Sweet Cinema Therapy

If you haven’t seen “Hacksaw Ridge,” go see it. And after that, see if you can find “The Prizewinner of Defiance Ohio” starring Marianne Moore. We happened upon it on TV, and it was fabulous in a different way than Hacksaw, but the attitude of courage, purpose and humor that carries the main character is the same. Inspiring.
This is also a true story, this time a woman’s. And it may be as rough to watch as the carnage of war if you had an alcoholic father, but the spirit of the mother makes it all worth it. Besides, Marianne Moore does a great job. There are a couple of conversations she has with her daughter (the one who wrote it, I think) that are worth the time investment. And her mother reminded me somewhat of mine–that indomitable spirit–the aspiring writer–lots of kids.

I love movies. But I hate them, too. I love inspiring ones–especially when they are well done–so you can watch them over and over and get inspired again.  “Shadowlands” is one of those. “Bagger Vance” is another. But I  hate them because it is such a powerful tool for garbage that influences.

I don’t think it is any surprise that society is getting more violent, when TV and movies are filled with violence. I had a client years ago who was addicted to violence–he was under 25,  and he educated me. At that time I hadn’t heard of that addiction; but he was very clear.

Is anyone else concerned about us becoming a watching society? Living vicariously instead of our own lives. Getting more disconnected from others.

Today we have a problem with our young getting radicalized, and it happens fast. It’s scary. But is it any surprise? We are marketing violence. We are consuming it as entertainment! Becoming desensitized. It’s often shown as the solution–as strength even.

Are you familiar with the term imprinting? It’s a word in my field that describes the indelible effect left on human and animal species immediately after birth: faces, forms, voices, even smells. And it happens to a lesser effect throughout life. A scripture speaks of it as well, “By beholding we become changed.”

It’s one of those things that has to be controlled from inside by choice. It isn’t easy. Especially if you have developed a taste for violence or vicarious evil. It is so insidious, and it hooks us so fast. One client told me that one porno movie was all it took and he was hooked!

Choice is becoming more and more critical. Don’t make life hard for yourself–make good choices.

 

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Black Friday

I was a little down Friday–probably the result of too much food over too much time and too many chemicals. Not the first time I’ve witnessed the  effect of food on the mind. My husband went biking–I’m so glad he still likes that at 74! He didn’t feel good either, and said it was really hard to get going, but just after deciding he should quit, he started feeling better and kept going.

I wonder if that is how everyone feels after Thanksgiving Day? Maybe we need some new traditions. Maybe that is why retailers have seized on the concept of Black Friday. Get them while their in a food fog and they will spend more money. And it gives them something to look forward to and gets them moving.

Yes, that’s my humor, but it was another good reminder that what you put in makes a big difference in how you think and feel. “Black Friday” seemed appropriate. You might have guessed I’m not a shopper; and doing it with mobs of people doesn’t appeal.

But I had no motivation for anything. That is rare for me. So I thought I’ll do the things I usually love doing and I’ll pull out of it. I don’t love exercising, but I know it makes me feel better, so I did my 30 minute workout. Didn’t help. I didn’t think I was sharp enough to write, so I sat in the sun in my gazebo for a while and read a book my husband wanted me to read. That helped–the sun always helps.

Then I walked around my yard and got caught up in a project that had been calling me but I hadn’t had time for. That took about an hour and it helped. But I realized I wasn’t choosing to get out of my funk. Under the surface I was feeling a little sorry for myself that I was so far away from family.

While I was exercising I had talked to my daughter who was busy and had just said good-by to her company, and then to my sister who was going shopping with her daughter. It’s their tradition. I think I got jealous. I’m a person who does well with solitude, but sometimes you just need people! We’d had a great time with friends the night before, maybe that heightened it. Put that with my physical state and I felt depressed.

Realizing it put me in touch with choice. I commended myself for choosing not to eat that day and started making some other good choices, and by that evening felt good enough to invite my friend for dinner. (Earlier I hadn’t even wanted to be around people.)

The point is I started making good choices, and my body cooperated, and I was able to start choosing to think better. I was reminded (by God I’m sure) about the wonderful news from a client I heard two days before, and then also the wonderful news from my friend who’s valiantly fighting cancer–yesterday was her birthday–and I began giving thanks.

