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The Love Relationship

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I was in the gym today with Greg when he said something that sparked a long humorous conversation.  He was trying to tell me something – I didn’t hear correctly – started to interject something totally different – and he stopped me and said, ‘You’re just not hearing me – you’re not hearing my heart‘  Oh brother.  I say ‘Oh brother’ because he is saying it with TONS of sarcasm in his voice – and a chuckle at my expense!!

This has been a part of our love relationship for years now.  The differences in us that make us laugh.  Greg making fun of women – (mainly me) and imitating  all the silly ‘girly’ phrases and things we women do.  It works for him – because he always manages to get some kind of reaction from me – and he likes that.  And I tease and poke fun at him – when he becomes too serious – or too stuffy – and it always makes him laugh.

Men love to make fun of women.  Case and Point:  The movie ‘Titanic” – where the old Rose is saying about her memory of Jack (the man she loved) – ‘he saved me in every way a woman can be saved’.  Greg loves to make fun at that movie – and especially cheesy lines like that.  His first response is – ‘You’ve GOT to be kidding, right’?  But I know what she meant by that line in the movie – women get it. Women understand these deep mysteries of feelings and emotions – and Men pretend they don’t. When probed – I have discovered that men really do get it – it’s just not ‘manly’ to admit it.

Now why is this?  Men have feelings and emotions – this is for certain – and no one can hurt a man like a woman can.  Remember the recent series “Men of a certain age”?   Actor Ray Romano tells his son about women, ‘they have many ways they can hurt us”.

So if this is true – and men feel the same feelings about love and other things that we do – why is it considered weak – or ‘girly’ to admit it?  Very few men will admit to crying at a sad movie – although I’ve seen both my husband and son do it – but not many others.  Most men are guarded when it comes to expressing those ‘touchy feely’ feelings.  And I believe it is drilled into them as little boys to be tough and not show emotion.  That somehow it weakens them to admit they struggle – or have fear – or are afraid – or feel helpless in the midst of love – or can be hurt enough to cry.  Remember the song in the 70’s by the group ’10cc’ where one of the lines is ‘Big boys don’t cry’?  How sad that men believe this – how sad that they are made to feel they must be like this.

It is interesting that when you know a man – really know him – he is not afraid to reveal some of that emotion.  But he must feel safe. And just because they don’t feel like they always can express emotions like a woman can – does not mean that they don’t have them.

I’ve been married to this man of mine for 29 years this Sunday – and one of the great things I’ve discovered is this:  we are different – but we are basically the same underneath all the layers.  Our emotions are basically the same – with different reactions to pain and hurt.  We both know what it feels like to be vulnerable and misunderstood – or to be used and tossed aside.  We both understand love and relationships – and have felt all sorts of emotions in relation to each other and in raising children.  We both can still make each other laugh – and we’re great friends – even through some of the rough patches that life has thrown at us.  And that’s so nice to know. ♥

He will continue to tease and make fun – I will continue to make him scratch his head in confusion – and make him laugh – it is our dance.  And so our journey continues – with its mysteries and lessons – and its laughter. It is our story – it is our love relationship.

What Scares You?

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

I thought about this quote today and realize the importance of ‘stepping out’ of my own comfort zone to insure that I keep growing. How easy it is to stay where I’m comfortable – no pressure – no expectations – no work. But on the flip side – no lesson learned – no real positive change – no opportunity to influence others by being unafraid to face things head on.

Last week I was asked by friend, radio host and local pastor, Doug Bursch to be on his radio show – “Live from Seattle”. I hesitated. I made excuses. Finally I could see that none of my excuses (one of them was that I teach in the afternoon when the show airs) were going to be enough – especially when a time slot was found that could accommodate me. The subject he was going to interview me on: Blogging and what God was speaking to me. Now before you judge my hesitations – just remember that I am the girl that has no problem singing you a song – or playing the piano at a recital for my students – can teach music in a theater class – but usually I don’t have to ‘talk’ much. I’ve never considered myself a speaker and in fact have turned down speaking engagements when we were in ministry over the years – because I didn’t feel qualified – or had anything to say – and was just plain terrified! So when Doug asked me to do this – I was pretty nervous – and that’s the understatement!

