Sunday, September 21, 2014

Who Says You Can't Go Home? (AND Updates on Baby Obed & Max & Makeya Brown)

"And My people shall dwell in a peaceable habitation, and in sure dwellings,
and in quite resting places..."
Isaiah 32:18
(KJV)

Those who know me, know that as I was growing up, we didn't stay in one place too long.
Some, finding it hard to believe that we moved over 40 times, 
have wondered if I was a military brat.
The answer is no, that was not the case.  :)
Although Dad faithfully served his time in the US Armed Forces,
it was a few years before he and Mom were married, and I was born.

So, I can't blame our incessant moving from house to house and place to place 
on the US Government.
Somehow, it would be so much easier to just answer yes,
when I am asked that question, because it would sound so much less complicated.

I can't tell you the exact number of times we moved from the time I was born
until the time I ventured out on my own, 
but Dad and I sat and tried to remember all of the addresses one day,
and we stopped at somewhere around 47.

You know, it's strange, but I can still remember a lot of those addresses.
I don't know how.
Kevin says I have a photographic memory.
Maybe I do...but when it comes to numbers, for some strange reason,
I can just visualize them and remember them well.

There are some houses and addresses I would rather forget,
then there are a few, select ones that hold very precious memories for me.

There is one, in particular, that my mind goes back to time after time after time.
It was actually the house we lived in the longest as I was growing up.
Mom and Dad actually signed not one, but TWO rental leases there,
and we ended up staying the full duration of two full years.

Wow!
I felt so secure then.
Knowing they had re-signed for another year gave me such a sense of peace.
It was the best feeling to know that we would stay put for at least one more year, God willing.

I LOVED that house...
I remember it like it was last week.
It was a little, white house with black shutters.
Only 2 bedrooms and 1 bath,
a living room, and a very small kitchen.
It had a one car garage and a full basement.
That basement is chock full of some of the best growing-up memories of my life.
We had a ping-pong table, and there was a bar in the corner...
not that Mom and Dad ever allowed alcohol to be in there, 
but Dad and I spent many a moment there playing our guitars and singing,
as our old, hand-held tape recorder preserved those memories on a cassette tape.
I still have those tapes, and when I rarely get the nerve to listen to them,
I can still see us sitting there...just like it was yesterday.
Dad looking so vibrant and healthy....nothing at all like the last memories I have of him.
Me...head full of dreams of becoming a singer and big hopes for the future.

I remember the beautiful flower garden in our back yard.
It was there when we moved in, a product of the former tenants' labors of love.
I can still see Dad mowing the back yard, and remember a particular moment when I walked over
and asked him if I could take over.
There was a big, Catholic church in back of us,
that had bells that would chime and a basketball goal where we would go shoot hoops after school.

I had a babysitting job during the time we lived there,  
and I can still see the little, brown Toyota of BJ, the lady I worked for, pulling into the drive
to pick me up and take me to her home to watch her little baby girl, Alexis.

I can still feel the sense of peace and calm I felt as Virginia Cromwell's car 
would pull on to our street and into our driveway, 
dropping me off after school.
The house windows would be steamed up, and I would know that Mom was waiting inside, 
with a pot of homemade pinto beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread.
To this day, it is still my all-time favorite meal.

For some reason, my heart...and my thoughts are drawn back to that particular house...
over and over again.
Especially, here lately.
Kevin and Zach have heard me speak of it so often,
they could probably quote you the exact address!

So, last month, when we began making plans for another family reunion,
a little secret plan began to form in my mind.
What if I could take Kevin and Zach there...to that little house?
What if I could find it, and we could stand there...where Mom, Dad, and I stood so many years ago?

At first, I was excited, then I started wondering if I could even handle it, emotionally.
All those memories.
Rushing back.
Knowing Mom and Dad are gone now.
Realizing how everything has changed...since I stood there for the last time when I was 15...
eyes filled with tears, heart broken that we had to move from that sweet, little haven...33 years ago.

