Friday, March 17, 2017

Firefly Lane

"Firefly Lane" by Kristin Hannah

Read this book before you read "Fly Away". This book is about the beginning of a friendship between two young girls and the paths their lives take.  They swear to be best fiends forever no matter what.  Life takes Tulley on to be a major news reporter and TV show host where Kate finds herself married with three children.  Their lives may be different but they are still each other's best friend through all that life throws at them until one act of betrayal tears apart their friendship.  "Popular just means lots of people think they know you."  I think popular doesn't always mean you have true friends.  "Who your mom is and how she lives her life isn't a reflection of you.  You can make your own choices."  We don't have to let other people's choices define who we are, good or bad.  "That was was a best friend did: hold up a mirror and show you your heart."  "That was the thing about best friends.  Like sisters and mothers, they could piss you off and make you cry and break your heart, but in the end, when the chips were down, they were there, making you laugh even in your darkest hours."  We all need a friend like that.  I enjoyed this story for it's look into friendship and how it can weather the storms of life but I'd still pick "Nightingale" as my favorite of hers.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Fly Away

"Fly Away" by Kristin Hannah

Don't read this one unless you've read "Friefly Lane", I found that out too late.  "Firefly Lane" is the story about two best friends and they're lives growing up, I'll let you know in the next post how it is, I'm reading it now.  "Fly Away" is the continuance of their story after they are grown.  So actually, don't read this post unless you want to know the ending before the beginning.  Best friends Tully and Kate have been friends since they were little.  Tully is a TV star who now with the loss of her best friend due to cancer must figure out how to go on.  Kate's family is falling apart without her and Tully promised to take care of them yet she can't even take care of herself.  Tully's mother abandoned her when she was a child and when Tully needs her most she comes back into her life but will she be accepted?  A tragic night brings everyone back together again where redemption is likely to take place.  "Grief is a sneaky thing, always coming and going like some guest you didn't invite and can't turn away."  Grief is uninvited by all but also experienced by all.  "...but sometimes one person can hold you up in life, keep you standing, and without that hand to hold, you can find yourself free-falling no matter how strong you used to be, no matter how hard you try to remain steady."  "Words stay with you sometimes, especially angry ones."  We can't take back our words by we can make amends with our words by saying we are sorry.  We all say things we regret and we often need to let those words go.  "Why did it take a tragedy to see life clearly?"  Nothing like tragedy to put life into perspective.  "You can't prepare for the shit life throws at you."  It's ture, curveballs come, but what we can do is remember there is a loving God that holds us in His hands.  "There's a river of sadness in me; it's always been there, but now it is rising, spilling over its banks.  I know there's a possibility that if I'm not careful, it will become the biggest part of me and I will drown in it."  Grief feels like drowning often times.  "Sometimes you simply made the wrong choice and you had to I've with it.  You could only change the future."  

Friday, March 3, 2017

Between Sisters

"Between Sisters" by Kristin Hannah

Just another book by Kristin Hannah, I think I've almost read them all now.  This one took me a little more to get into but once I did I enjoyed it.  Kristin does a good job of conveying different women relationships, they can often be so complicated.  This story follows two sisters who have lead two very different lives, one is a high powered divorce attorney and the other runs a camping resort.  They have their past that they share, their druggie mother, but not much else.  When Claire, the younger sister who runs the resort, finally falls in love and starts planning a wedding, the older sister Meghann wants to help.  It will become a choice to put the past behind, find common ground, and be the family they have always wanted.  "Some things just didn't turn out the way you wanted, and a girl could only cry for so many years."  "We can't live other people's lives for them.  Even if we love them."  Oh but how we try.  "Maybe that's why weddings take place in churches-because each one is an act of faith." They truly are, a beautiful act of faith.  A promise that can only be kept with the help of God.  This book wasn't my favorite but was a good read and worth the time.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Things We Do For Love

