The Easter I Couldn’t Plan

Oh law, did WE have us a wonderful Easter or what?

We did!

Growing up I have a lot of special Easter memories. Many of them involving an Easter dress WITH a bonnet or a hat. Mmmm hmmm. Many memories also involve a musical of some kind, or a passion play.

20130401-223824.jpgThis year, however, we made some different memories with our family. On Saturday night we attended a Messianic Passover Seder with our Origins family. I had so much fun hearing again the story of Passover and drawing the parallels to Jesus, our Lamb of God.





Easter morning,while my darling picked up our 60 pound crawfish order from the seafood merchant, I made Hot Cross Buns! (Click on the phrase to see my inspiration) Please tell me I’m not the only person who played the song in first grade piano lessons and on the recorder in third grade and never knew it was about buns with crosses on top. Please.


Anyway, they’re evidently somewhat of an Easter tradition. Perhaps not a southern one which would explain why I had no idea. But when Joy the Baker put a post up about Cross buns I knew I had my Easter morning breakfast plan. I do love Joy the Baker. I love anyone who knows the value of a carb as much as I. A sister in all things sweet, she is. Anyway, since I’m nowhere near as awesome as Joy the Baker, my crew got whop cinnamon rolls (you know, the kind where you WHOP the can on the counter to pop it open) with icing crosses.

It’s the thought that counts, yeah?

And since we had a big group of 15 for house church (Easter crowds everywhere, ya know!) it also took a dozen biscuits, NOT whop biscuits thankyaverymuch, and a breakfast casserole with enough cheese to bind us all together if you know what I mean, to feed everybody. Oh, and two pots of coffee. Don’t tell, but I love the feeding everybody part the best about house church. Give me Jesus, a table full of biscuits and butter, a hot pot of coffee, a bunch of people, and it is on like pecan my friends.

As a matter of fact, Janet’s dad was telling God when he closed us in prayer how he had loved sharing house church with us, it had seemed a little like what we’ll all do in heaven… sitting together enjoying each other and talking over all He has done. I hadn’t exactly thought of it that way before, but it’s true. A little bit of heaven is practiced in my home every week. I’m loving it.

And as if that weren’t enough, the coffee hadn’t even cooled before people started arriving for phase two of Easter festivities: the crawfish boil.


Ya’ll, there were kids everywhere, family, friends, faces to love all OVER the place.20130401-224312.jpg We killed a BUNCH of crawfish, hunted eggs, laughed and talked.






It was incredible. And I don’t even eat crawfish.



But people I love DO.20130401-224127.jpg20130401-224143.jpg










Just as everything was winding down, everybody dragging their happy, crawfish-stuffed selves to their cars and heading home, it started to rain. It was a lovely, soft rain just perfect for a visit with one of my favorite people who happened to wander over from down the street. God blessed me with some relatively quiet moments to chat, eat Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, and enjoy the company of yet another person I love.

After the rain, Janet and Ray’s electricity went out so they came back and piled on our couches and we ended the day watching the Bible on TV and drinking another pot of coffee.

I’m sure I could have never planned a more perfect Easter weekend. Good thing I didn’t really plan it. I mean, we knew we’d attend the Seder, we ordered the crawfish ahead, I schemed over the cross buns and all that stuff. But those weren’t the things that made the weekend perfect. It was the love of friends and family, the love of God, all blended up together to make a level of exquisite-ness not able to be conjured up through human effort.  What better way to celebrate a miraculous, resurrected Jesus?  I can think of none.







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Unforced Rhythms of Grace


This came from a great blog I follow, Margaret Feinberg. I really like Margaret’s books. Check her out sometime.

Anyway, this scripture was taken from The Message paraphrase. The phrase “unforced rhythms of grace” keeps echoing in my mind. I’ve been learning a bit about those unforced rhythms over the past few years. When I took piano lessons as a kid, I had this old thing called a metronome. It FORCED me to keep a certain time, meaning any rhythm I played had to obey that particular speed. I didn’t enjoy that thing. You wouldn’t know it, though, by the way I lived for a long time. I lived by some very forced rhythms.

Get all A’s. Do everything right. Make sure you live up to expectations. Never let ’em see you sweat.