Whew!
Where does the time go?
How does life rush by so fast?
How did I just turn 48 years old?
Could this even be me??

I went on to mapquest...typed in the address...
and waited with baited breath as the slow browser gathered its information.
There it was.
Right there.
The directions from where we were planning to stay in OH to that little house
that still holds the fondest of memories for me.

I wasn't sure where to fit it into our trip.
I knew it had to be a perfect time...
I knew I would more than likely fall apart, either during or afterwards,
so I wanted to allow for that.

One evening, we had finished our visiting for the day,
and it just felt right.
So, on the way back, I grabbed the directions, and we headed there.

I can't quite tell you how I felt when I saw this sign.


There was a rush of emotions that was hard to process.
MEMORIES flooded over me like a tidal wave.
The last time I turned to go down this street I was young, and I had parents.
Fast forward 33 years, and you will see how much life, in general, has changed.

We made the turn, and soon my eyes found what I was seeking.
There it was.
That dear, little house!!
Not much had changed about it,
except the white house with black shutters is now covered with
gray vinyl siding and has white shutters.


The shrubbery is gone that used to line the sidewalk.
Other than that, it felt like stepping into a time warp.
It felt a lot like....home.

I snapped a couple of pictures, which got the attention of the current owner.
He came outside...(to see what on earth I was doing, no doubt,)
and we talked for a long time.
I told him how I used to live there and how many memories being there was bringing back to me.
He told me his family is outgrowing that little house,
and they are thinking of putting it on the market in the spring.
I stood there...trying my utmost to capture that feeling of long ago...
somehow, I did...at least, in a way.

After we drove away, we traced the path I used to take with BJ, 
which led us around to the back of the house,
and into the big church parking lot.

I declare that is the same basketball hoop that we used to use.
(I thought I took a picture of it, but see now that I failed to do that.)

We sat in the church parking lot for a few moments,
as I stared at the back of that house and tried to deal with all those memories
and the flood of emotions that was washing over me.


There it was.
The back yard.
All that really seemed to be missing was the flower garden...
and Mom and Dad....
and a young girl with a head and heart full of dreams.

Bless their dear hearts, Kevin and Zach are so patient.
They gave me all the time I needed to just sit there and soak it all in.

When I finally felt ready to pull myself away,
we drove off...it felt like I was leaving some place sacred.
Like Mom and Dad should still be standing there...
in that yard....
like they were in this picture....right there a few feet away
from where I stood talking to the current owner.


I still remember taking this photo of them...there by the shrub-lined sidewalk in front of that house.
Those were happy days.
Some of the most stable and secure days of my childhood.
Because they were there...with me...and that was all that mattered.

When it came time to renew that lease the third time,
we ended up moving...and I cried like a baby.
It tore my heart out to take my rainbow and butterflies off my bedroom wall
and have to move them yet again to another place.

The other day, I was reflecting back on our recent travels and the whirlwind of new memories
we recently made, and as I did, my thoughts traveled back to that little house...
as they seem to do so often these days.
And something hit me that hadn't occurred to me before.

There is another reason I feel so drawn to that particular house.
Yes, I feel the drawing because of Mom and Dad and the happiness we shared there.
But, all of a sudden, a memory flashed before my eyes that made me see what draws me there
even more than my memories of Mom and Dad.

It was there...in that little house....that I settled it...once and for all time....
that I would live my life for Jesus Christ.

I could take you right to the spot.
I remember it well.
I was 14, and I had found myself at a major crossroads.
Looking back, it was the most major crossroads of my life.
I didn't realize then...that night in my room, on my knees, kneeling by my bed,
that the decision I was making would affect literally every, single thing about my life
from that moment on.

I was already a Christian, having asked Jesus into my heart at the age of 10, 
during a revival meeting in Enid, Oklahoma where Papaw had taken me.
But, the difference between a tender-hearted 10 year-old 
and a peer-pressure pulled 14 year-old is worlds apart.

