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Archive for the ‘brokeness’ Category

Is It Okay To Be Really Angry?

Angry Birds Plush Toy

I’ve been following along with the documentary show on OWN called “Finding Sarah” – about Fergie – the Duchess of York.  She is on a quest to find out why she has turned out the way she has – and why she seems to be helpless to spin out of control and make wrong decisions in her life – resulting in years of destructive behavior including a failed marriage and loss of several careers to reinvent herself.  In this last episode after meeting with trusted friends and experts such as Dr. Phil – she traveled to Arizona to meet with a guru and nature healer.  He was native American – with long braids – a very serene and gracious person who asked her to talk about the things that troubled her.  As she poured out her story to him – he said things very similar to what Dr. Phil had already told her – with a unique spin.  “What you do not acknowledge – you cannot change”.  He used 2 pound rocks to represent all the different aspects of the dark side of her personality – Anger, Rage, Bitterness, Frustration, Jealousy, etc.  He asked her if she had ever felt RAGE?  She told him it wouldn’t have been acceptable to do that – or to even be ANGRY.   Having been in a very controlled environment – that would never have been allowed – even as a child.  And there were some things in her that were buried so deep – and to touch them was very scary.

Then he told her to pick them up – and pack them around on her back while they took a little journey.  He said, “you carry them around now anyway – you might as well take them to know how heavy they are”.  So she did as she was told – and they were heavy.  Once they drove to their destination and walked in the desert for a bit – they came a place where she was instructed to take off the rocks and then he demonstrated for her what he wanted her to do to release these from her life.

He stood facing a canyon that echoed back and yelled, “WHYYYYYYYYY?”  Using his whole body to really take his time – from standing upright to going down on his knees.  Then he did it again – took his time – again yelling, “WHYYYYYYYYYYYY”? And letting it echo back.  He told her – you are doing this for youYou need to release it.  There is no answer.

She was reluctant of course – to look foolish.  But she wanted to comply.  When she tried to do it – it was difficult – especially when the subject of abandonment from her mother came up – and touching that emotion was so painful she couldn’t allow herself to even cry or become angry.  So again – he demonstrated and feel to his knees and sobbed like a baby.  She watched him – fascinated that someone could be so in touch with their feelings – and could release them and not hold on to the darker things.  And though she could not do what he wanted – by watching him – it touched something inside of her – and he knew it would be a long journey of healing for her.

As I watched this “teacher” and “nature healer” speak to her – helping her discover who she is and why she is still so lost – I was reminded of how God works with us.  We all carry around those heavy rocks too – but since no once can see them – we learn to hide and stuff – adjust to the weight of them.  And I realized that I am not so much different from Sarah – I suppress things – stuff them – control my environment so everyone including me is comfortable.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment of RAGE in my life.  I’ve been angry – but mostly my anger goes right to sadness – and I am afraid to touch it too much.

I remember pouring out my heart to God in a situation I had about 2 1/2 years ago – and it was scary going to that rage and anger – and sobbing seemed a more comfortable place for me – so that’s where I went.  Even though I know that God can handle my questions, my rage, my anger and my ugliness – it was still difficult to admit it – even to Him.

The dark emotions that each of us have – can be destructive – if inflicted on another – but I also learned that they are important to deal with and release – with just myself and God.  He can handle them.  He made these emotions.  And He can help release something in me – so that I don’t harm and inflict someone I love.

When was the last time you were really angry about something – and allowed yourself to touch that emotion – so that you could deal with it?  When was the last time you let God see that in you?  Is that okay for you?  Do you see it as a sign of weakness – or lack of control?  When is it wrong to be angry?

God Bless

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Secret Sin

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.   1 John 1:8-10

Our pastor spoke on the subject of the 10th commandment in his message last Sunday.  This commandment deals with the secret sin of “coveting”.  And while it sounds like nothing in light of the other big ones on the list – it is the one in which we can hide, push aside and even deny – making it the most dangerous one of all.

What exactly is coveting? And why is it so dangerous?  Coveting in it’s most basic form is this:  wanting something I don’t have. And in this last commandment that God gave to His people – He spelled it out for them – telling them not to want things that belong to their neighbor, their house, their wife or anything else that belongs to them.  Sounds simple right?  But it is not that simple.

Coveting goes beyond the above commandment.  It deals with the heart. It is all about the secret desires and motives –  known only by God.

Scripture has much to say about the heart. We’re told to “guard it” and that it is the “well-spring of life”.  And we truly believe it.  Until…there is something that we just can’t shake – a past relationship that won’t let us go – or a memory of better days – seeing someone or something that we would like to have for ourselves.  And we thing – “who are we hurting – no one knows”.  But God does.

