Hope, Healing, and Freedom for Hurting Souls

New This Month: Links, Quotes, Books & More

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“For I know the plans I have for you,
declares the Lord,
plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“Thy Will”
Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

“I’m so confused
I know I heard you loud and clear
So I followed through
Somehow I ended up here
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan
When I try to pray
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words…”

“I take joy in doing Your will, my God,
for Your instructions are written on my heart.”
Psalm 40:8 NLT

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ABCs of Jesus’ Love

Visit this page anytime and let me know if you’d like to add to the words describing Jesus’ love along with a verse supporting it. Remember, there is also a print-out of the original list.

 This month I have added another “F” Word:

❤︎  Freeing Love ❤︎
“Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah,
His blood poured out on the altar of the Cross,
we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments
chalked up by all our misdeeds.
And not just barely free, either.
Abundantly free!”
Ephesians 1:7 The Message

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Books

I am not always able to keep up with the abundance of books that promote hope, healing, and freedom, so I haven’t always read every one I post here and on the Books Page. Though many are on my long wish list.🙂 Many will be from recommendations of online friends. If you ever know of a book that is not listed and that supports this website’s mission, please let me know.🙂

thehappinessdare_cover_400x600The Happiness Dare by Jennifer Dukes Lee

I just finished this book, and I love it! It has helped me to more diligently seek out the “little” things in life I can be grateful for. It has helped to understand God gives us permission to be happy, even in the midst of unhappiness either in us or in the world.

Some of my favorite quotes are:

“If we work hard to mask all of our messes, the woman on the other side of the room will never know that we are uniquely equipped to understand her pain.”

“God is calling us to live inside of his adequacy and his strength. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness  — not in our performances or our perfection.”

“I am not a mistake. I am a miracle.”

“You have permission to feel sorrow. It’s okay to cry. The God who gave you your smile also gave you your tear ducts.”

“Happiness doesn’t deny our pain. It holds it gently. Happiness doesn’t ignore the hurt of the world, but it makes a space to sit quietly inside of the ache.”

You can also find out your happiness style online or in the book. Mine is giver/thinker. What is yours?🙂

A Child's Trust

I’ve decided to highlight one book a month, but I just have to mention another book I’m reading – Uninvited by Lysa Teurkerst. I hope to cover it more at another time. Lysa has an assessment you can take if you’re not sure this book is for you. My assessment shows I definitely need this book! How about you?

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Hope Harbor

Links That Inspire Hope and Healing 

 20 Ways to Really Help the Grieving – Lisa Appelo, who knows by experience what grieving is like when she lost her husband, lists empathetic and compassionate ways to help those who are in grief.

Coping With Grief and Loss: Understanding the Grieving Process – “Losing someone or something you love or care deeply about is very painful. You may experience all kinds of difficult emotions and it may feel like the pain and sadness you’re experiencing will never let up. These are normal reactions to a significant loss. But while there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that, in time, can renew you and permit you to move on.”

 HAVOCA – Help for Adult Victims of Child Abuse – “Every Survivor has the right to become a Thriver. HAVOCA was established in 2001 to provide support and direction to any adult who has experienced child abuse. This experience may be first hand, or as a loved one of a survivor, or as a support worker for the victims of child abuse. The HAVOCA resource provides a wealth of information online and at the same time allows people to connect through The HAVOCA Survivor Forums. In doing so HAVOCA provides direction and friendship to survivors worldwide.”

Nature Retreat

“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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One of my sons captured this shot of an adult cicada newly emerged from its nymph shell.

Nature Photos by Tim Good – Hundreds of stunning nature photos this photographer shares at National Geographic

Jeff Berkes Fine Art Landscape Photography – Amazing photos of nightscapes, extreme weather, volcanoes, and so much more. There are also some free Android or iPhone mobile backgrounds.

50 Mind-Blowing Examples of Macro Photography – “Seeing flowers and insects in all their minute details, makes you realize that there’s always more than meets the eye. Part of the fun of macro photography is showing this hidden beauty.”

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Quotes

❤︎ “What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.” ~ Oscar Wilde

❤︎ “My brokenness is a better bridge for people than my pretend wholeness ever was.” ~ Sheila Walsh

❤︎ “All this trouble has crowded me to Christ. It’s simply mud around the gold.” ~ Margie Hamilton

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Recover The Interests God Has Created In You

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God created each of us with unique interests. Finding those interests can help us to better understand who He has created us to be and help us to better use them to glorify Him.

