Thursday, February 11, 2016

Celebrating Another Milestone!

I'm all about celebrating weird and random events.  'Cause there's always something to spark gratefulness, many occasions to breathe fragrant prayers of thanksgiving, and multiple reasons to count those blessings that are heaped up right and left, just begging to be embraced.

We only need eyes to see.  Gratitude waits patiently, expectantly, hopefully, just waiting to be scooped up, claimed with joy, and celebrated!



It's been almost six months since I launched out on my own after blogging for seven years under the Creekside Ministries banner.  For we had moved from New York to Massachusetts and after 39 years in the Hudson Valley, we'd said endless tearful farewells to that familiar sense of place and belonging that marks a life well-spent in a longtime comfortable hometown.  And oh, the friends, the ministry, the clients, the house, the memories, the routines embraced along the way.  

Off we went with confidence and relief tinged with a touch of trepidation and more than a bit of exhaustion, venturing to our unknown future in a smaller home in a familiar seasonal seaside town tucked between the ever changing Cape Cod bay and the ocean deep.

We had absolutely no inkling of what lay ahead.  

The moving transition has been eternally marked by a heartbreaking journey of grief over the sudden deaths of my dad and our youngest grandson, tentative steps into a new church community, much unpacking and purging, too many dental visits to count, family concerns, much solitude and a bit too much togetherness, unexpected adjustments, and all the unsettledness and confusion that a great big transition entails.

Yet, in the midst of all the craziness, I held my breath, counted to 3, and designed this new bare bones website.  And in my vast technological ignorance, I discovered to my horror that after publishing my first post, my brand new namesake site had somehow completely vanished from the world wide web ... and in the process, I almost knocked the Creekside site completely out of existence, as well.

Like real-life childbirth, there was an hour or two of sheer terror, alot of frantic praying outloud, some expert assistance ... and then lindastoll.net came into the world, alive and kicking.

{And yes, thankfully, Creekside survived the near massacre.}

Six months later?  I'm happy to say that mother and child are doing just fine.  I'm loving this little online community!  Our conversations have taken off in recent months with your insightful comments becoming the most delicious icing on the sometimes rather plain cake.  You guys are the best, and I just wanted to say thanks again for following me here ... or joining up in recent days.  Whatever, however, I'm glad you're doing community with us.

WHAT'S AHEAD?


>  1, maybe 2 posts a week
You writers KNOW how much labor goes into crafting a post, how much marinating and massaging, re-writing and editing it takes before you triumphantly hit that PUBLISH button.  It's a true labor of love to birth every set of words that ends up on that screen, isn't it.  And no matter what the 'experts' say about blogging multiple times a week, I've found a rhythm that works for me ... and gives space to spawn a meaningful conversation around this virtual table.

I figure it's like inviting company over for a meal you've taken days to prepare.  You don't want your guests to chow down and run out the door.  You want to provide an atmosphere where they relax and linger awhile.  Your goal is inviting a warm sense of connection, developing kindred spirit camaraderie, with resulting conversations that have alot of those 'oh, you, too?!' moments.

I like what unfolds after a post has gone live.  In the days that follow, the sense of community builds as each one joins in on the conversation.  Every insight matters and is acknowledged as such. You are smart and savvy, and occasionally downright hysterical!  You've got spiritual insight and huge life experience that informs your observations.  Your wisdom springs forward and we all end up sharing the blessing of each other's connection with Christ.

This is golden to me.

So instead of churning out the next post, I've learned to just sit and let the conversation linger, like cradling a cup of hot coffee at the end of a memorable meal ... so even those who come to the table later still feel very much a part of what's going on.

>  a bit of a marriage mini-series
Since my husband and I are celebrating 40 years of marriage in April, I'll be sharing the love here, serving up some super-practical observations, life lessons that have hit home for me and for the hundreds of people I've worked with along the way in my role as pastoral counselor.

I'm starting to {subtly} work on getting my husband to make an appearance at the party!  I'll be sharing the best marriage resources I know of ... books and blogs and stuff like that.  And I'm open to a Q & A segment or two if you'd like.  Just let me know what would be helpful to you, ok?

>  giveaways
Yep, the giveaways will continue ... I've got a beautifully illustrated Easter book for little ones on the way ... and I'm planning on a gift card thrown in during the marriage series.  I just love sharing the goodies with ya'!

