When you need to let go…or when life runs full with love, forgiveness and all the colors mingling

GOOD HARBOR DUNES - Copy

These are the moments of our life.

So let’s not waste a single one.

Because they pass as quickly as summer.

Breathe deep.

Think deeper.

And choose wisely.

Know God.

And know that He loves you and me like crazy. No. Matter. What!

Hold tight to all that is dear but know when it’s time to let go.

Say farewell.

Then move forward.

With a tear and a smile.

So much grace.

And gratitude abundant.

For life is a gift in all the thousands of moments, one after the other after the other.

Unwrap each one fully present for they slip away like sand between our fingers.

Vanishing like vapor.

So let’s hold them in our hearts rejoicing more than regretting.

Forgiving all.

And foregoing the grudge so we can be free.

Free to live.

Slowly.

With intention. Like we mean it. Realizing the value of the gift.

Feeling deeply all our feelings yet controlled by none.

Resting.

Letting our hearts be His.

Still, soft and wide open.

Receiving.

So we can give more.

Taking life moment by precious moment as it is not as we would have it.

All glory to God.

Savoring sunrises and sunsets passing in a heart beat.

And life flowing and overflowing like a waterfall tumbling over the edge, spraying rainbows as it crashes below.

Or like a watercolor where broad brush strokes of a thousand tiny dots of color mingle and meld.

Each one touching the other.

Deeply.

And together creating beauty to inspire.

Bleeding into each other.

One.

Blood covering all in Light diffusing softly over mountains misty in the distance.

Rising to meet the sun…

 

The house is sold. Summer is unofficially over. The baton was passed yesterday in a significant shift within our close-knit church family. And after a summer together under one roof my sons {and daughter-in-love} have moved into their next chapters, one flying far away before dawn today, relocating to the West Coast.

BEN TO WASHINGTON 1

BEN TO WASHINGTON 3

BEN TO WASHINGTON 2

BEN TO WASHINGTON 4

All is as it should be even if my heart feels faint.

And what about your heart this morning? Do you feel a tug?

Because letting go can do that to us. It tugs and it tears. And God, He uses it to tether us more closely to Himself.

So are you reaching out to your Lord in your season of letting go?

Yet through all the changes we are under cover.

Banner over us is flapping in a summer breeze, love held high by the One who never changes.

Not in morning sun or evening shadows.

And though my woman’s heart is wistful today, and my Michael holds me long and slow,  and I am tired, physically drained and spent from a season full to overflowing with wonderful, wearying changes — —

I look up and open my hands and my heart. You, too?

Holding on to Him while letting go in love.

Only to receive…

~sheila

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Words to heal any mother’s heart this Mother’s Day: We did do good! And an empty nest refills…

BOYS And MOM

I cannot tell you how much I owe to the solemn word of my good mother.
Charles Spurgeon

From the moment we discover new life living inside our wombs we have no idea how having babies and raising them and watching them grow into young adults will stretch us.

How motherhood will squeeze our hearts with love oozing out all over and so much joy.

Or sometimes how pain like a knife will stab hot with so many tears flowing.

And all along this glorious way we can doubt ourselves, or blame ourselves when things go wrong with our kids, when they get in trouble or get their hearts hurt.

Feeling like a little girl lost trying to figure out a mighty and holy undertaking for which we are often inadequately prepared.

And how we worry all through the years!

Did we do anything right?

But God.

Him always, always holding us through the ups and downs and days at the soccer field and nights cradling little ones feverish and us trying to get it all done. Running, running, running and huffing in the hectic yet always with time for hugging.

And needing to be still and just breathe.

Breathe in the Holy Spirit, breathing in peace. And our Perfect Father picking up the broken pieces and growing us up as we watched them grow.

And in moments unexpected pulling us close to Him with whispers of love straight from the Father’s heart.

MY LITTLE BOYS

Driving recently with my second oldest son the conversation turned to when he and his two brothers were very little and I was raising them as a single mom.

