6 Minutes a Day that Will Change Your Marriage!

It’s blessing time! Two years ago we decided to have our second
cup of coffee and our (at least) 6 minute prayer time at 10:00 AM.

It was a good decision!

It came as a result of doing a Covenant Marriage course put out
by Family Foundations International. As we went through the
study, we decided we needed a more productive prayer time; one
in which we blessed each other instead of just interceding
together on behalf of others.

We analyzed our schedule and decided that bedtime was not a
good time for us. Too often we dropped off to sleep before our
prayer was finished. So although we had prayed together almost
every single night for 40 years, we decided to make a change.

So coffee time at around 10 AM became our time to bless each
other and pray together. It’s not always right at 10 and some
days it doesn’t get done at all but it has now become habit.

Our grandson usually arrives at about that time, too, since I
am his homeschool teacher. He inevitably storms through the
door asking, “Have I missed the blessing?” And usually he
manages to get his blessing first. That means a lot to us and
to him. He plunks himself down on the couch between us and his
grandfather blesses him.

Then it’s our turn. Let me say that this particular format for the
“6 minute prayer” is not original with us. We heard it first from a
couple who modeled it at a conference we were attending. I’m not sure
where it originally came from but this is how we do it.

1. Ask forgiveness. Always starting with the husband, he asks 
forgiveness for anything he perceives he has done to offend his 
wife. (But that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to wait until 
then to do this.)

2. Express thanks. Thank God for qualities you see in your 
spouse’s life. It’s a challenge to come up with “new” insights 
for this but we have fun with it. 

3. Give a blessing. Bless your spouse by agreeing with God’s 
word and what it says about them and who they are in Christ as 
well as the resources available to them through the power of 
the Holy Spirit.

After the husband finishes, then it’s the wife’s turn.

This process doesn’t take very long and we usually tack on some
intercession for people we know or situations we are aware of
that need God’s intervention, healing or resolution from the Lord.

That’s it, folks. This gave our marriage a whole new
perspective and “new life” when we started doing it. We
recommend it to everyone.

We had always heard the concept of “keeping short accounts” and
this is a very practical way to accomplish that. In other
words, don’t let situations or perceived hurts fester. Ask
forgiveness right away. When you do this daily, you’ll be
amazed at how freeing it is.

Your time doesn’t have to be the same as ours. Just find
a time that works for you. It’s only 6 minutes!

You can find out more about the ministry of Family Foundations
International here.

by Sharon Reece

P.S. If you would like to work with me on a project that will
help you be successful in any type of business, check out this
link.

Why Wear Green on St. Patrick’s Day…

Do you wear green on St Patrick’s Day? I did on March 15th. Why, you might ask…my answer is because St. Patrick’s Day is my birthday and it’s also my mother-in-law’s birthday and my paternal grandmother’s birthday. And we celebrated on Sat, March 15th. But I’m celebrating today, too, on the actual St. Patrick’s Day. But on Sat. my mother-in-law celebrated her 90th birthday. I’ll leave you to imagine which one I celebrated!

But, back to green; why wear green on St. Patrick’s Day. Some say it’s because Ireland is called the “emerald isle” and others say it’s because green is one of the colors on Ireland’s flag. Still others say the the green color is a result of the fact that St. Patrick used a shamrock (green) to explain the trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) to converts to Christianity. Whatever the reason, it has become a well entrenched custom that started back in the 1680′s.

Irish shamrock

Shamrocks

St. Patrick’s Day actually commemorates the death of Patrick on March 17, 461 AD. For a more extensive insight into the person of St. Patrickyou can read this except written by Kathie Walters that I posted a few years ago on another of my blogs.

Whatever the reason for wearing green, I kind of like it, don’t you? It turns my birthday into a real celebration!

Dealing with Loss During the Holidays

The holidays are often a huge challenge for those who have

lost loved ones during the year. Special times you have
shared with that person fill you with longing to have them
back with you. The holidays along with anniversaries and
birthdays are among the hardest and most painful times of
the year.

Perhaps you have lost a loved one; a parent, a child, a
spouse, a family member since that last special time.

I’d like to offer a few suggestions that might help you
get through this time of year with a little more grace and
happiness.