I have to be honest, I’m so used to marching to a very strict beat, that unforced rhythms aren’t too comfy for me. Or weren’t. Now I’m learning to bask in them. Enjoy them. I’m liking what happens when I stop trying so hard and leave it to God for real.

Sunday morning was house church, of course. We’re on four years of house church now. That means we’ve been meeting since I was pregnant with Caleb. That means Caleb’s ALWAYS been a house church kid. Can I tell you a secret? I’ve been SO scared that somehow my littlest love would know less about God or love Him less than my big darlings. They WERE ministry kids, after all. They went to the Sunday Schools and VBSes and Summer Camps and all that stuff. They got rocked in the church nursery by ladies that love Jesus and came home with lipstick marks on their cheeks and clothes that reeked of grandma perfume. How would Caleb EVER begin to match their God-stuff pedigree? Back to Sunday morning.

We sat in the living room finishing up house church and were closing with prayer. Caleb came to my lap and sat there quietly while Janet prayed. He whispered to me “I want to pray.” I said “Ok, Mrs. Janet is talking to God now and then you can pray.” “No,” he said “All of us pray.” I finally caught on that he meant he wanted us to say The Lord’s Prayer together, as is our tradition every week. Janet finished and another person chimed in his prayer, then I let everyone know Caleb wanted us to pray the Lord’s Prayer. As we did, my baby boy prayed along with us, keeping up with the words, and finishing up with a loud AMEN!

In a very quiet way, I realized that our unforced rhythm is being used by God to work His grace in all our lives. He doesn’t need my metronome to tell Him how to show Himself to me or my children. As I’ve been trying to keep my eyes on Him, follow as best I know how with brothers and sisters and babies He’s given to me, He has still caught the heart of my boy. And this Sunday, my babies worshipped alongside their dad and me, another dad and his kids, a single guy, and another couple who have become as close as family. They had someone to play in the yard with them, hug them, affirm them, and little Caleb had his choice of laps to occupy and arms waiting to wrap around him. God’s family played out right in our living room as it does week after week. Simply loving Jesus is catching, my friends! Perhaps it’s those unforced rhythms of grace that capture our hearts anyway, no matter where or how we engage with the church. It’s Jesus Himself that becomes so wonderful, so irresistible, so all-sufficient.  It’s been Him all along.


My church “metronome” went out the window a few years ago, and I won’t lie, it ain’t easy to let go of all my church-ey labels and security blankets.  Sunday mornings look like this instead of a pew-filled sanctuary.   I’m learning to simply love God, follow Him sincerely, love His word, and walk humbly with the people He places along the same path. I’ve pried my fingers time and again off of the old confidences I held because of my Christian pedigree and I’m learning to look to God as Conductor. These unforced rhythms are making for a lovelier sound than I ever thought possible.





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Jesus’ Stepdaddy

Chef: “I bet you don’t even know who St. Joseph is!” Me: “Oh yes, I do! He’s Jesus’ Stepdaddy!!!”

An excerpt from an actual conversation that took place between my husband and me around St. Joseph Day about 5 years ago. Ummm… yeah. That was before we were, ya know, liking each other and stuff.

Today was St. Joseph Day and our annual St. Joseph altar was held at St. Francis Villa. 20130319-234622.jpgIf you’ve never experienced a St. Joseph Altar, then mark your calendar for next year and live a little, would ya? But take my advice, don’t just go and be a visitor to an altar. You gotta get BEHIND THE SCENES, stay all day, and really see what it’s all about. Italian food, Italian mothers, Italian traditions, and regular old garden variety love and laughter. Oh, and cookies. It’s very much about cookies.


I have to tell you that first altar we did together was rough. I wasn’t too sure about anything Catholic or Italian and he wasn’t too sure about a Baptist girl running a time honored Catholic Italian tradition. We laugh about this now, and looking back, we know that our work together on that project was the beginning of our friendship, however rocky it may have been. Our friendship blossomed, needless to say. There may or may not have been a stolen lemon involved, as St. Joseph altar legend advises.


