Awesomeness, Bucket List Achievement & Prayers Needed

Life has been, well, let’s just say quite active lately. I’ll leave it at that for now, as I’ve got two awesome updates and 1 big prayer request to share with you, friends. Drumroll please…



The small business, illuvint llc — that my husband and I own and operate — finally launched our company website!!! [ENTER: A blast of giddy fanfare]

As a writer and marketer, I could pontificate on the backstory on the delay of developing our company website. But I respect you, so I’ll be real with you.

Starting a business from the ground up is one of the most exhilarating, all-consuming, insane, fulfilling, occasionally gut-wrenching, transformative experiences I have ever been through.

I know that just sounds like a long list of adjectives, but each of those words truly would contain a long blog post, or hour of coffee talk, in and of themselves. I’m sure I could come up with more, but it’s 5 am and I’m not a morning person.

So we’ll leave the long-windedness for another time, as there are important announcements to, uh, announce.

At any rate, creating our own website took the back burner amidst the hustle of life and business in the Dallas Metroplex. For the curious folks, the Cliff Notes version of hustle includes:

  • Forming a company out of a bit of dirt and spittle
  • Working on client’s websites, web hosting, graphic design, digital marketing, social media, etc….
  • While growing our team of industry leaders to serve our small business, Entrepreneur, start-up, and Non-profit clients.

WHEW, what an adventure it’s been, and how grateful we are to be on it!

Speaking of grateful…let me not forget to note our beloved Summer Intern. We searched and finally found the gift of a wonderful Digital Marketing Intern, Maddie, for the summer months! She was a tremendous help with the development of the site, and the day-to-day blitzing in the home office.

Please, go on over to, and view it in all it’s splendor. Then come on back and leave a comment to let me know what you think!




My bucket list has long included the dream job of “Travel Writer”. Well, I’m going to cross this puppy off the list shortly!

I could not be more thrilled to share that I will be a featured blogger on, to share the rustic and inspirational tale of our upcoming Outdoors Adventure – a Colorado Road Trip and group Pikes Peak Climb!

The Catholic Tourist travel site was founded by the amazing Lisa Hendey (you may know her as wife-Mom-author-speaker-traveler-founder of, Patheos blogger extraordinaire, etc) out of a desire to share new places that she discovers, to offer tips for destinations and simplifying the journey, to meet fellow pilgrims and most especially to share her faith. Since around this time last year, I’ve followed Lisa’s website launch, Social Media (follow on Facebook and Twitter), Rwanda Journal, and adventures  – so I feel incredibly blessed to be a contributor.

Stay tuned for more details here, and get the full scoop at  This will be our very first 14er with a group on a special mission! I can’t wait to share this story and the amazing images that will come from this adventure.



Amidst all of the exciting news, I must admit that my heart is heavy as well. A friend, who is Dad/Husband/Business Owner/Musician and much more, has been battling Cancer and is now on Hospice. I am going this afternoon to serve his wife in the little way that God has provided for me.

If you have spent any amount of time on my blog, you know the story of my Mom’s battle with Cancer and the gift that Hospice was to her and our family. This hits me very close to home. I can only imagine what my friends are facing moment by moment.

Please join me in prayers for this beautiful family. Out of respect for their privacy (I’m not sure what they are sharing with who right now), I’m refraining from posting their names at this point. But don’t worry, God knows who they are. Speaking from experience, the graces that any and all prayers afford are so needed and never more appreciated.


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Happy Anniversary: The Story of Us

Somehow I always managed to avoid the rain when we made our vows three years ago today, even though it did rain that day. We stayed dry as my curls got coiffed in South Padre Island in the morning, as we took photo shoot opportunities during an unexpected delay (story for another day), and even as our Mariachis and Margaritas flowed at the reception.

I say “somehow”, but I know it was my Mom taking care of us on our long-awaited day. And what a glorious day it truly was.