But excuses aside – I did it anyway – knowing it was probably good for me to be forced out of my comfort zone of sitting behind my desk and typing – sharing things from my heart in written form only – and to be open to a new vehicle that God was gently nudging me in – with a little help from a friend. And I’m happy and relieved to tell you that it was not as bad as I thought – I actually could think on my feet and share what needed to be shared – was not ‘tongue tied’ or really dumb – and the nervous feeling left me almost as soon as the interview started. With a lot of help from Doug 🙂

I got to thinking – how many things scare us? Prevent us from a great blessing and possibility for growth – all because we’re terrified of stepping out? How many things have I missed out on – just because I refused to learn something new – and do something that really terrified me? Like…talking on the radio? Maybe talking to someone that could really use a friend? Doing something with children that I didn’t feel qualified for? Teaching a class? Volunteering my time to an organization? Giving of myself? Living by example? Being misunderstood?

As I thought of this – I am very aware in my own life – that I have been the reason – I’ve been the one that is afraid – afraid to tackle the strange unknown. Because of this I know that I have also held myself back from doing great things for people – for my family and friends and most of all – God’s kingdom – all because of fear. There are several ‘fear buttons’:

What if they don’t like me? They might not. Many that have known me through the years – don’t like me. I’ve managed to survive it and I’ve come to realize that not everyone will like me – and that has to be okay. But I won’t let that handicap me from being who I am – just because some don’t like me.

What if they reject me? Again – many have. Some of them that I considered good friends have rejected me – for whatever reasons of their own – walked away and have never spoken to me again. Rejection in the rawest form. But I’m still me – I’m still here – I didn’t die from the rejection. It hurt me – but I went on and found others who won’t play that game with me and don’t do that anymore. And I’m getting smarter – I’ve learned who they are – and those that are open to me and my influence are those that have won my friendship and trust.

What if I fail? Well – I’ve failed MANY times. I’m actually the ‘poster child’ for this. I can tell you how to do it and how to go down to that dark scary place – how to spiral out of control because of hurt, disappointed and frustration. But I also know that God is greater than any failure of mine – or any scrape I can get myself into – and that He is there – even in the deepest, darkest pit of self pity and pride. I know that it IS possible to dig yourself out – and begin again – because I have done it – not once – but many times. And what I find each time I fail is that His grace renews every morning – there’s enough to cover me and my mistakes. And the lessons learned from failing are invaluable and actually make me stronger and wiser. So failing doesn’t not scare me anymore. I can actually look failure in the face and say, ‘you don’t own me anymore’.

What if I can’t handle it? I’ve been there too. There are still days when I don’t feel as if I’m up to the task – and my daily schedule of teaching students can be a daunting task. There are days when I actually dread it. And I’ve had those bad teaching days where I don’t feel like I’ve connected with the student at all. I mean – a really bad day. The kind of day that makes me doubt my own education and experience – makes me want to give up entirely and ‘throw in the towel’. Then something will happen – an encouragement from a parent – an email and positive affirmation of some kind – and suddenly I remember why I do – what I do. And I know that I can handle it. And God has equipped me to handle it and to ‘bloom where I’m planted’.

Do those things above scare me? You bet. Everyday. More than once a day. But I also know that God will give me what I need for that day to accomplish what I’m supposed to. I can’t do it in my own strength – nor does He expect me to. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is found in Proverbs 3:5,6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

I want to challenge you today – do something that really scares you. It may be that very thing that propels you onto a new pathway of discovery and growth – a journey that embraces and influences others in ways you never dreamed of before. Do that one thing that has been holding you back – and keeping you from missing a blessing in your life. What is it? You are the only one that can answer that. Step out and do it – you won’t be alone – He will be by your side as your greatest source of strength and encouragement. Reach out and embrace that change in your life. That change may be the beginning of your finest hour. A scary step. The thing most feared – may be your biggest blessing.

God Bless

Becoming Myself

‎”Now, with God’s help, I shall become myself” – Kierkegaard

Yesterday Greg and I were tossing around the above quote.  The simple and yet the profound.  The tangible and intangible truth of the above words – hard to fully process and difficult to wrap your mind around.

The longer I live – the more I am convinced that our lives are in process of ‘becoming’ who we are.  We are born – we have a certain ‘bent’ in our personality – those we genetically inherit and those we accumulate from our environment.  We develop in that environment – have friends in school to measure ourselves against – and if we’re really lucky – have good parents, a healthy church and many people we look up to – like teachers, coaches and mentors.  All of these help in the process of us ‘becoming’ who we are – but that in itself is not enough.