First of all, it’s natural to focus on our losses. But in
order to live each day to the fullest, we must learn to
focus on what we have instead of on what we don’t have.
This is very hard to do. But the Bible exhorts us to take
every thought captive. So when missing a loved one seems
overwhelming, pick up your Bible to read about any number
of universal situations, meditate on one of them, ask for God’s help and give
thanks. Placing your eyes upon Jesus, the author and
finisher of your faith is a very effective means of
focusing on what you do have rather than on what you don’t
have.

Second, (and I’m not putting these in any particular
order), remember the happy times with that person you miss.
Write it down. Remember the details and put them down on
paper. There is something therapeutic about writing. Then
share your thoughts and feelings with someone close to you
or in a blog or with another person who has also
experienced loss.

Third, reach out to someone else who may need help. If
you’re in a position to babysit for a stressed out friend
while they finish their Christmas shopping or go out on a
date with their spouse, offer your services. Or volunteer
at your local food pantry, crisis center, church or
favorite charity. These are ways you can help others and
in the process, help yourself.

Fourth, plan a special outing or trip that will take your
mind off of your loss. Is there some place you’ve always
wanted to go? This would be a good time to go. Or start a
new hobby? What have you always wanted to do and didn’t
have the time for? Take a class and get started now.

Fifth, change your traditions. Is there some particular
thing that makes you miss that loved one more than
anything else? Start a new tradition that includes other
loved ones so you aren’t so vividly reminded of the person
you have lost. Doing that is simply a way of redirecting
your energies and doesn’t mean you loved the person who is
gone any less.

Sixth, choose to be happy. We always have a choice. You
can choose to be a victim of your grief or you can choose
to respond to your circumstances with a spirit of
joyfulness. Which would you rather be, a prisoner to grief
or a sharer of joy? I know that I daily choose the latter.
I’m reminded of a story a good friend told at a recent
gathering. He had lost his wife to cancer and had
succombed to self pity and grief. He told of how he came
home from work one day so frustrated and unhappy that if
he had had a dog he would have kicked it. But he didn’t
have one. Then the Holy Spirit began to speak to him about
his choices. He decided that day to choose happiness and
gratefulness. Even though he made that choice, he still
has to make it every day until self pity is gone and
doesn’t return again. You can be happy in spite of your
loss. Choose happiness!

I’m sure there are many other things I could add to this
list, but the most important is that you need to focus
outwardly rather than inwardly in order to make it through the
holidays after a recent loss with grace and peace in your
heart.

May you experience the peace of God that passes all
understanding as you seek to honor and serve Him.

Blessings,
Sharon Reece

P.S. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one this
year or know someone else who has, our book may be
helpful. In it, we recount how God ministered hope and
peace to us when our 22 year old son disappeared on a hike
in Hawaii. You can get it by clicking the “order the book” tab at the top of this page.

 

Christmases Past

One of the gifts our son John left behind was a journal he started when he was a freshman in college. The first year he was there, we were still in the US and he was able to come home to Dallas for Christmas.

Here is an excerpt from his journal:

“Well, it is the day after Christmas and I am in Dallas…

Christmas was wonderful. We all had dinner over at Grandmom and Granddad’s, along with Karen and Jim. I got a good, big book backpack from Mom and Dad. Krista got a guitar from them and a good camera from Grandpa (or is it Grampa?)

On Friday and Saturday I worked my first official job ever. I demonstrated a digital camera at Best Buy. I hope I never have to do anything like that again. It was very boring, and I felt quite foolish, and I think it was a total waste of time. I would rather do something that appears to be useful and not just a waste of money for the employer.”

It was important to John to have close ties with family. As my daughter wrote recently in one of her blog posts, we were close as a family (and still are) because we only had each other. There was no option of other extended family members nearby.

That first Christmas after John started college was a significant one. He was experiencing many new things – travel home on his own from Chicago to Dallas – his first real job for an outside employer – reuniting with family for the first time since college started.

And our daughter Krista, was also home from her college in CA. So we were altogether again for the holidays.

During that trip home, we enjoyed many family traditions, baking cookies together, opening gifts on Christmas morning as a family, soaking in being together again, etc. And as an added gift to us, it snowed enough to go out and build a snowman. After many years in the tropics where the temperature is an average of 85 degrees and the humidity 85% year round, having enough snow to romp and play in was a real novelty, even though it had already snowed where John was going to school.

