How Can You Make Your Life Less Stressful?

I thought we would just try some new things out for Saturdays. I always appreciate your input, so please let me know if you’re enjoying Saturdays (or maybe not enjoying them so much!)

This week, I wanted to give you something to think about. Due to my family’s move, this week has been so stressful.

So I resolved to do something to change that, and I invite you to do the same!

make your life less stressful on devotional diva

 

How can you make your life less stressful?

If you would like to share, leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.

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Choose Love + Giveaway!

choose love by stormie omartian on devotional diva

I was thrilled when I was contacted to review Stormie Omartian’s new book Choose Love because she was one of the first Christian writers I ever read.

The title also caught my attention. As a Christian living in this 2014 world, I often think about love (or lack thereof).

To me, love is the most important “thing” to have, experience and give.

Choose Love is broken down into three choices:

1. Choose to Receive God’s Love for You:

Stormie writes, “Many people don’t really know God, so they don’t know His love. They know what good, bad, or erroneous things people have told them about God, but they don’t know Him. And I am talking about some of the many who believe in Him as well as those who doubt Him. Understanding God’s love for us is a never-ending quest that will not be full realized until we are with Him in heaven.”

2. Choose to Express Your Love for God:

“You express your love for God when you trust Him in all things. Thinking you don’t need Him except in an emergency or crisis does not please Him. You show love for God when you recognize your own weakness and dependence upon Him. It tells God that you don’t want to even try to make it through a day without Him.”

3. Choose to Love Others in a Way That Pleases God

“There is a price to pay for lovelessness, but the good news is that we don’t have to live this way. God can free us from all of that and keep our hearts filled with His love. But there is a choice we make. We choose to let our heart overflow with God’s love, we choose to express our love for Him, and in the process our heart of love overflows to others. This is seen in the way we talk to and act toward people, and it pleases them as well as God.”

In the King James Version of The Bible, the word “love” (not including its variations) is mentioned 314 times.

And one of the most famous, well-known verses is this:

John 3:16

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NLT)

That’s love. And we, as disciples of the Lord, should learn to choose love over hate more often.

 

Would you like to win a copy of Choose Love? I have been given 3 copies for a giveaway. Just leave a comment below! A winner will be chosen at random. Sadly, this giveaway is for US residents only. Sorry international Divas!

This giveaway is now closed. Thank you!

 

(Parts of this article have been excerpted from Choose Love by Stormie Omartian. Used with permission).

FTC: I received Choose Love for review. All opinions are my own.

photo credit: Shereen M via photopin cc

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What Do You Want to See on Saturdays?

be-an-encourager

Unfortunately, I have decided to end Beauty Saturdays. The intent behind bringing the series on was to have fun, shorter content on Saturdays.

Something not as heavy as the Tuesday/Thursday posts…something that doesn’t take as long to read.

I still want to do that!

And I really need your help figuring out what you would like to see!

I was thinking about featuring a cute little picture with a quote on it…Like the one above (perfect for Devotional Diva, I thought!) from pinterest.

I also thought I would maybe pose a question on Saturdays — something to think about. I don’t know. There are so many possibilities for what we could do on here!

Comment below or on Devotional Diva’s Facebook to share your ideas and input!

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Christians and Exclusivity

exclusivity Christians

To preface: this post has more bite than usual because it’s a topic I’m very passionate about: exclusivity.

Today is a special edition of Devotional Diva! This hiatus isn’t turning out to be much of a hiatus, is it? And we normally don’t even have posts on Mondays! Well, I just had to get this up today because this topic has been burning in my heart – and also because it coincides nicely with the publishing of my guest post on a pretty sweet blog called The Laundry Moms.