I still wasn’t normal the next day, but on a nudge from Spirit, I invited some people I had only briefly met for lunch, and it ended up being just what we needed: a lot of laughter and some new friends.

I’m always amazed at the power in choice and thanks to turn a body and a mind around.

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A Truly Amazing Tribute!

On Veteran’s Day my husband and I went to see Hacksaw Ridge. I’m not big on war movies, but I knew this one was a true story and had heard bits and pieces of it. My friend who is like a brother is one of the visionaries behind it; the one responsible for it becoming a movie. He knew the main character and finally convinced him. It took years and finally…

There is something beautiful that’s hard to put into words about Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of Doss. I was shocked an actor could play it so well! For two days I kept seeing his smiling eyes! It’s a single-mindedness, a oneness that could be called pure intention–not pushy, not-I’m-better-than-you, just the freedom of conviction. In Family Systems Theory we call it differentiation–the ability of a person to be his true self regardless of pressure.

I’d heard it was powerful, and that Mel Gibson had done an amazing job with it, but I was not prepared for the power of it. It really isn’t even a war movie. Someone called it a war story to Gibson, and he said he saw it as a love story all the way through. I have to agree.

Yes, it’s gory in places, true-to-life sickening, war is, and I shut my eyes a lot; but it’s a story of solid-self and conviction, being true to yourself and trusting God with the outcome. It’s sweet, it’s funny, and it’s also an amazing story of family systems and Bowen’s theory that one committed person who differentiates and sticks to his path pulls up the whole system to a new level of functioning. Also how God honors people who make promises to Him and keep them. Powerful.

It’s a story that makes you want to be more than you are; one that makes love look good in the clash between good and evil. Thanks Fred. I’m so glad you stuck to your conviction. Your vision and God selecting the producer, the director and the actors have made an experience that’s an all-time great. I’m so excited we are going to see it again today!

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Trending Easy – Part 2

Last time I wrote about how tricky it is to focus on a child–even in love. It is often stored in them as anxiety–the parent’s angst says to the child that he/she is not adequate.

So how do we build resilience in our children? Why must we let them suffer? Does that even make sense?

Yes! An over-solicitous parent is an anxious parent. A wise parent trusts the natural course of development and God. Struggle is how we grow. Is it easy for a child to learn to crawl or walk? No. But they are so motivated, and we are so motivated for them to learn, the struggle doesn’t seem bad. Is it bad if we keep a child from crawling? Yes. It eliminates a developmental task which affects how the parts of your brain process together.

It isn’t easy for them to learn to talk or run or read or anything we value for them. Do they misjudge? Constantly! Do they fall? Of course, and if we are overly concerned we create fear of trying.

We want to build resilience in them: the belief that they can do it, and falling is a normal part of learning to walk and run. We don’t want to push them before they feel ready, but neither do we want to replace their effort with fear or doubting their ability. Struggle is trying something new. It’s necessary to development all through life. And easier if you have a sense of I can do this.

That doesn’t change even though the tasks get harder to accomplish, and your questions and fears as a parent grow.  And that takes us to boundaries. They are so important for the child’s security. Feeling safe is critical to development. Safety comes from knowing you have parents who are in charge.

I role-played the child in a class once where a parent was leaning over me screaming to clean up. I knew I was in charge because the parent had lost control. It was a profound experience. And it didn’t feel safe.

For a child to know they are in control makes them feel crazy. It is way too much stress. I know a child who isn’t even 1 year old who runs her parents. You probably do too. It’s an epidemic wearing out our children and making them insecure and angry. It is too much power. Too much responsibility. A child needs to hear “No.”

A client told me this week that her friend who owns a daycare said people who work in daycare are being taught to tell parents not to say “No” to their children! I about flipped. There goes their children’s security. You don’t have to say it in anger or harshly or even loudly. But you need to say it AND make it stick. You have to follow through. That gives safety, security, and rest to your child. It makes a happy child. Of course they will throw fits, that is their job, to push you and see if you mean it. You are the parent. You are the adult. You are in charge–they need you to be, so they can relax.

This poor little girl who runs her system because the parents can’t say “No” comes to her babysitter exhausted every Monday morning, and seems relieved. And she turns one next month. Her mom just went on anxiety meds. Isn’t that sad? We are so afraid of ruining our children it has gotten crazy. The pendulum has swung WAY over to the other side. Children need boundaries!

