By Jill Camacho

When your struggles seem to never end…

Talking with hundreds of moms online each month, one of the most common heartbreaks I see lies in having no hope. It’s a tough thing to bear when your daily struggles of life have no foreseeable end. It reminds me of Proverbs 13:12 ESV; “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

As a newer mom, I wrestled with tunnel vision and hopelessness. My circumstances were truly difficult, but they weren’t forever. The thing is, it was so easy to live life (and treat others) as though it was. Looking back, I believe the way I was handling my problems made my heart sick, as well as poisoned those around me.


Time changes all things

Looking back at all the difficult phases in our life, they’ve all ended. Even when it seemed like, in the moment, we’d never see a reprieve. If you’re feeling this way in your life, or in your homeschool, please take heart! All things change, ebb, and flow.

If you’re feeling like your child will never, for example, learn to sit still, stay calm, or read simple words (anything really), you’re not alone. Feeling that way is normal. Feeling sad is natural when hope is floating farther and farther away.



We have hope
But we have hope in Jesus. He knows how we feel, and he will redeem every bad situation. We may not know if each redemption is on this side of Heaven or not, but we do have hope.

What helps me in these situations is switching my perspective. I do this by actively remembering our past struggles. I remember how certain situations felt as though they may never end, compared to how long ago they now feel. “What was it God taught me in those seasons?” I ask myself.

I try and think of what I can learn now and pray, asking God for peace and to help me lay things down. I pray for eyes to see all the blessings He’s given me and for faith that helps me weather the storms through weary days. In addition to these things, I seek support!

These are all things you may want to try too! Don’t minimize your issues by telling yourself they are “not as bad as other people’s problems.” Leaving sadness and hopelessness unaddressed isn’t healthy. Find a supportive ear or two (whether in person or an online support group) and consider counseling with a therapist or trusted church staff member if you suspect it’s needed. Therapy has been some of the greatest help I’ve had!

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

Do you ever wonder if you will ever accomplish your life’s purpose? Does it feel at times like homeschooling stands in the way between where you are now and the dreams that God has laid on your heart?

Encouragement From Experience
A while back I interviewed Melanie Wilson, an author, speaker and homeschool mom of 6 and talked about How to Not Lose Your Identity as a Homeschool Mom” During our discussion, we touched on how God tends to use the crazy things He takes us through to actually lead us towards our purpose, not away, even when we don’t understand how all of it will come together in realizing the dreams He has given us.

Here is that segment of the interview:

 

Encouragement From the Word of God
During this segment, I also touched on the fact that I had recently shared a devotional with the SPED Homeschool team and board along these same lines. So, to further encourage you in this area, here is the devotional I was talking about:

 

How Do I Live Out My Calling?


I think many Christian books inaccurately elevate what God’s purpose for our life should look like, twisting God’s purposes into worldly standards of a lifestyle with a purpose.

This past week while I was reading through Jeremiah 1, I was reminded that God’s call is very different than a vocational call or a means of employment. Look at what God tells Jeremiah about how He has called him:

“I knew you before you were born” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“I consecrated your purpose before you were born” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“I have appointed you” (Jeremiah 1:5)
“I send you” (Jeremiah 1:7)
“I command you” (Jeremiah 1:7)
“I am with you to deliver you” (Jeremiah 1:8)
“I have appointed you [at this specific time for this specific purpose]” (Jeremiah 1:10)

Just like Jeremiah, before you were born God knew you, He had plans for your life, and He appointed you to have a purpose in His kingdom. That purpose was not a single thing, but rather an appointment your entire life will eventually reveal when your days are finished. It is not something you can put in a box and show off to others, rather it is a humble walk of obedience.

Since we can’t see the big picture of what our life is going ultimately accomplish like God can, we can only guess at what our life’s ultimate purpose is. Spending too much time focused on what our purpose is takes away from our current appointment, and EVERY appointment is a critical part of the bigger picture…EVERY walking, trusting, and obedient step.

The reality is God sends us and commands us (Jeremiah 1:7) and no matter what we face while being obedient in our following, He will also deliver us (Jeremiah 1:8)…and it is in living in that obedient trust wherever life takes us day by day, or even moment by moment, we are living out our purpose.

Encouragement From Prayerful Consideration
As I prayed over these verses, here is what I ended up writing in my notes the morning God put these scripture verses in front of me to study:

Your life is NOT your own, it never has been. Fear is not an option if you are wanting to live out your purpose…you MUST trust and obey ALL the time.

