Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘reflection’ Category

What Else You Got?

Cover of "Love Is A Decision"

Cover of Love Is A Decision

We have good manners (or at least we should) we have possessions and things and we have potential to be the best we can be.

But we are living in a society with failed marriages all around us.  They fail – even when people have all the above things in spade.

We get married because we’re in love.

We are well-mannered, and well-meaning – even bringing material things and all kinds of potential with us.

And still – many marriages fail.

So I ask the question:  WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?

Love – check

Good manners – check

Well meaning – check

Some material possessions – check

WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?

You see – every marriage that fails – started out with these things too.  Yours is no different.  Or is it?

I have learned a few things being married almost 30 years.  It takes much more than just love, good manners, material possessions and well-meaning to make a good strong lasting relationship – that can go the distance.

WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?

When the bottom drops out – life goes sideways and things aren’t fun anymore?

When crisis touches your family – financial security goes out the window and illness comes to stay?

When you have nothing else to give and the emotion of love is gone?

Here are some practical things to think about when contemplating marriage or in trying to better yours.

1. Love – ah the very word just makes us all warm and tingly, right?  It is something that great songs and Hallmark movies are made of.  “Love is all you need” and “Love means never  having to say you’re sorry” blah blah blah.  Nice sentiments – they sound so good and sing well – but they are NOT true!    I wish it was.  And there was a time not so long ago that I really thought love would be enough – but it was not.  Love is great but it can only take you so far.  Love is the great leveler – but it can also mess with your emotions and blind you. It is not enough when emotions can be fickle – and that feeling of romance and newness wears off eventually with anyone – especially in a long-term marriage.  This can be a  problem for people – if they don’t feel it anymore. Love – is a decision, therefore – not just an emotion.  It is an act of our will.

2. Friendship is wonderful and much more solid.  And friendship in marriage is a must. How many times have I heard that a couple was “in love” but as time wore on – they discovered that they did not even really know each other well – and they were startled to find out that they were not even friends.  When the emotion of love and romance wears thin – you must have something left to fall into – something safe and comfortable.  A friendship of heart and soul can save you when your marriage goes through a rocky patch – as all marriages do.

3. Respect in a marriage is also a must.  Many partners lose respect for each other when times are not exciting anymore – they withhold love – aren’t friends and don’t like each other anymore.  This leads to so many problems – the first and foremost is a sabotage of their own relationship.  Respect is given – as well as taken.  You must respect your spouse – but they  must also respect you.  And it is hard to hold that line – if you yourself are not respecting them.  How many times over the years have I seen couples talking badly to each other – even in public.  That is not good.  But you must be the first to respect. If you show kindness and proper respect for them – they will not be able to help but return it.  But you cannot have it only one way.  And respecting  means supporting your partner through good and bad times.  Finding a way to encourage the hopes and dreams of him or her and being that safe person that they can trust when life goes sideways.

4. Lead with your head and your heart will follow.  If you always allow your heart to lead you – you will be in trouble – as the heart is fickle and changeable – like the emotion of love.  We can feel love for many different people we have chemistry with. That doesn’t mean it is real. This is a hard one for many to deal with.  A long-term relationship isn’t always going to give you “tingles” – and if you get bored easily or need excitement 24/7 –  then long-term marriage isn’t for you.   But normally something needs to happen in you first.  You can’t always change things for the better – but that is the place to start.

5.  Be the person of integrity and character that you expect your partner to be. Living a life of character is hard.  We are not perfect and slip and fall in so many ways.  It is a daily choice – and sadly I have not always lived up to this – and maybe you have not either.  Don’t give up.  If you blow it – Jesus forgives – get up and try again.  He has promised to be with us on our daily journey and He will be there to help and guide us – giving us words of encouragement through His word and speaking softly to us through prayer.  He understands that it is hard to go through life without temptations – in fact we need to know that THEY ARE COMING.  No one is immune. Brush yourself off – and begin again – each new day is another chance to get it right.

5.  Don’t play the “blame game”.  That’s way too easy – and such a cop-out!  “They don’t respect me” or “They’re withholding” or “They don’t understand me” or “They don’t meet my needs” – are very common things that are said when going through a serious problem.  Instead of blaming – try finding out what is happening inside of you.  Have you stopped respecting them?  Have you withheld to punish or teach a lesson?  Have you failed to understand because they don’t understand you?  Do you meet their needs?