And even though John felt like his job of demo-ing the first digital cameras was a complete waste of someone’s money, he was there at the cutting edge of technology! If he could have looked ahead and seen what that technology was going to do to change our world, he might not have thought of it quite that way. It still seems strange that digital camera technology was introduced not that long ago. How far we’ve come since then!

Check this out for a little bit of digital camera history from the Canon Camera history museum:

Canon Digital camera in 1996

Thinking back on that Christmas, I’m so grateful for those memories. Other Christmases fade in my memory, but not that one. Thank you, John, for recording it.

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear about your Christmas memories too.

Sharon Reece

P.S. Many people have lost a loved one since last Christmas. A gift of our book could really encourage and help them. Please consider giving a gift of comfort and spiritual help to someone you know. Click the button on the top of the page and it will take you to the order page. Thanks!

 

Keys to a Long and Satisfying Marriage

My husband and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary in October 2013. It seems as though the years have flown by and each year has added a deeper dimension to our relationship. So I thought I would share some of the keys (best practices and principles) for a successful marriage. These keys work for any relationship and I plan to expand on some of them in future posts. I don’t claim that this is an exhaustive list by any means, but there are principles and ideas that will provide you with wisdom in any relationship. More wisdom keys can be found in the Bible. Anyone who studies it diligently will find much more than I can possibly share here.

And it’s important to say that even though we know these keys and principles, we don’t necessarily always follow them. We’re still a work in progress just like everyone else. I hope that encourages you as you read through these.

So here is our list:

30 Keys to a Long and Satisfying Marriage
  1. Put God first – worship Him together
  2. Take time every day for the 6 minute prayer*
  3. Be quick to ask forgiveness
  4. Be quick to forgive (seventy times seven)
  5. Put the other’s interests above your own
  6. Be a servant spouse
  7. Be available
  8. Do not use sex as a weapon against your partner
  9. Spend time together – enjoying shared interests
  10. Have fun together!
  11. Desire the best for your partner even at your own expense
  12. Cultivate gratefulness toward your spouse (not taking them for granted)
  13. Let your spouse have the last word (let him/her think he/she’s right even when he/she isn’t)
  14. Don’t embarrass him/her in public or in front of your children
  15. Laugh with him/her, not at him/her
  16. Thank God for how He has used your spouse in your life
  17. Avoid the words, “always” and “never”
  18. Keep each others secrets
  19. Don’t keep secrets from each other
  20. Understand the difference between relational and topical communication*
  21. Do unto your spouse as you would have them do unto you (even if they don’t do the same)
  22. Make him/her feel important
  23. Be a good listener
  24. Swallow your pride and be the first one to say you’re sorry
  25. Edify him/her in front of everyone
  26. Make him/her believe they can do anything
  27. Trust God to change both you and your spouse because you can’t
  28. Be your spouse’s best cheerleader and supporter
  29. Take your marriage vows seriously – a covenant is serious
  30. Make sure that divorce is not part of your thinking or your vocabulary

In this day and age when anything goes and most people go by what “feels good” to them, it’s more important than ever to base our actions and decisions on solid principles that have stood the test of time. It’s my hope that as you read through these, you will realize that without the help of a personal God and Savior to help you, you will fail. But He is alive and well and able to meet you wherever you are and to help you no matter what your current circumstances may be.

My prayer is that you will experience a lifetime of loving that is more satisfying than you could ever imagine.
Don’t forget to add your comments. I welcome any suggestions, comments or questions.
Sharon Reece
214 701-8298
P.S. For books that can help you with your relationship, check out the Family Foundations bookstore.
P.P.S. If you would like to work with me on a project that will help you be successful in any type of business, check out this link.
*I’ll explain the 6 minute prayer and the difference between topical and relational communication in future posts.
Re-edited from my blog on Good Solutions for Health, Wealth and Wisdom, by Sharon Reece

How To Keep The Fire Burning After Years Of Marriage

Marriage is a long road that definitely has its ups and downs. A common issue in most marriages after many years is a loss of “spark.” The following are ways to keep your marriage strong for all the years that you and your partner are together:

Date Night
Making time for one another in a relationship, especially a marriage, is incredibly important. Everyday life is busy, as everyone knows. It can be difficult to make time for things, even when they’re things you want to do. The same is true when trying to make time for your partner. A good way to make time for one another is to plan an ongoing weekly date night. This can be anything that the two of you enjoy doing together. It can be the typical dinner and a movie date, or it can be something that is specific to your relationship and your hobbies. Whatever it is that you and your partner decide to do, the important thing is that you do it together. Spending this time is a great way to rekindle your love life.

