The One About the Finger Injury, Birthing Goats, and Green Yarn

My Cousin is one of the most fascinating and beautiful folks I know.

Wait.  Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

So Saturday night, after a lovely afternoon of painting and then a massive trip to the grocery store, I came home to unload and start supper.  I wasn’t doing the best I could do, and I cut my finger.  No blame anywhere except myself.  I was tired, I wasn’t paying attention and slice–right through my left ring finger on the side up near the nail.

Bleeding. For days.

Okay.  I exaggerate.  Slightly.

It bled for an hour.  Which can seem like an eternity when it’s your blood.  I put ice and pressure on it and every single time I checked it, it started right back to flowing forth.

Anxiety Girl came and sat down on the couch with me where I sat trying to stop the bleeding and keep my finger elevated.  She shook her head at me, and then she whispered, “So you think this could finally be IT?  I mean, that’s a lot of blood coming out of there.  You might even need stitches.  You probably are feeling a bit woozy, light-headed, huh?”

And you know what?  She was RIGHT.  I was feeling dizzy.  Just how much blood had I lost? Could you lose too much blood through a finger cut?

I finally did what I’ve done for close to three years now.

Without my Mama to talk me down and tell me what to do, I called my Cousin, because she’s all about the healing.  She knows all the things.  When she didn’t answer, I called my Aunt.  Because she knows just how many “poor babies” I need in any given situation, and she has met Anxiety Girl, and she is all about the healing things too.

We assessed the situation and realized that while I didn’t have the perfect remedies here, I did have a *fingers crossed* suitable substitute.  At least until I could talk to my Cousin.  So I applied the cream I had here and covered it with a bandaid and thought all the positive thoughts.

Okay, mostly positive thoughts.  I was still worried.  A bit.

Okay, a lot.

But that Anxiety Girl–she’s a persistent one.  It’s hard to shake her.

It was then that my Cousin called back.

She said the cream could maybe help, but that applying cayenne pepper to the cut would stop the bleeding very quickly.  “It will sting,” she said. “But it will do the job.”

Well, doing the job was what I was worried about.  Stinging I figured I could handle.  I was raised with that one bottle of Mercurochrome at my Granny’s, so I know stinging.

Aub stood by with the bottle of cayenne pepper, a little too eager for my comfort level, but she insisted she was only trying to help.  I unwrapped the bandage and lo and behold–no blood!

Hallelujah.  That cayenne pepper is so good it worked metaphysically.

My Cousin and I celebrated over the phone, and I thanked her.  She is such a blessing to all of us, and I hope she knows that.  As we talked, she apologized for not getting the call when I first tried to call her.  She had been out checking her very pregnant Mama Goat.  She said it looked like it could be another little bit before Mama gives birth.  She just hopes the birth won’t happen on one of these nights with the lows in the 20’s.

My mouth dropped open.  “You are one of the most fascinating creatures God ever created,” I told her, and I meant every word.  She is.  And she’s funny and clever and kind too.

She and I are each working on a temperature blanket for 2016.  We will crochet a Granny stripe each day with the color based on the high temperature of the day.  We planned out our original colors, but the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t like the true green with the other colors we chose.  I stayed up late into the night worrying over it a couple of nights ago.

My Cousin stays up late worrying over birthing goats.

Ahem.

I owe her this.

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An epilogue to the story:

Due to all the injuries, both real and imagined, that happen around here and with our neighborfriends, we were nearly out of bandaids here at the house. This sent me into mini-panic mode Saturday night, as I knew I needed a band-aid to hold my wound together–at least until it started healing on its own.

The next morning Aub and I went to the Getting Place, and I went straight to the bandage section.  I found all kinds of neat things to wrap around my wound–er, ahem, I mean–cut.  As Justin Case handed me several different packages including finger “covers,” Aub shook her head and said, “Mama!  You’re going to wind up spending $100 on band-aids and bandages.”  She sounded more than a little exasperated and very near to being fully incensed.

I held my finger up high for any and all around to see, and I announced a little louder than usual, “I have injured my finger.  Do not judge.”  And I added a pack of Star Wars band-aids to my cart for good measure.

Because Star Wars.  And if you have to wear them, why not wear ones that are cool and make you happy?

