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Golden Bachelor question: Do love stories get better with age?

Do love stories get better with age? That’s apparently what Golden Bachelor fans want to know. And with the wedding of 72-year-old Gerry Turner (the show’s first-ever “golden bachelor”) to contestant Theresa Nist set to be televised live last week, the editors at Fox News reached out to me to see if I had anything to add to the conversation.

Truth be told, I’d never seen the reality show. But I love the idea of late-in-life love—especially since I’ve had a front row seat to watching it flourish between my mom, Claire, and her husband, John—and I told the Fox folks that I’d be delighted to jump into the fray!

Some of you know at least part of this story already, but for those who don’t (and in case you missed the Fox News piece when it posted), here’s my take:

The secret lesson in the Golden Bachelor story

East Coast Winter Storm Danger.

That’s what’s “trending” on my phone today, with predictions for back-to-back winter whoppers over the weekend. I’m not stocking up on the hot cocoa and wine—not yet, anyway—but I know at least two people who would dearly love to see some of the white stuff: My 84-year-old mom, Claire, and her husband, John.

Last time we got snow, they sent me this pic:

Mom and John making snow angels - Golden bachelor fans, eat your heart out!

At first, I thought they’d been shot.

But then I noticed the Boogie Boards, and the pieces began to fall into place. Mom and John had been sledding (surf toys do double duty when you live at the beach) and, eager to make the most of their snow day, they’d moved on to snow angels. I have no idea how long they lay there like that, or who took the picture. I just know they had fun.

Did I mention that they are in their eighties?

Golden Bachelor fans, eat your heart out.

A golden love story

And actually, had the reality show been in production when John was still on the market, he would have been quite the catch for the program’s producers. They wouldn’t have had to come up with any zany ideas or plot twists to keep viewers engaged; John is a living, breathing ratings’ bonanza.

To make their wedding day extra special, for instance, John hired an actor to don a rented gorilla suit and “kidnap” my mom off the dance floor. Not your typical champagne toast, sure, but their first date was an accidental screening of King Kong (they’d meant to see Munich, but it was sold out), and it seemed fitting to carry on with the monkey theme.

I mean, who wouldn’t? And what could possibly go wrong?

The first hint of trouble came when the paid actor didn’t show up. (A better gig? Hard to fathom.)

Undeterred, John found his son, John Jr., at the reception and convinced him to swap his tux for the gorilla outfit. Problem solved—except that John Jr. wasn’t the same size as the original actor, and he couldn’t see out the eyeholes. This being a second marriage for both of our parents, he and I didn’t know one another very well, but that didn’t stop my new step-brother from stumbling into me on the dance floor and hissing through his plastic nostrils: “I can’t find your mother! Help me!”

I launched John Jr. in Mom’s direction, whereupon he successfully abducted her—in her full-length white wedding gown—and hauled her down the dock to a waiting boat. With nearly 200 curious party guests looking on, John-the-groom sprang into action. “I’ll save you!” he cried, and hopped a jet ski to give chase.

At that point, most people figured the party was over. There’d been no alcohol, but everyone was definitely a bit loopy and, knowing that John intended to bring Mom back, my husband and I plied the guests with more cheese and did our best to convince them to stay.

Long story short (and it was kind of a long story; after transferring mom to the back of his jet ski, John got lost coming home), the hero returned with his new bride on his arm and the DJ (whose playlist was more of a wedding soundtrack) cut loose with Ray Orbison’s Pretty Woman.

Mom and John on jet ski

The longer they live, the brighter they shine

Why do I share this story with you? It’s a good one, for starters. But more than that, even, it’s a great reminder that getting older doesn’t mean getting less fun. Or, if you’re looking for love, less eligible.

The more than 10,000 Baby Boomers who turn 65 every year know this to be true. So do thousands upon thousands of their younger counterparts—viewers who make up Bachelor Nation, for instance. Age doesn’t matter, it seems, when it comes to savoring second chances in life.

And second (or even third) chances at love.

