Hold me now. Wrap your loving arms around me, and just … hold me. Tight. Hold me … close.

Let me inhale the sweet scent of your skin as I lay my head on your chest. I can hear your heart beating … beating for me.

Do you remember days gone by when we would get swept up in each other and the only thing that mattered was you and I in that moment? Together.

The demands of life can be so overwhelming at times, yet shelter from the storms of life, and peace and comfort are still found in the depths of each other’s arms.

My heart skips a beat every time you rush to me, get down on one knee, and slide your strong arms around my waist as you embrace me with your love. I cradle your head as I run my fingers through your hair and hold you close to me.

Moments spent with you standing by the water’s edge, exchanging soft kisses as the rain began to sprinkle down from Heaven … We pause for a moment, my hand upon your chest, your arms still wrapped around me. There in your arms … I know I am home.

Date Nights1
This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word of: Hold. Join us for the #fmfparty on twitter and link up your blog post here.

The Best Things In Life

The best things in life do not cost a single thing.  I realize that money is needed to pay bills so that you have a house to live in, electricity in your home, food on the table, etc.  They are necessities that we often times take for granted.  We are so blessed in this life and have more than we truly need in material things.  But, what about heart things?  Those moments that take our breath away?

To me, some of the best things in life are cuddling on the couch watching a movie with your love, holding hands, and feeling their arms wrapped securely around you.  I also love cuddling with my children as we take turns reading pages in a book, or our snuggle time right before bed.  The quiet moments we share together are so precious to me.  The whispers before they drift off to sleep after I’ve tucked them in for the night.  How they ask me to give them a mini facial as they prepare for dreamland, and I watch as all of the worries of their day melt away.

How about calls from your parents just to say that they are thinking of you and they love you?  I treasure those.  They just want to check on you and let you know that they care.  Or, like my dad just did out of the blue – he sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers to my work.  I did not expect it at all, and yet he did something so sweet that just melted my heart completely.  I love my parents, and my dad is one heck of a man!  There should be more men in the world like him.

And then there’s time spent with my best friend … my horse, Sugar.  There’s nothing like grooming her and getting her all ready to ride, and then when I lift myself up in the stir ups and sit on top of this beautiful horse, I feel more alive than I have in a very long time.  Feeling every single movement as she slowly walks along, feeling as if we are one – my partner and I.

I especially love getting together with old friends and laughing until we cry or leaving with our faces hurting from all the laughing and smiling that we’ve done.  And the hugging and praying together, holding hands and clinging to each other as words are lifted up to our Heavenly Father on one of our friend’s behalf as we did this past weekend … there are no words to describe how that feels joining together in prayer.   For when two or more are gathered in HIs name …

These, sweet people of the universe, are some of the best things in life.  Nothing compares to them or could even come close!

Take time to appreciate the people in your life and make time for them.  You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but be intentional with your time.  Give the gift of your time to others.  Something magical will happen.  You will be touching someone’s heart completely, and at the same time, your heart will be blessed also!

God has given us this beautiful, amazing life … some times there will be rough spots along the way, but He is there through every single one of them walking right beside you, and even carrying you when needed.

Love this life that you’ve been given.  It is yours.  No one can live it like you can.  God has called you to live, to love, to show care and compassion for others around you.    Treasure and cherish the people that are in your lives.  They may not always be there.  We never know when God will call one of us home.

Our One Year Anniversary


Today is a very special day for Light Love Hope as we celebrate our one year anniversary.  We are so glad you are here with us to celebrate!  As part of our celebration, we have a giveaway going where you could have your very own Jim Brickman cd.  If you do not know who Jim Brickman is, allow me to enlighten you.  Jim Brickman plays beautiful music on his piano.  He travels with a few of his friends to cities to perform music that will soothe you and relax you.  His music is also perfect for a romantic night out with that special someone, or if you’re staying in, just put his cd in and turn the lights down low for a romantic candlelight dinner.  My personal favorite, though, is to turn on Jim Brickman’s cd and take a nice, long bubble bath.  There is just something about relaxing in the tub with the lights off and just the flickering of the candlelight as Jim’s music floats through the air surrounding and embracing you.

With that said, the entry form is at the end of this post so please enter our giveaway, if you haven’t already!   Five lucky winners will be selected!