"The Things We Do For Love" by Kristin Hannah

A story of three sisters from a loud Italian family whose beloved father passes away.  Angela was her father's pride and joy and left their small town for bigger things.  She comes back after his death when her marraige has ended due to the stress of not being able to have children.  Lauren lives with her alcoholic mother and is desperatly trying to make something of her life despite where she comes from.  Fate brings Angela and Lauren together where they fill the void each has carried in their hearts but this connection may just be their undoing.  "She'd focused so much on her own grief that his had become incidental."  I think often we are so hurt that we foget there is another person in the equation and they might be hurting also.  "Memories don't live on streets or in cities.  They flowed in the blood, pulsed with your heartbeat."  We move towns, change schools, leave our jobs all to be rid of memories forgetting that those memories follow us and are a part of us.  "The tears, she now knew, meant hope.  When your eyes dried up, there was none."  "Grief was like that; both she and Mama knew it well.  It would sometimes feel fresh, no matter how long she lived.  Some losses ran deep, and time moved too slowly in a lifetime to heal them completely."  I'm thankful for heaven where our grief will be no more.  "It was easy to love someone when life was uncomplicated."  It's when life throws its curveballs that loving becomes harder.  "Love can get us through the hardest times.  It can also be our hardest times."  "How could love demand so many sacrifices and survive?"  Love is sacrifice and when two people sacrifice it's a love that can't be broken.  "Sometimes your heart got  broken, but you just held on.  That was all there was."  Because love is worth the heartbreak.

Magic Hour

"Magic Hour" by Kristin Hannah

I found another gem by Kristin!  This one is very good.  This book takes you to a very small town in the state of Washington where a girl suddenly appears from the forest.  She doesn't speak and is frightened of everything.  The police cheif, Ellie, needs to find what happened to this girl and where she is from.  She calls on her sister, whom has been a well known psychologist in Seattle, to help the little girl.  Julia has started to doubt her ability to help disturbed children after one of her recent patients does the unthinkable and she wasn't able to see if coming.  She has nothing to lose but she will have to face the ghosts of her past in her home town.  Will Ellie be able to be the town hero?  Will Julia be able to find the confidence to help this child?  Will the sisters be able to put their past behind them to work together?  If you like Kristin Hannah you don't want to miss this one.  "Love rips the shit out of you and puts you back together like a broken toy, with all kinds of cracks and jagged edges.  It's not about the falling in love.  It's about the landing, the staying where you said you'd be and working to keep the love strong."  That's what the hard part is, staying and working on keeping the love strong.  But that is where the reward comes in too.  "Life was impossibly fragile.  If you were lucky enough to have a loving family, you hold on to them with infinite care."  This story is about love lost and love found.  It is about opening up your heart again after loss and not being afraid to love because what is life without love?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Night Road

"Night Road" by Kristin Hannah

Another good one by Kristin.  I haven't read one of hers yet that I don't like.  This story takes place in a small town, families who know each other, kids growing up together, small community helping one another.  A young girl comes to town to live with her aunt after numerous foster homes.  She isn't like the other kids but none the less gets excepted.  She makes a best friend at school and soon becomes like family.  She falls in love with her best friends twin brother.  She loves this family and would do anything to hurt them until one fateful night of drinking at a party changes everything.  Lexi will lose everything she loved.  Will she ever forget that night?  Will there ever be forgiveness for her?  "The last thing in the world she wanted was to stand here, pretending she wasn't shattered inside, but she couldn't make herself move, either."  Sometimes we are so broken we can't pretend.  "Mostly, she'd learned that some pain simply could neither be cured nor ignored nor healed."  Facing the pain allows the healing.  I believe all pain can heal, doesn't mean it doesn't still hurt, just becomes less hurt I guess.  "What you did isn't the sum total of who you are."  Truth for all of us.  "When you love someone...and you lose them, you can kind of lose yourself, too."  A deep loss that grieves us can make us lose a piece of who we are.  "It was easier to suppress heartache than to overcome it."  "Maybe you need to be broken a little before you can put yourself back together."  The breaking is what puts us back together.  It's in the breaking we find ourselves and that we alone can't fix it.  It's in this place that God can do His work to put us back together again.  "People think love is an act of faith.  Sometimes it's an act of will."  The feelings won't always be there so sometimes it takes just being willing to show love despite the feelings.  "She didn't know how she would correct all the wrong paths she'd taken, but it was time to start undoing her mistakes.  One at a time."  That's where you start, one step at a time, it's never too late.  "She'd known it all along; she'd looked away from it purposely, afraid that the pain would kill her.  But not feeling had taken away her joy, too, left her in that gray haze of numbness."  We often try and suppress the pain because it hurts too much but in doing that we also suppress all our other emotions.  "In the sea of grief, there were islands of grace, moments in time when one could remember what was left rather than all that had been lost."  Grief takes time, we all do it differently but there will come a time where rather than the pain of the loss the  joy of having lived becomes greater.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Summer Island