The choice before each of us is this: You can spend the rest of your days living in God’s victory being what you were made to be by living for Him, trusting Him and following Him as an anointed tool in His kingdom. Or, you can walk away from that anointing and never accomplish what your life was designed for. If you choose this second path you will always live in conflict knowing you are not fulfilling God’s desired anointing. You will never truly experience rest, and peace will always be fleeting.

Encouragement From Looking at Life from the God’s Perspective
The night after I had written these things down in my journal, I was at the grocery store and the cashier for the line I was in was having a conversation with the woman ahead of me about living the perfect life on a tropical beach. He decided to continue the conversation with me, which unfortunately for him didn’t get the same response as it did with his previous customer. Instead, I asked him if he would really be happy doing nothing for the rest of his life. I know it wasn’t nice to rain on his parade, but in the end, he did confess that it would sure be an empty life if he didn’t do something with purpose.

God’s purposes are all around you today. Look for them, ask Him to reveal them to you so you don’t miss a single one. It is living out these daily purposes that you will accomplish the ultimate purpose God designed you for…and it will be way more powerful of a testimony than just doing a few “great things” in the public eye before your numbered days have been lived out here on earth.

Encouragement From Others
I hope this devotional has encouraged you to keep up a faithful walk before God. Homeschooling is NOT an easy calling, especially if you are homeschooling a child with special educational needs. But, you can always trust that if God has called you to homeschool He did not make a mistake or give you dreams He can’t work out amidst you teaching your child.

If you want to be further encouraged in this area, make sure to watch the full interview with Melanie Wilson. And, I recommend becoming part of our SPED Homeschool Support Group to receive daily encouragement in your special education homeschool calling.

 


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By Cammie Arn

What do you think of when you see a puzzle piece?

I am always fascinated how those unique pieces with different shapes only provide glimpses of the full picture they are forming. And how many times it is usually not the picture I first imagined.

This is how I see the family of God. Each person is handcrafted by God to fit together with the rest of the body.

Society today screams at us that we can do it all and be all the pieces of the puzzle ourselves.

I disagree.

We were intended to use our uniqueness to benefit others and be part of the bigger picture of God’s kingdom.

In observing the unique nature of puzzle pieces, I realize they are all different, some more so than others. They have different boundaries, different colors, different ways of connecting with other pieces, and different places they fit to make the puzzle come together.

Likewise, we all have different perspectives and roles. One is not better than the other, but all are needed to connect and finish the bigger picture. Only when the bigger picture comes together is the image on the puzzle finally revealed.

Unity happens when the picture is complete.

Unity in the body of Christ happens when we allow others to use their God-given gifts to minister to one another. We have to be careful not to think others are to be just like us. No person is like another, just like no homeschool mom is like another homeschool mom. We all need to be just like Christ in the unique way He is making us as part of His kingdom.

Only by allowing God to shape and mold us can we fit into the exact place He has for us. This may mean we are ”rubbing shoulders” with some unexpected people and being called to come together with others who are not at all like us. That is okay. 

Coming together in our uniqueness is what sets us apart from the world. We choose not to fall into comparison traps or in judging others on their walk with God.

Instead, we strive only to be like Christ. That is when we each fit perfectly in the kingdom and perfectly into God’s bigger picture.

Would like to be part of a community of special education homeschooling families who will love you as you rub shoulders through the ups and downs of special education homeschooling life? Then ask to join your regional SPED Strong Tribe or the SPED Homeschool Facebook Support Group.  I will see you there!

 

 


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By Melissa Smith

Let’s talk about priorities. Balancing life as a wife, homeschooling mama, and a woman with dreams of her own takes a lot of grace and patience. As we juggle our daily schedules and goals for the year, interruptions to our plans and challenges often arise. These reroutes can be hard on our hearts as our time gets reallocated and our priorities shift. 

Over the years, my priority shifts and reroutes have included: setting aside the dream of a photography business for homeschooling, adjusting a schedule for a sick child, rerouting when our home flooded, and learning we need to school differently because of special needs. I’ve set goals for this year, and I imagine you have too. What do we do then, when life throws us a curveball?

As I discussed this with a dear friend of mine, she reminded me of God’s provision for us. With her permission, I’d like to share with you a few of her thoughts and close with a few of my own.

When I was at one of my lowest points after the biggest physical injury of my life, I’ll never forget what my physical therapist told me. He explained to me how God created our bodies intelligently and masterfully so that when in crisis our bodies know instinctively to prioritize problems and face them one at a time. The order is always the same with the heart and lungs always taking top priority. So in a case where there are many competing problems or injuries, our bodies only take on the top priority first. As each one is resolved the body takes on the next in line. This made so much sense to me at the time because my back, which has been a lifelong issue, became a non-issue immediately after my head injury. As my head healed, my back, which was silent for so long after my fall, suddenly made its voice heard again. Whether we realize it or not, I believe we prioritize things mentally and emotionally just like our bodies prioritize its different systems.


