Count Your Blessings, Not Your Problems!

Grateful

This morning I learned of a young man who made a post on a social media site and less than three hours later he was dead in a senseless act of violence. I am certain when he made that post he had no idea he would be dead a few hours later.

That made think about how we can sometimes take life for granted. We hold grudges, stop talking to people, and end relationships many times over something minor. Is whatever you are upset or offended about worth you missing precious moments with someone you love? Probably not!

Many times, hurting people hurt people. That person who hurt you is probably hurting. Maybe your act of love, forgiveness, phone call, apology or whatever will be the bridge to their healing.

Would you be devastated or have regrets, if you learned now that the person you are not communicating with had passed away? If so, it is time to redirect the energy used ignoring, dodging, and not forgiving to forgiving, loving and healing.

It may sound cliché, but tomorrow really is not promised to any of us. We sometimes think we have all the time in the world because of our age, but young people die every day. Someone did just this morning. Life and relationships are too precious to sweat the small stuff. Count your blessings, not your problems! Once you do, you may find you have more to be grateful for than thought.

I recently heard it said, “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?” If that were the case, how much would you have when you woke up?

I would love to say I would have a lot, but I would be lying. I sometimes take it for granted that I have a husband who loves me, a roof over my head, food to eat, clothes to wear, a healthy child, good health, two vehicles in good condition, money to pay my bills, and so on. Someone is praying for the blessings we take for granted.

Years ago, I started a gratitude journal and every day I had to write in it one thing I was grateful for. Each day I would review what I wrote the previous days so I was always reminded what was going right in my life. Maybe I need to go back to that.

I encourage you to stop right now and count your blessings. If you want, comment below and share them with the world. If you think you don’t have anything to count, you are alive and that in itself is a blessing and a gift.

Be encouraged and remember, “All things work together for good to them who love the Lord.” Romans 8:28

Image Credits: Images found on Pinterest

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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From a House to a Home: The Lifestyle of a Cleaning Momma

Busy Housewife

I grew up in a home where there was always clutter and borderline hoarding going on and it drove me crazy! Therefore, when I got my first place I vowed to as much as possible keep it clean and clutter free.

My obsession with keeping things clean worked for me until I got married. My husband and I did not move in together until after we returned from the honeymoon. Somehow, blinded by love during our courtship I did not notice that his definition of clean was completely different from mine. Along with my wonderful husband came two beautiful girls who live with us on a part-time basis, who also had a different definition of clean.

Prior to marriage, I was never home so of course things were always in order. In addition, there was no one else there but me so again everything stayed in order. After a couple of years of marriage, a one-year-old son, and seven and nine-year old daughters this little house of mine is now a home. It now has a family, is lived in, and it shows. The white walls now have crayon markings, the clean rugs now have stains, and so on.

This post is not about cleaning as much as it is about me learning not to sweat the small stuff. They may never admit it to me, but I am almost certain I was driving my family crazy.

There were times when the girls would just want to sit and play a game, but I would not because I “needed” to clean. There were times when my husband would just want to sit and enjoy a movie, but I would not because I “needed” to clean.

Ten years from now, are they going to boast about and remember how immaculate our house was or will they remember the time spent with them. I think the latter. After all, what good is it to a have flawless home if the people in it are miserable. I would rather have a happy husband and children with a few marks on the wall than not have them at all.

Do not get me wrong, I STILL want my house to be presentable, but I am learning not to stress over it. I did find a simple, realistic and manageable calendar to help me keep some order. It outlines a realistic amount of tasks to do daily, weekly and monthly. It is the Cleaning Calendar created by Kallie with Smitten By. If a day comes and I do not get to do what is on there, so be it. It is not the end of the world. I am not going to sweat the small stuff and hope you do not either!

Here is the calendar I found. Visit the website to find other templates.

Cleaing Calendar

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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Love The Skin You Are In!

Love The Skin You Are In!

There is void in some of us that make us need to feel loved and liked by others. Some people can function just fine if no one applauds them or approves of them. I, for years, was never that person.