The number three holds a spiritual significance, particularly in the Trinity. Blessed Fulton Sheen wrote the classic, “Three to Get Married.” Here are a few words of wisdom…

“In all human love it must be realized that every man promises a woman, and every woman promises a man that which only God alone can give, namely, perfect happiness. One of the reasons why so many marriages are shipwrecked is because as the young couple leave the altar, they fail to realize that human feelings tire and the enthusiasm of the honeymoon is not the same as the more solid happiness of enduring human love. One of the greatest trials of marriage is the absence of solitude. In the first moments of human love, one does not see the little hidden deformities which later on appear.”
― Fulton J. SheenThree to Get Married

After the wedding, I produced “Our Story” – it’s a compilation of images and music through the years.  Follow us from our childhood, our meeting, courtship, engagement, wedding, honeymoon, and settling in as Newlyweds at home. Enjoy!

The Story of Us: Mike + Lisa from LMartinez on Vimeo.


A Celebration of Fathers

My Mom always said that I was a Daddy’s girl. And I was his Princess.

As a little girl, I can remember our daily routine when he’d get home from work: I’d run to the side door to meet him, outstretch my arms as far as I could across me and pull them behind, while exclaiming, “I love you THIS MUCH!”

I loved the songs Dad would sing, and when I was afraid, his song about the name of Jesus would calm me. He and my Mom instilled a reverence and faith that has formed, guided, and carried me through life.

During the times of struggle, and to this day, my Dad redirects my focus:

“What do you think God is trying to teach you? Because if you don’t get it this time, he’s going to bring you back to this place – only harder.”

A lot a like, there were certainly time when we have collided – particularly as a know-it-all-teenager. Heck, if I had been a boy, my name would’ve even been Richard Jr! But our similarities have also created this comfort of being known and loved deeply, where I can safely be myself.

Also, I’m grateful for the good examples of Fatherhood that I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by: My Grandfather, my Father-in-law, my brothers, Uncles, Priest friends, and friends that have loved and cared for me like a daughter.

In a time where there is such an attack on the family, and so much confusion, I want my heart to remain grateful. Some people I love have lost their Dads, never really knew them, or had Fathers who just aren’t a part of their life. How much the world has suffered on account of the wounds of an absent or hurtful Father. I’m pausing to pray for those right now who need it most, on account of their own situations with their Fathers.

The blessing of a good Father is a treasure. What gifts I’ve been given…









CFR Fort Worth

Sanchez Family


“God created man in his own image; in the image of God he created him” (Gn 1:27)


True Leadership

Leadership quotes

A big takeaway from this past Lent was forming better habits. I was focusing on making better decisions with my time and working on being more intentional on where I spend my energy. As I work on growing myself personally and professionally, I’ve been pondering leadership lately.

There are many elements that comprise a great leader – this quote nails the basic essentials. Just because someone is charismatic and can work a crowd like a rib, or is sitting as the head Honcho who calls all the shots, doesn’t necessarily make him or her a leader.

Confidence, courage, compassion, being a good listener, equality in actions – and here’s the biggie: INTEGRITY of his INTENT.

These characteristics flow out from a servant approach to leadership – being attentive to the NEEDS OF OTHERS; however, one thing I’ve learned, even in the Divine order of things, leading at the expense of taking proper care of yourself is not good. I’ve struggled with balance in this area – putting everyones needs and problems before my own. After all, we are called to love as Christ did, which is sacrificial and selfless. It can be challenging to navigate at times.

I’ve found that above all, I need to keep myself first rooted in Christ. God has taken many opportunities to teach hard-headed me about holy order: I need to take care of me and my relationship with Him, and then let the rest flow out from there.

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Lent: A Kindness to Endure the Final Stretch

Jesus Washing Disciples Feet

After nearly 40 days in the desert, journeying deeper into Holy Week, last night I hit the proverbial Lent wall.

Have you ever been there? Or maybe you are there now?

I wonder how Jesus felt in that final stretch? Hmmmm…

After several attempts to keep everything all nicely contained, in the end…yep, I t-a-n-k-e-d. Let me be clear, we’re certainly not talking anything earth-shattering here, but sometimes it feels like there’s a wall, and I smack up against it. AGAIN. And again…and, well, you know the drill.

