Rest

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by Angela

Rest is kind of a foreign concept in our culture now-a-days! Instead I find many people, and especially women, are in a constant place between too busy and never enough. Too busy to even “think about doing this or that”, too busy at work or with the kids. Yet I have sensed that on the other side, they have found that they are never enough. Not a good enough wife or a good enough Mom. Don’t have enough time to clean the house or do what needs doing. Both sides of the too busy yet not enough is stealing our place of rest. We look around to try to measure ourselves. Are we doing more than this person? Are we staying busy enough to prove that I am productive enough to stay home with my kids instead of work? Are we doing as much, or more, with our kids so they get all the same opportunities their friends get? Are we keeping up with the others at work so we can justify our vacation time coming up? It is leaving us in a place of shame and guilt and a constant state of striving. Even when we might have a day off to “rest” we are wondering if we should be doing more work? Or we are catching up from the activities we have chosen to do so that we can keep up with what every one is doing!

Sabatical Pics rezized

The first part of our first sabbatical we spent some time in Hawaii, just the two of us! We had some professional pics taken since we hadn’t had any of just the two of us since our wedding!

Is that just what life is going to look like? Do I just need to get away? Vacation or a trip will solve it? I don’t think so because the time off can’t come often enough. So if you find you are in the place of strife. How can you find rest? I think this story of two sisters will help.

In Luke 10 38-42, Martha invites Jesus into her home. And we find Martha’s sister Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. Martha was fretting about all that needed doing and grumbled to Jesus that her sister wasn’t helping her.  Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen the best thing.  The only place to find you are enough in your busiest days is at the feet of Jesus. Because without Christ we are not enough. I don’t think that Jesus was telling Mary that she should never do anything but sit at His feet. And scripture shows Mary serving with Martha in other places.  Mary had chosen to find her identity and worth at that moment sitting with Jesus. Oh, Jesus loved Mary and Martha too, not for what they do. But because they were His. Because they were enough.

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Our second half of our sabbatical, we spent having some fun and be encouraged by some extended family in PA.

Do you ever wonder about the in-between of scripture? Do you think Mary was talking to Jesus too. It says in Luke 10:39 that Mary was sitting and listening to Jesus teach. Do you think she could have said to Jesus when she sat down, “Jesus, it’s so good to see you. Martha and I have so much to do today. We have to prepare all the food and carry in all the water.  We will be washing the feet of all our visitors and I am feeling tired today. I am wondering if I can get it all done.” Or did she plead a heart’s prayer to Jesus, “With all of what we have to do, help to keep my focus on you Jesus. Show me all that I need to do. I don’t want to do anything more than you are asking, as that leads me to be prideful of all that I CAN do. And help me to nothing less that what you are asking, so that I don’t miss even one opportunity you give for me to do. I can be so selfish.” Did Jesus respond to Mary and teach her, guiding her and showing her that in Him she would find strength for the day and an inner rest and peace that only comes from Him?

Physical rest is a humbling place. It’s vulnerable. It’s a time to be still. Unplug. Not prove anything to anyone. It’s a place that is still and when you can self reflect and examine your heart. Unpack some choices or look to see where you are at in the roads of life. That can make rest a place that at first can feel uncomfortable. Yet, as you begin to sit in and relax at the feet of Jesus, it’s a place where you can share your fears, concerns, joys and failures. And then give a place for Jesus to speak, to guide to teach. Not in an audible voice liked Mary heard. But in a still and quiet voice in your heart, in His Word, through prayers and things He brings to your thoughts.

Newport Sabbatical Resized

Our second sabbatical was at Newport Beach, CA.

In a daily prayer of God show me what you purpose for today, “nothing more than what you are asking” and “nothing less than what you have for me”. 