What has this past year been like for us?  Well, it has been a wonderful release.  Writing is a form of therapy for me.  If I cannot find the words to speak, I can always seem to get them to flow right through my fingertips and onto the screen almost effortlessly.  Some of my thoughts may entertain, others may educate.  One thing that is for sure is that I will always be honest and open with my readers.  I share my story in an effort to help others so that they know they truly are NOT alone.  Nothing is worse than walking around in this world of seven billion people and feeling as if you’re alone without a single person that can relate to what you’re going through in life.  You are not alone any more, dear hearts.

We have tried to share inspirational stories and to offer encouragement to our readers.  We have shared about our families, and we have shared our struggles growing up.  Each of our writers have dug deep within their heart and soul and poured out the most beautiful pieces that I have been so proud to display on this website.  I applaud each and every one of our writers for pouring themselves out in their words; words that are straight from their heart and the core of their being.  I thank them for being transparent and vulnerable, yet caring enough to give of themselves in this way.  If our stories touch one person’s life, it will all be worth it.

If you are not familiar with all of our writers, please visit our page dedicated to the amazing Encouragement Team by clicking here.

With that said, thank you, again, from the very bottom of our hearts for sharing a year with us here at Light Love Hope!   Today as we celebrate our one year anniversary, we celebrate YOU, our readers!

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Suicide Prevention and Awareness

NOTE:  Tamela shares her very personal story in this blog post concerning depression, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts.   Please read Suicide Prevention and Awareness and allow your heart to open to what she is saying so that you can help others around you.  Share your love and compassion with those that are hurting in the world today.  ~Shirley


Hold me now I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking That maybe six feet Ain’t so far down Please come now I think I’m falling I’m holding on to all I think is safe


This is the final chorus to a Creed song called One Last Breathe.  I sometimes blast the song in my car and sing my lungs out as a suicide survivor because it reminds me that sometimes the loudest screams on earth are never uttered or heard by anyone.  Even if the words are spoken, the sad fact is that many do not hear the screams, the pain, the slow dying inside.  “Hold me now…,”  oh how often in my past I’ve thought those words which used to include, “I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking, maybe six feet ain’t so far down.”  I feel blessed and grateful to live outside that world today but I’ve lived there, not knowing, not understanding; certainly not thinking anyone else felt or understood my pain, wanting it all to just end…six feet ain’t so far down…


September is Suicide Prevention month.  This topic runs deep inside me daily as I know what it feels like to not be able to see any good in life, to feel that all have deserted you and no one understands…so why try to explain; besides, wouldn’t the world just be better off if I hadn’t existed or didn’t exist??


This is my story.  I hope by speaking it will help some to more fully understand the absolute and complete despair that one must be in to reach a point of no return, no hope, wanting no more than nothingness…to end the pain…to be gone from here.


I honestly cannot say when, what I call, the bad thoughts began but I know they were very present by my early teens.  Of course no one knew, who would I tell in the early 1970s when – compared to today – nothing was mentioned publicly about mental illness or feeling like you couldn’t take it anymore and just wanted to find a way out??  Knowing inside that somehow you didn’t think the way others did and that the constant feeling of defeat and sadness was beyond hard to overcome at times, and at times, I lost the courage to keep fighting and gave in to those thoughts of just being gone, of it all just ending.  If anything in those days, someone’s crazy aunt was sent away for “others” to take care of; an institution with no rehabilitation available.  My down times came in spurts but when those down times set in, I began what ended up being a decades-long quest to find out what was “wrong” with me and why I could not achieve what I perceived as “normal”.  I knew others didn’t hide inside unable to move from the couch, crying and/or sleeping for long, long periods – days.  I knew others didn’t hide behind closed blinds, isolating, but instead lived life.  I once did not know how to live life, not the happy lives I observed others enjoying.  I once had no enjoyment of life or the many blessings given each day – for many years I saw through eyes that lied to me about what I was seeing and feeling.  I knew others could enjoy life and have true fun.  At best I faked it and I don’t think I succeeded at all times but I did fool many for a very long time.  I lived behind masks to hide the pain and truth of what was going on in my head.  I did not know for many years that the periods of what I deemed “calm” (read: not suicidal) were actually my mania in full bloom.  At these times, life was GOOD!