When my resistance is low, it’s obviously a lot quicker process. The weariness from this Lenten trekking in the desert, and the thirst from “water deprivation”, can sometimes make pebbles seem like boulders.

White flag raised. Stick a fork in me. Insert another cliche of your choice here, but basically last night:

“I’m good, Lord. Yep, I’m done.”

While in my mind I sometimes entertain delusions of being Superwoman, in that moment I was completely aware of my humanness. I grabbed my bible, my journal, my keys, and my purse. I told my husband I needed to get out for bit as I placed a sandwich near him.

As I drove to the nearest chapel, it all started to fumble out. Those moments between me and God, well, I’m just glad he’s God…

It took awhile for me to even get out of my car to enter the Chapel. As I walked up to the glass doors, I saw two women were kneeling in Adoration. There’s no code on the door, and I wasn’t exactly sure when Adoration ended (it’s not a Perpetual Adoration Chapel), so I pulled on the locked door a couple of times.

A woman, probably around my age, got up to come to the door. As she did, she looked at me and softly said, “We’re about to repose Him for the night, but you can stay a few minutes until we do.”

A few minutes seemed like a complete treasure. 

Grateful, I knelt in the back. Knowing it’s Holy Week, I wanted to leave everything there. With many intentions for suffering friends and family too, I wanted to put them in good hands. Hopefully, the whole process would allow my heart to be more open for the celebration of the Triduum.

The other woman in the Chapel left after a few moments. As I continued to spend my moments with Him, the young woman approached me. Oh man, wipe my eyes…

“If you’d like to stay, I can call my husband and ask him if I can stay longer.”

It was so kind, I stumbled a bit, “Oh no, that’s OK. I don’t want to keep you…”

“Oh no,” she responded, “You wouldn’t be keeping me. Let me go call my husband…”

What an unexpected blessing. She was gone for a bit, and when she came back, she asked if I had a phone since her’s was dead and Father’s was locked up.

She was determined, so I handed her my phone. In the meantime, I continued to spend more moments with the Lord.

After they spoke a few minutes, she returned with the news that she had to go home. I assured her that I was glad for the extra time I already got, and I certainly understood.

She then asked me to join her in singing “Tantum Ergo” (which I needed to practice, by the way, for the Holy Thursday Liturgy. Score!)

We knelt and sang together. It was simple. Pure. Sweet.

As we briefly chatted while walking out to our cars, we quickly discovered who we knew in common. Indeed, it is a small Catholic world. She promised to pray for one of our special intentions.

Her kindness to me, without barely knowing my name, lifted me up. In some ways, it felt almost like the footwashing….

Spending time with the Lord — just being — returned some of my perspective: These things are really just pebbles, not boulders. After all my vocation is LOVE (a la St. Therese of Lisieux).


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Unexpected Faith-Sharing in the Food Court


Image credit: St. Augustine’s Neutral Bay

It all started with an old coffee grinder that broke during the Saturday morning routine. After checking off the list a long-standing business task, the Hubby and I headed over to the Galleria to catch a sale.

At Macy’s we did a bit more shopping damage than Mike had planned (ok, so maybe I had a couple of things in mind that were all well-deserved tax return investments). Once we secured our new coffee grinder and sweetly discounted King-sized bedding purchases, we were well past the point of digesting the morning whole-grained PB&J English muffin. So I went ahead to scout out the “food court” options as Mike dropped off our large bags back at the car.

I was an easy target — not wanting to get greased or carbed down — the Japanese sample man lured me in with his tooth-picked taste of chicken teriyaki and a $1.00 off coupon. Shaky, Mike opted for the buffet-style food line. As I waited for my Bento box, he went to find us a place to sit amidst the crowded small outdoor seating area.

Somehow I walked past him as he typed away on his iPad and I scanned the tables for him. I circled back and saw him sitting at the other end of a table with an African-American woman eating Orange Chicken out of a to-go styrofoam box.