I needed the approval of others to the degree that I sometimes made poor decisions trying to please one group, only to realize that I upset another group in the process. Although I had heard the saying “you can’t please everybody all of the time” and knew that it was true, for some reason I still tried.

Trying to please people is like being on a merry-go-round, spinning you around in circles and getting you nowhere but back at the spot where you began.

As I grew older, I realized that insecurity was the root of my people pleasing. I, like many women, would see the image the media portrayed as beautiful and would compare myself to that. Even though I knew many of those images were not real and were a result of airbrushed pictures, liposuction, implants, plastic surgery, etc, yet I still compared myself.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It steals your joy because comparison will make you underestimate what you have and overestimate what someone else has. That woman you are comparing yourself to, I guarantee you is comparing herself to someone else.

Yesterday our Pastor preached on a scripture that I have heard a thousand times. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son.” (John 3:16) When I heard the scripture, I thought it would be the usual message teaching us that Jesus died for our sins, but today was different.

He titled the message, “For God So Loved Me.” He spoke of the love of God and how no matter what we do God loves, and approves of us. He spoke about how women spend so much money on makeup, hair, nails, shoes, clothes, etc to enhance the outward all in search of significance and approval.

Now, I know that there is nothing wrong with enhancing the outward appearance, but none of that will complete you because it is temporal. When you take off the hair, nails, clothes, shoes, handbags etc that same insecure woman will still stare back at you in the mirror. She is not going anywhere and all the makeup and fine clothes, jewelry, and purses in the world cannot make her go away. You have to find your completeness, security and significance in something else.

Our Pastor concluded his message with telling the congregation that His (God’s) love is the only thing that will complete us. “Even if you feel like you have nothing. If you have God’s love, you have everything.”

As I listened to the message, I thought about my life. My insecurities came in because of childhood abuse. That abused little girl grew to be an insecure woman who knew how to mask it from the world. No one looking at me, or even close to me, knew my struggle unless I shared my story.

Today, I heard a scripture and message that I have heard so many times through fresh ears. Today I received it and settled it in my heart that God loves me and approves of me, and it does not matter what others think.

Dita Von Teese said, You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.” That quote sums it all up. No matter how “perfect” you try to be, there will always be someone who does not like or approve of you. So do yourself a favor and STOP TRYING! I know I am.

I purpose from this day forth to love the skin I am in and embrace how God created me. Does it mean I will not have days where insecurity creeps up or the temptation to compare creeps up? No, those days and moments will still occur. The difference is that I will not fall victim to those moments, and will hold my head up and recognize the jewel and the beauty that God created when he created me. I will not believe the lie that someone else is better than I am. They may be different, but it doesn’t’ make them better. “One thing I can do better than anyone else is be ME.No more comparison, I am just striving to be the best me I can be.

If you are out there and you struggle with insecurities, I encourage you also to end the struggle and settle it that God loves you supremely and nothing else matters. Love the skin you are in! One thing you can do better than anyone else is be yourself.

One definition of unique is “having no like or equal; unparalleled; incomparable.” There is only one you. There is only one me. That makes us unique and incomparable. That makes us beautiful just the way we are!

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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Say No More!

SAY NO MORE!

Today as I dropped my son off to his Mother’s Day Out program, I stopped to talk to one of my friends and fellow parents of the program. As we conversed, I thought of a quote that I used to love. It is by Jerry Lewis and it simply says, “For those who understand, no explanation is necessary; for those who don’t understand, no explanation is possible.”

My life has changed dramatically since September 2011. I got married, I gained stepchildren, I got pregnant, I re-launched a business, I had a baby, I quit my job, I became a full-time stay at home mom and wife, etc. I literally overnight went from being single and living alone to married with children and a baby on the way. All of this has happened in less than two years.

I often get the comments of “I haven’t heard from you, you haven’t called me, why haven’t you come by, what you do all day, you don’t have time for me, you’ve changed…..”

