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“She’s Gone Missing”

tucson screen shot

During the 6 past months or so, I have experienced a feeling of being lost. And truthfully, I think many people have noticed that I have gone ‘missing.’ Some may have been aware of this while I was at home – dealing with my chronic pain and numerous ailments that were quickly becoming overwhelming. Others have actually witnessed my departure from my church, my home and my state.

I am feeling lost because right now I AM LOST.

Now, blogging about that wasn’t something I wanted to do…because I don’t want to drag anyone down by that.

But here’s the truth – some of you might be feeling lost as well…

I have a sense of this because I see who responds to what kind of dirt-digging honesty I dredge up and publish…

And I hear from those of you who understand that honesty…

Some of you are feeling lost as well.

The important thing is … I don’t think we should feel like we are lost and all alone in that – nor do I believe we should stay there.

My ‘lost’ experience is clearly rooted in my identity as a woman, a wife and a mother.

I am all those persons and more. But the core of who I am began long ago and I think I’ve misplaced who I am in the midst of life’s expectations.

I stroll through my collection of old pictures and I see myself at ages 2, 5, or 7 years and I think…

“Where is that little girl? That feisty, scrappy, tiny – but loud – little girl?”

“Where is the girl who loved playing tag, hide-n-seek, and Barbie dolls?”

“Where is the child who rode her bike all day, liked to fish, wanted to hammer nails in her Daddy’s workshop, chewed Bazooka gum, and told secrets?” (Ok, and lots of lies too – shhhhh)

workshop

long island

That’s still who I am inside – but somehow I have had those really fun-loving parts of me buried under {LIFE}.

We all experience a little loss of who we were as children under the responsibilities of adulthood and the complexities of life to some extent. But I think I fell prey to the notion that being an adult meant changing who you were into something that was expected of you and becoming defined by those around me or being defined by what was happening to me.

And the funny thing is, nobody explains that to you as you grow and mature and marry and have your children. Although, come to think of it, maybe there have been women in my life that have come alongside me and hugged me and have given me the knowing look that says – “I understand what you’re dealing with.”

This explanation of how your life will change – it might not always come from your Mom, but I’ve met a few of women through the years that I believe they were trying to communicate this to me in their own way.

So, here I am, on a respite from my life. How often does THAT come along? Can I say, I give a HUGE amount of credit to my husband for allowing this? I have had an epiphany of sorts and that is … that I’ve been given permission to wander in the desert.

And yes, I am literally IN the desert.

I’m getting a huge break from my chronic neck pain, my asthma and from the stressors of my everyday life. I don’t feel as rushed, as worried, or as angry, but I also don’t hear the laughter or happiness that comes in small snippets throughout the day from the crazy antics of my family members or pets. That makes things difficult at times.

But during this respite, my focus is sharper.

My confusion is deeper.

My indecisiveness is at an all-time high.

And God is speaking –

Louder & Clearer

Make no mistake here…a desert experience isn’t a picnic. (It’s more like a lot of bottled water and healthy snacks.) But confusion and indecisiveness have never been a normal thing for me so I feel like this time in my life has helped me see the bigger picture.

Actually, the picture is enormous.

It all begins with a God who is Infinite.

A God who is abundant in Grace.

A God who is fathomless in His Forgiveness.

A God who is big enough to bring us through the Desert – under His Almighty protection.

A God who promises never to leave us or forsake us – Regardless of our fleeing into the desert.

Because THAT is how BIG my God is…

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2013 in Life, in general, Writing

 

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It’s Soup, Not a Conspiracy

Train a child in the way he should go,

and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Proverbs 22:6

My children are wonderful.  Mind if I take a little credit for a part of that?

We eat together

We watch T.V. together

We go to the movies together

But here’s my big bragging point:

*They eat their vegetables and they try new foods – in a foreign country no less.*

We moved to Germany when our girls were ages 12, 8, and 3 1/2.  It was the perfect age for them to enjoy and remember our overseas tour.  Each child had something unique to their own experience while living there for three years.  One took a trip to Italy for Spring Break with Club Beyond – a Christian youth group.  Another traveled with the Girl Scouts to “Our Chalet” in the Swiss alps – headquarters of  WAGGGS.  And the other, well, let’s just say she experienced (and survived) Pre School while Mom became a part time volunteer for the Red Cross at the post chapel.