Sometimes these interests get buried under painful memories, and it takes intentional work to recover them. Working through our pain can remove the blinders from our eyes, so we can more easily see what we loved as a child. To remember what made us feel alive and more hopeful in the midst of the darkness.

As a child, I didn’t know a loving Jesus. To me, God was angry, vengeful, and unapproachable. But as I look back, a God of love was still at work even though I didn’t see, feel, or know Him. He created in me interests that I now see as ways He made my life more bearable.

One of my fond memories was when my brother and I brought our Holstein cows from the pasture to the barnyard for milking. I loved smelling the country air and feeling it on my face. Hearing the frogs chirp in the creek making a ribbon through our pasture. Seeing the killdeer drawing us away from their nests with a shrill “Kill-deee! Kill-deee!”

“Kaaa Boss!” we would yell. Many of the cows would come when called and would head home in a long line, but there were usually those who stayed in the back of the pasture until we rounded them up.

I loved walking barefoot but it was kind of tricky when there were thistles to dodge. Once I didn’t see a dead one and stepped right into it. Ouch! My foot was still stinging when I plopped it smack dab in the middle of a cow pie so fresh it was still steaming. Yuck! And yet I remember the warm, soothing feeling squishing up between my toes. It actually helped take the sting out of my foot!

I loved animals, both the farm ones and wildlife. I was even intrigued by the ones others might call creepy, like bugs, spiders, and snakes.🙂

Animals became a part of my dreams, too. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I wanted to study chimpanzees or gorillas like Jane Goodall.

As I grew into a teenager, I also dreamed of owning an orphanage. I wanted every child to feel loved and cared about. I wanted to shield them from all harm. I never got what I wanted, but God did give me children to care for. As a teacher, then a mother, and now a grandmother. Sometimes my heart aches for all the children in this world, and I wish I could protect them all from evil. I know I can’t though and I have to give them into the hands of Jesus who loves children and invites them to come to Him. What I can do is be a part of making every child I meet feel noticed, loved, and cherished.

Not all our dreams come to reality in our lives and seasons in our lives change. Sometimes because of circumstances, we have to let go of pursuits that gave us such joy, and that can be painful. Sometimes even those dreams we have that line up with passions we feel God has given us fall by the wayside. We don’t always understand why, but God can help us to grieve and move forward into the plan He has for each of us.

Through the heavy weight of not dealing with past abuse in my life, the long, difficult road of finally dealing with it, and this continuing journey of healing, there were and still are times I cannot see, feel, or appreciate the deep-seated interests God has given me. But God still preserves the makeup of who I am. Both children and nature still bring me joy and hope. I am still fascinated by the complexities of God’s creatures. All of God’s creation is God’s gift of love and grace. It inspires me to open my heart to His beauty and remember He is in control of our lives.

His creation includes you. I really do care about you readers. I don’t know you all by name, but God does, and I can still pray for you. I long for you to know the joy and salvation there is in Jesus. And I long for Him to set you free to recover interests He Himself has given you. Those interests that make you who you are.

Are there God-created loves inside you that got buried in the heaviness of life’s troubles? Interests you had as a child that made you feel more alive and hopeful even when you didn’t know God? Do you take time to enjoy them today as God’s way to give you more hope in the midst of the turmoil of our hearts, lives, and world?

If you are one of those children who were so abused and neglected that you weren’t allowed to enjoy anything or truly discover where your interests lie, I’m so very sorry. I hope you have gotten or will get help to work through the pain and to recover them. I pray God will uncover and revive the special person He made you to be, that unique, wonderful person He filled with special gifts and interests meant to glorify Him.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14a

“For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:10

“Wonderfully Made”
Matthew West

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What I Learned This Summer

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I had fun with this collage template and some of my butterfly photos. Every butterfly I see is God’s whisper to me – “I am still with you, My child.”