I sat down, we said a blessing over the food, and began eating. I think I started the conversation with her by making some food-related comment. I quickly gathered that our nearby table mate was open to conversing with strangers. As we continued to eat, I felt that familiar “Holy-Spirit tug” to speak more with her. We easily fell deeper into a conversation to discuss occupations, different cultures, where we were from, and the like.

A teacher originally from Chicago, our new friend whom I’ll call Sheila, shared that she had been recruited a number of years ago to come down to teach in Texas. It’s always interesting to talk to another Mid-Western transplant about their experiences in DFW area. Soon, we began to speak about relationships, and she began to open up a bit about the man she was dating.

Since Mike and I had a pretty quick eHarmony romance – including courtship, engagement, and marriage within about 15-months – it always seems to be an intriguing tale to people who date for many years. As Sheila began to share bits and pieces about her relationship with her boyfriend, it became clear that as woman in her mid-40’s that never had been married and still wanted children, her patience with this 5-year romance was waning.

As we shared our own story, and allowed her to also share hers, her own hang-ups in the relationship began to surface. (H/T: Mental Health degree.)

Sheila grew up with a Bible-based Baptist kind of background, while her boyfriend was Catholic – and just so “happened” to attend St. Ann’s (our Parish!). She really didn’t have much experience with Catholicism, didn’t understand it; yet she wasn’t bashing it either – even in her observations that we were more “quiet” as Mike jokingly pointed over to me as the obviously-not-case-in-point.

As this conversation started to come to a crux, my Hubs interjects, “Let me ask you a question.”

This is always my favorite part of the conversation: When the ultra observant-prayerful-introvert goes in for the kill.

“Do you pray together?”

Sheila began to travel down a long winding path with lots of information about spiritual conversations based on movies and such. She even shared a beautiful dream that her boyfriend had of receiving a blessing to marry her from his deceased Mother. But the bottom was that:

  • They really didn’t pray together
  • Neither of them had ever been to worship in the other’s Church
  • She was actually quite surprised by his Catholicism

Two spiritual people are 5-years into a relationship, and have never worshipped together? WOW.

So I suggested that she ask him to come to her Church. And we rolled out the red carpet and invited her to come to our Parish.

Beyond that, there were a number of factors causing some forms of doubt. Thankfully all cited hang-ups were based on an internal struggles to overcome – nothing she said revealed major red flags of being treated her badly or disagreement on the relationship must-haves.

As we began to wind down our probably half-hour conversation, a comment from Sheila blessed me greatly.

“Thank you. This has increased my faith.”

We all recognized it at that moment: Something supernatural happened over a freakin’ Bento box at the Galleria. Honestly, our faith was increased as well, just by being ready to share the reason for the hope that we have in Christ and allowing her to do the same. #mindblown

Have you ever had a deep conversation with someone that you just met that increased your faith? Please share your story in the comments!

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Whole-Hearted Living Is Not for Sissies

InTheHandsofTheLordA few weeks ago, I reflected on how the heart will not be silent. Since then, a friend introduced me to the thought-leadership of Dr. Brené Brown — a ground-breaking researcher on shame and vulnerability, which now has named the life approach that really resonates with me: Telling the story of who you are with your whole heart, a beautiful-yet-sometimes-gut-wrenching way to live. Give yourself a tremendous gift, click that link to Dr. Brown and watch her videos if, like me, you had taken up brief residency under a rock causing you to miss her breakout 4 years ago.

Amidst all of these heart-ponderings (literally), a passage in my morning meditation one day this week caused me to stop and sit with it:

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, he turns it whatever he will.” – Proverbs 21:1

A stream of water… Water is a powerful symbol. Considering it is Lent, my thoughts encircle the Catholic Liturgy, where we often draw upon that symbolism. One such way is during Baptism, where the water demonstrates the action of the Holy Spirit, and so is a sacramental sign of new birth.