A lot had happened since the night I had made my way forward to that Oklahoma altar of prayer.
Some of the influences in my teenage life were not conducive to holy living,
and I was being exposed to a world very different from the
sheltered, safe one inside the walls of that little house.
I remember literally feeling myself drifting....farther from Jesus and closer to the bad influences.
They were becoming more tempting and appealing to me all the time.
Yet, I had this deep-rooted tenderness in my heart for God,
and down deep, I wanted to serve Him and please Him.
I was playing a dangerous spiritual game of tug-of-war,
where I was the rope, God was on one end,
and satan was on the other.

I'll tell you the honest truth.
Church life was very hard for me growing up.
Looking back, I can see that I never fit in there...no matter how hard I tried.
As I've already shared, there was a lot of legalism and harshness,
and very little of the love of God.
I was struggling very hard to hold on and look above the hurt that was inflicted on a regular basis
by those who should have been my spiritual mentors and encouragers.

So, I found myself at this intersection, of sorts,
knowing I was going to have to either rise above the spiritual hindrances and worldly pull,
or succumb to the pressure and throw in my spiritual towel completely.

I've never been a half-way person.
I just can't stand that turmoil for very long.

There came a point....that night in my room...in that little house,
that God began to deal with me so forcefully...
making me see that the moment of reckoning could be put off no longer.
I had to make a choice.
That I could no longer ride the fence.
That He wanted all of me....not a half-hearted, fickle commitment that seemed to totter from one side to the other, depending on who I was around at the moment.

I remember that scene, there in my room, like it was last week.
The seriousness of the decision loomed over me,
as I knelt by my bed,
notebook and pen in hand.
I literally made two columns, with a single word at the top of each column...
"Pros" and "Cons".
What were the pros to following Jesus?
What were the cons?
Which path should I take?
I knew I had to choose....because something had to give...
one way or the other.

I would either keep drifting and end up out there in the world,
farther from Him,
or I would make a conscious effort to settle it once for all that I would follow Him forever.

I started on my list of "Pros"....
I don't remember exactly what I wrote.
Sometimes, I wish I could find that piece of paper...
did I even save it?
I think it may be in our attic in a box of childhood papers I saved.
I remember how easy it was to write the "pros"...the words flowed freely and quickly.

When it came to the "Cons" column, I couldn't think of one.
I tried.
I pondered.
I've always been a deep thinker...even way back then.
But, think and try as I may, I could not come up with one con to serving Christ.
It was a no-brainer.
I would prefer the Christian life to any other alternative.

Sure, it was going to be hard to say no....
to the drugs, the cigarettes, the beer, the music,
the guys in my circle of friends.
I knew they were wrong for me.
The whole path was wrong.

I had to make up my mind.
And make up my mind, I did.
I told Him...right there...by my bed...in that room...in that dear, little house.
I settled it.

And, just now, I am starting to understand why that house holds such a pull for me.
That was the most monumental moment of my life.
That spot.
The other day, sweet Kevin said,
"I wish I could buy you that house",
as I sat and poured out my heart to him.

I wish we could buy that house, too...just so I could always go back and kneel there.

Because, all of us lose our way sometimes.
All of us need a physical spot where we can look back and say,
"You know what?
Right there...is where I settled it.
That's the spot where I made up my mind."

I have never looked back.
I can honestly say I have never regretted it.
Has the path been an easy one?
I would be lying to you if I told you it has.

Following Jesus is never the easy way out.
Trust me.
Was anything He ever did easy....for Him?
Doing the right thing can sometimes be the most difficult path of all.
It is an uphill climb, against the current.
It would be much easier to just float downstream
and be driven with the winds of popular opinion, than to take a stand for what is right.
But standing for what is right is Jesus' way...
it is the best way....
and it is the way that leads to the place where I want to spend eternity.
Hence, I am 100% satisfied with my choice that night.
It is the best thing I ever did.

As I stood outside that special, little house the other day talking to the owner,
I handed him my business card and told him to let me know if he ends up
putting it on the market....
"...not that we could probably buy it", I smiled,
"...but then you just never know",
I added, as I walked away to re-join Kevin and Zach in the car.