6.  Be the best person, lover, friend and confidant that you can be.  It starts with you.  Marriages still fail – but not usually when couples are sensitive to each others needs – putting their feelings and needs ahead of your own agenda and even your own happiness.  What you sow into them – in love, compassion, understanding, respect and friendship it WILL COME BACK TO YOU. And you CAN turn even a bad marriage around.  You can rekindle a dying relationship – bring a spark of life because of attention and determination – disciplining your heart and your mind to honor and love first – and let the feeling comes later.  Wait for it – it will come.

When couples wants to get married because “they’re in love” – this needs to be our question for them:

WHAT ELSE YOU GOT?

God Bless

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Truth Or Spare?

Truth

Image by TW Collins via Flickr

Yesterday my husband and I were returning from a fun date night in the snow – after having gone to Taco Bell and then Starbucks for a cup of coffee – we were returning home when we landed on such an interesting subject – I just HAD to write a blog article about it.

We were talking about something we had seen the night before on an episode of one of our favorite shows, “House”.  In this episode, House was addressing a group of grade school kids – and said to them, ‘Everyone lies’.

We all do it – we say we don’t – but we do.  Even Bill Cosby in his book, “Bill Cosby Himself”, said – ‘I love it when people will say that they LOVE children because they are so truthful.  The only time children tell the truth is when they’re in pain’.  So true – children learn to be manipulative from a very early age – we all have done it.  We know how to twist the truth to get our way – blame someone else when something is broken – lie about being sick so we get to stay home from school – or to watch a special program on TV.

We learn it as children and then get better at it when we are grown.    Oh I don’t mean terrible lies – but everyone tells little white lies – and mostly they are harmless.  But is it ever right to tell a lie?

What about telling a lie to spare someone’s feelings?  We all have done it.  A good friend gets a really bad haircut – or a new outfit and they ask you point-blank – “How do I look?”  You wouldn’t hurt your friend for the world – and so even if it’s not great – even really bad – you lie and say, “I think you look great!”  Which you know you don’t mean – but you love them and wish to spare them. You say, “I was protecting them”.

And let’s face it.  Sometimes the cold hard truth – can be very damaging.  There are those that seem to take great pleasure in doing this.  You know the people I mean – the black and white folk who see NO GRAY and have to tell it like it is – even being brutally honest – because – hey – it’s the truth!  Usually those folks are fine with giving it – but not so great at receiving it.

Is it okay to lie a little – when it’s to protect someone?  Their delicate and fragile feelings?  What about when it’s to protect yourself? What then?

We all have some pretty interesting conversations and thoughts going on in our heads that no one can see and hear.  It would be really humiliating to have it exposed at times – because besides you and God – no one hears and sees what is going on inside.

There have been times when my husband wants to know what’s going on there – I think he may even be afraid to ask – in this new season we are in of ‘absolute honesty’ – but still I am selective about what I tell him – I don’t wish to hurt him – so I withhold the ‘truth’ a lot of times or dummy it down.  I’m sure he does this for me as well.  Everyone does this.  We would be SCARED TO DEATH to know what it is lurking in everyone’s minds.  This is why I keep a journal.  They are my private thoughts – reserved for myself.  I don’t want anyone reading it – nor should anyone.  They would misunderstand – these are my thoughts alone.

I believe that’s why people write their thoughts down – it is a way of getting them out – a way to reflect and pray – a way to allow the love of Jesus to renew and refresh – validate and kiss the ideas, questions and inspirations that come from living, failing, hurting and struggling and then ultimately finding that in doing so – brings perspective and healing – and a joy to begin again each new day.  They are not meant for another human being – who could get their feelings hurt – misunderstand the heart of what’s being thought about and so on.

If you’ve ever been exposed – or had things you’ve said in a journal – or to a special friend come out – to another person completely out of context – then you know the pain in which I am referring.  Those thoughts that were not meant for others to see – But that were the internal questioning, searching and struggling that was meant for someone you trust and for God – to help and bring perspective your troubled and questioning soul.

Can we always be completely transparent with what we are thinking and feeling?  I don’t think we can – nor do I think it’s wise.  First of all – not everyone knows us well enough for us to empty our thoughts out to them.  I believe there is a certain wisdom in being cautious and even guarded about subjects that are dicey and sensitive.  I know for me – I will never reveal things about myself to someone who I cannot trust with my life – words have an ugly way of coming back when I have not been wise and the truth can come back to bite me – my own words of authenticity – can be perceived as dangerous and rebellious to those who do not understand my heart – and motive.

So when do we reveal?  When do we spare?  I believe we need to be wise, cautious, loving and encouraging to those around us and in our world.  I believe that not every random thought needs to be said.  I believe in discretion.  But I also believe in being me – and not letting fear of what has been revealed or what may be revealed in the future about me and my words and thoughts – prevent me from being who I really am – and steal my joy.

