Musings From A Musical Mind

Archive for the ‘Forgiveness’ Category

Mercy Says No

Last night we watched a wonderful story on forgiveness.  It was on Oprah’s new program, “Where are they now”.  Many years ago a brutally raped woman accused and put the wrong man in prison for this crime, due to a mistake on her part.  He had to be in prison for eleven years.

The story was unreal.  Can you even imagine being falsely accused by someone because you happen to look like the real criminal?  It seems horrific.  And yet this story has a powerful ending.  The man was released when DNA tests proved he was not guilty.  When the women found out her mistake she set about to rectify it.  She asked this man face to face if he could ever find it in his power to forgive her.  What he said to her next was so wonderful.  He told her, “I forgave you years ago – I had to let go of the poison of hate in my body so I could continue to live”.

As I watched the two of them who appeared on the Oprah show many years ago telling their story, and then an update to right now – their story did not end there.  They are close friends involved in each others lives today.  Their easy give and take is so genuine.  Truly love and forgiveness of even the most unspeakable things that people do to us CAN win out every time.  But that decision is up to us.

I have heard of people who were able to forgive their children or spouses murderers.  Stories of grace and God-given mercy.  It has to be God – in ourselves we are just not equipped to handle the emotions on our own.  We want revenge and for someone to pay.  But mercy says no.

Love Hope, Grace, Mercy, and Faith

Love Hope, Grace, Mercy, and Faith (Photo credit: nme421)

I think about what I deserve.  It is death.  It is wrath.   And I need to be reminded that if it were not for the grace of God I would be lost.  Because of that undeserved and unearned favor from God – and what he did to save me – I am free.  Freed by love.  Freed by something I could never repay.  Because of that example of total reckless abandon and outpouring – I can love and forgive others.  Oh it doesn’t come naturally to me.  In fact I don’t want to even talk to anyone who has hurt me – let alone invite them back into my life and live as if nothing has happened.  It is against my natural tendencies.  But because of God’s great love for me, I can take baby steps toward understanding this incredible kind of love.  I can take baby steps in showing grace – and in showing mercy.

I have a few people like this in my world.  Where it is an act of my will to just let it go.
I know that God will take care of them in the end.  But it is hard to
wait for that day that seems so very far away.  Where is the justice???  I don’t want to show mercy and grace.  I want them to pay and know how they have hurt me.  It is not a pretty picture.

When was the last time you had an encounter with the unlovely side of yourself?  The side that turns away, runs from conflict and those that have deeply hurt you?  Or the side of you that DEMANDS payment?  When was the last time you had an opportunity to show grace?  They didn’t deserve it.  They never will.  They deserved your wrath and exploding anger.  But you were able to dig deeper and lean on God’s great arm of forgiveness and understanding.  And instead of making them pay – you were able to let it go.  You found the strength to say, ‘mercy says no’.

My prayer for all of us today is that we can find that place to ‘let it go’.  I pray that you will come to that place where you practice the forgiveness that frees and releases.  I pray that you will continue to prosper even as your soul prospers, living happy, healthy and full of grace and mercy.

 

When Others Wrong You

“Living well is the best revenge.” 

George Herbert English clergyman & metaphysical poet (1593 – 1633) 

Asking For Forgiveness

Asking For Forgiveness (Photo credit: hang_in_there)

 