>  connecting at your place
Commenting back and forth on each other's blogs can easily morph into a shallow effort to build our own stats. You know how it rolls ... if I leave a comment on your blog, hopefully you'll show up at mine.  It's kind of an unspoken expectation here in blogland, kind of I'll scratch your back, but you better scratch mine.

That's kinda ugly, isn't it.

But I've found that building healthy community is a huge deal to most of us, and it goes far beyond seeing our numbers rise.  As we connect, I'll continue popping in over at your place to see what's happening and scooping up the wisdom and beauty that you offer.  I'm a big believer in 'iron sharpens iron.'  We all have something valuable and unique to share.  And we're always in need of mentoring ... or being a mentor to another.

>  link parties
Truly, I'm up in the air on this one friends.  I've been linking up to various sites for years and I love the concept, but I'm not sure that it's worth the effort it takes early in the morning when I do most of my online thing.  I'm finding that more participants are doing more link-and-running and less interactive visiting.  What's your experience in throwing a party or in linking up?  I'm curious ...

Here's to the next six months ... and beyond!

52 comments:

  1. Look forward to the marriage series!!!

    And lingering on your last two points because I'm trying to find that balance, of investing in connections online but also allowing for those real life gatherings I so desperately need. But there are online friendships I hold so dear (like YOURS) and I so enjoy stopping in for visits to see what's up.

    I know link ups and visiting lots of other blogs can have such a positive impact on your numbers, but oh how I'm done with the numbers. I'm slowing down and listening... asking Him to guide me on how and where to spend my time and then obeying and trusting Him.

    Does that make sense?

    Thanks for being YOU, friend.
    xoxo

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    1. I so admire your pursuit of Christ and real life relationships, Beth ... and taking the break from all the online stuff so you can live out what He's been calling you to. You've modeled something wise and sacred in this season and I'm grateful to be learning from you.

      And yes, over time, the stats have mattered much less as the conversations have increased. I finally feel in balance with the numbers game 'cause I'm not playing it any more.

      It's about relationship. And that I love!

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  2. Hi Linda! Happy Anniversary! It sure sounds like your transition has been anything but an easy ride. But here you are, ready to jump into joy! I'm so glad that your blog and Creekside's made it okay. Phew! I am the WORST at technical stuff. If is wasn't for my son, I'd be sunk a long time ago.

    I know you'll always feel the loss of your Dad and you grandson, but I hope the pain gets a little less sharp with each passing month. Life is journey for sure my friend. No one knows that more than you.
    Sounds like you have a lot planned for the blog, that's exciting! Having a direction is so great, isn't it? And it doesn't surprise me that you have found a wonderful community of commenters and blogs. You have always been supportive and generous with your caring nature. I hope we'll stay connected for a long time to come.
    Blessings,
    Ceil

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    1. 'Jump into joy!' Love that, Ceil! I'd much rather go there than to absolutely anything technological. Yikes. I aged another 60 years that day in August when everything was disappearing!

      ;-{

      You've been a great encourager to me over time ... I so value your friendship, your prayers, and your writing which always points me to a deeper consideration of my relationship with Christ.

      I'm so grateful for you ...

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  3. Linda, I am looking forward to the marriage series and the wisdom shared from all those years together and your work with others.

    I read a quote just before coming here about how striving keeps us from rest. The numbers just aren't worth it.

    As far as linkups, hosting my own keeps my days full. But the community created in the fullness offers more than full days but full lives and hearts.

    Sweet blessings to you, friend. : )

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    1. I love how you use that word 'fullness,' Crystal ... what a huge difference between that richness and the futility of endless striving.

      And thanks for the encouragement on the marriage series. You do such a fabulous job in continuing to keep that relationship in front of us, your readers.

      Blessings!

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  4. I am chuckling over the near launch of Creekside into cyberspace---OH--I FEEL YOUR PAIN! I will be looking forward to your continuing words of wisdom! My move--was a great deal like your move--except I had no one to empathize with me over the losses!

    SO--keep on keeping on---

    Blessings, Friend!

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    1. Oh yeah, I wasn't chuckling that day. Phew! What a near disaster ... DOUBLED!

      Getting through that experience? Two more reasons to be thankful!