My mom was just 60 years old when my father, himself just 61, died after a year-long battle with glioblastoma. She bore the suffering with grace and resourcefulness; I remember her bringing Pepsi, Fritos, and an armload of sofa cushions to the parking lot of their condo, declaring that it was “time for a picnic” when Dad was too weak to walk back inside after yet another doctor’s appointment. But she had to have wondered what the future held. What would life look like without my father? How would she cope, on her own? She knew that God loved her and that he would be with her; could she trust him to make a way in what felt like a wilderness of the unknown?

If that’s where you are today—wondering what’s next, looking for love, maybe even feeling the ache of an unmet longing after a lifetime of singleness, an unwanted divorce, or the death of a spouse—know this:  God is still writing your story. It’s not finished yet. And I’ve got an idea that he has a soft-spot for romance among his more “seasoned” children. Just look at Abraham and Sarah, Boaz and Ruth, or Elizabeth and her man Zechariah. Even Job—the guy whose story none of us want—finished well. God blessed the latter part of his life, the Bible tells us, more than the first!

The best, as they say, really may be yet to come.

As I look at my mother and John—a couple whose late-in-life-love continues to deepen and flourish—I think the writer of Proverbs got it right: The longer they live, the brighter they shine. (Proverbs 4:18 MSG)

And in fact, I can picture the both of them now, rooting around in their coat closet, looking for mittens and boots and other snow gear, in case they get to make some more angels. I don’t have the heart to tell them that I think all we’ll see this weekend is rain.

Honestly though? I don’t think they’d care.

They’d probably go out and start jumping in puddles.

❤️

If you’ve been around this space for a while, thank you. You may know that I’ve been on a writing “sabbatical” since last June. The request from Fox News was a gentle nudge to me to get back in the saddle, and (Lord willing!) I hope to resume monthly newsletters in 2024. I’ll be talking about parenting, marriage, and how we can be difference-makers, living lives marked by purpose and impact, as we remain in Christ’s love.

And in the meantime, if you want to read more about aging well (and 30 other different topics we all grapple with), you’ll find that in my book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Life. And for those who want a perspective on love beyond what the Golden Bachelor had to offer, check out Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage.

Jodie & Robbie with John and Mom at their wedding reception (John is better than any Golden Bachelor!)

 

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Advent Adoration (My Favorite Printable!)

Merry Christmas, Friends! Advent is upon us!

I guess I should probably say Happy Thanksgiving! (and even 4th of July!) since I’ve been away from this space since forever. And I’m not actually “back” yet. But here we are, with the kids jingle belling and everyone telling you be of good cheer, and I wanted to be sure you had access to my all-time-favorite printable, the Advent Adoration calendarIt’s a resource we created just for our email community, and it’s become one of my most-beloved Christmas traditions.

Advent cards and candles

Jodie displaying Advent Cards

Folded Advent card

We’ve got a lot of new folks in our email friend group, and I didn’t want you to miss this one. Last year, I shared how adoration is the antidote to anxiety – and how this DIY Advent Calendar can help. To read that post, click here.

This year, I’m not writing anything else, other than to say THANK YOU to all of you old-timers who’ve stuck with me in this sabbatical season. You all are the best.

Click here to get the Advent Adoration calendar (you’ll have to verify that you are an email subscriber, then you’ll get a link to the download in your in-box).

Happy Advent!

xo – Jodie

P.S. Advent “officially” begins on Sunday, December 3, but you can get a head start with the printable calendar. Day 1 reminds us that God is FAITHFUL. As you display your cards – whether it’s on a mantle, in a window, on your Christmas tree (I’ve seen it done!), or just in a stack by your bed – maybe take a few minute to reflect: Where have you experienced God’s faithfulness this year?

Close up of Advent Printable

 

 

 

 

 

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What if my spouse does not want to pray?

Note from Jodie:  This post about what we can do if our spouse does not want to pray is long (like, really long), so maybe don’t read it all at once. In fact, maybe stretch it out over the summer. Because this is the last email you’ll get from me for awhile.

More on that later. But first…

“What if my spouse does not want to pray?”

I wish I had a dollar–or better still, a grande nonfat latte–for every time I’ve been asked that question. It’s been two months since Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage released, and pretty much every radio program, TV show, and podcast host wants to know the same thing: What if your spouse does not want to pray? What if they don’t share your faith? What if the whole idea of prayer is unfamiliar or awkward? What then?