Anyway, the altar has become a treasured tradition for me, not just for the joy it brings to our residents and the fun and friendship that happens on that day, but for me it’s a reminder. Another reason to celebrate Jesus. A reason to think about how He was a real kid, and went through real stuff…like having a step dad. You know, the scripture gives us a major clue about Joseph when it tells us he planned to divorce Mary quietly once he discovered she was with child. He had other, much more vicious and vindictive options. He could have made her pay for the humiliation she brought to him. With her life. But nah… he planned to go quietly on, refusing himself the satisfaction of vengeance. It takes a pretty awesome guy, ego TOTALLY in check, to make that kind of decision and let something like that go. Of course when the angel appeared to Joseph and clued him in on the plan, he was on board with God. He then allowed his life to be overtaken by that Boy, moving himself and Mary to Egypt to protect Jesus. How many guys would do something like that for a child they didn’t father?

It always strikes me when I hear the altar blessings on St. Joseph day, how they refer to Joseph as a protector of children. I’ve known the story of Jesus’ birth for as long as I can remember, but I haven’t often stopped to consider the way Joseph protected the child Jesus. What an example to dads everywhere, stepdads especially.


I still don’t claim to be any kind of expert on Catholic or Italian things. I’m just glad to be part of a day of such fun, such love, such generosity… and glad to be reminded of the man who was Jesus’ Stepdaddy.

And one last little shot of a resident lovin’ on my baby.  Too cute to resist!!


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Goodbye, Old Friend

A sad goodbye was said today. My old buddy, the Melitta Mill and Brew Coffee Maker bit the dust.

I have no memory of where I got this coffeemaker, but I’ve loved it. I think he came along in the aftermath of Katrina.  I don’t remember buying him, but don’t remember having him before the storm.  Wierd, I know.  Anyway, it grinds and brews. It’s programmable, so it has greeted me with hot coffee many mornings. Ol’ Mill and Brew had one drawback. He was a lil’ complicated…needed somebody who knew just which buttons to push, just how to make him work. So I was saddened to discover that someone worked Mill without that special touch. A tiny little tab that held the top closed during brewing and grinding was snapped off.


See it there in my hand? The tiniest little piece broken off and the whole pot gone to…. well… gone to pot!

There are a lot of lessons in this. I stared at that tiny broken piece and God reminded me that sometimes the most insignificant seeming piece can be the difference between working and not working. I’m reminded that God values me, even when I feel like the tiniest piece of forgotten black plastic. He values the little ones in my home and expects me to do the same. He values the small details like smiling while I help my husband and holding back a remark about what I’d rather be doing. He values the itty bitty details like remembering a name, taking time to notice when someone’s had a bad day, and looking my kids in the eye. Little things, my friends. They DO make a big difference.

Sometimes I get frustrated because I can’t pull off the big stuff. It was nice to be reminded that it’s the little stuff that often makes the biggest difference.



These are the new guys!  I couldn’t afford another Mill and Brew (those things are EXPENSIVE, makes it even more puzzling that I don’t recall paying that much for a coffee maker…still no clue where I got it…but I have a feeling some kind soul gave him to me.  Thank you, whoever you are!) so I got a Wal-mart special and a cheap-o grinder.  I think I’ll call them Sylvester and Tweety!

In other news, have ya’ll seen YouVersion?  No clue how I’ve survived this long without this app.  It even reads OUT LOUD to me!  I can set it on my daily reading and it reads scripture to me while I’m getting dressed, doing makeup, whatever.  I’m into this, ya’ll.

Also, MY BABY DROVE for the first time!  I know.  It’s crazy!!  I’m so proud of her.  She did great!  Driver’s Ed class and permit, here we come.  He’p me, Jesus!


Also here’s a couple shots of last Thursday evening with the Jeffries-Hyman family.  We bake, yall!


Mackenzie’s rosary bread for the St. Joseph Altar.

20130317-223146.jpg The whole gang workin’ away!!

Man, my life is full of good things!  Love!!!


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Jesus told a story about a farmer. Check it out here. This weekend our little church group studied this parable and the whole weekend seemed to carry a theme of sowing and reaping, planting and growing. The Parable of the Sower always reminds me of my Dad, my Papa, and home. I have vivid pictures of my faithful dad planting his garden every year, the joy found in the process, and the harvest at the end. It’s a precious story, so close to my heart.