I used to wear myself out trying to help others understand that if they do not hear from me or see me, it is not intentional, I have just been busy. That people pleasing part me would sometimes make me feel obligated in the rare moments I have to myself to occupy it with talking on the phone with others or visiting others. Sometimes saying “yes” to others means you are saying “no” to yourself.

As I spoke with my friend this morning, we did not condemn each other because we were days late returning a text or because we have not had that play date we have talked about or because we have not had that lunch date we have talked about. Those things did not come up because we both know that we intend to do those things and will one day when time permits.

It was refreshing to talk to someone and not have to explain what I do with my time. In this journey as a wife and mother, I have realized on more than one occasion that if your reality is not another’s they may never understand and that is okay.

So, I am committed to freeing myself from the bondage of false obligation that I must give an account of every second of my day to people who feel like they do not see enough of, or hear enough from, me. If you are my friend and if you love me, I do not have to explain. You will just welcome and enjoy the time we do have when we get to have it.

“For those who understand, no explanation is necessary; for those who don’t understand, no explanation is possible.”

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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Do It Afraid!

Do It Afraid 2

“Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will”

What would you dare to do if you knew the outcome would be favorable or what you desired? Maybe you would write that book, go back to college, apply for that promotion, start that business, love your spouse without restraint, etc.

The fear of the unknown sometimes paralyzes us and keeps us from stepping out on faith and moving forward.

We sometimes focus so heavily on why we CAN NOT do something, that we do not take the time to think why we CAN do whatever it is that has been heavy on our heart to do.

Sometimes the simplest things teach us the best lessons. Recently I watched a cartoon called “Meet the Robinsons.” I recorded it for the kids, but it sure taught this adult a lesson.

This cartoon was about a little boy who almost missed out on the very thing he was hoping for because he was tired of failing. He was able to see a glimpse of his future and realized that if he just let go of the past and moved forward he would obtain that which he hoped to have.

We live in the real world and no one is going to come with a time machine and take us 30 years into the future like on the cartoon. However, I can tell you that you will never know if that thing you are hoping for will become a reality if you never try.

So “forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.” I do not know what the one reason is for you, but I encourage you to find that one reason, hold on to it and pursue that which you have been afraid to do.

I know there is something specific that God wants me to do. For so long the fear of failure made me afraid to take the first step. Yes, there are many things that could go wrong and there are many reasons why what I am attempting to do may not work, but I am not going to focus on that. In keeping with the quote, I will focus on the one reason why it will work. That reason is God told me it would and that is the only reason I need.

Does it mean you and I won’t be afraid as we move forward? No, there is a chance that at times you will “feel” fear, however you have to press passed it and keep moving forward.

MOVE FORWARD. DO IT AFRAID IF YOU HAVE TO, BUT DO IT! If you fail, learn from it and try again! I leave you with this, “I’d rather attempt to do something great and fail than attempt to do nothing and succeed.” -Robert H. Schuller

Here are a few quotes to help you move forward and do it afraid:
“It’s not who you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.” Denis Waitley
“Don’t be afraid to fail. Be afraid not to try.” Michael Jordan
“Decide that you want it, more than you are afraid of it.” Bill Cosby
“Take action! An inch of movement will bring you closer to your goal than a mile of intention.” Dr. Steve Maraboli
“It’s always impossible until it’s done.” Nelson Mandela
“Never give up on your dream because of the time it will take to accomplish it. That time will pass anyway.” Earl Nightingale
“Remember there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself; trust your choices and everything is possible.” Cherie Carter Scott
“Our greatest glory is not never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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The Freedom in Forgiveness

Forgiveness Lewis Smedes

“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you” Lewis B. Smedes

When you hear something repeatedly, you think you have a good grasp of the concept. However, some things you have to learn for yourself, no one can teach them to you! I once heard someone say that forgiveness is for you, not for the other person. I also heard it said when you hold unforgiveness in your heart, it is like drinking a bottle of poison and hoping the other person will die. It made sense to me, but did not become a reality for me until this past week.

