Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Our Georgia Season Finale: Beauty In Community


If my blog and life were a television series, I'd say this moment right here would be apart of the season finale. The series isn't complete. On the contrary, a whole new season is in the works, but I need to wrap up this Georgia season. Now, I may be the writer behind the screen, but the ultimate Writer added some twists to the story that still causes my heart to skip a beat and my eyes to fill with tears.

So my dears, this will be a long one. I hope you'll bookmark this page for when you have a free moment and settle in with me as I share this sweet story...
If you're a regular reader on the blog then you know I love my community. It's an adventure to pop into my favorite cupcake shop and share their treats with friends, as well as strangers. Read about how they surprised me big time this past April HERE.  It's an adventure to work out, at what I believe to be one of the best gyms, Dacula Fit Body Boot Camp, (even more so now that we moved!). Then there's the coffee shop Tradewind, the sweet mom and pop shop, Oma & Opa's, the Aldi where I see the same smiling faces; and the athletic shoe store where I never know what vendor will be dropping off new goodies for the owner, Ralph at Classic City Running. I could go on and on, but we are going to camp out for just a few paragraphs on my church community, which I don't often share about on the blog...

From time to time, I've chatted about my husband being on staff at a church in Georgia. In fact, he had an office there for 15 years with various job titles, the most recent being Adult Ministries pastor. I've mentioned our time of transition when the lead pastor accepted a position at a local ministry. Furthermore, I've also disclosed that one of our biggest changes in the last several years came about in the form of a job change to a new church home, in a new state (Check out HERE).

When all this happened, it happened quickly, and I'm not ready to close this chapter without sharing some surprises, big and small, that rocked my world starting with the ladies... ;)

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Back in late April our women's ministry director, Kristin, put together a night for the staff wives to meet up, spend time together and pray. What she didn't tell us, was some women in the church decided to write personal letters to all the ministry wives, sharing love, encouragement and prayers.

Kristin welcomed me inside and I immediately noticed an array of colorful bags with our names on them.  As she was placing cards with the corresponding bag, I spotted my name and had to look away. I was emotional already! We were about to get the precious gift of sweet words; wise words; honey to the soul - one of my favorites.

Kristin wasted no time in inviting us to sit down and read our letters.

Music played softly in the background while the occasional rustle of paper reminded me that others were in the room.


From the first note, my mind was fully captured and my heart began to swell with love for the woman who penned those words, the God who inspired them, and for the women sharing in on this moment.


Soon the sound of sniffling and more rustling were added to music...


Such sweet words that ministered to our hearts in times of uncertainty...

Words that strengthened our bonds and reminded us that God is faithful. Always.

Why do I share this evening with you? Because though my husband and I had known for some time that change was coming, there were months when the unknown felt bigger than the certainty that God was in control. This evening put my heart back on course. It also reminded me how important it is to take a few moments here and there to encourage someone with kind words, not to mention the fact that personal letters will never go out of style!

I left that evening encouraged, with no thought to how wild the adventure was about to become in just a little over a month.

Meanwhile, I continued to goof off at Splat, work hard at Fit Body and share the graphic tees that Jen at Beats and Breath gifted to me. If I'm honest, these folks and places helped me enjoy the "waiting" period.

Here are the last tees I had to share, featuring Kirstin and Nicole.

Better Together. Ah, Beauty in Community. How true it is!


I had the privilege to serve with Kristin in connect groups and women's ministry. She's strong, full of grace, and fun. Simply put she's a beautiful, precious friend that I love dearly.

Local Favorite...


Oh my goodness! I could share so much about this mighty and fierce beauty, Nicole at Fit Body Boot Camp. She encourages, pushes and shines so big. This was my last tee and time was running short. I worried that I wouldn't find the right owner for it. Once Nicole's name popped into my mind I knew. Good gracious, why hadn't I thought of her immediately?! Missing you Nicole!