“Thus the Spirit is also personally the living water welling up from Christ crucified as its source and welling up in us to eternal life. (CCC 694). 

Although it’s a longer passage, this is a profound illustration of the similar characteristics of water and the Holy Spirit, from one of the early Church Fathers — St. Cyril of Jerusalem. It’s also part of an excellent reflection of images of the Holy Spirit by Msgr. Charles Pope here:

“But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it. In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of this action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous. The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.” (Cat. 16, De Spiritu Sancto 1, 11-12.16: PG 33, 931-935. 939-942) –St. Cyril of Jerusalem

As we know, water is essential for all living things, and even though it remains unchanged – each creature responds to it differently, using it according to its needs. St. Cyril compares this to the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through us (if we allow it).

Stop and reflect on that for a moment: There is one Spirit, unchangeable, yet His actions adapt according to the specific needs of each particular person…. #mindblowing

So while I’ve not done my few weeks of exegesis on this text (sorry, Dr. Scott Hahn–my beloved Scripture professor from back in the day), I’m going to still take a stab at pulling this all together:

  1. A King is a leader.
  2. The heart is our lifesource, our center, our core.
  3. Water is the action of the Holy Spirit.
  4. Where does the center of this action reside? In the hands of the Lord. What better place is there to be, then safely tucked in the hands of the Master of the Universe?
  5. “He turns it whatever he wills.” Oh boy…let’s talk about that one.

There’s a couple of ways to view, “He turns it whatever he wills.” To the adventurous souls, it’s the opportunistic promise that the Christian life will never be dull, and to keep in the flow of the stream of the Spirit. To the cautious souls, it’s an invitation to deeply trust whatever way He turns where your heart and the Spirit will lead you.

And for people like myself, that feel like they reside somewhere between those two descriptions depending on the day: Keep seeking the Lord as your helper, and then try and enjoy the ride, as whole-hearted living is not for sissies!!

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What I’ve Learned About Prayer

Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it; you just do it.”
― Mother Angelica

I had just made the move south to Cajun country Louisiana a few years ago. After attending a political event with my new ‘work’ family, with it getting late and a half-hour drive still ahead of me, my Boss invited me to stay over at her family’s home. Since I didn’t have any of my things with me, she made sure I had what I needed to settle in for the night. Without a contact lens case, she gave me two drinking glasses and some contact solution. I washed up, left my cup o’ lenses in the office, and settled in their country home for the night.

In the morning, she was making breakfast when I awoke. As I headed in to take a shower after we ate, I quickly mentioned that I left my contacts in the home office. Turns out I should’ve been a little more deliberate about that statement, as the cups were gone when I returned.

Half-blindly, I moved towards the kitchen, where she was dunking dishes in her soapy water-filled sink to load into the dishwasher. I think I asked her if she had seen my lenses probably around the time that she put a couple of small glasses in the top rack.

Her face dropped, and she exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! I didn’t realize what you meant about the glasses! I just rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher! I’m so sorry!”

As I felt my way over to her, with her profuse apologies, I assured her it was going to be ok. We proceeded to do the two woman-hunt for those small, clear objects that love never to be found once they’ve fallen from your fingertip. We searched and searched…nothing.

It was time to call in the big guns: St. Anthony. We asked for his help, and I promised him if he helped me find my contacts, I’d share my story with others.

Standing by the sink, we had both been feeling around in the dirty dish water for sometime. She turned to me and said, “In faith, I feel like we’re supposed to take the plug out of the drain. I know it sounds crazy, but…”

If I had thought about it, I would’ve hesitated, and logically I would’ve explained our way out of it. But, the preface was IN FAITH. So, as I went to pull the stopper out of the drain, I felt something. There IT is – one little contact stuck to my hand. What?!

Moving to do it again, boom, the other contact lens. We both were giddy.

Prayer can feel at times like you’re reaching into a murky mess, feeling around, searching for that answer. Maybe it has been for 10-minutes, or maybe it has been for 10-years — when you feel like you keep sending out an SOS signal and nobody is responding or seeing it.

