Dear Daddy,

Dear Daddy,

It has been almost two months since you have been gone. And the reality that you are actually gone is becoming more and more clear to me. And as that realization becomes clearer, I find myself crying more often. I am sobbing even now as I write this letter to you, squinting at the vision of my computer screen, blurred with tears.

It is so hard to explain—to explain the grieving process. But I know you know how it goes. I watched you handle yourself so well when Grandpa passed away when I was 19 years old. But two months after Grandpa died, I also found you in your bedroom completely collapsed on your bed, holding your father’s portrait in your hands. I’ll never forget that day. It was the first time I ever saw you cry. You became human to me that afternoon. And seeing you with those new eyes made me love you all the more.

Now here I am in your place. I handled myself well when you died. I cried, sure, but I stayed focused. I made your video montage, the scrapbook, and wrote that eulogy for you. I read my piece at the funeral, set up the video projector, and talked with all the friends and family who came to grieve with us. I cried less on the day of your funeral than any of the days prior. I wondered if people would judge me based on that. I put you in a box that day, emotionally. And I let the need to be focused—the need to meet people’s needs push away the raw pain so many others allowed themselves to feel that day.

Then it was back to work. Back to being a wife. Back to being a mom. Back to being pregnant. The times I allowed myself time to think about you and miss you and grieve for you were in between those moments of duty—driving in my car. Driving from where I had to play Theresa the teacher to the next place, where I would play Theresa the wife and mother. I had very little down time. And it is the down time, where we can feel safe enough to just mourn. To just feel and to think and to miss you.

But also…..there are the reminders that you are gone that I didn’t get as much over the last two months as someone like Linda. Linda spent every day with you. She slept with you, lived with you, went to work with you. Your absence is clear to her every minute of the day.

I saw you like once or twice a month. I talked with you two or three times a month on the phone. We texted each other once or twice a week. We emailed each other once a week or so as well. So even though I know you are gone, it is not until those times of contact go unfilled that the actual feeling of your absence becomes clear. Well it has been two months Daddy. I should have seen you at least twice now. I should have talked with you about four times and we should have texted each other and emailed each other at least eight times by now. I am feeling your absence Daddy. And I am missing you terribly.

I will no longer get funny texts from you with pictures of you and Linda on your adventures. I will no longer get your emails with attached art you created for me to enjoy or political emails or inappropriate jokes. I will no longer feel your warm hugs when I come to your house or hear your deep voice on the phone.

I am so sad that you are gone Daddy. Jameson will be here in 6 weeks and I am so sad that I will not see you in the hospital room. I am so sad that Jameson will not meet the greatest man in my life next to my husband.

Daddy—you were only 57 years old. But the autopsy came today and they said you accidentally drowned. I don’t understand why you had to die so young and so unexpectedly. I trust God in His ways, but it doesn’t mean I understand Him all the time.

There are moments when I forget. Someone will walk by and they look like you and I’ll take a double take until I catch myself and remember, it can’t be you. I’ll call Linda to ask her something and she won’t be home and that darn answering machine comes on and I hear your baritone voice and for a moment, its like you are really there, its like I’m talking to you—and then I remember. I’ll be going through my voicemail, erasing the old ones, and then I get to the last one you left me—a week before you left on vacation to Maui. And again—here you are talking to me in the same tone you always have. My heart stops for a moment….And then I remember. And its at these moments daddy, these moments when I remember, when I realize, when I know…..and each time, you die all over again. And with that, a little piece of the illusion that you are still here dies too.

I do not know when the last fragment of this illusion will die. I do not know how long it takes before your voice message is taken off your answering machine. Before your clothes are sold or given away or Linda puts away that jar of peanuts that still sits beside your recliner in the living room. Before I stop taking double takes at your look alikes in the county. I do not know when I will stop looking at your page on Facebook or perhaps when it gets erased. Or when your voice mail to me accidentally gets erased or disappears when I sell my phone or change my phone number. I do not know when Jameson will point at a picture of you and say, “who is that?” And I will have to tell him stories and show him more pictures and try so hard to get him to truly know and appreciate you the way his cousins or brother do. And he probably won’t because that is how it goes when you never meet the person and I will have to deal with the hurt and the frustration that he doesn’t know. That he doesn’t appreciate the most compassionate man I ever had in my life. The man who was the heart of our family and who is now gone and with that absence has left a massive hole, a massive void in our lives. A void my Jameson won’t even realize exists because he will never know what it was like when it wasn’t there.

