Upheld With His Righteous Hand

We somehow averted catastrophe here in our house. I shouldn’t say “somehow” because I know how. It was nothing other than a healing miracle that took place before my very eyes. Last night Greta had an upset stomach and was obviously coming down with the stomach virus going around. She went to bed crying that her stomach hurt to lay down. She did manage to sleep through the night, but come morning she was sitting in front of the toilet crying that she felt like she was going to puke. William could NOT stay home from work today. It was not an option. We made Greta comfortable up in the loft where I could hear her if she needed me, but away from Nora. After William left for work I went out on our deck and prayed, “WE.CAN.NOT.HANDLE.THIS.RIGHT.NOW, GOD!!! PLEASE TAKE THIS AWAY FROM US!!! PLEASE!!!!” I stared out at the trees and the sky for a few more minutes before I reluctantly went back inside. When I did, there was Greta standing in the kitchen asking for breakfast and wanted to know if she could clean out the kitten’s litterbox. {????? Wait… What?????} It was seriously like night and day, and I say this without any exaggeration what so ever!!! The rest of the day progressed without any incidents. I am still completely awestruck. Thank you, God!!!!!

I was feeling particularly fragile after an experience today that really isn’t worth mentioning because honestly it probably has more to do with the fact that I was fragile and overly-sensitive to begin with. If the wind blows the wrong way, I will cry. Still emotionally delicate from the previous situation, I ventured off to Greta’s dance studio to pick up her summer recital photos and DVD. I checked my eyes in the visor mirror to make sure my eyelids didn’t look like hot dogs before I went inside. Yes, I’d been crying, but not necessarily “sad crying”. It was more out of exhaustion and being overwhelmed with the good and the bad. And maybe feeling a little sorry for myself… yearning for those days when I had absolutely nothing to worry about except whether or not my cordless phone got reception out at the pool or what brand of tequila I should get to go with my frozen margarita mix. As I was walking out of the dance studio a woman approached me to let me know that she’s been praying for Nora and for our family. She gave me a big hug and on came the waterworks again. I needed that hug in that moment more than you could ever know, Paulina! Thank you! So again, I was crying, but now I was crying because God cares so much about me that He puts people in my path to comfort me RIGHT WHEN I NEED THEM. It’s really pretty amazing!

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We leave for Children’s tomorrow afternoon. I feel surprisingly at peace about that. I literally feel your prayers! I was able to unclutter my head this evening (to clear room for the Holy Spirit!) during a lengthy walk through the neighborhood. Nora slept throughout the 3.5 miles. I saw a couple of bird trios and a beautiful sunset. Of course I’d rather be watching that sun set over Lake Huron, but I’ll settle for this!

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I’ll update when I can throughout these next few days! Thank you so very, very much for your continued prayers!!!

So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)

Miscellania

Much to Nora’s pleasure, Nana came over for a visit today. This enabled me to get out for a little while with the big kids. We only went to the library and to Target, but it was nice to get out and we had fun together! Gavin begged and pleaded for a counter top “ring for service” bell. {??? just what we need???} Fortunately, he settled on a box of muffin mix instead. I LOVE this kid’s “randomness”!!

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Do you know the muffin man?

Nora is doing well. She’s still tolerating the soy milkies, but now we are worried that we haven’t seen a stinky diaper in awhile. :( 

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We are planning on having her admitted to Children’s on Wednesday. I’m not sure how long we’ll have to stay, but it’s estimated to be 2 or 3 nights. I have to keep reminding myself that 2 or 3 nights is paradise compared to what another precious family in our prayers has faced. And, as with every other visit / appointment, I would discover afterward that my fears and worries were completely senseless. Why do we put ourselves through worrying!!??

Here are a couple of videos that I’ve meant to post:

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And now much to my children’s dismay, I must mention Henrietta Pussycat*.

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William stopped for coffee at Remke a couple mornings ago and ended up also stopping for a kitten. Henrietta was crying and scared at the entrance of the grocery store, so naturally William picked her up and brought her home. We’ve exhausted all efforts in finding her owners, so I figured I’d mention her on here incase someone reading is missing or wants a kitten. She’s very sweet, loves to cuddle, tolerates kids very well and she uses the litterbox. Gavin & Greta keep plotting and conspiring ways we could keep her, but unfortunately “it ain’t gonna happen”. We’d love to keep her, but already have 2 cats who are none too pleased. As if we don’t have enough going on here, right?!