My family has received a gift of rest this June in the form of a sabbatical. So thankful for our church leaders who value rest!! It is scheduled in for every three years and we will be going on our third sabbatical- coming at just the right time.  June is a time for my hubby especially to get away, to recharge, to plan and prayer and sit at Jesus’s feet. The kids and I get to enjoy that rest as well. I have some books loaded up on my kindle- a couple fun reads, some practical reads. And books that shape and grow me in my business. Bible Studies too- Psalms and Proverbs.  I have my journal and my Bible. I  have my walking shoes packed for some nice long walks.  And we have piled up some favorite family games. We are going to place where we don’t know anyone and have never been.

So as I prepare for this time away, I have been sticking close to my ever growing to do list! And feeling at times like Martha- am I going to get it all ready to go?  It is my prayer for the days during our sabbatical that I will peacefully enjoy the  longer extended time sitting at Jesus’s feet and less hurrying in the day.  Make it your prayer today! No matter where you are and if you have a full schedule or a quiet afternoon. Be enough and find your rest in Jesus!

 

 

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Revelations from Revelation

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by Angela and Laura

Revelation 1:3 promised,
“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near”. 

We were ready, way back in September, when we started this study with Bible Study Fellowship to experience that blessing! To see what this book had in store. The book of Revelation did not let us down.

what a sweet card we received at the end of this year

what a sweet card we received at the end of this year

1. After 20 years I (Angela) returned to teaching the Children in the Preschool Children’s Programs- some of my favorite main truths that the preschoolers learned this year in the Revelation Study :

What God decides is ALWAYS right. God uses hard times to make His people strong. God is Perfect! God calls His people away from sin. God’s Plans always show God’s Glory! And an excerpt from one of the Children Stories states this beautifully “That means when God does something God’s beauty, tenderness, goodness and love are clearly seen in what he He does”

2. Revelation 2:17 states that we will get a new name when we conquer. And Revelation 22:4 says that we will have God’s name on our foreheads. One of the hymns we sang with the children ends with, “Loves me every day the same, even calls me by my name”. Names are personal and intimate and special when called by loved ones.Revelation Hymm and Lesson

3. Jesus knows, intimately knows about me and all that I do for Him even when no one else does. Revelation 2:1 “I know your words, your toil, your patient endurance”, Revelation 2:13, “I know where you dwell”. Revelation 2:19, “I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance”. Revelation 3:8, “I know that you have but little power and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.”

4. Jesus is the enthroned King of the Universe, with a mighty sword and power to throw all evil away forever.  I, (Laura) don’t believe I’ve ever seen Jesus as he truly is.  Whenever I read about him in scripture I must have been so accustomed to his humanely form.  

But, he was so confined in that body!  Jesus was riding on a donkey on earth and then he rides a white horse down from heaven.  Jesus tells Satan to get behind him on earth, and Jesus throws Satan into the lake of burning suffer in Revelation. Jesus has a crown of thorns pressed down upon him on earth and now he is crowned the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 

BSF lessons are broken up into six days of at home study for us to bring to talk about in small groups on our Class Days.

BSF lessons are broken up into six days of at home study for us to bring to talk about in small groups on our Class Days.

5.Revelation was also a comfort to me and THAT was unexpected.  There are beasts with numerous heads, a great prostitute, and huge catastrophes that kill masses of people.  But, through all of those warnings, judgements, and evil, we saw God was never absent and never uncaring.  

This was a timely lesson for me as I watched the uncertainty surrounding the presidential candidacy this year.  But, through Revelation I watched as Christians were not allowed to worship, not allowed to shop, not allowed freedoms as the world prepares for the final judgement.  This occurs today-I just happen to live in a country where I can be a comfortable Christian.  

So, with the election year in mind, I am still very concerned about America’s future, but I am no longer in fear.  I know that the ushering in of evil is also the quickening of Jesus. 

Heaven Necklace in hand Resized

The Premier Designs Heaven Necklace showcased the verses in Revelation 21:18-22 perfectly

And in case we had forgotten, at the end of Revelation, Jesus words remind us “Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book” Revelation 22:7.