Your son, Anthony made a post yesterday morning on your page on Facebook. It said something like “I wish. I wish. I wish I had one more wish.” Me too Daddy. Had I known I would never see you again, I would have called you more. I would have visited you more. I wouldn’t have allowed the business of life give me permission to say “tomorrow.” I would have gone out to happy hour with you that day you left your last message on my voicemail. I would have called you when you were on vacation in Maui and apologized for bothering you but would have told you something, everything, anything. Anything but “I would have.”

Thank you Daddy for pulling me out of my downward spiral after high school. Thank you daddy for giving me a home and paying for my school at Palomar. Thank you for being there for me through all my successes and failures. For loving me through moments of integrity and purity and yet also my selfishness and pride. Thank you for always opening up your home to my sister, brother, and I when we needed help. For always hoping and expecting the best for us even when we didn’t have that same belief. Thank you for being so loving and accepting of my husband Owen. Thank you for making him so quickly a part of the family and being joyful with us through our adventures of marriage and our pregnancy.

There is more to come from me Daddy. I’m not done writing letters to you. I pray I never will be done.

I love you. I miss you. I do not know if you are able to hear me right now or read this letter. I do not know how Heaven works. But I cling to God’s promise that He has made a house for you. And that you are there with Him. And that I will see you again.

Your daughter,

Theresa

What do you Wear to your Father’s Funeral?

Maybe the simple black dress you wore for your seventeenth wedding anniversary

Maybe the white pearl earrings your father bought you for your 50th birthday

Maybe the silver cross necklace your six-year-old granddaughter gave you last Christmas

Anything but the black paisley maternity blouse with the pants that stretch for your growing belly

Anything but that

His Hands— in memory of my father, Jeffrey R. Matzke. Sept 4, 1954- Feb 10, 2011

A Self-Portrait of my father---digitally designed with his hands

During a short time in my childhood I lived with my father in his mother’s house. He and my mother were going through a divorce at this time and my mother was taking care of my new-born brother. He painted with my grandfather during the day while I went to first grade and after school I ran around my grandmother’s house, playing make-believe, drawing trees, riding my tricycle and playing with my little sister before my father came home.  I was about six years old at this time and I was madly in love with my father, eager to see him when he came home in the evenings and even more so to spend every moment with him on the weekends. He was my best friend, my comfort, and my hero. While he was not able to spend a lot of time with us in our later childhood years after my mother remarried, the times we shared before that, still resonate such vivid imagery, it is hard to grasp that it was 25 years ago.

 His hands. His warm, large hands, callused from his weeks worth of work, over mine as he leaned over me from behind, teaching me how to balance on my first bicycle.

His hand’s gentle pull on my hair as he held the warm blow dryer and  brush after my bath. He brushed and dried my hair into a wild mane around my small, six-year old face and he would call me his little lioness.

 His strong hands closed tightly into two fists as he asked me to guess which hand had the quarter. If I guessed right, I could stay on the bottom step of the staircase leading to the bedrooms upstairs; if I guessed wrong, I had to scoot my bottom up one step–one step closer to my bed where sleep awaited—sometimes this game would take a whole, joyous half an hour before I made it to the top.

His quiet hands, turning the pages of my favorite bedtime story “Cinderella”—a story I made him read so often, I had memorized each word and so read it to my sister when my father wasn’t around.

His safe hands holding mine, as he carried me on his strong shoulders, and then diving into the swimming pool or throwing me up in the air so high, I swear I could look down at the rooftops before cannon-balling a large splash, and he would tell me how much I had grown.

 I remember one cold winter night, I heard the loud hum of his car when he pulled in. I had just taken my bath and felt so excited to see my daddy, I could not wait for him to come in. I opened up the large front door, hearing grandma yell for me to put my socks on. My wet hair hung in ringlets around my neck and pink cotton nighty, hung so long, I almost tripped over it as I ran out to greet him. He wore his black leather jacket and his hair blow dried back into a John Travolta style. He squatted down to await my hug and I took his hands and held  them to my face…. smelling the familiar blend of cigarettes and spearmint gum–my father’s signature and my peace.