In depression, I remember the sheer helplessness I felt.  Everything was bad or wrong; there was nothing “right” going in my life – despite in my adult years having a beautiful son and loving friends, a good job – what many would deem a successful life, at least looking from the outside in.  Inside, I could in no way find belief in the words of friends and family who said they cared – if they only knew how I talked them down in my head many people through my life would be surprised that what they saw on the outside very often did not match what was going on inside.  One of the aspects of sliding down that slippery path which could end in suicide is the relentless voice in your head that will not SHUT UP!!  That terrible voice that speaks only negativity, of your worthlessness, how others only pretend to like you or enjoy your company – everyone lies, that’s what my head told me.  The feeling of being stuck and that “things” would never improve; the absolute helplessness and hopelessness sent me on many a search to find the right way to do “the job” this time.  The truly sad part often leading to suicide is when you start picking apart your life finding each and every hiccup or mistake to validate your thoughts – even bringing things long past up to “prove” you are so bad you do not deserve to breath air any longer – see mind, here’s ALL the proof you need to justify my ending my life.  It’s a lonely downward spiral that unless you are paying close attention to the clues – sometimes verbal, sometimes in action or behavior – you will miss the underlying message and perhaps miss a chance to “hold” someone until they are in a safer, emotionally safer, place.


The first time the Calvary of medical professionals arrived to help was at the age of 30 when I found myself waking – very angry and upset –  in the ICU after attempting and coming close to achieving another suicide attempt; in the past I’d just woken at home with none the wiser.  I discovered that the State of Arizona takes these things rather seriously as I was not allowed to go home when released.  No, instead I experienced the first of many psychiatric “holding” (not quite lock-down level) places until “they” feel you are no longer in danger of harming yourself.  The Crisis Stabilization Unit was certainly a lesson in where I did NOT want to ever go again.  “Clients” were required to help around the house and apartments by cleaning or cooking or washing dishes.  Didn’t mind that part; what I minded was that in order to prepare a meal, if a knife was needed you had to check one out.  If you wanted to use a razor, you had to check one out.  If you did not return the sharp instrument you’d checked out in a set time frame, well, let’s just say bathrooms were not sacred spaces in that place!


With that experience under my belt, you can bet any suicidal thoughts were kept to myself from there on in, I was not going back there!  It was not till the mid-90s that I knew it was getting really, really bad; unmanageably bad.  I couldn’t shake the negativity, the despair, the pain any longer.  Friends referred me to a therapist who, God bless her, worked hard over more than five years to help me figure out why I could only achieve “better” for an inconsistent period of time before the darkness set in again.  All her work resulted in my going to inpatient treatment in July 2000.  The therapist had not given up so much as said, “Someone needs to watch you and see if they see something that I’m not.”  Please understand, up till this point in my life, I had never sought help unless I was mentally in the pits and thinking, “This time it’s going to happen.”  With professionals looking over me, they began medicating me for depression – that’s what I’d been sent for – and watched.  Upon leaving, I had to get a psychiatrist to continue with this medication-cocktail thing that most mentally ill people need in order to find balance once again.  It’s not a case of, “Here’s a pill.  It will fix you.”


The psychiatrist I found blessed me, too.  After a month or so, she looked at me one day and asked if I slept well or something like that.  She’d obtained enough information about me to start putting the pieces together.  At that time in my life I was raising an active son on my own, volunteering 15 – 20 hours a week, building a new advising program for a program at my alma mater (including frequent recruitment trips around the state), and yet this was not enough to make me tired or sleep much.  When the sad times came, oh, I could sleep all right!  I had by this time come to accept that leaving my home was not an option at times and so many a sick day was taken without a physical illness being present.  Don’t know if one can call in saying, “I’m having a mental day,” and it would be taken as being even in the realm of believability as calling in to say you have a cold…or that one would not ruin their career forever if they made such a call.  This psychiatrist put all the information about me together and figured out I was not depressed, I was severely bipolar and getting worse; soon after she placed me on disability.  This diagnosis explained so much.  My irregular moods, the highs and lows (not knowing that I was manic because that seemed a “normal”, productive state to me), most especially how I could seemingly function at times and then just be lost in the mental weeds the next.  I have learned and recovered much over the last decade or more.