I heard this quote a while back.  I can’t remember where.  But it struck a chord with me.  All of us at one time or another have had an uncomfortable situation with another person.  A situation that leaves you feeling – well – confused, upset and sad.  Some of those same situations do much more than that – they make us ANGRY and wanting to retaliate.  Sadly, I have not always kept these feelings to myself and I have been angry and said things I should not have said.  But honestly, for me – silence or a soft answer is the best method.  It seriously will drive that person crazy!   Killing them with kindness and all that jazz :)
For me – I have not always been able to control what others say, think or even how they react.  If we look out through the  lens of our own uncertainty and insecurity – we at least know our own personal limitations and can anticipate an outcome.  But when it comes to guessing how others are thinking – we can expect  to get it wrong most of the time.
There was a time not long ago that a situation with another person caused me to look at things very differently.  I can no longer assume people always have my best interest in mind – or always have my back.  I’ve learned not to take things lightly.  I’ve learned not to presume that everyone who seems kind, sensitive and helpful – really is.  Sometimes things have happened and I’ve found out the very character of the person I thought was incredibly different. 
A while back it troubled me.  Really troubled me.  Now I just look at the incredible opportunity for growth and character in me.  I know that not everyone is going to react to stress and trouble in the same way that I do.  I can’t control the way people think, the way they were raised and the role models, both positive and sadly, negative that they have had.  And I’ve learned that while my heart wants to help and even rescue and change someone to be healthier and more positive – I just can’t do it.  Only God can fix the very broken and heal the heart.
When someone hurts you – it is often because they themselves are hurting.  If they are not healthy and whole, they will often lash out, retreat at the first sign of trouble or make themselves the victim.   Even those you thought you knew really well.  Even those who thought would protect and never hurt you.
It is sad but true.
One thing you can do  is come to a place of real deep forgiveness.  Even if the other person never forgives back.  Even if the other person cuts you out of their life and acts as if you are the problem.  When we forgive – it is for us.  It is a healthy place to live.  Forgiveness says, “You do not owe me anything – I freely forgive the pain and other things creating a wall between us.  I choose not to remember what you have done to me any more.  I value you above all the circumstances and pain.”  Forgiveness always gives a second chance.  Forgiveness always finds a way.  Forgiveness always reconciles.
The other thing to do is this:  Live well.  Do not allow the grievances of the past to control you.  Continue to grow as a person, to value others and not be afraid to love again.  Love is always a risk.  But a risk worth taking.  In living well – you are an example to the world of God’s love and forgiveness.  You will feel better and live longer.  That is a promise.
Try on a little forgiveness today.  Take on a ‘short-memory’ when others wrong you.  Start each day as a new day of opportunity and a find a way to bless others.  It is truly the best revenge.

Ephesians 4:32 And be ye kind one to another: merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ. 

God Bless

You Are My Hiding Place

Last week at choir practice our director had us sing this song called “You are my hiding place”. I had heard this before and it put me in mind of the movie about Corrie Ten Boom, “The Hiding Place” – about a family who hid Jews during the Holocaust years. The movie is about an ordinary family living their lives during WW11 – doing what they felt they had to.  Eventually Corrie, her sister and their elderly father were imprisoned for suspected treason, although the Jews they hid in a secret chamber behind a wall in one of the upstairs bedrooms, were never found. While in prison camp, Corrie eventually received news that all the Jews they had hidden – were safe and had escaped. It was sent to her in secret code beneath a postage stamp.

It is an amazing true story that will move you to tears in both the film version and the book.  I love the end of the movie where they show the real heroes of the story in pictures alongside the actor who played them.  And then there is a word with the real Corrie Ten Boom.   She says she promised her sister (who died in prison camp) that she would tell of God’s great love and that “no pit is too deep that God is not deeper still”.

I hope you will be inspired by this song, sung by Selah.  And if you have never read the book or seen the movie, “The Hiding Place” – I hope you will check out this great and amazing true story that happened to ordinary people.  I know you will be moved and be able to see God’s hand on Corrie’s life even while she was in prison – what a testimony she has been able to share with millions of people during her later years!