 The same hands that would one day hold the arms of his future wife Linda years after the pain of divorce from my mother healed and the same hands that would clasp the photograph of his own father in his bedroom and then lay limply on  his bed as he mourned his father’s death. And the stern hands that put out that last cigarette when he decided he wanted to live a long, healthy life for his own family.

 The same hands that would pull me away from loneliness and depression when I was 17 years old and would do the same for my sister and brother too. That would carry my moving boxes into his home and pull the cash out of his pocket to pay for my books in college.

The hands that waved good-bye when I thought I was mature enough to start my life.  That would one day cradle my son Kanan when he came home from the hospital, and the hands that welcomed me back into his home and wiped the tears from my eyes when my life didn’t turn out as planned.

 The same hands that would give me away on my wedding day at the last-minute in Las Vegas and embrace my husband like he was a son, even when he barely knew him. Those hands that then clasped my own hands on the dance floor for our father daughter dance and guided my steps when I nervously told him I didn’t know how.

 The hands that exercised my grandmother’s legs after her knee surgery. Those same  hands that held her fragile ones in the hospital when she came down with pneumonia and the same hands that designed plans to renovate his guest bathroom so his mother could move in after she recovered and could shower easily in her old age.

The hands that held a coffee mug in one and the digital pen to his computer in his other so purposefully when he created his beautiful art illustrations in his later years. The hands that hung the portraits on the walls he made of himself with his beautiful wife and dog Riley . The hands that clicked send on his phone as he forwarded political jokes, photographs, and links to our family.

The hands that paid for the bill when my husband I were the ones to invite him and Linda to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant just weeks ago. Those same hands that would lovingly rub my belly that cradled my second son just weeks before my father’s surprise death in the waters of Hawaii.

So much of the future were held in those hands that my little 6 –year-old mind couldn’t even imagine on that cold winter night. And so I kissed those hands over and over again–so much, one would think I thought at that moment, that I’d never see those hands again.

Papa, I can’t wait to kiss your hands again.

Pregnancy Don’ts

1. Don’t believe the old wives’ tale that because you are super sick past your first trimester, that you are having a girl. Or the fact that you are carrying out. Or the fact that you tried the 99 percent accurate chinese number chart. I’ve heard it all. And I know at least one person who still had a child opposite of the gender they were supposed to have. Including that fool-proof ultrasound diagnosis.

2. Don’t assume that because you wear a size 8 in prematernity clothes that you will fit in size 8 maternity clothes throughout your pregnancy. If you are like most women, it won’t be just your belly that grows. Just wait until month 8, you’ll understand then.

3. Don’t even bother buying your spouse a pregnancy or baby book. No, not even the ones called A Father’s Guide to….or A Dad’s… or anything supposedly catered to a man and involving pregnancy or fatherhood. Only women buy those books for their men and most of them just get their feelings hurt when their men don’t read them. Face it ladies, they are men not women and that is why we love them. Just verbally give them the Cliff’s Notes version of what you are reading and save yourself the tissue-paper and money.

4. Don’t allow all  your”you are at risk for____________” post-blood test-result talks with your doctor take away your joy of having a baby. Half of these doctors are just covering their you know whats so they don’t get sued in the small, unlikely chance, your baby, labor, or delivery is not all you hoped it would be. If you are really care free, just skip all those precautionary fetal-disease blood tests and save yourself the stress. That baby will be a beautiful gift from God and exactly what he had planned for you.

5. Don’t believe that if you put enough lotion on that you can stop stretch marks from appearing on your belly (or anywhere else that grows 😉 ) . It may help the amount,  but if you have the genetics to get stretch marks, there is no miracle cream that will stop it.

6. Don’t be surprised if people are nicer and conversational with you during your pregnancy and you even make more friends. It’s amazing how much pregnancy talk provides an icebreaker amongst strangers or work acquaintances. And once the ice breaks, most of those conversations will continue after the baby comes.

7. Don’t make the mistake of hoping or relying on your baby shower to get everything you will need for the baby. Consider the baby shower to be a bonus. In the meantime begin saving money for purchases you will need for the baby. Buy a  few “must have now”‘s if you insist, then see what you get at the shower, and have fun afterward with the shopping.  