Affection
In order to keep the love alive in your very special marriage, it is important that the affection still be present in the relationship. Even small forms of affection like a regular morning kiss or the addition of a little daily flirting will take your relationship to new heights. These small signs of love mean much more than the actual action itself. It means that the love is not gone. It means the attraction is not gone.

Kindness
To make your partner feel special, and therefore loved, it’s a good idea to participate in small acts of kindness that your partner will appreciate. It will make the person you love feel important to you. It will also show them that you care about their needs and desires. Feeling appreciated makes one feel closer to another person, and feeling closer to your partner is the first step toward keeping your love strong for as long as you are together.

Talk
It is important in a marriage to maintain active communication. This communication is not just limited to the big things in your and your partner’s lives. Knowing someone on a day-to-day level is important when truly trying to know a person. Not only will this daily conversation give you more insight into the life of your lover, but it will also make them feel as though you care about them in every aspect of their life.

Getaway
If the spark starts to subside, there are a multitude of ways to reignite, and some that can happen a little more quickly. One way to spark this fire quickly if you and your partner feel it starting to fade is a weekend away. This will give you one-on-one time with your partner to reconnect on a more intimate level. For many, a couple of days isn’t long enough to make any kind of impression, so if that’s the case, consider a long weekend or even a week somewhere secluded.

Featured images:

Vanessa Alvarez writes all about relationships. Her recent work is on the Top Online Counseling Degree Programs.

Significance

How long do you have to live to be significant? And who or what determines whether you have been significant?

Isn’t significance something we all long for? Making a difference…making an impact…changing something or someone because we were here…isn’t that what significance is all about?

I would like to propose that significance begins at the moment someone is conceived. God’s Word in Psalm 139 says:

“…You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” (NKJ Version)

You could even construe from this passage that in God’s eyes, each person is significant even before conception. That seems pretty hard to comprehend, but since God exists outside of time, it shouldn’t be too impossible to think that He could know us from the beginning of time and know exactly what time frame we would be living in.

Many people struggle to do whatever they deem necessary to earn significance either in the eyes of their parents, their peers, their company or whoever potentially can bestow that significance.

But my suggestion is that when we receive our significance from our creator, we are free to be and free to do whatever He created us for. And that is true significance.

My son, John struggled to find his niche, his place in the world when he was in college. If any of us had been paying attention, we would have seen the signs from the time he was little that Biology would be a natural expression of his unique giftings, talents and interests. He loved both plants and animals and delighted in discovering everything about them. So after a few detours, he eventually arrived at his destination – Biology!

But then, just when he was getting started, he was gone; disappeared at the age of 22, having recently graduated from Wheaton College. So did he achieve significance?

He was the object of some of the most extensive and intensive searches for any missing person on the Big Island of Hawaii ever. In his death, he touched more lives than he ever could have if he had lived to be 80 years old.

He loved his Savior, he loved his family, he loved his friends and he loved the other young people he worked with on the vegetation crew of the USGS Palila bird project. Beyond a shadow of a doubt each of their lives was profoundly impacted by John. How do I know? We kept in touch with many of them long after John disappeared. We heard their stories.

So how does one measure a life? I believe each and every one of us has a profound impact on the lives of those around us, for good or for bad.

So let us love well, live well and fulfill the purpose and destiny for which God created us.

Have a blessed day!

Sharon (John’s mother)

P.S. If you are intrigued by John’s story and would like to know more, just click on the “Buy the Book” button on the top of the page and get our book that tells the whole story.

Birthday Memories

John was going to be born at home. Everything was going well. The midwife had me on a diet that gave me lots of energy and life was good.

