This is 30

Just about a month of being 30 under my belt. Am I sad? No. I’m excited. A year ago, I was in the mindset of, “oh no, it’s the last year of my twenties.” What have I accomplished? What’s my plan? How am I going to get everything I want done.

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The truth is, not everything can be done or ever will be done. I’ve improved on goal setting and I finally bought my own car. I’ve been at my current job for four years and making a steady income that pays the bills. Blogging about Texas and faith in my spare time. I’m not anywhere near where twenty year-old me thought I’d be.

Funny thing is, I actually have way less debt than I would have had. So life’s pretty great right? Of course it’s not perfect but I’m happy. Remember those guides and outlines you got from your high school counselors to plan out your life? I threw that out the window in college.

The other day I went to a bible study and the readings reminded me that it’s all there in the Bible:

For God, who told the light to shine out of darkness, has shined a light into our hearts, to illuminate the knowledge of the splendor of God, in the person of Christ Jesus.

 But we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, so that what is sublime may be of the power of God, and not of us.

 In all things, we endure tribulation, yet we are not in anguish. We are constrained, yet we are not destitute.

 We suffer persecution, yet we have not been abandoned. We are thrown down, yet we do not perish.

We ever carry around the mortification of Jesus in our bodies, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

 For we who live are ever handed over unto death for the sake of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Therefore, death is at work in us, and life is at work in you.

 But we have the same Spirit of faith. And just as it is written, “I believed, and for that reason I spoke,” so we also believe, and for that reason, we also speak.

For we know that the One who raised up Jesus will raise us up also with Jesus and will place us with you.

Thus, all is for you, so that grace, abounding through many in thanksgiving, may abound to the glory of God.

For this reason, we are not insufficient. But it is as though our outer man is corrupted, while our inner man is renewed from day to day.

For though our tribulation is, at the present time, brief and light, it accomplishes in us the weight of a sublime eternal glory, beyond measure.

And we are contemplating, not the things that are seen, but the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporal, whereas the things that are not seen are eternal.” – 2 Corinthians 4:5-18

Every step I have taken, people I’ve met, my crazy family and crazy friends, and even my silly blind dog (that loves to play fetch) were all already planned out for me.

My guide in life is my Bible, teaching me how to let the Lord’s light shine through me in all that I do. There have been bumps and bruises this far, and there will most likely be more, but this is my 30 with God in my heart…and a glass of wine.

XOXO,

Sydney Charming

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Taste Texas: Castroville: Haby’s Alsatian Bakery

A deliciously delightful Texas must stop, Alsatian bakery on the drive home. I’ve mention plenty of times before that I am from the city of San Antonio, but my Mom’s family’s hometown is D’Hanis, Texas. Located slightly southwest of San Antonio, a beautiful Texas country side drive down Highway 90. 

 Some thing else I may not have mention, I went to elementary school outside of the city, in the first charming small town going down 90, Castroville. St. Louis Catholic School, now we’re talkin’ real small town, schooling. When I attended, there was only about 100 kids in the entire school. So one class of about 15 to maybe 20 students for each grade level. Yep, I had the same classmates every year. Well, one of my favorite Texas bakeries, was just down the street and around the corner from my school. (Actually, everything in this town is basically down the street and around the corner.) 

    

Last week my Mom and I were driving through town and stopped by. We ended up sparking a petty good conversation with the friendly staff and customers. “The meat market down the street, Dzuiks, how do you pronounce the name?” Everyone pronounced it differently. “The ‘D’ is silent.” “No, the ‘Z’ is silent.” “I’ve always pronounced it with a ‘J’ sound.” I guess next time I’m passing through I’ll have to stop by for some deer jerky and ask the staff. 

 Haby’s Alsatian Bakery! Castroville is a French-Alsatian settled town. Founded by Henri Castro, in 1844. A lot of the original settlers from Alsace, influence is still visible today. Haby’s has an assortment of fresh baked pastries. So delicious, light, fluffy, and sweet. They also bake cakes for every occasion. Oh, the oatmeal raisin cookiesare my favorite! 