Who says you can't go home?

****************************************
Baby Obed Update

I recently got this update from Travis, Baby Obed's Daddy...

"Karissa took Obed to the cardiologist on Wednesday.  
He had an EKG, Chest X-ray and a Echocardiogram, 
and as I understand it everything was as expected.  
She said his case is very “text-book”.  
Karissa said she saw the VSD and it was really big.  
She said the cardiologist joked that you could drive a truck through it.  
(I don’t think it’s quite that big) ;)
He still isn't gaining as much weight as he was prior to starting his medications.  
So she wants us to supplement his feedings for the next week to see if that helps.    
If he doesn't start gaining weight at a rate she’d like, she did mention we may need to start discussing doing either the “minor” surgery of having a band put on around his pulmonary artery, or to go ahead with the “major” surgery—patching the VSD.

I’ll report next week with his weight gain.

Thank you again for your prayers and concern.

-Travis"

Dear Baby Obed!
 This is certainly not the news I had hoped to hear about him.
My heart was heavy and sad after I read the email,
but then I remembered...
we cannot set our sights on what we can see.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight..."
2 Corinthians 5:7

Even though Karissa saw the abnormality,
and even though it is really big,
the God we serve is BIGGER.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Hebrews 11:1

We can't literally see what we are hoping to see, at this point,
but the only evidence we need is our faith in the power of Almighty God.
Faith provides the proof.

Call me the last one to lose hope,
but I still believe God can repair this by just speaking the word.
I also believe the choice is ultimately up to Him,
and if He chooses to heal Baby Obed through an operation,
He knows what is best.
Either way, this little fellow is in the best of hands,
because the hands that hold him are nail-scarred.

Please keep praying with me for the miracle Obed needs.
God is in control, and our eyes are upon Him.

(To read past posts on Baby Obed,
click these links....
Baby Obed #1,
 Baby Obed #2,
and Baby Obed #3,
and Baby Obed #4,
and Baby Obed #5.)


****************************************
Max & Makeya Update

This is the latest update from Max & Makeya's grandmother, Sheila, in her own words....

"Sorry have not been on here to update about the kids.....surprised them yesterday with a visit....Makeya told me that she knew that I would be there and I asked her how she knew and she said because I asked you to come...love that little girl so much.....when I got there she was throwing a ball at bowling pins...and she was doing good she knocked them down..she is getting better every day...she also got in her wheel chair that she has to push the wheels on and she was doing GREAT she could turn that thing and all....Max had just got done doing a feeding test to see if he was going to be able to eat through his mouth and he passed...I think they said he had chocolate pudding....they also got him up on a bench with a nurse setting behind him...he like had 4 nurses around him....I believe he was liking all that attention...I got him a little ball and he was throwing it to me....love that little big man."

And another short update from their Mommy, Shyla...

"Have not posted in awhile. Keya is doing great and improving every day. As of Thursday Max has been able to eat pureed foods and honey thick liquids. Today I got to hold him and it felt so good. Plz cont to pray for my babies."

This was wonderful news!
I am so amazed at the power of God in this situation,
and I just believe there are even greater things to come for this dear family!

If  anyone would like to send the Brown family a card of encouragement,
please contact me, and I will provide the mailing address to you, individually.

If anyone would like to make a monetary donation to this family,
there are two ways to donate.
1.  An account has been set up for this purpose at a local bank.


Please mail donations to:


Citizen's Deposit Bank & Trust
P. O. Box 9
Vanceburg, KY  41179
Please write "For Brown Family" on the memo line of check.
OR
2.  You may donate online by clicking HERE.

Most of all, please continue to lift them to our Heavenly Father in prayer.