 

 First of all, the post on TLM means a lot to me because it’s sort of a tribute to my mom. I’ve been working on it for weeks, and I wanted to make sure it came out around her birthday (Happy birthday, Mom!) It’s also a testament to the ways God works. My mom (guided by God I am sure) kept encouraging me to keep writing, and now here I am! That’s what the post is about. TLM contacted me back in June to do a guest post and I was really excited! I love getting my writing out there. It’s pretty cool to feel that I can make a difference with my writing – I mean, that’s really my whole goal.

I love how sharing can help so many people. I love that Devotional Diva’s mission is exactly that.

Devotional Diva is giving me the chance to share and help people, and not just on DD’s platform. I’m actually going to be sharing my testimony at a recovery center in Southern California in the coming weeks because of a connection I made through Devotional Diva. When I was invited to share my testimony for an online Christian summit, I thought it was a great opportunity to spread God’s glory even more! I got on the phone with the director to get more information about the summit. She said my powerful message would fit great with their mission. I figured it was a done deal. After explaining their “requirements,” she asked a couple casual questions about my blog stats and social media followers. That’s when she told me my numbers weren’t up to snuff, and she basically uninvited me. I shook it off, because it wasn’t any skin off my back. I’m going through Renee’s Faithbook of Jesus right now, and the night after that phone call, I was on Tuesday of week three. The message was about exclusivity:

“When Jesus rolled into town with his entourage, he wasn’t looking for some exclusive membership for the highest of society.”

Then it hit me. A Christian group excluded me from sharing God’s word and my testimony that they knew would inspire Christian women…because I didn’t have enough followers for their standards.

The director told me that if they didn’t have that requirement in some future event, then maybe I could participate. If the purpose of the summit was really to inspire Christian women, then you wouldn’t tell a person you invited to do it that they can’t because they don’t meet your social media standards.

Does the fact that I have less followers than some of the other speakers really make my testimony less powerful?

There is no exclusivity in being a Christian. Then why would we treat other Christians with exclusivity? I’ve seen this in so many other aspects of the Christian life — certain Bible studies or events only for the wives of pastors (as if our husband’s career has anything to do with our calling or ability to grow spiritually), the only opportunities for women in some churches being Sunday school teaching or childcare…there are so many exclusions. It’s so ridiculous to me! The things in life that bother me the most are injustice, judgment and things that are just illogical. Now I’m realizing that exclusion is really all of those things in a lot of cases. I’m going to spread God’s glory all over this earth no matter what. And I encourage you, no matter who you are, to do the same. You can check out more about becoming a guest poster on Devotional Diva on the Become a Diva page here. I’m so glad that The Laundry Moms included me. This way, my story can help more people!

Jesus includes everyone, and I think as Christians we should try to do the same. More inclusion, less exclusion.

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I'm Moving On From A Painful Past

moving on from your past

I have spent this summer introducing you to myself. Guest posting will return on September 2nd, but after today Devotional Diva is going on a short hiatus. I still have a lot of ideas for post topics, but last week I asked my husband what he thought I should write for my final post.

Without asking for any of my ideas, he just replied, “You should write more about your life now.”

He’s completely right. I’ve written quite a lot about my past this summer. It makes sense, because all of us draw on our past for hints on how to handle our futures.

I’ve written about my physical assault at work, my suicidal thoughts, and why I chose to marry young, among other things.

I have experienced a lot of pain in my life in relation to my age. And I know I’m not the only one.

For a long time, that pain has eaten me up.

But I want to say now: God has healed me!

I knew my unique personality when I was younger. But when I went through all that pain, I got depressed. The depression changed me and messed with my confidence.

When I was a kid, I was different than a lot of my peers simply because I wasn’t afraid to be different. I didn’t want to blend in. I didn’t care about what was “cool.” I dressed the way I wanted to dress — and I must say I was a stylish 8-year-old with my collection of vintage coats.

Some other kids didn’t appreciate that about me, but most of the time I didn’t really care.

In junior high and high school I became even more extroverted. I got really involved with school activities and I feel like I had quite a few friends. I remember having so much fun and being so happy those years.