We had been living on an outpost north of Manaus, Brazil where our assignment was to learn the language of the Indians who lived around us. They knew no Portuguese and no one spoke their language. As linguists with the Summer Institute of Linguistics, we had been invited to join with the government Indian agency in making contact with this group, analyzing their language, learning it and figuring out an alphabet. It was a tall order since in 2 years time, my husband had only had about 24 hours worth of time with them divided between about 8 or 9 different contacts. I had only seen them once. To expect us to learn their language under these circumstances was a huge stretch! But in fact, we did learn how to say, “What is this?” in their language and from there began to glean a list of words. But we were far from the point of having enough data to determine the appropriate alphabet for their language when we found out we were expecting John, our second child.

Malaria was running rampant in the area and since I had no desire to contract malaria during my pregnancy, we requested permission to take an early furlough and return to the Dallas, Texas area.

When we got settled in, we discovered that a number of other women in the mission were going the route of having home births with the help of a local midwife. I had read lots about it and had been quite unsatisfied with my birth experience in Brazil so we prayerfully made the decision to have this second baby in the USA with a midwife and home birth.

All was going very well until one morning about 6 weeks before my due date I awoke with an excruciating headache. The pain was so intense, I could do nothing but lie on the couch or bed and wait either for deliverance or death. If that sounds dramatic, it was. The pain was impossible to describe in words and I have never before or since actually wished that death would deliver me from it. In addition to the pain, my eyes crossed and I saw double of everything. We went to specialists who sent us to other specialists but no one could figure out what was happening to me. They did a CAT scan which showed nothing. They called in their colleagues to see this strange case. In the end, they concluded that it was all due to a hormone imbalance. And because of the headache and double vision, I suddenly had a “high risk” pregnancy and could no longer have a home birth.

And that’s why John Cameron Reece entered the world at Grand Prairie Community Hospital around 6:00 AM on June 24, 1977. The birth was very normal. The nurses held up a mirror for me to watch his birth, but I didn’t see much of it. Actually, I saw it double and couldn’t really see what I was seeing. The most critical thing, however, was that he was placed in my arms, wrapped in a receiving blanket and I was nursing him within minutes of his birth before they even cleaned him up! That is a precious memory indeed, far different from my experience with my daughter who had been born in Brazil. I had had to fight to get the nurses to give her to me after more than 24 hours – one of the reasons I didn’t want to experience anything like that again.

John was our Texan although he loved Brazil and claimed it as home. Inadvertently, we named him John and his birth fell on Brazil’s “St John’s Day” (Dia de Sao Joao). We had forgotten, but probably would still have named him John. We both loved that name. Cameron, his middle name, was after Uncle Cam, William Cameron Townsend, founder of Wycliffe Bible Translators who was a man of great faith and a personal friend of our family.

How do you really pay tribute to a son who departed far too soon? Perhaps you understand, having lost a child or family member yourself. The only way is to say, “Thank you, John for your presence with us for 22 years.”

Read more of John’s story. Just click here to get our book.

Making The Most Of Content Writers

The world is divided on the subject of good grammar. On the one hand, people who insist on proper grammar and correct spelling tend to be subjected to accusations of Grammar-Nazism, nit-pickery and intolerable fussiness. They will say that if the general idea gets across, worrying about anything else is silly. On the other hand, when people read anything written for the general public, they expect it to be legible, comprehensible and correct, or they will call into question the intelligence, maturity and credibility of the company that writing represents. It can seem like a tiresome argument, but if your company has a website, you can’t afford not to put in the time and effort to place the writing on your website beyond reproach. If writing isn’t your thing, though, not to worry, that’s what content writers are for!

Content Writers to the Rescue

Content writers know that people will judge the quality of writing on your website even without knowing it. It’s easy to think that writing is good enough if it gets the point across, but there is so much more to writing than just getting the point across—good writing on your website will reassure customers that you are competent and intelligent and that you care about the quality of goods you are presenting. Don’t believe that? Well, would you want to do bizness wit sum1 who rites lik this?  Of course not. Writing, on the Internet, is how we speak. Even people who claim not to care about quality writing will notice when someone doesn’t even appear to be able to speak their own language!