We all enjoyed train trips, castle and cathedral tours, shopping and eating downtown, Volksmarching, Christmas markets and our big weekend adventure to Prague in the Czech Republic.  Everyday life in a little German town was also special.  Some of our favorite dining experiences were just a short walk away.  Perfect on a late summer evening when the sun hangs in the sky hours longer than it does in the States.

When my husband and I were young, our parents held very similar views on table etiquette.  You know, like being told to eat everything on your plate … regardless of what it was or how much was there.  My husband ate well, but does confess to occasionally having to sit there until everything was gone from his plate.  He says that on a few occasions, he was there until bedtime.

I didn’t eat much at all when I was little.  The dining room table was a place of torture for me as a child.   But, I was also sneaky and I was really good at hiding my food after the authorities left the room.  Really, I don’t know why my parents didn’t catch on when they’d find the hamburgers (we called them hockey pucks) under the china hutch…

Maybe, just maybe, we learned a little about parenting though through these experiences.  Now, let me be honest when I say, I stopped blaming my parents for what I deemed inappropriate long before I had children.  I read some books, I watched other Moms, and I learned on the fly.

I understood how much and how often to feed children and as they grew, we just gently expanded their horizons by increments.  I learned just how small their stomachs really were, how to feed them healthy food, saved treats for special times and to average out what they ate over a period of a few days.

While cleaning the soup pot last night I recalled an adult who remarked to me how I “snuck ” lima beans into the soup once – apparently she didn’t like them.  Perhaps she was forced to eat them as a child and still has lima bean nightmares to this very day …

All I could think was “Hey, it’s soup, not a conspiracy.”  (Insert YOUR giggle here)

When cooking for company, I usually try to make amiable food that everyone will enjoy…. not eccentric things that kids won’t like.  And healthy … I’m kind of known for that.  But, I certainly don’t try to sneak in an ingredient.  (The lima beans are already included in the frozen mixed veggie bag)

So, here’s the deal … We love food, we love having company, and we’ve been known to have cereal for dinner…

We teach good table manners, but I think we have really been teaching honesty, respect, and thankfulness.

I think those are really the core values hiding under all those {mushrooms, olives, beets, cooked spinach, etc.}  And the biggest lesson of all is … when they go out on their own, they are going to make their own choices.

And that, my friends and fellow parents…  {THAT WAS HARD FOR ME TO SWALLOW!}

We do intend to train a child in the way they should go, and then we {Let. Them. Go.}  And it’s a lesson I’m still learning.

**After a long day visiting Prague in the Czech Republic, the kids ate some interesting food for dinner. We were seated in a little alcove room with some other English-speaking travelers.  Here is a picture of the kids being silly and making imprints on their foreheads with the woven placemats.

  We decided that the “were all Czeched out.”

czeched out

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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An Ordinary Life

daylilies

Some days it’s difficult to believe that nothing special happens. Actually, I’m sure special things happened today, they just didn’t occur in this house. It was an ordinary, hum-drum, do-the-laundry-and-take-out-the-trash kind of day. Literally.  Add in making dinner – and baking some biscuits too – since I had time.

After last Friday’s writing prompt on the word “ordinary,” I’ve been thinking a lot about that very thing. I’ve been thinking how much an ordinary, common, everyday life can weigh a person down. How it can slowly etch away at a vibrant personality and transform that person into someone very different. Many people know about this if they’ve been married a while or if they have been living in the trenches with babies on their hips and toddlers running underfoot. You may have started to wither under the weight of it all. I know, because I’ve seen it happen to myself.

Ordinary can also transform a person into something better. It’s a matter of perspective I would say…and how often you step back and see how far God has brought you in your spiritual growth.

Our everyday life can be so repetitive that it may be hard to see “the forest through the trees.”  Growth happens.  Renewal happens.  Winter happens, then Spring happens.  I’ve had one of those weeks that was very tiring.  I also caught a cold which could be the reason that I’ve been dragging along all week.