Back to the story...
During this time, my husband was contacted by a church in Sarasota and though it seemed unlikely, he continued to walk through the interview process until Memorial Day weekend he found himself at the Tampa airport, after a day of interviewing with staff and key leaders in the church. All the prayers, all the seeking and all the preparation led up to this moment and he knew. He knew that this was where God was leading us.

He called me to share the details and it was then that I knew. We both had prayed. We prayed together and now God was clearly directing. I hung up the phone, walked to my sink full of dirty dishes, and started the mindless task of hand washing them. Tears streamed down my face as I thought about my family, friends and home. Change was coming and change is never easy.

Time seemed to stop and the hard, emotional work of telling our loved ones that we were moving began. I've lost track of how many tears I shed through this process, but one particular person heard the news very early on...

I received a text from a young woman that I've served with in leading worship. She's been a blessing to me in more ways than one, but this blessing was so unexpected.


I find her waiting in the church lobby, timidly holding a gift that she obviously didn't want me to see yet.

"I'm trying to gain more confidence with this, but did you know I paint?"

"Uh, no, actually I did not. You sing, play the keyboard and the guitar and now you're telling me that you paint as well?!" I joke, but seriously!

Of course my curiosity is beyond peaked at this moment and I stop joking around so she can continue.

Once again she begins to bashfully explain how she prayed about painting a picture for me. She prayed about what to paint and how she could be a blessing to me.

I nodded my head in encouragement and smiled, while inwardly my emotions threatened to boil to the top.

She turned the canvas around so that I could see it.


My eyes took in the sweet landscape and I smiled in genuine appreciation. Immediately, I noticed the tulips, particualarly the way one tulip was out on its own. No one had ever painted a picture for me, but this was more than a picture.

"Do you know what those flowers are?"

"Yes, tulips.  But what does it mean?"


"The red tulip standing alone is you. The gated tulips represent women you have encouraged in your community, but now God is moving you out and setting you on a new path to encourage new women. Those are the tulips further along in the field. The ray of sunshine is the Holy Spirit that continues to guide you." 


Y'all. My heart momentarily stopped and tears rushed down my cheeks. I had to tell her what was going on with us, as she had no idea. She had no idea that I was on our way to our connect group, where Glen was about to announce that he JUST accepted a position at another church.

I chokingly explained what God was doing in an effort to encourage her as well. There was no need to be shy. If God led her to do it, share it! Because right then and there God used her to speak to my heart in a big way. All glory to God!

I tucked my painting under my arm and rushed off to group, knowing I would refer back to this painting as a reminder in times of doubt.

Later I looked up the signifigance or meaning of a tulip:

LOVE, particularly the red tulip, which means pure love.
REBIRTH

Well, that's something that I'll think more about as time progresses, but our departure story continues...

It was now the beginning of June. We would need to sell our house, find a place to live and Glen would need to report to work on July 23rd - less than one month!

We spent the next couple of weekends cleaning up the house, getting it painted, making repairs that we could never seem to find time for. Our friends stepped in and helped us get the house ready to show and for the first time in 15 years, we signed a contract with our realtor and friend, Julie, to list our home.

Within two days we had an offer and we accepted. The following week we left for Sarasota, by invitation of the church for our family to meet staff and checkout the area.  They didn't know about our crazy vacation mishap last year that brought us here once before! Read about that HERE. And once again we were in a borrowed vehicle, because friends urged us not to put extra stress on our older van with the trip. 

While in Sarasota we looked at about 30-40 houses, but one stood out above the rest in price, character, family fit, and location to the church.



Our realtor in Florida was also a church member and when we decided to put an offer on this house he stood with us in the main room, in front of that piano, and we prayed. We prayed for God's timing and provision.

Before we knew it, we had a contract on this home and were headed back to Georgia! Now began the hard work of packing up. UGH! I'm not going to lie. I'm glad that's over with!! This was a stressful time, but God continued to make it clear that He was in control.