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I hurt my lil’ ol’ finger, y’all.  

Tonight I’m thankful for the ones who are here who take my calls.  Or call me back.  Either way.  The ones who put up with my silly woes and worries and help me heal.  Not just my finger, but my heart and soul–the little bits of me that miss the way my Mama would tell me in that way she had that “it will either get better or it will get worse–and then you’ll know.”  She usually followed up that statement with words that let me know she fully expected “it”–whatever it was–would get better.  Just give it time.

Wishing you all folks in your posse who love you and have all the best healing powers.  And I wish you matching yarn and plenty of band-aids–whatever your favorites are.  Because sometimes it’s the little things that ease your spirit.

Love to all.

***oh and I’m thankful I didn’t have to actually use the cayenne pepper this time around***  But NOW I know…..

 

 

 

 

Goodness…..one Cup at a Time

You might remember me sharing about a coffee shop in our community where all kinds of good things are happening.  This is where my children have grown up playing and laughing and making good friends.  We have met some of our best friends in that space.  At one time or another I and my oldest have sought and found sanctuary there.  It’s a place of peace and a community of bright, vivid lives whose stories become intertwined once they walk through the door.

It’s a little bigger than most coffee shops, because it was never meant to be just a coffee shop.  It was designed to be a meeting place, a place to form and build relationships–ones that would celebrate your joys with you and hold you in times of sorrow.  I have experienced all of that with the people of Bare Bulb Coffee.

This past week the Board of Bare Bulb Coffee made a difficult decision.  If the folks who love and support this coffee shop are not able to raise $60,000 by January 31, the shop will close.

The expenses for running a coffee shop like this, with the missions and focus on relationships are a little higher than usual, because of the larger space.  Not everyone who enters its doors purchases a menu item, which is okay.  Some come to be with friends, study, learn to knit, play a game with their daughter, or just sit in the place that so many of us call home.  Some days the cash register reflects the good that has gone on.  Other days not so much. But good has happened nonetheless. The money that all are hoping to raise will go towards operating funds for the coming year and to hire a top-notch manager who will take the shop to another level businesswise.

This has been a big part of my week.  Working with other folks for whom this matters greatly.  Inviting our community into this project of saving the shop from closing.  Listening to precious stories of people who met their spouses at the shop, children who leave Mom a note thanking her for taking them to Bare Bulb, folks who have written or studied or created while sitting in the little shop on the corner.  Every one has been dear to me and has been imprinted on my heart.  My favorite little place is loved by so many for so many different reasons.

My Mama used to say, “If you don’t ask, you don’t know.”

And so we asked.  We told the story of our hardship to the Bare Bulb and local communities.  And we asked for help.

And oh my heart.

People have jumped to act.  So many have said NO, not on my watch–the light will not end.  People are offering to have benefit concerts, to donate portions of their sales towards keeping Bare Bulb open, to donating to a shop-saving fund, to giving items and services for a Silent Auction to raise money for the Bulb.

And we only announced this three days ago.

Incredible.

We’ve even had folks emailing us, offering their hearts and time to do whatever is necessary to keep the light of Bare Bulb Coffee open.

Y’all.  For the love.

In the midst of another hard week filled with hard stories, I have been amazed and thankful beyond words for the compassion and encouragement and unwavering faith of people I’ve never met for whom this place is just as important as it is to me.  The light of Bare Bulb Coffee has shone brightly and lives have been changed by the relationships and community there.

It’s a new model–this blend of mission and business and community and space and selling and making of the coffee and pastries and frozen hot chocolate.  We have learned as we have gone along.  There are things we can look back and say we should’ve or shouldn’t have and in the end, one thing stands–this place matters, it matters to a whole lot of folks.  And if the ones who are speaking up now with love and generosity and kindness and faith have anything to say about it, it will continue to touch and change lives for many more years to come.

If you are interested in following along, you can like our Save the Bulb page on Facebook or follow us on Instagram at savethebulb.  We have a Generosity.com crowdfunding campaign here.  There’s a great video there that tells more about all the light that shines out of our non-profit, missional coffeehouse…..one cup at a time.

Wishing you all a wonderful place to call home with a community who believes and empowers and loves.