* I’m not 100% completely absolutely sure this is a female cat, but if I had to guess, I’d say it was.

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Goodnight and God bless!

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(Romans 5:1 NIV)

Back to Life as Usual

Today Nora had a special visit from her friend Mariana! Nora was a little disagreeable about having her picture taken since that meant she had to hold still for a second.

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These precious, beautiful little girls are truly gifts from God. It was so sweet to have them together! Thank you, Barbara for coming to visit us!

Later in the afternoon I took Nora upstairs for a swim in the tub. She got tired waiting for the water to fill and fell asleep.

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After a brief reprieve (5 minutes) bath time was back on again!

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Nap time resumed on our evening walk to the mailbox. Please pardon all of these interruptions!

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We had a nice visit from Nana, Papa and Oma this evening too. We all missed each other!

As the weekend draws to a close I am becoming exceedingly anxious. The possibility of a few night’s stay in the hospital is at hand, which has me extremely uneasy. William is very busy at work this week and can’t be as accessible as he’s been in the past. I’m scared, nervous, disappointed and sad… tired… trying to hold it all together. This time last week we were settling in for our first night in Michigan. How fast time flies.

Home Safe

The entire extended family is back safe in their respective homes, hopefully enjoying a good night’s rest after their long drive today. I picked up Gavin & Greta from Nana & Papa’s this evening and had dinner with them. We determined that we already miss each other and talked at length about plans for next year’s Michigan trip. It’s always a bit of a transition for us to get back to “life as usual” after having been living together for the whole week. I love those people like mad!

Nora had a really good day today! She’s been eating her new soy milkies like a seasoned pro without any excessive fussiness and even made some more pretty smiles at us. I have video footage, but it’s on William’s phone. I will have to post it tomorrow as William and his phone have retired for the night.

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Ahhh. There is my mobile!

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I make pretty smiles!

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Mmmm. Soy milkies. That's what I like.

And now I’m off to sleep too while Little Miss is sleeping! Thank you for your prayers, especially for travel safety for my family. And thank you for all of your encouragement and advice regarding Nora’s fussiness and feedings! Kind of makes me wish I would have blogged when Gavin & Greta were babies (Colic-palooza)!! I will most certainly explore the possibility of reflux and perhaps invest in some new bottles! You’re all awesome, and I am so thankful for you!

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
(2 Thessalonians 3:16 NIV)

The Trip Back Home

The trip back home was uneventful. Nora slept for much of the way with only a few fussy periods. We stopped at a Wal-Mart somewhere along 75 and bought some gas drops for Nora. I have been sceptical of those things since Gavin was an infant. They never, ever worked for Gavin or Greta. This is why we were just now, in desperation, trying them again. For her first bottle after they were administered, they seemed to have done the trick!!!! She was actually smiling and cooing instead of writhing and screaming!

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“You mean this is all it took?????” I yelled at myself. By the 2nd and 3rd bottles, despite being armed with the gas drops, it was back to screaming as usual. All hopes were dashed and I reinstated my opinion that gas drops are a scam.

We made it to the pediatrician’s office just in the nick of time… just as they were about to call it a day, and just seconds before the weather unleashed a wicked storm. Dr. Bolling didn’t notice anything outwardly wrong with Nora, no signs of heart failure or pneumonia, which were the big questions. I am such a nervous wreck about anything that pertains to doctor and hospital visits, terrified that we will be given grim news. I feel like I hold my breath the whole time I’m at any appointment for anything, waiting to be handed a lit stick of dynamite. This time a simple switch of formulas was suggested, and a  trial can of soy formula was handed to us instead. I can deal with that, and with Nora’s fussiness, as long as it just means she’s being a typical fussy baby. I heaved a sigh of relief as we exited the building, only to quickly gasp it back in. There in the sky was a big low rainbow!! Perfect reminder, perfect timing, once again.

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It's just above the roof of the building in the distance

We are finally and safely back home after a long day in the car without much sleep the night before. Nora is so fresh and so clean from her relaxing bathies with Mommy. She really, really enjoyed that! Then we watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympics for a little while.

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Jolly good, it was!

William and I are completely exhausted and are so looking forward to a good night’s rest in our own cozy bed! Thank you Bryan and Jen for reporting for Night Time Nora Duty at the last minute! We love you!