In an attempt to do a better job of putting healthy food on our table, and to teach our babies that food really comes from God’s earth and not a brightly colored box, we’ve been frequenting Hollygrove Farmer’s Market. I love the idea of supporting local farmers and eating fresh food. After our Sunday morning spent with the Sower, what better to do than head out to the farm and market? I couldn’t resist this picture of the inner city bunnies!20130313-003054.jpg (Bunnies to left behind the kids)  It inspires me to see an oasis of a garden in the middle of our crazy city.


Anyway, with the market’s bounty, and thanks to a Winn Dixie buy one, get one free sale on Plant City strawberries, I made jam. 20130313-002918.jpg

Few things, my friend, are more comforting and confidence-boosting than making your own jam. I put on an apron and for a while behave like the women of my roots, the heroes of my faith and heart. When I was a kid, there used to be a song “God Loves to Talk to Boys While They’re Fishin’.” I think there should be one about how God loves to talk to moms while they make jam.

God and I talked about how I want to be the “good soil” Jesus spoke of in the above mentioned parable. The soil that produces fruit. Too often I’m the thorny kind, or even the hard, stony kind that won’t accept a seed at all. I want to produce fruit, to grow in my faith. But sometimes the process doesn’t stop with a gorgeous, fresh, red berry. Of course, there’s something to be said for ripe, plump fruit. But then there’s the further process of making the jam. The washing, the cutting, the crushing, the heat. All these turn the fruit into something that can last. Something sweet and enjoyable that can be tasted long after the harvest has come and gone.


Could it be that the Grower of All Things sees me, a plump lil’ berry in His hand and says “I’m gonna make some jam with you.”? Why do I fight and scream and worry and fret over the difficulties in my life, when all along, He could be making jam? Is He really using all my craziness to make me sweeter and longer-lasting? Lord, I hope so. Some days I wonder why he’d bother for a second with me, but even in my wildest moments my heart cannot escape Him.

Oh ya’ll. I do wanna be sweet. I do want to last.

Me & Jesus… we makin’ jam.



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That’s Ya’ll Boyfriend

Oh. My. Goodness.


Fun doesn’t do it justice. Fabulous is a gross understatement. Ca-razy might come a little closer but still not quite accurate.

We. had. an. INCREDIBLE. time!!!

Considering the jam-packed nature of both our lives and schedules, it’s nothing short of a miracle that Christy and I carved out three days to spend alone together.


Wellll… not quite alone, really. There were hosts and hostesses, patient friends, waiters, waitresses, bartenders, tour guides, jazz musicians, streetcar operators, and plenty of other colorful characters who pitched in to make our weekend happen. Not the least of which would be two fantastic husbands who played Mr. Mom, and contented themselves with a seat on the bench while their two wives played starting positions on the team of ENJOYMENT. They made life happen without us and were genuinely happy to see us have fun. Those are great guys, I tell ya.

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s been seven years since last we attempted such an indulgence. We had a lot of making up to do. And we did a darn good job!!

When you’ve been friends for ohhh, twenty five years or something, there begins to exist between you a language all its own. Inside jokes, knowing looks, laughter for no apparent reason… all these are part of the weaving together of hearts and lives through friendship. I joked with Christy this morning that if we create many more memories like this, we’ll be telepathic with so much shared experience. It really feels as though she is more with me and I with her, even though we aren’t with each other at all. But we share so much, and have added in heaps and piles to our shared stuff over the past three days. I lost count of how many times one of us said, “I was just about to say the same thing.”


It’s not easy, you know, to share that much of your heart with another person. Especially one that isn’t legally bound to you in any way. Especially when 777 miles separate you physically. Especially when both of you drop in bed exhausted at the end of every dizzying day with no desire to say another word to another person. Especially when life takes twists and turns and opinions and perspectives twist and change like a kaleidoscope. Especially when the once black and white fades into a misty gray that nearly blinds you both. But we’ve managed to do it somehow.

This weekend was epic. We talked and laughed. We sat in silence. We looked each other in the eye. And told the truth. We acted dumb and silly, and we acted smart and serious.  There may have been a powdered sugar incident.