I wish I could shout it from the rooftops! You are making your children crazy with all their power and decisions and lack of boundaries and consequences. Please give them some loving discipline. We have made a generation of entitled adults. Everyone wants their rights. What will it be like when these children are adults, insecure and demanding? When freedom is interpreted as no law?

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Trending Easy – Part 1

I don’t know if parents have always struggled with this or if it’s a new phenomenon, but I’m seeing child idolatry mushrooming by people I respect, admire, and believe in their spirituality.

In fact, I was guilty of it, and might now question my own spiritual hardness if I hadn’t just had an epiphany on it.

I have a dear friend who I think is an amazing mother, she is doing a lot right that I did wrong–taking time to be present and enjoy her daughter. She is also a great encourager, and does have boundaries, but she is creating an anxious child by her own anxiety. What anxiety? Being afraid to let the child suffer or struggle. I watched as she on two occasions anticipated the child’s discomfort and managed it instead of letting the child learn the rudiments of coping.

The 2 yr-old started to squirm in her highchair in a restaurant and the parent took her out and sat her on her lap. It happened again the next day at home. The daughter started to squirm and the mother asked if she wanted down without requiring the child to learn containment since the meal was still in progress. And she allowed her to keep eating. Another golden opportunity lost.

We are close friends and I have explained that the child’s security comes by knowing that the parent is in charge. I have explained that the task for age two is trust–that it is easier for a child to trust a parent who sets limits and follows through with them. That is just common sense, and she agreed. But she can’t stand for her child to be disappointed, cry, or suffer in any way. I’ve watched as she tries to make sure that everything is completely risk free, and happy; disappointment is avoided. It’s almost creepy that the child is learning fear–the opposite of her mother’s intent. (She has already read and ok’d this.)

I also watched a father with his 2-yr-old son, the father got worked and the son got his way. The little boy didn’t want to sit in his highchair in the restaurant we were at. The father started by telling him to sit down repeatedly, to which the son said, “No,” and the father put him on his lap.

I know him well also, and I know he has no trouble saying “No” to his older sons and requiring hard things of them (I sometimes wish he was gentler). I knew he didn’t want to be hard to the 2-yr-old, didn’t want the child to start crying, didn’t want to give him a swat; and suddenly a scripture came into my mind. “The kindness of God is meant to lead you to a change of heart.” (Rom 2:5)

The thought warmed my heart, and I began to wonder, does that work on broken people? especially children? It has to, or God wouldn’t use it. I do believe it’s His first plan of action, if we would (could) respond to kindness. And I do think it works on some people (obviously better on adults), but probably not most of us. Why not?

Some of us weren’t able to accomplish trust as our first task. Our parents or others abused us before age two, or our parents were two weak or afraid to keep others from abusing us. Other parents were too wrapped up in their own feelings and needs to set any boundaries, and let us do whatever we wanted. Some parents were absentee by addictions, and their little ones didn’t learn trust either. But isn’t it sad that the ditch of too much love is just as bad as the ditch of abuse!

Favored children often end up in addictions of various kinds, or just being highly anxious and dysfunctional. My own father was one such person. The anxiety of the parent is passed down to the child for various reasons. In my dad’s case he almost died of pneumonia as a toddler. So I guess we can’t really say it’s too much love–it’s really too much anxiety–too much fear! Fear of losing the child, fear of abusing the child, fear of ruining the child, fear of failing the child (being a bad parent), and the worst one: fear the child won’t love us. These are problems given by indulgent, loving, (anxious) parents.

Having said that, I think it’s better to over-love than neglect or abuse. But wouldn’t it be better to face your fear so you don’t hand it down to your child? A parent who is willing to face himself/herself will learn a wealth of information that will allow his/her own healing, and make them more open to God’s love. He will help. You only have to ask.

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Got Laughter?

I have a new high: the joyful spontaneous laughter of a two-year old that roles up and out uncontrollably.

Yesterday, I was playing legos with him and his cousin. I made a truck that looked perfectly normal to me, and he thought it was the funniest thing he’d ever seen. His cousin (22 mo.) either agreed, or just got set off by him and they laughed till I was sure they would fall over. It was so funny I was in awe.