But most importantly, I knew who I was and I wasn’t afraid to show it.

After delving into “depression land,” I questioned who I was. I think I got a lot more shy – not that shyness is bad; I am just naturally more extroverted.

I have finally healed from the pain – however, not without scars. I will always carry those scars.

But I am happy and content with my life. And nearly every day I can see the little bits of myself that got hidden coming out again.

I have so much more personality! While I hope this does not come off as conceited, I realized that I am actually a funny person. I like cracking jokes, making people laugh and just interacting with others — I feel like I’m really living again.

When I first started feeling better, I had to stay away from certain things that would “trigger” sadness – like some depressing movies or things that would remind me of my past. Lately, I’ve noticed my ability to enjoy them again.

That’s one of the biggest indicators to me that I am moving on from my painful past. I mean, truly moving on.

It’s also been nearly one year since I stopped taking daily psychiatric medication. Even though those medications can help with depression and anxiety, I just feel so much clearer without them – more like myself.

I laugh so much; my husband and I are ridiculously silly together. I have dreams again and I’m motivated to make them come true. I am embracing the things that make me who I am (like how buying a pet stroller for my cats made my day, or my unreasonable love of Diet Pepsi). I’m just having more fun being me.

God healed me from all that pain. Now, I’m able to move on. And I’m so much stronger now.

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Looking Back on My Physical Assault at Work

assault and courage

I believe my physical assault at work led to my downward spiral into depression and anxiety. But it also taught me about my own courage.

 

I was already depressed. I had already suffered trauma. I was still physically sick. But I was trudging on. I tried to keep up with my job at Chuck E. Cheese.

Chuck E. Cheese has a system in place that aims to ensure children’s safety called “Kid Check.” Families that enter together (adults included) all get a stamp with a number on their hand. That number is checked upon exit to make sure that kids leave with the right adults. Babies get a sticker with the number on it that can be placed on their carrier.

When I was training, it was one of the first things I learned. The video stressed that all kids must have their number match an adult they are leaving with, and if there is any sort of problem, to get a manager.

One low-key night, it was my turn at Kid Check. A very large man approached the exit with a tiny baby in a stroller. I got out my little black light flashlight to check their numbers.

I saw the sticker and number on the baby’s carrier and then I asked to see the man’s hand. He didn’t have a number.

I explained to the man how the Kid Check system worked, and I told him I could get my manager and straighten it out. But he got really agitated.

And then everything seemed to happen really fast.

He pushed the stroller through the ropes that guarded the exit and it rolled five feet and hit the door.

He’s trying to steal this baby, I thought.

That is the very thing Kid Check is designed to prevent – especially for young babies who can’t speak up.

And I could NOT let that happen.

Instinctively, I blocked his way through the exit.

This man was probably about six feet tall and 300 pounds. At that time, I was about 5’2” and 130 pounds.

He hit me in the face and tried to push me down as I remained steadfast in my effort to keep him from leaving with the baby. I screamed for the cash register clerk to get a manager.

After what felt like ages, he turned and headed back into the restaurant, leaving the baby at the door.

My manager, an even smaller woman than I, came to the front and I tried to explain what had just happened. The man quickly reappeared and began yelling at us.

My manager couldn’t reason with him either, but she sent me to the back.

Tears flowing down my face, I headed to the kitchen. I remember how my drink nearly spilled because my hands were shaking so much.

My friend and coworker saw this, having no knowledge of the commotion. She grabbed the drink from my hands and guided me toward the back door to get some air.

Through my hyperventilation and gagging outside of the kitchen, I tried to tell her what had happened. She was shocked; although we were trained to protect kids against abduction, nothing like that had ever happened at our store.

I remember ending up in the break room. My manager came back and told me that the mother of the baby had come forward and the baby was okay. Apparently, the man was related to the baby somehow but didn’t enter at the same time. Whatever the case, the family left. She asked me if he had hurt me and if I wanted to call the police.