When I decided to take a break this summer, I was so overwhelmed. Every time I went back to the computer, that feeling would become even worse. It was time to step back and rest in body, mind, and spirit. Time to examine where I was in my relationship with Jesus and my purpose on this earth. These are some of the lessons I learned or relearned:

I need Jesus like the very air I breathe. Without Him I will suffocate in this journey of life. I have had times in my life where it felt like my bronchial tubes closed up and I couldn’t breathe. I thought I would die. Without Jesus breathing His love and life into me, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, I will not survive.

I can worship God just by taking time for Him, by resting in His love and rejoicing in His goodness. I don’t give more glory to Him by doing more. I need to be more concerned with filling up at His fountain instead of how much I “do.” When my well is dry, I can’t offer refreshment to anyone.

I need to concentrate more on encouraging one person at a time, whoever is placed in my life’s journey. I need to quit beating myself up over not making enough of a difference in this world. At the beginning of this break, I thought that without my blog posts I wasn’t encouraging anyone. But God opened my eyes more to the needs of people He sets in front of me each day and reinforced the truth that even a smile or a compliment can encourage and make someone’s day, whether to a loved one, an acquaintance, or a stranger.

At the beginning of the summer, I was struggling with rebellion against chronic illness. I cried out – Lord, I am so weary of all this. Won’t You just take me now? What good am I doing here when I can’t even think to write a blog post? Why won’t You heal me, Lord? Why won’t you make me stronger in body and mind? Why does this have to get worse as I get older? How is this to Your glory? And on and on. At the same time I felt guilty that I was feeling fretful and complaining so much. After all, don’t others have it much worse than I do? I should be ashamed of myself. But God taught me that it’s okay to bring all my questions and troubles to Him. What is invisible to others is so visible to Him. Even when others have it worse, that doesn’t mean I should chalk off my own troubles as nonexistent. It’s still important to acknowledge I have a chronic illness and emotional trauma from past abuse and to grieve the losses. But it is also important for me to open my heart more to what I can still do that others can’t. To open my heart to all the blessings still surrounding me. To be grateful for His upholding love and grace through every loss in my life. To remember that He can transform the physical and emotional weariness into the beauty of growing stronger in Him.

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I want to open my eyes more to the beauty around me. To see God’s beauty everywhere. To thank Him more. Even for ordinary, everyday things like seeing a dog as he sticks his head out of an open car window, the wind flapping his lips into a silly grin. So happy in the Creator who created him. I want to automatically whisper, “Thank You, God, for showing me this.”

I put too much pressure on myself to perform at this website. If I don’t post something every week, I feel like I’m a failure to God, to others, to myself. That’s not true. If I feel in my heart I need to rest from it, I need to listen. It’s ok if a new post doesn’t come out every single Tuesday. It’s ok if I don’t feel strong enough to write vulnerably every time. It’s ok even to just share nature photos and/or a sentence or two. God can make one word or photo breathe hope into someone’s heart just as well as many words. Nothing is impossible with Him!

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“Then Jesus said, ‘Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.’ He said this because there were so many people coming and going that Jesus and His apostles didn’t even have time to eat.”
Matthew 6:31 NLT

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

A Child's Trust What is something God taught you this summer?
Are you in the midst of a heavy trial? What is giving you hope?

“Find Rest”
Francesca Battistelli

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Lacking Wisdom? God Longs To Give It

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I am afraid. Especially of writing more to honor myself than to honor God. I’m afraid that my writing is selfish and inadequate. But it recently occurred to me that maybe that’s Satan whispering lies to me, because if I was writing and not caring about God’s glory, why would He even bother with me? If I didn’t desire God’s glory in my writing, Satan would leave me alone and happily let me write. If I didn’t care about God’s glory, I wouldn’t even be afraid or doubtful of writing more to honor myself or to please others.

So I’m pushing ahead… Afraid. Inadequate. Broken.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you. But when you ask,
you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts
is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
James 1:5-6

These verses have often been on my heart this summer. I have found myself swinging like a pendulum. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.

I am struggling.

On one side, hope surges as I read of God’s promise to give wisdom to all of us who ask it. Not like a Scrooge who hoards his wealth for himself. God desires to give us wisdom with an all-of-His heart willingness and delight. Not skimpily, but generously, in abundance, more than what we could ask for or even think of.

Then I get stumped on the last part of those verses. I must believe and not doubt. If I doubt, I am like a wave of the sea, tossed about. I should then not expect to receive that wisdom.