"Summer Island" by Kristin Hannah

This was my least favorite of hers so far yet it was still a good book, I just liked her others better.  This was also one of her first books that she wrote.  The story follows two sisters and their mother who abandoned them.  Their mother, Nora, has since become famous in radio for her talk show on giving advice in relationships.  The oldest daughter is living the perfect high society life, forgetting her past and doing her best to move on.  The youngest daugher has never forgiven her mother and continues to run and struggle through her life.  An accident and a revealing of their past will bring all three of them together to reveal all that they lost and all that they didn't really know.  Spending a week together in their summer home the past comes back at them full force including the neighbor brothers who happen to be back in town at the same time.  "Motherhood is full of secret worries."  Ain't that the truth!  "I'm your father; she's your mother-whatever she's done or hasn't done, or said or hasn't said-she's a part of you and you're a part of her.  Don't you see that you can't be whole without her?"  I work with foster kids and it doesn't matter how much a child has been hurt by their parent they still love them.  Our parents make up a part of who we are, not all of us, but a part.  "There's no substitute for talking to the people you love.  Thinking about them, dreaming about them, wishing things were different...all of these are the beginning.  But someone has to make the first move."  Be brave, make the first move, you never know where it could lead.

Home Front

"Home Front" by Kristin Hannah

I told you I was going to read all her books.  I'm reading two a week!  This book was a little different from Winter Garden and The Nightingale in that it was about modern day times.  The story is about a family whose mother is a helicopter pilot in the Armed Forces and is deployed.  The book takes a real look at our service men and women and what they sacrifice to fight for our freedoms.  It also takes a hard look at PTSD and how much of a struggle it is for them to integrate back into their families.  Jolene, the pilot, is struggling with leaving her two children and the marriage that is already on the brink.  She does not know what she will come home to or even if she will come home at all.  When Jolene returns more broken than any of them could imagine it will take a battle of strength and love to bring their family back together again.  "Marriages go through hard times.  Sometimes you have to get in there and fight for your love.  That's the only way for it to get better."  All relationships are hard and most are worth fighting for.  "She was the one who took care; he was the one who took.  One-sided relationships are so very hard to overcome.  Sometimes we need to look at serving though instead of selfishness.  "But it's also my job to show you what kind of person to be, to teach you by example.  What lesson would I teach you if I ran from a commitment I made:  I I was cowardly or dishonorable?  When you make a promise in this life, you keep it, even if it scares you or hurts you or makes you sad."  A promise to love and cherish someone till death, a promise you don't just throw away.  What are we teaching our children if our marriage are so easily thrown away and not fought for?  "Saying good-bye to loved ones is the most difficult act for any soldier."  They've trained for battle but have no training to say good-bye to the people they love most in the world.  "The cost of war was here, in this room.  It was families being torn apart and babies born without their parents at home and children forgetting their mother's faces.  It was soldiers-some of them his age and others young enough to be his sons-who would come home wounded...or not come home at all."  I think we forget the humanity behind the men and women who serve.  Their lives are the cost of war.  "He'd made her happy; that was something he'd always known.  What he'd forgotten was how happy she'd made him."  We get so caught up in the irritations we forget to be grateful.  "We all knew it would be hard to have you gone, but no one told us how hard it would be when you came back.  We'll have to adjust.  All of us."  Our soldiers don't come back the same and yet we expect them to.  But how could they after what they have seen and experienced?  "They are heroes, our soldiers, the men and women who go into harm's way to protect us, our way of life.  It doesn't matter what you think of the war, you have to be grateful to the warriors, of whom we ask so much.  To whom we sometimes give too little."  I couldn't agree more.  "But how do you help someone deal with horrors you can't imagine?  And how does a soldier come home from war, really?  As a nation, these are questions we need to ask ourselves."  Really ask ourselves.  These are people, mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, who have sacrificed so much.  We owe it to them to take a long, hard look on helping them return and integrate back into their families and society.  "There was so much training before one goes to war, and so little for one's return."  My heart is heavy with this statement, especially when the hardest part is probably the coming home.  Why do we do these heroes such a disservice?  "How could it be harder to come home than to go to war?"
I appreciated this book for its honest look at our soldiers and PTSD.  I have a soft spot for our military and am thankful for their sacrifice, something I am trying to pass on to my girls.  My girls wrote a thank you note for Veterans Day to our neighbor all on their own and he framed the notes and hung them in his garage.  Every time he sees my girls he gets teary eyed and thanks them for their kind words.  That's sometimes all it takes, a simple acknowledgement of their sacrifice and letting them know you are grateful.  I know we can all do something so simple.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Winter Garden