He had hurt me – a small bruise was beginning to form on my cheek. But I just wanted to go home.

No police report was ever filed, but Chuck E Cheese gave me worker’s comp to get help with the extreme anxiety I developed after that night.

I was getting along fine, and then that happened. It was like everything going on in my life culminated the night of my physical assault at work and I became a complete wreck. What happened that night is still hard to talk about, and I’m anxious as I write this.

But everything happens for a reason.

It’s taken years of healing to deal with everything, but I’m really okay now. And when I feel small and weak, I remember that night. I remember how strong I became to protect that baby. Even if it that man had permission to take the child, he sure didn’t act like it.

The therapist I saw after the event told me I should have just let him go and not put myself in harm’s way. Maybe that’s true, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

I know I did what was right. And I know what courage lives inside of me.

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photo credit: tvol via photopin cc

 

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How I Became a Christian

This is the story of how I became a Christian.

But first, it’s important to look at my parents’ faith background.

My mom was raised Catholic and always had some issues with it. After she became an adult, she looked for another Christian church. She actually ran into a really weird, disillusioning church sect in the process. Nothing ever felt right, and she eventually stopped looking. But she was always a Christian.

My dad has really always been a man of God, too. He’s just never been that into actually going to church.

Since my mom didn’t like being raised in a faith she didn’t agree with, she and my father decided to not baptize me. They wanted me to be able to choose my faith when I was ready.

But the only preschools in our small Iowa city were at churches, so my parents decided to send me to a Lutheran preschool.

And I loved it.

I wanted to start going to Sunday school, too. So my parents obliged, and tried out the services themselves. It still didn’t feel like the right church for them, but they took me to Sunday school every Sunday for years. I also did vacation Bible school.

I really loved church, and I really loved Jesus!

When I was seven, my family moved to a new neighborhood. I already knew a girl, Lauren, in the neighborhood from school. She introduced me to her friend, Rachel, who lived a couple houses down.

Rachel’s family went to a small reformed church not too far away. One night, they invited us to their Wednesday night service. Lauren and I tagged along with Rachel’s family and we found out we really liked this new church!

So we both brought our moms to check it out, and the moms began to love the church too.

My mom started helping to teach Sunday school – even before she officially joined the church.

Since Lauren and her mom were never baptized, either, we were glad to have the opportunity at this new church.

During an early 8 AM service in 2002, Lauren, her mom, me and my little brother, Mickey, were baptized. It was so cool because people we didn’t even know went to the church were at that service that day. My beloved Librarian from school was there, along with my 1st grade teacher. It was so special that they were witness to our baptism.

My parents officially joined the church around that same time, and my mom became deeply involved with many other church functions. When she joined, she reaffirmed her faith.

She finally felt at home!

And I don’t think her faith has ever been stronger.

It was always my desire and my choice to follow Christ. I always felt called, and I think that’s pretty cool. And since I’m the editor of Devotional Diva now, I think it’s so awesome that I can help spread God’s glory.

I love the fact that I chose to be baptized myself and that I remember it. It was such an amazing experience.

My family (and Lauren and Rachel’s families) still attend that special church. We’re so blessed to have a church that really feels like home!  But now, I’m doing my own thing. My husband and I haven’t found a church like that in California yet, but that’s okay.

How I became a Christian may not be very typical, but I really appreciate that I was always able to follow what I have always known to be right.

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photo credit: -mrsraggle- via photopin cc

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When Christians Are Hurt: Share Your Story!

I have been hurt. You have been hurt. We’ve all been hurt. But how do you respond to hurt in a Christian way?

If you identify as a Christian, you believe in the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. One of the verses I always associate with Jesus is this one:

Matthew 5:38-40 
“You have heard the law that says the punishment must match the injury: ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also.  If you are sued in court and your shirt is taken from you, give your coat, too.”
 