Love to all.

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http://www.barebulbcoffee.org Great Coffee, Cool Mission

Time to Close a Tab

The first time I figured out how to open more than one tab on my computer I thought that was pretty much amazing.  That I could jump back and forth between two things or two screens was mind-boggling.  Keep in mind that in college I did my research from real books and periodicals, and we had microfiche machines, and I printed my papers out on a dot-matrix printer and tore the edges off after.

Multiple tabs.  Yes.

It has come in handy when I’m writing.  I wonder about a detail or something, jump to the top, click new tab, look it up and come right back to writing.  No saving, closing, switching, closing, reopening…..EASY.  FAST.  EFFICIENT.

However, I have noticed that when I get slack about closing out all the tabs (confession, I have ten open right now–true story, I’m not proud of it, don’t judge), my computer gets sluggish.  Sometimes a little spinning wheel comes out, and my IT specialist aka college junior tells me that. Is. Not. Good.

And so I usually will close a tab or two to see if it appeases the little spinny wheel.  But it is rare that I close out of all of them deliberately.  I am loath to give up all that information.  All that ease and all of those tabs.

Tonight it occurred to me as the wheel started spinning again (yes, okay, I’ll close a couple of more), that this is my life.  Maybe it’s yours too.  I open up way too many tabs–I have too many irons in the fire–too many things going on, and I start spinning my wheels.  And I’m good at none of them.  If I focus on this one, I am distracted by that one, or something comes through on another one that I need to address.

It’s all just too much.

One of my Mama’s favorite lines to quote to us growing up was from M*A*S*H.  Charles Emerson Winchester the Third, who was played by David Ogden Stiers, told Hawkeye and BJ in one episode, “Gentlemen.  I do one thing at a time.  I do it very well.  And then I move on.”

Yeah, she loved to quote that one.  Most of the time it had to with our chores–dusting, cleaning the bathroom, folding clothes.  Focus.  One thing at a time.

But it holds true for me today.  With too many tabs open.  With too many things I’ve said yes to.  It is impossible to do any of it very well if we’ve taken on all the things.

And unfortunately, in real life, there is no spinning wheel with all its pretty colors to warn us to let go of something.  We often don’t find out until it’s too late.

Tonight I’m thankful for the wheel and for my Mama’s words.  Tonight as I watched that wheel spinning, it felt like Mama was speaking those words all over again. To me.  Right now.  I’m going to take that to heart.  I’m no good to anybody if I can’t move for being overwhelmed.  Because that’s pretty much what happens when that wheel starts spinning.  You can’t do anything.  Frozen.  Paralyzed.  No good to anybody.

Let’s make this a day of letting go.  Of something.  Of closing some tabs or even just one.  Of creating margins in our life, so that good things can come and land.  A day of letting go so we can just be and watch the sun set or listen to the birds (“They sound like the jungle now that Fall is here,” Cooter says)…..or share a cup of coffee with a friend.

Go ahead.  Consider me to be your spinning wheel.  Close a tab.

And may all the good things follow.

Love to all.

Passing Down the Grace

Today I picked up the book 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R. J. Palacio and thumbed through it for a minute.  This quote jumped out at me:

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These words made me think of my parents.  While I know they weren’t perfect, and I’m sure this wasn’t always the case, when I knew them, they were wise.  Some of the wisest folks I knew.  And as I got older, their wisdom (it couldn’t have been my perspective, right?) only grew.

And yet, I like this quote.  A lot.  It gives me the grace to take my own path, to trek in places that my folks never went and might never have wanted to go–and yet, their lessons about being good stewards of our world and all what inhabit it, their lessons about loving one another, about kindness and respect and giving–all of those things they sought and sought to teach us, they are in my knapsack as I make my own way.

seeking what they sought
but in my own way

With these words, Bashō-san, a 17th century Japanese poet, gives me the grace I have long looked for.  That I don’t have to do everything just as Mama and Daddy did, as long as I keep the big picture in mind.  I can remember what they taught me and what they were seeking…..and head out thataway.  On my own path.

Grace.  I am not my parents.  But I can honor them with how I live, even if it looks different from what they might have chosen.