Times were tough.

My heart was shattered.

I was attempting to get my life right with God and stumbling along the path.

And so many times lying awake late into the night recounting what I had done wrong that day and chastising myself to do the mothering thing better. To do the daughter of God thing better. Wondering if my mistakes were ruining my kids.

Have you ever felt that way?

Yet all the while He was leading me — just like He is going before you — as I was trying to lead them. His grace, and tender loving care overwhelmingly good and filling in all my cracks.

Him the head of our household down one, holding us together through all the years of good and bad and everything in-between.

And after coming through some rough patches, I bless and thank God that my three sons are all okay. Finding their way and figuring life out one day at a time, tucked in Father’s hands.

BEN KIMMI ME

And then Ben’s words to me in the car that day.

You did a great job with us, Mom, you really did. We all turned out good because of you and the sacrifices you made. You spent so much time with us even giving up your career to raise us and be at home. And even though you have no 401K or retirement savings now you did the right thing. You made the best choice by devoting yourself to me and my brothers instead of a job.

Wow! Am I rich!

Speechless for a while, taking in the magnitude of his words, I silently thanked my God who had walked with me through all of it and my heart humming with sweet confirmation.

And there is therefore now no condemnation and my son’s words like a loving pat on the back from Father to daughter and Him smiling down on us.

And me so very humbled and tears brimming.

And your kids probably thinking the same thing about you, Mom. So rest, my friend, we all do the best we can.

BOYS 5-6-14

DINNER

And Mother’s Day is any day and we celebrated last night at Longings End with not one, nor two, but all three of my sons, and my beautiful daughter-in-love, and all of us sharing a meal — living, laughing and loving together.

The empty nest filled, but differently now.

CHESS KINGS

With Son #2, who returned in December, trying valiantly each time he visits for dinner to close the gap of his loses to the Chess King’s wins.

Dan 1

And my baby boy stepping off the train a week ago after a red-eye brought him east and me just holding him.

Just holding.

And finally the first born and his bride the last to relocate back to New York getting here yesterday and staying with us while they search for an apartment before grad school begins.

MOVING 1

MOVING 2

SOFA

My heart and home filling and overflowing.

And after the last two and a half years of adjusting to all the empty and grown children far from home establishing their own lives, we are back together again at least for a season.

Empty nest tears all dried. Heart stronger for having traveled through it. Hands more open to the changes that life and time bring.

Lessons in loving and letting go learned and learning still.

And thankful for such a loving husband who held me through it all.

Like the day my second oldest left for Hawaii — enroute to Salt Lake City several months later — with just the clothes on his back, a tree hammock, a little bit of money and no cell phone. And God gently teaching trust.

Me reduced to a crying mess who called into work and drowned my sorrows in an extra bowlful of gravy at the diner my Michael dubbed The Farewell Cafe, a place of refuge and comfort food following each son’s leaving.

Then my oldest and his wife next to travel west and my mother’s heart bid them a tearful goodbye. And then my baby boy, at 19, leaving since his brother-best friends were in Utah and he wanting to join them.

And I ran on empty some days.

Mother’s heart aching with longing.

HALLWAY PICS

And long ago wisps of them everywhere I looked in our home from pb&j fingerprints on glass doors to socked feet sliding down long hardwood hallways to tea parties in a snugly warm kitchen on snow days complete with chocolate chip pancakes and at the end of all the busy every 24 hours tucking in sleepyheads with prayers, stories and always Goodnight Moon.

Then my sweet Michael driving us 2,200 miles with sinuses completely blocked before surgery so I could see them for a birthday to long remember and ribbons of love and so much grace knitting all our hearts close even though many miles separated us.

And other mothers who had gone before me soothing: We let our chicks fly but they come back eventually, you’ll see.

But some of those empty nest days — and especially the nights sleepless — were hard and I wondered if I would ever adjust.