 

A Family Tradition: Quinceañera

I remember turning 14 and my mom asking me if I wanted to have a quinceanera. (These extravagant birthday parties take about a whole year in advance of planning.) “No thank you,” I replied. I was a really shy kid. A crowd of people watching me attempt a dance. Nope.

 One of my cousin’s recently had her Quinceanera in our family’s hometown of D’Hanis, Texas. Emily has grown into a beautiful lovely young lady. I remember there was quite a big scare when she was born. Her mother is my second cousin. (It’s weird cause she looks much like my mom but she’s family so that makes sense.) Anyway, my cousin Donna went into labor at just a mere 25 weeks of pregnancy. I remember Emily was so tiny. There was neonatal experts taking care of her.

 She made it through and now she’s 15 years old! I’m not really close with her but a birthday celebration is a huge milestone and it was amazing to see who she has become.

 She was surrounded by her parents, and school friends. She still seems kind of quiet and shy, just like I was.   Quinceaneras usually have a Mass at church, then a dinner followed by a waltz and then a dance for everyone to join in. While the finally set ups for the dinner were taking place we were entertained by some mariachis and a little dancing. I had to leave before the dance to get back up to Austin but again. I love getting celebrate and see how lovely of a little lady Emily has grown into. 

Fear of Falling Apart II: Living with PMDD

It’s absolutely life crippling! The overwhelming rush of anxiety, the excruciating pain that brings you to tears and the depressing thoughts that consume you. As soon as it starts I wish it would stop. Heck, I wish it would never even start. 

Today, I’m trying second by second to pass the time. I started trying to organize my clothes, so that I can take some for donations to flood victims. Here I am, two hours later with barely any progress. I have to keep stopping because the cramps back pain fell like someone is stabbing me with red hot iron rod trying to brand me. Lay down, stretch, cry, get up move a few pieces of clothes, feel a surge of pain, feel like passing out, fight tears, sit down, lay my head in my knees, fight more tears, hug my legs so that I’m in a fetal position, give up, lay down cry and repeat.

So what is PMDD? Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. Say what? Premenstrual? Isn’t that PMS? The answer is yes, but it’s much more severe. The cramps and back pain, the emotional and behavioral symptoms are intensified.

Relationships with friends, family and loved one are often damaged. My family has learned to be understanding and supportive. They help me by asking about my diet, giving friendly reminders to consume plenty of calcium and vitamins. I’ve lashed out a few time or broken down in tears with them. They’ve prayed with me and help through it.

Ugh relationships! I know I sure have jumped the gun on scaring some away. The anxiety creeps in and takes over. I wanted nothing more than to be hugged and comforted through this time. Usually it comes across as me being needy, because I’m not ready to reveal what I’m actually going through. “Oh hey, btw, I have PMDD it’s like PMS but a million times worse. Now hug me and don’t let go until it’s over but watch what you say to me please.” Even my best friend now still gets frustrated because I bottle up a lot of what I’m feeling and thinking and lash out little things I normally wouldn’t mind.

I don’t like that I have to go through this every month. I especially don’t want to burden anyone else. It’s 10 days! 10 days that will eventually pass. I forget how intense it can be until the next month rolls around and I am back on the floor uncontrollably cry because of the pain and emotional waves I’m feeling. It seem to have amplified with some of the recent stresses I’ve felt. My best friend helped me discover I’m very expressive with my thoughts, in my writing about things, I wouldn’t otherwise say out loud. We’ve worked on some of my communicating what I’m feeling through writing. Making writing therapeutic and sometimes a way for getting that turmoil out. It has helped us both. As you can now understand some of my more personal articles have been working through these things and more like letters. My friend has often read my writings and told me they had no idea that’s what was going on in my head.