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  5. Happy 6 month anniversary, Linda! I am soooo looking forward to that marriage series. :)

    Regarding linkups -- I know that lots of the older established bloggers are saying goodbye to the linkup, but I am still a fan. Yes, there are people who "link and leave," but I've also met so many lovely "bloggy friends" through linkups. I don't want to give up that. I love the surprise of clicking on the post linked up before mine and finiding a new kindred spirit whose story is inspiring.

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    1. I hear you, Lyli ... I'm sure I've no idea how I've met most of the bloggers I now count as friends. I'm guessing through those linky parties.

      Like yours ...

      ;-}

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  6. Happy 6 months! I love your insights and can't wait to hear how you have kept your marriage going for 40 years :)

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    1. It is hard to believe that it's been that long.

      By the way, we got married when we were 5 years old.

      haha

      ;-}

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  7. I'm looking forward to your marriage series, can't get enough of free advice from people who are farther ahead on the journey, I'm so grateful for people like you who are willing to share what you've learned.

    I've quit link ups more times than I can count. I agree, most people link up and run, and they miss out on a great opportunity for community online.Shame. But I am doing them again, for now ;)
    You've had a big year, and I hope your life is finding a new normalcy.

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    1. You're an encourager, Alecia ...

      I'm looking forward to doing that series. Not quite sure what it'll look like yet, but God always unfolds the next right step, doesn't He!

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  8. You have given us the delight of anticipation!

    On link parties...they have been a lifesaver for me, especially Five Minute Friday (www.katemotaung.com). At best, as with FMF, they become a loving, supportive community...and as my life moves more toward physical isolation, they're a lifeline.

    http://blessed-are-the-pure-of-heart.blogspot.com/2016/02/your-dying-spouse-118-limits-of-love-fmf.html

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    1. I hear you, Andrew! I enjoyed FMF for years, but Thursday ended up being my big work day and by 10pm I literally had nothing . left . to . offer.

      I'm so happy to hear that they've proved to be a healthy community for you, man. Everyone needs a team around them ... or 2.

      And, as always, we're so grateful that you're here {in more ways than one.} Blessings ...

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  9. You have been through heart-breaking losses, Linda, but you inspire me with how you're always seeking for reasons to celebrate the blessings God still so graciously gives to us. I'm also glad though that you don't minimize the pain there is in the losses. It makes many feel less alone. I pray God will continue to heal your grieving heart. I am grateful I was led to your site. As I read this - "Every insight matters and is acknowledged as such." - my heart said "Yes, she does do that." So Happy 6th month Anniversary here! I love the photo of the seagull, too. :) Blessings and hugs to you!

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    1. Don't you love how God brings people together over the miles? I have no idea how / where we bumped into each other but I'm thankful! It's just so good to do community with you these days!

      Weekend blessings to you, to yours, Trudy ...

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  10. It's a true joy to come here and visit with you Linda! You are so real, and have genuine insight into difficult situations. I could picture as you wrote the sheer fear from losing in a split second your Creekside blog, oh my! So thankful it all turned out okay! I am so thankful to have gained your friendship, and am not really a fan of numbers either. They don't matter to me at all. I have a bare bones blog, and it will stay that way, because I cherish friendships along the way far more than any *number*. I do enjoy linky parties, and I don't post and run, but like you, love to stay and visit a while. I love hearing people's genuine experiences with life, as they enrich my own. I'm blessed to have met you, and look forward to whatever the Lord has in store for you here in this warm and friendly place you have created :)

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    1. How cool to meet someone from Idaho, girl! You're enlarging my borders with every post you put up there. Your avatar says it all with those broad blue skies.

      You are so very welcome here! Looking forward to reconnecting in the days ahead ...

      ;-}

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  11. Happy 6-month anniversary, Linda! So glad you're out here in the blogosphere. You add such joy and life and love.

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    1. And you KNOW I feel the same way about you, friend.

      I hope that this week has found you feeling stronger and more like your 'old' self. Please give yourself lots of grace in this healing time, ok?

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  12. We look forward to the marriage mini-series and the touted guest appearances!

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    1. Maybe you can give your uncle a bit of a nudge on this, ok?

      ;-}

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  13. I'm new to your community, so I don't know much of your history here. I'm so sorry for your losses. I'm so awed by your bravery and brand new beginnings. I'm always happy when you stop by. Thankful too. You've such a kind and gentle way about you. You've got much to celebrate and so much to be proud of!