The rest of our family is still up in Michigan, living the good life, apparently…

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Please keep them in your prayers for travel safety as they embark on their journey back home bright and early tomorrow morning!

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
(Romans 12:12 NIV)

Nora – ONE HUNDRED DAYS OLD!

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It’s Nora’s Hundredth Day–a day we never even imagined. I’m happy and thankful for that, but I’m inclined to blame my dour mood on the miserable cocktail of hormones, gloomy weather and lack of sleep. Not to mention that Nora started the day off with another lengthy crying jag. It’s frustrating enough with a normal baby, but add to that “everything else that might be wrong” spinning through my mind. I hate to think of her in any pain, even if it is just gas pains.

If anyone can console this baby girl, it is her Nana. My Mom. My Mommy. My “Bobbity” (a nickname that evolved while trying to say “Mommy” with a stuffy nose… we think?) It was the same with me when I was just little. There was nothing and no one who could comfort me like my Mom. Her loving touches and her sweet soothing voice were magic. Nora, a part of me, would of course naturally find the same comfort from her.

And while my Mom takes care of Nora, I have my sweet Dad taking care of me like I’m still his little girl. He’s made me breakfasts, lunches and dinners and I love that he even cuts my meat up for me. He makes me feel safe and protected… blessed. I’m blessed that I don’t have any trouble regarding God as a Heavenly FATHER capable of keeping me safe and protected… and blessing me. I know what it’s like to be loved by a Father. My Dad. My Daddy. It makes me wonder why I was in such a hurry to grow up. I’d give anything to go back to those days.

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Lucky kids

Nora spent her morning nap in her stroller on a 4 mile walk with her Muthr. I didn’t realize how far we’d gone until I mapped it out on my phone when we got back. I was in such a mood that I could have just kept walking and walking forever – trying to get to the end of time were it possible.

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Real-life Pine-sol!

I walked to the end of Island 8 and back, across the Kissing Bridge over to Hill Island, and half way down Hill Island to the house we had previously rented for our vacations 4 years in a row. It is no longer being rented out and is currently on the market. Nora stayed asleep as I rattled the stroller down the gravel driveway. The house seemed unoccupied, so we continued on into the backyard. I stood there in the corner of the yard with a pang of sadness as I recalled so many memories. This house that had seemed like “ours” for so many years seemed suddenly cold and unwelcoming against its will. I grabbed a small pink rock and put it in my pocket before we rattled back up the driveway and back toward Island 8.

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On our way back across the Kissing Bridge I stopped to gently kiss Nora’s sweet little forehead.

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Nora got kisses from Daddy on their walk too!

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Get. This. Off. Meeee!!!!

I got emotional today as I tortured myself with the fear of what next year’s Michigan trip would look like, if there was one. Would Nora be with us, I wondered? That’s where it started and gradually smoldered from there. I started feeling sorry for myself and angry at God as if though I were somehow the first and only person ever to be faced with potentially tragic circumstances. I already know the answer, yet still demand to know how God could have done this to us, and why couldn’t she just be “normal”? Things would be so much easier!!!

“I never said it would be easy, but it will be worth it. I’m with you,” echoed in my sad thoughts, “Stop worrying! I’ve got this!!”

Images of the crowd of people who had come to pray in my front yard. Countless trios of birds. Rainbows. Strangers who are now friends. Changed lives. My own reinforced relationship with God, my hubzbind, kids and family.

I KNOW… I KNOW… But it’s still so hard!!!!!! I DO trust that God is hard at work, doing something awesome, but at the same time, I’m human. I’m selfish, and I want things neat, tidy, and happy. With a sprinkling of happy moments throughout the days, the underlying uncertainty and sadness lurks. It’s warm and sunny toward the surface of the water, but on the days that I start to go under, I feel the cold and the muck at the bottom. It’s all I can do to keep my feet from getting stuck, drowning.

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I wasn’t able to post this at the end of the day yesterday night like I usually do. It wasn’t such a good night for Nora.  She seems to be having more and more trouble eating. Each bottle guarantees at least an hour of crying, if she even takes the bottle at all. We decided it was best to head back home. I snuck into Gavin & Greta’s fort and kissed their sweet, warm cheeks, explaining that we had to go home with Nora. I managed to hold back the tears and played up the fact that they’d get to stay another day with Nana & Papa, even though it hurt so bad to say goodbye. The tears couldn’t be contained with the warm embrace of my Mom and Dad.