Today I was “mother henning” my oldest–pecking and pushing and making all the suggestions about how she should handle this or that.  As I was typing my next message, wanting to “suggest” one last thing to her, I wrote, “And while I am mothering you…..”

only the word police, also known as Ms. AutoCorrect, not only didn’t like my word choice, she knew better.  She knows me and she knows my girl, apparently, because, in the words of the young folks, I got served.

AutoCorrect changed it to “And while I am not being you…..”

Ahem.  Well.  AC, you can just drop the mic and walk away, because what you said…..

truth.

I hear you.  I get it.

I am not being my girl.

And she is not being me.

And that is a beautiful and wonderful and magnificent thing.  That we can all be different and yet have some of the same things on our hearts–that we can live those things out in different ways, on different paths, with different styles and dreams and plans for reaching the same goal.  That is really good stuff.

Peace.  Kindness.  Love.  Justice.  Mercy.  Compassion.  Laughter.  Joy.

All the good things.  With so many paths to find it.  And so many ways to show it.

All the love.

Tonight I am thankful for a message that came to me not once but twice today.  And I’m thankful that when I was given this grace, I was reminded to pass it on to my own fabulous daughter who is no longer a child, but a young adult–filled with her own dreams and goals and beliefs and her own plans for seeking many of the same things I’ve been going after all these years.

Just looks a little different, that’s all.

And that is absolutely, slap dab, downright wonderful.

Somehow it makes this journey a little easier knowing that.  We can do it together–we just don’t have to be each other while doing it.

May you find the message of grace you need today in a book or billboard or in your very own heart.  Or maybe even in AutoCorrect.  It can happen.

Love to all.

shelling peas

sitting down with a bowl full of unshelled peas
still warm from the sun
the white enamel pan cool
on my lap
filled to the brim with a whole mess of them

my fingers move with the same motions
memorized by the hands of my people
zipping them open
and dropping the peas down into the pan

the plink plink plink plays the background tune
to the stories shared or watched
as we sit under the fan
thankful for a reason to sit
out of the hot summer sun for a while

we gather and
many hands make light work,
as my Mama used to say

as the pile of purple goes down
with the sun
the peas collect and promise
a good meal soon

the feel of summer
pea hulls in the hands
the smell of summer
their earthiness full of the gift of the land

and the one who grew them
and picked them
sharing his bounty

I smile, remembering precious moments
shelling peas with the ones I love
who taught me how

and now I take the little fingers entrusted to me
and I show them how to unzip
and shell
and look
just in case there’s a bad one in the bunch

they laugh and giggle
and I hope it will always be so
folks shelling peas
and giving thanks for what they have

and laughter
on porches
and summer sunsets
kissed by an evening breeze

and a pot of fresh-picked peas on the stove

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Looking for Love

This morning pretty much every single one of us got up on the wrong side of the bed.  You name it, it was frustrating us.  Whine was the flavor of the day for everyone, including me.

I walked outside to take Miss Sophie for her morning walk, and I felt the need to stay out in the heat and the sun a few minutes longer.  I didn’t like anyone, including me.  I found myself looking for someone to be angry with, and my parents came to mind.

Because they aren’t here.

Sometimes emotions make no sense, y’all.

I was immediately ashamed of those emotions and chastised myself for being angry with people I love, who had to leave this world through no fault of their own.  My heart was immediately trying to make up for where my mind had gone, and I was overwhelmed with the love I feel for them–the people who taught me better than to walk around angry like this.

And then I saw it.

A heart with wings on the fence that Miss Sophie and I walked by this morning.

A heart with wings on the fence that Miss Sophie and I walked by this morning.

The heart.  The heart with wings.

This. This was no coincidence.  I was taught to love and carry love with me everywhere.  To give it wings.

The thing is that just because someone does something well, it does not mean that doing it is easy.  Quite the contrary sometimes.  Like my oldest, she is very good at school.  Some parts of it ARE easier for her than for others, but the truth is that she applies herself and she works hard when she needs to.  Her grades and success are because of her efforts.  My Uncle is good at gardening.  He winds up with such a bountiful harvest, and for that we are all very thankful, but it is in NO WAY easy.  He’s good at it–I hope he enjoys it.  But he works very hard at it.  Sowing and reaping and everything in between.  My Cousin makes eating right and taking care of herself and her family a priority.  She does it, and she does it well.  This is not something she learned just through reading books and websites or the backs of essential oil bottles.  She learned it the hard way.  Through living it, because she had to–for the sake of her own health.  Her wisdom and knowledge that she shares is hard come by.  And yet, she’s always gracious and generous and encouraging with all that she knows.