This is a daily balancing act.  My thoughts and feelings – my internal dialogue, questions and musings that go on inside my head.

And as for the truth – we all tell it – at least our version of it. And if we’re really honest we would have to admit that we ‘spare’ way more than we ‘reveal’.  And sometime the only time we ever really tell the real truth in regard to another person – is when they are in danger, hurting or in trouble – and we need to intervene on their behalf.

Lord help me to work on me – to make me more like you – no hidden agenda – no personal gain.  Help me to love like you do – to be good, honest, kind and giving.  To live a life of integrity – but also of graciousness with all of those entrusted to me – just like you are gracious and kind to me – telling me the truth in such a way that it helps me – doesn’t hurt me – that corrects and convicts me to live better and want to be an example of your love to others.  The AMAZING thing is this:  You know me – and all my thoughts and still you accept me just the way I am.  That is freedom. Help me to model this behavior to those around me.  Help me accept people just the way they are – no questions – no opinions – no judgment.

This is the only way to live.  And that’s the truth.

God Bless

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Walking In My Pastor’s Shoes

The following article was written by my good friend, Deanna Morauski.  Deanna and I go way back – have known each other for 15 years now, served on a church staff for about 5 of those years – and then recently reconnected through facebook in the 2 years.  She is an excellent writer, counselor, wife, mother and friend to many.  She and her husband run a beautiful little place called ‘The Old Hen Bed and Breakfast’ located in North Bend Washington – and my husband and I have been out there numerous times to share friendship, food and laughter with them.  I hope you will be encouraged by her writing today!  God Bless!

Walking in My Pastor’s Shoes

Every time that I write, I make 100% sure that I am not writing about current feelings and observations when it comes to ministry before I type a single word. Tonight I am breaking my own rule because I feel that being honest and real about where I am today is the best thing to share. Usually I pull from my past so that others can learn from my stories and experiences. Today I am pulling my past together with my present… from both sides of ministry.

I have been in ministry of various kinds of roles from youth group vice president, class president, writer, teacher and counselor, deacon, speaker, pastor and pastor’s wife. I have been a follower, a leader, a follower that didn’t realize that she was leading and a leader who looked back to find that no one was following. In the last five years I have dedicated my skills to supporting my husband often behind the scenes in a church plant, the most difficult role of all.

Although I have had only three pastors of my own in my life: one as a child, one when I moved out on my own and my husband, I have found plenty of time to judge many. I have come to a new place of repentance today. I have had to repent for every pastor that I have ever judged…

I have sat under the leadership of a pastor that was boring, one that talked about his little kids too often, and the one who played favorites. The pastor down the road with a sweet little family of his own who had an affair with a teenager and got her pregnant, the one who had an affair with a church member, and the one who was so evangelistic that he couldn’t remember my name even though I was a part of his church for 10 years. Oh, and did I mention that his favorite hymn didn’t make sense to me and his wife sang alto which isn’t pretty to you when you are only 12 years old?

Then I remembered today the one who I admired that had an emotional affair with someone in his church and the one who joked poorly about his wife. Better yet, there was the pastor who seemed to be prideful when he won awards for his church giving so much money to missions and then I even judged another one because he was being so judgmental about the pastor who seemed prideful over his missions giving!

How about that pastor who told me I would work well with children when the only kids I had ever babysat were my two cousins because I didn’t enjoy being around kids? How out of touch was he? And that pastor who didn’t do anything about his congregation smoking in the parking lot right after church, how could he ignore such a thing? I mean, after all, it was a Sunday!

Then there was the guy who was verbally mean to his wife in front of others and was out of control angry when he went to his kid’s sports games. Some friends of mine judged his wife too. They left the church because they didn’t like it that she sang the song “I am the God That Healeth Thee,” (a song written in 1986) because it seemed to them that she was singing about how SHE was claiming to be God. Then there were all the youth pastors in training that took wearing ties to church to the utmost level of importance along with the one who annoyingly declared, “God is good…” waiting for someone to finish his sentence with the words, “all the time” as he trotted through the hallways.

I remember the pastor who spiraled into depression because someone told him he was selfish… how weak of him. No, wait, how HUMAN of him. The very men and women who are teaching us about God’s grace and have showed us grace need the very same grace that we do.

Lord, please forgive me for judging my pastors as well as my friends and family member’s pastors. Please forgive me for every phrase of theirs that I twisted and then repeated. Please forgive my attitude of pride. Please have grace on my husband and me now we are in their shoes.