But wait, I’m forgetting that part – “without finding fault.” God doesn’t find fault in us.

He isn’t going to find fault in my wavering between belief and doubt either. Sometimes when I waver, I hear God’s whispers:

“Oh My child, you feel you doubt too much
And don’t deserve to receive wisdom.
Don’t you remember what I did for you?
I have covered your doubts, too, with My blood.
I am infinitely more compassionate and forgiving
Than you are of yourself.
There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus.
In and of yourself, there is doubt and fear,
But in Me is hope, certainty, and courage.
Believe not only in My power to give you wisdom
but in My power to breathe peace
into those waves of doubt and fear.
And believe, My child,
My willingness to supply you with wisdom
is infinitely greater than your longing for it.”

Are you afraid you are writing more to please yourself or others than to please God? Take heart. God waits for us to ask for the wisdom we need to write to His glory. His compassionate is bottomless. His forgiveness has no boundaries. His willingness to guide us is filled with endless delight.

“Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus.
But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet,
he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”
Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.
Then He said, ‘Faint-heart, what got into you?’
The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down.”
Matthew 14:29-32 The Message

A Child's Trust

“To Be Like You”
by Hillsong

“All I want
All I need
More of You
Less of me
Take this life
Lord it’s Yours
Have my heart
Have it all”

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I Need a Break, but Jesus Never Does

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You may have noticed I didn’t send out my weekly blog post on Tuesday. The words just wouldn’t come. I am so weary in body, in mind, and in soul. I need rest in every way. So I have decided to take a break from blogging this summer. I need to learn to release the pressure I put on myself to post every week and to comment on other blogs. I will see how it goes whether it’s a couple of weeks or a couple of months.

Please know that even if I’m not posting every week, I will still be in prayer for you readers. If you have a special prayer request or need some support, feel free to leave a comment or contact me through email, ok?

And never forget that Jesus is available 24/7. You will never hear a busy signal. He longs for you to confide in Him, and He will always give you His full attention. He knows what you’re going through, He hurts when you’re hurting, and He understands your feelings better than anyone else can.

I will leave you for now with this song:

“Shoulders”
for King & Country

My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You’re right here, pulling me through
You carry my weakness, my sickness, my brokenness all on Your shoulders
Your shoulders
My help comes from You
You are my rest, my rescue
I don’t have to see to believe that You’re lifting me up on Your shoulders
Your shoulders…

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We Will Be Rescued Because God Is Faithful

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“Peep! Peep! Peep!” The fluffy little ducklings cried out. They had fallen into a sewer drain. A deep, dark, damp dungeon with no hope of getting free. And yet they kept crying, hearing their mama answer them with distressed quacks.

Mama Duck could not rescue them, though her limping gave evidence of how she must have tried to.

My husband discovered these trapped ducklings just a few feet away on our condo driveway. Through the grate I could see at least three of them, but we were helpless to reach them.

I called Animal Control and asked if they could do something. They came quickly. A man looked through the grate on one side of the driveway while a woman was on the other side. They coaxed the ducklings to one end or the other, then reached nets into the openings at the sides of the curbs. They managed to rescue a dozen of them! They reunited them with Mama and brought them to a safer place.

At one point the woman asked me to hold one. He was quivering so badly. I could just imagine how afraid he was.

Have you ever tumbled into a dungeon of despair? Helpless. Hopeless. Afraid.

The ducklings kept crying, but there are times when we become so weak and discouraged that we can’t cry anymore. We can’t lift up our heads. We can’t grasp onto God’s promises to deliver us.

As the apostle Paul says in a time of crushing, overwhelming troubles, “We expected to die.”

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,
about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia.
We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure,
and we thought we would never live through it.
In fact, we expected to die.
But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves
and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.
And He did rescue us from mortal danger,
and He will rescue us again.
We have placed our confidence in Him,
and He will continue to rescue us.”

2 Corinthians 1:8-10

But like Paul, we didn’t die. Why? Because there is a Rescuer who is always willing and ready to pull us up again. Out of darkness and despair. He knows where we are and what we need. He hears our groans. He even hears our silence.