(To read previous posts about the Brown Family,
click ORIGINAL POST,
and 1ST UPDATE,
and 2ND UPDATE,
 and 3RD UPDATE,
and 4TH UPDATE,
and 5TH UPDATE,
and 6TH UPDATE,
and 7TH UPDATE,
and 8TH UPDATE,
and 9TH UPDATE.
and 10TH UPDATE,


32 comments:

  1. Beautiful story. How courageous of you to go back when you didn't really know how you would respond. I'm so glad you got to talk with the current owner! What a gift!

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    1. What a gift indeed! God orchestrated the whole thing when He knew I could handle it. He is so faithful. So happy you stopped by! God bless you for your encouragement. ;)

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  2. The Browns will always remain in my thoughts and prayers but most of all they will always be in my heart as their story hit me hard and was a reality check for me as to what matters most and that of course would be our loved ones.

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    1. Thank you for your continued prayers for the Brown family. God is hearing and answering....please keep praying!

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  3. Thank you for the updates, and for your story as well. :) Memories can be just the "medicine" we need to put a smile on our faces. :)

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    1. And sometimes we don't even know we need something until it happens, and then it hits us how much we needed that moment!

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  4. We moved a lot as I grew up too. And my prayers go out to baby Obed and his family.

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    1. Thank you so much for your prayers. Both families surely need them!

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  5. Cheryl. The way that you speak, it touches me. I felt like I was with you every step of the way on that trip *back home.* I cannot imagine how difficult it was to move so many times. I have only moved a few times. But, the opposite side of the constantly-moving coin is moving from somewhere where you've been for a long time. I did that 2 years ago, from a place where I had been 29 years, half of my life. On a different side of the spectrum, I can relate with that loss of security. Moving, even when we're excited about it and sure that it's God's will - it is unsettling.

    What I loved about your post, though, was the spiritual significance of that house! The *settled* decision that you made there, and have carried throughout your entire life. THAT is something no one or nothing can take away! I became a believer when I was 3, but I believe my *settled it* moment came also when I was 14. That's when I got baptized. I can still picture the little church, and the white robe I wore, and my family out in the audience. Though in the years that have followed, I have had times when I strayed - I can say that my heart never really did. Jesus has been there, all along, even when I wandered.

    And HE is always the home that I long for.

    GOD BLESS!

    (More prayers for Obed - may God work a miracle. And of course, our dear Brown family. Lord, heal this family, inside and out.)

    P.S. Only 48??? Pshaw...you're a pup!

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    1. Oh, dear friend! Your words are ALWAYS such a comfort and blessing to me! I can't thank you enough! YES, HE is the home I long for...I love that. :) Thank you for your continue prayers for Baby Obed and the Browns. God is working!! God bless you for your dear, kind words...so happy you stopped by. Much love to you.

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  6. Certain places have a way of transporting us, don't they. What a wonderful accounting of your trip "home" ... and it makes me think of my childhood house. How it shapes who we are. Thank you for sharing at Unforced Rhythms.

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    1. Yes, all of those experiences do shape who we are, way more than we realize it at the time it is happening. Hindsight reveals much that is under the surface and so unclear and hard to see at the time....I think I need to tell myself that about TODAY and some things I am going through!! LOL! Maybe one day, it will all make sense and become clear. Thanks for stopping by, Beth.

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  7. One day we will finally "go home." Until then houses, tents, mobile homes are just a dwelling place where life happens. In many cases we remember important events such as receiving Jesus into our hearts, or making a new dedication to His will. Thank you for sharing your inspiring post with us here at “Tell Me a Story."

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    1. Yes, Hazel, your words make me think of that C.S. Lewis quote, "“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” How very true! Thanks for stopping by, Hazel. :)

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  8. Thank you for sharing your early memories with us on the Art of Home-Making Mondays... It sounds like you were actually "born" in that house which is why it was so special to you... Have a lovely week Cheryl!

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    1. Oh, JES! YES, that is a good way of wording it...I love that. Thank you for the link-up and for stopping by!