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    1. Thank you, friend. I specifically offered a bit of an overview because I know a number of new readers have come on board in the last six months. It's been a ride. That's for sure.

      But God? He's been so incredibly faithful, merciful, and gracious. I love Him more than ever ...

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  14. Hi, my friend!
    I enjoyed your celebrating and sharing here as well as your musing over this whole process we are engaged in. I am fairly new to this process and I have been mulling about the linkup process as well as it seems to claim more time in my week than I think it likely good. Additionally, there are not a great many who really take time to converse despite the "rules" of the linkup. I would also be honest enough to say that the process of trying is has begun to distill a smaller number of writers/bloggers that truly encourage, affirm, inspire, and relate with me. These are the women I want to pursue and grow in community with. I have not made a final decision about linking up, but the partial one has been not to do so on some sites where the focus is connecting around a very different season than mine such as homeschooling or very young children. Thanks for this conversation! Have a blessed weekend! Love and hugs, Pam

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    1. I hear your heart, Pam, and I'm glad you're in on this conversation. I so agree with you ... this whole blogging thing is about relationships, growing in community, and encouraging, affirming, inspiring.

      You've said it so well, my friend. No wonder we resonate so ...

      ;-}

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    2. P.S. Somehow I lost / deleted the beautiful note you emailed me, Pam! AARRGGH! Could you please re-send?

      So sorry ...

      ;-{

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  15. Good to have you part of my world Linda. I look forward to learning and sharing more.

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  16. I so love my Sunday afternoon visits at your place, Linda! And though it seems we are doing the "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" I never feel it to be an obligation but only a joy. So never fear not coming by my place. I'm secure in your love and friendship, sweet gal pal! And I'm totally stoked (do I sound like a teenager?) for your marriage series, Linda! Oh and prayers on including that hubby of yours. I know how daunting getting our guys to show up in our special places here is! But hopefully next Sunday Gary and I will post another video of me picking his brain on "spiritual leadership." Hmmm! That should be fun! Hugs to you, dear friend!

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    1. Absolutely. No obligation, just joy. Security in love and friendship. How grateful I am that God has blessed us with this gift over the miles, dear Beth!

      I've been looking forward to Gary making another video appearance ... maybe seeing him 'alive and in person' once again will encourage my husband to do a little Q & A or something in the marriage mini-series.

      One can only hope!

      ;-}

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  17. Hi Linda,
    Sending my best wishes on your milestones! New site, new home, anniversary -- those are huge milestones in themselves, let alone all the events you've been through last year. I look forward to visiting with you every week and seeing what you're up to and what you're discovering in your relationship with God. I enjoy doing the link-ups to meet other bloggers, and although I agree that it takes effort to hop around to other blogs, I'm always glad I did to connect with my online friends! xo and many blessings to you in the upcoming year!

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    1. You are ever and always a bright spot in my day, Valerie! And every visit to your place is filled with truly creative spiritual insights that give me cause for pause and reflection.

      So grateful that our paths continue to cross often, friend ...

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  18. Celebrating with you, Linda, and even more so knowing what it's taken to get to this point. You've lived a lot of life in the last six months, and to have kept this up through it all ... well, that's pretty amazing! You and your blogging ways are a wonderful example to me ... I love your writing and the heart behind it.

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    1. Blogging and connecting in the midst of all the transition and heartbreak has been an incredible, God-given lifeline, Lois. And you have been a part of the bounty of encouragement.

      Thank you doing community with us ...

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  19. I like your plan, friend. Quality over quantity, in both the post and the taking the time to enjoy and interact with the follow up. For me the continuing conversation is what encourages me to continue writing. I have several link ups that I do, but if I've got a busy week and know that I won't be able to comment and visit around, then I skip them. It's not necessarily about "following the rules", but I do wish to honor the spirit of the parties. It's impossible for me to read all the blogs I want to read every week. So I just do my best :) I'm glad the community here has been an encouragement to you during this difficult time of transition. You're in my prayers, friend.

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    1. And I like the way you put it, June ... 'quality over quantity.' I know our hearts resonate with the importance of these ongoing conversations. And let's hear it for no 'blog police,' yet honoring the spirit of community!

      How good to have been supporting and encouraging each other through the difficult days ... I thank God for the way you have lifted me up over and over again.