I soon learned that the couple that was purchasing our home was a young married couple, starting out just like we were. They share our faith and are excited to make memories in the home we loved and cherished.

There were no big issues with their lenders or our lenders.

July is now upon us...We continued to pack and pack and pack. I took over 10 loads of stuff to Goodwill.

I popped into Splat everyday, more for the visits than the actual cupcakes themselves. But I still took treats home with me. ;) Ok. And an iced coffee - soooo good!

I left some here and there at the gym, because as I mentioned in previous posts I took full advantage of the membership I had...



I even left a couple for the new homeowners...


In addition to the graphic tees and cupcakes, there were the trucker hats in my possession that I wanted pass on from Shop Georgia Girl by Amanda.


"DACULA" went to a friend who spends a lot of time sitting in stands watching football and baseball for her boys in, yes, Dacula, as well as other places. In addition, she's big supporter of local vendors, companies, entrepreneurs etc.


 Somehow I squeezed in my first IG giveaway with Amanda, which was crazy but super fun.


"Mahalo" and "ATL" went out in the mail super quick...cuz Amanda is amazing.


As the closing on our Georgia house quickly approached, we knew our goodbyes would soon follow. In fact, 2 days after our closing we were set to close on our house in Florida.

The Sunday before we left arrived. It was to be our last Sunday at Hebron for awhile.  That morning was emotional, as expected, and will be forever in our hearts. So many hugs. So many encouraging, kind words. We went home spent, but there was more on the calendar. That Sunday there would also be a going away party put together by friends.  I was both excited and a little trepidatious about crying lots of tears at that party, but we'll save that for the end.

First, let me lay out our last few days as Georgia residents...

Monday

Monday started early with the movers on schedule and packing up the last few, grueling items. I can't say enough about how wonderful Kingdom Movers are. They went above and beyond at every turn and were pleasant to be around. In fact, I invited them to stay and hang with us on the Florida side!


Friends came to help us clean the house in preparation for the final walk through.


Kids got in on the action as well...


Before we knew it the house cleared and my emotions threatened to take over. There were a lot of memories made in our home of 15 years. Lots of memories.

I left those cupcakes in the fridge and closed the door for the final time.


Tuesday

Tuesday arrived and we headed to sign the papers to make this transaction official. The couple was so sweet and it took everything within me not to pepper them with house tidbits, secrets and loves. Everything went smoothly and as we walked out I realized we were temporarily debt-free with a little extra cash in our pocket.  Maybe we should run away??


Wednesday

I was invited to join the weekly staff prayer time at 8:30, where they planned to prayer over us. MORE tears. These people are our family. We love them dearly and in those moments, even more. Glen and I were blown away; humbled by and grateful for the amazing people God placed in our lives over the last 15 years.

Emotionally spent, but feeling incredibly loved, I left wanting to take the day off. However, there was a growing list of random tasks that filled up the schedule.

THE VET!


Jessica, a sweet friend who runs her own veterinary practice, took good care of kitty and prepared her for Florida with shots and flea meds. On the way out I bumped into a friend.  How random and sweet - extra hugs!


*Special thank you to my friend Amy who had kitty loaded and ready for me when I got back from the church. She went with us too!

Dentist! 

Collin needed a quick trip to the dentist, where our friend, as well as the best pediatric dentist in the whole world, squeezed us in and even took a peek at a tooth that's been bothering me. Pictured below is one of the sweetest hygienists!


My stomach would periodically tighten as Thursday quickly approached...

The evening arrived with more goodbyes to family and friends.

We needed to get up early to make our 2:00 p.m. walk through in Florida, so we packed up the van and truck to full capacity before bed.

Thursday

It was still dark when the alarm set off. This was our final morning as Georgia residents. With a heavy, but calm, heart I dressed for the day.

Our friends that invited us take over their home got up, prayed with us and sent us off feeling loved and cared for.

