Heart Wide Open

motherhood, the meaning behind, worthiness By April 4, 2017 9 Comments

I thought I had to be strong all the time. I thought if I admitted how exhausted I was, I was admitting my failure as a mother.

A couple of years ago, Steve and I traveled to New York for a business meeting. It was a last-minute trip and my twin sister, Chrissie, graciously offered to watch our boys. Matthias was ecstatic—this was basically a mini-vacation for him and time to hang out with his cousins. David, who has special needs, was harder to leave overnight. He needed lots of attention as he was spoon fed and non-verbal. We planned to be away for four nights, so I prepared food David’s favorite foods, made a list of his medications and mapped out his schedule. My sister found a sitter to help her each afternoon. We were all set!

As I boarded the plane for our trip, I exhaled deeply. The plane ride was five hours—I could watch movies or read or sleep or heck, just sit and do nothing at all! I needed a break and even though this was a ‘work trip’ it felt like a vacation. We landed in New York, had a few great meetings, ate delicious food and slept in a hotel bed. As we packed up to come home I could feel a heaviness in my heart. Jumping back into the routine of feeding and caring for David felt overwhelming. I felt tired just thinking about it. But I couldn’t wait to see my sweet boys.

The plane landed, we collected our luggage and drove to my sister’s home. It was wonderful to see the boys. We brought them each a souvenir and listened to Matthias describe their adventures; including lots of ice cream and a bowling alley dance party. Memories were made! The kids ran outside to get a few more minutes of play time while the adults sat around the table to chat. After a quiet moment, Chrissie put her hand on my arm and looked into my eyes.

“Lisa, caring for David was so hard. Wow, it was so hard. He needed help from the moment he got up in the morning to the moment I put him to bed. And even after bedtime I had to check on him a few times and put him back into bed. When the sitter arrived each afternoon, I could take a couple hours to get other things done, but even with her help it seemed like we were both moving nonstop.  How do you manage to meet all of David’s needs and still find time for Matthias? How in the world do you do this every single day?”

My eyes began to fill with tears as I tried to swallow the lump in my throat. Over the years I was determined to keep a positive attitude. I loved caring for David and spending time with him. When I felt exhausted or frustrated I reminded myself how precious David is to me. I refused to let myself fall into sadness—there was no time for that, I had told myself. David was wonderful and it was my honor to care for him.

But as we sat there at her kitchen table, my sister’s words made their way deep into my heart. She had walked in my shoes for the last five days. She had seen my life through my eyes. She was speaking honest words right to my heart. I couldn’t hold back my tears.

“I don’t know how I do it. I’m so very tired.” I said with a shaky voice.

I was terrified to admit how exhausted I was, believing if I admitted it I would be a failure. I worried that because David needed so much help, Matthias was only getting leftovers. I thought I needed to keep a positive attitude be a ‘good mom’. I thought I could push the difficult feelings away by being strong. But it wasn’t working. I was exhausted. I was discouraged. I couldn’t hold myself together. I didn’t know it in that moment, but my breakdown was actually a break through.

My heart needed to grieve. Caring for two boys with such different needs was really, hard—and that was okay. I didn’t have to pretend it wasn’t hard. I could be honest. I could say it was hard. I could ask for help. I could take breaks. None of these things affected my love for David or Matthias. None of these made me a ‘bad mom’ or a failure. They simply made me human.

I tried to keep the door of my heart shut tightly so I wouldn’t feel the pain, but the pain seeped in anyway. It came through the tiniest cracks and crevices. No matter how hard I tried to keep it out, it found its way inside. With trembling hands and tears running down my cheeks, I loosened the deadbolt and cracked the door open just the tiniest bit. I admitted being a mom to two boys, one with special needs, was hard. I admitted I was exhausted.

To my surprise, a warm, soothing light flooded inside. I felt lighter. The light gave me strength to open the door a bit more.  Hope streamed inside like a breath of fresh air. I didn’t have to suffer through this alone. No one was judging me except myself. As difficult as it was to admit I was exhausted, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as trying to keep the door to my heart shut tightly. I felt like I could finally breathe. I felt seen and loved. I felt like I was allowed to be me, I didn’t have to pretend to be someone else.

