Posted in thanks

TT (Season #01, Episode #03) – Challenge Day

The best things in life are meant to be shared.  (Unknown)

Take a minute and think of the times when you have been super thankful for something, but have not sent that thank you note or spoken words of thanks.  Now think of the times when you have spent a moment penning words of thanks either in a text, a card, or an email or said thanks via a phone call or face-to-face.  In both cases, you were thankful. This begs the question: does sharing your thankfulness matter?

I would say YES.  YES.  YES.  Sharing our thanks with someone opens the door for more relationship.  It provides connection in a world of disconnection.  It speaks love and kindness into someone’s world where these might be lacking.  It is always a good and right decision, something elusive in an ever-changing and complicated world.

This is one BIG reason why I am committed to Thankful Thursday.  It shouts beauty to a world bombarded with the ugly.  It multiplies thanks in my own heart, gently reminding me to look at the past week and even to the present moment, and hopefully nudging you to do the same.  It is one of those sure-fire, good things in my life.  And it is simple, super simple (with all of the formulas out there for changing my crazy life for the better, this one doesn’t require a book to be written or a class to be taken).

Today, I am challenging you to join me in this quest.  The design of Thankful Thursday isn’t only for me to shout beauty and goodness, but for you to shout along with me.  Together, our shared voice may just change the world (I know it will change mine), one little thanks at a time!  (This is the part where I blatantly ask you to comment below, send me an email, text, or do whatever you need to do to let me know what you are thankful for!)

Here is just a glimpse into the never-ending journey of gifts that I have received in the past few weeks:

  • An invitation to share one of my blog posts on August 30 on a devotional website (super excited)
  • Two lunches with two of my bridesmaids from 26+ years ago in a matter of two days.  The gift of life-long friendships with these two (shout out to Kris and Joanne…we have been through some and back again…I love you guys)!
  • The sale (finally…sigh of relief) of Rachel’s 1971 Chevy C-10 pick up truck (This has been a mild source of stress for me…okay, a huge source of stress for me…I may have to write a future parenting blog post about letting your children make their own decisions even if it’s super hard and seems crazy and it ends up exactly how you feared.)
  • Josh’s good report at the doctor about his very unique and rare knee condition…three surgeries and four years later!  He can finally run, jump and play!  He said (with a little glint in his eye) that he still has an excuse if he doesn’t want to do something (like heavy yard work), but he has the clear to do the things he wants to do (like playing beach volley ball).  #osteocondritisdessicansstagefour #pleasegodletthisbeover
  • Air conditioning.  Enough said.  It’s hot and humid out there.
  • The never-gets-old sunset on Saturday night from our roof deck in beautiful Long Beach IslandIMG_7661

YOUR TURN!!!  Can’t wait to hear!!

Posted in Family, love, marriage, wtf

Make a Marriage Great Again (Part Two of Ten)

Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable, than fidelity.  (Cicero)

Disturbing statistics:  22% of men and 14% of women admit to having an affair during their marriage.  Even more disturbing statistics: 74% of men and 68% of women say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught. (www.statisticbrain.com)

This past weekend, our friends’ son was married to a beautiful girl.  As with most weddings, there were flowers, dresses, food and promises of love and faithfulness until death. There were also the fun things, like the silly song that the bride’s family sang to the groom called “Lukey Pukey” (don’t ask) and the square dancing in the barn (Allen and I had left feet, six feet, or just a lack of dancing ability – we did get our 10,000 steps for which we were thankful – see FitBit post).

We were reminded again and again that day about the second WTF (see last week’s post on this to get the inside joke) in our series of F words – FIDELITY.

This very word is designed to evoke trust (probably why there is a huge bank who has the name).  With it comes the ideas of loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance and support.

For many of us, the first thing that comes to mind with the word fidelity in marriage is the sexual relationship (the “forsake all others” part).

