Thursday, March 29, 2018

When They Tell You It's a Mad, Mad World



"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. Let him seek peace ..."  ... 1 Peter 3:8-11 


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Finally I finished this huge book!




It's a compilation of three of Erma Bombeck's books and near the end, oh my. She made one of the boldest statements I'd read from anyone in eons (gasp!). 

My version here is oh-so-condensed--


"Personally, I love Edith Bunker... She's a giver... Edith is at the end of every line ... She would drive Archie to the hospital for a paper cut, but she'd refuse anesthetic for her own surgery if it cost extra. She's one of the last of the vanishing breed of listeners--remember them?

"I don't know many Edith Bunkers. The people I know still wear dark glasses indoors even though they fall over things. They refuse to have people in for dinner until all their dishes match. They are bored, miserable, depressed and unfulfilled because in 1965 Betty Friedan told them they were. (Would Betty lie?)"


Wow. And 50+ years later here we are again. Just as in 1965, we're being told how we should feel, namely--

angry,
combative,
unhappy,
discontented,
afraid,
proud,
disobedient,
overwhelmed,
self-focused,
unholy,
hopeless, 
irreconcilable--

... and more.


Well, if you wish to live that way--go for it. Be well on your journey.

But as for me and my house? Uh, no way. 

We'll be grateful for this life God gave us. 
We'll remind ourselves He can make all things new, including our own attitudes.
We'll seek His ideas, especially eternal ones, not our flip-flopping kind.
We'll ask for His strength, knowing it can keep us standing in dicey places.
And we'll remind ourselves that angry, irreconcilable people no longer think rationally. So we'll choose this--


"... whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."   ... Philippians 4:8


People try to convince me otherwise, but sorry. I'll keep believing 2018 is a wonderful year of possibilities because we still serve a mighty, wonderful God. 

And I just can't shake that.







"Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city." ... Proverbs 16:32




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And what did Erma Bombeck go on to say?


"I have a theory if anything is ever to be resolved with mankind it won't be the Archie Bunkers with the wall-to-wall mouth who will do it... It will be the Edith Bunkers. Their unselfishness, their regard for human feelings,  their patience, their caring and their love of everyone will bring it about."


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"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger... be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to angerfor the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God."   ... Ephesians 4:26, James 1:19-20


"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."  ... Ephesians 6:13







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Oh! And did you know that this week Target has a great deal online where--if you buy $50 worth of groceries--they'll send you a $10 gift card for your next order? Took me awhile to come up with $50 worth of food since I tend to stay stocked up, but over a few days I was able to do it.  πŸ˜‰


Want to hear a beautiful rendition of Fields of Gold? Go here. 


(Tom shared this song with me in an email and I listened to it 4 times. So  lovely! But after arriving home he told me what happened to the young singer. So sad. sigh.)


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Friday, March 23, 2018

The Five Not-Oh-Hum Things



"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows."  Matthew 10: 29-31


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Years ago I noticed something. 

My days felt oh-hum, not exactly memorable, making for hazy, forgettable whole weeks. Not good.

So I began attempting, each day, Mondays through Fridays, to do Five Not-Oh-Hum Things.

What's the criteria for those? They're 1.) activities not appearing on my regular ol' Daily To Do List and 2.) hopefully, they're memorable and/or Moves Me Forward tasks.

You're wondering just what these activities are, right? Well, I'll share some, but only with this caveat: my special Not-Ho-Hum Things--to you-- might sound curiously not-so-special-and-is-she-serious?, like.

😏

Yet we all, though similar in many ways, still are unique and used by God in varied ways, so really, some things just aren't explainable (though boy, do we still try sometimes). 

Anyway, these tasks, below, often appear on my daily Five Not Oh-Hum Things list. They help me, by nightfall (when I count on my fingers), feel that I didn't waste yet another God-gifted day, but rather, added a little spice or kindness or creativity, instead, if I ---


... wrote a blog post.
... fed the birds.
... visited the coffee shop.
... sent an encouraging email.
... called my mom.
... posted an uplifting thing at Facebook.
... visited Sally next door.
... took a walk.
... studied more about health, clothing, cooking, decor, etc.
... worked on our basement.
... walked a bag of cast-offs to the Salvation Army bin.
... did something I'd procrastinated for weeks.
... rearranged a room.
... waved and/or spoke to a neighbor.
... painted or wallpapered something.
... did the ironing.
... improved something in the yard.
... tried a new recipe.
... snail-mailed an uplifting card.
... tried an idea which made home life simpler.
... exercised.
... etc., etc.