God Bless

I Need To Really See

Forgiveness: The Real F-Bomb

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is a nice idea

I like it so much

especially when it means I can point

and deflect blame, ownership… and such

I need to really see

In my mind I see how this should go

I ‘make nice’ – and so do you

we shake hands, admit our wrongs

become friends again – instead of foes

However, my perception is skewed

filled with selfish vision

I hold my hands over my eyes and ears so I cannot take you in

Ah – this is my fatal flaw

becoming much more than just a bad decision

I need to really see

And because the apology never comes

only silence and hiding away

I dream of how it should be

your humble repentant heart

full of remorse

your sweet contrite spirit to display

I am waiting for you to own up

and miss me enough

swallow your pride

write down every repentant thought

or bring it all to me in person

becoming something you’re not

I know now that I need to really see

God’s forgiveness is unique

it gives freely

regardless of whether I ‘own up’

casts no blame

requires nothing from me 

I want to forgive like this

without requiring you to feel the same

own up to your own ‘wrongs’

share the blame

For it is in forgiving you

that I am truly free

and when I don’t require you to feel the same

don’t expect you to forgive me

or love me back

that I learn the real lesson

it is then that I really see

 

 

 

 

A Pill That’s Hard To Swallow

Thanks to the Facebook page, Adoration to God – for this great picture!

How about you – do you you find the above pill hard to swallow?

God Bless

My Truth

A father and his daughter, 1923

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been watching the reality show about Ryan and Tatum O’Neil on the OWN station – the tumultuous father and daughter relationship resulting in a separation and silence for the past 25 years.  They both agreed it was time to put the past behind them and try to begin again to rebuild their lost relationship – through this series on cable.

It has been very interesting and heartbreaking at the same time.  To get a glimpse into someone’s pain is never easy – to feel hope for them as they talk and uncover much of their difficulties – and why things went so bad for them.  Through counseling, alone and together, they are getting to the deep issues which caused their separation in the first place.

But what I’ve noticed is this:  We all have our own truth.  It is ours.  

Truth cannot be negotiated or argued.  It is different for everyone.  It is something that we believe about ourselves, others and our situation.

In having my truth – I am not saying that you do not have yours as well – but my truth – is my truth.  It is my version of the story – it is what I believe in my heart of hearts.

We do damage to ourselves and others when we try to rewrite their truth for them.

When two people have different “truths” – and will not validate the other for having their own unique truth – there can be no settling of accounts – no matter how much counseling they have.  And at the end of the day – their personal truth will be all they have.

I really believe with all my heart – that all people just want to be recognized and validated for having their own truth.  No matter how weird it may sound.  Even if you think you know better and think they are ALL MESSED UP.  We want someone to say to us, “I understand.  I get how you could feel that way.  I see you”  So often we never get that response that we are seeking.

All Ryan needs from his daughter, Tatum is this:  “I see you Dad – I’m just as much to blame as you are”  And Tatum needs to hear Ryan say, “I take ownership in my part of our separation.  I made many mistakes and I’m sorry you felt abandoned”  Isn’t it too bad – they will probably never be able to really say those things to each other – too much history – too much blame – too much sadness.

I am glad to know this:   The only solid place for me to go when regarding the “truth” is Jesus. The Bible tells me that He IS the Truth and the Life.  And with so many personal “truths” out there – varying with every person on the planet – He is the only constant who never changes.  I can run to Him – feel that acknowledgment and validation from the source – the creator – who holds My past with all of its regret – the present with all of its unanswered questions – and the future with all of its secrets, not yet revealed to us.  When others shun, devalue and withhold from us – He is there holding out loving arms of truth to me.

Do you allow others to have their personal truth?  Do you feel validated from others?  Have you acknowledged Jesus to be the only real truth in your life?

God Bless

Breaking Silence

Broken

Image by PurpleGecko via Flickr

Living a ‘Christ led’ life has many challenges – and always has.  In the midst of these complications are people – different from ourselves that we are trying to do life with. Those that we take into our lives, learn to love – but often disagree with – then because of a cross word or other situation, we find ourselves removed from them.