8. Don’t “buy” into the lie that you need to buy items for your baby brand-new. Baby products, clothes, toys, and decor are expensive and after it’s all said and done, you can find yourself thousands of dollars deep in plastic and cloth that are quickly soiled or grown out of and of which your child will not even remember or care about anyway. Consignment stores, hand-me-downs from friends and family, and online sources like Craigslist can provide with you with perfectly clean, well-taken care of baby items of all categories at a fraction of the price. Even if you want your decor to match in the nursery, a little sandpaper and paint can make it all fit together beautifully.

9. Don’t indulge yourself in the saying that you are “eating for two” or all the food that follows. All you actually need to provide the extra energy and nutrition for pregnancy is about 350 calories a day in the first two semesters. Ladies, that is the equivalent of pretty much an apple and a thick slice of cheese. The last semester, you can have an extra 100 calories on top of that. Don’t follow this advice, and find yourself like me with my last pregnancy—50 pounds of weight gain that took 9 months to wear off. Instead, eat lots of healthy mini-meals or snacks throughout the day and treat yourself at the end of the day with a petite sweet treat. Most women need to only gain 25-35 pounds.

10. Don’t neglect your husband’s needs and use your pregnancy as an excuse or justification. Between the selfish demands of pregnancy and the baby it produces, fathers can often feel neglected and marriages can have struggles. They are part of the pregnancy too. And they need their love languages met. Do this, and they may even shower you with all the love and help they can offer. And this pregnancy and baby can bring you even closer together. Tired? stressed?  Head aches? Heart burn? Hungry? Feeling just fat and unattractive? If we expect them to be selfless toward us, then we should do the same. And hopefully when we slip and don’t, they can show us some grace and we can try again.

# 56 The Jasmine Flower

Thank you God for making the Jasmine flower. Yes, I am ever thankful.  One may not think much of Jasmine just by looking at it. A native of China and other tropical climates, it’s not extravagant in its beauty but rather simple. Its small, white blossoms form in clusters in large bushes or vines. But it is its fragrance that has captured my heart and has imprinted so many memories of my life into my mind. She is a wonderful surprise that continues to surprise me, every time she shows up.

My love for it first started as a child when my mom grew honeysuckle and Jasmine flowers along the back fence of our back yard. On early, sunny mornings in the summer, my mother opened up the sliding glass door to let the light and fresh air in, and the left-over fragrance of Jasmine and Honeysuckle from the night blossoming burst in to the kitchen. I remember the first time I noticed it, I was sitting at the breakfast bar eating my Rice Chex cereal with banana slices and breathed in deeply after her fragrance said hello, a smile blossoming on my face and I looked up at my mom. “What’s that smell?” I asked. And so it began.

She surprises me every time, because she doesn’t stand out visually. And her fragrance doesn’t slowly build in its introduction. She may look passive, but she is confident in her fragrant entry. She truly bursts in. One second you don’t smell her. The next second you do. To this day I can be walking along a sidewalk to a friend’s house in their neighborhood or down a pathway on a school campus, thinking of those busy things that occupy so much of our time when we are on our way to wherever it is we are going. Yet the second I get a whiff of that fragrant flower and my mind registers what is happening, I instantly stop and begin sniffing and looking around me for the source. But as soon as I find her, I smile. Thankful and relieved, I pinch off a cluster of the flowers to carry and smell with me as I continue on my way.

The first time I bought flowers to fill my own yard as a young adult, I picked Jasmine. It took almost a year before the vines of the bushes grew long enough to cover the side of the fence that framed my driveway. But once it did, and summer nights came near a full moon when the blossoms opened and released their fragrance, I lingered on my way out of  my car before I came inside for my night of rest. The stresses of the day would melt away, and I was ready to make dinner and put the day behind me.

When I moved into a condo in Carlsbad in my mid twenties, my new roommate Amber introduced me to Jasmine tea. She was sort of a hippy and we bonded over conversations about healthy foods, talks of nature, and finding our life purpose. On one such conversation, she poured me a cup of hot, Jasmine tea and as soon as I raised the cup to my lips to take a sip, the steam from the tea rose up and filled my nostrils. A rush of euphoria filled me and our conversation continued with more smiles and laughter and reminiscent stories of our lives.