"Winter Garden" by Kristin Hannah

This book was very good.  It had many twists that kept me reading.  I would get mad at the characters and fall in love with them too.  It was a page turner and another one of hers I would recommend.  The author writes about two very different sisters who have always struggled to win affection from their cold, non emotional mother.  When their loving father becomes ill both sisters struggle with what will become of them not that the person that held them together is dying.  A story their mother is urged to tell by her dying husband will reveal shocking secrets that will undo everything the daughters thought they knew about their family.  The story involves their mothers Russian history that they know nothing about.  "Everyone broke-and held themselves together-in their own way."  We all grieve differently.  We all need the space to grieve our own way.  "He is my home.  How will I live without him?"  "Physical pain was so much easier to handle than heartache."  Emotional pain is often so much harder, harder to push through, harder to overcome.  "Every choice changed the road you were on and it was too easy to end up going in the wrong direction.  Sometimes, settling down was just plain settling."  Every choice matters, every choice leads us either to where we want to be or down a different road.  "There are some promises that are pointless to ask for and useless to receive."  "None of the mothers look at each other; it hurts too much to see your own pain reflected in another woman's eyes."  I think that we often don't look at someone's eyes because we are afraid of their pain and yet this disconnects us as humans.  The greatest gift we can give someone is to sit with them in their pain.  "To lose love is a terrible thing.  But to turn away from it is unbearable."  "You carried your pain with you in life.  There was no outrunning it." There is only facing it with the most courage you can muster.  "They would always be a family, but if she'd learned anything in the past few weeks it was that a family wasn't a static thing.  There were always changes going on.  Like with continents, sometimes the changes were invisible and underground, and sometimes they were explosive and deadly.  The trick was to keep your balance.  You couldn't control the direction of your family any more than you could stop the continental shelf from breaking apart.  All you could do was hold on for the ride."  Hold on to those you love and hold on for the ride.  "How could any women know her own story until she knew her mother's?  We belong to each other and our stories need to be told because they bind us to one another.  "Joy and sadness were part of the package; the trick, perhaps, was to let yourself feel all of it, but to hold on to the joy just a little more tightly because you never knew when a strong heart could just give out."  Joy and sadness are a part of all of us, don't deny any of it, just hold the joy a little closer to your heart.

True Colors

"True Colors' by Kristin Hannah

Alright, bear with me, I'm going to be posting a lot for books by this author.  She's a new found favorite and I'm determined to read all her books.  I'll be going to the library today to pick up two more.
I enjoyed this book but not as much as the other two that I have read.  The story is about three very different sisters and their struggle to cope after their mother dies.  One sister is beautiful and loves to live her life on their ranch with the horses her mother loved.  The oldest sister is a career woman who is always seeking the approval of her father and she thinks she is always right.  The middle sister just tries to keep the peace.  When the youngest sister finds love against the wishes of the family and tragedy strikes it takes everything they have to stay together.  I enjoyed the book and how the author writes about the bonds of sisters and the strains that they experience.  "Cancer had come into their family and broken it into so many separate pieces it seemed impossible they would ever be whole again."  Tragedy will do that to a family.  It can either break us or make us and I think most often it does both.  There has to be a breaking before there is a making.  "As much as believeing in hope hurt, not believing would hurt even more."  Sometimes hope is all we have.  "Sometimes shit just hurts and that's the way it is."  Plain and simple truth of it.  "Scars are like that, she thought; they faded but never went away completely."  And yet, scars are what make us human.  Scars make us who we are and tell out story.  Everyone's story is important.  Everyone's story needs to be told.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Nightingale

