Comfort in the Cold

February 24, 2015 at 8:02 pm (Faith)

So my day started out with one of those mornings we warm-weather people truly despise.  After standing out in 14 degree temps (without wind chill, mind you) for 20 minutes waiting for the bus, enduring an extra long bus ride to work, and dragging my 5-months-pregnant body up an out-of-order escalator (they’re not too bad to walk up when they’re moving, but wow are they awful when they’re stopped!), I was less than jovial when I arrived at work this morning.  And when days start like this, I tend to search out Bible verses to bring me some measure of comfort.  So I started searching and instead of finding anything particularly comforting about the cold, I found this convicting set of verses in Haggai:

 Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”

This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.”  ~Haggai 1:5-11

This got me thinking about how much time I spend working on building things up in this world and how useless it all is, how unsatisfying.  It’s frightening to think that no matter how much we toil, if we are working to build our own house while leaving God’s house in ruins, we will never be filled, never be warm, and never have a real harvest.  If things aren’t going well in our own lives, in our communities and in our country, it may very well be time to consider carefully where we are investing our energy.  My prayer today is that God will guide me in my pursuits so that I will continually work to build up His house rather than following my own selfish pursuits that only end in ruin and pain.

I also want to share another verse, Job 37:10: “From the breath of God ice is made, and the expanse of the waters is frozen.”  As I was taking the Metro over water, I was struck by how fascinating frozen expanses of water truly are.  The hard surface was slightly rippled as though the water had frozen mid-movement.  It just stands still in time, locked in some sort of strange state.  It’s really quite impressive.  And this verse in Job captures the awesomeness of that phenomenon beautifully.

I hope you are all having a blessed Tuesday!

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Much-Needed Snow Week

February 22, 2015 at 7:46 pm (Cakes, Crafts, Family, Personal, Photography)

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Yesterday brought a little bit more snow!  The weather held off long enough for our women’s Bible study breakfast, for which I was very grateful.  I’m always so blessed by the women in our church and those precious times when we get to meet and fellowship together.  We’re doing Barbara Hughes’ study, Disciplines of a Godly Woman, and I’m really impressed so far.  We talked about the importance of making God and the Gospel message the motivation for all that we do…something that always makes life more peaceful for me no matter how hectic life gets.  If only I could do it all the time :).  But anyway, I was glad the weather held off and ladies were able to make it to the breakfast.  Then the flurries began and the world quickly turned into a snow globe.  It turned to rain and warmed up over night, but I was glad for another opportunity to enjoy a wintery day with the kids.  I’m so thankful for this past week and the weather God brought that allowed me to work from home all week and get that precious extra time with my sweet littles.  It was much needed as I finish up my school work and homeschool planning today and gear up for one of my really tough weeks of work and 9-hour grad school residency days.  I’m praying for strength and rest this week so I can make it through :).  But the snow week really helped…maybe not so much with extra sleep but with family time.  I started yesterday out taking pictures of the neighbor horses in the snow since my kids didn’t want to go out right away…first time ever that they hesitated to go out in the snow.  It may have had a little to do with my starting Toy Story 2 for them right before the snow started.  So horses it was…

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Then the kids had a change of heart and joined me!!

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Hubby even joined in for a snowball fight!

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I’m so glad he was able to enjoy at least part of the snow day.  He’s been fighting with the pipes to the back shower freezing since the handy homeowner before us failed to insulate them.  He’s also making way for a heating oil furnace to replace the propane tank we have now, so he’s been insanely busy and none too thrilled this week.  It was good to see him smiling and having fun!

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And my daughter had a blast throwing snowballs at him…even though the snow was really too powdery to pack a good snowball.

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We had big plans for a snowman this time, too, but again, the snow was just not packing snow :(.  Hopefully we’ll get one good packing snow this year…the kids love making snowmen.

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Running through the front yard!

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My son making a snowball…

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And gazing out the living room window at the wintry scene…

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I bought the kids a snow cone maker a while back…I wanted the old Snoopy one, but found this Dora one instead.  They’ve been itching to get a good snow so we could use it.  Well, using the snow didn’t last long before they figured out they really like just using ice.  Bonus that we can do that any time.

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I’ve also recommitted to doing more knitting and crochet now that my energy is coming back and I’m feeling a little bit more motivation than I did in the first trimester…and the first half of the second.  I had to go to Michaels Friday to get stuff for a cake I made this weekend, and I was thrilled to find out it was a 25% off your entire purchase coupon day!!!  I got to stock up for all things yarn and other fun Pinterest projects I’ve been wanting to get done and saved a bundle!  Love, love, love when that happens.  My first crochet project on the agenda was this broomstick scarf that matches my favorite preggo shirt perfectly!