Years later after that season of my life had long since faded, my good friend Lael got married in the summer at a beautiful country club in San Marcos, CA. We girls were nervously chatting and giddy as we dressed in our bridesmaids dresses, applying makeup, and styling our hair. I left momentarily to find a restroom and take a break from the noise and opened up the back door of the dressing room. Instantly, my eyes were flooded with the mid-morning light and my nostrils with the unexpected and very welcomed scent of Jasmine flowers. There was no need to turn around and sniff out the source. There,  five inches from my face flowed a beautiful vine of Jasmine blossoms cascading down a white trellis. I stood there, my nose one-inch deep in the clusters of white, closed my eyes, and just stopped–stopped thinking, stopped looking, stopped moving. I just let the fragrance fill me and let the white light filter through the cracks of the trellis and in between the leaves of Jasmine and through my eyelids. Nothing mattered for the two minutes or so that froze during that time. I just quieted my soul. Then right after I uprooted from that  transcendental sliver of time, I prayed—-thank you God for these beautiful flowers you created. How do I explain all the feelings that come over me when I breathe in Jasmine? I did some research and found out that it’s not purely nostalgic for me. Jasmine flowers have been used in aromatherapy for years to rejuvenate the body, raise the moods of those suffering from depression, and relieve stress and anxiety.

So much of that makes sense to me. I have had moments in my life when I have been angry or hurt and yet, if I breathe in the scent of Jasmine, whether it be in that hot cup of tea, a bottle of lotion at a Hawaiian-themed surf shop, or in cluster of blossoms I tore from a Jasmine bush on a random sidewalk, I am able to pull out of those emotions, take a break, and move forward, realizing that there is so much more in life that is worthy of being enjoyed. Jasmine has become a self-fulfilling medicine for me. With each pleasing breath I take in of her, she reminds me of every other time she has surprised me in my life and has always brought happiness and peace with each occasion.

Some Wonderful Jasmine Products I Just Can’t Live Without! If you like Jasmine–you must try these!

#247 Ahhhh Horchata

Horchata.  It is one of those little things in life that make me want to say, “Thank you Lord.” Whoever the person was who decided one day in a small village in Mexico to combine one cup of  rinsed long grain rice, two quarts of water, one cinnamon stick, broken into pieces, and then let it sit for three hours before boiling it, blending it, sieving it, and then to come up with the brilliant idea of  flavoring it with one teaspoon vanilla,  and half a cup of white sugar and pouring it over ice—-this person shares a sliver of my own heart.

I do not go to Mexican cafes and order anything without pairing it with a Horchata. And every time I take that first sip of this divine beverage, I get a flash of memory of the very first time I took that first sip–and I smile.

I was shy, gangly six-year-old, living in Ocean Beach, California with my little brother Anthony and sister Barbie, our Mexican nanny named Xochil along with her two nieces Sandy and Nena, and my mom. One summer night, Xochil took us kids out for an evening walk. I remember the black sky and stars above, looking down at us as we walked along the city sidewalks warmed by street lights and the neon lights hanging in the liquor store windows, souvenir shops, and the little hole-the-wall-Mexican restaurant where Xochil said we could stop. I remember trying to look over the counter to see the men whose voices I heard as they cooked carne asada and quesadillas behind the glass wall, but it was too high–I only saw wood walls, stickers, and glass. The room was bright and Mariachi music danced through the speakers of an old, dusty boombox near the cash register.

Xochil talked in fast, friendly Spanish with the cashier then looked down at me  and said, “¿quieres un horchata? ”

“What’s a horchata?” I asked.

Sandy and Nena stopped playing with my brother Anthony’s light brown hair and just looked at me. Barbie continued to open and close the mouths of the bubble-gum dispensers by the opened, glass door.

“¿Nunca tenía horchata? Aye mija, necesitas que probar uno,” Xochil replied excitedly.

“Ok,” I responded, curious as to what it could be.

And then Sandy, her neice picked up a styrophome cup with a plastic lid and straw from the counter top and handed it to me with big eyes and a waiting countenance. I looked through the lid and saw a milky white drink and ice.

I took a drink—-the most perfectly sweet, creamy, cool drink I ever had. I don’t remember much after that. Just horchata and laughter as we walked back home. I have no memory as to whether my brother and sister had a drink–my brother was only one at the time, so I’m sure Sandy or Nena held him. My sister probably had her own or shared the horchata with me. Maybe we all shared as we were quite poor at the time. But there was no fighting. Only laugher and baby corn teeth, conversation filled with Spanish and English words, and Xochil, normally so serious, contentedly sipping hot sauce out of a ramekin like it was juice and listening to us children as she looked up at the moon and the lights ahead.

