, real love is….

Patient
Kind
Trusting
Selfless
Humble
Easy going
Mannerly
Forgiving
Supportive
Just
Believes the best
Keeps going!!!

mature, real love never fails…

the move is going well…although a big job, i love that i get a chance to do a major “spring clean”…I’ll be sorted for summer fun this way, eh?

thank you for your patience while i have not had internet and was not able to post…feels good to get back into the swing of things.

D

Love Endures

20130919-220523.jpglove provides the mind fortitude and firmness. let’s face it, at times, it is tough to love. the heart and emotions weaken under the circumstances. love becomes a foundation that holds the mind firm to a higher standard than what the heart feels in the moment.

here we find the primary foundational keys: endure, believe, hope.

so many things in life require that we apply endurance. endurance requires the extra mile, going beyond what we want to do, going beyond the moment you think you have expended your last bit of strength. we do it everyday…on our jobs, for our health, for sports, for education, for pursuing success and many more things that we hold in high value.

faith and believing are also common. you and i get up each day and head to work believing we will be rewarded for our efforts. we believe our banks will look after our money responsibly. we believe that when we are sick, we can seek help from the medical profession. we sit down in a seat on an air plane and believe it is going to get us to our destination safely.

and hope…there is not much that we look forward to that does not require that we hope.

these are not strange uncommon concepts. we put them to use in many ways in our life.

why then do we think it strange that they are vital to strong, healthy, vibrant relationships. what’s the drama. it’s not climbing Mount Everest, or running a marathon, swimming the English Channel or investing $1,000,000.

of all the things we do…love can be the richest, strongest, most rewarding thing we do. it will provide the answer to the pursuit of happiness and bring great joy.

we don’t have to over think it.

love will work through issues with another person without attempting to expose the persons fault publicly. there are appropriate steps to take to repair an offence. those should be pursued first. love covers….it doesn’t expose. if legal responsibility must be taken, duty may require we practice tough love but for most issues…exposure should not be your first port of call.

love will believe the best…not the rumours. i have a rule of thumb for my life: if i hear it from the person themselves, i will count it worthy of believing. it’s important to give people the benefit of the doubt. you know, innocent until proven guilty. gossip is deadly. i have had people come to me and say, “so & so said this and that concerning you.” my response is always, ” before i accept that as truth i will talk to them about it”. that certainly stuns the gossiper. it also keeps them from telling me anything more because, i will check it out. i then will ask the person if what i was told true (without exposing the gossiper) and let the person know that if it is true, i am willing to apologise if i am wrong, willing to talk through the issue and attempt to resolve the situation. although, the person is normally shocked, i have been able to resolve conflict, prevent my heart struggling with hurt feelings and most times strengthen the relationship…with both people…the one who told me about the issue and the person who had the issue. if it was not true, i have cleared the question up for myself face to face. preventing a potential division.

choose to believe the best. “i am for you and you are for me”. you can work through the details with this fortitude of faith backing you up.

love hopes…hope has a wonderful way of inspiring us to keep going, to keep trying, and to keep growing.

there will never be the perfect relationship but you and i can hope that we can grow and build strong relationships that are fulfilling, enjoyable and fulfilling.

love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening.

if you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. you will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.

-1Corinthians

the people in your life are counting on you…change the world for someone…be on their side…show them genuine love.

i am making the second part of my move tomorrow and over the weekend so i may or may not be around for a couple of days…depending on how quickly the Internet gets moved.

i’ll look forward to seeing you again soon,
D