Thank you for everything, Mom & Dad. It was so nice to all be together this week. We did have a lot of fun despite some interludes of sadness on behalf of this baby girl. I’m sooooo glad we were able to make it up! To have Nora be a part of it this year meant the world! Sarah, Em & Josh, I’m sorry we didn’t get to say goodbye. Thanks, Dan for helping us load up the car. Take care of those big kids for us and have a safe trip back tomorrow. We love you allz!!

More pictures from yesterday, Nora’s 100 Day Birthday:

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Gavin

And now we’re headed home.

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“Whoever listens to me will live in safety
and be at ease, without fear of harm.”
(Proverbs 1:33 NIV)

Nora – 99 Days Old

Today was cold and rainy, much of it was spent indoors. Although the weather was dismal with a high of only 65 degrees, I have to say I’d rather be here than back home boiling in the 99 degree heat advisory!

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Nora had a visit today from Susan who has been following the blog and then literally had Nora show up practically next door to her house! Nora has certainly shrunk the world down to size of a marble! It was so wonderful to meet you, Susan! Nora thanks you for her adorable Les Cheneaux t-shirt!

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After the soaking rain, and everyone had left for dinner, I took Nora down to the lake. It was just God, Nora and I with a lone gull off in the distance. The vastness of the sky was astonishing, as if I’ve never quite noticed it before. I inhaled deeply, trying to savor and fully appreciate the chilly pine-infused air. Nora, wrapped in a blanket, dozed off to sleep as I bounced her in my arms. I paced the span of the dock, and thanked God for her. A beautiful bird song emerged in response from the woods despite the gloomy gray backdrop. I was reminded of today’s page in my Jesus Calling devotional:

     As you listen to birds calling to one another, hear also My Love-call to you. I speak to you continually: through sights, sounds, thoughts, impressions, scriptures. There is no limit to the variety of ways I can communicate with you. Your part is to be attentive to My messages, in whatever form they come. When you set out to find Me in a day, you discover that the world is vibrantly alive with My Presence. You can find Me not only in beauty and birdcalls, but also in tragedy and faces filled with grief. I can take the depest sorrow and weave it into a pattern for good.

Search for me and My messages, as you go through this day. You will seek me and find Me when you seek Me with your whole being.

What a beautiful truth.

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Huge smiles for Daddy this morning!!


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Nora LOVES cuddling with Nana!

If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.
(Jeremiah 29:13 NLT)

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
(John 10:27 NLT)

Nora – FOURTEEN WEEKS OLD

Another picture perfect day on Island No. 8. Nora spent much of the day dozing off and on under the pine and birch trees with Nana down by the lake. When she was awake she was whimsically entertained by the birch leaves blowing in the wind above her. The contrast of the white bark against the azure sky demanded a lingering gaze from me as well!

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One of the things I love about this area is that there is no hustle and bustle. No one is in a hurry, everything is laid back and you go about life at your own leisurely pace (aka “Yooper time”). Which would explain why I was just getting around to showering at almost 1:00 in the afternoon. Of course while I was in the shower, and Nora was napping we had a visitor!  When I got out, my Mom explained to me  with tears in her eyes that someone had stopped by to meet Nora. Someone we’d never met before who has been following the blog!! Imagine you are following a blog and you see a landmark relatively close to your home featured on the blog (Mackinac Bridge). From that point the blogger (me, in this case) could have been headed in any given direction. Imagine your surprise when you get to the next post and realize they are literally right down the street from your house!! How incredible and cool is that!!?? I’m sorry I was in the shower, Susan! Please, please stop back– we would love to meet you!  (I’m smiling as I type this!)