I remember learning about giving grace from these men and women, learning about reaching out to others, how to worship you, how to talk with you in the private moments I have alone with you… and most of all thank you for giving me the guidance from those much wiser than I to apply your word not only to my head but allowing your truth to touch my heart and change me each step of the way.

Thank you for using the pastor’s wife who sang alto to teach me how to serve others gracefully and how to make my home warm and comfortable for others. Thank you for teaching me endurance from the pastor’s wife who endured criticism when her husband strayed from her. Thank you for teaching me the needs of missionaries that I cannot see and would easily forget about if it weren’t for my award winning pastor and evangelistic pastor who could not remember my name.

Thank you for developing my love for children through the anger I had to face when my pastor was out of touch with my discomfort around children. Thank you so much for reminding me that you are the God that healeth me through my pastor’s wife who obviously was just relaying your words to me through song.

Thank you for the nod of fatherly approval from my very first pastor before he passed away last year, even though he still didn’t get my name right. I know that he loved me and he had a bigger picture of life than I had because he saw the world through your calling.

Please forgive me for judging these lovers of people and servants of yours. Had they been perfect, I would have judged them for that too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pastor Deanna Morauski, CMHC – Deanna’s love for baking and cooking began as she sat upon a baker’s stool as a little girl. Her love for people grew in the midst of church potlucks. Deanna has been a pastor’s wife since 1997. She expresses her loves today creatively through photography and writing for her foodie blog, tastehope.com, as well as hosting guests at her inn, The Old Hen Bed & Breakfast in Snoqualmie Valley, Washington.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I Corinthians 13:4-7

I Knew You Were Waiting

Great song – uplifting lyrics sung by George Michael and the legendary Aretha Franklin.  I had it on one of my many music CD’s – and it was playing while I was getting ready yesterday in my bathroom.  I’ve always loved it because of the positive message it brings.  Be sure and follow the link to youtube and watch it there.

Enjoy and God Bless!

Like a warrior that fights
And wins the battle
I know the taste of victory
Though I went through some nights
Consumed by the shadows

And was crippled emotionally
Somehow I made it through the heartache
I escaped
I found my way out of the darkness, kept my faith
Kept my faith

[Chorus]
And the river was deep I didn’t falter
When the mountain was high
I still believed
When the valley was low
It didn’t stop me
I knew you were waiting

Knew you were waiting for me
With and endless desire
I kept on searching
Sure in time our eyes would meet
And like the bridge is on fire

The hurt is over
One touch and you set me free
I don’t regret a single moment
Looking back, when I think of all those disappointments
I just laugh, I just laugh

[Chorus]

So we were drawn together through destiny
I know this love we share was meant to be
It’s only love

Two Years? Let’s Celebrate!

The logo of the blogging software WordPress.

Image via Wikipedia

Two years ago this month was my first blog article – and the beginning of a wonderful relationship and growing passion for writing.

In that amount of time I have come to appreciate those that have been in this crazy little corner of the world with me – our blog sites – and have made many new friends.  It’s sobering to note that had I not ventured out – taken a risk to open up and be truly authentic (at least as authentic as I feel appropriate) – I would not have met and developed those relationships – found a mutual love with these people, help and encouragement through the good, the bad – and the ugly.  Most of these people whom I speak of can be found on my blogroll down below.  Some I knew before – most I did not – and some I reconnected with because of blogging.

Those of you that are daily in my daily blogging life – contributing to a laugh, or a sigh – bringing clarity and humor to this crazy world – thank you. Let’s never be too busy to write a word of encouragement to each other – the writer knows how important that is – like no other.

I’ve learned a great many things over the last two years – have been daily inspired and encouraged by things I’ve read by all of you – and have found many topics to reflect on and write about myself.  Life is full of opportunities – if we just open up our eyes!  I look forward to many more anniversaries – writing and reflecting about my journey!

Thank you – to all of my readers! ♥  And if you’re a daily reader but never leave a comment – I want to encourage you – let me know that you’re reading and leave me a comment.  Your word may be just what I need to hear – or what someone else needs to hear – on that very day.  Our words are powerful – don’t hold them back.

 

God Bless

Dark Night Of The Soul

“There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”

Corrie Ten Boom

I love the movie, ‘The Hiding Place‘ – where the above quote comes from. Corrie Ten Boom was a survivor of the Holocaust – and saw unspeakable things while she and her older sister, both of them women in their 50’s were held prisoner by the Germans. Her sister never lost her faith during that time in the concentration camps – believed, hoped and encouraged others not to become bitter – not to hate. She became ill and died at the hands of the ones who had been so cruel. It was after Corrie was released from prison – due to a clerical error – that she was able to see God‘s purpose and plan for her life – even in that ‘pit’. And she became an ambassador for Christ and His great love and provision for her – to countless millions of people around the world. If anyone knew about the ‘dark night of the soul‘ – it was this lady.