"The Nightingale" by Kristin Hannah

Wow, this book was exceptional.  It's been a while since I've read a book I couldn't put down but this was it.  It is a large book, over 400 pages, but well worth the time.  I am now going to get my hands on every book this author has written.  This book takes place in France during the Nazi invasion.  It is a story of two women "fighting" the war the only way they know how.  It is about the everyday unsung heroines of World War I.  This book is historical fiction and keeps close to the facts of the war.  It follows two sisters, one whose husband is off to fight the war, and one who is young and fearless.  The sisters whose husband is gone to war is left with her daughter to raise alone as the Germans come in to her town and into her home.  The young fearless sister can not wait for war to find her, she must do something to help.  Both sisters show courage and bravery in unfathomable hardship.  It is inspiring, terribly sad and yet full of hope.  It leaves the reader wondering if they too have the courage to be ordinarily extraordinary.  "What was love when put up against war?"  "Vianne hated what she saw in her daughter's eyes right now.  There was nothing young in her gaze-no innocence, no naivete, no hope.  Not even grief.  Just anger."  The children did not have the luxury to be children during war.  Such harsh things they were experiencing at so young.  "She knew now that no one could be neutral-not anymore-and as afraid as she was of risking Sophie's life, she was suddenly more afraid of letting her daughter grow up in a world where good people did nothing to stop evil, where a good woman could turn her back on a friend in need."  I may not live in war time but I too am afraid of my girls growing up in a world where good people do nothing.  I am trying to teach them that when we see someone in need, no matter how big or small, we can choose to do something.  I want them to see me choosing to do something about the things that break my heart so they will learn that they are capable of helping, always.  "But love has to be stronger than hate, or there is no future for us."  This, this is what we need to remember.  Love does win, it always has and it always will.  "You know what I learned in the camps?  They couldn't touch my heart.  They couldn't change who I was inside.  My body...they broke that in the first days, but not my heart...". So powerful.  And I think that that is how some people survived the camps, because they didn't allow their hearts to be hardened by the evil around them.  "Men tell stories.  Women get on with it.  For us it was a shadow war.  There were no parades for us when it was over, no medals or mentions in history books.  We did what we had to during the war, and when it was over, we picked up the pieces and started our lives over."  The women that were left behind fought the war in many ways.  They did what they had to do to survive and when it was over, they went on as best as they knew how.  I highly recommend this book.  It is well worth reading.                                                                                                                                                              

A Walk To Beautiful

"A Walk to Beautiful" by Jimmy Wayne

I read this book for my work as an advocate for foster children.  It is the story of a boy who when he was 10 was abandoned by his mother and put into foster care.  He was in and out of foster placements and group homes until one day he was taken in by an older couple.  He became a famous country singer and vowed to help children, like he had been, who are aging out of the foster system.  It is a sad story that parallels so many kids in the foster system and yet it is a story of someone who has been there, who has been able to rise above due to some helping hands and promised to pass that help along to others.  "And I wanted to tell those kids, and anyone else who would listen, it's not where youv'e been, but it's where you're goin'; it's not who you were in the past, but it's who you are today-that's what really matters."  Often the past these kids have was not of their choosing.  Someone has to choose to look beyond their past and see who they are.  "If you really want to do something, you can find the way."  "Bea and Russell didn't talk about loving God and loving people; they just did it."  I think this world could use a little less talking about love and more showing it.  "When circumstances drag on you, weighing you down to the point you think you can't take another step, muster the courage, stay strong; keep walking.  Don't walk only when it is convenient; don't merely walk till you get tired; keep walking through it all.  Walk to Beautiful."  And that walk to beautiful looks different for each one of us.

Two By Two

"Two By Two" by Nicholas Sparks

Just another amazing story by Nicolas Sparks.  Seriously, how does he do it?  My husband got this book for me for my birthday to read on the plane to visit my aunt in Colorado.  He said I might need a distraction from being worried about flying solo. (He also gave me a chocolate bar, winner of a guy I tell ya.)  The story is of a man who has it all until one day, to his great surprise, it all crumbles.  His job is gone, his wife is leaving him, he has to move, and he has a daughter to care for.  Alone, raising his daughter, he is tested and finds the strength and love beyond what he could have imagined.  "Marriage, after all, is never quite what one imagines it will be.  It requires commitment and compromise, communication and cooperation, especially as life tends to throw curveballs, often when we least expect them.  Ideally, the curveball slides past the couple with little damage; at other times, facing those pitches together makes the couple more committed to each other.  But sometimes, the curveballs end up smacking us in the chest and close to the heart, leaving bruises that never seem to heal."    Marriage is full of surprises, life is really, it's what you choose to do with the surpirses that make or break a marriage.  Will you choose your spouse again and again?  Will you choose to see the best in them and overlook the irritations?  Will you show grace and love and forgiveness?  "That's what parenting is all about.  Doing the best you can while being terrified of screwing up."  My thoughts exactly.  "Hope might leave me crushed in the end, but losing all hope somehow seemed even worse."  For what do we have if we have no hope?  "We're all works in progress.  It's the definition of being a parent."  It's the definition of being a human, so show yourself and others grace. "But what I didn't understand until recently was that those tender, orchestrated moments mean nothering unless they occur with someone who loves you just the way you are."  For that is the greatest gift we can receive, being loved for exactly who we are.  This story was different in that the love story was mostly the love for his daughter.  I liked that Nicholas put a different spin on love than he normally does.