This wonderful wisdom and insight about our bodies reflects a couple beautiful lessons for us as we set priorities for our homes and families. The future lies before us with possibility. Here are a couple thoughts as we walk forward in the days to come.

1. Make Some Plans

The heart of man plans his ways, but the Lord establishes his way.” Proverbs 16:9


Go ahead! Make some plans this year and dream some dreams with your family. As you do, though, trust God as He directs your steps. The path forward is rarely straight, but the winding path He leads you on is full of adventure, more of Christ, and a fullness of life that is perfectly planned and appointed by God for you. Ask Him to help you adjust your priorities as those curveballs keep coming. 

What dreams do you have?

2. Trust His Timing

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in your will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6


Just like our bodies prioritize the greatest need of the moment, we must do the same. Tackle today’s challenges and trust God for tomorrow. This past fall, rebuilding our home after the flood became a high priority and took most of our time. I’m trusting God that we will catch up on school in time. Until then, we are savoring the lessons learned in this season.

As I begin the journey of learning about ADHD and Dyslexia, I’m trusting God for the dreams I’ve set aside for the moment. He will complete the good work He has begun in each of us, and we can trust Him for the path to that completion. 

In what areas do you need to trust God for His timing?

3. Find Peace

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7


Priorities and plans are often tied to our hearts’ desires, and when they are not met as planned, it hurts. We will all face disappointments and setbacks and challenges. However, that is not the whole story. In the midst of those times, God is still at work in our hearts and our homes. 

Commit all your plans, dreams, and priorities for this year to the Lord in prayer. He will form them, ask you to set some aside, redirect them, and even, fulfill some of them. Even so, the greatest reward we receive in prayer is having more of God in our lives. He offers us peace to accept what He gives with joy – even when it is not what we expected! 

In what areas of your life do you need God to guard your heart and mind with His peace?

 

 


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SPED Homeschool Team


As our kids are counting down the days to Christmas, we special needs homeschooling moms have our sights elsewhere. We’re not only looking forward to the end of the holiday season, and a return our family’s version of normal, but we’re also looking towards the goals we have for our kids.

With that in mind, the team members of SPED Homeschool have put together our own special needs homeschool mom Christmas wish list. This list is meant to be fun, but at the same time highlight the biggest goal we have for our children…godly character.

As you read through this list, and the accompanying character traits, we pray you are inspired this Christmas season to see beyond the educational goals you have for your children and also see their attitudes and actions moving them towards much more lofty goals.


 

12 Days of Christmas – Special Needs Homeschooling Mom Version


On the first day of Christmas, my child gave to me..a homemade angel on top our Christmas tree! (Creativity)

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2


On the second day of Christmas, my child gave to me..2 completed assignments. (Determination)

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8


On the third day of Christmas, my child gave to me…3 chocolate candies. (Generosity)

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6


On the fourth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…4 “lost” items. (Truthfulness)

“Therefore, putting away lying, ‘Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,’for we are members of one another.” Ephesians 4:25


On the fifth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…5 sloppy kisses! (Love)

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:3


On the sixth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…6 prayers for my patience. (Sensitivity)

“ Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15


On the seventh day of Christmas, my child gave to me…7 respectful responses. (Respectfulness)

“…casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5


On the eighth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…8 sharpened pencils. (Resourcefulness)

“He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” Luke 16:10


On the ninth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…9 correctly answered questions. (Wisdom)

“The heart of the prudent acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.” Proverbs 18:15


On the tenth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…10 painted toes. (Caring)

“ For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:20-21


On the eleventh day of Christmas, my child gave to me…11 minutes of silence. (Self-Control)

“And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25


On the twelfth day of Christmas, my child gave to me…12 hours without complaining! (Contentment)

“And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.” 1 Timothy 6:8


 

May your Christmas season be fruitful and filled with the joy of seeing your children learning and growing in their ability to walk in God’s truth and His light. – SPED Homeschool Team

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4

 


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Cammie Arn

 

The holiday are upon us. So, the question at hand is: “How do we deal with all the shopping and prepping that goes into this time of year when it can be so overwhelming?” 

 

Here are some things that worked in our family, when daily life caused sensory overload from the heightened seasonal activity. 