But, it doesn’t mean that something didn’t happen for me spiritually.  I’ve been forced to slow down.  I have had a few things taken off my responsibility list and so I’ve experienced thankfulness.  And just when I didn’t think I could handle another broken heat pump part, it turned out to be some disconnected wires and a FREE service call!  And, when the fencing people called and said “I know it’s short notice, but…” I was very happy that today they would install my pool fence.  Short notice?  I’m thankful that it’s finally going to get put in..

I see sprouts of my day lilies shooting up in my flower beds regardless of the cold, frigid nights.  Winter is still happening, but Spring is about to start.  Clouds will roll back and before you know it, the sun will be blistering hot.  And I will be truly thankful for some better weather and some evidence of the Earth’s renewal.  It will still be an ordinary and common life, but change and growth happen quite frequently in these days and nights that seem to all run together.  And there’s always more that God can give you, just around the corner from today.

God’s still in control, He’s still on the throne.  And today, I am thankful for that truth.  May it reside in your heart and soul today like a bright and sunny day.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Housework and the Thoughts It Sparks

growth

On more than one occasion I have had my hands elbow-deep in the dishwater – only to have to quickly drag them out and towel them off (semi-dry) to go write down something that traipsed across my mind.

See, when you get somewhere {past} 40 years old, your brain decides to leave you guessing as to “What was I just saying/thinking/doing?” Also, famous is the “What was I in here for?”

You forget stuff…quickly and easily. Except for a few things that are utter nonsense – and those get stuck permanently.  (Just ask anyone in Tucson about the Bill Ellis Datsun song that’s probably still stuck in their head – complete with the ball bouncing above the repetitive words)

So, since this rapid memory loss happens quite frequently, I look forward to some of the more mundane chores of the day and keep something handy nearby to write down those fleeting thoughts.

Today it happened…with the new washer. (If you need a refresher on my recent washer flood – click here: https://theunfinishedchild.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/washers-and-fleas/

Laundry duty today seemed incomplete.  Fun, but strange.  It’s the new washer – it’s cool, but maybe too simple?

Gone are the days of starting the water, pouring the soap, letting it mix a little, piling the clothes around the agitator, choosing the water level …

Now, it’s {One click} {One pour} {One heap} {One button}

Kind of un-ceremonial.  No drama, just a little instruction reading and the next thing you know, you’re 2 weeks into using a {fabulous} machine.

Today it reminds me of saying “Good-bye” to some complicated things. Every new gadget that I’ve purchased lately seems to be getting simpler to use. But I know too well that just before Christmas I was saying good-bye to another complicated part of my life as a Mom.  I said good-bye to the school parties. (especially the unexpected occasions that get thrown your way without much warning)

In the blink of an eye, I just said good-bye to the years of birthing, breast-feeding, milestones, walking, talking, Girl Scouts, school clubs and the marching of 3 girls through the K-12 grades. Soon will arrive the graduation of the baby, and the end of a very complex, strenuous, time-consuming, life-in-the-minivan period of our family history. Toss in the military lifestyle and the occasional single parenting and you have the {blink of and eye} – {hindsight is 20/20} timeframe that only occasionally slowed down enough for me to see the beauty that was their childhood.

Fast and furious was what it felt like… which is not unlike my personality. I guess I thrived on it, but I am ready to move forward.  I think.

Yes, today it was something as silly as a washing machine, that has become so simple to use, that sparked some reflection on the pasts and the futures of our three girls.  This stretch of the road we journey as parents might turn out to be the simpler part of parenthood.  It seems like everything is slowing down, but each new thing seems bigger.  Their education and career choices – all in different stages – bring fascination…especially as they leave the nest.  Sort of… they’re welcome to stay as long as we can still afford to feed them…

So, they grow, they change and they blossom.  Right under our noses, and before we know it, they are adults… moving up and beyond the nest we call home.  I know many will tell me “they’ll be back some day,” but I know, it will never be the same.  This chapter of their lives rapidly draws to a close … and I’m just basking in the time we have left.