I captured this picture of myself trying to fight the awful thoughts going through my head and the physical pain I am feeling. No filtering, this is me at, what I think is my worst reflection of myself. I have been cry all day. Thoughts normally that would never cross my mind anxiously build up. “I am home alone. My dog is my only friend. I’m hurting so much right now and what if I pass out and nobody knows. Where is my friend. Why isn’t he here. Am I doing something wrong? I haven’t let him get to know me because I keep so much thoughts hidden inside. When will this pass? What if he doesn’t like who he thinks am I. I feel like I’m about to pass out. What if he doesn’t really know me. Is this a panic attack? I need to tell him all this stuff now. Understand that this passes and I will be back to my sarcastic busy self soon. Busy self, I have so much I have to do. Am I too busy? Am I not giving enough attention to all the people I care about? I can’t move. My back hurts so bad. I need to sit down.” All this within seconds, on repeat in my head. Whatever hormones I get an excise of during this time, that makes me feel like there’s an emotional and physical storm happening to me, I strongly dislike you!

It’s been so hard living away from all my loved ones. Writing, taking hikes, and working on recipes help when I can pull myself together. There are days were just turning in bed feel too much to bare. Sometimes I wish to be able to move back and be around all of my family and close friends. Then, like right now, something happens that helps me be at ease. Scrolling down Facebook someone posted Psalm 55:22.

“Cast your cares on the Lord & He will sustain you; He will never let the righteous fall.”

I know I’m not alone and God is here with me. This is temporary and I will get through it. Until then I have to remember to redirect my thoughts to prayers and just talking with God. I pray for all the ladies, and their loved one, out there going through the same thing. Have patience and peace you’ll get through it. I pray for anyone that has long term anxiety, depression or chronic pain. I know that is a different monster to battle than what I face. Just breathe and even though I may not personally know you, know that I understand a little of what you’re going through and I’m praying for you.

Let’s take it back to Something Beautiful 

It’s funny how we watch romance movies and say it’s just a movie that doesn’t happen in real life. We live in a time where mostly everything is simplified and convenient, especially our relationships. Nowadays relationships seem to start off with a hook-up and then maybe turn into friends-with-benefits. Oh that’s just the way things work out now right? Sex is nothing special, just a serge of hormones that need to be released. So a few text messages, or a swipe right is put in play and that’s it. Make some steam with someone while it’s convenient because it’s just human nature. Then we complain, put blame, yell, and sometimes experience depression when a romantic relationship doesn’t workout. Sometimes felling empty or like a piece of us is taken away. 

Truth is, part of us is being taken away. We need to take some steps back and put that part of our human nature back to something beautiful. The way is was meant to be. I understand not everyone shares the same faith or follow the bible. Shoot, I’m not perfect. But  I stumbled across this YouTube of John Mark Comer who is the author of Loveology. He talks about sex and marriage and why it is something that is meant to be so beautiful within marriage. So many of us have strayed away from this.
 
So Comer mentions, how the word “Echad” is used in the book of Genesis 2 from the Bible.

 “In sexuality two people become Echad, or it can be translated to one flesh. Echad is a graphic weighty word, that basically means when it’s put together with this word flesh, it means fused together at the deepest level...it is the bonding of two people into one entity. Body and soul, physical and spiritual. Cultural says hey it’s just play what’s the big deal? But God says whoa, no. It’s way more than that. It’s two people that become one entity, and then over and over enjoy and express love for one another through sexuality. Inside of marriage this is beautiful because it takes two people and doesn’t let them drift apart. It keeps them Echad or one. Outside of marriage this can be dehumanizing because it can turn people into objects for basically self gratification. Every time you walk away from a sexual partner it’s as if you are tearing Echad, as if part of you is lost, if you do that enough times then it starts to hollow you out.”

Wow! For me, that part of the Bible gives me clarification on why I am so hesitant to start a relationship. Especially a modern nonchalant relationship. I don’t want to jump into a sexual relationship and tear Echad or even worse, hollow myself out. I think people need to take things back to the something beautiful they were meant to be. I know a lot of people will say oh this is an out dated way of thinking. Ladies and gentlemen, no more complaining about how you regular booty-call isn’t working out into a relationship. We all have the power to take relationships and sexuality back to that higher meaning. Make it something beautiful.
I know it’s not Music Ministry Monday, but I found a prayer in the song Something Beautiful by NeedToBreathe. We can make those, breathe taking romances we see in movies our reality. We just have to be willing to take it back to something beautiful it was meant to be.