When the moment had passed I took my truck out to my daughter to see if my reality was that far off, and she didn’t see anything funny about it either.

Tonight he was in the bathtub and again that laughter got set off. I called him a silly goose and he thought that was hilarious and again that completely natural, unaffected, outrageous laughter rolled out of him. It was great. He loves to laugh, and once it gets going, it lasts a while.

I’ve been asking God for joy and humor (among other things) every morning. There it was in the eyes and voice of a two-year old.

It has made me think of one of my favorite hurmorists, who always said, “Laughter is a holy sound to God.”

Tim Hansel is dead now and I don’t think I’ve ever been more grateful to hear someone died–because he was in so much pain. His body had been so broken up by two different accidents. And  still he continued to write and travel speaking before large and small audiences. I happened to be one of those privileged to hear him–a man so full of joy and humor it flowed out. Humor was certainly his gift, and one he used to cope with pain.

I remember hearing another man who cured himself by laughing. Norman Cousins came down with Collagens Disease in which your insides dissolve, to put it simply. He decided to use it as an opportunity to test a hunch of his–that laughter is healing. He did and it was. He got well and founded the Immunology Department at one of the California universities.

Humor and joy are not my gift; I’m made of much grittier stuff, but I love true stories like these because I love laughter and have always appreciated good humor. I love to laugh.

I love thinking of God laughing. I know all Three of Them have a great sense of humor–all you have to do is look at creation…especially baby anythings. And I love the fact that They never laugh at anyone’s expense, never make fun of anyone, never even shame anyone.

I’ve been spending lots of hours early in the a.m. just listening this vacation. And one of the things He told me is He never makes anyone do anything. I swung around that concept for a while. I knew it theoretically, but have never felt it before. Now that carries some awe! And it makes me laugh, just because it is so incongruous to me.

The juxtaposition of incongruity is the basis of humor, and to me the knowledge that the All-powerful Ones in the universe don’t make anyone do anything is so contrary to the way I think, it’s funny! It opposes my very makeup.

And looking at the world, I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks and feels like that. I think there are a whole lot of religious people who won’t believe that–especially a lot of Christians! And that is not funny.

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Seeing is Believing Unfortunately

When you are suffering loss, it is so hard to see it as an opportunity. And yet it is. It can be “the site of your next miracle” (Graham Cooke)–it only depends on choice–your choice.

The thing is God can’t (won’t) choose for us. And if you go into discouragement or anger, it will take you down a completely different road–one that gets darker and darker. Physical hormones cause it! So use your beautiful power!

It’s hard, I know. Negativity is so natural to us. The hardest place for me to fight discouragement is when people don’t choose what I can see would be so good for them. Still? After 25 years of doing therapy with people, I still want to make them choose? I know they have to do it. I KNOW it. And yet it can get to me. They can’t see what I see. And I can’t choose for them.

You know, wars have been fought, people died, because people can’t make other people choose what they want. And most often it is fueled by fear or greed. What is it that gets to you? And more importantly, how do we get out of these potholes? How do we choose our next miracle?

Stop the negative thoughts. Anything that is against you, anything that scares you or stifles your energy and motivation. Switch tracks. Remember there are Four on your side fighting with you and Three of Them don’t lose unless we don’t choose.

If nothing, but fear and negativity, is in your head, ask God for a positive thought. If you are already too negative to hear Him, just start saying thank you for the most basic things–sight, movement, food, clothes, a home–many, many people are without or losing these things. By the time you’ve given thanks for three things you will feel better. And if even that can’t get out of your mouth, start jumping around saying “Praise God!” “Thank you Jesus!” That will make you smile and you will open up the channel to God and the dark side will leave.

By that time, you will be able to do what you need to do: ask God for vision, a plan, perspective on your situation, or give yourself to Them: my Three Favorites: Abba, Adonai (Jesus) and Ruach.

Then practice Their presence by asking, “What do I do with this?” or “What should I say now?” or just by tuning in every time you feel good (praise) or less than good (asking for help).There are Three gracious and glorious beings who are crazy about you all the time–even when you mess up! Even when you’re negative and feel like a worm! They are still waiting to hang out with you! How cool is that?