My last suicidal period/hospitalization occurred almost a decade ago.  In December it will officially be ten years since I’ve taken the slippery slope that far down into darkness.  I have worked very hard over the last fourteen years to find my safe space and to be willing, when the darkness begins to set in, to recognize it quickly and act to protect myself from myself even more quickly.  I have learned that when my mind wants to fixate on the exit plan, I need to reach out as oftentimes others just do not or cannot hear your pleas for help…or even the “hold me now” which could quite seriously mean the difference between life and death.


As said, I’ve worked hard to achieve some level of peace of mind today.  I am also a well-medicated, watched-over, stable person today…but it took years and I had to be willing to work to find this place, this blessed place I am today.  I continue, I will continue, to have my swerves off the stable path but overall, compared to the first 50 years of my life, today is good and I am happy.  The very steep emotional mountains and below sea level valleys I’ve survived only serve as proof that I AM a survivor and that today, those highs and lows have become rolling hills that I can handle and manage.


I am so tired, so very tired, of people not finding their peace and choosing the exit plan and not the path to lead them back to stability, but I do also understand the mindset that puts one in a place of no return.  When one is sick in the head, their thoughts aren’t on crisis lines and reaching out – their mind is focused on the “how to end it”, not the “how do I save me from me?”  This is why it is necessary if you know someone who is depressed to pay attention to the words and actions of that person as that will clue you in more than anything and if those around us mental folks aren’t paying attention, well, that’s just more proof to us that you neither truly care or understand…even more reason I should leave here because no one will ever get me or understand this deep pain I have no control over.


I am willing to speak out for those who cannot.  As humans caring for one another, it is our duty to have at least the bare minimum knowledge of what any mental illness may actually be and to NOT presume based on behavior that you “know” that person’s mind or thoughts or capabilities.  Others have NO RIGHT to determine for me if my actions or reactions are based in my illness or just a real reaction to a situation that I must deal with appropriately while recognizing that I am allowed to feel during the entire process, and some of those feelings may be negative based on the situation.  Don’t presume, read and learn.  Read about depression or any mental illness that you may know you are around so you can be there to assist.  Learn the warning signs as I have known many a depressed person over the years and I have yet, once, heard any of them say, “But I told my friends I hurt…”  Look for the silent signs.  HEAR the silent pleas that come out as, “Life is pretty hard right now” not realizing they may be touching only the tip of their painful iceberg.  If someone starts giving away precious things to them – that’s a clue!!  Please, don’t patronize any mentally ill person by paying lip service only to them.  If you care, learn.  We can only help others when we are properly equipped to do so.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number:  1-800-273-8225 or visit: suicidepreventionlifeline.org


Veterans Crisis Line:  1-800-273-8255/press 1 or visit: veteranscrisisline.net


Both sites will give you information on suicide, signs to look for, how to help.  Please know we are losing 22 veterans a day to suicide, more than the national average – and it has been so for years.  Please pay attention, what’s hidden on the inside is frequently not shown or fully exhibited on the outside.


This month and all year, let’s work to get rid of suicide, at the very least reduce the numbers.  Help to get rid of the stigma and perhaps more would be willing to come forward and ask for help.  You be the help they need!  Together we can do this!!



The Weekend of A Lifetime

Wow! That is all I can say about this past weekend. I finally got to meet and hug my best friends of 17 years in person!

The internet can be a very valuable tool. It contains a wealth of information to educate us. It can be used to bring people together as it did with these precious ladies that I had the pleasure of spending time with this weekend. If used wisely, beautiful things can come from the internet. Our friendship is one that I will forever be grateful for and will treasure for all time. It is hard to believe that with a bond as strong as ours that it came from the internet … having never met face-to-face before now. But, that is the beauty in it. We shared our inner most thoughts and feelings all of these years with each other, and I cherish that!

There will be more to this story, but for now, just know that we shared a LOT of laughter, and yes some tears as well. These ladies are precious to me!

This weekend was exactly what my heart and soul needed.

And I thank God for the weekend of a lifetime!

Friends For A Lifetime

Today I am going to skip my usual participation in the Five Minute Friday linkup.  What’s that, you might ask, if you’re just joining us?  Well, a prompt word is provided to get the writer’s juices flowing, and everyone is encouraged to write for five whole minutes without worrying about getting it just right.  However, today of all days, that is not necessary as I know EXACTLY what I would like to write about, and it will be perfect … because of the subject!

Friends For A Lifetime!

That’s right!