 

  • Shop online and with catalogs, it just keeps things simpler and away from crazy crowds.
  • Drive thru neighborhoods known for their decorations. Not only is it better on the pocketbook, but noises can be controlled and lights tend not be be as overbearing from the inside a vehicle. You can also make this adventure a special treat by picking up hot chocolate (or bring your own) and cookies.
  • Decorate the tree with simple white lights instead of flashing colored ones.
  • Try to keep your routine as much as possible, the normalcy of your days can help prevent many a meltdown.
  • Use festive fabric to wrap gifts. By replacing paper with fabric no one gets overstimulated with the constant tearing of paper. Plus, the fabric is reusable. Decorated pillowcases work great!
  • Use one gift box per person. Place all of that family member’s gifts in the one box and you save on the chaos of opening lots of little gifts.
  • Limit sugar.  Even if you already do this, ’tis the season to work on it all the more. Too much sugar can cause any kiddo to get grumpy and meltdown (adults included).
  • Ensure your family gets enough rest
  • Pick and choose your activities. You don’t have to do everything…every year. 

And, if things do go awry, take a deep breath. Tomorrow is a new day.

Happy Holidays. 

 

 

 

 

 


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Being a mom of a special needs kiddo sure has its hard times, but gratitude can change our perspective and help ease the tough days. We wanted to share with you what we are THANKFUL for in our journey as SPED Homeschool moms.

 

Time
Time is fleeting and I’ve come to realize that the moments with my children are precious. I am so thankful that I can experience the mundane, the victorious, even the hard moments with them everyday. (Jennifer Cullimore)

 

Humbling Moments
Each day presents lessons to learn from when I don’t handle them as I should have. These moments are gifts, reminding me I am not perfect, what I need prayers and support to improve on, and how necessary God’s consistent grace is for my life. (Peggy Ployhar)

 

Advocate
We have to speak and advocate for our kids. Whether with doctors, family members, or other kids; standing up for our child and making things happen for them starts them down the road of advocating for themselves. I’m thankful for the advocating moments for my children, it tells them they are worth fighting for. (Kimberly Vogel)

 

Nighttime
Because once my loves are asleep I can have some down time and I might actually get to sleep somewhere between 12-4am. (Jennifer Poorman)

 

Kisses and Kleenex!
A typical day usually involves one or the other!

 

Family & Friends
Family:  My family might not be perfect, but it’s mine. We love and laugh and serve Jesus always striving to grow and love more. (Kimberly Vogel)

 

Friends: The journey of homeschooling a special needs child can be arduous and lonely. I’m thankful for friends who understand and stand by me through the ups and downs. ( Karen Larsen)

 

Understanding & Unconditional Love
Understanding from Others: When another child/mom understands our kids are different, and accepts them as they are. (Lynne Shearer) and I’m thankful for family members, friends and those perfect strangers that show a desire to try and understand my child better. They are almost always surprised to find that we are not as different as we may appear on the outside. (Jamie)  

 

Unconditional love: I am so thankful for those who love and accept us for who we are, where we are at. What a blessing and joy to be among those who don’t bat an eye at what others would seem strange or weird but is our normal. (Lori Walker)

 

Laughter
We could not make it through all the challenges we face without a sense of humor. (Lauren Mitchell)

 

The SPED Homeschool Team is also thankful for YOU, our community

 

Brenda said it so thoughtfully: I was so scared to pull my son out of school until I found this group because I found all the information and support I needed to feel comfortable making all the decisions about my son’s education. Your resources made me feel empowered and the support has been a blessing to us. I appreciate you guys! All of you, the experienced homeschooling moms and the not so experienced moms, you make me feel like I am not alone (Brenda Olivares)

 

Happy Thanksgiving from the SPED Homeschool Team!

 

 


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It’s ready, set, go it’s another wild day
When the stress is on the rise in my heart I feel you say
Just breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at my feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need

Is to just breathe

– Jonny Diaz

 

These lyrics from Jonny Diaz speak to my heart and I find myself needing to breathe some days more than others.

 

Breathe Reminder – You Are Accomplishing Things
I know as a homeschooling mom I find myself sometimes thinking of all the things that I think I should be doing as a mom and a teacher. These thoughts of inadequacy take over and I lose sight of all things that I am doing as a mom and a teacher.

 

Breathe Reminder – You Are Enough
I then remind myself to “just breathe.” There are so many things that I can teach my children but one of the biggest lessons is to remain at peace.I am not in control of everything. I am not going to be perfect and that is okay. I am enough! It is through this I am teaching my children that they are enough and they will make mistakes. It is through making mistakes I feel the biggest life lessons are taught.