May we all cast away the idea that only huge things done by well-known folks, matter. For ours, after all, is a God who counts our hair and knows when even sparrows fall from trees.

So much attention to detail! And what an example that sets for me. Wow.








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“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” 
― Arthur Conan Doyle



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Awhile ago I mentioned that--finally--Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown had been released on dvd. Has anyone watched it yet?

You won't believe me (you just won't), but we taped this from tv waaay back when Naomi was little and over the years, oh my, I've watched it probably 30+ times.

(See? Unbelievable. Told you so.) πŸ˜‰

You know how we can choose a movie/series/episode which mysteriously comforts us just by the watching? Well, Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown is one of mine.

(Makes ya kinda curious to watch it now, right?) heh.


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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Necessity of Your Own Life



I first posted this, below, in 2010 and though I always mean to repost it yearly, often I forget. But it's been on my mind, so here you go-- one of my most important posts, ever, imo.

(And you'll find an update from yesterday at my coffee shop at the end.)




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Ages ago, I chatted with a widow at church, probably 65-years-old, and sweet. We spoke of mornings and I told her I'm usually up before 6:00 a.m.. When I asked if she, too, was an early riser, she nearly gasped, "Oh my, no. That would make my days feel eternal. I try to stay in bed as long as I can."

Oh wow. I could only suck in my breath then change the subject for I felt surprised and sad for her. Her words haunted me while I drove home that afternoon and they haunt me still.

Since then I have watched women lose their husbands either by death or divorce and here's what I've seen: The women who had created another life separate from their husbands, those are the women who survive. Thrive, even. After the initial shock, they do well, smile real smiles and discover other worlds and the people who people them.

But then there are the others. You know, those who clung to their husbands for all their support and encouragement and companionship. Oh, they had outside acquaintances and activities, yes, but no close friendships or passionate interests. Mostly, their spouse was not just the center of their world, but their whole world, period.

No need to draw you pictures of what happened to those women after their losses. You can imagine how they fell down hard, splattered, crumbled, and then needed whole truckloads of Christians to help peel them off the floor of despair.

So today? Today I would tell those of you who are married: Get A Life. You know, a life apart from your spouse, separate from him/her. A nice life, certainly--I mean, hey, I'm not hinting at a secret, tip-toeing-down-alleys-behind-his-back kind of life. Uh, of course not.

But I mean please search-out something you are passionate about. If you're still not sure of God's unique calling made especially for you, now is a marvelous time to discover what He designed you to do. It amazes me how many women don't know what God created them to do! How can we use and refine those gifts/skills to help people if we don't know what they are? 

Even something simple like learning to love your daily rituals is big. Teach yourself to find the joy and peace in drinking your morning coffee, washing your dishes or folding your laundry. Develop good habits like taking walks (staying in shape--it's vital for your new life), deadheading your flowers, reading inspiring books and learning new hobbies and skills each year. Find and keep and tend to good, solid friendships.

Oh, and learn to pay bills and where to go for help with your investments, insurance, home repairs and all that annoying stuff. Do it now while you still have someone to show you how and where to go.

And above all, discover who you are in God and who He is in you. With all your heart, seek to love Him best. Better than anyone else, for He's the only one who, if everyone else fades away, will still be with you. 

Discover and learn and do and be you today--the you apart from your spouse. Learn what you like (and what you don't) and what you do best. And step away from any fear of the new or the future. 

But don't wait for your spouse to join you. No, this has nothing to do with him/her. This is for you, this is for now and this is for later, also.








Not sure what you can do for others?  Go here.


"You are significant. Even alone."        ... Jan Kiemel Ream



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The first time I posted this, Kristi (a widow, herself) left this very insightful comment which I appreciated much:



"One little postscript: When you still have the gift of life on earth, you can always use it to think about and help other people. I think the poor woman in your first paragraph would not have found her days so long if she had involved herself in helping others. I hope she has discovered this by now."