It takes many years of growing – getting through adolescence and young adulthood – to even begin to see our own unique gifts and personality.  We make shifts and adjust our likes and dislikes – to get married and have children.  For years we are lost in our lives – raising children – working outside the home – or in my case – in the home (being self-employed) and little by little – the years go by until you wake up one morning and your children – (that took over your life) – are all grown up and gone.  You get ‘judged’ or criticized for ‘just being yourself’ along the journey and little by little you make the adjustment and ‘pull yourself in’ so that you won’t stick out – be different – be wrong. After years and years we forget what it really was that made us unique – and made us ‘who we are’.

So the question is this:  Were we being our full and true self when we were younger?  Before anyone criticized us for being that? – Were we ‘ourselves’ when we were busy raising children – or going about our daily routine?  Or does becoming ourselves mean that we are on a journey – learning things from each of our experiences and taking it into the next step of our journey?  Does it also mean that I can be ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ – not hiding behind a facade of who people really think I am?   Because it’s easier?  Because it’s safer?  What if people don’t accept me for me – or even like me anymore if they find out who I am?

When you’ve spent most of your life in ministry situations like I have – you find many types of people out there.  Many that present a ‘face’ to others because it’s easier and ‘safer’ to just go along than to risk being different.  It was easier for me too.  Hiding behind a ‘title’ and a facade is much easier than risking rejection because we are who we are.

I believe the ‘with God’s help’ part comes in to play when I first acknowledge Him as the Lord of my life – allowing Him to refine and change me – my attitudes and my ‘old nature’ to become more like Him everyday.  But I also believe that God – through that process allows me to become who I am – and takes into account my personality – my strengths and weaknesses and surrounds me with people in my life that will help me and encourage me the most.  If we live lives that are dedicated to Him – and truly pray for His guidance and blessings on our daily activities and the people that we come in contact with – and those we will come in contact with – then we need not fear becoming – and being ourselves.  There is no fear – it is ‘safe’ to be me. We don’t need the ‘approval’ of man any more.

Whenever people tell me about their lives – troubles times and circumstances that brought them to this point  – they are discouraged (as we all are from time to time) and wish life could have been different – wish they could go back and make different choices. I am always quick to remind them that God used those trouble times of pain and frustration in their life – to help them become who they are today.  It is because of those circumstances – no matter what they are – that they are standing and talking about it today and they would not be who they are without them. Those very things helped to shape them into becoming themselves.

My prayer for you today is this:  That you would allow Jesus to lead you and guide your life – talk to Him about navigating through those rough patches (we all have them) and submit to the process of ‘becoming who you truly are‘ as those circumstances happen to you.  Be able to look clearly back over your shoulder at your past and say, ‘I can see now how God used that disappointment and hard time to make me stronger and set me on a different path’ or ‘I can look back and see His hand on my life during my journey.   See His hand in your life as He allowed different people in your life to help and encourage you –  and be convinced of the fact that He has been there every step of the way – in your past – here beside you today – and will continue on that road with you until you have learned everything there is to know about your journey.  That you would feel ‘safe‘ being yourself.  Let that be our prayer – all of us, to allow God to help us – as He gently leads us into the great unknown of becoming who we are.

God Bless

Wind And Sun – Which One Are You?

There is a great Aesop’s Fable about strength and gentleness – I have posted it below.  I remember the story from when I was in grade school – and was reminded of it once again when in conversation with my husband yesterday.  We were talking about those that try to ‘control’ through manipulation and force – and those that accomplish the same thing by ‘letting go’ and ‘releasing’.

God does not use forms of manipulation and ultimatums when dealing with us – He could – but He does not.  He chooses gentleness, mercy and grace.  We could all take a lesson from this – not try to ‘control’ or be ‘controlling’ with others – it always backfires and never turns out well.

We will win a lost world by our love and willingness to accept, embrace and love others – as Christ loved us.

God Bless

The North Wind and The Sun

letter N

The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.

“We shall have a contest,” said the Sun.

Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.

“As a test of strength,” said the Sun, “Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man.”

“It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat,” bragged the Wind.

The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat.

Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat.

The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter.

Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.

“How did you do that?” said the Wind.

“It was easy,” said the Sun, “I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way.”

