For my Christopher on your 4th day of middle school.

To Christopher with love on your 4th day of middle school,

Today you left for the school bus with a slow hesitation. Delaying going out the door.  And with an extra I love you yelled to me in the kitchen.  That should've been a sign.... a big ol' looming sign of what a bad Thursday morning mom I really am.  Because at exactly 11:19 this morning your school nurse called.  And I missed it. Because I was in the middle of aqua zumba dancing on the deck of the pool.  For my job.... I don't just get up and dance on the decks of pools.

And it made me remember the day when Ethan threw up in preschool and I missed that call, too.  Because I was in spin class.  And we play our music entirely too loud in there.  And that day when I rolled through the carpool line to get him... the teacher had to tell me that he had already gone home - with Nana. And Nana didn't even call me.  Just let me drive through the carpool line of shame.

But for you today, my 11 year old Chris, it just turned out to be a little adjustment period to the newness of it all.  The bigness of your new world.  And a little homesickness.  But I love that the nurse told you that she was feeling a little homesick today, too.  Because one mom filling in for another mom is more than a blessing in a pinch.

So Christopher,.... my little love, growing up and taking on new people and places with the same determination you put into everything you do.... here is my wish for you.  First I wish for you a mom that answers her phone in times of need and crisis. And I wish for you the ability to call out a carefree day when needed - like those of your little brother who can entertain himself all day with a pencil. And I wish for you the  relaxed confidence of big brother... who takes middle school as just another thing he has to get through in order to come home and play XBOX.  With his pants off.  Because I wish for you the freedom of boxer shorts and the comfort of home wherever you may go.  Today on the 4th day of middle school and into the bigger days ahead.

There is peace in knowing, but not being held back by the knowledge.  There is a peace in being at home, but even more of a peace knowing that you can always come home.  And this, my angel, is my promise to you....  that no matter where I am, or what time of day or night, teaching class or even stuck out in the desert... I will always be here for you.  You may have to leave a voice mail.... but I'll be there. Soon. 

Who Am I? Meet Kristi

Hi Y'all,

I'm Kristi....

A few months ago this part of the blog said something entirely different, but then our world was surprised by the, for real... World's Biggest Surprise... and without warning, I lost my best friend, my partner, my companion, my love, my husband of 19 years.  When you read about Fireman Dave on the blog, please know that he was loved and treasured for the man that he was and for the father that he was to our boys.  

Y'all, If anyone ever asked what I did for a living, for work,... my answer would've gone something like this:  wife, mom, maker of a home for the people I love the most.  Now I guess I can only claim the mom part,... but hoping that God has someone and somewhere for me to place all the love I didn't get to use up the first time around.  

I am the mom of 3 boys - one in college, and currently 2 in high school.  They have real birth certificate names, but for blog purposes, they are Kids 1, 2 and 3.  That'll also work well for me one day if my memory fails me and I need a quick go-to to get their attention.  

Anyway, this blog is mine.  Mine to write, to share and to invite you into the conversations that are so normal in my own head, but sound like essays to others.  It's sort of my diary and I welcome you to read.  

Back to school August 2013

David was attending a middle school event last year and he sent me a text that read,.. "I feel like an anthropologist studying the preteens in their habitat."  Yes sir.  

School has snuck up on us again. Way too fast.  And it's not the rush and the busy business of it all.  For me, it's the separation all over again each year.  As I send my boys to different classrooms, different teachers, different friends and influences.  And this year I send Christopher to an entirely different school.  Middle School.  Where he will see and hear and learn things that I have worked for years to keep him from knowing.  But the school days are the days of testing the people I have raised.  The young men that they are becoming.  What kind of men will they be?

I hope the kind of men that won't settle.  Won't settle for second best in friends, and especially  in themselves.

Praying a heartfelt prayer for the boys, their friends, and their new friends to be.  For the teachers who protect and care for them each day.  For those pivotal moments of each day when a choice needs to be made for right or wrong.  For their hearts to be open to good, and their minds to be closed to bad.  Praying a strong will for the times when the weekend just isn't close enough and mom and dad can't fix their problems.  Praying for safety, peace and confidence as they travel independently each day. And praying for their safe return each afternoon.  Praying for a love filled home to come home to, and a simple slowness when the days go too fast with a packed schedule.  Praying for time - together time, to be still, to listen, and to enjoy being a family. 