When Allen and I meet with engaged couples, we ask them, no matter whether or not they are currently sexually active, to give each other the “gift of sexual integrity” during the mentoring process.  It is basically a sexual fast for the four to six months we explore all aspects of their relationship before the big day.  For many, this is a no-brainer. They understand the deeper reasons behind this request:

  • building of trust
  • providing a basic litmus test of self-control and patience
  • exploring spiritual and emotional aspects of the relationship without the physical
  • entering a sexual fast (much like a food fast) to provide an environment where God can work at some deeper levels

For others, this is very difficult, and with good reason.  In a society that has expectations of sleeping together as proof or the natural result of love, it may come as an odd request. At this point, we ask them to take a step of trust in us, in the mentoring process and in the Creator of marriage.  We can tell you this for sure: we have never seen it backfire in our eight years of meeting with over 80 couples.  We have seen relationships heal and thrive.

Allen and I were blessed, albeit for the wrong reasons of following the rules, to wait until marriage for the fulfillment of our physical union. We had no idea then what an incredible gift this was to each other.  A huge benefit for me over these 26+ years is that I have never worried that Allen might have an affair.  His self-control, ability to wait and integrity provided a place of complete trust for me.  I am extremely thankful.  It’s one area of our relationship that I feel safe.  I believe he does as well.

Our hearts were designed for fidelity (loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance and support).  Not just physically.  That is just the area that seems to be highlighted when this subject comes up.  When we marry, we want to be chosen never to be unchosen.   Marriage provides a unique backdrop for true intimacy in every area of our lives: spiritual, emotional, mental and physical.  It is the only human place to be fully-known and fully-loved, and as the Bible says, “naked and unashamed.”

Fidelity is the framework for this intimacy.  This safety net offers a place where we can fully reveal ourselves (become fully-known) to another.  The fulfilled promise of loving and not leaving (“until death do us part”) is huge.  This brings with it the second part of intimacy, being fully-loved.  Each is a requirement of the other and makes a never-ending circle of knowing and loving.

I know some of you are thinking, “But we haven’t been faithful to each other.”  (And maybe even “you have no idea because you guys made all the right decisions,” yada, yada, yada.)  Remember how I said I felt safe in that one area.  That’s true.  But we have not had complete fidelity (loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance and support) with each other.  We are humans.  We have revealed dark sides of ourselves only to be met with a lack of understanding, blame, shame, yelling (okay, I yell), shutting down and bailing out (maybe not the D (ivorce) word, but there are many ways to practice infidelity).  We are still practicing (because we are not there yet by any stretch) what we preach.

Fidelity is hard work.  It’s big and small, long-term and in-the-moment choices to know and be known, to love and be loved.  But it is worth it!

Just now, Allen called and said, “Who are we to share this message?  We certainly don’t have our act together.  It’s hard for us.”  We then paused and reminded each other that even though the struggle is very real for us, we are working really hard because we believe this and the message still deserves to get both in here (to us) and out there (to you)!  Marriage matters!  We matter!  You matter!  Fidelity matters!

Semper Fidelis!

A week break and then number three:  FALLIBILITY

 

 

 

Posted in Family, ministry, Missionary, taboo

Living in a Fishbowl

Living your life in the public eye is a greater burden than most people can imagine. (Justin Trudeau)

“For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work; at the works of your hands I sing for joy.” (Psalm 92:4)

I promised you that we would dive into stuff that might be a little taboo.  Elephant-in-the-room things.  Behind-closed-door chatter.   You may want to click away if you don’t want your world shaken a bit.  Or feel free to stay here and get some nuggets of the true struggles and joys behind the world of those who live their lives in a fishbowl.  Maybe you are that person and you need the encouragement that you are not alone.

Whether it’s a pastor, a politician, a missionary, a CEO, a professional athlete, a musician/actor or even a small-town leader in the community or church, his/her spouse and family have many eyes on them (and cats ready to pounce…I am referencing the cute cartoon picture above).  Having grown up as a missionary kid where my parents and us kids felt the pressure of being role models and living (or appearing like we’re living) mistake-free lives, my heart has a special place in it for those who are living the dream (or the nightmare).

I came across a brave pastor’s wife who peeled back the curtain so we might catch a glimpse of what it’s like to live in this place.  (Obviously, there are pastors’ husbands out there as well, so don’t get all up in your grill…it’s the principle, right?)  Here are some excerpts from her blogpost entitled Things Your Pastors’ Wives Wish You Knew.  Please welcome Everyday Natalie to the Dolly Mama.