"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them..."   ... Romans 12:6


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And as I shared at Facebook yesterday --


Oh. My. Goodness! Normally at my coffee shop I'll be the only seated customer & maybe two people will stop in for coffee to go, causing me to pray that this business will prosper for all our sakes. πŸ˜ But this morning! At least 17 people came in, the tables were filled and I thanked God for answered prayer while sipping my coffee. πŸ’•☕️




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Monday, March 19, 2018

So How's The Diet Going, You Ask?



“But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries."   ... Exodus 23:22


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So remember that Just Do Better Diet I mentioned earlier?

I love it.

Why? Because, though some people scream otherwise, it's not impossible to choose to do better than you were. With Jesus, we certainly are not helpless, you know.

What's difficult is when we ignore this verse--

"Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.  For we are each responsible for our own conduct."   ... Galations 6:4,5


... and defeat ourselves with Jane Schmane's custom-diet for her. Or we aim to lose 40 pounds in 6 weeks. Or worse, we go all competitive with a bit of ugly in our heart(!)

That's what makes it hard.

Anyway, this winter I'd stopped walking (hey, we had serious ice and who wants to break her leg?), but then the weather warmed and I ventured out and limped, moaned walked around the block 5+ days each week. From beneath my crocheted cap I glimpsed the same ol' houses and felt the usual hip pain and the temptation to crawl the final few steps to my backdoor. 

(But at least my back didn't hurt. This is the same gal who, 2 years ago, walked past Next Door Neighbor Mike's house and had to turn around because of the pain. Eegads.)

Then a couple weeks ago? Just around the block felt too easy. So I added another street, then another, then I changed my route and oh! What a delight to step past houses I'd not memorized already --



So many garages! But also, a kind of cedar chalet vibe above them.





And now I can walk 5 whole blocks. Wow. (And try not to laugh if you easily walk 5 miles. Heh.) I'm aiming for just one and I'll be thrilled if, no, when I get there.

Also, I chose to begin, again, my stretching exercises 4 - 5 days weekly. I kinda-sorta look forward to them, even.

I drink more water.

I'm avoiding my greatest temptation foods, stuff I should never eat when I'm alone. And I tweak things, like, I skip my usual 5:00 a.m. gluten-free bar on the mornings I'll be walking to the coffee shop.

And yes, I'm feeling better, but differently than you may think. 

Mostly I feel great because I'm choosing to do and be better. I'm choosing action rather than laziness--and--I'm not basing how I feel on any loss of pounds or inches. Nope, I've not stepped upon a scale nor wrapped a measuring tape 'round me this past month.

Instead, I'm believing that making better choices will bring a better me--and--choosing godly obedience will prove the best choice of all.






“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.

But sometimes it doesn't.

Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life. 

That is the sort of bravery I must have now.” 





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Usually it's around 27 degrees when I take my walks lately, yet oh! There's that fresh feeling, that slant of Springtime light and tree shadows falling across the ground. How encouraging is that?

Oh and a very special thanks to each of you who wished me a happy birthday!  I had a great, relaxing birthday weekend.





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Friday, March 16, 2018

Of Birthdays And Growing Older


"God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well." .... Voltaire


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So! Ol' Debra has another birthday today and that's ok. Really, it is.

But uh-oh. Next year she'll turn the big 6-0.






Eegads. Me? I'm so close to that number? Well Honey, this is gonna take the next 12 months to come to peace with for this gal. To reach a calm acceptance of that new decade, of this surprised stranger's face when I look into a mirror, will take much introspection and well, mental work.

And oh, I know some of your fingers are poised to send me your happy, happy stories of Life After You Turned 60, but please, uhm, well, no thank-you, ok?

I mean, I believe a person's acceptance of age is so unique, individual and personal, that she must wade through the Acceptance Waters alone, within the deepest rivers of her heart, remembering her youth, letting it go and putting on this new season which, once, loomed so far ahead in future years. 

Well, alone--and with God. Together they, we, must swim through those waters--and only afterward--can we be set upon the high road where our own happy adventures will begin.

At least, that's how I feel. And it's ok, for even now, over on this side of the bank, I realize everything's gonna be all right. All will be settled and upright, not topsy-turvy.

In time.






"One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind."  ... Romans 14:15


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Well, this early morning I got all prettied up, threw on my coat and gloves and braved the 22 blowy-snowy degrees so to walk to my coffee shop. 