I'm certainly not a scripture expert -  or even claim to know all that much.  I was the girl in Sunday School filing my nails or .... whatever.... but I caught a few words here and there.  Enough for my  mind and heart to latch onto for later use.  So with this.... may this be a prayer for all our back to school kids this week.... 

  May the peace of God that passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus so you may go from here with confidence and joy,to serve the Lord. Philippians 4:7,8

I woke up in love with my son again today.

I woke up in love with my son again today.  Notice I said, AGAIN?  Because there have been some days of late that I haven't been lovin him to the moon and back.  Just wishing I could send him to the moon -  and bring him back post adolescence.  Last night I had just driven into the garage after a quick errand when I got a text from a friend asking how my evening is going... and my reply was this:  " I am just this second hiding from my kids in my car, in the garage, and debating whether to go inside or drive off into the sunset." 

We did some fun stuff yesterday.  And the kids were fed and clothed, and given opportunities that others would be thankful for.  But the thanksgiving part of the day was forgotten by someone.   I think the more comfortable we get around each other, the easier it gets to just say stuff.  STUFF.  Stuff that maybe shouldn't be said.  Stuff that we wish we could take back. And it goes both ways.  It gets easier to NOT say the things that maybe we should.    

But after a come to Jesus meeting between me and prince charming last night, I started finding notes around the in the fridge that says, " I'm thankful for my food."  One on the washer that read, " I'm thankful for clean clothes." Maybe he's like his momma.  Sometimes the thoughts just come easier in writing.

 We've always been a togetherness kind of family.  Pizza and movie nights - legs entwined on the couch, heads on a neighboring shoulder... just enjoying together time.  But we had together time minus one kid the other night.  And that, I have to admit, is a lonely feeling for a mom.  But like I mentioned earlier, I woke up in love with my son again today.  I saw his efforts put into the notes he left around the house for me.  He's trying in his shy 12 year old way to get the words out. And I love him for trying.  This morning he paused to sit with me on the couch, talked a while, and I saw some of my little boy again.  I love him all the time.  No mistaking that.  But I'm learning to love in a new way.  And I'm learning to love a new young man. 

I'm not in love enough to fool myself into thinking the battles are fought and won...... but I'm in this till the end, maybe posting cries for help on Facebook,maybe even hiding in my car.

What God needed me to do today.

Our boys have gotten into the bad habit recently of calling names - no cursing, that's absolutely unacceptable in my book - (and yes, I try try try not to let the occasional word slip in front of them. I save that for Facebook. Or occasionally at work really loud in my headset mic when someone irritates the %$#@ out of me.)  The boys prefer names like butt, or stupid butt, or idiot, or just constant aggravation and picking. And the worst to me?  The insults and belittling of a brother.  Believing what a kid at school says before you believe what your own brother says.  Or bullying just because you can - and maybe feeling a little small on the inside at that particular moment. 

David tries to remind me that it's normal brother behavior, and I should get a clearer outside perspective from other families with lots of boys.  But my perspective is very individual,  and it comes from a darker place than my husband has ever had to live.  My perspective comes from a home all too often clouded with loudness, ugliness, and a loneliness that I could never accurately paint in a picture of words.  I don't have those words.  And I don't have the kind of heart to speak that kind of hurt.

So the constant brother fighting around here hits me in a very tender place.    And this morning I had the mom meltdown that's been a while in the making.  The tears that have  been hovering and the growing lump in my throat all came  .... and all it took was one more negative word from brother to brother. So after a fleeting thought of packing my bags and leaving David forever alone to raise the monsters,  I prayed the deepest heart crying prayer that I have in a long time..... a prayer to just to hear a little encouragement, to see a little inspiration, a small picture of something good with these kids.  Something to let me know that I've done something right. 

And maybe that's exactly what God needed me to do today.  He needed my heart to break and my tears to finally fall and to cry out that I can't do this on my own.  To admit that I've been running solely on hope as my energy.  To quit trying to rest and refill on my own.  To quit trying to fix everything.  Because I can't. 

The end of the story?  I saw the pieces of good. I saw brothers sitting together on the couch reading a book together.   I heard love spoken to each other when they decided to play catch in the front yard. I watched Sam lay his head in Christopher's lap during the sermon today.  And I watched Christopher be a big brother.  (Pause...... Ethan is still cocky and a little big for his britches today. And  I just heard Sam call someone a warthog.  And earlier, after church,  I saw him kick Ethan in the rear - but sometimes I just have to look the other way.)  