 

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Epiphanies Everywhere

Just this morning another lie surfaced. I was sitting with God and somehow it came up. I blurted, “But I always thought You wanted me to feel bad about myself!”

As soon as I said it I felt foolish, knowing it to be total and utter foolishness. But there it was–my truth. And it was ok, I could feel His understanding smile.

I know better. How amazing it is, right there and then, to ask Him to tell me the truth and heal it. And even though I know it, it always almost takes my breath away. “I want you to enjoy life, to love being you, and love others.” Wow! The truth is amazing, but the best part is getting rid of that ball and chain I’ve been dragging around. And it came from religion, no doubt. Sad! We weren’t taught about the true self and the false self. They didn’t know it–even though it was always there. Self was bad period.

So how happy it was to attend “The Epiphany” last weekend. A friend of mine said, “He thinks just like you do,” when he told me about it and Graham Cooke. I was pulled in. And I was captivated by the description. But it was tough getting there–a lot of obstacles and opposition. (Of course.)

I’ll summarize it for you. We need to “unlearn” all the negatives we’ve been taught, or taught ourselves, and began to see that the gospel (religion at its best) really is good news! Everything about it! And when we can see it from a new perspective (my thing, if you know me) we can live in awe and wonder, having new epiphanies (ah-ha moments) daily.

Graham started with (in my words) if your false-self was crucified with Christ why do you keep feeding it as though trying to keep it alive? We need to see differently, think differently, act differently. We don’t have to live in anxiety and fear. We give power to what we focus on.

Relearning can be fun because God is always giving us another chance to learn. We need to see our mistakes as I could have learned… give me another chance! And, of course, He will. Anger and fear allow someone else to have power over you–you have other choices (the nine fruits of the Spirit).

You don’t like what they are doing? But do you like what you are doing? Then change it by choosing. We could die to our false selves and have a wonderful time doing it–learning how to live in the presence of God. There are always four of you fighting your enemies, and Three of Them are omnipotent!

We have been given everything–a credit card from God–all we have to do is activate it. We can give gifts of blessing to everyone. Jesus taught that  everyone can be loved and accepted, no one is safe from blessing. All we have to do is “practice Jesus” asking, “What do I do with this situation?” “What do You want me to ask for?” “What does this mean?”

Too many of us believe the lies that God is angry, that we get blessings for performance, when the truth is Christ in you attracts favor, looks for favor, expects favor.

When you have to unlearn something God is putting His finger on the site of your next miracle–grace is the empowering presence of God that creates the true you! God doesn’t do shame or judgment–Jesus bought your inadequacy–revival is a lifestyle.

After Jesus left, we read, “The Christians are coming! Those people who turn the world upside down,” as if it was a bad thing, but truly many couldn’t wait for them to show up! These are the people who can heal us! Who have gifts of healing and righteousness to give us! They are extraordinary at loving! That’s how people should feel about us. ( This was the best part–as he emphasized how people would feel if we were like that and he  jumped up and down shouting, “The Christians are coming! The Christians are coming!” It was great!)

Move from a sin-conscious culture, like Paul did, to one that gives gifts of righteousness. Why can’t unlearning be joyful? What helps Ruach (Holy Spirit) the most is loving the learning. Being open.

You are completely and utterly adored by God now! If He is wonderful, we are one of His wonders. There is nothing to be afraid of. If identity in Christ dominates the way you walk in life you will practice faith in his constant presence by continually asking, “What do you want from me right now?” or “How do I handle this?”

These are some of his “brilliant perspectives.” Just had to share it.

 

 

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On Making a Marriage Good

Today is our 27th anniversary. We have almost twice as many good years as bad ones! So to those of you struggling in your marriage: It can get better–even good. It depends on these two things: you have to be willing to look at yourself honestly and be willing to change. Plus, you have to be willing to see what isn’t yours and not take all the blame, just your part.

Or said another way, you both have to want to make things better– a win-win for both of you. If you are connected to someone who doesn’t want to make things better, or won’t look at him/herself, set a certain amount of time to step back and pray that they will  see the light and themselves. If it doesn’t happen, get out. You can’t change someone else, only God can. And He has to have permission. If God can’t get permission to work, then only stay as long as you clearly hear Him telling you to. If He can’t change your mate, you aren’t going to!