We were invited to dinner this evening at the cottage that my Great Grandmother purchased back in 1951. This is the place that we used to stay when I was a little girl. It is now occupied by my grandmother’s youngest sister, my Aunt Jane and her husband, my Uncle Jack and their extended family. It was so so nice to see everyone! Thank you so much for having us over!! I got a lump in my throat as we turned onto Fox Lane. The sound of the gravel crunching beneath the car tires evoked memories of wild, impetuous excitement. The same great pines that heralded the arrival of our mint green station wagon all those years ago stood firm and taller, having endured the divergence of weather through the ages. This set of geographic coordinates has absorbed a whole compilation of beautiful memories. In my mind it has always been my “happy place”. It unknowingly even served as my focal point during painful labor contractions on more than one occasion. This is a place that represents a much simpler time – my beautiful childhood neatly wrapped up with a bow on top. How could I have known then all that would unfold over the next 39 years… That someday I would be back, all grown up with a husband, two kids, and a miracle of a baby in tow. As I ambled down to the boathouse deck, walked the length of the dock and stared out at the expanse of familiar cool blue water I was reminded of all that I am thankful for and how truly short our time on this earth is.

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My Great Grandmother (taken from a photo on the wall)


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Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
(James 4:14 NIV)

Already the above pictures are but treasured memories!

Nora – 97 Days Old

In the very early morning hours of this day nineteen years ago I met another precious baby girl for the first time. Her birth, like Nora’s was extraordinary and unique, but in a different way. This was the birth of my first born, my birth daughter. As a mother, even at the young age of 20, I would do anything to protect my children, even if that meant protecting them from myself. I knew then that it was not in this little girl’s best interest to parent her as a single, barely-employed mother, also attempting to get through college and still living at home with my parents. If you are a parent, you are fully aware of that incredible, undeniable, powerful love that is compounded into that beautiful moment when you set eyes on your newborn baby for the first time. From that second on, it only blooms and flourishes. None of those emotions were absent then. As you might imagine, parting with her was gut wrenchingly painful, but I was somehow confident that I was making the right decision. Highlighted in a Beth Moore Bible study book it reads, “At times, to choose the will of God over our own is excruciating. We love our flesh and it hurts to have its desires crucified! Never misunderstand pain as permission to forego the will of God.” I didn’t realize it then, but looking back I can clearly see how I was being led by the Holy Spirit. Somehow, I had the good sense to listen! In April of 2011 I had the absolute pleasure of meeting the grown up version of the little baby girl I had parted with all those years ago. I’m blessed beyond measure to have a friendship with her. If she’s reading this: I hope you continued to have an amazing, wonderful, perfect birthday! I love you!!!!!!

It’s day 2 of our Michigan vacation–a very laid back day. Nothing exciting to share except beautiful photos!

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Enjoying a milkies with Nana & Papa under the pine trees.


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Gavin and his Dad

Various stages of the magnificent sunset:

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It was very windy today, thus the wispy clouds.


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A faint rainbow halo arched over the sunset. A beautiful God wink if I've ever seen one!


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Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Nora – 96 Days Old

It’s hard to believe that once it was a major feat to have gone on a walk with Nora up to the mailbox. Gradually as the weeks passed we ventured further and further away from the comfort of the family room. We made it to Nana & Papa’s, then all the way to Aunt Sarah & Uncle Dan’s house almost an hour away. Today we embarked on the unimaginable…

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After an almost 10 hour drive Nora is on her very first vacation in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Island No. 8 in the Les Cheneaux Islands on Lake Huron. This little remote corner of the world is my most favorite place to be. I first visited here when I was just 3 months old – same age as Nora, and just about every year of my life thereafter. Although we no longer stay at the quaint little cottage in the woods that once belonged to my Great Grandmother, it is still just as special. I am over the moon happy that we’ve actually brought Nora up here. My parents are here, as are my sisters and their families, all of us together on our vacation we so greatly enjoy every year. William and I weren’t sure we would be able to come along this year — but HERE WE ARE!!! Gavin and Greta came up a day earlier with everyone else and it was sweet to be reunited with them. Thank you so much, Schmidts for lending us your cottage this year! It’s perfect!

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Nora got to dip her bare little toes in Lake Huron, which was considerably warmer than I’ve ever known it to be. That mattered not to her. It was NOT the warm bath water that she is accustomed to and she was very angry with me. I was given a strict warning never to do that again!!

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That deserved a rest after that whole ordeal!!

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Around 9:00 we made our way back down the pine-lined path to the dock and watched the sun set over the water.

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I was thrilled, but unsurprised to see the 3 geese floating past,”I am with you… I am with you… I am with you…” It was beyond perfect.

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As I stood there by myself at the end of the dock, mesmerized by the 3 geese – I couldn’t help but think of this song:

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
(Joshua 1:9 NIV)