I love this scripture, and try to live by it. But until recently, just focusing on this one section gave me a rather skewed image of Jesus.

During my Lent studies of Jesus, this scripture really changed that image:

Matthew 21: 12-13
 “Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out all the people buying and selling animals for sacrifice. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves!”

Now, Jesus had very good reason to be turning over tables at the Temple – the sellers’ and money changers’ tables were blocking Gentiles from being able to pray.

But all too often before I delved into that scripture, I considered Jesus to be mostly meek and humble. While those characteristics are true of Jesus, He was also very strong. He stood up for what was right and justly. The verses from Matthew 21 are proof of that.

And since I receive all of my power from Jesus, that means I can be strong, too. And so can you.

Just because we are Christians, it does not mean we can’t stand up for ourselves, others, and what is right. There are good and bad ways to do it, yes, but it is possible.

If you have been hurt, you can share your story.

The truth is, I can’t create all the content for Devotional Diva. Nor do I want to! Devotional Diva should be about many women sharing their stories.

You can stand up for yourself, heal yourself from this hurt and pain, and help others in the process.

One of the reasons I fell in love with writing was the ability to create change through it. You can spread the word in a healthy and respectful way at Devotional Diva.

By sharing your story, you are helping others with the same experiences. They can relate to you. In my opinion, life is all about relationships and relating to others.

Devotional Diva will help you share your story and stand up for yourself. And as editor, I will stand up for you and your story.

If you would like to “become a diva”  (guest contributor), please see the Become a Diva page for more information and the submission form.

You may submit written articles, or even something of a more visual nature.

The requirements for a written story are: 500-700 words in length, with a 3-4 sentence bio and a current picture. For all other types of submissions, please contact me for more information.

Become a Diva today!

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Why I Chose to Marry Young

 

Why I chose to marry young

I chose to marry young — at 19, to be exact.

As some of you may know, I am still pretty young – 22, to be exact.

There’s that Taylor Swift song “22,” but I don’t relate to it at all because I’m married and have been for 2 and a half years. I don’t know if you’ve heard that song, but here are a couple quick quotes:

Everything will be alright
If we just keep dancing like we’re 22

 

And

 

It feels like one of those nights
We won’t be sleeping

Nope, does not describe my life at 22 at all.

I do not dance anywhere, except I did dance at my wedding.

And YES, I will be sleeping because I have things to do tomorrow! Every day I have things to do!

I’m not complaing in any way. I love my life! I just think it’s comical how different my life is from this Taylor Swift song and actually, most of my peers’ lives.

When I wrote about How God Changed the Course of My life Completely, I told you about how supportive my now-husband Brandon was (and still is) and how we met.

But what I didn’t tell you then was how big of a role following my heart played.

Brandon and I have a fairy tale love story – with some major kinks thrown in.

We had a lot of opposition going up against us the whole time we were dating.

For one, I was in a horrible place mentally and physically in the beginning. I talked about this in that post I mentioned, but it really was a struggle. My mom knew that Brandon was the one for me because of how he stuck by me through it all.

I mean, I was in the mental health unit at the hospital (more than once) and he stayed with me. He supported me. He showed me love. I know that I was not able to show him the same kind of love at that time, just because I was going through so much.

And it was a shock to everyone around us when we started dating because Brandon is 7 and a half years older than me.

But we got through all that stuff. I got better. Things were going great, and we were happy.

Then Brandon decided to join the Navy.

At first, we didn’t even consider getting married before his boot camp. But as we went through his recruitment process, marriage actually seemed like a pretty good idea.

I knew I loved Brandon and wanted to be with him forever. He said he always knew that I was “the one.”

It soon became clear that we did want to get married before Brandon would leave for basic training.

But I was so nervous about what my parents would say.

I felt like they would disapprove, because I was only 19 after all. Now-a-days, that is young.

It wasn’t like getting married so young was in their (or my) plans for my future.

