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Bob and I were at a local Salvation Army Store a few weeks ago. A small, woman’s voice came from the changing room.

“Does there happen to be a female out there? I need help!” came the pitiful cry.

Of course of every male within hearing range does what males do, they faced the changing rooms to see what’s going on ’cause they’re nosy.

Bother! thought I. Couldn’t the males at least have the decency to turn the other way?

The female needing help and the female in the cubicle beside her were both giggling.

I did a quick scan of the area and realized I was the only available female. “I’m coming,” I answered, unsure of what I’d find.

I have been given to the unfortunate event of trying on a dress of bygone years only to find myself stuck inside like a straight jacket. It’s kind of humiliating needing help to get oneself untangled from dress, elbows, and breasts. For the woman’s sake, who had the attention of all nearby males, I silently prayed it wasn’t that extreme. Thank God, it wasn’t.

I slipped through the crack in the door that she offered and discovered that she was fully covered except for her exposed back. She was able to get the dress on and managed to zip it but only so far. The zipper was hopelessly out of her reach no matter how hard she tried. I exited a heroine. The giggling behind closed doors commenced.

Ever feel like you’re in a straight jacket? This year has come close. It began with the loss of one of my uncles in the beginning of this year. It followed with the loss of Bob’s two uncles, a cousin, and his godmother — ages ranging from 48-80. It continued with two distant relatives on my side, four neighbors, two acquaintances, and rounded off with the loss of a dear friend of ours, the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony. Then there’s the many prayer requests for people sick and/or in the hospital.

When Mum saw the three phases of thorns and tears it was no joke.

I was thinking about these heartaches and hardships when other thoughts began seeping in like a dye. I thought about those we prayed for who are now healed. I thought about one of Bob’s aunts and uncles who were in a rollover and survived. Everyone I show the truck’s pictures to says, “How? It’s a miracle!” And it is.

In the midst of contemplating this year, it was as if the LORD asked, “What are you going to focus on? The losses? Or the miracles?”

In rapid succession, I saw sea spray. Jesus was in the midst of it. He was wearing garb typical of His day but the smile He was wearing was what most attracted me. His dark, wavy hair was a wonderful mess, and His eyes were sparkling as He looked back to me. He was going into the deep, His hand was outstretched behind Him, an invitation for me to join Him. Would I focus on the losses or on Him? Would I take His hand and follow Him into the deep? Yes, yes I will.

I invite you today to join me in setting aside your sorrows. Trust Him. Take the hand of the Man who has great adventures set before us.

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My husband and I married over 20 years ago on a chilly, rainy, spring day. One year later caught me in a whirlwind as I was celebrating my first wedding anniversary, my first Mother's Day, and my first publication as a freelance writer. The birth of our third child followed a couple months after we celebrated our twins' 3rd birthday. Though a pen has been one of my constant companions, I have not pursued writing professionally due to the monumental task of homemaking and the raising of children. A shout out to my Robert who has been our sole provider while I have had the pleasure and privilege of remaining home with our children to homeschool them. Now, thanks to him, I have the liberty to once again pursue my passion to write and encourage others in written word as we journey with God through life experiences.

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