“Why are you drinking hot sauce Xochil?” I asked.

“Para kill de snakes en mi stomach,” she said with a wink.

Night. Lights. Warmth. Horchata. Laughing. White smiles and brown skin.

–Theresa

One of Theresa’s Favorite Bible Verses

Revelation 21:4

He will wipe every tear from our eyes. And there will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain because all of the old ways will be gone.

Thank you Jesus! When I read this, I remember why you came. You came to give us the truth. You have saved those of us who put our trust and love in you, our Lord. And you will come back and restore this fallen world to the beautiful perfection it once was. And you will dwell with us, your children who love you.

This is what will get me through this miscarriage. And I pray that this give any other readers who are suffering,  a glimpse of your love and grow a thankful, believing heart.

–Theresa

Pssst….Can I Tell You a Secret?

I’m really not happy with teaching English anymore. I’m not sure what the deal is or what to do about or whether I should do anything about it. The novelty has worn off. My interests have changed. At this point, I don’t care so much if a person knows the difference between direct characterization and indirect characterization as much as I care about them knowing about Jesus. About caring as to whether or not teen girls are feeling pressured too early to be having sex or become women. I care more about the moral relativism of our youth and world and what we can do to make a difference. I still love teens. I still care about their welfare. But don’t care about writing that novel I always dreamed of. I don’t even care about writing my memoirs. None of that matters. I want to change lives in profound ways. I want to write books about real issues from which real women are suffering. I want to show them a real answer in Christ in a way that makes sense to them and through a medium to which they will pay attention. And with the current economic effects on the stability and security of my job, it just doesn’t seem worth it when I don’t have the same heart I once did.

So what to do? It has only been since the baby boomers that we have had this notion to believe our job should be doing something we love. There are plenty of people who have jobs much less fulfilling than mine and yet they still find joy in their lives. They still find ways to be fulfilled in their impact on the world. Does mine have to be my job? Can’t I just do my job and then find joy and satisfaction in the other areas of my life? Or should I try to change professions? At the same time, my husband is the one who is going to school now and working on a course toward a new career. Shouldn’t I stick with this to give some stability? Is there stability if I don’t even know if I’ll have a teaching job come June?

I need thoughts. I need advice. I need prayer. I need to have a glimpse of an idea of where God wants me. And if he wants me teaching English in public school then so be it–I just need Him to change my perspective on it so I can find joy in it again. And if he doesn’t want me doing this anymore, please pray that I have the vision to see the doors he is opening, the courage to take risks and be willing to suffer a bit if needed to get through the paths that will lead me through those doors if that is what needs to happen.

In the end, I need to trust that regardless of any of this–God is in control. God is taking care of me.

Joys and Sorrows

Today, I sat having lunch with some ladies from my work who I barely know. One of them is well into her fifties, with brown short hair and laugh lines around her eyes. She said that she is not even the same person she was when she was twenty-five. Then she she sat silent for a second, holding her fork in her hand a bit before putting it down and admitted she still hasn’t figured out who she is. I nodded my head in agreement and shared the wisdom I have gained in my humble twenty-nine years. While I could say it is wisdom that I have gained without help, I would be lying. This was wisdom shared with me about a year and a half ago, but of which I merely filed away to be digested later. This year I see it. I believe it. And I want to share it.

We may never figure out who we “are” and that is okay. We are who we are today. We are constantly growing and changing as we experience life and its joys and trials. I am not who I was when I was ten. I am not who I was when I was seventeen. And I am certainly not who I was when I myself was twenty-five. And that’s okay. If anything, it’s actually a blessing. Because for me, I believe I am better than who I used to be. And while I still have much more growing to do before I reach my ideology of what I hope to be one day, I am one step closer everyday because of God’s grace and teaching—how he uses the experiences of my life to shape me and mold me.

My mom told me that when you go through hot water in your life you can act like one of three things: carrots, eggs, or coffee. You can get soft and weak, you can get hard and not allow yourself to be vulnerable, or you can change the flavor of the hot water. No matter what, we will go through joys and sorrows in our lives. God promises we will. But he also promises that if we lean on him, He will continue to help me change for the better and grow strong. Continue reading