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, ’cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I’m in reach
‘Cause I am down on my knees, I’m waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful

Music Ministry Monday: Speak Love

How do you speak? What words do you say the most to express yourself? Take a moment and reflect on a typical conversation you may have had with a friend, a family member, co-worker, or even someone in passing. How do their words make you feel about their personality? Ever stop and think how your own words convey yourself to others?

I know my communication style with work is a director, but at the same time, y’all will never hear a curse from my lips. Okay, I know “never say never.” Sometimes, it’s shocking to my friends but then they think back on our conversations and realize the worse words I say extend to “crap” and “hell.”

In the song “The Proof of Your Love,” by For King & Country, they sing of showing, speaking, acting so that every things you do conveys the proof of your love for God.

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (1 Corinthians 13:1-7, The Message)”

 

 

Also, JJ Weeks Band sings the same message in Let Them See You.

“Let them see you in me Let them hear you when I speak. Let them see you let them see you in me.”

 

 

Some people find it attractive to hear curse words. They think, now there’s a person that’s confident. Nowadays, it’s become just a normal part of mostly everyone’s vocabulary. I think it’s taken a lot of courage and confidence for me to choose to speak love.

I can not write or speak about my faith without also showing it in everything I do. If I were to speak with curse words, it would discredit my messages of faith and love. I don’t think anyone would see the love and grace of a God I want to convey. So speak love, so that the grace of God shows in everything you do.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”
Ephesians 4:29

Music Ministry Monday: Pray for those that hurt us

Today’s already January 19th! For me, it seems, everything has changed just as fast as time is passing this year. Of course, somethings don’t turn out the way we want them to. Some choice words were said to me, in avoidance of another subject. These words, man oh man, they sure like to linger in my thoughts. They suggest I compromise my morals. Every now and then, resurfacing, my sight blurring as emotional feelings start to take over, and the tears start building. I want to break, yell and scream, “what is wrong with you? I am a person, I have feelings, I am someone’s sister, someone’s daughter, someone’s granddaughter, someone’s cousin, someone’s relative! How about put one of your relatives in my shoes. My shoes that feel heavy from the weight of disrespect and disappointment.” Instead, I sigh, hold back on those water works and let out a prayer.

This prayer is not for me, it starts for the person that said those words, then grows to everyone that intentionally inflict a negative emotion or mannerism to another person. First, for forgiveness, then for peace to their hearts. Fitting, that today we, honor and remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On my drive to work this morning, I heard an excerpt of a speech he gave on why not to be violent. He said

“pray for your enemies, pray for those that hurt you […] rather a scarred body than a scarred soul.”

Other quotes I’ve seen today,

“the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” and “let no man pull you low enough to hate him,” and “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Unfortunately, in my disappointment and heat of the moment I did utter the word hate. So I apologize and pray for my own peace.

Going into my third week of the K-Love 30 day challenge, “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns, is a somber song with an insightful message of truth. It’s lyrics unfold a story of understanding your own and another’s brokenness and then moving forward with faith.

Also, “Words,” by Hawk Nelson reiterates that message to speak with the love and grace of God.

“Words can build you up words can break you down. Start a fire in your heart or put it out. Let my words be life let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You.”

I joke with my friends, and call it “Regina George” syndrome. Yep, “Regina George,” from the movie “Mean Girls.” It’s a terrible thing, that I really don’t understands , how cruel and unpleasant some people can be. While people like, In this older article I wrote , and some these random ones I found online,

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taunt others, I pray for them. Whatever has them so broken or hurt, whether intentionally or medically the can’t help it, I sincerely pray they find peace. And I ask everyone reading to join me in this not so typical prayer.

I strive to be as much of a disciple of Christ, as possible, but I am not perfect. I have flaws, and sins, I am human. When those emotions and words start to cloudy my thought, I throw my hands up to God. As a Catholic, a Christian, a follower of Christ, we are supposed to live, not by feelings but, by faith.