Ah yes! Blessed many times over! There were many speculations leading into the study. It might be scary. It wasn’t. But the judgement was serious and sin is not to be taken lightly. We thought the study would give time lines and answers on End Times. Nope, no dates. It gave lots to think on and ponder.

The spot light focus was always on Jesus, the King of Kings. There might be a depressing study about the beast, hell, and the devil, but the Hope of Heaven shined even brighter!! Did you know, “We will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light” (Revelation 22:5)

Ephesians 6:17 says that the word of God is the Sword of the Spirit. It takes hours of practice to learn how to handle a sword. We have been blessed in this study to have learned how to better handle this part of the sword. It will give us new technique and knowledge in our handling of other parts of His Word.

So, take up your sword this summer.  Plan out a book of the Bible, a study book, or a bible reading app on your phone so that your sword will not get rusty this summer.  If you have never read Revelation, we promise, God promises, the reader will be blessed.  

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How to have a Delightful Mother’s Day

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by Angela and Laura

Mother’s Day: an entire day devoted to honoring, rewarding, and reflecting on your role as an Amazing Mother, right? For many people the evening of Mother’s Day comes, and because of unmet expectations, there’s disappointment, argument, tears, and frustration in place of satisfaction and love. Who even came up with this holiday?

History

The history of Mother’s Day is kind of incredible, considering what it is today.

The American Mother’s Day goes back before the Civil War (1860’s).  Ann Jarvis helped start “Mother’s Day Work Clubs” to instruct local women to care for their children.  She also established “Mother’s Friendship Day” to reunite families divided by the war.  In the meantime other women were calling for mother’s days for various reasons: to promote world peace, to have a day for mothers and children to spend together, and a day to send penny postcards home.

Mother’s Day became official in the 1900s because of Anna Jarvis, the daughter of the aforementioned Ann Jarvis.  Anna thought there should be a day to honor the sacrifices mothers make on behalf of their children.  In May of 1908, one year after her own mother’s death, she launched the first Mother’s Day at a church and retail store in West Virginia.  Anna’s desire was that families would celebrate by attending church, visiting their mothers and wearing a white carnation, (Anna’s mother’s favorite flower).

Laura, her mama, and her baby.

Laura, her mama, and her baby.

After Mother’s Day became a national holiday the florists, card companies, and other business wanted to commercialize on the popularity.  Anna was disheartened and by 1920 she was so disgusted with the holiday that she denounced it, calling for people to stop purchases for Mother’s Day.  She hated that people used the name “Mother’s Day” for such commercial gains.  Eventually she lobbied to remove the holiday from the calendar.

Fascinating right?

Present Day Expectations and Reality

The magazines, movies, blogs, and social media posts would lead us to believe that anything less than royal treatment for mamas is insulting. They put bold font on you deserve nothing less.

Saturday night you can almost picture the following day! What better way to celebrate than starting the day off with a little sleeping in, followed by some breakfast in bed. You arrive into the main house to see your children all dressed and ready for the day, the house sparkling clean, and the kitchen immaculate.  Your husband hands you a gift certificate to the massage parlor and the car keys, and says, “take all the time that you need-I’ve got dinner under control”.

BUT

Kids often miss the memo that this is a day they are supposed to keep the house clean, not need anything extra, not argue with their siblings, sit sweetly and take an extra long nap! Husbands who work shifts might have to work on Mother’s Day, or your husband is a pastor and works EVERY Mother’s Day. Your kids get sick. Family get-togethers are stressful. What happens when you are feeling more discouraged then celebrated? This was not what you had in mind!

First time Mom Pic 2

Angela as a new Mom!

How  to Fight Discouragement for Delight

Put your trust into the Lord for your identity and contentment in your role of motherhood. He is best at understanding our disappointments, fears and worries, joys and even Mom guilt. He knows that mothering is a job with a LOT of responsibilities and emotions! He will give rest at the exact moment we need it. He sees the daily sacrifices that are made when no one else does.