God’s grace is abundant and we hold His hand one day at a time in each new chapter of life as He leads us into what He has next for us.

Filling us in new ways very fulfilling even as our mother’s hearts linger on all the little things long remembered.

FIRST GRADE PAPER

Tiny treasures locked forever in hearts grateful.

But the deceiver always wanting to steal every good gift. And lies leading us astray focusing on what we may have done wrong.

God’s amazing grace and love covering over the multitude of mommy messes.

And if we listen very closely we will hear Him whispering words of love and comfort regarding our calling as mothers.

We did do a lot right.

As right as we could at the time and children so forgiving as we humble ourselves before them, asking forgiveness. Being the best examples of love that we can be as we journey forward learning to love better all the time.

Lessons in the moments.

And Him continuing to heal our hearts one day at a time.

Life of Child

Setting us free from a mother load of guilt so there’s room in our hearts enlarging to welcome new daughters or sons, gold bands binding them to our children’s hearts and them into our hearts as if they themselves had grown under our hearts long ago.

Then some day in God’s good timing, God willing, the pitter-patter of little feet, and tiny sticky fingerprints and finger painting on the deck in sun warming and splashing in puddles and splashing in bathtubs and cookies baking.

And chubby little arms once again wrapping themselves around a mother’s heart that never grows old…

~sheila
All our longings end in love

Linking with Holly at holleygerth.com and these lovely blogs at the end of this page.

Filling an empty nest with Love, and tips for a romantic date night – Day 9 First comes Love

NEST 2

Filling an empty nest begins by accepting the emptiness.

And by emptying ourselves of all the expectations that so easily lead to disappointment.

But it doesn’t happen overnight.

The last two years have been a season of sad encompassing my mother’s heart, not in every moment but many, as I say goodbye to a life I lived for decades.

A life where I was knee deep in skinned knees and never ending nurturing. Rarely able to see past the garden fence in those days with little ones in the home, and always busy and tired, full with joy as well as frustrations.

Bur my sadness has been juxtaposed with the happiest of times in my life as the wife of the dearest man I have ever known, my Michael, with whom I  joined hearts in the later summer of life, never expecting such dreams to come true.

And all this transitioning up and down and back and forth is taxing if I hold too tight.

Tying knots in the ribbons that reach back to days gone by as if the strongest knot could prevent them from slipping away.

But in the not letting go of what was, hands clenched shut, I am not fully open to receive the gifts given in all the moments of now.

Still a season of grieving is normal and necessary for anyone transitioning to an empty nest as memories tug at heartstrings, pulling us this way one day and that way the next until we finally choose to be grateful for all that was.

Thanking God for every single minute of the precious past.

And then letting it go, never forgotten but relegated to its proper place.

Opening up hands to take hold of all God has planned for this new season, these days that all too quickly will melt into memories, too.

And I don’t want to miss out on these rare and treasured empty nest days that are full of life and love, though different than before.

I want to dwell in these days of precious gifts all new, with an open mind and a soft heart, savoring every one.

BIBLE READING

And if your heart is running on empty as your nest has emptied then turn to your First Love and fill from His fountain with  thoughtful time spent in His word each day.

Let it wash over you and speak to you in His language of love, filling the cracks in your heart that are aching. For when we are no longer chasing the wind trying to catch a runaway toddler, we have the time to sit still and let the wind of His spirit fill us afresh in a whole new way with holiness that makes us whole.

S and S

We can also reach out to girlfriends who are in the same season of life, sharing feelings, laughter, maybe a tear or two. And chocolate! Always chocolate.

HIKING BY LAKE

We can start a new exercise routine like yoga which helps tame the tension with breath work and stretching. Or boost endorphins outdoors with hubby, hiking in breathtaking places.

If your budget allows take a class. Learn something new, or go back and finish your degree. Start a business, volunteer with your favorite non-profit or finish writing that book that sits on the shelf in your heart.