 “The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. Psalm 29:11

Music Monday: No Man Is An Island

Lately it seems a lot of people I know are going through some difficult circumstances. Most people tend to retreat to their own island trying to figure things out on their own. I am definetly guilty of this. Either out of pride or embarrassment, I like to figure things out on my own. While driving in the car I heard, Tenth Avenue North’s song “No Man is an Island,” it’s remind us that we should not carry our burdens alone. Choosing to walk by faith in God, who is a Trinity, we are also supposed to live as a community. As a community sometimes we need to reach out and help others and sometimes we are the people that need help. Someone else in your community just my have that fresh perspective that can help work things out. “For none of us lives for himeself, and none of us dies for himeself” -Romans 14.7

Growing up Charming: Domestic Violence- Just the Beginning

I was seven years old when I first met the devil. Standing about 5′ 4″ fair skin, dark brown hair, and beady eyes. He went by the nickname “Frank.” I instantly had one of those cold spine tingling chills run up my back. You know the kind that makes your hairs stand on end. I was surrounded in a joyful celebration for my cousin’s birthday and I could not shake the terror I felt meeting this person. When I got older I always thought it was ironic that I met him in October, which also happens to be Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

I was really hurt and didn’t understand why mom married him. Like I said before I was seven years old. She asked me “can I marry him? Is it okay that I’m marring him.” I told her no, I didn’t think he was a good person. They were married by the following March. My brother was born in July. Y’all can do the math. I didn’t know then she was already pregnant with my brother. So, of course she wanted to try to have a family with him.

My parents divorced when I was about three. I remember my dad was a little upset, but nothing crazy, they just grew apart. It was quick and we all moved forward. I thought that was going to be it. No big deal, because both my parents seemed really happy once they were separated. At least, until this deceitful demon came into our lives.

I would never wish the next eleven years of my life upon my worst enemy. I know there are people that are going through much worst all the time. So there’s probably not even a handful of people I’ve shared this with. At first, Frank, tried to be overly nice. He was still getting to know my mom, win her over, and test her limits. It didn’t take him long to realize she was still young, and naive. Heck, she was my age.

Their fighting started with little arguments, over keeping things in a certain way. He made it clear we had to do everything he wanted, there was no compromise. I had always been a very timid, shy, and obedient child. From my memory, I never did anything wrong that would require punishment. I remember him telling my mom I needed to learn responsibility. My first chore, was washing the dishes. Not too bad right? I learned very quickly to double check the dishes and make sure there wasn’t any residue. I’ll never forget the first time I was hit.

He was a police officer, of course he didn’t use just any belt. His work belt was about two inches thick, with other buckles and snaps all the way around. If I cried it made him smile. You know the monkeys in “Planet of the Apes?” Yeah, that’s what he looked like, big ears that put dumbo to shame, and an eerie grin. I would always try to fight back any tears. Usually, locking myself in the bathroom later and let tears quietly stream as I showered. I remember sometimes the water trickling down the red raised mark along my lower back would sting so bad.

He would find any excuse to hit me. Like most kids, sometimes, I didn’t want to keep my room clean or help clean the entire house. But I would get hit for things like taking to long to wash the dishes, or I interrupted and called him out on some exaggerated lie at a dinner party.

One day he asked me to go outside and feed the dog. I filled her bowl with food, tipped over her water bucket, and started to refill it. I don’t think even five minutes passed, when I heard the door open. Before I could even turn half way around, I heard the clank of his belt buckle and the first sting of being whipped went across my arm, then my lower back side, and my leg. I cried out “stop! Why?” With each word he replied in a hitting rage. “BECAUSE,” and another whip. “YOU,” and another whip. “TOOK,” and another whip. “TOO,” another whip. “LONG!”