So, Mother’s Day morning, pray and sit quietly for a few minutes sharing your heart and listening to His gentle response to you.

Zephaniah 3 :17 “The Lord your God is in your midst. A mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with delight; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing”.

Be gracious to your husband. Communicate to him what your expectations are and work out an achievable, (this the key word) plan for the day and  for your Mother’s Day gift. Whether you keep it simple, or plan something you have been wanting to do for awhile- talk through it together. Thank your hubby for the efforts he puts into making you feel special. Even if it’s a small step. Communicate what he did right and good! Men like to be told what they did right, not being put down for not doing something good enough. Be careful not to make him feel inadequate or like a failure.

little Laura and her mama

little Laura and her mama

Keep in mind that the photos on Facebook and Instagram are just moments and not the whole of your friend’s day. If your Mother’s Day afternoon consists of kids crying, be careful not to jump to conclusions that all is happy and fairy tale land in every other home but yours!

What COULD you do

Reflect on your past year as a mother. Write down times you have cherished, times you have wept, where you’ve improved, where you can still grow.

Enjoy your children exactly where they are at today. Don’t compare them to others or wish they were younger or older than they are. Be reminded that at every age and stage there are things you will love and things you will be glad will pass. They are growing and learning. You are growing and learning.

Mom with Josiah 2

Love them at every age and every stage!

Help your friend who is a single Mom and take her kids shopping to pick out a gift to give their Mom. Invite other families who don’t have relatives in town to share in a meal or dessert to celebrate together! Write a card or  text a special women in your life who has encouraged you like a Mother would or inspired you in your role as Mom.

Remember that YOU have a mom too.  Send her a card, even if it will get there late.  Call her and remind her of a way you are thankful for her sacrifice.

As you fight for delight and not discouragement this Mother’s Day, be a thankful representative of Motherhood to your family, your friends, and even your social media.  We wish you a delightful day Mothers! We love you and are with you!!

 

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Malachi’s Birth Story and Dedication

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by Laura

Three years ago on a Wednesday morning, I started a very quick labor to meet our second child, and yesterday we celebrated his third birthday and dedication!

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Praying for our parenting, and for Malachi’s life.

Rewind three years: I had gotten up for a 4:00a.m. pregnancy bathroom trip and my water broke!  The night before, I had gone to bed with countable contractions and luckily had slept well, but as soon as my water broke I was in full on labor.  As a military spouse, I needed to call the base labor and delivery to see if they had enough room for me to birth there, or else I would be routed to the nearest hospital.

As I waited on HOLD for 20 minutes with the base, my contractions quickened to 3-4 minutes apart and I couldn’t believe I was not on the way to the hospital.  Eric was trying desperately to call our on-call child care for Eva at the same time.  Thankfully the base dispatcher had taken me off hold and I told her, I don’t even think I’ll make it on base, (30 minute drive) before I have this baby!  She told me to go ahead and go to a civilian hospital, Eric had just connected with our friends, and we quickly moved to the car.

I could barely speak as we dropped off Eva, (Thank you Branco’s) and drove another 15 minutes to the closest hospital.  I called one of my friends VERY EARLY, and asked her if she could come take pictures.  She did! (Thank you Tricia).

As we pulled in to the ER I felt my first push contraction.  Eric walked me up to the ER desk and I said, “I just had my first push contraction, speed me up to L&D NOW”.  He plopped me gently lowered me, in a wheelchair and up I went.

Because I could walk, and speak a bit, the L&D nurses thought I wasn’t very close.  I kept telling them over and over they needed to check me and that I had a push contraction.  FINALLY, they checked me and said, “you’re a 9”!  TOLD YOU!  People started running and moving fast and I was finally able to push a few minutes later.  In between every push the admittance woman asked me my name, my mother’s maiden name, my SSN…It was hysterical trying to get admitted and deliver a baby simultaneously.  But, it was a GREAT distraction.

