Tag Archives: grace

Thoughts on Marriage – 9 Insights to Help Preserve What’s Sacred

Thoughts on Marriage, 9 Insights to Preserve What's Sacred | Faith and Composition

They’ll tell you marriage isn’t easy, that it’s like a mirror held up to reveal your finer moments and your less-than-fine faults. And you nod your head before saying “I do” simply to oblige.

But truth be told, you think it can’t be that hard. Not for you. You may have disagreements, but you’ll navigate troubled waters with ease. In the newness of the relationship, your heart pounds with excitement for this person, and the thought of having to work at the marriage seems a trivial over-exaggeration.

Or so it seemed then … years ago.

Thoughts on Marriage, 9 Lessons to Preserve What's Sacred | Faith and Composition

Today, my husband and I celebrate nine years of marriage, and in those nine years, we have discovered that marriage is indeed hard work. With three little ones six and under, a job that requires him to frequently travel, the stress of busy schedules, the rigor of homeschool days, outside-the-home commitments, sleep-deprived nights with sick kids, meal-planning, housekeeping, lawn work, and more, everyday demands can take their toll on a marriage.

And when you’re deep in the throes of real-life obligations, you realize they’re right: Marriage is indeed hard work. But nothing worth having ever came easy, and the same is true for marriage. Because when you nurture your relationship, the reward is rich. 

So today, as we celebrate a near decade of married life, I want to share nine insights I’ve come to realize in nine years of marriage to the man I call mine. It has been a beautiful adventure thus far, and there is no one I would rather share this journey with. May these insights encourage you too and hopefully provide some inspiration to help you preserve what’s sacred in your own marriage.

Thoughts on Marriage, 9 Insights to Preserve What's Sacred | Faith and Composition1) Understand that there is a battle raging, and you are in the cross hairs. Marriage is under fire, and there is an enemy that seeks nothing higher than to destroy the family, because if he can destroy the family, he can destroy that sacred institution God designed way back in the beginning of this humanity story. So if you want to stand your ground in your marriage, you must stand your ground against the enemy. Acknowledge that there is a battle raging and you and your spouse have a target on your back. If you have kids, it’s an even bigger bullseye. Yes, there will be difficult days, months, even years, but know with absolute clarity that when those days come, although your enemy is a formidable foe, our God is bigger, and He is the victor!

2) Pray. Once you understand that your marriage plays out on a battlefield, you realize the most important thing you can do for your spouse and yourself is to pray. Pray that The Lord would put a hedge of protection around you and your spouse. Pray that He would hem your marriage in. Pray that He would thwart the schemes of the enemy. Pray that He would help you to see how sacred the relationship is, and how to best serve and protect it. Pray individually and pray as a couple, because there is immense power in a husband and a wife joining together in prayer.

3) Resolve to persevere through the hard times and emerge victorious. The difficult, disenchanted times will come. The test of your marriage will not be whether or not they arrive, but how you handle those times when they show up. Do not sweep disenchantment, discontentment, or disengagement beneath the rug. Do not turn a blind eye to the tempering of emotions, the casual distance growing into a chasm. Resolve now to address those issues and to emerge on the other side victorious. Because trials can strengthen your marriage and unify you as a couple, or they can tear you apart. Commit now to working through the hard stuff, emerging stronger, and letting redemption be a part of your story.

4) Honor intimacy. For several years now, my husband and I have taught a class on intimacy to engaged couples. What we have learned in teaching that class has been so encouraging. For one, intimacy in marriage is a gift that binds you to your spouse in a way nothing else can. Physical intimacy is designed to unite you one to another in body and spirit. Nothing else can do that; no other act can seal you one to another. And in the beautiful, baffling way God designed men and women, physical intimacy serves as a gateway that allows men to connect emotionally with their wives. This emotional connection then gives the wife the desire to invite physical intimacy. Physical intimacy is a gateway to emotional connection and vice versa; the two are not mutually exclusive. When you honor physical intimacy you open up a gateway to deeper emotional intimacy that further binds you one to another. It is a sacred act. Honor it, and enjoy it.

5) Make your spouse a priority over your children. This is a hard one for me, I’ll admit. Because it’s easy to let the demands of a busy family supplant the importance of nurturing the marriage, especially when young kids are underfoot. But your marriage needs and deserves just as much attention as your children, and it’s this relationship that will remain even when the kids have left the nest. So hard as it may be, make your marriage a priority over the kids. It was there first, and it will be there when the kids are grown.