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Five Minute Friday – Again

love

It’s Five Minute Friday!  It’s a chance to write for five minutes flat – Unscripted.  Unedited.  Real.  Just five minutes of focused writing with our “Flashmob of Writers” and it happens here: www.lisajobaker.com

Again

I love the smell and feel of her little kitchen.  The girlie curtains, the little table with a view, and all her diet “talk.”  She treats me with special attention every time I’m over.  Especially when I’m there alone with her and not outside or in the basement playing with her boys.

She’s like my own mother, and sometimes I feel better here than two doors down in my own house.  There’s always a treat for me and a special pat on the head or back.  Her supply of hugs is endless.  She sews for me and when I’m sick I come to her couch.  I’ve never been to anyone else’s house when I was sick and this only happened once.

Again and again – without explanation – this little girl goes to Mrs. Rice’s house and I guess she could be my “sitter” but I feel like just another one of her kids.

I remember well the night she had her little girl and the horrible night little Monica stopped breathing.  But everything turned out well even though we were all scared.

Later in life, I know why those those visits to her house were so precious.  My parents actually had spared me some of their problems at home by sending me two doors down.

How precious it is, to revisit those memories, again.

 

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A Chronicle of the Day

walmart

I did it… I actually left the house.  It wasn’t just a quick trip to the mailbox or to greet my fence contractors.  It was a trip to the Wal-Mart.  I know, no big deal, right?

Now, I know I was supposed to be at Yoga class, or even a choir practice today.  But, I grabbed my list and with all the determination I could muster I went out and started the truck.  I ran back in to wait in the warm house, but I never wavered… I was going out no matter how yucky I felt or how bad my head was hurting or how totally comfortable my bed looked!

There are times when all you accomplish is one good or necessary thing in a string of tiresome days.  But I’m going to tell you a secret… it all averages out…. because some days are phenomenally more productive than others.

Some days, you are the Mom, and/or the wife and your duties (sometimes all in one day) include:

Laundry, ironing, cooking, dishes, and mowing the lawn.  The banking, the bills, the taxes, and the dreaded federal forms for the college students.  You organize and manage the household, get the oil changed in the cars and have the tires rotated.  You’re probably the one who calls the {insert professional service name here} when the {random, expensive, broken item} needs said repair and/or replacement.

Then, there are days like today, when getting dressed and getting to Wal-Mart is a major accomplishment.  I even went the extra miles (literally) to the pet store for the exclusive Aspen shavings and food for the pigs.  {Guinea pigs, not my kids}.

So, why do these titles of “Wife” and “Mom” seem so small?  Maybe because they don’t come with a big paycheck, or a special title on the desk, or a specific diploma on the wall.  They have their own rewards, make no mistake, but they are etched on our hearts and are worn like brown porch paint on the favorite sweat pants you meant to change before you left the house.  These rewards are personal and intimate and come along when something goes right.

We can’t judge our value and worth by tangible items in these professions.   We also shouldn’t put ourselves down for a day that seems small or insignificant – especially if you work outside the house {God Bless those women}.  Because, there are still many hours left in your 24 hour day, so you’re bound to make up for it with a fabulous dinner (frozen pizza?) or to be the weary set of ears that listens to the play-by-play of lunchroom giggles from your high schooler. 

So, now that I feel full of worth and value and have patted and/or consoled myself for the day… I look up and notice the item that needed to be returned to Wal-Mart – still sitting on the desk.  That was the whole reason I was going in the first place!  Oh, the joke’s on me!  I think it’s time for some hot tea and a movie with the family to regain my courage for tomorrow.  It’s grocery shopping day!  Woo Hoo!

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Washers and Fleas

maytag washer

I lost it this morning.  My sanity to be exact.  I almost lost it last night when I had to get into the bed knowing my cats had been on the comforter.

After arriving home from book club I found a piece of tape on my counter that my husband pointed out to me.  REALLY?????  You HAD to CATCH a FLEA to SHOW me????  What was I supposed to do about that?  At 9 o’clock at night?