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Hello you!

We had decided to wait to see if baby was a boy or girl and so I was SO excited for Eric to announce the gender!  Then, just 2 hours after my baby wake up call, Eric announced we had a son!

Just stared all day. Also notice the starbucks, and skype. I hope you have people in your life that bring you real food right after you have a baby.

Just stared all day. Also notice the starbucks, and skype. I hope you have people in your life that bring you real food right after you have a baby.

I couldn’t believe he was a boy, this wriggly, warm little person was a boy!  He was so sweet, and when he looked at me all wrapped up in his blanket, I could see dimples in his cheeks AND his chin.

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Eric was over the MOON.

We named him Malachi Piper.  Malachi after the prophet in the Bible; his name means, “my messenger”. Our prayer is that he will be a message bearer to his generation.  Piper is after a modern day pastor that both Eric and I admire, have been shaped by, and hope Malachi might aspire to learn from as well one day.  If you haven’t heard or read John Piper we think you will learn much from his delivery of God’s word.

She couldn't believe it.

She couldn’t believe it.

Eva came to meet her new baby “brover”.  She said, “he is little”, and, “Oh! he has a fire truck shirt on”.  It was the most precious thing.

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So, this Saturday, we gathered with friends, family, and neighbors while we had a birthday party and dedicated Malachi to the Lord.

Eric and I loved the personalized nature of his dedication, and are thankful we had time to think about what we wanted to commit to, and write our own vows to him.

Eric gets emotional every time he does stuff like this. He cries and then he laughs because he's crying, and I can't help but crack up.

Eric gets emotional every time he does stuff like this. He cries and then he laughs because he’s crying, and I can’t help but crack up.

This is what Eric wrote for our guests:

“Our purpose this morning is to have a private dedication for Malachi, like what is often done in church with newborn babies.  I want to communicate to you that we do not intend by this dedication to somehow bring Malachi to salvation; we believe that requires the work of God in Malachi’s heart when he is old enough to understand the full meaning of following Christ, when God brings him to confess with his mouth and believe in his heart that Jesus is Lord. 

What Laura and I do want to do today is to make a public statement of our intention to train Malachi in God’s ways, to bring him up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, to lead him towards a lifelong commitment to loving and obeying God.  We want this because we believe that Jesus is THE way and the truth and the life, and we want more than anything to pass this faith on to Evangeline and Malachi.

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We wanted you all to be a part of this for two reasons.  First, we want you to be aware of our intent as parents, so that you can hold us accountable to it, and so that you can encourage us when we need it.  Please pray for us as often as you remember this event and think of our family, that Laura and I would depend on God each day to be godly parents and to faithfully continue in training up Eva and Malachi with all God’s strength.  

Secondly, we know that you all will have varying degrees of impact on Malachi’s life.  We know that it is only by the work of the Holy Spirit that God will soften Malachi’s heart, and we also know that God can use Malachi’s interaction with you, in big and small ways, to gradually call him into God’s kingdom.  We want you to know how much we appreciate the ways that you can and will impress God’s truth into Malachi’s heart as he grows up.”

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Then, our friend Ben, charged us with these questions: 

“Do you accept Malachi into your loving care along with the responsibility to raise him up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord, to share with him the good news of Christ, to help him learn God’s ways, and to lead him in service to God and others?

Do you promise to remain faithful in love to Malachi, whatever the future may bring?

Do you promise before God and this community to fashion your lives so that Malachi may come to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

Do you promise to lead your family in worship at home and to pray for Malachi regularly?”

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We answered,  “We will with the help of God!”  Eric and I are determined to give parenting our everything, we often fail, and feel like we might mess up our kids, but, we just pray that there would be grace from them, and they would hold onto our family moments that they can cherish.