My Mama was good at loving folks.  She could find something lovable in pretty much everybody.

But I am realizing as time passes that it must have been hard at times too.  Just because she made it look so easy, doesn’t it mean that it always was.  I wish I could tell her thank you for loving me all the times when I wasn’t very lovable.

There is grace in knowing it wasn’t easy for her.  That gives me hope.  I want to love like she did.  Each day, though, I find myself struggling.  I am trucking along, all loving and kind and trying to be helpful and then {BAM}, I have this emotion of not liking someone.  The realization eventually comes that the dislike is more about me than them.  I usually need to get my heart in order.  The emotions that are counterproductive in my efforts to love can be anything from jealousy to fear to insecurity to misunderstanding.  Love has so many emotions that are out to get rid of it.

And lots of times they are easier to feel.

Love.  It’s something to work at.  Takes effort.  Focus.  Concentration.  Sure, sometimes the warm fuzzies bubble up and LOVE IS IN THE AIR.  But love was never intended to be fickle.  Or one-dimensional.  Or judgmental.  Love was meant to be all-encompassing.  Through thick and thin.  Good and bad.

And that takes some doing.

I have often thought that I would like to be thought of as a noted authority.  On something.  I mean, I’ve been on this journey for a while now.  Surely I have learned enough about at least one thing to where I can speak intelligently about it.

Or not.  And so I read.  And listen.  And watch.  And upon reflection, after watching people who are really, really good at loving folks and make it seem so easy–I’ve noticed something.  They also seem to have a peace that passes understanding.  I decided maybe I want to be a master at love.  Like my Mama. And the others who are good at it.

But first I am an apprentice.

And so I look to those around me.  Those who love.  And love well.  Or love hard.  They work at it.  Like with me, some days are better than others.  But each day these folks I look up to make a conscious effort to love, even when every fiber of their body says otherwise.

They love by reaching out.  They send messages or make phone calls.  Just to “see how you are doing.”  And they listen.  Sometimes for hours.  Or they text back and forth until the anxiety eases.  They are patient.

Grandma has been at it again.  This was a total surprise--this beautiful shawl she created for me.  I will be able to literally wrap myself up in love.

Grandma has been at it again. This was a total surprise–this beautiful shawl she created for me. I will literally be able to wrap myself up in love.

They love with gestures.  Of kindness.  Invitations.  Even when they hear “not today,” they ask again.  Until the time is right.  They love with thought-filled gifts.  With things they created.  Or found.  They love by showing they thought about the person and who he or she is before they picked it up or made it.  They love by showing another he or she is KNOWN.

My oldest, Aub, texted me from her latest GW Boutique trip.  She said I was going to love her so much.  Really what she did in finding these treasures and remembering that I LOVE Raggedy Anns is show me how much she loves me.  These girls are a symbol of love for me just like the hearts on their chests.

My oldest, Aub, texted me from her latest GW Boutique trip. She said I was going to love her so much because she had found me a surprise. Really what she did in finding these treasures and remembering that I LOVE Raggedy Anns is show me how much she loves me. These girls are a symbol of love for me just like the hearts on their chests.

They love by remembering.  By giving thanks.  By writing notes and saying words like “You matter” or “Thank you” or “How can I help?”

A thank you and remembrance for something that I enjoyed doing so much I feel like I should be thanking them for letting me do it.  The note that came with it was the real treasure.

A thank you and remembrance for something that I enjoyed doing so much I feel like I should be thanking them for letting me do it. The note that came with it was the real treasure.

They love generously.  By sharing what they have.  Vegetables.  Clothes.  Toys.  Books.  Thoughts.  Ideas.  Wisdom.  Knowledge.  Time.

The love without judging.  These people are the ones someone can tell her deepest and darkest thoughts and feelings to and they don’t blink.  Or they blink and call her out to be her best self.