Self-Control

Inside my mind

I am who I am

living a life

unguarded and real

Fighting a battle

with myself

that all must fight

The right to have

the right to decide

the right to control

Many decisions

daily

hold me back

or push me forward

I play a game of chance

I love the thrill

and the rush

the intoxicating darkness

that whispers and calls

it is so easy to go there

But the pain

of choices

past

ruin

hinder

hold back

and rob me

of freedom

and joy

I tremble

and wait

for another unkind word

knowing it is well deserved

hiding

pulling away

from everyone

and myself

it is guilt

it is shame

I want to resist

for a while I am strong

I can do it

no trouble

no inward battle of my will

and then…

I am slowly seduced

by a memory

or a thought

or a ‘what if’

and the game begins

and I am the loser

once again

And so the song

echoes in my head

“I’m never going back again”

and I am firmly resolved

to be weak

and frail

helpless

and undone

It is only

with Christ Jesus

I am set free

I am in full control

my weakness is made strong

when I do not try to do it alone

He teaches me

that my self-control

is the secret to my happiness

the key to my future

the mystery of saying no

and resisting

I am the winner

Sin makes you a slave

Grace sets you free

gives you self-control

peace in your heart

and makes you strong

Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Proverbs 16:32

I am praying for you today that you too will learn the secret of building ‘self control’ in your own life – so that your sin nature will not ‘own’ you – promising things that cannot be delivered.  In resisting and saying ‘no’ you embrace freedom – in surrendering to your weakness and losing your will – you will find it again.

God Bless

Acceptance – Or Just Tolerance

Heard a great Father’s Day message today from our pastor.  His main emphasis was this:  Do you accept people – or are you just tolerant?

It makes you think.  Somewhere deep inside of all of us – is this nasty habit of judging those that are different from who we are – or look different – or talk different – or do things that we don’t do.  The bible talks about this issue much in scripture – and that God is the ultimate judge of our heart and motives – and yet we still think we need to help Him out.

Maybe you were raised that drinking alcohol was wrong. Maybe it was the rules and regulations of the church you belonged to – although for the life of you – you can’t find anywhere in scripture where it actually says that it’s wrong.  It started out as a good idea once upon a time – or maybe had its roots in good upright moral principles – but then it went sideways somehow – and instead of it being a cultural thing or a church background thing – it became something more.  It became a judgement call.  You find yourself looking at those who have a glass of wine with dinner as less than spiritual.  Less of a Christian perhaps.  And they become marginalized. You politely tolerate them – but you do not accept their way of thinking. You do not accept them.  You don’t think they’re really saved.

Maybe it’s an issue of something as superficial as getting your ears pierced – or something else.  Maybe it’s a tattoo.  As was pointed out this morning – if we are going to make an issue out of a scripture in Leviticus about marking our body with a tattoo – then we better be willing to take the verse directly in front of it which talks about men cutting their hair and trimming their sideburns as being a sin.  And of course – that would be silly, right?  But we hold onto what we want to – or what we’ve been taught – and refuse to look at what scripture really means – and take the context and the heart of the message into consideration.  But how many people – especially from an older generation – just tolerate those who pierce and tattoo?  Instead of accepting.

Now accepting means I have to give in – and I have to let go.  And that is my safety net – to believe in something so strongly.  I feel justified.  I feel right.  I am right.  It means giving up that right – in deference to you.  It means swallowing my pride and self-righteous attitude and allowing you to be right.

Jesus came along as a radical to teach us that the Kingdom of God is backwards from what we normally think.  It teaches us to be servants and the lowest of all – when we want to be seen and heard and be the one in charge.  It teaches that we must be willing to forgive – even when we did nothing wrong.  It teaches that you are more important than I am.  That I have no personal rights.  It teaches that I lay my life down for others.  And this goes WAY beyond tolerance – even beyond acceptance.  It means that even with our differences – you are more important than I am.  And I submit to you.

And because God is the final ultimate judge of the heart – then I must lay aside my opinion of you and allow you to work on you – and allow the matter to be between you and God.

Ouch.  You mean – I can’t have an opinion and tell you to your face that you’re wrong – even if you are?  Not if we live by Kingdom principles you can’t.  We must let God do His work – and our job is to love and win others by our love.  There is nothing more motivating than a person who loves – and does not judge.