I worked up the courage to talk to my mom about it first, and she eased my dad into the idea. They were accepting, more than I thought they would be. They supported us.

Brandon formally asked my dad for my hand in marriage in June, and a few days later he proposed to me. In November, we said our vows at my childhood church.

My mom said she felt the presence of Jesus so strongly during the ceremony.

We’ve been married 2 and a half years now, and things are working out for us. We’re happy. I see how God had these plans for me, and there’s no doubt in my mind that I was always supposed to be with Brandon.

I followed my heart and ended up with a great man. But getting married at a young age is not for everyone. Honestly, everyone’s situation will be different. When you find your mate is up to God.

I still get surprised reactions when people find out I’m 22 and married, let alone that I have been married for almost 3 years now. That’s okay, but I wish there wasn’t so much judgment.

It’s not just people who marry young – I know those who wait until their later 20’s or 30’s are judged too.

Bottom line is that everyone has a different path; Let’s get over expectations.

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Top 10 Bible Verses About Marriage

top Bible verses about marriage Since wedding season is upon us, I decided to share my top 10 Bible verses about marriage. They aren’t actually all directly referring to marriage, but all of them are great to apply to marriage.

In no particular order:

1. Ephesians 5: 25-33

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.  
 

These verses are commandments from God about having a holy marriage. I think it’s a beautiful section describing how Jesus loved the church, using it as a metaphor for how a husband should love his wife.

2. 1 Corinthians 13:4-10

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  

 

We’ve all heard this one! A favorite for weddings, this Bible verse about marriage describes true love.

3. 1 John 4:7

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.

 

This is one of my favorites. While not only about marriage, it does speak about Godly love.

4. 1 Timothy 3:12-13

12 A deacon must be faithful to his wife and must manage his children and his household well.13 Those who have served well gain an excellent standing and great assurance in their faith in Christ Jesus.

 

I like this verse from 1 Timothy because it expresses God’s will for a Christian household.

5. Proverbs 31:10

10 A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

 

I think this is one of the most popular quotes from Proverbs 31, which is in itself a very popular section of the Bible! Proverbs 31:10 is one of my top 10 Bible verses about marriage because it stresses (and honors) being a noble wife – having good character, which in today’s world is especially important to retain.

6. Deuteronomy 24:5

If a man has recently married, he must not be sent to war or have any other duty laid on him. For one year he is to be free to stay at home and bring happiness to the wife he has married.

 

I love this verse! In a fairy tale kind of way, it’s cute. And a very good idea for newlyweds.

7. Colossians 3:18-19

18 Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

 

This is an important verse, and often misunderstood. I know for a long time I felt weird about “submitting” myself to my husband. It wasn’t until I heard Joyce Meyer speak about the subject that I began to understand what the Lord means.

It’s kind of a big topic, so I won’t go into it too deeply here, but briefly:

God doesn’t give permission for a husband to take advantage of a submissive wife. No, he directly calls husbands to love their wives and not be harsh.

Wifely submission isn’t a bad thing – it’s just respecting your husband and letting him lead (essentially).

8. Ecclesiastes 4:12

12 Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  

 

Okay, so this one is not directly speaking on marriage. Nonetheless, it’s beautiful applied to marriage because it represents a couple and God.

9. Ephesians 4: 2-3

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.  

 

This verse from Ephesians is a good reminder for any marriage.    

10. Matthew 19: 4-6

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Ephesians 5:31

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”

Gen 2:24

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.  

 

I count this as one quote, because these three scriptures all focus on the same thing: that a husband and wife are one flesh. It must be a pretty important fact if it’s in The Bible three times, right?

 

I think if everyone made a “Top 10 Bible Verses About Marriage” post, they would all turn out differently. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage! In any case, I hope that you enjoyed mine!

P.S. I am posting videos regularly on the Devotional Diva YouTube channel now — you should go check them out and subscribe!

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photo credit: 19melissa68 via photopin cc

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