We walked in a cemetary, sang in a bar, took a tourist-y tour or two, walked down St. Charles, and down Bourbon. We walked along the river, ate beingets, drank coffee. Explored a unique house or two, took streetcars at night, crossed the Mississippi (thanks, Janet, Bex, and Mary!), ate chocolate for breakfast, and took in some incredible jazz. And that’s just the stuff I can tell out loud!!!!!!

I feel like I’ve been on a month’s vacation. That’s how much good was done in my heart. I feel challenged to be a better me because of hanging out with her. I can tell that girl how I really feel about anything. She may or may not agree, but she’ll still be on my side. I’m so grateful for friendship. It is to me one of life’s most precious gifts. Laughter doeth good like a medicine… and we’ve had a near overdose.

So thanks, Christy, for teaching me how to be a friend, grow a friendship, disagree and still love, and risk being vulnerable. Thanks for paving the way for me to have the richest of friendships with the other jewels God has bedazzled into my life. Thanks for the gift of knowing. Thanks for the gift of acceptance. Thanks for coming 777 miles to make crazy, profound, embarrassing memories with me.  And dear reader, should you find yourself thinking, “I don’t have a friend like this.”  GET ONE!!!


And Christy?

THAT’s ya’ll boyfriend!!




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Serious Business

Guess what?  Around 9 on Saturday morning, an airplane will land at the New Orleans airport.  On that plane will be someone who has been my friend since around the age of 13 or so.  We’ve had weddings within days of each other,  had babies within months of each other, (here’s a pic of those babies about a year ago) we got our first tattoos together.  This lil ol blog even started with her as coauthor! (Check out a couple of blasts from the past about the last time we got away together.  Here’s one by me, one by Christy.)

Yep!  Christy’s comin’ to New Orleans!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Her first time here!


And, as a gift for my birthday, my hubby has given me two, count ’em, TWO nights and days with which to do whatever we please!  Don’t hate!  I know I’m a lucky lady, but I also need this BAYUD!!! (that’s southern for BAD)

We are going to paint this town some sort of swirly-type tie dye inspired something.  Forget plain ol’ red.  The owner of the little B&B where we’ll be staying asked if I was a writer.  She read my email address and assumed I was.  She is, too!  She told me she thought I’d find the house and it’s art collection inspiring.  I keep thinking on her words.  It’s been, what? Seven years since our last weekend getaway?  I’m STILL going on some of the inspiration from that weekend, but it’s WAY past time for a booster shot.  Inspiring, indeed!  We shall laugh and cry and whisper and shout. We’ll have a few firsts and laugh at our lasts. We’ll do a few crazy things, but not too-much-whiskey-actin’-stupid kind of crazy.  Just free to be ourselves without worrying about a darn thing crazy.  But if you see us and need to look away, go right ahead.

Let this be a warning to all:  For about three delicious days, these two plate spinners shall not spin.  Not. one. plate.  Prepare accordingly.  We shall return to our regular scheduled programming soon enough, and we promise the world will continue its orbit while we’re gone.   This ain’t your ordinary paint-your-nails, shop-til-you-drop kind of girls getaway.  This is two people who’ve known each other too long and love each other too much to settle for mediocrity and surface scratching.  Depths will be explored, true feelings expressed, solutions brainstormed, goals set, and complacency challenged.  God will change our lives.  Again.  He always shows up when we’re together.  I think He likes hanging out with us! This is serious business.  The business of being friends, of walking the lovely flower-laden paths and navigating the stinky, muddy, sewers of life.  This ain’t no joke.  It’s going to be AMAZING!!!!

Pictures and profundity to follow.



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Look at this.  Just look!  Is he YUMMY or what??? 

Check out the hands.  Try not to swoon. 🙂 


Yeah, he’s got his flaws, honey.  He’s also got a heart of gold, would move heaven and earth for me, and is right beside me crying and yelling and fighting and working on our cumulative baggage reduction procedure in order to make this marriage as healthy as it can be.  Second marriages ain’t easy dawlin’, and I’m pretty happy this man has chosen to make one work with me.  Anyway… who can resist a man in uniform??


 What can I say, baby?  I LOVE dat man!  (Photography by Michael Deris)


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I’m Baaaaaaaack!