That’s a lie. No prayer goes unnoticed or is unimportant to God. He doesn’t have selective hearing to tune you out with, nor does He make you feel like you’re not a priority because there’s bigger problems in the world. We need to be cautious not to ascribe our humanness to God’s Divinity.

As we prepare for Lent, there are some good reminders I’m receiving. Prayer requires a few things that are really hard, for me too: Faith, patience, and surrender.


My Dad would gently remind me in some prime moments of stubbornness: “You’re praying and asking God to do things, and then as He does, you’re saying, ‘No, not that way, like this.'”

Prayer requires our faith to ask it, our patient hope to wait upon it, and our surrender as to how He will answer it. And there is an answer EVERY time – whether it be no, yes, not yet. As many times as I’ve been through this, I still am amazed that nearly 10 times out of 10 it is never how you imagined and in the end better than you could’ve planned.

It may look and feel ridiculous at times — especially as you surrender to remove the drain that you feel is holding everything together. But what’s the alternative: To be blind and keep doing what hasn’t been working?

P.S. Don’t ever wash your lenses with dirty dishwater. Never. Ever.

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Because We All Could Use a Laugh

As I drove to the airport to pick up my Husband last night, I was trying to properly channel the many thoughts interlacing somehow in my spaghetti brain. I knew he’d be tired and hungry when he arrived home from his West Coast business trip – I felt the same at 8:00 pm – so what would perk him up?

A good ol’ BURGER.

Yep, just like my Mom did, my Hubs reaches a sublime state when burger consumption is involved.

“Oh yeah,” I remembered, “I have those Groupons I bought for MOOYAH, and it’s kind of on the way home.”

Driving, still, with my iPhone safely docked on the windshield on the left-hand side of the steering wheel, I attempted to bring Siri into the mix at a light. I had to make sure MOOYAH would still be open before I suggested it.

Holding the button down, “Siri, what are MOOYAH’s hours?”

She proceeded to show me some movies concerning eyes. Apparently there is a market for that.

Chuckle. Still waiting at light, “MOOYAH website.”

Siri then took me off in some other completely non-beef related direction.

Let’s try this again. “MOOYAH Burgers.”

Still not getting it.

Not so much chuckling when I reached try #5.

As the light is about to turn, I grew desperate impatient. I felt the urge to resort to “call tree mode”: After a really bad customer service experience for the 3rd time, and my voice grows louder, slower, with strong overtones of condescension, as I continue repeating the same three words to the automated teller. [And yes, eventually, she’ll stop saying, click click click, “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that…” if you push her hard enough].

While I didn’t go full Delta Airlines on Siri (those were my latest 2 experiences), I admit that I did have a tone in my voice, which grew a bit louder as I repeated, “MOOYAH, Mooyah, MOOYAH!!”

Here is what Siri responded:

Siri fails

Seriously? If she could have found a restaurant named Lilliott Vieudelou Ya Lilliott, eat my dust Mooyah. I bet the Crab Bisque would have been delightful.

But here’s the rub: I can’t even recall what she sounded like saying that gibberish?! So, I like to reimagine it done as  the Swedish Chef. And then chalk it up with other funny Siri fails.

Since I’ve met “Siri” before, I should tell her two things: 

1. I’m sorry for getting snippy with you. I know you were just trying to do your job, and you really thought I actually said, “Lilliott Vieudelou Ya Lilliott”.

2. Thanks for the belly laugh. I really needed that.

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The Heart Will Not Be Silent

heart door

You can bury it, push it down until you feel the hurt won’t threaten to break you.
Press it down by keeping busy, busy, busy on top.
Roadblock silence by pushing your earphones in.
Post filtered pictures of a wonderful facade.
Put that nose to the grindstone, late hours and weekends, getting after it.
Numb it, sniff or shoot whatever fix you can get.
Place everyone else’s problems as your priority.
Keep that smile ready for when someone checks in on you.
Still, the heart will not be silent.
But, He’ll never let you go.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
-Proverbs 3:3


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