6) Invest in the relationship. Wherever your investments are, your heart will follow. So invest in each other. Invest your time and your resources, and your heart will follow suit. Make the effort to go on dates; turn off the TV and talk face to face when the kids are in bed; hold hands; write notes; sit on the back porch and have a glass of wine in the evening or coffee in the morning. Invest in each other with the same fervor you would invest in a job or a recreational pursuit, and the yields will be rich indeed.

7) Find like-minded couples to walk this journey alongside you. Having friends with whom you can be honest and transparent regarding trials and triumphs in your marriage is so important. These couples can provide accountability and counsel, as well as friendship and support. They can pray for you when you’re in need, and they can rejoice when your marriage is thriving. And as you get to know these couples, they will also serve as examples of God’s redemptive hand in marriage. Because we all have our own stories, and sometimes simply knowing a couple has been where you are and made it through is the hope you need. If you don’t have solid couples in your life, make it a priority to foster these relationships. Find a community group in your church, join a couple’s Bible study, reach out to a few couples whose relationships you respect and see if they’d want to do this thing called life alongside you and your spouse. The reward will be well worth the effort.

8) Discover and meet your spouse’s love language. If you haven’t yet read “The Five Love Languages,” do yourself a favor and download the book. It is exceptionally insightful in helping you to understand the unique ways you and your spouse give and receive love. For example, my husband’s number-one love language is acts of service; mine is quality time. Thus, it helps me to understand that my husband perceives love from me when I do something to serve him. Likewise, service is his natural inclination towards expressing love to me. I on the other hand, express and understand love through quality time. If my husband seeks to spend time with me, I feel loved. And when I give him my time, that is my way of communicating love to him.

These are two very different expressions of love, and if we didn’t understand each other’s love language, our natural inclinations could cause tension. But knowing that my husband’s love language is acts of service helps me to interpret his service as an expression of love. And when I try to order our weekends so we’re spending time together rather than pursuing our individual interests, my husband knows that this is one of the ways I express my love to him.

9) Lastly, do not compare your marriage to others. Comparison is the thief of joy, and it will steal the light and life right out of your marriage if you let it. Everyone has rough spots, every couple has to navigate disagreements and difficult times, the problems arise when we compare our difficult times with another couple’s apparent wedded bliss. Your marriage is your own. It is not your best friend’s, your parents’, your favorite blogger’s, or your has-it-all-together next-door neighbor. God has given you and your spouse a unique set of gifts and traits that combine to make for one unique, beautiful marriage. So take your eyes off what’s-his-and-her-name and direct your view to your own spouse. Look to see the beauty, the blessing and the redemption in your own marriage.

Thoughts on Marriage, 9 Lessons to Preserve What's Sacred | Faith and Composition

All in all, marriage is a picture of our eternal relationship with God; after all, he calls the church his bride. And the fact that we get to partake in a relationship that mirrors Christ and the church on a microscopic scale is an immense privilege and a profound mystery! Marriage is meant to reflect and reveal the goodness and grace of God to the world. It’s a relationship He has created for His glory, as well as our enjoyment and sanctification. 

As The Gospel Coalition put it: “Marriage is one of the means that God has ordained to sanctify us. God is not satisfied with us merely having a ‘good’ marriage. God wants to use our marriage to conform us more and more into the image of Christ. God has a rescue plan for your marriage. His goal is not simply to rescue your marriage. His goal is to use your marriage to rescue you.”

Although marriage is hard, the investment yields a ten-fold reward. Submit your relationship to The Lord and pursue him as a couple, and you will find your story to be one of adventure, rescue, and redemption.

What do you think? Have you had rough patches in your marriage? How have you navigated those and what have you learned about marriage in the process? Join the conversation in the comments or over on the F&C Facebook page.

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

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For When You Hurt at Christmas

For When You Hurt at Christmas | Faith and Composition

She walks into the store bravely, yet broken, bearing the fresh scars of a deep soul-pain that I can’t even begin to understand. I’d heard the news: four teens from my small hometown community killed in a wreck the day before Thanksgiving. Good kids. God-fearing kids. Kids gone much too early.

She should have been home with her son, relishing the moments of family gathered together on this holiday weekend. And yet, here she was, picking out clothes to wear to his funeral. I stood rooted to the spot when she broke down into sobs that defy description … the sound of a mother’s raw heart ripping wide open. A lump rose in my throat and tears streamed from my eyes, as I bore witness to her unbelievable pain and felt my own heart ripping in two.

Then a voice sounded from across the room: “Can I pray for you?” And suddenly my feet carried me to her side. I linked arms with a small group of women as we embraced this hurting mother and prayed for heaven to bend low and lift her in his arms, because only Jesus can answer a hurt like that.