Our pastor said that we can appear like we have it all together on the outside – we don’t murder, steal, commit adultery – you know the “BIG ONES” on the list.  We come to church and seem to have it all together.  In fact we’re so good that people are actually envious of us!  But this in itself can be a trap.  Sometimes those that look the part – are actually struggling with the most secret sin of their own.

But on the flip side of that – we can become “self-righteous” and “judgmental” when we are not as bad as all those other “sinners” out there.  Holding on to our private “secrets” but looking great on the outside.  It was those people who Jesus had to deal with most in His short 3 years on earth.  The ones that pointed their fingers at others – deflecting blame off of themselves – and the ones who did not acknowledge that they had a problem to begin with – and were just as guilty as the murderers, thieves and adulterers.  Jesus confronted this issue – knowing they all were good Jews and knew the commandments well – got right to the heart of the matter and said,

“But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”  Matthew 5:28

I imagine that this kind of radical thinking caused quite a stir.  After all – good Jewish men kept all the commandment to the letter of the law.  This one was uncomfortable and made them squirm.  Why?  Because their heart was wicked and far from repentance – far from God.

We are no different.  Sin is still sin.  Done out in the open – or in the secret places of our heart.  When we sin in a secret way – we are saying that we don’t need a Savior – that we can handle it on our own merit – that because everyone thinks we are good, pure, honest and without sin – that will be enough for God.  It isn’t.  He still knows.  Whether it’s an addiction problem, a lust problem or an unrepentant heart – it’s all the same to God.  Pride and stubbornness are the worst ones – because they tell us a lie – that we are alright without a Savior.

At the heart of our secret sin issue – is Jesus. He patiently waits for us to come to Him and to confess it.  He comes to not just forgive us when we blow it – but to fix us permanently and heal our disease. He heals us from the inside out – taking away the sin and any desire or residue that it leaves.  The sin that will ultimately lead to our destruction – little by little, bit by bit.

How many good moral people are out there?  That sit in our churches?  That have un-confessed sin in their lives?  That are so good in fact – they have no need for a Savior? Don’t be one of those – He is waiting for you today. When Jesus touches your life – you won’t be the same – the change will be permanent – done from the inside out. Something that good moral living alone cannot achieve.  We all have a sin problem – that is why He came.  To do a work that we ourselves cannot do.  Conquer sin in our lives for good – and change us, healing our disease of self-righteousness and pride.

When you get right down to the heart of the matter – Jesus came to save us from ourselves – our sinful tendencies and gave us a better way to live – healing us from the inside out.

Do you have secret sin hiding deep down in your heart that you believe is well hidden – even from God?  When you admit it to Him – He will not condemn you – but forgive you and heal you – giving you a new purpose and a new way to live.  That’s a promise.

God Bless

 

Reactions

HOLY SPIRIT - FOIX

Image via Wikipedia

I have a heaviness in my spirit today.  I usually do not add a preface to my articles – but today I really feel that this is for somebody out there.  Someone who has felt condemnation and judgment from others.  I trust that this will help you today – this is for you.

I’ve always been fascinated by reactions of people when given a certain situation to navigate through.

Everyone responds differently.  It is not wrong to respond differently – it is just that we can’t all be put into a ‘box’ and be expected to look at things in the same way. Although – that is exactly what we do.  Expect people to look at things the right way – our way.

My husband used to use an illustration in some of his messages.  He would talk to Christian people and explain how the Holy Spirit can cause a reaction in our lives much like someone touching a live wire.  Here are a few ways people may respond:

1.  Jumping up and down, screaming and shouting and holding onto their hand that was hurt.

2.  Some might feel something but then deny they even felt it.

3.  Others may feel a tingle and say ‘ouch’.

In the same way when something  touches our life – especially the negative painful things – we have a few different ways to react to it:

1.  We jump around, scream and shout and coddle our hurt heart.

2.  We say, ‘You hurt me ‘  And never move on.

3. We say, ‘ouch’ – and move on – and never  touch that painful thing again.

I’ve seen this – and I’ve lived it. Even after doing everything to ‘bare my soul’ so to speak – and to do the right thing after something negative – sometimes the reaction from another person is still  negative. There are always going to be those in life that choose to see others in a negative light – even when we are all fallen, sinful creatures – and can hardly hope to redeem ourselves by casting the first stone. I suppose people do this because it makes them feel better – but I’ve never understood it.