During the ride to Florida my mind whirled in attempts to process all that transpired; how quickly things came together, how undeservingly blessed we were in our community, and life in general.

I'd look over at one of my sons and see him sleeping in comfort and my eyes would well up. There was just so much to mull over!


I'd stop at the gas station and pull out a generous, thoughtful gift from home...


We stopped at Chic-Fil-A with more gift cards and thoughts from home. Before we knew it we arrived to what was soon to be our new home in Florida ,where more surprises awaited us. The pastor and the realtor greeted us at the door.

I was so happy to get out of the van. The emotional and physical drain hadn't hit me yet and I was electrified by feeling that some of the hardest work was behind us.

The boys jumped out of the car and we all rushed into the home...

Cleaning supplies! Snacks!


Pool Toys!!

A stocked fridge!


More tears. The church was welcoming us in such a sweet way...a stocked fridge, pool toys, cleaning supplies and meals on the schedule.

But there was no time to let that soak in either. We still had to go make this sale final! Within an hour we signed our life away at Berlin, Patten & Ebling.


We were homeowners once again and back in debt. lol



So what about Sunday? What happened Sunday that etched "beauty in community" and "better together" forever on my heart. I can't even type this without my ugly cry face coming on. Is it not enough that things fell into place with the tightest of time schedules; that people helped us pack, clean up, get last minute errands done, etc, etc??

We felt so undeserving. And Sunday.

Sunday

It was a hot afternoon. I wore my easy black dress and hat because I knew the humidity would wreak havoc on my hair (might as well get used to it, right??).

Yet again, I was overcome by the well wishers and the sweet touches at the party.

The dessert bar made me laugh...there were tons of homemade goodies, Splat cakes, and Little Debbies.  Lots of Little Debbie snacks because friends believe that I deprive the boys of the "good" stuff!




It was surreal and in many ways felt like any other get together - kids running amuck while the adults converse. Time was passing too quickly and I wanted to talk with everyone!  At some point our friend, Chad, beckoned for every one to gather around in the backyard...

Another friend, Jason, pulled out a letter and began reading.  I kept my head down, working through the lump forming in my throat, as he read the kindest things about some random couple. Kidding, but seriously, who was he talking about?? Not us!


He paused for a moment and said something about how we blessed them and now they wanted to bless us one last time. What?


He told us to close our eyes and trust them.


We were led with eyes closed around the corner to the side of the house. My heart beat even faster. I felt nervous. I could feel everyone watching us. What were they up to??

As we rounded the corner I heard giggles and murmurs from friends. They stopped us, straightened us out and then counted to three.

One, Two, Three...

Open Your Eyes!!!!


A VAN!

What in the world?

How??

WHO??


I stood there with tears streaming down my face. There was NO stopping them. I didn't care. My heart was bursting and there's no explaining the multitude of emotions that rushed through every fiber of my being.

"Go check it out!"

There were notes for each of us, cards with verses and kind words written by homeschool community, etc.



It was the most beautiful moment. A moment that went far beyond the 2017 Dodge with a bow on it. Though we hoped for more time to save, our old van was becoming increasingly more unreliable to be the family vehicle. With the money we had saved, we planned on a 2012 or 2013.

But God.

He is a God who provides ALL our needs and MORE, gives us grace when we don't deserve it, and uses whoever, with whatever means, however He wants. I was so stinking proud of our community and the family of God in that moment.

This wasn't the first time I've seen God provide for us, or others in BIG, miraculous ways. And I know it won't be the last. But this was a moment HE chose us, and this community, to shine for Him and I knew what a privilege it was.

I didn't know how it all came together but as the shock slowly wore off I wanted to know!

So my friends, to say these last few months have been an adventure would be an understatement! I since learned that the "Plan for a Van" began back in May when our tires kept giving out.  One girl began praying big prayers that were for more than replaced tires and asked others to join her in praying.