We have all experienced this – a situation that makes us evaluate our lives – and challenges everything we believe in. Most of us have never been in a situation or circumstance like Corrie Ten Boom – but we all have suffered our own degrees of sadness, depression, hurt, frustration, loss and helplessness. We all have longed for peace from strife – knowledge from endless questions and release from hurt and pain.

I’m so glad that I have a relationship with Jesus Christ – and I know for sure there is no place so dark – that His light cannot be seen – no place so deep, that He is not deeper still. I know because I’ve experienced it. I know because I have a story to tell of God’s great love and faithfulness – his hand of protection – and his grace and mercy to me – during a dark time.

Even in those times that seemed so hopeless to me – with no answers – I was not alone.

And I’m thankful that although I didn’t and still don’t understand everything about those hard places that I’ve had to experience – I’ve come to realize that I learned the most valuable lessons in those dark times. In the dark I was finally able to see things I would not have seen while the light shined so bright.

I am told that in a total eclipse of the sun – what is discovered while the sun’s brightness is covered up – is the deadly and dangerous corona which surrounds it and is usually invisible. In the same way there are dangers in my life that can be covered up in the light and are much clearer in a ‘dark’ painful time – where my senses and awareness are heightened. They are sharper and clearer during that time.  And I am forced to see them.  Giving me true courage to face what I must – turn away things from my life that are not healthy and give me final resolve.  As I battle in the dark – I learn much about myself and others who have been there – and sadly those who haven’t.  And I discover that it is in fact,  not the end.

Total Solar eclipse 1999 in France. * Addition...

Image via Wikipedia

And like you – I’m still learning. I’m learning that the ‘dark night of the soul’ – is not the end of the world. It’s the place where fear of the unknown and true surrender come together. It is the place where giving up and temptation meet with resignation and strength.

It is a place where I begin:

Letting go – and giving in.

Losing everything I hold

Waving goodbye – and saying hello

Realizing false strength – and true weakness

Gaining much-needed perspective

Being engulfed by heaviness that I cannot lift

And sadness I can taste

A testing of my strength and will – and looking for any light

This, my friends – is the ‘dark night of the soul’.  It is surrender.

If you are having a season like this – it’s okay. It will not last forever. And although you may not ever get the answers you need – your heart will one day find the resignation – to the questions. And you will not always feel sad – or hopeless. This dark night may turn out to be your greatest testimony.  And your finest moment if you will allow the Savior in.  You will find Him ready to meet with you there.  And when you look back – you will realize that He carried you.   And your faith will never be the same.   Someday, you will be able to help someone else – because you will know and understand.

I found a beautiful song by Kate Campbell. If you are experiencing that ‘dark night of the soul’ or have recently experienced it – this song is for you.

God Bless

Fragile Like A Tree

Redwood grove on north flank of Sonoma Mountai...

Image via Wikipedia

Our pastor used a great illustration several months ago.   He told about the redwood trees found in Northern California.  Greg and I know all about the redwoods because this is  where Greg and I pastored a small church for 3 1/2 years in the early 90’s.

Redwood trees are the largest trees in the world.  So large that you can drive a car through them – and in fact there is a tree with a hole cut out of it where a car COULD drive through – we’ve been there to see it.  But something very strange about these trees – their roots are actually very shallow – only a couple of meters deep. You would think that for trees this size – the root system would wind down for hundreds of feet and they would be very strong and invincible.  But they are not.  They are very vulnerable by themselves.  Their real strength comes from the other trees.   They act as a barrier and protection when close together.

We have much to learn from these massive beautiful trees.  They appear so strong and stable.  But they have a weakness.  And like the trees, so do we.  We cannot stand alone.  Oh I guess we CAN – but we SHOULD not.  We need each other.  We are fragile – like these trees.

Who are you close to?  Do you have anyone in your life that acts as a barrier and protection?  Who has your back?

We started a small group in our home with other like-minded and fragile people.  As we share our stories of joy and pain – it is good to know that we were never meant to do life alone.  We need each other.  I need support and help from my brothers and sisters – those who can share my everyday battles, opportunities and  circumstances – but who also have my back when life goes sideways – giving support and holding me close,  offering assistance and encouragement to keep me from giving up – or from falling over – like a tree.

I’m thankful for the people who God has placed in my life and along my journey to help to encourage me, lift me up and be there to protect and love me – when I mess up, get it wrong and need a little extra grace.  My friends – the trees in my life.

God Bless

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