 

 

Breathe Reminder – Perspective Provides Pathways
When my kids get upset, or are in meltdown mode I say,  “blow out your candles.” Sometimes my kids even remind me to blow out my candles. When we stop to breathe and even pray, it changes our heart and changes our perspective. Breathing lets us see that the situations may not be as impossible as we originally thought.

 

Breath Reminder – God Equips

Just breathe today and now that you are enough and God is equipping you on this journey.

 

 

 

 


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Cammie Arn

In my own family, I often find it difficult to see progress in the goals we have set. So, instead of just celebrating large goals, we make it a point to celebrate every triumph our children have on a daily basis.

In your own homeschool, how often do you recognize the little things your children do that are smaller parts of a larger goal? Learning letters means a child is one smaller goal closer to learning a word. Moving a limb means a child is one step closer to using a communication board.  Making a pot of macaroni and cheese means your young adult is that much closer towards establishing independence.

Whatever your goal is for your child, be sure to recognize the small things they do every day. My husband works within the public school system and his school has developed a way of recognizing students “caught being good.”  These “good” behaviors are the little things the school has determined to reward so students eventually learn the value of multiplying good behaviors.

“Collecting pennies means eventually those pennies will add up to a dollar.”

In a way, each good behavior rewarded by my husband’s school, and each smaller goal we reward in our homeschools, is like saving a single penny towards a larger investment. Collecting pennies means eventually those pennies will add up to a dollar. Slowly, but surely, little things add up to BIG things.

Affirmation for good behavior, wise choices and good school performance can leave your child with a healthy sense of accomplishment, and you with the realization both of you are getting there…

 

One
Penny
At
A

Time.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Jennifer Cullimore

 

All of us have different situations: Some of us have two parent homes, some (like myself) are single, some work outside of the home, and some work inside the home.  However, one constant that I’ve seen in most parents who homeschool their children with special needs is that most do not have a lot of time to themselves.  Because of this, our “cups can be empty” before we even realize it.

 

I’ve had people tell me, “Well you just need to get a babysitter and go out.”  But, it’s not always that simple.  A babysitter costs money (of which I have little) and few people are equipped to handle my kids.  Extra money to eat out randomly or schedule a mani or pedi is in short supply.  Despite these challenges,  I still need ways to “fill my cup.”  

 

Here are a few of my cup-filling solutions; maybe they will help you too!

 

Bedtime routines  

Even though we get off track during certain times, bedtime routines are essential to my survival.  My girls know that they go to bed and mommy gets some much needed time to herself.  Yes, sometimes I stay up far too late, but those few hours can energize me to tackle life!

 

Sleep

Sometimes I do stay up too late, but I also allow myself to get the sleep my body needs.  The beauty of homeschooling is that we don’t have to start our days on someone else’s timetable.  We have the freedom to begin at a time that works for us and our children. One of my children has gone through countless ear issues and is often up in the night with ear pain.  Because we don’t have to be out the door at 6:30 in the morning like some of our public school friends, we can start when she has had an adequate amount of sleep.  This makes our days run more smoothly.

 

Podcasts, YouTube and Sermons

Due to some of my kiddos’ issues, we are not currently active in a church.  However, I need to fill my spiritual cup as well.  I have found podcasts and YouTube to be a wonderful way to listen to Godly content and support from around the world.  I listen to Francis Chan, the Bible Project, other homeschooling mamas and uplifting people.  I can do this at night when the girls go to bed, or even when I am working on household tasks throughout the day.  My kids also enjoy their favorites: Psalty , kids worship songs, hymns, and so much more.  We are so blessed to be able to hear content from so many inspirational resources.

 

You may also want to consider listening or watching SPED Homeschool Conversations, our weekly live broadcast that you can watch live from 8pm to 9pm Central every Tuesday night or watch on-demand on our YouTube channel or download to your device from our podcast channel.

 

Time with the Lord

Personal devotions are also paramount to filling my cup.  Even when I get out of the habit, I can always jump back in.  At times I’ve found that groups on Facebook such as “Write His Word” are helpful for keeping me on track.  They encourage me to journal the Word of God.  By writing His word, I remember it!

 

You may also want to check out Peggy Ployhar’s personal YouTube channel, Daily Revelations, for her weekly bible study videos and companion planner you can use to study along book by book through the bible.

 

Art and Handicrafts

Unlike some other people in my family, I was not blessed with art genes.  But I love to create things.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the rise of “adult color books”.  Coloring is relaxing and somehow it triggers creativity in me.  So at night, you will often find me coloring while listening to podcasts.  I also enjoy crocheting and I’ve even begun to dabble in painting and drawing.  While none of my creations will be in an art museum anytime in the near future, they make me happy and bring peace.

 

 

 


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