Now, his joy or rush of hurting some might have been hereditary. From what I know, his father would beat or hit him and his siblings. I was told his father molested his own grandson. I don’t know if that’s true but I do know that family his has a very twisted and racist way of comprehending everything. If one child out of six did anything wrong, their dad would line all six of them up to be whipped. Starting with the youngest, and getting more intense as he worked his way across to the oldest. The oldest, would be punished the most.

Of course, I was considered the oldest. I was held responsible for my brother and sisters actions. At eight years old, I was left at home babysitting a newborn. By the time I was ten, I did a lot of the cooking and clean and taking care of my brother and newborn sister. Anything they did wrong, such as make a mess, like every toddler and infant do, they were punish, but I would still get punished worst. I would try my best to plea with them to be well behaved, but they were babies. They didn’t know any better.

You know how in middle school, students change in front of each other in the open locker rooms? I didn’t like to, I would usually change in a bathroom stall so friends wouldn’t see any markings and bruises I had. Once, he went into this rage as he hitting my sister and finally my mom jumped in and begged him to stop. When he was done, my poor sister had lacerations all over her lower body. It still makes me tear up remembering how much pain she was in. We couldn’t send her to school for a week. It’s painful and scary to remember this was only just the begging of his torment.

I bet you’re probably wondering why I never spoke out to anyone at school or my own father. Frank was a police officer. The police corruption I’ve seen is another chapter. He threaten me as child, that he was the law, and if I said anything he would find any reason he could to put my dad in jail. I was forced to live with this awful demon. I couldn’t complain, couldn’t run, couldn’t do anything. All I could do is hold back tears and pray. Pretend to have a stomach ache, lock myself in the bathroom, and silently let tears stream and pray. “Come to me, all you who labor and have been burdened, and I will refresh you.” -Matthew 11:28 was my saving grace.

Forgiveness and Peace

Lately, I have been feeling disappointed by a lot of people. (Yes, I’m writing about feelings. Hold on, it gets better) I keep finding myself saying this person, and that person is flakey. I’ve never been great with expressing my emotions, especially disappointment. I was raised to just busy myself with something else and keep quiet.

I remember back in college breaking up with my ex-boyfriend, of 4 years, and talking to my Dad. His advice to me, “just go back to the library and focus on your studies!” Oh Asian parents.

Well, as I was listening to a Christian radio station, I heard an amazing reminder. The preacher asked “how should we start every prayer?” He reminded me that each prayer should start with forgiveness. That we start each prayer with forgiveness of another, so we can also be forgiven by God. I thought to myself, I pray all the time, but I can’t even remember the last time I started a prayer with forgiveness.

Immediately, it struck me! I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find (tissue paper) and a pink crayon. I started writing a list with the first and last name of everyone the that I had felt disappointed by or some type of resentment. Next to each name I wrote a little reason why. When I finished, I took a moment to reflect, I knew there had to be something similar, something connecting with the “reason why.”

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Reflecting, I remembered two post I recently saw on Instagram. Yep, Instagram! The first one, “When you discover your self-worth you will lose interest in anyone who doesn’t see it.” The second one is a bit long, “Don’t ever feel bad for making a decision about your own life that upsets other people. You are not responsible for their happiness. You’re responsible for your own happiness. Anyone who wants you to live in misery for their happiness should not be in your life to begin with.” The second is kind of harsh.

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These quotes and the “reasons why” started turning wheels in my head. I realized I honestly, truly, and genuinely care about most people, more than others. Taking this revelation, I cried out to God in prayer, this time starting with forgiveness. It was a long conversation, but when I was done I felt peace in my heart.

I am who I am, and with every fiber of my being I will always genuinely care about people, probably more than most. That’s okay. I can breathe easy. I can’t change others just like I can’t change the way I care, but I am okay that. So I took the list I wrote, tore it in pieces, and threw it away.

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It’s crazy, or in better terms, amazing how God’s wonders work when you have faith. The next day one of my best friends post this “keep calm, life is hard, but God is Good” link that had biblical references that affirmed the revelations from the day before.

“For I know the thoughts that I think over you, says The Lord, thoughts of peace, not of affliction, so that I may give you patience and and an end” -Jeremiah 29.11