I find the role of a pastor’s wife to be both marvelous and challenging. Pastors’ wives carry a heavy load of responsibility as we care for our families and the people in our churches, and participate in activities of the church and community. There are high expectations for our families and us.

I posed an open-ended question to some pastors’ wives I know who live all over the USA, from different denominations, with various years of service to get some answers. I asked them how they would respond to this question: What do you wish people knew about being a pastor’s wife? I received varied responses about the secret struggles and joys of ministry.  I promised anonymity for all who answered, and was so thankful for their honesty.

Here you will find the things we wish you knew but can’t say out loud:

Struggles of Ministry

  • Friendships are hard for me.  I don’t feel that I can fully be myself. I have trusted and been betrayed, so sometimes I choose loneliness for safety’s sake.
  • There’s no way a pastor’s wife can fulfill the high standards people put on us. There is this pressure to be perfect.
  •  My husband has to be a husband and father before he is a pastor.  It seems that people want him to have a healthy family life while giving the church all of his time.  Both the family and the church need to show grace to one another while we live in this tension.
  • Because I minister to many, keep many confidences, and am very busy, it may seem like I don’t want to be as close to you as you want to be to me. But really, I am often lonely and desire to have a close friend.
  • I don’t enjoy being visible and up front. I only do it by the grace of God.
  • Almost every day I’m afraid of screwing it all up.
  • We taught our children to make good choices, but sometimes they don’t.
  • I am a people pleaser and worry/know others are judging my clothes, my hair, my family, the car I drive, and my home.
  • I don’t enjoy living in a fish bowl. There are some aspects of my life I prefer to remain private.
  • I enjoy talking about other things besides Jesus and church.
  • It is very hard not to take church criticism personally. It hurts, especially if it is toward my husband. At times, they come from people that I think I trust and feel safe with, people that I love. This makes it often difficult to trust anyone.
  • I find it hard not be resentful towards people who expect my husband to be available 24/7.
  • I do not have a thirst for power or even a desire to lead.
  •  My life is not perfect. My husband isn’t perfect. My marriage isn’t perfect. My kids aren’t perfect and most of all, I am not perfect.

Joys of Serving

  • I love my job, and I love my church.
  • I have been so blessed by gifts, money, love, and much prayer.
  • Let your spiritual leaders know how you are doing- it is an incredible encouragement!
  • Jesus is the answer to everything- really, He is!
  • It is an honor to minister alongside and I take it seriously. I want to love people as Jesus does.
  • It is a blessing and privilege to be trusted with other people’s secrets, joys, and intimate details.
  • I love when my when my husband shares insight from his study/sermon prep time.
  • I am challenged every day to depend utterly upon God.

Our hope, as pastor’s wives, is that you would understand we are regular people just like you. We are not special or unique. Please keep all the above responses in mind when talking to us and about us. We try our hardest to love God and love people the best we can.

www.everydaynatalie.com 

Please feel free to comment below and share with those who might need this encouragement today!  I already shared it with one of my pastor wife friends.

Sign up to get my emails if you haven’t already as well.  It’s right there on the side (if you are old-schooling it on your laptop) or the bottom (for you fancy tablet or smart phone users).  Easy-peasy!

 

 

Posted in Family, marriage, wtf

Make A Marriage Great Again (Part One of Ten)

Marriage is the opportunity to inherit an additional dysfunctional family, just in case the one you have wasn’t enough!  (Pinterest)

I was going to call this post “WTF (Part One)” but shied away from the controversy.  I figured the hinted reference to our commander-in-chief might be less contentious than the allusion to a curse word.  You have both to think about now and I might just have your attention.  (I hope you know this is all in fun and to put a smile on your face.)

Back to WTF.  My husband and I have been marriage mentors for many years and have met with countless couples who are getting or newly married.  We love it, not only because we love the people who we come to know, but also because it’s been so good for our own marriage.

We have discovered, mostly because of making our own mistakes, walking through the mentoring curriculum ourselves and getting very wise counsel from a professional, ten F’s (hence the reference, WTF), that couples need to navigate to have the marriage they long for, where they are fully known and fully loved.

The first “F” is FAMILY:  Family of Origin (FOO) and Future Family (FF).