Now when I am tired, I take breaks. Sometimes I even take breaks before I am tired! We have a sitter that helps us with David’s care. Matthias and I spend some together each week, just the two of us. We have lunch at Olive Garden and it’s our special time.  Steve and I have a regular date night where we can talk, hold hands and have fun without distractions.

I have begun to open my heart in other ways as well. I am learning to say what I want and need inside my marriage. For so long I thought I had to be needless and wantless. I thought it was my job to take care of everyone else and ask for nothing in return. I found it simply did not work. I am a whole person with my own needs and wants–and that is a beautiful thing! I have also begun asking for help inside our business. We have an amazing team of people who help with everything from web design to marketing to customer service. I am thankful I do not have to carry this load alone.



As I open my heart more and more I find bravery and love abound. Keeping the door to my heart closed didn’t keep me safe, it kept me isolated. To live fully and be completely me is to open the door to my heart and allow the beauty and pain inside. With an open heart I am able to love myself and others more deeply. I want to live every moment of this amazing, imperfect journey with a heart wide open.

This is the meaning behind the Heart Wide Open Necklace. Click here for more details.

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Nothing is Something

finding love, worthiness By February 9, 2017 20 Comments


Doing nothing is not nothing.

Doing nothing is doing something.

Sometimes doing nothing is the doing hardest thing.

Because in doing nothing, in the quiet, in the emptiness, I cannot escape my thoughts.

In doing nothing I am faced with the good and the hard, the ugly and the beautiful,

The ache

The hope

The fear

The longing.

Many times I find myself doing something

Doing anything

To keep from feeling

What feels too hard to feel.

Many times I find myself doing something

Doing anything

To prove I am productive

To prove I am good enough.

To prove I am worth the space I occupy.

To prove I am worth loving.

I am doing better at doing nothing,

Doing better at believing I have nothing to prove.

I am enough.

The space I occupy matters.

In doing nothing I find something.

In doing nothing I find there is nothing

I can do to be more loved

Than I am right now.

Doing nothing is not nothing.

Doing nothing is doing something.

Sometimes doing nothing is the hardest thing.

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Stepping Into the Light

finding love, the meaning behind, worthiness By February 7, 2017 3 Comments

For anyone who has ever wondered if the messiness of love is worth it…

Opening ourselves to love means

Taking down the walls around our hearts,

And leaving our hearts vulnerable.

A vulnerable heart does not simply risk being hurt,

It will be hurt.

Love is not safe.

I am imperfect.

You are imperfect.

We love each other imperfectly.

We hurt each other.

So why take the risk? Why love?

Because in the broken down, messiness of vulnerability,

While we wade through the pain of sharp words

and the loneliness of being misunderstood,

we are met with the healing balm of forgiveness.

While we journey down an unexplored, windy path

Sometimes hand in hand, sometimes with our backs to each other,

We find something truly magical.

When we leave safety behind

We find truth.

The truth we are loved, exactly as we are; broken and imperfect.

We leave safety behind to find something immeasurably better.

We find LOVE abounding in grace and hope.

We find we were not safe before, we were simply numb.

Numbness is comforting.

Numbness means not feeling the deep, painful ache of our hearts

Being pulled and stretched and torn.

But numbness means missing out on the exhilarating joy of being known.

The joy of being seen, just as we are.

The joy of being accepted.

The joy of being called worthy.

The joy of hearing the God of the Universe say “You are enough”.

It is only when we step out from the shadows and let the light shine on us

We see ourselves as God sees us.

We see who He created us to be;

Quirky and insightful and creative and wise.

He knit me together and gave me a unique soul.

I am one-of-a-kind.

He knit you together and gave you a unique soul.

You are one-of-a-kind.

In that place of power, we look shame directly in the eye and say, “You are a liar.”

Now we know the truth.