That's her story and it's amazing, but I'll sum it up to say that what seemed impossible, happened. Those that were collecting money to purchase this van lost track of how many people contributed; people within the church and without. Friends that are bankers, financial gurus, know people that know people worked together to manage, collect, etc. Bulldog Kia in Athens played a huge role in helping this come to pass. Big thank you to them as well.

Isn't that amazing??? God is creative and ingenious, isn't He? When we can't see the "how" or a way out, we must remember that He is faithful, able and always working!

And how does one write thank you cards or give hugs in this situation? Well, this is my hug. This post is my thank you. I thank God - for His provision and for you, while praying for His blessings over you!

If only you could see my puffy eyes and snotty nose right now! I'm currently sitting in my Florida house, reliving these God moments while staring out at that inflatable toucan floating around the pool.

I had my first real wave of homesickness yesterday, but I know we are in good hands - His hands and the sweet church community we are getting to know here.

The staff was already breaking Glen in...


Kitty adjusted after a couple of days in the house and then an attempt to walk her on the leash. Hey. I was just listening to the vet. Only I made sure Glen did that...wink, wink.


She didn't like it. At all. And let's be honest, Glen didn't either. I laughed so hard watching her stiff, flattened-to-the-ground body and Glen's discomfort at being in the yard with a cat on a leash for all the neighbors to see.  However, she and Glen have recovered and are the best of friends again. :)

In closing dear ones, the Granola & Grace series will continue!  My Georgia friends are still my friends; I fully intend on popping into Splat, Fit Body, Tradewind etc on every visit where time permits.

There are new places to explore. Just as soon as I get all the icky paperwork of moving done. EWWWWW! I'm off to take the boys for their school guidance counselor meeting.



My prayer is that this story blesses you where ever you are...whether it be in plenty or in need, in sickness or in health. My prayer is that you will know that you are loved, valued and treasured.

Until next time!

Chrissy
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27 comments

  1. This was beautiful and definitely a blessing to read. Praise the Lord and all glory to God!!! I am so thankful you are able to articulate so well so I could relive it with you all the way up here. It truly felt like I was right back in Georgia standing beside you through it all. I love and miss you so much and I know God will continue to use you (His tulip 😁) in Florida. He will provide another community for you to bless and love on and to encourage and support you. Excuse me while I go and wipe my snotty nose and face 😭❤😭❤😭

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    1. Thank you sweet sister! Love you dearly and can't wait to have you as a house guest!!

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  2. In grocery store parking lot crying! Crying for joy, Crying for transition, Crying for your heart and your family’s, crying because your eloquent way with words touches the soul and crying because God is our wonder, our faithful our surpriser, our EVERYTHING! My heart is overflowing with love for him, you and for the love your communities have for you!!! Love you, love you, sending hugs to the boys too, Florida schools blessed to have these mini wonders of your heart!!!

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    1. Thank you so much Andrea. You are a tremendous blessing to me...just another way that God is good and faithful. Who knew?! I'd meet so many beautiful people on this blog journey. love you big!

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  3. Wow!!! What an amazing experience and testimony to our God's love, support, and perfect timing. That van, that fridge, that house! Blessings for your sweet family!
    xo,
    Kellyann

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    1. I know. The transition is not easy but I just keep referring back to these moments as a reminder that God is in this!!

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  4. Wow!!! Beautifully said!!! God is indeed so good. Deb warned me I’d need tissues. Can’t wait to get there and hug you all. Love you, mom R

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    1. I can't wait for you to see! Thank you for your extra support and prayers through this transition. Love you!

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  5. I just love seeing God's church come together - in the leaving & the welcoming. Going where God calls is the biggest challenge, isn't it? But you are already seeing the Blessings being poured on you for following that call.
    I know I'm in total awe & shock of that van- but can I say, a stocked fridge & snacks? That alone would totally have made me love my new church family :) haha

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    1. Haha! Yes! The snacks and stocked fridge...though the snacks are long gone - #boys, I'm still enjoying the "extras" they put in there. God is good! thank you so much sharing in on this journey. You are a blessing!