US in RED CANYON - Copy

When wanderlust strikes, hit the open road, exploring places never seen before.

Rediscover your husband, the one you vowed your life to before the days of diapers and waiting up past curfew for teenagers.

After the Lord, your husband is your primary ministry in life. Focus on being the helper to him that God wants you to be.

I learned the beauty, fulfillment and joy of this later in life, after miserable missteps cost me and my loved ones greatly. My selfishness in days gone never allowing me to see the blessing in servanthood, of putting another before self, of sharing goals and dreams that belong uniquely to two.

And a fun way to rediscover the wonderful guy you married and the romance that you share is on a date night.

Whether simple or elaborate, what matters is that you set aside time solely for the two of you, no interruptions allowed.

For a romantic night on the town without leaving your home, try something like this:

LE MEAL

Set the table pretty with soft, glowing candles and cook a favorite meal.

Slip into that dress he loves for you to wear.

LE DESSERT

Share a sweet dessert.

Listen to music that sets the mood for an evening of intimacy.

LE DANCE

Draw close to your beloved as he takes you in his arms, remembering that he is your one and only partner for this dance of life.

Just because your nest has emptied and the chicks have flown far from home to find their own lives doesn’t mean your life has ended.

The best is yet to be.

Your life is hidden with God in Christ. And His love is ever constant, enfolding you through all the seasons. Ever calling in whispers that often slipped away upon the wind during the whirlwind days of raising a family.

And your life is shared with this man you go to bed with each night, the one you sometimes fight with, the one you love with all your heart and soul, the one you wouldn’t want to live without.

Life in this later stage of empty can be overflowingly full with love, adventure, and dreams coming true once you surrender it all to God.

So let the grace of God wrap around you and your husband, swallowing you silver into the moonlight casting shadows on the wall.

Where memories lush and lovely are in the making…

~sheila

Today’s post is Day 9 of a #31days series called First comes Love…

All the posts in the series can be found here. And so you don’t miss a single one, please subscribe here.

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Rewind: Reflections of a transitioning heart…Part 2

LAKE TACONIC IS A GREAT BEACH.

It was one of those days when all the cosmic tumblers click into place and every moment unfolds as a miracle in the making.

Moments where life and love seem to spill over one another in a joyous and sacred procession.

Walking through a gift of grace so fragile that a puff of wind could blow it all away.

And I keep saying, Thank you…

Over and over throughout that morning, noon and night teeming with tenderness and laughter, oozing with love dear and precious. Perhaps more so because the wait for it through mistakes, sin and darkness was a million messy years.

But God, He knows what He is doing and His timing is always perfect.

So I hold tight to the Maker of time and all things, while holding tight to the one with whom I am one.

And a simple day at the lake, an annual escape, transformed before our eyes into a holy gift, pure and light.

Lake Taconic

Minutes ticked slow and we slowed way down so that we could savor each one and each other.

PADDLE BOATS LAKE TACONIC

Strolling the length of the lake we spied paddle boats waiting for strong, sun tanned legs.

CABIN

And little chocolate cabins, with sections near the camp grounds paved making our feet hop, skip and jump because it was that hot.

dragonflies

And dragonflies dancing before nearly disappearing among leaves as green as rows of summer corn.

August warmed my skin brown and the Son warmed my heart blood red, and the love shared seemed like it would burst right out spilling over everything in its wake.

A giant wave of grace. And us floating.

LAKE Michael - Copy

Water wasn’t as frigid as last summer so we swam and played for hours: Lincoln Logs and splashing, and me trying to race but still not finishing first! Laughing our heads off.

And it wasn’t until we shook the sand from the blanket and packed up the cooler that my Michael asked.

“Are you missing them?”

AT THE LAKE - Copy

Those three boys of summer. Gifts from God who will forever hold my mother’s heart.

Lake holding memories of special moments shared, me and them.