We all have a FOO, and they are all completely different.   There are as many types of families as there are people.  Our FOOs create expectations of what we believe is normal, even right.  It’s no wonder that our FOOs collide when we come together to create an FF.

When we first meet our partner’s FOO, we probably have two things in mind:  I hope they like me.  They look pretty good/or not (in other words, “how good will my partner look in 25 years?”).  As we get to know them a little better, we might have two other things in mind:   We are not doing THAT (fill in the blank) when we have a family.  I am not spending all of the holidays with her side.  (and other such kind thoughts)

Most husbands and wives fall into patterns of behavior and thought from their FOOs.  After all, we believe them to be what’s normal and our expectations follow suit.  Even in the healthiest of families, however, many couples find certain aspects of their FOO that they don’t want to repeat.

When Allen and I married more than 26 years ago, we had absolutely no clue about this.  We were young and in love and thought it would just magically play out.  Then we began to live together.  I grew up in a family that was loud, emotional and nothing was “off limits” in our conversations.  We talked about the taboo things:  religion, politics, you-name-it.  We talked about them passionately.

Allen, on the other hand grew up in a “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all” FOO.   Controversial topics were never spoken of.  To this day, Allen’s mom does not know who his dad voted for in any election (maybe that’s why they get along so well).  I’m sure you can picture our first argument and even our argument just yesterday.  Esther:  loud, passionate, emotional.  Allen:  quiet, reserved and logical.  Perfect for each other (insert snarky tone of voice).

This isn’t something that is our faults.  It’s just what’s true.  And what’s true will set you free (the book of John).  As we slowly and carefully unravel what we have brought to the marriage with us from our FOOs (without the damaging partners of blame and shame), we will begin to experience the grace and love we so desperately want and need, providing the way for our FF.

Allen and I are still navigating this, sometimes more carefully than others.   We continue to see patterns from our FOOs that have an effect on our F (which for us, isn’t so future anymore).  We keep working hard with wise counsel to see ourselves and each other more clearly, and give understanding and compassion.  I wish we were perfect at it.  We are not.  But one thing we are:  we are passionate about doing whatever it takes to be fully known and fully loved, FOO issues and all.

We have now produced a FOO for our children, just like many of you.  Others of you are at the beginning of your FF like our daughter Sarah (who just wrote an amazing post on new marriage).  No matter where you are on your journey, it’s never too late or too soon to take a look back and uncover what you might have brought into your F or your FF from your FOO.  The good news is that some of the things might just be wonderful.  After all, the best gift your partner received from your FOO is YOU!

NEXT FRIDAY:  FIDELITY

Welcome comments, likes and shares…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in celebration, health, recipe

Back to My Green Smoothie

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time to every purpose, under heaven.  (The Byrds and the Bible)

Fourth of July weekend is behind me.  Time with family.   Time coloring.  Time sharing fruity drinks.  Time at the beach.  Time dancing while listening to the Funsters on the boardwalk.  Time eating ice cream.  Time watching fireworks.  Time playing games.  Time watching my nieces and nephews jump into the pool fully-clothed.  Wonderful time.

I love stepping outside of my routine, especially for vacations and celebrations.  Who doesn’t?  I eat whatever I want.  I stay up late.  I sleep in.  I play.  I enjoy those around me and live mostly care-free (except for that time our son was ticketed by police for throwing water balloons out of his Mustang trying to meet cute girls and then having to return three weeks later for a court date).

To be really honest, however, I especially enjoy stepping back into my normal life.  I can’t live in non-stop celebration, vacation-mode.  I am not designed to.  If I lived like that every day, I would be broke, in a sugar-induced brain fog, and my six-pack abs would be six-lack abs.  (Cough.  Cough.  I don’t really have six-pack abs.  I’ve had four kids and I’m 51.)

There truly is a season for everything, even in our seemingly small lives.  There IS room for the extra-ordinary and the celebratory.   It only happens, however, because of the mundane and very ordinary that makes up much of our days.

Sustained health does not come from the hoopla.  It comes from the life-giving of the routine.  Regular disciplines make room for merrymaking.  Exercise produces muscles for dancing.  Healthy eating gives energy for beach volleyball.  Budgets provide margin for spending sprees.  Spiritual disciplines make space for loving relationships.