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  20. You have a wonderful outline and focus, Linda. And it is inspiring. I love how you speak of soaking in the posts, to "sit and let the conversation linger' in this community. I have thought about linking up with others, however I have to keep checking in with myself to not get caught up in a popularity contest within my spirit. And just let go and trust God lead me to where I need to. Now that I have launched a new place (my website), I am looking at letting go of my first blog. So many memories, friends, and vulnerability is there--tough to let it go!

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    1. Hi Lynn ... so true about keeping close tabs on any kind of popularity contest and the envy or hurt that can spring up when that creeps in.

      I hope your transition is pleasurable, seamless, and glitch-free as you move from one place to another ... looking forward to getting to know you better in the days ahead!

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  21. You clearly know how to get this blogging thing done, Linda. I would have thought this site has been around longer than 6 months. Congratulations on the first 6, and all that is waiting ahead. It sounds wonderful. Except for the dental appointments. I have quite a few of those coming too. Not exciting. I'm iffy on the link-up thing too. I've been "neighbors" a few times to folks not even posting anything relative to the host blog. I've found a few folks I enjoy visiting and have gained some regular Friday friends which is nice since I'm not the cyber extrovert. I'm most thankful I found this place of yours and will continue to visit. Oh, and moving....ugh! We'll have one of those coming in a couple of years. (Hopefully, not sooner)

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    1. You made me smile, Debby ... 'not the cyber extrovert.'

      ;-}

      Amazing how many introverts find this kind of social media the perfect fit for who we are deep down inside. I love it all ...

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  22. Hi sweet friend!

    You survived! Definitely worth celebrating a 6 month anniversary. You have such a beautiful way of drawing people in and keeping them here that I had no doubt that this new home would be successful. Your home here has always been a haven and a place as comfortable as your favorite couch. It truly is a joy to visit and linger awhile.

    I appreciate your honesty and know that if God is truly the Author of our lives and words, then whenever the words come is when we share our hearts on the page. I never come here with expectations except to be blessed over and over again.

    As for link up parties, hmmmm! I co-hosted one on the weekends for almost a year and found the time it took to be the hostess I wanted to be was overwhelming. I was losing sight of the reason that I was blogging and that was God and God alone. I became bogged down with the details. Hope that makes sense. I do link up with a few every week but I don't overdo it because life is not about numbers.

    Love you, love this place and can't wait to see what God has planned next!

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    1. Yes, Mary, I sure do remember you were a very faithful hostess! I can't imagine following through month in and out with a weekly commitment and doing so with joy and enthusiasm. {And oh, the potential for technical misfires!}

      ;-{

      Our lives, our circumstances can change so rapidly and people do depend on the regularity of those link-ups. I could see how it could be not only a grace, but a burden, too.

      Glad you were able to see that it wasn't working any more and were able to release the opportunity with such graciousness. I remember that well ...

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  23. Thankful to have found you right around 6 months ago:)!!! Congratulations! Thanks for being YOU:) Love you, Love your blog, and I'm looking forward to all the future goodies you have planned - sounds awesome! Oh and it would be such a treat to meet Mr. S! God bless you much much=).

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    1. You're just so kind, Bomi! And yes, I'm still talking to Mr. S. about making an appearance. Let's just say he's not jumping up and down about the possibility, but it's not a closed door just yet!

      ;-}

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  24. I love the sense of community you are building here. Love coming to visit. Link-ups? I have mixed feelings about them. I have also noticed that people link up but don't go visiting as much - I've been guilty of this myself sometimes. I try to visit a few and leave comments, but am not always successful in this endeavor. I've never hosted a link-up, but if you hosted one, I'd try to participate. Either way, I always feel at home when I stop by your place.

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    1. Looks like you're in good company, Teresa. Seems to be alot of mixed emotions about the whole link-up thing. Sometimes we need to step back and ask ourselves why we do what we do ... and if what worked in another season still is beneficial today.

      Meanwhile, I'm glad you feel at home here. Very.

      ;-}

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    1. It means so much that you left these words of encouragement, my dear dear friend.

      I miss you so ...

      ;-{

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'I want the people in my life to know that when they come to me, with whatever is on their mind or heart, they will be heard. I am dedicated to hearing the hearts of those around me.'
~ Adam McHugh, The Listening Life

Linda