The early church had a problem with forgiveness and superiority in general.  They learned to be critical of anyone different and felt justified in doing so. Jews felt superior to the Greek – Men felt superior to women – etc.  It is a very old song.  Grace, unity, forgiveness, justice, judgement.  Who should give it – and why?  Is anyone really qualified to do this?  Are you more spiritual than I am?  What makes you feel this way?  Should we ever forgive something unforgivable?  Why or why not?  Are there things that cannot be forgiven?

I would love to live in a place where being a Christian means that I actually can accept you just the way you are - not try to make you into something that will make  you acceptable.  Where I can forgive you just as easily as you can forgive me.  No matter what the problem was – bad behavior, inappropriate situation, or other messy circumstance.  I would love to not live in fear that  somewhere along the line – I will be judged by those who feel  they are better or more spiritual than I am.   Especially when I have blown it – or do not follow all the rules of conduct when it comes to accepting people into my life.  And especially when someone has hurt me – and I know I have hurt them – but I have chosen to forgive them and seek them out for reconciliation – because it’s the right thing to do.  When I was the one who was wrong.  But even when I wasn’t.

I am weary of those that would say that silence is best in some situations.  Really?

Silence holds hostage and punishes like a physical pain.

Hope and reconciliation are a part of God’s redemptive plan.  It is not weak to want to restore – and not naive to expect that it can happen.  Silence should never be a part of forgiveness – no matter what you may have been told.  Especially in those situations where true friendship lived and breathed.  Those that have a relationship with Jesus and have been forgiven much.  Those that have loved us and know that we still love them.

Make peace with those as long as it is in your power to do so.  Forgive and you will be forgiven.  Love in such a way that it will put other Christians to shame.  Do something crazy – let go of your pride and reputation – and actually start over – fresh and with a new purpose.  Not caring what others may say or how they may judge you.  While there is still life – there is hope.  And we are called to do this.  It is a “God moment”  – a Holy calling.

We need to be gracious in love – just like Jesus was gracious with us.  Today my friend Tony called it “Furious Love”.   And we all need a little of that, don’t we?

I am praying for you – that you would grab ahold of all that God has for you – that silence will be broken in your life – that you would have no fear in love.  With God – all things are possible and all things can be made new.  Forgive – break the silence and experience God’s “furious love” first-hand.

When was the last time you had someone turn away from you because of a misunderstanding or disagreement?  Has silence been a weapon and a barricade for not really forgiving and dealing with it?  Or were you able to  resolve it?   Are you still working on it?

 

God Bless

Forgiveness without strings

Cover of "Forgiveness"

Cover of Forgiveness

Our pastor spoke on the subject of “Forgiveness” last Sunday.  It was also Mother’s Day.  It was an interesting choice – but he was right on the mark.

Mom’s are notorious for “stuffing” things – in order to better serve the family.  Putting their own wants and needs aside.  But more than that – because we are seen as the “role-model” for our home – we are not usually allowed to be as authentic as we need to be.  We always have “little eyes and ears” watching our every move – seeing our reaction to things that happen and in general making it difficult to be who we really are.

When my children were younger – there were some interesting events that took place inside the church body.  My husband and I were on staff in a few churches – where there was something done or said that left us reeling  from the remarks or actions – and yet – we chose to let it go – and to forgive.  My children don’t even know about those things – even today now that they are all grown up.

In recent years I have had other things happen – and yet – trying to model for my children – I have had to suck it up - not grieve a loss or injustice done – so that I could show that I am a person who chooses to forgive – at any cost.

This is good – and it is bad.  I’m not sure it’s totally healthy.  I’m not sure I have really forgiven – without strings.  I still feel as though some owe me.  Those that have chosen to hurt me and say bad things against me and my character.  But at the time – taking the higher road meant - forgiving.  But there were strings.

After the message on Sunday I learned something.  It is not enough to say we forgive others for what they may have done to us – but we also have to forgive ourselves for the things that we have done.  And often times that forgiveness is withheld longer for ourselves because we don’t think we need it.  We feel justified – almost self-righteous because others have ‘done me wrong’.  So we hang on – not thinking anything about it – but we have not really forgiven.