And I am well aware that people see things and events differently too.  And like the above  – they are as varied in reaction as the people who react.  There have been those people in my own life who are quick to point fingers at me and tell me how sinful, terrible and unrepentant I am.  Never knowing the hard long journey that I have taken in efforts to keep my own heart right before God.  And the long soul-searching spent in much prayer asking God’s forgiveness and direction.  I’m sure we all have people like that in our lives.  I sure have in mine.  Those who would try to muzzle me from telling things in my own words – or those that even have the audacity to tell me how I feel – and more horrible than that – not only how I feel (or felt) – but they love to paint and dark and scary picture of what could have happened – based on nothing but speculation and supposition.  It’s insane – and only God has the inside track to who I am – what I’m thinking and just what my motives are for thinking or doing them.  Again these are reactions to their own pain, hurt, confusion and frustration.  And I can only pray for them and feel sorry.

My husband knows more than anybody how I have wrestled with criticism – founded and unfounded by those who at one time were my friends.  And how I have done the long hard work of keeping my heart clean from resentment from those who would still judge me without really knowing me and try to hold me hostage for my past mistakes.  I am guilty as charged.  I’m graciously forgiven by my Lord and Saviour.   I have had to be broken before God to make sure that everything is right inside of me.  And I learned something.  Even when you do this – even when everything is forgiven and covered by God – there are those that still will not believe it. And never will.  Therefore the only reaction that I really care about is God’s reaction to me –  and God’s alone.

There is such amazing freedom in this – He loves me.  He forgives my many mistakes.  He has covered all the sin in my life as He promises to do.  He is gracious and full of mercy – and does not react in a bad way – making me pay somehow.  Nor does he remind me of the past – and just how sinful and terrible I am.  I am then free to love you – with no apprehension – with no hidden agenda – just pure motive of wanting a right relationship – insomuch as is in my power to do so.

And those that continue to react badly – those are the people you feel sorry for – assign them an ‘outer orbit’ and you cut them loose – hoping and praying that others will be kinder to them – then they have shown kindness.  And that they will someday learn that it’s just not worth it to point the finger of blame.  And much better to just let it go and forgive – especially themselves.

I am praying for you

God Bless

It Is What It Is

A warm embrace

Image by Tamara van Molken via Flickr

The longer that I live – the more I am convinced of two things:

1) I have WAY more questions than answers.

and

2) God is the one who adds and subtracts people from our lives.

To address point #1 – let me just say that I think this stinks – BIG TIME.  I’m a ‘give me an answer’ kind of girl.  Everything must happen for a reason – Every question should have an answer – every conflict should be able to be resolved – ask a simple question – get a simple answer etc, etc.  But this is clearly NOT the case when talking about complex people and complicated situations.  Unfortunately we allow things to be WAY more complicated than they need to be – but  it always comes down to this:

It is what it is.

And like the Billy Joel song I have posted below, that I love and can relate to in many ways, ‘And so it goes, and so it goes, and you’re the only one who knows.’  It is clear that we are not meant to know all the answers and…

Sometimes…

It is what it is

And so it goes.

To #2 – I simply say this:  God does amazing things in our lives behind the scenes.  I am proof of  that.  Just when I’ve needed a certain personality in my world – He  positioned someone kind and accepting to help me through a dark and sad time of struggle.  And though it’s been said before – it bears repeating: Sometimes it is only for a season. And then – the next thing I know – they are gone – removed from my life like a distant echo of the past.  I miss them – their presence and difference they made in my life – the laughter and the happy times – so I mourn.  But only for a while.  Then something amazing will happen – another friend will step in who has ‘like mindedness’ and fills a gap in my wounded heart – and you know it’s a God thing.  These friends are the ones who stay. Bringing laughter, hope and understanding into my daily world.

But sometimes there are those who do damage on their way out of my life.  To those that do this – slam a ‘proverbial door’ as they leave my world – hide behind other people – blame – point fingers and run away – and allow themselves to adopt a mindset of distance and silence – believing things that they know deep down inside are not true – this makes me the most sad.   I believe it is those individuals that are missing out on God’s richest blessings of forgiveness and full reconciliation. They have bought into a lie:  That some things cannot be healed – some things cannot be forgiven.  And they will never know how their wounded and broken heart can be healed by the wonderful love and forgiveness of a lost friendship.  They will never know that those they have desperately tried to cut out of their lives – are the very ones that will be able to answer the questions for them and begin the healing process – and they will never know that these are the ones that will forgive and allow them to start over. Helping them to truly make sense of what went wrong in the first place.  That is a ‘God thing’ when it is done right – when hearts are soft and pliable – and people are ready to put the past finally and completely behind them.

But in the end –

It is what it is.

And so it goes.