Apparently, if I were a good parent, I would have danced my way into my daughter’s room and properly praised my 21-year-old-with-a-magnifying-glass-in-her-hand who saved us all from the FLEA!  But, NO… I got a case of the heebie-jeebies and resolved myself to feeling guilty for not having my own vet check the new kitten for the little bugs!  Bad Pet Parent…

Now, I know this sounds ridiculous but this is a true story.  And in any story where I lose my sanity, it has to involve water – especially in THIS particular house.

I awoke WAY before the alarm ever hinted at playing music and with steady resolve, I headed towards the kitchen for my coffee and my washing machine.

Truly, in my book, nothing cures or fixes a problem like the first cup of Folgers and my somewhat weak and cheap washing machine.  I had barely downed all the coffee before I was throwing all the fleece blankets and afghans in the washer for the first load.  I was looking up the Vet’s number to cry for help… and I was kissing my sweet high schooler as she headed off to the bus.

All was well, and I was ready to do battle with fleas!

Yeah, um, “Why is the washer making that noise?”

Um, shouldn’t I lift the lid and “see it moving?”

Yes, it should be moving, and you shouldn’t look down and see water on the floor.

There was no retreating.  I made arrangements to remove the 4 legged beasts and their vermin to the Vet’s office where they would take some magic pills and be kept for a few days.  Then I hauled all my bedding and blankets to the laundromat and paid $29.50 to wash and dry everything.   Then we went and bought a new machine.

Oh, back up… I lost my sanity and called my husband.  “Water on the Floor” is pretty much all he heard and he headed home to hold my hand and listen to my attitude and have a few arguments with me, because that ALWAYS works…

Now, I have finished the day.  And wrote it all down.

But, who’s going to bring my sanity back?  Well, I think this steaming mug of hot chocolate will do just fine!

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2013 in Life, in general

 

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Perfectly Weary

Dry lungs.  That’s how best I can describe them.  Deprived of oxygen or just plain lazy would also be fitting.  Dizziness, well, more like uncontrolled spinning, occurs in my head quite frequently.  Tired, in pain, barely breathing and somehow I’m getting the laundry done.  Somehow I’ll manage to cook dinner – I think.

Tea is steeping, Christmas music is playing and for the first time in 4 days it is quiet.  It feels like a major accomplishment to get to this moment today – a time to actually think and concentrate.  A time to do a few chores, and a take a few moments to collect myself and renew slightly before something or someone beckons me.

A slight reprieve, badly needed.  A greater reprieve, I pray, is one day closer.

I wasn’t always like this.  I remember only too well the days of boundless energy.  Early years of running and playing with complete abandon.  Standing back flips, front walkovers, and long hours of stretching, dancing, and twirling.  I write of those days and time stands still in my head.  I can still feel the pasty, sweaty chalk on my hands and clearly feel the hardwood gym floor under my bare feet.  I can picture all the gymnasiums I’ve ever romped and flipped around in.

The face of the my gym teacher opening the doors for us before school hours was a welcome sight.  Each day I left the house early in the cold and the dark to go practice in the gym.  Later, I proudly wore blistered hands to class, much to the shock of my fellow students.  They didn’t understand how much I loved those early morning workouts.

Pausing, I sip my tea, allowing the pain in my neck and arm to lessen.  Even writing is painful.

I have loved making quilts, mosaics, and all sorts of crafts over the years.  I used to love to clean house, make dinner, do yard work, and chase after kids.  It was all so tiresome, but when the end of the day arrived, I didn’t regret much.  It was accomplished with reckless abandon as well.  Pure energy and drive… perhaps with a little too much perfectionism added in.

Well, the truth is, I had and STILL have way too much perfectionism in my life.  I struggled with a perfectly ordered life and house and now I struggle – with a body that does not fulfill my mind’s idea of how it should function.

In my spiritual life, along the way, I have found the desire to meet God in all things – every situation I was in and with everyone I met.  That used to be so simple because I was looking outward.  Now I find myself desiring to rise above the trappings of my human flesh – above the physical, the mental, and the emotional ideals of perfection, to see where I am in God’s plan.  It’s not easy.  It’s a part of my spiritual journey that is taking longer than I desired, but I can only imagine how wonderful the end results are going to be when God is finished with this part of His plan for my life.