Clean, clear English is not optional in the online world. The Internet is a world of infinite options, and many of them are accessed through a search engine… and you can bet search engines know how to spell! Your site is one of many, and in a time where Internet scams run rampant, professionalism is absolutely vital. Content writers can make sure that your site makes visitors feel that their business is in good hands. Quality writing isn’t about making you look smart (though of course that never hurts). It’s about making your credibility known in a marketplace where the potential for distrust is a natural part of any business deal.

Beyond Writing

Mind you, there’s more to online writing than just convincing your customers that you know how to speak English. Content writers can help you move beyond the bare basics of proper grammar and good spelling. They know which words work and which words don’t. They understand how to make search engines work for you—because when you’re online, your audience doesn’t just consist of humans! Like most writers, content writers don’t find the “fussy” element of writing to be tiresome or difficult. They are more than happy to go over your content word by word to make sure that it’s perfect for your human readers as well as your electronic ones!

Content Writers: Writing Styles

Content writers are there to make you look good, and they’re very good at what they do. A worthwhile online writer is used to researching topics and running them through the filters of tone and intent to bring exactly the information you want to your audience, in exactly the way you want it delivered! Pro writers know that writing about serious topics like adoption or impaired driving requires a whole different toolbox than writing about lighter subject matter. In fact, a content writer will probably enjoy the challenge of jumping from a serious post about alcohol abuse or bankruptcy to a cheerful article about sports, candy or lingerie! It’s a given that you know what you’re talking about… content writers are there to leave no doubt in your readers’ mind that you are nothing less than an expert in your field!

While ultimately your customers will judge you on the quality of your product, their first impression of you will most likely be the quality of your website. Just like your customers do business with you based on your ability to provide a product or service like no other, your choice to hire content writers shows a commitment to excellence that you can’t afford to pass up.  Content writers work with editors who ensure that their service to you is as excellent as your service to your customers. It really is the best way to make your website a place your customers will want to stay.

Everyone’s area of expertise is different, and writing isn’t for everyone. It’s a tricky and sometimes finicky job, but when it’s done right it can make all the difference in the world for your website. Think about it like this: the grammar fiends of the world are going to judge your written content no matter what you do. You might as well get them on your side and benefit from it… that’s what content writers are for!

This guest post was written by Troy Weeber, a strong devotee of content writers.

How We Wrote (and Published) Aloha is Forever

From the time we left Hawaii after our month long search for our son John, we knew we had to write a book to tell the story. The grace, comfort, provision and all the amazing things we experienced during our search just had to be shared. We knew that many people had lost children, some through miscarriage, some through tragic accidents or illnesses and some through horrific circumstances. Perhaps our story would help or encourage some of those parents who had experienced something similar and who could identify with what we went through.

But writing wasn’t easy.

In fact, it took a long time for us to finally get everything down in print and make the decision to publish. I imagine anyone who has launched a creative work feels the same way. Will it be well received? Will it be criticized? Could we have phrased something better? Will it help anyone? Will there be errors on every other page? The doubts and fears were like tangled weeds grabbing our legs and keeping us from moving forward. Then while at a conference put on by the ministry we partner with, Family Foundations International, in the fall of 2010, we saw many books on the resource table that had been written by our colleagues. We turned to each other and said, “Hmm! Our book is supposed to be here, but isn’t.” That gave us the impetus we needed and by the end of that year, it was in print!

You might imagine that we had a hard time co-authoring the book, but that was not the case. With 38 years of marriage under our belts, we had learned a thing or two about working together. What Rick wrote, I would go over and edit. What I wrote, he would do the same. Although my gifts in editing are stronger than his, he is a better storyteller. So our gifts balanced each other and with much prayer, the book came together into a cohesive whole. Many places it is difficult to tell whether the author was Rick or Sharon. In reality, we were both the authors and the story was ours to tell together.

Rick also has gifts in layout and design. So he did all of the work on making the book look attractive and easy to read. I had no input in that arena but I think he did a fantastic job.

The goal was to bring glory to God and to Jesus Christ our Savior and to give honor to the Holy Spirit who guided our steps through the whole process. Our hope as you read it is that you will feel the presence and comfort of the Lord Jesus Christ through His Holy Spirit and that He will bless and comfort you through the experiences we share.

Forgive us for the places we share our theological perspective on suffering. Perhaps someone needs to hear what we have to say. We honor your right to a different opinion, but we felt compelled to share ours.

Thank you for letting us share our story with you!