I have been given a gift.  I have been forgiven.  And God’s richest blessings are now in my life.  I’m not perfect – I’ve blown it big time – but He’s allowed me to share in the gift of struggle – to understand myself and those around me.  And because He has lavishly poured His love out on me  – I can love and forgive you – and welcome you with open arms – even if you have wronged me.

I am praying God’s richest blessing on your life – that you will find that the  blessed additions and subtractions in your life – those that are there – or not there are for a reason – and is for a higher purpose than you know.  Although there are not always answers to the questions – there is always a reason. And forgiveness and reconciliation is always possible with God. Don’t give up.  Always trust, hope and believe – that there will be answers to the questions – one day.

God Bless

Working The Anger Out

"Always write angry letters to your enemi...

Image by Abby Lanes via Flickr

‎”Always write angry letters to your enemies. Never mail them.” – James Fallows

How many times have we done this? I know I have.  More than once.  My own dear husband admits to writing one of these to me a couple of years ago – and never let me read it – and he’s glad – so am I.

Letters written with anger are never restorative. Instead they can do real damage – as the written word is forever.  It is always imprinted on the memory and heart and is a tough thing to move past.

I don’t believe it is a sin to be angry.  Jesus was angry – many times.  He never sinned in anger and asks that we do the same.  There are going to be things that make us angry – it’s just a fact of life.  There are things we can’t understand – things we can’t resolve and the list goes on and on.

I wrote one of these ‘angry’ letters to a friend I had a falling out with – but I’m so glad I never mailed it – or passed it through an email.  The letter was for me alone – part of my healing to just ‘get it out’ on paper and reevaluate what went wrong – and validate me as a person.  Sometimes this is a necessary thing to do.  Once the anger and emotion is passed – often times there is something left in its place.  Perspective and sadness. Sadness for the circumstances – and perspective that time passing brings – taking the punch out of the anger.  Sadness that so much time is lost in the mean time.

I must admit that I don’t get angry very often.  I’m pretty even-tempered – yet I’m passionate about certain things – but usually not angry.  I love people in my life – deeply.  Love my family and friends with a solid love.  I think what really sets me off are ‘half truths’ told about me – or people totally misunderstanding me and passing me off as something that is not even true.  And being helpless to change this opinion.  Another thing that really sets me off is being helpless to change past circumstances that got blown WAY out of proportion.  I am naive enough to believe that adults should be able to get past themselves – truly and totally forgive – to save the relationship – learn from mistakes of the past and be restored in every sense of the word.  My dear husband smiles at me and pats me on the head – like I’m a small child full of innocence and wonder.  And says, ‘Oh Cindy – that is just not the real world’

And so writing letters are for me alone. God is the only one who sees them.  And He is doing a deep work of art – in my heart.  Helping me work out the disappointment, hurt and anger – and stop it before I spew it on others close to me.  I’ve kept a journal for years – and recently I told ‘my story’ as I remember it.  We all have our ‘story’ don’t we?  Mistakes we have made?  Someone that has hurt you?  Something you can’t fix on your own?  Yes – we all do.

Can I be angry and not sin?  That is the challenge for me. Can I still be passionate about wanting change – and not push before people are ready for change?  Can I keep who I am intact – and not lose myself to emotion?  Can I do and feel what is right – and not compromise what I feel God would want me to do?  Follow His leading and direction – rather than what others tell me?  Know myself so well – that it is not a dilemma for me to restore others in love?  These are the questions I struggle with – daily.  And sometimes what I feel God is leading me to do – is not the popular consensus.

My encouragement for you is this:  Write that angry emotional letter – get it all out!  All of it. The feelings and emotions – the being misunderstood – the slander against you – the feelings of betrayal and being wronged.   Imagine taking a walk with that person who has wronged you.  Find a nice place to stop along the road – a nice grassy patch that’s very quiet and peaceful.  Take out the letter and read it out-loud to that person.  Ask them not to interrupt you until you’re done reading it.  This letter will say it all – and you won’t have to depend on your memory – and get lost in emotion – you can just read it.  Imagine that they hear you.  Really hear you. Imagine that they understand – and that they feel sorry for causing you pain – and they accept your apology too.  Imagine the conversation of healing and restoration – even if you have to MAKE IT UP.  Remember – it is for you. It is part of your heart healing – and letting go of the anger.

I have done this – not once – but many times. It is always a restorative conversation.  The anger is no longer there.  I am still writing – and there are days when I have to take that walk with someone again and read a letter – forgive and be forgiven – and have a healing conversation.  There are days when I have to forgive myself all over again.  I wish I could say that all of my relationships have been finally worked out and are restored – back in good daily communication – having put the past behind – but sadly this is not true.  But I still wait in anticipation for God to truly restore and heal – and bring back to me – what was once lost. There must still be lessons for me to learn. Until then – I am still working on me. I am in process – on a long journey.