Christmas is going to be unbearably painful for this mother; it’s going to be unbearably painful for a lot of people in my small Missouri hometown. In fact, Christmas is going to be hard for a lot of people across the world.

Perhaps Christmas is going to be hard for you. 

For When You Hurt at Christmas | Faith and Composition

From Connecticut to California, Ireland to Iraq, Africa to Afghanistan, as far as the east is from the west, people across this world are hurting. Parents are missing children, children are missing parents, death, divorce, sickness, suffering … A lot of people are in a lot of pain, and sometimes, the glad tidings of the Christmas season are just too much to bear. Because tree trimmings, sleigh bells ringing, and lights twinkling don’t answer the deep soul-ache of a heart in pain.

Broken hearts don’t need festive greenery, reindeer, or a man in a red suit; broken hearts need a savior to enter into their pain and bind up the brokenness. 

Two thousand years ago that savior arrived in the form of a boy born in a Bethlehem manger. Hope wrapped himself in flesh and interrupted the weary, despairing world with the life-giving news of a baby born to save the world.

Born to an unwed teenage mother in a dirty stable within an insignificant town; wrapped in rags and laid in a feed trough, the long-awaited rescuer arrived in a way no one anticipated. Jesus wasn’t born into privilege or welcomed into a royal court. He was born unto us … unto the common, the lonely, the heartbroken, the poor, the rejected, the forgotten, the overlooked, the discouraged. 

Immanuel–God with us–was born into the very midst of our mess.

For When You Hurt at Christmas | Faith and Composition

In a humble stable in the little town of Bethlehem, God drew near to the poor and the despairing. The light of the world shone into the darkness, and the hope of salvation eclipsed the pain and the despair of the human heart. Suddenly hope and healing, redemption and restoration had a name …

And He is Jesus.

This is the miracle of that first Christmas … that heaven unfurled itself, draped down low, and the majesty of God came to dwell among us. And this is the miracle of Christmas today … that God remains with us.

For When You Hurt at Christmas | Faith and Composition

So this holiday season, if Christmas carols ring hollow, twinkling lights have lost their luster, and you’re burdened by a pain too heavy to bear, there is this … Simply this: God is near. Bind these words upon your soul and carry them like a banner over your heart. Because Immanuel came near, and near to you He remains.   

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). – Matthew 1:23

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

The Cure for Christmas

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition
The youngest is sleeping, and the older two are resting when I pick up my phone to do a little browsing. Almost instantly I am overwhelmed by images of what-seem-to-be holiday perfection. Garland strewn across well-appointed mantles, Christmas cookies decorated with impeccable attention to detail, gifts wrapped with inventive materials, trees decked with enviable finery. I’m no stranger to all this; in fact I am drawn into the charm and whimsical beauty of it all.

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and CompositionThe Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

But then slowly, silently, I feel it. The pressure to create a perfect holiday wells up from the pit of my stomach and begins to tighten around my throat. The images can be overwhelming; the expectations stifling. I glance around my own house and see a half-finished handmade garland with pine needles littering the tabletop, remnants from lunch sitting on the counter, toys strewn about the living room, and opened boxes of Christmas decorations serving as a tripping hazard in the hall. In those moments, stylized images and my own unrealistic expectations collide with my current reality, and suddenly the holidays can feel like a high-stakes performance punctuated by the bitter taste of disappointment.

Since when did excessive commercialism subvert the birth of God-made-man in a lowly stable? What factors have worked to replace the gift of salvation with soon-to-be forgotten gifts that reek of materialism? When did cookie exchanges, visits to Santa, an elf on a shelf, coiffed trees and hot chocolate bars take precedence over the incredible miracle of God bending low and sending His son to take on flesh so that He might die on a cross and ransom us from the death we all deserve?

What has happened that we would rack up credit card charges to contribute to the accumulation of things, yet we wrap a tight fist around our cash when impoverished need stares us in the face? Why do we trample people on Black Friday yet tread on tiptoes when we speak His name? What has happened to Christmas?

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

The older I get, the more my heart is burdened by this over-commercialization of the holiday. For the past couple years, as this time has rolled around, I find myself longing for a pared-down simplicity. Yes I appreciate the beauty in a well-appointed mantel, I delight at lights glittering on a tree, I breathe in the scent of fresh pine, and I relish in the joy of friends and family gathering together, but I long for less Santa, less pomp, less fuss and more of the baby in a manger.