And when we have done something we know that God has forgiven – and maybe even the people in our lives (at least some) but to forgive ourselves is HUGE.  I have spoken on this subject before in the last couple of years and I know that many struggle with this subject.  It almost seems self-indulgent to say it.  And if you’re like me – you think, ‘well it doesn’t erase anything – just because I say it’.  And because it feels wrong somehow – we withhold it.  Especially from ourselves.

If you are one that lives in a place called “guilt-land” then you know what I’m talking about.  All the things that come to mind that you ‘should’ve, could’ve, would’ve’ done differently if you could go back in time.  The people who would still be in your life today – except for that one thing you said or did.  The children or parents you alienated because of that incident or letter you wrote in anger.  Yeah – that one.  If only.  You’ve asked for forgiveness – even from that person and yet – you still hang on to it.  It is what I call – “Forgiveness with strings“.

I want to get to that place in my life where I can truly let go of past hurts and issues from others – be free in my mind from things that I know I’ve done wrong and can really say – I forgive - without strings.  I no longer hold others and myself – prisoner to things I can never fix – to  wait for the magical day when others approach me and say, ‘it’s okay – all is forgiven’ – because I now know that day will most likely never come.  I can no longer secretly hope they get what’s coming to them – hoping they are miserable in their ‘unforgiveness’ – I must let it go.

The only things that matter are these:

1. Know that God has forgiven me

2. Know that I have forgiven others

3. Know that I have forgiven myself.

Anything else is gravy, people.  That’s what forgiveness is like – without strings.

Yeah I’m not there yet – working on it.

God Bless

Secret Sin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Bless

 

I Know Nothing

Cropped image of a Socrates bust for use in ph...

Image via Wikipedia

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.

Socrates

The longer I live I realize the simple truth.  I know nothing.  Oh I know many things experientially – but those things learned by experience only left me wiser and more sure of myself  - I didn’t really gain any knowledge about those things – any more than before I was touched by them.  Therein lies the mystery – how can we experience – and yet still not know?

I find myself surrounded by those who claim to know – go on and on about subjects they have no idea about – any more than I – and I am fascinated by their self-proclaimed ‘knowledge’ – knowing they know nothing either.

And those that have the most to say on subjects they know nothing about – know less than the rest of us.  It’s sad – but true.

So – if this is the case – then why do those same people assign themselves as judge and jury for the rest of us who know nothing?  It is a mystery.  And it is irritating at best.

I would love a place in which people would admit their failures, shortcomings and short-sightedness – be ready to take blame for more than their share – and be ready to offer the same graciousness to those around them.  I would love to live in this place where people could admit – they know nothing.

But you see – it takes a big person to admit, ‘I’m wrong.  I may have misjudged you.  I may have believed something that wasn’t true.  I have made  bad choices too – so I can understand how easy it is to do.  I am not perfect either – so I can understand how you must feel – and it’s okay.  It does not define who you are.  I have NO IDEA how this will work out – but I know someone who does.  His name is Jesus – and He is the only one who KNOWS everything about this and everything else.’  He accepts my lack of knowledge – does not judge me – He accepts me exactly the way that I am. I am changed because of His love and wisdom.  He knows just what to say – and when not to say it.  He knows everything about me – and I am still loved.

What an awesome world this would be if everyone could love like Jesus does.  There would be no pressure to know anything.  We could relax in the fact – that there truly is wisdom in  becoming foolish, weak, and knowing nothing.

I pray for you today – that you will come to that place where you can truly say, ‘I know nothing – therefore I can love you and let God take care of the rest.  I don’t have to educate you, blame you, try to fix you and stand in a position of ultimate authority over you, making myself feel better because I’m right – and you’re…wrong.  It isn’t my job.  We are all sinner’s saved by grace and it is all level at the foot of the cross’    Amen

God Bless

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