This is why it does not feel right when Christian brothers and sisters judge one another – and cannot be reconciled together after a grievance.  God is love. He dwells in relationships of people.  We need to forgive each other – and we need to love.

I am praying for you today that you will not just tolerate your brother or sister – but that you will learn to love and prefer them and their opinions and choices – over your own.  Accept them in love – just as Christ Jesus has loved and accepted you.

God Bless

Shake Off The Shame

1 Timothy 1:15

15Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

Heard an excellent and thought-provoking message from our youth pastor Andy Douglas this morning.  “How many mistakes do you make”?  It was an honest question – and we say to ourselves – “Sure – I make many – or  “I at least make some” – or even – “I hardly ever make a mistake any more”  But the bottom line is this:  we all make them – even when we think we are too spiritual or too far above that in our every day life.  Andy went on to illustrate how when he first got his driver’s license – he made 3 big mistakes in the first hour – being pulled over by 3 different patrol cars.  He had us laughing hysterically – so FUNNY!!  And it was interesting to note – that even though he was talking about mistakes – and ultimately the grace and forgiveness for mistakes we make – I was thinking about those 3 different police officers that pulled him over that night.  They could have been ‘letter of the law’ and each given this new young driver – a ticket – but none of them did.  They gave him a friendly warning – and the last one said to him, “maybe you better go home now” – which he did.  That’s the definition of grace.

This is what God does with each one of us.  Grace by its very definition is this: not getting something we deserved.  It is not something we have earned.  We couldn’t earn it.  It is freely given to us.  And like Andy said this morning – if we cannot accept the ‘gift’ of grace and forgiveness – but instead  walk around with shame for something we have done – and live in bondage to that shame – then we cheapen the fact that Jesus was beat to a pulp and had to endure a horrific death on a cross – so that we could be free from that shame.

Do we continue to make mistakes on purpose.  I hope not.  No one usually does.  They are usually innocent at first – even starting out with great intentions.  You may have a huge heart for people and mean well by loving and embracing them – but then something happens you did not plan on.  You may love helping people – but then you get yourself in too deep and realize – “I made a mistake”  Or you may be naive and think that everyone has the best motives in your world – and then something happens – and you realize that there was another motive altogether and it blindsides you.  Every good well-meaning person makes mistakes.  Pastors and leaders make mistakes all the time.  They don’t mean to – they just do – because they are human.  It is humbling to admit you made a mistake – to ask forgiveness or to forgive someone else – when you may not always be at fault.  But there are times – when it is all your fault. That’s what God’s grace and mercy is there for.  God’s love does not condemn – but rather it renews and gives life and hope to brokenness and hopelessness – bring life from death and joy from despair.

Do we really believe this?  Sometimes.  Do we live like we do?  Not always.  I would like to think that when we make a mistake – and live through the consequences of that mistake – or someone else’s mistake – that we gain perspective and wisdom – and we rarely repeat the same one again.  Oh – we’ll continue to make mistakes – just hopefully not the one that caused so much pain and hard work to recover from.  This is what we gain.  A fresh understanding of the love of God.  A fresh knowledge of grace and mercy.  An understanding of the high cost of that grace, mercy and forgiveness – offered in an ever abundant supply from Jesus.  But so often instead of believing this – and living like this – we walk around with a heavy cloud over us – sometimes choking the joy right out of us.  And we think everyone must know what we’ve done – even though they rarely do.  It paralyzes us.  It prevents us from living a joyful life – a full life where we are able to clearly see the needs of others around us.

But if we could just grasp  concept of grace – we are changed. We no longer live under man’s scrutiny or insinuations – we no longer feel condemnation – and we no longer let what others think of us – rule our emotions and feelings.  We are free – and we understand what that grace means for our lives – because we can agree with Paul in the scripture above – that Christ Jesus came to save sinners, and like Paul we say – …’of which we are the worst’.

If this is true of your life today – you can shake off that feeling of shame and brokenness – forever.  It is only by embracing and accepting the love of Jesus and His covering over those mistakes in your life – that you can really be free.  Free from yourself.  Free from the weight of carrying years of guilt and shame.  Free from the lies that you cannot be forgiven – that you can’t be productive – that God won’t use you anymore because of what you’ve done.  Accept His love and forgiveness today – don’t wait.  Don’t spend another day carrying around this burden on your chest.  He is waiting for you.  Let’s ‘shake off the shame’.

I am praying for you

God Bless

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