We leave safety to find freedom abounds.

We are free from the fear that held us prisoner.

The sun shines on us, warming our shoulders,

Filling our hearts with peace.

We soak it up, knowing

We are loved,

Just as we are.

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buzz buzz

finding love, worthiness By January 5, 2017 5 Comments


Thoughts like bumblebees fly around my head.
Buzz buzz buzz
So many thoughts

Some thoughts buzz by and I hardly notice them.

Some thoughts are scary.
The scary thoughts buzz and buzz.
I try to run but they chase me.

I stop running and face the scary thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them.
The scary thoughts keep pestering me.
“No.” they say.
We are not true.
Their buzzing gets quieter.

Some thoughts are mean.
The mean thoughts sting. Ouch.
I try to run but they chase me.

I stop running and face the mean thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them.
The mean thoughts keep pestering me.
“No.” they say.
We are not true.
Their buzzing gets quieter.

Some thoughts are happy.
The happy thoughts are as sweet as honey.
I do not run from them.

I turn and face the happy thoughts.
“Are you true?” I ask them
The happy thoughts keep buzzing.
“Yes.” They say.
We are true.
I take these thoughts into my heart.

I am the keeper of my thoughts.
My thoughts do not keep me.
The happy thoughts make a home inside my heart.
After time they grow and become a deep knowing.

You are unique.
You are amazing.
You are enough.
Just as you are.

Buzz buzz buzz
My heart knows it is loved.

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A simple quiz–am I enough?

worthiness By December 14, 2016 4 Comments

Some days I am plagued with feelings of unworthiness.  Am I good mom? Am I thin enough, smart enough, kind enough? I carry heavy burden of guilt. I’ll have a productive day and feel great, then the next day fail miserably.

Am I the best I can be?

Do I do enough?

Am I worthy of love?

Do I deserve down time, alone time, time for me?

To answer this question once and for all, I’ve created a  quiz called The Worthiness Inventory’. Ten simple questions will expose the truth. Am I enough?

Grab a piece of paper and pen.

Answer each question with a score of 1, 2 or 3.
1–I need to improve in this area.
2–I am average in this area.
3–I excel in this area.

  1. I serve and love my family with kindness and devotion.
  2. I try to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
  3. I am a learner—constantly reading or listening to podcasts.
  4. I am a good friend. I listen to and care for my friends.
  5. I keep things organized, tidy and generally arrive on time.
  6. I am careful with money—I know where my dollars go and I’m comfortable with what I spend.
  7. I am a spiritual person—I connect with God regularly and spend time in prayer.
  8. I appreciate technology but I’m careful not to let my cell phone or computer distract me from what’s most important.
  9. I have a regular sleep routine and feel rested when I wake in the morning.
  10. I have a heart for those in need and I give to those less fortunate than myself.

Now add up your answers.

Click here to find out your score!

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my heart can move mountains

choose joy, worthiness By December 6, 2016 18 Comments

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My heart is the truest part of me.

My heart resides in the center of my being

and extends into every part of who I am.

Through my eyes my heart can see the beauty surrounding me.

Through my ears my heart can hear whispers of truth.

Through my mouth my heart can speak words of love.

Through my shoulders my heart can carry unwavering hope.

Through my arms my heart can embrace indescribable peace.

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Through my hands my heart can hold limitless amounts of joy.

Through my feet my heart can journey into the beautiful unknown.

My body is an extension of my heart.

With this body my heart can move mountains.

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listen to your heart

choose joy, worthiness By November 22, 2016 7 Comments

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I’ve been making changes in my life over the last few months. Before these changes I wasn’t taking care of me—although I didn’t know that was the problem. I simply knew I felt exhausted and desperate. Once I realized I wasn’t taking care of myself I began rethinking my schedule, my needs, my wants and my life in general. I’d so busy taking care of everybody else, my needs were at the bottom of the list. Sure, I’d get a pedicure every now and then or have lunch with a friend—and I considered these activities to be good self care. And they are good self care, but it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t taking time to listen to my heart.