Today, I am back at it (or at least hopeful of it).  Back to an exercise routine.  Back to work.  Back to my budget.  Back to my to-do list (I mean my ta-da list).  Back to spending regular time with the One who loves me and pours into my soul.  Back to my green smoothie (recipe below).

Totally Guilt-Free Green Smoothie (because I don’t know what else to call it)

1/2 banana (I freeze my bananas…make sure you take the skin off…totally forgot to do this the first time)
1/4 can of unsweetened organic coconut milk (buy this in bulk on Amazon because it’s super expensive in the store)
1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk
1/2 perfectly ripe avocado (good luck with this)
2 handfuls of organic fresh spinach or greens (I just buy those huge containers and throw them in the freezer)
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (I use Arbonne and I can totally give you my awesome rep’s name so I can help her make money or you can just click HERE…I use it because it’s delicious, gluten and dairy-free)
1 scoop of Living Fuel Supergreens (I did have to get used to the taste of this but it’s got every vitamin, mineral, pro-biotic, and enzyme known to man and BTW, I am not making a cent for sharing this)
A bunch of ice cubes (if you like it more like a frozen drink)

I wonder if you are “back at it” today or still in the middle of the fun!  Let us know by commenting below.

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Posted in Emotions, grief, thanks

TT (Season #01, Episode #02)

“The grateful heart that springs forth in joy is not acquired in a moment.  It is the fruit of a thousand choices.”   (Nancy L. DeMoss)

I woke up early this morning to the very shocking and sad news that a close high school friend, Mark Jones, went to be with His Savior.  He was one of the best people I have ever known.  Kind, gracious, loving, wise, and more.  His velvety voice ministered to me (and many others) as he shared it on Facebook each Sunday morning.  I am so sad.  It’s only been two weeks since we talked on Facebook messenger and I told him I was praying for him.

My first thought is that I am not going to post this today.  I just sit in bed and cry.  For a while.  In the moments that pass, I recall what Ann Voskamp calls “the hard thanks,” giving thanks when you don’t want to, when it’s difficult, offering sacrificial thanks.  It almost seems inappropriate. But deep in my spirit, I hear a voice that reminds me that it is right and good and healing.  Ann says, “Lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty.”  Mark was a gift to me.  My life would not have been as good without him.  Thanksgiving truly wells up in my soul as I think of him.  His mantra was “God is good all the time.  All the time God is good.”  He was beautiful.

So dive deep and continue with me on this never-ending journey of giving words to the gifts that have been strewn to us by a generous hand and loving heart, treasures from a God who longs to speak His presence into our very souls (and today, they seem way out-of-place because I wrote this yesterday, but still I give thanks).

  • BurgerQue Enjoyed a mouth-watering burger on a salad (no bun because, of course, I am skipping the carbs on an endless venture to lose five pounds…don’t worry, I ate a brownie for dinner on Sunday and gained it right back).  Best part was sharing this meal with good friends.
  • Rachel’s piano and voice recital (she’s only been playing for one year, but she killed it…check it out here) #proudmama #samsmithlaymedown
  • A husband who is loved by and loves his children.  (huge shout out to Allen Goetz) “My father didn’t tell me how to live.  He lived and let me watch him do it.”  (Clarence B. Kelland)
  • Our power-washer (with the help of Jared) that made our deck sparkly-clean.
  • Getting the last child graduated from high school.  WHEW!  (snarky aside:  we did not need seven speeches from people who hope that what they say in their three minutes of fame will change a life forever…wow, that didn’t sound thankful) #gowatchunghillswarriors
  • This morning’s rain storm and the happy dance I am doing because I don’t have to water all the hanging plants and deck planters.  Yippee!
  • A text from a good friend reminding me of her love and thankfulness for me.  All just became well in my soul!

I would love to be drawn me into your world and the treasures you have been given.  Please comment below.  We will share the easy and the hard thanks together.  One thing does not cancel out the other.  They just sit there next to each other.  I am off to cry some more.

 

 

 

 

Posted in health, Sabbath, Slow

24/6 (A Beginner’s Journey into Sabbath)

“Sabbath is a time to transform from human doings to human beings.”  (Matthew Sleeth)

Driven.  Workaholic.  Adrenaline junkie.  Type A.   24/7.  Savior of the world (or at least my world).  All of these and more.  That was the person behind this post.  Until I wasn’t.  Until it was stopped FOR ME several years ago.