What then?

What if my spouse does not want to pray?

It’s a fair question. And the how-to’s of navigating faith differences is something that came up again and again as I worked on the book. One woman I talked with had no idea what it meant to be “equally yoked” in a marriage. To her, she said, that meant you wanted “two eggs, sunny-side up.”

One man admitted his utter bewilderment when his future father-in-law asked whether he had the makings of a “spiritual leader.” Did that, this fellow wondered, require some sort of costume? Or maybe a clergy-style hat?

And, in a beautifully candid confession, a precious young wife shared that she’d been keeping score of her husband’s faith progress for years–and in her eyes, he always fell short.

“I did everything I could think of to spark his interest in God,” this gal said. “I gave him a personalized Bible with his name engraved on the cover, hoping he’d read it. I bought devotional books–one with a golfer on the front–hoping he’d pray. I shared email contacts for the Christian men that we knew, wanting him to make them his friends.”

Looking back, this wife acknowledges that her efforts to ignite her man’s faith were misguided and silly. But it wasn’t until her husband asked her a faith question that she came face-to-face with her own shortcomings. “Why do you think your relationship with God is better than mine?” he asked.

Hebrews 3:13 warns again allowing sin–including pride–to harden our hearts and deceive us. It can be easy, especially for women, to fault our spouses when their spiritual lives don’t look like ours. Trust me, I get it. I’ve been known to write Bible verses on tennis and lacrosse balls. I use prayer cards as table decor at Thanksgiving. And while I’ve never purchased a devotional book with a golfer on the cover, now that I know they are out there, all the guys in our family might get one in their Christmas stocking.

These are the sorts of things that can look “Christian” to me. I’m not saying they’re wrong…but are they what God really values? Might he be searching for something deeper?

“A holy person,” writes Gary Thomas, “isn’t known by what he or she doesn’t watch, by avoiding a few forbidden words, or by attending a frequent number of religious meetings, but by how he or she treats fellow sinners.”

If we really want to change the climate in our marriage, Thomas says, we should stop comparing our spiritual maturity with our spouse’s and start comparing it with what God says about how we should love one another, as outlined in passages like Ephesians 4:2:  “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

Gary Thomas quote

I love that perspective. And with all due respect to the makers (and readers) of sports-themed devotional books, given the choice between one of those and a spouse who is humble and patient, I’d have to go with the latter if I’m trying to tap into life-shaping power.

Five ways to change the climate in your marriage

So what does it look like, in practical terms, to be humble and gentle in marriage? When your spouse does not want to pray, how do you demonstrate patience and love?

Again, it can be easy to see our spouse as “the problem,” especially when their faith doesn’t measure up to whatever spiritual standard we set. But our spouse is not our adversary. Our adversary is Satan, the one whose chief goal is to steal and kill and destroy everything–including (and maybe especially) our marriages, since that’s the relationship God created to reflect his lay-down-his-life love for his people.

And while there are undoubtedly all sorts of ways we might put Ephesians 4:2 into practice when our spouse does not want to pray, here are five tried-and-true steps we can take to create a climate in which intimacy–with one another, and with the Lord–can flourish:

1. Speak to the good you see in your spouse. Just like our words can cultivate and affirm good things in our children as they grow, so what we say (and how we say it) has the power to transform our marriage relationships. Pay attention to the positives–your spouse’s can-do spirit, his or her quiet strength, their keen sense of humor–and let them know how much you appreciate these attributes. As Proverbs 18:21 reminds us, the tongue has the power of life and death. Let’s speak life to the person we love.

2. Don’t try to do the Holy Spirit’s job. When I began working on Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage, more than one person asked if I could please write something that would help them “fix” their spouse. But fixing other people is never our job. That’s the Holy Spirit’s role, and we can be confident that he is always helping, always teaching, always convicting, and always praying–for us, for our spouse, and for God’s purposes to be fulfilled in our marriage. (See, for example, John 14:26 & 16:7-8, Romans 8:26, and Philippians 2:13).