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition

Because the only cure for the disappointment caused by the intersection of high expectations and our daily reality is to focus on the intersection of grace and sin through the person of a baby born in a Bethlehem stable.

So this year I’m trying to focus more on the heart of the matter and less on the materials. Yes, I have some holiday-inspired posts coming your way, but they’re meaningless if this heart attitude isn’t the priority.

The Cure for Christmas | Faith and Composition
If we get caught up in the striving to make CHRISTmas perfect, we’ll miss CHRIST. Because at its core, Christmas is really the antithesis of perfection. After all, a perfect world doesn’t need a Savior, a broken world does. Christmas is about God’s son taking on flesh to be born into a filthy stable. He was wrapped in dirty clothes and laid in an animal feed trough. The awaited Savior arrived in a package nobody expected, and salvation came to sinful people through a means no one could imagine. He is redemption for a broken world, grace for imperfect people. So this month, as we hurry through the hustle and bustle that defines this holiday season, I pray we will all slow down to reflect on the incredible miracle of Christ being born in a stable for you and for me. Because that, my friends, is worth celebrating, today, tomorrow, on December 25, and for a lifetime!

What do you think, friends? As the Christmas season kicks off, how are you keeping your focus on Christ during the holidays?

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

This post originally appeared on F&C on December 4, 2013.

Regret-Free Mothering

Regret-Free Mothering | Faith and Composition

Regrets can suffocate a mom, threaten to steal the joy right out from within her. A mother can tally up those things like she’s keeping score. She can string each one, a bead at a time and then wear them around her neck like an albatross. My oldest is six, so I haven’t logged even a decade of motherhood yet, but I have some regrets stacking up already.

Just the other night, my son walked with dog bowls in hand toward the pantry. His arms wavered slightly as he set the bowls on the counter, then he turned, and I caught his eye. As his lip trembled, and the tears spilled from his eyes, I felt overwhelming regret consume me. Just moments before I had barked orders at him. We were running late, the baby was crying, dinner needed to be on the table, and I was feeling the pressure. I let the stress fill me up, and then I poured it out on him.

My boy is tender hearted, gracious, compassionate. It cuts him to the core when I use a harsh tone. So why do I do it? Why do I let the stress of the day boil over and take it’s toll on the ones I love most? I wrapped my arms around him almost immediately; I got down on his level and asked for forgiveness. Our relationship was mended, but I went to bed that night with regret eating at me.

The apostle Peter had regrets too. Christ foretold Peter he would deny him. But Peter was adamant, not him. Never.

Matthew 26:33 | Faith and Composition

But just hours after confessing his devotion, Peter does the very thing he vowed he wouldn’t do. He denies Jesus in His deepest hour of need … not once, not twice, but three times. Then the rooster crows, searing regret into Peter’s core, and he weeps bitterly.

If Peter—the man in Jesus’ inner circle—had regrets, you and I are bound to have them too. Mistakes in life, missteps in work, wrongs in relationships, misgivings in mothering. The question then is what do we do when these regrets arise?

What do we do when harsh words are spoken, spirits deflated, hearts crushed, souls wounded? How do we respond when tears fall from little ones’ eyes or doors slam at the hands of a frustrated teen? How do we move beyond the all-consuming regret that results from those situations and into reconciliation and redemption?

Peter could have remained in his regrets. He could have wallowed in the sorrow of his denial of Jesus, and it could have rendered him useless for the Kingdom. This denial could have been the last we heard of Peter. His ministry could have ended here.

But it didn’t. Why? Because Jesus … 

After his resurrection, Jesus appears to the disciples and asks Peter a direct question. Not once, not twice, but three times. “Simon son of John, do you love me?” And three times Peter affirms Him, one answer of affirmation to redeem each denial.

Peter’s regret was one that only Christ could redeem. And Christ indeed did just that. Jesus sought Peter, He reconciled Peter to himself, and then He used Peter to influence the Kingdom for eternity. Peter knew what it meant to have regrets, and he knew what it meant to have those regrets redeemed. It was this experience that enabled Peter to became a conduit of grace to so many others.

You and I have that same opportunity. When mama guilt threatens to consume us, we can give in to the regret. We can let it eat away at us, gnawing into our heart, or we can give it to Jesus. If we give it to Jesus, we’ll find that He redeems our regret and transforms it into a tool of grace and redemption that we can’t help but spill out onto our own children and others. We can extend forgiveness, show mercy, pour out lovingkindness only because we have been recipients of it first. When face to face with Jesus, our regrets suddenly transform from marred mistakes into tools of His mercy. So whatever your regrets may be—even if they’re strung as beads upon a thread worn heavy around your neck—drop them at the feet of Jesus and allow Him to bring forth redemption.