First I bought a gift card (more about that later), then hot chocolate and a warm banana muffin and sat at my favorite table near the huge steamy window and read and dreamed and counted the good changes since last March 16th.

Before leaving, I thanked the counter gal for the great food and such a relaxing way to begin my birthday. Her eyes widened and she said, "Oh, happy birthday! If I'd have known, you could've had your drink for free. Would you like to take one to go?"

Wasn't that so sweet of her? But I told her, "Oh no! That's ok. Thanks so much." And it really was ok, for I love doing my financial part in keeping this place going. May it always bake its way into my neighborhood's heart.

Then over the slippery sidewalks, with head bent against tiny pelting snowflakes, I made my way to 7-11. I found a couple bananas and a sandwich then took them to the counter where, after paying, I gave the clerk the coffee shop gift card because hey! It's her birthday, too, today. I'd remembered from two years ago when I'd bought ice cream there for my birthday breakfast (I told her) and she said it was her birthday, also.

Well, she was delighted with the gift card and that I'd remembered and you know? Whatever good also happens on this day, this will be my favorite memory, sharing a gift with a woman who has to work on her birthday, but who will, I hope, do so now a bit more happily.






"Let us never know what old age is. Let us know the happiness time brings, not count the years."   ... Ausonius


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Love this!







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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Where She Comes Out Of The Closet



"But the multitude of your enemies will become like fine dust ... and it will happen instantly, suddenly."   --- Isaiah 29:5




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Before lying down each night I'd gaze around and think, "This is my favorite room I've ever decorated. It delights my heart, even if it is just a closet."

Seriously. Loved that place.

But uh-oh. I almost never spent any daylight hours there anymore. The large windows downstairs pulled me, like a moth, to them, and that's where I'd read, watch tv and use my iPad--with my face almost pressing against window glass, especially during Winter hours.

But my upstairs' closet has no windows. Lamps, yes, but just a 3' by 5' clear, no-stuff-on-it floor space for reading (the ceiling slopes too low for reading in my homemade bed). And it felt like watching tv in a hallway, for it sat outside the door where no windows could be seen, either.

Ol' Debra needs windows--so for the final time--she let go. And came out of the closet. And now it's back to the spacious (16' x 24'), bright, windowed guest room.

And you know? After I moved in my favorite books, dvd's and the tv, changed the sheets and moved out Sammy's large nighttime crate (to the walk-through room, the area nearest the stairs), I felt as though I'd moved to a whole other house.

Suddenly, I felt a new excitement, what with--

A room in which I can walk around!
A place where I can read in an oh-so-comfortable chair!
A room with a window!
And now I have a super cute closet in which I can actually hang and store my clothes. Imagine.

The funny/odd thing? This whole idea came to me just an hour after I told Tom on our way back from having our taxes done (yeah, we know-- old school) that our house is in such a perfect location--let's just try to make it the perfect house for us.

Hmm. The lesson. Like, how acceptance opens avenues I'd have seen no other way. 

What I've noticed lately? Holding onto what's gone, what's over, is like being a bud which never flowers. It's like when we accept sadness or helplessness as a lifestyle, the life-giving sap dries up.

 But with the expectation of faith! God can make all things new and suddenly there's--


Healing
Anticipation
Joy
A fresh attitude 
And blossoming, even in a personal winter, for 'nothing is too hard for the Lord'. Nothing--unless we refuse to move when He does. 

Yet let's not stop, but step ahead in faith, with a hope which doesn't die, even if our prayer, our dream, arrived in a whole different way.

Even then--with God--there is joy unspeakable and full of glory. If we choose a lifestyle of godly anticipation of what He has for us. Even here upon this imperfect planet.




Some day/year I'll actually iron and put on the white bed skirts I bought years ago. sigh.




"And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." ... Hebrews 11:6


Sometimes we must decide do I want to remain in a past I know or do I want to trust God for a bright, yet unknown future?

It's a cinch to anticipate a most perfect Heaven. Anyone can. But the harder thing is to believe God still has much good here for us, with Him, because of Him.





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A project I hope to begin there in my new room? To makeover my current sad little dollhouse, upon a folding table I don't yet have. To totally change its 4 rooms, using this pink and white theme-- 




Does that make anyone else swoon? (Or want to crawl inside and stay?) Oh my.