My schedule was overwhelming with almost no time to slow down or be still. My family and friends’ needs came before my own. To be honest, I wasn’t aware I had needs. Or wants. I thought making everyone else happy was a selfless and beautiful thing. If they’re happy, I’m happy, right? I found out, no, it doesn’t work like that at all. I am a person with needs and wants—just like my husband and my kids and my friends. Those needs and wants matter. After years of not caring for myself I was exhausted. Something had to change. But how? I couldn’t begin to imagine what self-care looked like, let alone how I would fit it into my busy days.

My counselor encouraged me to have quiet time. There was no agenda, just time set aside to be quiet and still. This idea was so completely foreign to me, when she mentioned it, I laughed out loud. Sit and be still? But I pride myself on productivity! If I sit around doing nothing, I’m worthless. Plus, I can give you a list of reasons I don’t have time for quiet–beginning with having a child with a severe disability, owning my own business and on and on. But, I have to admit, there was part of me that was curious. What would happen if I took time to do nothing?

Everywhere I turned the idea was popping up–a friend mentioned taking time for quiet, I read about it in a book, I came across an article on Facebook. So the following day I set my phone to airplane mode, set the timer for 10 minutes and awkwardly sat on the couch doing nothing. I didn’t try to think about anything or not think about anything. I had no agenda—except to sit and simply be. And nothing extraordinary happened. The timer went off, I got up and continued with my day.

The next day I did it again. It felt slightly less awkward the second day. Again I set my phone to airplane mode and set the timer for 10 minutes. Again, I had no agenda. I sat on the couch and let thoughts come or go. I didn’t try to do anything. I just sat still. And nothing extraordinary happened.

On day three I could feel myself craving the quiet time. My heart wanted it. My heart needed it. I set the timer and sat still. When the timer went off, I got up and began to move through my day. Nothing special happened during my ten minutes of quiet, but something unexpected was happening outside of the quiet. I could feel my feelings with greater clarity. My heart was speaking to me and I was making time to listen. I could make sense of my thoughts. I was noticeably less overwhelmed. I was more present. I could make decisions easier. I could say ‘no’ to things I didn’t want to do and ‘yes’ to things I wanted to do. It was like somehow the quiet was helping me work things out. The quiet was helping me to know myself and what I needed. The quiet was making me, more me.

I’ve started working more quiet into my days. I still love listening to podcasts, audiobooks and music, but sometimes when I’m driving or walking I turn everything off and let myself think. I set aside time four or five days a week to sit and be quiet. In a crazy twist, the quiet time away from productivity is actually helping me to be more productive—although that wasn’t and still isn’t my goal.

Productivity is important, but it doesn’t define my value. I am precious and worthy even if I accomplish nothing. I’m valuable simply because I am me.

Instead of keeping busy to avoid the quiet, avoid my thoughts and feelings, I am meeting myself in those moments of quiet. The story of my life is told in small moments that make up a beautiful journey. Some of those moments include quiet reflection.

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I’m listening to my heart.
My heart knows what it wants and needs.
My heart will lead me in the right direction.
My heart will always lead me toward joy.

My heart needs quiet.
The quiet allows me to know myself.
Knowing myself allows me to care for myself.
Caring for myself allows me to be my truest self.
My truest self is who I am created to be.

Do you take time for quiet? Would you be willing to try it?

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the perfect berry crumble

choose joy, finding love, worthiness By November 1, 2016 90 Comments

Every marriage goes through difficult times, and we were in a difficult time. We were both trying but we weren’t connecting. We were both hurting but didn’t know how to help each other. We were both making mistakes but we didn’t know what they were.

During this time, we had plans to gather with friends for a celebration. I decided to make Steve’s favorite dessert, berry crumble. This wasn’t going to be just any berry crumble—I was going to make the perfect berry crumble. I wanted to show Steve how much I loved him. I wanted to show him he was precious to me. This berry crumble was going to knock his socks off.