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It’s a simple pattern from Artfully Simple, found here.  I also worked up Ninja Turtle caps for both my kids (my daughter loves Michelangelo!), but I have to finish the eyes for those…hopefully today.  Next on the crochet agenda: a puppy lovey and blanket for the new baby; wrist warmers and boot cuffs for me; and an owl phone carrier for my niece.  I’m also determined to finish the sweater I started knitting for my son last year.  The front and back are done, I just really need to get motivated to finish those darn sleeves.  I take comfort knowing that we’re having another boy who can wear the sweater if my son has outgrown it by the time I finish :).  But I also promised hubby a sweater a while ago…thinking I’m just not a sweater knitting person.  I like projects that can be done fairly quickly…otherwise I tend to lose interest.  Oh well….  And finally, the latest cake I made for my favorite clients, a family from our church that has five kids.

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And now it’s back to the mundane stuff like laundry and school work.  Sigh…  Wishing everyone many blessings in the coming week.

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Think on Those Things…

February 18, 2015 at 7:16 pm (Faith, Personal)

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Just needed this reminder today.  Some days it is really tough to keep the mind focused on the good.  When everything seems to be breaking and life gets overwhelming, it’s a struggle to search for that peace that comes from God’s word and thinking about the pure and beautiful things in this life.  Turning on praise music to drown out the negative and reminding myself that I can always seek refuge in God’s loving embrace.

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Snow’s Calming Beauty

February 18, 2015 at 1:55 am (Family, Personal, Photography)

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I’m so thankful for the snow day today!  It was a much-needed break and relaxing times with the littles.  This is the first really good snow we’ve gotten this year, and it was amazing to wake up to a blanket of peaceful white.

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It was a wonderfully powdery snow!

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The calm beauty of our front yard and the icicles on the back overhang..

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Actual accumulation!!!

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My little snow bunnies!

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My son’s favorite activity, sweeping the snow off of every surface…

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My daughter was so excited to see a pile of snow on the swing…

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Climbing was a little bit treacherous, but big brother helped out…

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…because that huge pile of snow at the bottom of the slide was just too tempting!

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A sliver of blue in the snow grey sky…

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I love when we can incorporate homeschool topics like measurement into a fun snow day!  Six whole inches! That’s a good snow for us.

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And then there was hot chocolate, popcorn and a Veggie Tales movie night!

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And the sun beginning to set over our winter wonderland…

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I hope everyone had a blessed day…and stayed warm!

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For the Birds…

February 16, 2015 at 11:22 pm (Personal, Photography)

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My dad’s backyard is a bird paradise!  And they were out eating on Valentine’s Day, so I had to show the birds some photo love! First, the bluebirds!

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A wren usurper tried to break up the bluebird party and got “the look”…

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But eventually, he won out and got himself some mealworms…

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The other feeders…

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And the squirrel trying to avoid a hawk that was flying around…

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Valentine’s Day

February 16, 2015 at 11:15 pm (Family, Personal)

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day!  It was a fun week.  We worked a lot of crafts into our homeschooling plans and made a trip up to my parents’ house for Valentine’s Day itself.  So I guess I’ll start with the crafts.  Pretty much every idea comes from my Pinterest addiction :).  The one above is just chalk hearts on black construction paper.  We’ve done a few of these types of drawings before and the kids love it.  We also did butterflies for friend Valentines…

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…a handprint tree with heart cookie cutters dipped in paint and stamped on for leaves…

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The trees were for my parents.  And the kids did constructions paper heart fish for my sister and niece…

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By way of food crafts, we had a blast making candy cane and white chocolate heart pops and peanut butter cookies with chocolate hearts…

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Hubby got me some beautiful flowers…which reminds me I have to recut the stems and feed them again…

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I love flower pictures!  And the vase these came in…

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Saturday brought a great time with family.  The kids got cute little dog baggies full of treats from my parents…

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And of course there were more crafts!

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My niece made us all awesome paper art!  I love that she is so crafty!!

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And there were indoor snowball fights, of course!

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So that was our Valentine’s week.  I also had my 20 week appointment for this pregnancy.  Everything went amazingly well.  They have a way of telling with 100% accuracy what the gender of the baby is, so we officially confirmed we’re having a boy!  That same bloodwork also tells for sure whether the baby will have birth defects, and none were found.  So things are going well.  The doctor is also very supportive of me going for a VBAC after two C-sections, which I’m thrilled about!  Here’s the 20 week belly shot…carrying high, as usual!  I’m feeling rib pain coming in the not too distant future!

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And other than that, we’ve hit a really cold spell here.  I am very much not a cold weather person.  I love the snow, but really only when the temps are at least in the mid-20s and up.  We went negative temps this week…yuck.  It makes me think of my poor friend in Minnesota who experiences this cold torture all winter every winter.  Missing Arizona temps and so very thankful we don’t live somewhere that is this cold on a regular basis.  But there’s snow falling now, which means tomorrow may bring another blessed day at home with my littles!  Stay warm and safe, and have a very blessed week!

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Photo Fun

February 10, 2015 at 12:34 am (Family, Personal, Photography)

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Hubby had to run out for more kerosene, so I decided to put dishes off for a minute and have fun with some photos :). I mean, really, who wants to do dishes after a long day at work anyway?  The first shot of my daughter with her kaleidoscope I didn’t mess around with.  That’s just the awesome effect of the 50mm lens making some cool bokeh.  The picture I took of my son playing his version of Chutes and Ladders didn’t get much Photoshop adjustment either…

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But the real fun came with using a watercolor effect tutorial that creates three background layer duplicates and uses the cutout, dry brush and median filters.  I love the effect so much more than the watercolor filter that comes with Photoshop.  The layers give a lot more control over the final image.