I imagine when I look back upon this physically painful time it will diminish in intensity because of the enormity of what God will have accomplished.  In the meantime, my prayer life is being renewed and scripture is once again at the forefront of my day.  I think He has me right where He wants me, and today, I hope I make Him smile.

Philippians 4:12 & 13

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Psalm 121:1,2

I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Life, in general

 

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A New Kitten

 

We adopted a new kitten this weekend and as we have done in the past, my husband is the “official cat tester.”  He tests them by holding them and seeing if they trust him enough to lie on their backs.  It’s a proven method, really…and I’m glad to let him be in charge of this because it pays off in the long run.  Right now she’s hiding under the bed trying to figure out if she trusts US!

8 years ago I had a huge lesson in trust.  Actually I’ve had many experiences with “trust issues”, but this was the one that concreted my trust in God and what He might have in store for me and my family.  This was on my mind all last week and wouldn’t you know … that kitten that was looking at me from under the bed like she was wondering if she could trust us and it propelled me to the journal to write it down.  Please allow me to share.

I didn’t know what trust really was until it was broken.  I didn’t know what trusting in God was until I was drowning in my own stress and far outside my own abilities to do or fix the situation.  It was all about a move…. Well, actually, it was about my husband’s impending Army retirement, job hunting, job finding, selling a house in under 2 years of ownership, picking and buying a new house, living simultaneously at either end of the state, taking care of the 3 kids, fixing a roof, etc.  Get the picture?

I have lots of experience in all those areas.  I knew how to do it all by myself because I learned as a military wife how to navigate the world of a fixed income, close on a house alone (well, ok, the kids WERE with me), how to fix stuff and how to call for HELP… but this move hit me like a ton of bricks.

One dear friend and fellow sister in Christ called me in the midst of my chaos and started blathering on about this scripture (blah blah blah) (roll my eyes) and I was absolutely not interested in what she offered.  (that, by the way, was a FIRST for me)  It was 2 Chronicles 20. 

Part of my stress at the time was that I was on a committee organizing a small retreat and you know…I was packing when she called and I thought “my ducks are in a row, I’m ready to roll” which means my childcare was covered and I was ready for a weekend at the beach with my lovely ladies before we all part ways for the summer moving season.  I did NOT have time to listen!

So, don’t you know, God shows up BIG TIME at the retreat.  By the end of the first night’s session with the speaker, we were in awe.  Trust was the topic and three-fourths of the ladies were dealing with that very issue.  Talk about thirsty, broken, soul-wrenched beings gathered together…

2 Chronicles 20 tells of the Moabites and the Ammonites  coming to make war with Jehoshaphat.  He was “alarmed.”  (I know, all I had was this big, looming relocation ahead)

VS 4  The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord.  (good time for a retreat – get together and seek help)

VS 6  The prayer Jehoshaphat spoke to God over them “O Lord, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven”  (Yes, we felt very small in the presence of that big God who wanted us to ask for help)

VS 13  They all stood before the Lord with this prayer he spoke  (We women were also ready and willing)

VS 18  Jehoshaphat bowed and all the pople of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord  (Some ladies did that as well)

VS 24  The armies anhihilated each other… God did all the work and when the men of Judah came, they saw only dead bodies!  God took care of it all!!!

Ok, so I trusted God – mostly because it was a financial immpossiblity for me to do it – and He did it all instead.  Every time I turned around that weekend there was a penny in front of me, on the pool steps, falling out of my menu… I just kept telling God, “thanks, that’s a great reminder.”

He never leaves us or forsakes us… I believe in my heart that every cent that we needed, He provided.  He had done it before, (another amazing story years before), but I guess I needed a new reminder that no matter how hard I try, I have to give the task to Him first or I’ll struggle with it.

I know it won’t take long before our new kitty will be running wild and hanging from the curtains – trusting us completely for food and water and a clean litter box with no question in her little mind.

We humans?  We sometimes need a little reminding, a little prompting, a little encouraging… or just an opportunity to trust Him for the first time. ;

John 4:13, 14  Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2012 in Life, in general

 

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