The other night I told our girls to do something the next morning when they woke up. We had somewhere to go the next morning and I knew we would be gone all day so I wanted them to get something done before we left the house. I woke up the next morning to find them on the couch watching television and the assignment I gave them undone. I asked them if they had forgotten what I said and they had not. They just chose not to do it. I reminded them of what I said and they got it done, but I was still upset because they did not do it when they woke up as I instructed them. I spoke to my husband about it and he told me to grace them because after all God graces me. That comment just made me even more furious about the situation.

The day progressed and we continued with our activities as planned. The girls were having a great time but I was not. I was still fuming. Instead of enjoying myself and talking with the other moms at the activity we were at, I sat with a frown on my face. The girls had forgotten all about what happened that morning, but I had not. I was still fuming. My husband’s words to grace them echoed in my head but I thought, I am not God and I do not get over stuff that easy. As the day continued, they smiled and I frowned!

On our way to the next activity for the day, KSBJ played in the background. I did not pay attention to what played on the radio until I heard these words:

“It’s the hardest thing to give away
And the last thing on your mind today
It always goes to those that don’t deserve

It’s the opposite of how you feel
When the pain they caused is just too real
It takes everything you have just to say the word…

Forgiveness
Forgiveness”
I thought, No, Lord, no! I’m mad and want them to be miserable for making me mad! The song continued….

“It flies in the face of all your pride
It moves away the mad inside
It’s always anger’s own worst enemy
Even when the jury and the judge
Say you gotta right to hold a grudge
It’s the whisper in your ear saying ‘Set It Free’

Forgiveness, Forgiveness
Forgiveness, Forgiveness”
NO LORD, NO! THEY WERE WRONG! THEY JUST IGNORED WHAT I SAID! The song continued…

“It’ll clear the bitterness away
It can even set a prisoner free
There is no end to what it’s power can do
So, let it go and be amazed
By what you see through eyes of grace
The prisoner that it really frees is you”

Then the words I heard about forgiveness echoed in my head. “Forgiveness is for you, not for the other person.” “When you hold unforgivness in your heart, it is like drinking a bottle of poison and hoping the other person will die.”

Okay Lord, I get it. I forgive them. In that moment the imprinted frown on my face and wrinkle in my forehead slowly went away. Instead of missing the beauty that was happening in the day, I could now enjoy myself.

Later that day, I spoke with our girls about forgiveness. I talked to them about how God forgives us and how we have to extend forgiveness to others even when we do not want to. I did not excuse them from the consequences of their disobedience, but wanted to use this as a teachable moment.

I would like to think I was a perfect child and never did anything wrong, but that is far from the truth. I have to extend forgiveness and grace to my children just as my mom extended it to me.

Are you a prisoner today? Are you drinking poison hoping the other person will die? Forgiveness is for you, not the other person. I encourage you to free yourself today! It is not always easy. Even as I write this, my husband just ticked me off. I can be miserable the rest of the night because of what he did, or I can forgive him and let God deal with him for his actions. Do I want to do it? Heck no! Was he wrong? Heck yes! Is it the right thing to do? Yes, and as I meditate on the words of this song and with God’s help I will do what feels like the impossible and forgive.

Whoever it is? Whatever it is? Let it go! There is freedom in FORGIVENESS! Ask God to help you to do what seems impossible – Forgive!

“Help me now to do the impossible
Forgiveness

I want to finally set it free
So show me how to see what Your mercy sees
Help me now to give what You gave to me
Forgiveness, Forgiveness”

View the story behind the song “Forgiveness” Part 1

View the story behind the song “Forgiveness” Part 2

Photo Credit: Personal Excellence

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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Too Fast, Too Soon – Our “June Bug” Turns One!

“If you are always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you are in? Enjoy the ride!”