Hello, world!  It’s been a while…. too long since I posted.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

20130219-211739.jpg20130219-211833.jpg  Christmas in Florida with mom and dad.  Our whole family was together and it was AMAZING!

20130219-211915.jpg20130219-211957.jpg  We brought Mom back from Florida with us.  We crammed as much special as we could into her visit!

20130219-212036.jpg  School started again.  I’m running study hall and a social studies project!

20130219-212052.jpg  MARDI GRAS!!  My sister and her kids visited for the first weekend of Mardi Gras.  It was EPIC!!

20130219-212122.jpg  A costume party was attended by this really groovy couple…

20130219-212218.jpg  My baby turned three.  I now have a fifteen year-old, a ten year-old and a three year-old.  Blessings upon blessings upon blessings!!!  Heaped upon my head (literally!)



20130219-212250.jpgFat Tuesday came and went.  We celebrated in the rain and went home and took a nap.


I have a quote taped to my desk that says “We feel inadequate because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.”

So. True.

Above you’ve seen the highlight reel.  The behind-the-scenes would reveal some pretty intense stress, an emotional breakdown or two, a few lessons learned, and no small number of mistakes made.  Ever seen that episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel work on the assembly line at the candy factory?  If not, check it out here.  And THAT’s the way the last several weeks have REALLY been!

So nope… not a single New Year’s resolution.  Not a solitary Christmas musing.  Super Bowl was held in my town and I said nothing.  Silence about the Mardi Gras season in its entirety.  I may not have found a moment to chronicle them here or write profound words about them… but I DID live them!  So I’m back and perhaps better for the crazy rush of the last 8 weeks.

Happy ChristmaNewYearMardiSuperBowlGrasBirthdayValentineBeginningofLent to you all!!!  Hope your parties were fun, your joys were many, your sadnesses were lessened, and your lives enriched.  Ours certainly were!  More to come…


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Iced Tea and Hot Romance

There’s no such thing as a perfect marriage.  Even if there were, mine would be far from a candidate for the title.  We’ve got our moments of crazy, and we both carry plenty of baggage.  So does everyone!  That’s life!

But every once in a while, the most romantic moment will come along and I’m just overwhelmed at how incredible love is.  Today, a glass of tea ushered in one of those moments…

We work together, me as director of marketing and he as executive chef, at an upscale assisted living home.  We’ve been SO busy at work lately, and today was as intense as ever.  I was working hard, deep in concentration, and focusing completely on how I can best serve a family who is looking at our home as a possible residence for their dad.  As part of the process, families often eat a meal with us, and today was such a time.  I gave our drink order to one of our care managers, Kathleen, and she headed to the kitchen.  She returned in a few moments with salads and drinks. Everyone else had water, but I had asked for iced tea.  Normally I’d have water because I like my tea sweet and we serve only unsweetened tea at work.  But I felt the little caffeine would be just what I needed, so I went for tea, figuring I’d drink it plain since I don’t do packets of sweetener.  When Kathleen put down our drinks, I was deep in conversation, focused on the issues this family is facing with their father.  In mid-conversation, I took a sip of my tea and…


Cold, and sweet, and wonderful.

Not the kind of sweet you get from a pink packet.


Washing down my throat, and over my heart, was the knowledge that my husband had just stood in the kitchen in the middle of his busy lunch service, made a simple syrup, and sent an authentic glass of sweet tea to me.

A few seconds later, he popped in with the food.  I wanted to run across the room and tackle him, kiss his face and tell him how incredible it is to be loved like that.  I couldn’t.   I had to maintain my professional composure.  But inside, I was being melted by a glass of iced tea. (I *might* have sent him a “for your eyes only” text later… you know… just to express my sentiments.)

We might not have much.  We’re working extra jobs and stretching our pennies and our time and our emotions to make this family work.  Really though, it doesn’t take much.  I don’t need diamonds, don’t need prestige, don’t need exotic vacations.  What could be hotter than a man who not only would make me a glass of tea, but  is willing to spend thirty seconds of the busiest, most intense part of his day to make sure mine is sweet?

That’s sexy.  It’s love.  It’s incredible.

Feel free to print this and pass it along to any significant other who may need to consider making a glass of tea. (Here’s a link to a great article showing you how) Or maybe you should make one for someone yourself???





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