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  9. Hi Cheryl,
    Really enjoyed your lovely story about going back to your house. I am sure that house did mean a lot to you growing up
    because of the sense of security it gave you, but I think you are right about why you are so drawn to it.............I accepted
    Christ when I was only 14 and I was all alone when I did it too, at the altar in the church I went to with my neighbors,
    but was ignorant as a stone about spiritual things, until I was 28 yrs. old. and I started going to the church we still go to now
    34 yrs later. We learned everything we know about Jesus there, and that was the best decision I ever made, and I have
    never once regretted it...........and look forward to living with Him ......Happily Ever After...........

    So happy to hear Max and Mayeka are coming along so well. Will continue to pray for them. Somehow I think I lost
    their address in my glut of email. but If i don't find it I might write you again. Haven't had the time to really search for it,
    but will go do that right now while it is on my mind.

    Blessings hon, and thanks for sharing your story..........
    Nellie

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    1. Oh, Nellie! That is wonderful how God saved you and has led you like He has! I loved reading your words and getting to know you better. You have such a dear, sweet, Christlike spirit...it is always such a blessing to hear from you. Much love to you. :)

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  10. Loved reading about this home...my story is different yet quite similar & now I write similar things as I raise mk's in a foreign country. Their dreaded question will be 'where do you come from?' But, I am learning how much bigger God is than all of it, like you, and how He writes home. Visiting from #TellHisStory

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    1. Abby, How wonderful that you are raising your children for Jesus, regardless of where you happen to be! I love how you worded that..."how He writes home". So precious. I look forward to coming over to your place and reading your blog. Thank you ever so much for your sweet visit today. God bless and comfort you, as you miss home.

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  11. What a sweet post, Cheryl! I went back to our childhood home a few months ago, and it was so sad. It was such a big, beautiful home, but the current owners aren't living in it, and aren't taking good care of it. I try to remember that the house is just a "thing" but it represents so much about my own life, so it was hard to see. Glad to see that little house is being cared for so well.

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    1. Oh, Jennifer! Your words brought tears to my eyes....that is so sad that they are not keeping up with the place that is so dear to your heart. I am so sorry. I was SO apprehensive to turn and drive down that street...it would have broken my heart to see that little house in ruins. I am so grateful God has placed people there who lovingly care for it. Like you said, it is just a "thing", but yet these types of material objects can represent so much about our lives and be so precious to our hearts. It meant so much to see it again. I am so grateful for your visit today...it was so sweet and dear to me. God bless you for the encourager and blessing you are to me.

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  12. That was a lovely post, Cheryl. Home is always in our hearts. Thanks for the update on Baby Obed and the Brown family.
    God bless.

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    1. Yes, dear friend, home is always in our hearts, and our hearts seem to return there time after time. So thankful for your visit today, and may God bless you.

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  13. Cheryl, such beautiful words. My parents still live on the home we moved to when I was six. I want so badly to visit the home we had before that. As a wife and mom we have moved quite a bit and I always wonder if my children remember our previous homes. I'd love to visit them again some day. Blessings.

    Thank you for linking up at W2W.

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    1. Oh, Jenifer! I hope one day God allows you to go back...I am sure it would bring back a lot of memories. Thank you so much for your sweet visit and for the wonderful weekly link-up. I always leave your place refreshed in spirit...I should comment more, but am usually in a rush. You are a blessing to me!

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  14. Good morning Cheryl. This post was the #1 viewed post last week on the Art of Home-Making Mondays and has been featured thus :)

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    1. Thank you, JES. I appreciate it so much. :)

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  15. What sweet memories from that sweet little house.

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    1. Oh, YES!! Precious memories indeed....

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  16. <3 How special that you were able to go "home" to that little house! I'm amazed that you moved so many times! Thanks so much for the updates of the little ones. And, as always, thank you for linking up with the Faith and Fellowship blog hop! :-)

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    1. It WAS so very special! I know...I can't believe we moved so many times, either. I am so thankful I married a man who hates to move!!! LOL!! So thankful for your visit today, and Lord willing, I will be over to your place for the link-up. :) Hope you are feeling well.

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