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The effects are easy to overdo, but it’s so fun to play with them once in a while!  Now back to dishes, I guess…

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Spring Fever

February 8, 2015 at 11:44 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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Last night, hubby came home with a fun bouquet of colorful flowers for me to take pictures of!

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I love flower surprises!!

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Today was another much-needed beautiful day, so we spent the afternoon after church outside!  The spring-like weather is getting me all psyched up to start our garden.  I can’t wait to get some veggies and herbs growing!  The past two days have also brought gorgeous sunsets. This is the one from last night…

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And tonight…

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I would love to take pictures of the sky every night…it’s such an amazing testament to God’s glory!  Here are some sunset shots of the horse and barn across the street…

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I can’t wait to have a horse of our own, but for now, I can’t even ride for five more months.  So I just drool over the neighbor horses every day!

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The littles playing…

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And a sunset shot of a horse next door with some Photoshop fun…

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Have a blessed Monday!

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Warmer Weather

February 7, 2015 at 10:03 pm (Family, Personal, Photography)

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It’s been another gorgeous day here.  I thought I would really miss the snow from last year…and to some extent I do because I love the extra days at home…but the temps in the 50s are giving me spring fever!  I’m finally feeling a little bit caught up from the two week sickness over the holidays.  It’s amazing how long it takes to get back on track after missing two weeks.  But work is caught up, laundry is done and put away, the house is getting better, hubby and I are getting projects finished.  And I have a week break between classes.  So it was the perfect Saturday to just get outside and enjoy the weather with the kids again.  I’m also playing with my camera and some fun Photoshop tutorials I found on Pinterest!  The picture above is messing around with lens flare and color adjustment layers.  I love that little blonde head poking out between my favorite trees in our yard!  And more Photoshop fun with my son’s picture…

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We took a walk through the neighborhood and then on to the kids’ favorite activity, scootering!

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And more shots by my favorite tree…

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I just love the texture of the tree trunk!

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This week also brought our 100th day of homeschool!  The kids enjoyed making a sheet filled with 100 stickers….although they did figure out just how much 100 really is…this took a while!

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We also had Corduroy for the book of the week.  Love it!  So we made little Corduroy bears.  My daughter wanted to add something girly to hers, hence the pink…

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Hubby has been hard at work tiling the hall bathroom.  It’s almost ready for it “after” picture…sadly I forgot to take a “before”, but he’s done a wonderful job on it.  The construction status of our house gets me down once in a while, so I took a few pictures of parts of the house that make me happy :).  The entryway gallery wall and shelf.  The pictures on the wall were taken by my awesome photographer friend. The driftwood with candles in it was made by our realtor’s husband.  Love it all!

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A picture frame my aunt gave us for Christmas filled with kid pics…

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And some old chalkboard art over the keyboard…

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And here are a couple 19 week baby belly shots…really trying to keep better records of little bub’s growth this time around.

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Phone pic getting ready for date night with hubby…

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Have a very blessed weekend!

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Gender Reveal, Fun Times, and Baby Bellies

February 4, 2015 at 10:59 pm (Family, Personal)

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It’s been an exhausting but really good week so far.  We had friends over for the Super Bowl, and I feel like I’ve been going nonstop ever since!  My son started piano lessons last night, so I rushed him over there as soon as I got home from work.  But he loved it!  He’s got quite an ear for music, and the numbered fingers approach works wonders for his number-minded brain :).  We also had our first homeschool review this morning.  The OCD part of me was crazy nervous that we would be told we aren’t doing this right.  But I fretted for nothing.  The homeschool coordinator is such a sweet lady, and she was thrilled with our curriculum and sample work.  So yay!!!! So glad that’s over and we’re not totally failing our son :).  This past Saturday also brought our baby reveal for my family.  I made a cake…very hastily…Saturday morning and we headed up to my parents.

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It’s a boy!!

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It was a pretty fun reveal, though.  And the kids got to cut into the cake to show everyone they are going to have a baby brother…

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After the big reveal, we all went to Build-A-Bear…partly to make a toy for the baby, and partly because they have Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon.  Picking character traits for the toys…

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Giving the toys a bath…

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The final products…

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Then my niece decided to get her ears pierced!  She was nervous, but she made it through like a champ!

Before…

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One ear down…

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After…

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I’m so glad we were able to be a part of this milestone in her life!!

Today brought homeschool, work for me, and some gorgeous weather to spend the afternoon outside!

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Scooters and bikes…

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A couple portraits…

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Neighbor horses…

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Shadows…

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A trek through the wooded acre of our property…

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A run in the field…

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Trampoline jumping..

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And a baby belly…

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I’m trying to really embrace this pregnancy…document it more and just enjoy growing a little human.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the nausea, exhaustion and other rough things that com with pregnancy.  But it really is a blessing and an amazing thing.  Well, that’s been our weekend/week so far.  Have a very blessed end of the week!

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