3. Be humble and kind. Nobody ever got “argued” into salvation; rather, it’s God’s kindness, Romans 2:4 says, that leads us to repentance. Take a moment to reflect on how patient and kind God has been toward you, and then ask the Holy Spirit to help you manifest that same gentleness toward your spouse. Don’t focus on preaching; instead, be prepared. Let your light shine and be ready, as 1 Peter 3:15 says, to gently and respectfully answer your husband or wife when they ask about the hope that you have.

4. Pray. You might not (yet) be able to talk to God with your spouse, but you can always slip your hand into God’s and partner with him as you pray. Ask God to surround your marriage with life-giving friends. Trust him to help you be quick to forgive. Lean into his presence in seasons of hardship or suffering. Pray, as Philippians 4:6 puts it, “about everything.”

5. Be curious. Ask questions. Jesus understood the power and importance of questions, and he asked far more than he answered: Do you want to get well? Why are you so afraid? What do you think?  Jesus knew all the answers, of course. His questions weren’t intended to produce information; rather, they were designed to build relationships, create conversations, and take his listeners to a new level of understanding. Which, at the end of the day, is what we all want in our marriages, right?

We all want to be deeply known.

We want to be understood.

We want to know we are loved.

Ask: How can I let you know you are loved?

As you talk with the Lord, remember that a lack of prayer in marriage does not signal a lack of love. Robbie and I learned that truth years ago when we began leading The Marriage Course at our church. We’d be in a room with twenty-five other couples—all comfortably seated at their very own candlelit table—and while everyone wanted their marriage to flourish, it was clear that not everyone wanted to pray.

But that was okay.

Instead of mandating prayer to wrap up each session, we encouraged couples to talk quietly with one another, reflecting on the material and asking questions designed to spark intimacy, knowledge, and connection.

Questions like, “What’s one thing I can do to support you this week?” Or, “How can I let you know you are loved?”

How can I let you know you are loved?

Malachi 3:16 reads, “Those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard.” Could it be that God pays attention when we talk with each other? He knows the desires—the deepest cries—of our hearts; might he even receive our conversations as prayers?

When they’re birthed in the context of marriage—a relationship designed to mirror God’s covenant love and to be a picture of the gospel of grace—we have to believe that he would.

If that’s where you find yourself—wanting to pray with your husband or wife, but not sure where to begin (and maybe even less sure that your spouse will be willing to go there)—start with that simple question: How can I let you know you are loved?

“What if my spouse does not want to pray?” is a hard question. And “How can I let you know you are loved?” might not be the answer for every faith difference we face. But as we trust God with our most important relationship, bringing our cares and concerns to the One who is Love Himself, I cannot think of a more beautiful, or transformative, invitation.

❤️

Still here? Thanks for reading. And if you want more marriage questions (with gentle prayer prompts anybody can use, even if they are brand new to prayer), click here to access a set of free conversation cards. 

We designed this collection as a gift for anyone who preordered the new book, but I’m feeling a bit sentimental today, so if you didn’t get the book but you still want the cards, type EMAILFRIEND in where it says “order number” and we’ll get you the link.

But do it today.

Because the old gray mare, she ain’t what she used to be. And after releasing three books and a prayer journal in just over three years, I’m tired. The conversation card offer ends July 2nd.

But…I’m not too tired to trade books and blogs for babies and puppies this summer. Our cup runneth over! Hillary and Charlie welcomed baby girl “Indie” on May 23…Mary and Robbie Jr. welcomed puppy girl “Ipo” on May 28…and Virginia and Chris welcomed baby boy “Brooks” on June 11.

Good thing the parents are all young and strong; I’m about to take a long summer’s nap! 

Welcome Baby Indie

Welcome Ipo the puppy

Welcome Baby Brooks

 Happy Fourth—see you in the Fall!

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You’re on the Same Team: Handling Conflict in Marriage

(This post about handling conflict appeared last week on Ann Voskamp’s site, one of the most beautiful corners of the digital world. I’m sharing the words in this space today, but if you want to read them with all of Ann’s exquisite photos mixed in, click here to access the original version.)

Handling conflict in marriage

When Christopher proposed to our daughter Virginia, he arranged for both families to be there to celebrate. As I looked around the room at two sets of parents and four pairs of married siblings, I realized we had more than one hundred years of marital wisdom between us. What, I asked, was everyone’s best piece of advice?