And for the time being, I've taken away all technology.  No influence from XBOX games, no sarcastic Disney shows that make it seem OK for kids to be mean,... and all boys, minus those other influences, were left with playing outside together on a beautiful afternoon.      

The hamster never stood a chance.

The boys have been reading a National Geographic Kids book titled, "How to Survive Anything...shark attack, lightning, embarrassing parents, pop quizzes and other perilous situations."  But nowhere in that book did it prepare Kid 3 for finding a near death, dehydrated pet hamster last night.  We went from front yard baseball to tears and screams of terror when he discovered the body. 

Y'all meet Nippy the hamster.  Or at least stop by for the family visitation hour at the funeral home.  

So I held my little boy, and loved him, all that stuff we do when we can't do anything else; trying to close the wound before it ruptured into a full on night of drama. But then Kid 1 came in and said, "Nippy's not ALL THE WAY dead."  
(insert bad word here)  

What kind of mom would I be if I didn't at least try to save a hamster life?   So I drove like mad to the drug store to get a medicine dropper and big brother KId 1 spent the better part of the evening trying to nurse Nippy back to health with water given drop by drop.  I heard him on the phone to his daddy - trying to work out some sort of rewards program for his efforts, I think.   

And bless him,  for a little while Nippy was able to stand on his feet -  and fall right back down again, unfortunately.  I definitely think had he made it there would have been some brain damage.  He was forever changed after we got a hold of him.

But here's the reality.... it's because we're a pathetic family. Horrible, awful people  - killers of plants -  and as it turns out, pets.   Because I was mean and banished poor Nippy to the garage when he kept kicking poop all over my dining room.  And Kid 3, with his heart full of love for all creatures great and small, couldn't remember to give the thing water to drink.  And The worst part is that Fireman Dave said he heard it clawing around in there the other day making desperate sounds - probably begging for life right then.  Poor Nippy never stood a chance with us.

But here's the brighter side..... Kid 1 was really the man of the house yesterday.... and again this morning - when he woke before Kid 3 and gave Nippy a proper burial in one of my Tupperware bowls.  I'll never look at those bowls the same again.

 A friend asked me if we would be having a graveside service.  Sadly, I think the final resting place for both Nippy and my Tupperware was the garbage can in the alley.  But don't tell anyone that because this is a sensitive time for the Walters.  And I asked Kid 3 specifically, but his wishes are that we just move forward.  So no funeral.  But he needed lots of love this morning.  And I expect lots more after school.  Little hearts break just the same as big ones.  Especially when you're a little guy with a giant heart.

Right where God intended.

Ive been invited by a friend to join her and her family in celebrating her daughter's 16th birthday.  Honored to be asked.  However, she sent me a personal note letting me know that they don't live in a "fancy house"...... and I had to sit there and think.  What have I done that would make her feel she has to explain her home to me?  Obviously something wrong.    So here it is.... telling it like it is...

I grew up in a smallish house with 5 people and some animals.  Or 5 people that WERE animals.  Still working through that one. The wrong side of the tracks David would tell you - because he moved to town at a later date to what was deemed to be the RIGHT side of the tracks.  Real tracks - trains and all.  And I lived on the downhill side I guess, but never realized it till people told me. Giant, beautiful backyard, trees trees and more trees.  And we had all we needed. 

And now I have a normal, everyday, regular neighborhood kind of house.  I'm all about my curb appeal, and love love love Pottery Barn - but have more decor by the Lego store than them.  Because I am, #1 a mostly stay at home mom who values raising my kids more than the money I would make working full time.  And #2 - I married a fireman.  Enough said. 

We're not rich.  And we're not poor.  We're right where God intended.  3 boys sharing one bedroom.  2 in twin beds and 1 in a pull out trundle every night.  And a giant dog that thinks our den furniture is her princess bed. It works.

One day I got a call that our nephew and his wife and kids were coming for a surprise visit and wanted to see how we organize the boys' room.  And I secretly laughed that they think we're organized.  So I started cleaning like a maniac, and yelling stuff like - "Boys hide all the crap in your room !!! Company's comin' !"  A quick vacuum, spray the pee smell out of the kids' bathroom -  just in time to receive guests and act like we live like clean people all the time. 