Hinds Feet on High Places | Faith and Composition

This is Day 13 in 31 Days of Intentional Mothering. To start reading from Day 1, click here.

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!

 

The Butterfly Lesson

The Butterfly Lesson, 31 Days of Intentional Mothering | Faith and Composition

As I dropped the oldest off at his classroom the other day, there was a flurry of excited activity. A monarch caterpillar had fully emerged from its chrysalis, and the butterfly fluttered around. A second monarch caterpillar was in the process of emerging, and an animated group of six-year-old kids hovered around, watching the incredible miracle of transformation take place.

Just ten minutes later, as I stood talking to a fellow mom, the class emerged outside to give the monarch its freedom and watch it take flight. It lighted upon a tree branch and then flitted away.

Hours later, as I sat at home with all three kids sans the hubbie who was away on a business trip, I’d all but forgotten about the butterfly. The night was stretching long, and my patience was wearing thin. It was just past 9, and the kids had yet to be drifting off to dreamland. Sleeping bags were scattered on the floor, and no less than five books, a baby doll, one stuffed horse, and three kids were piled in our bed. I was tired, and they were pressing my limits.

As I began to reach my breaking point, I felt my blood pressure rising. Irritated and exhausted, I began barking orders at the kids: lay down, no talking, close your eyes, go to sleep. Not exactly the picture of an intentional mom who desires to let grace be the banner over her home.

When their breathing fell into a rhythmic cadence and arms draped heavy, I slipped out of the room. And as I reflected on the last few moments before they’d fallen asleep, I felt the ugly feeling of defeat and failure thick around my shoulders. Because sometimes I parent with such lovingkindness, but then other times

I sulked into the office and sat down at the computer, but nothing came. There were no words of encouragement for intentional moms bubbling out of my spirit. Because let’s be honest, I felt like the least intentional mom of all. I crawled back into bed, and then suddenly, in His lovingkindness, God brought the butterfly to mind.

The Butterfly Lesson, 31 Days of Intentional Mothering | Faith and Composition

The butterfly is an object lesson in the unspeakable goodness of God’s grace. For it is God who causes the monarch caterpillar to undergo the miraculous process of metamorphosis that then transforms it from a ground-crawling creature into a winged butterfly of striking beauty.

And He does the same for you and I. He did it once at the cross, and He continues to do it every moment of every day. He takes the bruised, broken, messy parts of our hearts, and He transforms those ugly places into things of unspeakable beauty. He takes the old, and He makes all things new.

If God does it for the butterfly; if He cares about the transformation of a lowly caterpillar into a winged creature of intricate detail, how much more does He care about our own transformation? How much more does He long to transform our own motherhood story, to bring beauty and restoration to our relationship with our own children?

Beautiful_Things by Gungor | Faith and Composition

It’s this power, this all-consuming, can’t-wrap-my-mind-around-His-goodness that gives you and I the strength to get up in the morning and start all over with our kids. We can’t do this on our own. Left to our devices, we will fail to love without restraint, fail to let forgiveness cover grievances, fail to parent with patience and compassion. But when we allow God to enter into the heart of our mothering, He causes life and grace to spring forth from otherwise dead and dusty places.

I don’t know where you may be in your motherhood journey. I don’t know if guilt hangs thick around your shoulders, or if the regret of past mistakes weighs heavy, but I know this … the God who causes the butterfly to emerge from the depths of a suffocating, dark cocoon does the same for us. When all hope seems lost for the caterpillar, when logic would cause us to see nothing but death and decay in the caterpillar’s tomb-like cocoon, God is working to bring forth a miracle of life and transformation.

So dear momma, when your patience wears thin, when regret is a constant friend, when you long to mother with intentionality but fear you are failing miserably … simply remember the butterfly.

This is Day 12 in 31 Days of Intentional Mothering. To start reading from Day 1, click here.

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Like what you see here? Then you’ll love my first-ever children’s book, Bruce the Brave. Now available on Amazon

For more content like this, connect with me on FacebookInstagramand Twitter! To receive more encouraging posts AND get a free printable, enter your e mail in the box to the sidebar at the right. Then just click “I want to Follow F&C!” Be sure to check your inbox for the confirmation and the link to your free printable. You can also follow F&C on BlogLovin’

All content is ©Faith&Composition by Shalene Roberts, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. If you like F&C content, I’d be tickled pink if you would share. Just please include a link to the original post. Thank you!