The group offered up plenty of pearls, from caring about your partner’s interests to finding new ways to serve each other, but the takeaway I remember most came from our son-in-law Geoff, who talked about how to approach conflict in marriage.

“Remember,” he said, “that you are on the same team. It’s easy to forget that in the heat of the moment, but ultimately, a win against your spouse is actually a loss because if you’re winning an argument, then they are losing—and that is a loss for your team. Your team is bigger and more important than any individual victory.”

The Whole Team (family advice on conflict)

On the same team

Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage Softcover (Ann Voskamp)

Sunset at Duck Beach

Approaching marriage with this mindset—that you are a team and you want each other to win—becomes even more powerful when you realize who your adversary really is.

It’s not your spouse.

You may think they are the problem—they never help with the housework, they spend too much money, they always make you late, they whatever—but those issues are just spillover symptoms of our self-centered nature. The real problem—the real enemy—is Satan.

Jesus calls him the thief, the one who “comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”

Satan hates marriage, plain and simple, because it reflects God’s love for his people.

It doesn’t matter how conflict-riddled your relationship is. Satan’s purpose—his goal—is to completely destroy it. And when we buy the lie that our spouse is our adversary, we play right into Satan’s hands.

The apostle Paul knew we’d come up against Satan’s schemes. “Be careful how you live,” he wrote in Ephesians 5:15-16. “Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.”

So what does that look like, in practical terms? How do we live like those who are wise, making the most of the tension or quarrels we share? Can conflict become a catalyst for growing in grace?

Growth will look different in every marriage, but let’s look at five things we can do to protect our marriage and fight on behalf of our team.

1. Believe you will make it.

The average couple argues about 312 times per year. And according to researcher Shaunti Feldhahn, how we think about conflict can make all the difference. If we think things will never get better—if the ship is going to sink anyway—we may decide to stop bailing and just work on escaping the wreck. But if we hit stormy seas and think we’ll survive, we will do what’s needed to “right the ship, patch the holes, and keep sailing.”

keep sailing

Hardcover Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage

2. Don’t go to bed mad.

Getting angry isn’t a sin; it’s a normal human emotion. But holding on to that anger—letting it fester and put down roots in your heart—is a no-no. “Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,” Ephesians 4:26-27 says, “and do not give the devil a foothold.” Sometimes we won’t be able to resolve differences before the sun sets. When that happens, don’t keep talking, lest you say something you’ll later regret. Table the discussion until the next day, when your heads are clear.

3. Don’t fight in public.

Don’t argue in front of other people. Bring a trusted professional counselor into the mix, but don’t complain about your spouse to your friends. And if your friends are people who trash their spouses (to their face or behind their back), get new friends. The writer of Proverbs might well have had married couples in mind when he dished up this pointed advice: “Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.”

4. Be kind.

Being kind doesn’t mean we can’t express anger. Rather, kindness can shape what our anger looks like. You don’t have to throw spears at your spouse; just put into words why you’re hurt, disappointed, or angry. It may sound impossible to be kind during a fight, but don’t let contempt or aggression get the better of you.

Conflict can become a catalyst for grace

5. Pray.

My mom tells the story of how irritated she was when her husband repeatedly left dirty dishes in the sink—until God prompted her to time herself as she loaded the dishwasher. Thirteen seconds. Thirteen seconds was all it took to clean up after her husband—and to pray. “Now,” she says, “John sometimes loads the dishwasher on his own, but even if I have to do the dishes for the rest of my life, I’ll cherish the chance I get to pray for him for those few extra seconds.”

As she prioritized prayer over provocation, Mom discovered what researchers have long known to be true: Prayer takes the edge off.

Studies show that it calms our nervous system, makes us less reactive, and shuts down the fight-or-flight response that can cause a conflict to escalate in a flash.

Not only that, but when you pray for the spouse who hurts or offends you, it’s hard to stay mad. When you commit to bringing someone before the Lord—asking God to bless them, protect them, and pour good things into their lives—you begin to have a vested interest in their well-being. A warmth starts to soften your heart. It may not be full-on love, at least at first, but it will grow.