So there..... that's it.  We don't live in a fancy house, either.  And if you call ahead before you stop by I'll probably run the vacuum like a crazy person and change out of my pajamas.  

Hoping to join my friend at least for a few minutes to celebrate her family's special occasion.  And considering it a privilege to be invited to her  home.  No matter the house.    

Front yard Friday nights.

This week has been filled with muddy floors, spilled milk, missing school papers, and a note from the teacher.  A mystery stain on the rug, rained out baseball games, make up football games, guitar lessons and multiplication practice.  Work, school, dinners on the run, and lots of life in the fast lane.  But I love Friday evenings because I get to be still. And it usually means togetherness - even if it involves TV or the XBOX.  And if it means pizza for dinner?  It's good because we're at home.

Tonight I enjoyed being still in the front yard with a friend.  Sitting in lawn chairs, talking, listening to our kids play, and just doing nothing for a while.  One of God's sweetest gifts to me is the quiet of the neighborhood when it seems the rest of the world is just so fast and busy.      

Kid 1 has gotten his first invitation to a boy girl event.  Kind of a blind date for a 12 year old, actually.  He doesn't know the girls.  His friend does  and Kid 1's the invited tag along tomorrow afternoon.  When I asked him if he was interested, he was a little disappointed to find out it didn't involve paintball.  But he's agreed to go.  Pizza and movie = good.  Afternoon with friends = good.  Girls he doesn't know = no comment.  But he didn't object. And knowing Kid 1, he'll smell like half a bottle of cologne for the occasion. 

I remember when Kid 2 was about 4, he wanted to marry me.   He also wanted to marry the waitress at the pizza place.  A heart torn in different directions, it seems.  So is mine.   

I love watching them grow.  And at the same time, I hate watching them grow up.  And I wish I could just push the pause button or rewind and do some things over.  Or just slow down and watch it all more carefully.  And take a million pictures.  And listen to their little voices before they change too much. 

How many more front yard Friday nights do we have together?  I'm hoping for lots. 

Unexpected places.

Today I was Facebook messaging a high school friend, gossiping really, about a former classmate that was just arrested for a local murder.  And talking about the sadness of life and how it aged this particular girl,.... and my friend suggested that the difference is happiness.  Quality of life, I suppose.  I guess he's right.   

And then all household hell broke loose.  

Nothing in this world will make my husband crazier than an overflowing toilet.  Screaming, yelling,... GET THE MOP!  GET SOME TOWELS!
I  NEED VINEGAR AND A PLASTIC LAUNDRY BASKET - STAT!!! Like a surgeon calling for his tools.... Lots of heavy breathing, mad faces, and quiet cursing to keep the kids from hearing -  and a crying naked kid that didn't know how to turn off the toilet water.  And I was in the kitchen thinking of sneaking in there with the camera to capture the moment for the family album.  And thanking my lucky stars that David was home to do the big clean up instead of me.  The moments of life.  Happiness.

So are we happy?  I think so.... despite the overflowing poop in the bathroom floor, the normal free-for-all at dinner time, the questionable report card math grades....  Despite the fact that I'm desperately reading a teen parenting book because I don't know how to do this job. 

I (usually) love the noise of our house.  I look for opportunities to take pictures of our every day.  (Honey, remember the one I took of you when you got stuck in the tree?  Now THAT was funny.)  Those things make me laugh.  Because I grew up in a house with a lot of noise but missing a lot of the joy.  Happiness, peace, contentment.  Joy.  The choices we make every day to cry at the poop or take pictures of it to laugh at later....  

Thinking about the turns we make in life to get us in some unexpected places - good and bad.   

Fear, worry and trust... all part of the same parenting puzzle.

I sat listening to a friend tell why she doesn't like her son playing air soft guns with all the buddies.... he's previously had a flesh wound. And I just listened... thinking that I'm well past that stage of worry and fear.  Those are war wounds to these boys, battle scars.  Just let 'em be boys and have fun, -  advice from an experienced mom, right?  Ate my words today... as I took my 9 year old Kid 3 to a birthday party that was billed as a "secret military training camp.... with laser tag, games, and outdoor fun." 