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I spent time researching the best recipe online. I gathered all the ingredients and spent a good chunk of the day making the amazing dessert. As the celebration approached, I slowly pulled the hot crumble out of the oven, wrapped it a heavy towel and we all loaded into the car. We parked in front of our friends’ home and I carefully got out, maneuvering the hot berry crumble to avoid a spill. I took a few steps and suddenly I lost hold of the wrapped glass dish. I watched in slow motion as my perfect crumble splattered all over the sidewalk. I felt the sting of hot tears behind my eyes.

“Hold it together.” I told myself.

But I couldn’t. The tears overflowed and once they started they wouldn’t stop. I could barely catch my breath between sobs. This was no ordinary berry crumble, this was the perfect berry crumble. This crumble was going to show Steve how much I cared for him. This dessert was going to save our marriage. It was going to make Steve fall in love with me again. I looked down at the berry crumble splattered all over the sidewalk and sobbed.

I tried so hard to be good enough. I tried to be the perfect wife. I tried to become less so he could be more. But it wasn’t working. Instead I was becoming less than whole–and a relationship can’t thrive without two whole people. I thought being perfect would bring me joy. But I was so focused on being perfect, I was missing all the joy.

I’ve clung to the belief that perfection held joy. I’ve spent most of my life believing if I could be perfect, or at least almost perfect, I would be lovable. So I worked hard to create the ‘perfect’ life for us. I tried to create a beautiful, tidy home. I tried to be the perfect mother—patient and fun and consistent. I tried to be happy even when I felt sad. I tried to be needless and wantless and take care of everybody else. My good intentions to ‘take care’ of everybody were really a desire to control. If I could control everything I would be good enough. I was terrified I wasn’t lovable, so I tried to control. The more I tried to control Steve, our marriage and our family, the more out of control I felt. I’d worked tirelessly to try to hold it all together, but we were a mess. It was falling apart—not just the berry crumble, but our marriage too.

I was finding out, there is no berry crumble so perfect it can hold a marriage together.

Perfection is a lie. It demands more and more, never offering a moment’s rest. Perfect is never satisfied. I kept reaching further and further, thinking I was almost there, but perfection was always just out of reach. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t be perfect.

But honesty. Honesty looks like me showing up and being my truest self, and Steve showing up and being his truest self. Two people showing up and being honest is imperfect and messy. Sometimes it’s more than messy; it’s super ugly and dark and scary. I don’t like messy. I wish relationships could be nice and tidy–but I’m learning that’s not how relationships work. Life is messy, marriage is messy, kids are messy, friendships are messy.

When we show up in the mess and we’re open, we are taking a step towards each other.

When we share our honest thoughts and desires, we begin to truly know each other.

When we’re brave and real our hearts connect.

When our hearts connect we begin to discover joy.

I can’t control my husband or my kids. I can’t keep my house perfectly clean.

I’m not perfect, I’m just me.

I want to be loved for who I am, my truest self. I want to be in an honest marriage where we step into the mess together and together we work to make something beautiful. I want to let my kids be kids—in all their moods and messes and silliness. I want to order pizza instead of stressing about making the perfect meal. I want to see toys and shoes all over the family room and know we are living life together in this space. I want to let go of perfect and embrace truth. I want to be present in the crazy ups and downs of every day.
I’m learning I have to let go of perfection to have joy.
Today I choose joy.

How about together we let go of perfection and choose joy?

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Beauty is Not a Waste

finding beauty, worthiness By October 26, 2016 18 Comments

I have spent a lot of my life feeling that beauty was a waste. I craved it, pursued it and spent hours creating it, but it seemed indulgent rather than important. It was careless pursuit, not a critical pursuit. As I scoured thrift store for beautiful treasures I felt pangs of guilt.

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“I should be cleaning our closets, not finding another treasure.” I scolded myself.

When I took time to put on mascara and lipstick I had a nagging sense that my priorities were all wrong.

Setting the table with our “good” dishes, pretty napkins and candles was just silly if it was only the four of us at home.