Hope Heals

"Hope Heals" by Katherine and Jay Wolf

This is a powerful book about a 20 something woman who had a major stroke 6 months after having a baby.  It is a story of amazing miracles, hard work, and a tenacious spirit.  Katherine chose to fight to live for her son, she chose to find hope in the One that heals.  Jay, her husband, lives out his marraige vows, never leaving Katherine's side, helping her to regain her life.  The struggle and beautiful love this couple shares is truly inspirational. "I suppose in that moment, I realized that when we most need our intangible God to be made tangible, we need look no further than His people to make him manifest."  We need to be the hands and feet of our loving God.  And when we are in crisis we need to remember that God is with us in the people surrounding us.  "Perhaps in the breaking, we can find the healing we long for."  To truly be healed is to face the fact that we are broken and need healing.  It is here that we find His grace and love to put us back together again.   "In fact, the whole miracle thing really stung because the "miracle" had left me unable to live normally."  Katherine lived through her ordeal and it was a miracle that she was even alive.  But being alive she was left without many normal functions and the life as she knew it was gone.  People on the outside see the miracle but don't see the daily struggle to live with that miracle.  "To know you will be saved, even if you don't dare envision how, is to have the wick of hope rekindled."  "I have come to realize that believing in God is not possible without also believing God.  He says He is my hope and strength, and I am taking Him at His word."  We have to know who He is, is character and believe what He says is true.  "I don't think any of us can tell our most vulnerable stories in the moments they occur for fear that they may undo us.  We have to wait until we are in a season of safety before we can open up our deepest wounds."  "I found that acting in love inevitably provoked true feelings of love, and the reverse was no less true."  Love is not just an emotion, it is so much more.  Love often takes action even when we don't feel like it.  This, this is when real love takes hold, to act out love when the feelings aren't there.  When we do this, love-the emotion- is sure to follow.  "When we collectively mourn our losses and strain toward hope, our hearts expand.  We begin to respond with empathy and realize that we all share the story of brokenness, and thus we all share the need for hope."  Truly an inspiring story filled with hope for all of our brokenness.

The Magnolia Story

"The Magnolia Story" by Chip and Joanna Gains

I had heard about Chip and Joanna but never watched their show until my parents gave me the book to read and made me watch their show.  I enjoyed the show and could see why people love them.  The book was just as good as the show.  Chip and Joanna seem to be very real people who love each other and the people around them.  They don't take things too seriously and always try to do whats best.  The book tells about how they met and how they got going on their TV show.  It was amazing to read how God lined things up for them all in His perfect timing.  "And for years my misguided perfectionism robbed both them and me of those moments."  Joanna writes this about how her perfectionism that was never attainable anyway, got in the way of what could have been special moments with her kids.  I began my parenting journey much the same way.  I would get so upset at messes and yell at my kids.  I remember when it dawned on me that perfectionism meant more to me than my children and how mistaken I had been.  When a glass would spill and my kids would be scared of my reaction and apologize profusely I knew I had to change.  What's a little spilled water?  Accidents happen and I needed to remember that I wasn't perfect and couldn't expect my kids to be either.  It changed so much for me, my kids were happier, I was happier and a lot less stressed.  "If you can't find happiness in the ugliness, you're not going to find it in the beauty, either."  We always have a choice and happiness can be found anywhere we choose to look.  "Go and find what it is that inspires you, go and find what it is that you love, and go do that until it hurts.  Don't quit, and don't give up.  The reward is just around the corner.  And in times of doubt or times of joy, listen for that still, small voice.  Know that God has been there from the beginning-and he will be there until...the end."  Keep pressing on, don't forget the voice that lead you there to begin with, He will keep carrying you.