The plan was to drop him off and head to the next kid's event, leaving him in the care of the other party moms.  But I arrived to a storage warehouse on the outskirts of downtown, complete with razor wire fences, broken down cars, trailers, collections of this and that, and nails and broken glass all over. But the big one that just tugged at my heart - because I saw visions of little boys being impaled - 2 unmarked metal stakes sticking out of the ground, meant for a game of horse shoes... but aiming right for my child's eye. 

And I felt uncomfortable.... and I felt mean for not trusting the party family, and I felt mad that I might have nails in my tires.... but mostly  I felt worry at leaving my kid in a place that just didn't feel right to me.  A place that wasn't in my care.  A place that made me question if I was being over protective or if I was just being a normal mom.  I thought normal moms of multiple boys were fearless and carefree. The kind that let our kids run around like wild men, come what may.... But I'm obviously not as brave as I thought. 

Or as I pretend to be.

 Fireman Dave knows.... I immediately went by the fire station in a fuss telling him and all the guys about the party dangers facing my defenseless baby under the inner city bridge.....(while my other 2 started their own dangerous game of climbing on the roof of the station). And as I've learned with time, men are a different breed of parent than women - always saying everything's gonna be fine.   

Can y'all stick his eye back in?  Can y'all sew up a lung when it gets punctured by a  metal stake in the ground?   Can I ever let go of the worry when I can't see my babies?  And even when I do see them? 

But all turned out well.  No party injuries.  And he loved, loved, loved his day.  But before I left him, I actually had Kid 1 remove the metal horse shoe stakes from the ground and put them in a top secret place.  Just to be on the safe side.  That gave me a little more trust that I could leave Kid 3 and head to the next kid stop on the agenda.  

Reminded me of years ago when toddler Kid 1 got stuck in the top of the McDonald's play-land.  Screaming and crying and couldn't figure out how to get down.  And it was just me and infant Kid 2 to rescue him.  So I trusted a lady at another table to care for Kid 2 while I attempted a rescue mission.  I decided to trust that she wasn't a crazy kidnapper.  And she wasn't.  Just another mom.  And I trusted the other moms today who helped me get my little ones to and from, and who watched over them when I couldn't be there.  Fear, worry and trust turn out to be all pieces of the same parenting puzzle.

Good Friday 2013

Kid 1 told me that his favorite thing about Easter morning is our church's tradition of opening all the shutters to let the light into the sanctuary.  After weeks of waiting in darkness, the light finally comes.  Kinda' like Easter. 

In the last months I've had the joy of watching 2 of my boys find their place in God's world by accepting Jesus as their savior.  There's that light again.... it reached my boys. 

And here I am on Good Friday - the darkest day of all time.  And it turns out that it was for my GOOD.  ... the darkness, the sadness, the waiting for the light... it was for MY good.  And it WAS good. 

So on this day of darkness, this season of waiting..... It's Friday, but Sunday is coming soon.  Just like the light. 

My husband's glad I'm not a drunk.

When my husband comes home from work and tells me he's glad I'm not a drunk, I know it's been an ugly shift at the fire station.  St. Patrick's Day weekend shift with 2 hours of sleep in a 24 hour shift filled with dizzy drunks, car accidents, fights, aggravated assaults and middle aged women passed out in pools of vomit.

Not so pretty. 

I don't get it.  And the mom in me, always worried anyway, is now thinking over sized thoughts of how this world is telling our little ones that it's okay.  That almost everything is okay.  

I learned a long time ago that the influence of the bigger world around us seeps in no matter how hard I try to shelter my kids.  And I'm a cautious believer in letting them see what's out there- to an extent - in a controlled, limited amount -  increasing the exposure of the lessons as they grow.  That's why we've never been big supporters of home schooling for our family.  (That, and I think I would strangle them mid math lesson). Kids need to see and learn about others, our likes and differences, so they can be prepared when they face it as adults. That's the plan, anyway.

But I still wonder and worry about what they take in outside of my view. And I know that they learn just as much from their friends as they do from me - if not more -  at this age.  And of course from their teachers.... and unfortunately, from the drunk guy at his finest on the corner yesterday afternoon. Their little ears, eyes and hearts are watching and waiting, absorbing it all. 

But I live here. We all do.  Even the violent drunk that my fearless fireman husband had to restrain at the train station yesterday in the line of duty.  And there is no wall between them and us.  And I guess there's really no THEM and US.  It's just all of us.  And me,.... talking and teaching and modeling what I hope to be good choices for my family. (Better start working on that #$@#$$ habit of cursing I've picked up lately, I guess).