Conflict can become a catalyst for grace—and that’s always a win for your team.

❤️

Read more about handling conflict (and discover how you can talk about it with your spouse) in Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage. If you want a preview of what’s inside, click here to download two sample chapters. And thank you, Ann Voskamp, for the cover photos I’ve shared in this post. You make everything beautiful.

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Korie Robertson on Marriage (an exclusive interview just for you!)

Happy Mother’s Day! This time last year, I was privileged to sit down and talk with Duck Dynasty’s Korie Robertson. She was in Virginia Beach for a Mother’s Day celebration with 220 women (click here to watch Korie and her mom, Chrys Howard, talk about motherhood and what it’s taught them about God), but during our private conversation, I didn’t ask her much about raising a family.

Instead, I peppered Korie with questions about marriage.

Korie and Willie have been married for 30+ years, but they’ve known one another much longer than that. In fact, their first “date” was when they were third graders. Korie cracked me up when she revealed that, back then, Willie did NOT have a beard.

Interview with Korie Robertson

You may know that the Robertsons just welcomed a daughter-in-law, and it feels like every time I open Instagram, there’s a new grandbaby on board. Korie would be the first to tell you that their family–and their marriage–isn’t perfect, but they’re obviously doing something right. What, I wondered, was their secret to creating a love that lasts?

Noting that she and Willie got married young (at just 18 and 19 years old), Korie says they had a lot of growing up to do. One of the most important lessons she learned early on was that it pays to bring kindness into your home. You want to be “as kind to your spouse,” she says, “as you are to the person you see in the grocery store.”

Additionally, Korie  cautioned against creating a “child-centric home,” one where the kids command all your best love and attention. As she put it in her book, Strong and Kind, “I love my children with all my heart and soul, but I’m in love with their daddy, not with them. That’s a big distinction.”

Korie Robertson quote on marriage

We talked about all sorts of things, from the importance of letting your kids see that your marriage isn’t perfect to the value of investing in your relationship now so that you’ll keep having fun in the empty nest years. I posted a short clip of our convo on Instagram; if you want to watch the whole thing, I’m sharing the interview here as resource exclusively for my email friends (and  as an extra little thank you to those of you who have ordered the new marriage book).

The video is about nine minutes long; click below if you’d like to watch!

My favorite part of the conversation (surprise, surprise) was when Korie talked about prayer. She called it the “cornerstone” of their marriage.

“[During] those times when it has gotten hard,” Korie said, “whenever we have come together and prayed together, [that] broke down all the barriers. Any bitterness or anger you might have for somebody, when you come together and pray together, you have to lay it all down because you see that person as a child of God, just like you are.

“And you can offer grace to them just like you hope they will offer it to you.”

Prayer breaks down barriers.

So true. And so good.

Many of you are following along with Robbie and me as we pray together every day this month. If not, there’s still time to jump in; click here to download the free prayer calendar…

prayer calendar

…or join us on my Instagram stories, where we’re featuring a simple–but powerful–prayer verse every day. Here are a few topics we’ve covered so far:

A prayer for HOPE

A prayer for HEALTH

A prayer for UNITY

See how easy that is? Even for couples like Robbie and me–couples whose prayer styles don’t always mesh–pausing for a minute or two every day and inviting God into the conversation can be transformational. It really does, as Korie says, break down barriers. It creates intimacy. And it fosters a climate in which love can flourish.

❤️

P.S. Speaking of love… many thanks to my incredible daughter-in-law, Mary, who filmed my conversation with Korie. Here she is, tucked between Korie and Chrys:

Mary comes from her own Duck Dynasty; she has been sitting in blinds with her dad, Julian (and with his father too), since almost before she could talk, and today she’s all about conserving wetlands and wildlife habitats for future generations to enjoy.

Mary and her father with a baby and ducks

Mary and her sisters in the duck boat

I’m not a hunter, but after raising four kids of my own, I can’t help but admire Julian’s parenting motto:  Hunt with your children, not for them. 😊

Have a wonderful Mother’s Day – and may the Lord cause you to flourish, both you and your children! (Psalm 115:14)

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