And just as my Michael and me are leaving the sand, three little beach chairs all in a row.

Empty.

BEACH CHAIRS 3 - Copy

And for a fraction of a split second I was back in the baby days when my boys were little although I hadn’t thought about my three all day, not since praying for them that morning.

Then just as quickly back again. Standing next to my man. Rightful place for this season.

Thanking God for this gift I never thought He would grant. Not after some of my choices.

But God’s love covers a multitude of sins, with grace amazing.

And my heart all married to the one who is my life after the One who is my all.

What a difference a year has made in my empty nest mother’s heart.

Loving the Lord most of all and a strong will to walk forward in the preciousness of now has moved me beyond what was. And in spite of what was being missed. Moments of missing rarer than two years ago when the nest began to empty.

And I realize I am different.

Passage of time and living with the love of my life has changed me. Lord’s healing.

Coming under my Michael’s love and leadership, protection and provision ushers me into life far beyond the backyard fence of my dearest dreams and romantic longings during the years of lonely.

It has softened me, while strengthening me.

I am no longer that six-weeks-remarried single mom who burst into tears for hours that day the first of my chicks flew away. {To Hawaii! WITHOUT a cell phone!!} And I needed an extra bowlful of gravy and the comfort of mashed potatoes just to make it through the weeping.

I am not the empty nest mama who walked down hallowed hallways, greeted by memories of little legs running and socked feet sliding on hard woods. Reaching out for boys whose every step took them farther from home but never far away in heart.

DAN CAR 4 - Copy

I am not the mom on that day my last one, my baby boy, trekked two thirds across these states united to live in closer unity with his brother-best friends. Even though a part of me went with him as his tail lights disappeared down our road.

I am none of these women, and yet I am all of them at the same time.

Like steaming spaghetti piled high and overflowing, every strand of memory, every wisp of wonder touching the next, mingling together with grace, flavored with love.

And the arms of Jesus hold me as my Michael draws me to himself, sun warmed skin pressing close. And the beating of mine echoes his.

Then we’re off for the next leg of adventure. Two crazy kids, madly in love, making memories exclusively ours.

A favorite little village discovered last year.

Savoring pizza and truffles sweet, sunflowers and steeples.

PIZZA

CANDY COUNTER

SUNFLOWER FENCE

CHURCH

STORE

So we breathe deep to breathe it all in.

Glad and giddy with the gift of now. Him and me. And me and him. And one plus one equaling so much more than two.

Love, laughter, sunshine — all warm like honey from the comb.

And no need to comb through the attic of memory when there is so much life living in each moment of now.

Gift of glory is in the present. If we keep looking back we just might miss what’s right before us.

Holding on as every blessed moment slips away, as moments do, and sun slipping below heaven’s horizon.

And the day full of fun and friendship is full upon us with wanting warm, embrace binding.

Lord’s lullaby for lovers wed, wedding spent selves with sleep.

And sweet dreams beginning…

~sheila

 

Join me next Thursday as I conclude the Rewind series with a post on tips for transitioning to an empty nest.

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Rewind: Empty nest reflections…Part 1

It was nearly a year ago that I wrote the post below. Yesterday, my Michael and I absconded for our annual day at the lake and I marvel at how different I feel, how God has done a work of healing in my mother’s empty nest heart since then. Next week I will share about my reflections on yesterday and how God grows us while helping us navigate the seasons of our lives, including tips for transitioning to an empty nest.

 

In this season of endless days that end too soon, we stop our world and all our work at Longings End to slow down.

To savor.

To spill our stress.

To take our fill of serenity.

Afternoon at the lake stretches out before us, and we stretch out on blanket basking warm in love.

Clouds overhead content to sit a spell too, before moving on in windless sky. Shapes changing, and we laugh on our backs as a duck waddles here and a scorpion walks there, and then we see clouds like a Cross.

His Cross, without which we wouldn’t freely be enjoying all His lush beauty. Our hearts wide open receive Him. Surrendering all to the One who gave all for us.