A friend of mine is visiting from Luanda, Angola. Last night she gave my husband and I a rare gift – a date night! This was only the second date my husband and I had since having my son, partly because of my reluctance to leave him with others. Although I functioned as a mother before having him, he is the first child I gave birth to. However, when I left last night my son did not cry, actually, I do not think he noticed that I left. My husband and I went to dinner and then to see Too Fast, Too Furious 6. As I sat in the movie, I thought about the title of the movie and then I thought about my son’s response when I left and I realized I was living my own “Too Fast” moment with my son.

A year ago on June 5, 2012, I gave my birth to my son. Initially I was not excited when I found out I was pregnant because it was not a part of my plan. I wanted to wait at least two years before we had a baby, but God had another plan. During my first ultrasound when I saw this little blur move on the screen I shed my first tear for him, fell in love, and suddenly my plans did not matter.

I remember bringing him home from the hospital and thinking, “what am I supposed to do with him?” and just like that, I blinked, and he turned one. It is as if he went from sitting, to rolling over, to sitting up, to crawling, to pulling up, to walking over night.

For the first 10 or 11 months of his life I was so consumed with living up to others expectations, that I did not always enjoy the little moments with him. I had the voice of so many in my head saying stop holding him so much, put him down, quit spoiling him, and so on. Then a friend said to me, enjoy your son, hold him all you want because one day he will not want you to hold him all the time, one day he is going to grow up. What I did not know is that the day would come so soon. He is walking now so he wiggles out of my arms a lot to go enjoy his new freedom and independence.

So yes, I may hold my child more than you think I should. Yes, I may have nursed him longer than you think I should. Yes, I may hold on tighter than you think I should, but I finally realized it is okay because I am his mother and I am going to slow down and enjoy this ride with him.

So enjoy your children. Stop saying, I can’t wait for them to walk, I can’t wait for them to talk, I can’t wait for them to go to school, I can’t wait for this, I can’t wait for that. Please wait and in your waiting enjoy what is happening now because one day you will look up and wonder where did the moments go? After all, it feels like just yesterday when I brought him home and already we celebrated his first birthday.

What moment will you purpose to slow down and enjoy?

Cake Credit: Pamela Sim’s with Sweetie’s Treats

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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He Is Just a Man!

My hubby and I

Years ago in my early twenties, two of my friends and I discussed our “ideal” husband. This “ideal” man would solve all of our problems and whisk us away into this fairytale of “happily ever after” in which there are no troubles.

I admit that marriage is a beautiful thing and a blessed experience, but it is no fairytale. You will not always agree. You may not always like each other. You may sometimes feel your spouse is not meeting all of your needs. Years ago, a wise woman told me that only God could meet all of your needs. God can use your spouse to meet some of those needs, but your spouse is a just a vehicle to meet the need, not the source or answer to that need. We sometimes expect perfection from our spouse, when we are not perfect.

So on this Father’s Day remember that your husband is just a man. He is not God and will not always get it right, but I guarantee you if he is a man after God’s own heart he is striving to always get it right. Yes, he will sometimes miss the mark. Yes, you will sometimes have to grace him in his imperfections. However, here is a news flash for you. You will sometimes miss the mark and he will sometimes have to grace you for your imperfections.

So in this Father’s Day, purpose to:

Focus on what he is doing right.
Acknowledge what he is doing right.
Tell him how he has positively changed your life.
Honor him in front of others by complimenting or praising him.
Express your love for him.
Repeat these principles often throughout the day.

I pray that you can use these principles with your spouse, significant other, brother, father, son or friend you are celebrating on this day or any day.

Lastly, I want to say Happy Father’s Day to my dear husband. Thank you for being an awesome provider, father, husband and my best friend! I thank God He gave me you!

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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Photo Credit: Sunnycrest Photography

A Balancing Act?

multitasking-mom

A few weeks ago at church I went up for prayer. The person praying with me stated that the Lord loves it when I minister to (serve and take care of) my family. She said at this time, that is my purpose and calling. I remember looking at her and thinking, “What about me?” Who ministers to me?