Do not stay in a toxic environment, it will make you toxic unless you live in close relationship to God.

Having said that, when I told God I wanted to leave a few years after we were married, He told me, “Stay put. You’ve got things to learn.” I was obedient. And now I’m glad. I’m glad for the stability it gave my kids, and for what God did in me and in our relationship. I learned to depend on God, and to look to him to get my needs met. A year later my husband decided to leave and God took him in hand and completely changed our relationship. I’ve written that story here before.

Before that it seemed like an impossible situation, causing more stress than I could handle. But I was contributing. I was very defensive, and very good at blaming, and very good at hiding from seeing it. (And I thought I had learned how to step back and let him be him and do his own thing and experience his own consequences before I married him!)

What I didn’t know, even though he regularly told me, was that I didn’t know how to love. I have made some progress, but truly, I feel like I’m just learning to see myself now, over 20 years later! When what you feel inside is different than how you act outside, you often miss it. And it takes the grace of God to see that.

It takes being loved to see that you have had no idea how to love. And nobody can love you like God. He is so gentle and so kind  and so funny it is amazing. He will never shame you, never leave you. He is always there, always listens, always cares, but He is honest. When He confronts, it heals, and even though it hurts like you’ve never experienced, it’s a good hurt that brings change, and doesn’t last long. He’s completely for you, completely trustworthy, completely good. He’s wild about you, and He’s totally worth the risk of whatever you think you might lose. Nothing compares to being loved by Him (and there is three of Them who love you like that for goodness sake!)

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Life Lessons

Today is my grandson’s birthday–he’s twelve–and has been having some issues in that transition time between childhood and adolescence–doing things he wouldn’t normally to fit in. We can all relate.

It took me back to when I was twelve–glad I don’t have to go through that again! And some of the things I’ve learned since then. So I decided to share the letter I wrote to him.

“Today you are twelve!
In Jewish culture, the one Jesus grew up in, you would be considered a man today. They would call you a Son of the Law. And you would read and recite in Hebrew. You would then be considered responsible for yourself–your choices. It seems pretty heavy to me for a twelve year old, but judging from the Jewish mothers I have known, I doubt if they really get to make too many!

Twelve was a hard year for me. I became very aware that people weren’t as good as I thought. (I didn’t know yet that we were all a mixture of good and evil, that we are born with two natures: one that responds to God and one that responds to evil.) So I became very disillusioned with people–very disappointed in them, quite cynical, actually.

I hope that doesn’t happen to you. It took me years to pull out of it. I may not be completely out of it yet, but I understand it at least. Some happy things I have learned since then, that perhaps you can learn from and avoid a lot of pain and pitfalls for yourself, are:
1. Making good choices are so important: good choices make a good life and prevent pain.
2. Mistakes are not sin, (unless you allow them to separate you from God, so take them to God no matter how you feel–He is kind), and failure is not final and seldom fatal, but both are good teachers if you can embrace the pain.
3. God is all good, there is no evil in Them at all–none, nada, zip. They won’t ever let you down. They can’t. It’s not who They are. But there will be times when you feel like They do. They know suffering here can build character. And They want you there–happy forever. They want you fulfilled and happy here too, and will use most anything to get a relationship with you.
4. Doing what you want (aka rebellion or indulgence) usually brings suffering long term, once you’re past the flash of gratification. Typically, it works against the laws of your being. But if it pleases you to please God, you can do as you please.
5. Taking care of your body is so worth it. It makes your mind work better, makes your attitude brighter, promotes motivation and dreams, and it really makes getting old easier. (How many grandmas do you know who can stand on their heads at 66? And who take no medications?)
6. Discipline is not a bad thing, and self-discipline is a great gift to give yourself. Put good self-care in now and later it will come automatically, leaving energy free for creative endeavors.
7. Nobody will ever love you like Jesus. You’ll never be sorry for investing there. That is one of the decisions I reaffirmed at twelve, and I’ve never been sorry.

Happy Birthday! Have a wonderful day and year!
I was looking for a book for your present, when I heard God say, “Why not give him yours?” Somehow I thought mine were too…but I guess not. It certainly is bringing two of my great loves together–you and God. Hopefully, the books will get there today.

I love you,
Grandma Boo”

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