And a portal of blue peeks from white fluff, God winking down on us, His barefoot children playing in the sand. All of us.

Sand hot between our toes we walk quickly and Dearest Husband coaxes me into the water. Though it’s chillier than I like, I plunge in.

Splishing and splashing we race, and I don’t win. And we laugh some more.

And just for a moment, I catch a glimpse of them among the little ones playing in wet sand, or swimming, calling out Marco. Polo.

Three browned boys.

And my heart skips a beat the way they used to skip stones.

Fish glistening glides by and I remember their fishing net and how determined they were to bring a catch home for supper.

When the sun went down and the life guards went home, those three of mine would sit at water’s edge and build sand castles. Lost in the land of make believe that vanished as quickly as fairy dust sprinkled over the sea.

And those days of dinosaurs digging in the sand, the wisp of a memory.

So my Daddy reaches down and whispers that a season has ended, Daughter, exactly as it should.

Sunrise.

Sunset.

Seasons change.

Time passes.

Past, present and future sometimes blending. So I guard the fragile present He gives me each morning, or lose the gift of today and never get it back.

This lake, swimming with shadows of the past, was a favorite cooling spot when my babies were growing into men. Men who have moved far away, other side of the Rockies.

Yet for the first time in a year, I step back and release — like a fish caught but too small to keep — and more freely swim among the fragile moments of now.

Accepting the passage of time though missing my sons, heart rests secure in Father’s love.

All of it a gift.

All of it His Grace.

Brimming with gratitude for what was, for what is, and for what is yet to be.

So I pass an invisible baton to the moms on the beach this day, the ones with bellies swollen and young children they will tuck in at night.

Wonder-full days full of little people full of wonder. Childhood more fleeting than summer.

And my once young-mother’s heart watches three boys of summer run down the beach, every step taking them further away. Footprints in the sand growing bigger and bigger until three men with shoulders square are walking into their own lives.

And I turn back to the man at my side. The love of my life. Dearest Husband who has waited but a split second not even aware I had left, and I wrap my arms around his neck.

Embracing him as I clutch this fleeting gift of now.

Teach us to number our days, Lord, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

That’s what His Word says. So I pray for wisdom to know that moments become days, and days become years, and years slip away like so much sand through my fingers. I squeeze tight, yet can’t hold on to them.

And when the sun slips low on the horizon we pack up. Rested and relaxed. Summer’s day at the lake restoring us.

We discover a village small and quaint where we eat pizza outdoors, early evening stilling.

Share the last banana split of summer. Icy sweetness twirling on tongues with every spoonful.

And childlike delight twirls inside me, and him.

So I tuck this day inside the secret chamber of my heart where all the precious pieces of the past sleep. This day when God held hours slow, all sun kissed and love drenched.

And then we hear a rumbling. Loud. And bells sound a warning as gate closes shut.

City train rushes by in a blur. My heart heeds a warning, too.

Stay in each moment, fully awake and receiving every drop of life He gives.

Blinking, time rushes by…

~sheila

 

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LINKING WITH SOME OF THESE LOVELY BLOGS:
Jolene at Alabaster Jar; Laura at The Wellspring; Ruth at GraceLaced Mondays; Fay at Happy Wives Club; Naomi at What Joy is Mine, Monday Musings; Kendra at A Proverbs 31 Wife; Elizabeth at Marriage Mondays; Kathy at Cornerstone Confessions, Titus 2 Tuesday; Lauren at Mercy Ink Blog; Beth at Messy Marriage; Rosalind at A Little R&R; Kate at Teaching What is Good, Women Helping Women; Jennifer at Tell His Story; Tracy at My Daily Walk in His Grace, Winsome Wednesday; Shell at Intentional.Me, Thought Provoking Thursday; Proverbs 31 Thursday Link up

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TGIF at Bible Love Notes

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