And these folks who know how to love, they remember how short life is.  And they know how powerful it is to take someone’s hand, look her in the eyes, and say “I love you.”  They love and remind others that they are loved.

I am an apprentice.  But what I finally remembered this morning is that I need always ALWAYS to look for love.  Especially when I am tired.  Angry.  Hurting.  Sad.  Worried.  Stressed.  Overwhelmed.

I need to look for love.

And it was like the scales were removed from my eyes.  And I saw the heart with wings.  And then I looked at the ground.

The second heart I saw after I opened my soul to look for love this morning.

The second heart I saw after I opened my soul to look for love this morning.

And then this one.  Love is there, if only we look for it.  I saw all three of these hearts within the span of about 3 minutes.  And maybe ten steps.  Is it any wonder that I was weeping?

And then this one. Love is there, if only we look for it. I saw all three of these hearts within the span of about 3 minutes. And maybe ten steps. Is it any wonder that I was weeping?

Hearts.

I began crying.  Realizing that just maybe these were messages from my Mama.  Reminding me that love is a process.  A work in progress.  And to always look.  Even underneath the hot Georgia sun, with a hurting spirit, love can be found.

If only we look for it.

May love surprise you today.  Open your eyes.  You are worthy of being loved.

You ARE loved.

Love.  Love to all.

The Stranger and the Orange Chair

Tonight at Evening Prayer we were talking about strangers.  In the middle of listening to the story of Abraham and Sarah greeting a stranger and the story of the men on the road to Emmaus coming upon a stranger, one thing came to mind.

The orange chair.

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My rendition of our orange chair. It was given away years ago.

 

In our little five-room house on Boy Scout Road that we lived in from when I was not quite three until I was nine (when we had six people living there and my parents decided enough was enough), we had an orange chair.

Perhaps I should explain this was back in the 70’s.

Orange was the old black back then.

It sat by the door to the little hall in the center of the house.  The one where the space heater sat.  The chair was upholstered in a lovely fabric.  I’m sure it wasn’t silk but it had a neat feel to it.  It was built all square and quite comfortable.

One rainy (Sunday?) night, we heard something outside.  The edges of this memory are hazy, but I know I was very young.  I remember the open door revealing a dark night, with the exception of the street light, and the rain pouring down.  And the young man who was coming into our house.

We didn’t know him.  Only that there’d been an accident.  Right in front of our house.  He had been riding his motorcycle and what with the rain, he’d laid it down right about the time a station wagon was coming from the other direction.

I don’t remember there being anyone there at that time besides him, and I don’t think it was a hit and run either.  I guess the station wagon wasn’t involved in the accident, but it was a part of the story.

Mama led him to sit in the orange chair.  He was pretty shaken up.  And hurt.  I remember a bustle of activity.  Mama went to nursing school before she started college, so she knew the basic things to do for him.  Or maybe that was just her Mama know-how kicking in.  I think she or Daddy must have called for an ambulance because I vaguely remember others coming in, and I don’t remember Daddy leaving to drive him anywhere.

What I remember most is him sitting in the chair.

And I remember what I saw after he left.

Little drops of blood.

Over the years the chair had one or another “chair cover” thrown over it.  I guess it was because of those little blood stains.  Or because it was orange.  Maybe a little bit of both.  We had some fancy ones–ones with fringe and that foam backing so it didn’t slide.

(Respect the chair cover.  Mama could redecorate anytime she wanted.  Well, when there was one on sale.  Not that she did. But she could have.)

Tonight when I remembered that chair, I realized that was the first time I remember seeing my parents help out someone they didn’t know.  Giving.  Caring.

But it wasn’t the last time.  Not at all.   And the lesson stuck.

When it comes to someone in need, there is no such thing as a stranger.  When someone is hurt or lost or broken or hungry, you sit them down in an orange chair and you do what you can with what you have to change their circumstances.  For the better.

And never mind how messy it gets.  As Mama reminded me on many occasions, “They’re just things.  Things can be replaced.  People can’t.”  And so she threw a chair cover over the orange chair and kept on–helping, caring, and making this world a better place.  (And not just by hiding the orange.)

May we all have the opportunity and heart to welcome a stranger this week.

Love to all.