Sometimes we have to wait a while and it seems He will never come for us. But that doesn’t mean He doesn’t care, doesn’t understand, doesn’t love us. He has His reasons for not always answering immediately. Reasons for our good. In His time and way, He will come.

Troubles actually make us realize how insufficient we are in ourselves. They push us into the need for a Rescuer. They help us to grow more dependent on God.

God is faithful. He will do what He promises. Three times Paul assures us of this. He did rescue us. He will rescue us again. He will continue to rescue us. And each time He comes, He will gather us up into His safe and loving arms and breathe courage into our fainting hearts to keep taking one step at a time.

“Jesus gave His life for our sins,
just as God our Father planned,
in order to rescue us from
this evil world in which we live.”
Galatians 1:4 NLT

“Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am He, I am He who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
Isaiah 46:4

“It is because of the Lord’s lovingkindnesses that we are not consumed,
Because His [tender] compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great and beyond measure is Your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23 AMP

A Child's Trust

“Rescue Me”
by Selah

“Rescue me, my God and my King
Water’s are rising and I cannot breathe
Wrap your arms all around me and
Carry me over, carry me over
(Rescue me)”

God is working

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New This Month: Links, Quotes, Books & More

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“What is the price of five sparrows—two copper coins?
Yet God does not forget a single one of them.
And the very hairs on your head are all numbered.
So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable
to God than a whole flock of sparrows.”
Luke 12:6-7

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“Sparrows” by Jason Gray

“(Lalala) if He can hold the world He can hold this moment
(Lalala) not a field nor flower escapes His notice
Oh even the sparrow
Knows He holds tomorrow”

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ABCs of Jesus’ Love

Visit this page anytime and let me know if you’d like to add to the words describing Jesus’ love along with a verse supporting it. Remember, there is also a print-out of the original list.

 This month I have added another “P” Word:

❤︎  Pursuing Love ❤︎
“This is real love—not that we loved God,
but that He loved us and sent His Son
as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
1 John 4:10 NLT

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Books

I am not always able to keep up with the abundance of books that promote hope, healing, and freedom, so I haven’t always read every one I post here and on the Books Page. Though many are on my long wish list.🙂 Many will be from recommendations of online friends. If you ever know of a book that is not listed and that supports this website’s mission, please let me know.🙂

Love Embraced: A Journey In and Through Suffering by Anna Louise Smit

Love Embraced“Fear, Grief, PTSD and The Embrace of Love Not one of us is immune to suffering. So many of us have experienced loss, rejection, trauma and/or deep hurt. But often we decide to keep working, to keep going and to keep numbing that which we are terribly scared will break us into tiny little pieces. Love Embraced records the author’s own journey through such suffering, in: – caring for her mother dying of cancer – grieving her mother’s death – her diagnosis of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and – working through repressed childhood memories. But, it also reveals how in starting to face that which she was too frightened to face, she began to embrace and be embraced by a mighty God into: – freedom – hope, – comfort, – peace, – strength and – deep joy.” (Amazon Review)

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Hope Harbor

Links That Inspire Hope and Healing 

 Coping With Death and Grief – A series of articles by Patricia Johnson – “Despite the gamut of emotions we feel, grieving for a loved one helps us cope and heal. The intense, heart-breaking anguish indicates that a deep connection has been severed. Without a doubt, grieving is painful. But it is also necessary.”

Need a Confidence Boost? – An article by Verla Wallace in Today’s Christian Woman – “Low self-esteem has become the number-one issue plaguing Christian women. Despite God’s assurance that he’s absolutely crazy about us, most of us can’t believe he means us.”

 101 Best Christian Affirmations – Bible verses written and spoken with beautiful scenery and soothing music

Nature Retreat

“The poetry of earth is never dead.”
~ John Keats

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➺ Insect Macro Photography Video – by Cyrus Khamak – video showing the fascinating complexities of insects 

➺ African Photography Blog – Stunning African wildlife photos by Greg Du Toit

➺ Animal Safari: Wildlife That Makes You Say WOW! – 40 awesome photos taken by various artists on an African Safari

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Quotes

❤︎ “The bud of a rose is just as beautiful as the full bloom. Appreciate what you have at the moment.” ~ Anonymous

❤︎ “The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” ~ Walt Disney Company, Mulan

❤︎ “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.” ~ Alphonse Karr

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