My heart craved beauty but my brain disagreed.

Over the last months and years, I’ve begun to rethink my perspective on beauty. Beauty matters. Beauty is not a waste. God created a beautiful world and called it good. God made us creative. He gave us an innate sense of beauty and a desire to seek beauty.

But I have misunderstood beauty. I’ve tried to use beauty to prove my worthiness. Instead of letting beauty wash over me and fill up my soul, I used beauty as a tool to feel good enough. A perfect home, beautifully set table, delicious meal or the right shade of lipstick could never make me more or better. Misused, those things become a wall between myself and others. I am already enough. I don’t need to prove my worthiness; I’m already worthy.

When I start from a place of knowing I am worthy, beauty becomes a gift to myself and others. Beauty inspires instead of distracts. Beauty connects instead of divides. There is no need for comparison, because each of us is worthy and amazing in our own unique way.

Beauty is everywhere.

There is beauty in a sink full of dishes after a delicious meal shared with treasured friends.

There is beauty in the red lipstick kiss I leave on my son’s cheek.

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There is beauty in the way the sunshine filters through tall, dry grass as I hike the hills near our home.

There is beauty in slowing down, breathing deeply and just being.

There is beauty in two hearts truly knowing and loving each other despite the messiness of relationship.

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There is beauty in the bravery of trying something new.

There is beauty in letting the moment be whatever it is, without trying to control it.

There is beauty in the pain of being human, the tears of a friend sharing in my pain.

There is beauty in a carefree moment of laughter and being silly.

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There is beauty in a vintage wool rug, a worn chair and a cozy blanket.

There is beauty in accepting things don’t have to be perfect.

There is beauty in an amazing thrift store find.

There is beauty in an orderly, cleaned out closet.

There is beauty in seeking out beauty and sharing it with others.

There is beauty in choosing hope, choosing joy, choosing love.

And there is so much beauty in knowing I am enough just as I am. You are enough. You are worthy. You are amazing. You deserve sunshine and good coffee.

There is beauty in knowing beauty matters. Beauty is not a waste.

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Your Answer Revealed

hope, worthiness By November 29, 2015 3 Comments

Am I Enough?
Worthiness Inventory

10-17 points 

You feel there are many areas in your life where you are either performing average or below. How does everyone else seem to do it so effortlessly? You’re tired. You’re hurting. You feel alone.
You may hear the whisper of harsh words, like, failure and stupid as you move through your day. These words do not define you. In fact, you are not a failure.
Whether or not you excel in each of these areas does not define your worth or value. You are already loved but because you are YOU. There is no one else quite like you on earth. The world needs you to be you. You don’t have to change, you don’t have to be better or do more. You’re already worthy. You are enough.

 

18-22 points

You find yourself succeeding sometimes and failing sometimes. There are moments you feel you’ve got it all together—but other times you’re a complete failure. Emotions run high and low—and you vacillate between hope and desperation. The ups and downs are draining.
“Why can’t I figure this out?” you think.
If you could just get each of these areas under control you would be fulfilled–but it always seems just out of reach. These things will never fill you, because these things don’t define you.
Productive or unproductive–you are incredible simply because you are YOU. You are already beautiful and loved. You’re already worthy. You are enough.

 

24 and above

Hello overachiever! Wow, you are a hard-working woman!
Do you every feel tired or disappointed—like you’re doing all these things and it’s still not enough? You drop into bed exhausted only to wake up the next morning and start all over again. It all depends on you and it’s never-ending.  I have good news, even if you stopped doing some–or all–of these things, you would still be lovable. You would still be precious. These things do not define you. Trying to be perfect may become a wall between yourself and those you love.
You can rest. You can exhale. You are amazing and wonderful just as you are. You’re already worthy. You are enough.

Today let’s let go of trying to be perfect. Instead let’s choose joy. Let’s remind each other we are enough just as we are. Let’s offer grace to ourselves and others.
The things we do don’t define us. We are defined by God; He calls us worthy, He calls us loved.
You are enough.

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