Stopped.  Key word.  Stopped.  Everything stopped.  This mom of four, wife of one, ministry leader, job holder, keeper of an ordered house, ducks-in-a-row, mover and shaker stopped.  Little did I know then, but a terrible and precious gift had been given to me that changed my world: the word STOP.

After this emergency “stop” in my life (which came in the form of a complete nervous breakdown…the summer where my four kids ate goldfish for breakfast and watched endless amounts of TV instead of the completing the summer transition homework I usually planned for them…it might have been their best summer ever), I began to question the value of this word.  Was there room for me to rest, take a break, actually stop?  Would the world I carefully crafted fall apart without me?  I wasn’t sure.  For so long, I had worked and solved and rushed and moved.

At the same time, I never wanted that emergency “stop” again.  It had been horrible, filled with anxiety, panic attacks, dread and the feeling of being “out-of-body.”  I was desperate to do something, anything.

In the meantime, words like “sabbath” and “margin” kept popping up and I came across a book, thanks to Pastor Tim Lucas, that I avidly read, “24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life” by Matthew Sleeth.  The author is a former emergency room physician (can’t get any more important or busier) about how his life was transformed (physically, spiritually, relationally and emotionally) in his “always-on” world by adopting the practice of sabbath (which literally means “STOP” in Hebrew).   I drank the words in and came away with two life-changers:

  • a best practice for me would be one where I worked 24/6 and rested 24/1
  • this rest period was a truly a gift for me, one straight from the heart of God

I began with baby steps, starting with 6 hours, the time the kids were in school.  It was NOT easy.  My anxiety skyrocketed as I closed the laundry room door, shut off my phone and accomplished nothing.  I was sure my world would come crashing down.  Guess what?  It didn’t.  I literally took naps and did nothing of any consequence.  As a result (wait for it), nothing changed on the outside.  Bills were still paid.  Kids were still fed.  Friends still loved me.  Jobs got done.  However, much began to change on the inside.  Being allowed to be off-duty encouraged me.  Saying “no” to my kids empowered me.  The rest I so desperately needed calmed my adrenaline-addicted body.  I enjoyed every moment of this “sabbath,” not wanting it to end.   A small taste of the transformation Sleeth wrote about was mine.

It didn’t take a PhD in psychology to soon realize that I needed to take the plunge.  Being the recovering work-a-holic that I am, I knew it had to be drastic.  I drew a line in the sand:  24 HOURS.  STOP.  EVERY WEEK.  More anxiety came with this next step.  No change in my outside world once again.  Much more change on the inside.  This human doing began to give room for a human being.

It’s been seven years.  Mine is on Fridays.  My husband’s is on Sundays.  There are weeks when I miss, sometimes because of circumstances supposedly beyond my control (and my people will tell you I get a bit cranky) and other times I still struggle to “shut the laundry room door.”  But I can’t go very long without retreating back into that place of stopping for 24/1.

IMG_4558

(Picture compliments of my teenage daughter…forgive the grammar)

Many have questions that I have been asked time and again:

  • what do you do all day?
  • how does everything get done?
  • isn’t that legalistic?
  • do you watch TV?
  • what if I have kids?
  • what do I have to stop doing?  gardening?  painting?  social media?
  • does it have to be a full 24 hours?

I have more to share with you (some will be my thoughts on the above questions) and will do so over time.  It’s not a quick, change-in-a-moment kind of thing.  It’s a heart-wrenching, life-time haul, slow-moving kind of thing.  I am excited to slowly unpack my continuing journey towards rest(oration) for my body, mind, soul and spirit with you.

For now, I leave you with three of the many small gifts that I have received from my 24/6 adventure:

  • The world goes on without me and I don’t have to be the Savior of it (even in crazy, fast-paced, over-the-top New Jersey).
  • I have room for not “shoulding” all over myself for one 24-hour period.
  • I am never going back.

At the start of this journey, I asked, “What will happen if I do?”  Now I ask a much different question (and have experienced the answer to it), “What will happen if I don’t?”

Please ask questions or give responses you have in the comment section.   You have heard my heart.  Now I want to hear yours.