Gadgetz Overload shared that photo at Facebook, but I've still not seen that dollhouse available at their website. Doesn't matter, though--I'll just be using this photo as inspiration for my current sad little dollhouse.  😊


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Oh, and for years I've collected bookmarks, but what did I normally use to mark my place in books? I'd tear any ol' nearby envelope in pieces or use a dollar bill, rubber band, magazine subscription card, etc., etc. 

But finally I came up with a perfect solution. See the bunny cookie jar (which Naomi gave us) below?





Well, I spend hours at that table reading so I placed lots of bookmarks inside that cookie jar. And now I just remove the bunny's head and grab a bookmark when needed. Easy. (And only took a year to think of this. heh.)


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Tuesday, March 06, 2018

A Little Thing Happened At The Coffee Shop ...



"Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body."  ... Proverbs 16:24


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Way back on last Tuesday I trekked through the snow to our local coffee shop where the young lady behind the counter greeted me with, "And how are you today?" as I removed my coat, draping it across a chair at my usual table, telling her, "Oh, just fine."

Now a teeny, tiny voice within said, "Now ask her how she's doing," (as many times I do), but there I was fidgeting with my coat and gathering my bag with my wallet inside, and everything, and just proceeded to pleasantly, after reaching the counter, ask her for hot chocolate and the orange-berry muffin.

I'm no ogre, after all. Really.

Well, she brought my order to my table and of course I thanked her, then I proceeded to read my books and partake of my breakfast. Later, a bundled-up woman entered the cafe and after Counter Girl asked her how she was, the woman in turn, asked, "And how are you doing?"

Whereas Counter Girl replied, "Oh, I'm doing fine. Thank-you for asking me, though."

Oh my goodness. Right to the heart. 

That's how I felt, a bit sliced, and of course, maybe the young woman hadn't meant to phrase her reply in just that way to convict me--or perhaps she did. Didn't matter, though, because it might as well have been Jesus, Himself, standing there some  feet behind me, saying, "See? You should have asked her, coat-and-bag-placing not withstanding."

Well. I promised God and myself that next time (and forever after) I'd be certain to ask her or anybody,"And how are you?" And still I felt pretty convicted, even after making certain to voice aloud how delicious everything was before leaving, something I nearly always do.

So Friday came and I'd planned another coffee shop trip, but drats. Via Facebook I saw that, because of snow, they'd be closed. Darn, now I'd have to wait even longer to make up for my error. To show God I could do this.  πŸ˜‰ 

Sunday came along, Tom went to work to catch up on some reports and I considered going while he was away. But no. At Facebook, Coffee Shop Folks said due to circumstances,  etc., this day, also, they'd be closed. 

Sigh. More waiting to do the right thing.  Well, I began reading a Christian book on Kindle and of course, what did the author say? Pretty much this: always sincerely ask people how they're doing. Wait, pause so they'll know you care. Or ask even better questions than that.

"Okay! Okay!" I told God, looking up from  my iPad. "I get it, already. I'll definitely go to the coffee shop tomorrow and speak your way."

Of course you know what happened, right? Yep. Via Facebook, "Unfortunately we'll be closed Mondays from now on." 

Oh for Pete's sake. Never ever will I forget this lesson. All the waiting has been rough. 

And finally on this Tuesday morning, as I opened the coffee shop door-- after the young Counter Girl asked me how I was--I quickly asked her, "And how are you?" in a I'd-really-like-to-know tone. Then told her, "Oh, I'm happy you're open again!"

Second chances. Sometimes we get them, sometimes we don't. But fortunately we can teach ourselves to slow down, to pause, lest we plow right over that still, small voice which waits always to direct us toward kindness.








"Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience..."   ... Colossians 3:12


“Conviction is worthless unless it is converted into conduct.” 
― Thomas Carlyle



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That book I was reading? Prophetic Evangelism Made Simple. If you often wonder just how to make a difference in this world, you'll love this one (you don't even need to know what prophetic evangelism means). This is the kind of book I prefer--simply-written, easy to understand, with lots of real-life examples. Very uplifting, highly recommended.






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Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you — not because they are nice, but because you are. 

~Author Unknown






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