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  6. OMG...I was crying with you reading this Chrissy---(I wished you had warned me I need waterproof mascara...)
    What blessings but it's because of you and who you are (and your family of course). You are that red tulip over and over and we are so much better because of you.
    XOXO
    Jodie
    www.jtouchofstyle.com

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    1. Jodie! Thank you so much - you are a continued blessing to me. I tried to comment on your blog the other day and it wouldn't cooperate! ugh! I'll be back!

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  7. What a fantastic community you have left behind. And I am sure you will have a great community back! Lots of love and happiness with your family in your new place!

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    1. Thank you Nancy! You are such a sweet encourager. :)

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  8. Oh my goodness, Chrissy, there might be snot and tears in my coffee now! What a beautiful journey for you! It is so true that the best things in life come from the most uncomfortable of our experiences...the not knowing, the wondering, all of that....brought you to the most wonderful place...the place where you belong right now in this moment. Thank you so much for sharing all of it with us! You are amazing and beautiful and inspiring and deserve all of the great things that are coming your way! Love you, sister!

    Shelbee
    www.shelbeeontheedge.com

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    1. Haha! Shelbee, you have such a fun way with words...voted "best commenter". So thankful for you!!

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  9. Love this! Love your people! And miss you dearly!

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    1. I'm still enjoying my organized kitchen, pantry and closet. you are a blessing my friend!!

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  10. This post. It is proof that good things still happen to good people. And you and your family are genuinely AMAZING people. I wish I could have gotten to know you better, to add more laughs to my day, and overall happiness that you so generously spread to those around you! Your new community has no idea how blessed they are.. yet. And if you find a really great location for Splat, *wink wink* haha!

    I wish you all the best of luck... I'll be watching your stories on Instagram!

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    1. Thank you Anna! We miss you guys and you better believe I'm looking for that fun, perfect "Splat" location!

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  11. Oh what an emotional post! I can't believe you got a van, that's a beautiful leaving gift! :) Shows how much you do for the community that they would rally around and do that for you! :)

    Hope that your weekend is off to a nice start :) I went to a big opshop sale this morning and picked up some bargains! :)

    Away From The Blue Blog

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    1. Thank you Mica for sharing in on these special moments! And I can't wait to see your bargains. :)

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  12. Wow! There is so much emotion in this post! And because we are in the middle of a move (literally) I feel it even more! You clearly have touched many lives. God has been with you!

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    1. Yes indeed! And I look forward to seeing where you "land" and get settled Laura. Thank you for sharing in on these special moments! :)

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  13. I'm trying to come up with the words to respond to this beautiful post, but I can hardly type through the tears in my eyes right now! God is so good, Chrissy! It fills my heart so much to hear how He blessed you and your sweet family. You have touched so many, many lives - in your community in GA and in your web community... your sweet spirit has reached so far. What an encouragement to see how God has brought that back to you - pressed down and overflowing!

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  14. First of all this was so beautifully-written, sweet, raw and emotional. I loved reading it. All your neighbors, friends, local businesses you love and support, old and new church and communities both in GA & FL love you so much. It is amazing everything they did for you all. The stocked fridge and gifts you received too were so thoughtful, especially the van. But none of this shocks me because for as much and as well as I have known you this year, I know how special, loving, kind and God-ly you are. And I know your family is the same. It isn't just your faith, it is your spirit and your heart. It is your kindness and love, your genuine prayers for everyone including me, your words and your actions!! I am so happy that there are good people who appreciate them. Very well deserved. Sarasota is so lucky to have you Grace it with your presence, and sincerely one more very important reason for me to want to visit Florida!! I love you and hug you tremendously my sister!! May God always lead and bless your heart, your family and your new beautiful home!!

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