God Bless

Having A ‘Jaws’ Season

Cover of "Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition)...

Cover of Jaws (30th Anniversary Edition)

Last night Greg and I watched a 2 hour documentary about the making of the movie ‘Jaws’ – released in 1975.  I remember going to see ‘Jaws’ that summer with some friends – in fact I’ll never forget it.  It reinforced my very strong fear of the water and especially the ocean.

What looks easy to the observer, however, often is just the opposite.  This movie was fraught with disasters, cast and crew problems and weather complications filming on the open sea.  As I watched all of this – my appreciation for a great film increased as was my admiration for the film’s young director, Steven Spielberg who was just 27 years old at the time.

Spielberg, in a very candid interview about his memories of making this film said this, “Everyday I was worried I would get fired – I thought it would finish me as a director – but I keep pushing on anyway”  And push on he did – way over budget and past the breaking point for cast and crew many times.  He worked well under the stress – even Richard Dreyfess said, “All Steven did was bite his nails”   Well you know the rest – ‘Jaws’ brought many records that year and was the first of what we would call ‘blockbuster’ films of that era.  What could have been Spielberg’s worst disaster – turned out to be his greatest achievement and his shining moment.  All because he did not give up and give in to the negative – worked with integrity and finished it.  A true masterpiece.

How many times have I been through a ‘Jaws’ season?  Too many.  But I have also learned something.  Even in my darkest times as a human being – my true self comes out in a way in which I cannot hide.  It is my true nature – my default setting.  And often times what feels like my most disastrous season – may also be my finest moment.

Every ‘saint’ of the Bible went through their own ‘Jaws’ period at one time or another.  What separated them from other people – was that they were people of faith and they trusted God – kept their heart right – and didn’t compromise who they were even when hit with hard times.  They kept believing – kept hoping and kept loving.

Have you ever had a ‘Jaws’ season?  A time when trouble came to you – hung on and wouldn’t let go?  An illness or family problem that you just couldn’t brush aside – but that went on and on – forever?  A stress or heartbreak that threatens to swallow you?  Hang on.  Don’t lose hope.  Help is on the way.  And though you cannot see it – there is a reason.  And someday you will have the answers to the questions.  The real you is being formed and shaped.  There is a purpose for the pain.

Here is a song by Amy Grant that has always helped me when I’m hit with a difficult season.

We Like Sheep

I am like a Sheep.  I am a Sheep.  And so are  you.

I find it interesting that of all the creatures on earth, Jesus compared us to sheep.  The first reason is clear – He took ordinary things in people’s lives and used them for illustration, to make His message understandable by the ordinary working class.  But there is also another reason.  Those that have worked with sheep and been with them for any length of time can testify that there is nothing quite so dumb as a sheep. The comparison is true.  It is speaking of you and me.

Sheep wander, they get lost, and believe it or not – they DO NOT LEARN.

It’s almost insulting to be compared to these hopelessly ridiculous creatures – and yet…

I am humbled by the words of Jesus.  And touched by His protection over me – just like a shepherd.  Protecting, leading and guiding.  Watching, hoping and believing that I’ll finally get it right.  All the while knowing that it is a stretch because I am a sheep. Hopelessly dumb – and constantly wandering and yes –  even getting lost.  I break away many times in my much-anticipated freedom – breaking off the restraints that hold me safe – only to find that I am more lost than ever before.  I blow it – get off track and wander even further away from His loving arms of protection – it is then that I realize – I am nothing without the lavish love of the Great Shepherd.  Will I ever get it right?  Will I ever learn?  And this is why – we need a Savior.  Jesus came to save His lost sheep.  It wasn’t enough that the lost were found – He loved them so much that He died for them.

Sheep-flock with shepherd.......

Image by Astrid Photography. via Flickr

Isaiah 53 (Message Bible)

We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him.

 

Who else do you know that loves you so much?  Would anyone you know really die for you?  How about someone you didn’t know?  How about then?  Is there anyone you can think  of that would do that?  This is exactly what Jesus did.  He died ‘while we were yet sinners’ still living far from Him – wandering around and doing our own thing – getting lost and messing it up – just like sheep.

Are you in need of a Shepherd today?  Call out His name – He’ll be there in a hurry to rescue you and to lovingly embrace you with His protective arms – keeping you on a safe path.  Stay close to Him and He will watch over you with a relentless love. Always.

 

God Bless

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