Fireman Dave says the best anti-drinking/drug lesson would be for the kids to ride with him on the ambulance some St Patrick's Day. Would be kinda like a scared straight program for troubled teens.  Not such a bad idea, really.

But for now I will continue to pray for my boys, for their friends and families, for their teachers, for their future girlfriends and wives..... I'll pray for them to recognize the bad, but value the good.  I'll pray for them to experience a life so full that they never need to find fullness in substances or substitutes.  And I'll be thankful for the friends and adults that surround us with positives.  The scout leaders, teachers, neighbors and friends that continually help us in our parenting. 
And I'll just keep praying for the tools to do this hard job that I have been given.  

And I'll try not to let my husband ever find me passed out in a pool of yuck......

Healthy families self destruct.

Ive thought of everything.... from sensitive stomach Kid 2 eating old cheese to storms washing boats full of boy scouts down river.......

Our scouting experience has us all divided this weekend.  And the morning thunder all around not only had my dog in a panic, but got me going, too. 

I like the responsibility and the supervised independence that these scout weekends offer the boys. If they don't pack warm enough, too bad.  It's gonna be cold tonight.  If they don't meal plan and prepare their own food -  hungry boys till the next opportunity to eat.  It's good stuff, really.   But I miss the days of us all being in the same place.  Being on the same schedule.  And I miss the time.  Together time.

I've been seeing it in lots of ways..... not just weekends away.  There's school, and friends, and sports, and that darned Kindle Fire that Kid 1 got for Christmas.  We're going our separate ways - slowly - yet in so many ways.  And I worry.  And I wonder. 

Moms will understand this, I know.  We get tired and frustrated, and we long for moments of quiet and even a few minutes in the bathroom all by ourselves.  But when those alone times come, so do the thoughts.  The thoughts of how it's all moving too fast.  Of how quickly they' re growing up.  And one day, they (and me) are either prepared for the separation or we're not. 

A wiser woman than I once told me that "healthy families self destruct."  But in a good way. I try to remember that one and trust it from her experience.

I hope I'm teaching the boys as if I may not be here tomorrow.  And I really hope I'm loving my boys like they might not be here tomorrow.    

I have the regular issue kind of kids.

Posted on Facebook today was one of those shared photos of mom tips - the every growing bank of good ideas to keep our homes and families organized.  And of course when I saw it I bashed the whole thing in a comment.....

But I love that moms still try.  I love that they try to feed their kids broccoli 17 separate times to see if the kid will learn to love it.  I love that they try to find peace, cleanliness, and organization amidst the muck, chaos and absurdity of it all.  And correct me if you will, but for so many of those handy Pinterest ideas, you have to have the SPECIAL, limited edition kind of kid.  The ones that listen and obey.  And I don't.  I have the REGULAR issue kind of kids.  The run of the mill ones that God picked off the shelf and called them mine.  The ones who go and blow thru the house at warp speed making stink, messes and their mom crazy.  The ones that answer every spoken word with their prerecorded answer,   "Huh? ....What?" 

But I love those filthy, crazy kids.  And I still kinda' think they're the SPECIAL kind.  Maybe not special issue, straight A, poster kids.... But special to me.  And when I dredge thru all the garbage in their room, I occasionally laugh at what I find.  Someone enjoyed a pop tart at the toilet the other day..... interesting fact.  Found the crumbs. 

And come to think of it, I was already showing early signs of craziness when I gave birth to 3 boys in less than 36 months.  So I cant blame it all on them.  And I really do spend a lot of time telling them that they live like pigs.  And they answer me with the standard boy response,..... "Huh? ... What?  "

Easter 2013

What Easter brought.....
Cooking, ironing, hemming church pants, new suit coats and shoes.
First lesson in tying a tie, and probably a last egg hunt for a growing boy.
Regular holiday visit to the fire station, good dinner with friends, but missing Daddy still.
A muddy house, happy kids, and one that threw up. 
Candy filled baskets and grumbles through the morning photos for mom.
A dark, stormy start to the day followed by a gorgeous blue sky.  Very fitting for today.
And a beautiful church service.

And thoughtful thoughts.... (borrowed, and so worth sharing):
There is a cross that has defeated every disappointment, hurt and loss.  Grace and peace on this Easter.
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