We love our little Malachi and are thankful every day for him.

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Discussion at the Table…with Kids

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by Laura

Trying to have a conversation at the dinner table is HARD work for two reasons.

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Frosting our cookies after dinner.

1. We are just trying to PUT THE FOOD IN THE MOUTH.

Who cares about talking when there are kids who don’t want to eat, need their food cut, need more milk from the fridge, need a napkin, need us to “Airplane Spoon” their food into their mouths…

We’re tired from the day, and our energy, patience, and good parenting ideas are rapidly coming to a close.  Sometimes my team-mate husband and I are just trying to “get through” with our dignity in tact.

2. We are fighting with modernity.

Today, we text, message, and inbox.  I am guilty of being out of practice with listening, speaking responsively, and making quality conversation especially with our family.

Hard to talk to Grandpa when your baby wants kisses!!!

Hard to talk to Grandpa when your baby wants kisses!!!

I have definitely experienced the draw toward friendships that center around black and white words.  Texting is easier, I can communicate when I have time, when I feel like it, and in short blurts.

But to engage, to invite, to put the phone down, to walk away from Facebook Messenger; it is there that I can see three-dimensional smiles on my kids faces when we laugh together. I am available for a welcome home hug to my husband.

So, what are some things we CAN do at the dinner table to encourage conversation.

Start Talking!  About anything, everything!  When Eric and I realized our table conversation was pretty non-existent it took us a while to get good at it again. Our first attempts at conversation were a little rough, but we kept going.

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A wonderful meal in San Diego!

Eric and I start the conversation between him and I.  This makes us feel united, like it’s him and I together. Whatever might be going on food wise doesn’t get to rob us of our relationship.

Eric and I normally start with giving a few quick recaps from the day.  If I just go from beginning to end of my day: that’s a great start.  It might sound silly, but that’s all I could do mentally for a while-recite facts and information.

My brain can now handle a little more, so we sometimes discuss current events, talk about what we’re reading, or talk about plans for our future.  That is more of the fun stuff we talked about when we were dating!

Our kids are expected to be good listeners and not interrupt. While Eric and I are talking, we try to do it in short bursts and give the kids time to interject so we don’t try their patience while they’re listening.

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All my loves.

As for leading the kids to share about their days, it goes better when I comment, not question.  For instance, if I say, “Eva tell Daddy what you made in art at Pre-School”. She will freeze up and not say anything.  But, if I lead with a comment about Eva’s art at preschool and stop talking, she will usually pick up the conversation ball and tell us everything.

It is amazing what a change has taken place at our table.  When Eric and I are less focused on the bites going into the kids mouths and talk about our days, we look down and see our children have been eating well while they are listening to us.  That was an unexpected, but wonderful benefit!

We also didn’t expect that we would be teaching our children about communication and that they would be better communicators through our modeling.  We are also setting up an expectation in their minds of what good speaking and good listening looks like and we HOPE that carries into their dating years.

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Chat Pack!

For school-aged children all the way up to high school we think lead off questions are a wonderful idea.  Angela used these Chat Pack for Kids and loved them.  Our family also likes the un-game,  there are many different versions to choose from.

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The ungame was a staple growing up and my family uses it now.

I think the main thing is to try. Try to have a conversation, even when you are interrupted 50 times, even when you haven’t had a proper conversation with your husband in a few years, even when someone at your table looks down at phone alerts and moves their thumbs instead of their tongue at your table.

Try to win back the art of a good conversation.  IF you make your table a place where your children feel listened to and loved they will bring their friends home to YOUR table instead of going somewhere else to eat.  IF you make your table a place where you can dream of a new deck and a kitchen renovation you will feel excited even if they are never built.  IF you make your table a place where your husband sees your face light up when he tells you he did well at a work project, he will love and cherish that dinner table.

May your food be delicious, but my friend, may your conversation be SO DELIGHTFUL.

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