That same week, I had lunch with a friend and she shared with me one of the lessons from her bible study class. Her teacher said that when you are really doing the will of God, your scale may not be balanced. God may want you to focus on one area more than another, thus tipping the scale to one side, leaving you to “appear” unbalanced.

When she said that to me I had to really stop and think about it. So many times as a woman, wife and mother we are expected to balance it all. I think this expectation came from society, but somewhere along the way we, as women, put that expectation on ourselves. We look at Clare Huxtable (The Cosby Show) and June Cleaver (Leave It to Beaver) on television and think that we are supposed to balance it all perfectly.

So, I go back to her statement that sometimes God will have you focus more on one area than another. I sat across from her as she spoke and a light bulb went off in my head. At that moment, I exhaled for the first time in a long time. I realized that in this moment of my life, my family is my priority and that is enough. Does that mean there will never be time for the things I want to pursue? No, it just means that right now my scale is tipped to the side where my family sits.

So to the world (my family and friends), the fact that I am a stay at home mom and I can’t manage to pursue my event planning business full time doesn’t make sense. It didn’t make sense to me either because I was trying to balance the scale. I was trying to give my husband, children, home, business, etc equal time. That meant there was no time for me because I spent all my time trying to live up to an expectation that God did not put on me. God is not asking me to be perfect or to balance it all, He is asking me to be purposeful and focus on that which He has called me to do in this season. When I do that, I am ministered to and taken care of because I am not spending all of my time and energy doing things I am not called to do right now.

When God is in the picture the things that aren’t given as much time, are still taken care of because He will show you strategically how to do it without wearing yourself out. So, yes my scale is leaning to one side. No, my scale is not my balanced but YES, my life is balanced because I am in His will and am living up to His expectation of me, not society’s, my family or friends.

So this means that sometimes, I have to let some things go that I want for the sake of my family and at other times my family has to wait while I take a moment for myself. My life may look chaotic to you, but with God, it all balances out in the end, even when it doesn’t look that way.

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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You Are Not Alone!

“A friend loves at all times” Proverbs 17:17

It’s been almost a year now that I have been home with my son. I can honestly say that I spent the first ten and a half months of this year trying to defend my decision, purpose and place as a stay at home mom. There were times when I felt like people in my life did not understand my decision so I withdrew and sometimes isolated myself from everyone but my immediate family. At some point I found myself drowning in life because I was keeping so much inside and trying to figure out this new place in my life all on my own. I was like a suitcase that was clearly overflowing, but yet I was still trying to stuff more into it rather than pulling some things out and dealing with them. But, thank God for a friend who saw me in ten feet of water and threw out a life line!

The reality of it is that some people will not understand your reality until it becomes theirs. When I was single I “thought” I knew what it was to be a wife and said what I would and would not do and then I became a wife. When I didn’t have children I judged others on their parenting skills because I “thought” I knew it all. After all I was a Licensed Masters Social Worker and had a Bachelor’s Degree in Child Development…… and then I became a mother. Were some of my “thoughts” valid? Yes. Were some of them wrong? Heck YES! This is simply because some lessons in life can’t be taught; they are learned as you experience them.

The good news is that you are NEVER alone. No matter how much we try to convince ourselves that we are the only one experiencing something, there is always someone who can relate. A lot of times we just don’t know this because we don’t reach out. After that friend threw out the life line, I realized as a stay at home mom she experienced some of the same struggles, thoughts, doubts, etc as I did. Then I begin to open up more to another one of my stay at home mom friends and she experienced some of the same things as well. Here I was thinking, “poor little me, no one understands me” and all the while God had some amazing women right in my face. Grant it, their situation may not have been completely the same, but the concepts and principles were the same.

If you think there is no one, pray and ask God to send you “a friend who will love at all times.” After all, “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). We need someone to walk this road with us that can “sharpen” us and help as grow as a woman, a mother and friend.

Have a blessed day and remember to find the “jolly” in every “moment” life brings your way!

~ Keishawna

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