Seventeen years ago, I ventured onto a website that would change my life forever.  I had seen the television network on my satellite and had started watching it.  One day an advertisement was on for the Lifetime Lounge.  I thought, “What in the world …”  Curiosity got the best of me, and so it wasn’t long before I was going to my computer to enter that website to find out exactly what this place was all about.  Little did I realize at the time that my entire life would be changed by going into that website that very day.

At first I was shy and just sat back to read the exchanges.  When I felt brave enough, I jumped in with the conversation.  Feeling as if I never quite fit in when I was in school, I was not even sure anyone would respond to my posts in there.  I was easily ignored and looked over in real life, so I did not expect it to be any different in a “virtual world.”  Much to my surprise, though, not only did people respond, but at one point I seemed to be one of the most popular people in there.  I was surprised when later one of the ladies told me that she was feeling so good about herself because I ~the popular one in her eyes~ acknowledged her, too.  Wow.  We were both feeling this in our personal lives – ignored, overlooked, of little value and worth, unpopular, neglected, and unloved~ and here, in our virtual world, we mattered!  A lot!  We were accepted, we were loved, we were valued!

We started having deep conversations about some really important matters in our lives.   Over time, we began to share more about our lives, our struggles, and before you know it, we took our conversations from a very public forum into private emails to share the depths of our hearts and minds with each other.

The day I ventured into that virtual world changed my life forever … in the absolute most positive way!  Little did I know that by clicking on this website I would make friends for a lifetime IN the Lifetime Lounge, no less.  :)  It’s true, though.  It happened.  We are forever cemented to each other after all that we shared!

Although the website was primarily for women, there were a few brave men that ventured into the site as well out of curiosity.  They saw the craziness of these womenfolk and decided to stay.

Oh the conversations were serious, but there was also some very silly times in there as well.  It was the MOST FUN, too!!!

We laughed … we cried … we bonded.  We became sisters and brothers of the heart.  Nothing is stronger than the bond you have with individuals that have come alongside of you through the good, bad, and ugly times in your lives.  That is exactly what happened, too, and 17 years later, these wonderful people are still by my side.

We have seen each other through some of the hardest things to have to endure in life.  From my divorce, to life as a now-single-mom and all the struggles that went with it, to my sister’s suicide and the horrible aftermath that survivors face, to my parent’s both being diagnosed with different types of cancers, to their treatment and recovery, to my remarrying, to my ruptured ectopic pregnancy that almost claimed my life, to the infertility issues and treatments I endured to conceive after losing one of my tubes, to the absolute best celebration this side of Heaven when my miracle baby was finally placed into my arms for the first time, to watching my babies grow up in pictures on the screen, to the struggles of having a teenage driver in the house, to being bullied on the job, to my grandmother’s two year struggle to stay alive and ultimately to her taking her final breath, to getting thrown from a horse and recovering from fractures, and from yet another broken heart … these precious people have been by my side the ENTIRE time encouraging me, supporting me, loving me, inspiring me, holding me up on many occasions when I felt as if I could not go on … they lifted me up and carried me right along with God.  Picture God cradling me in His arms as He is carrying me with many extra hands holding me right alongside of Him as these angels here on earth helped me through each and every hardship I have had to face in the past 17 years.

We have shared some good times in there.  Please know it was not all bad.  Not at all.  And I supported them as well, although I do not feel it right to share the struggles they have faced.  It is not my place, but I will speak freely about those of my own.

Today … ah, today, I will be traveling to meet these precious ladies that have been my lifeline through the years.  Yes, we are meeting for the very first time in 17 years of friendship.  These friends for a lifetime have no idea what they are in for today when we see each other face-to-face for the very first time.  Lots of hugs, lots of tears, and lots of laughter … that is what is in store this weekend.

And I thank God for my friends for a lifetime!


Where Were You The Day The World Stopped Turning

Today is September 11, 2014.  Where were you the day the world stopped turning round?  Do you remember where you were on that day when we, as a Nation, were attacked?  I do.

I worked at a construction company, at the time, in the front office.  We had been working on a bid for a highway letting that was due by noon that day.  We hurried up and got all of our final numbers, entered them into the bid sheet, and sealed the envelop.  I rushed to my car to take the bid to the appropriate building in another town by the deadline, as this was before the world of electronic submissions.

As I got comfortable in my car and turned the radio up to listen to tunes on the drive, the regular program was interrupted with chaos and confusion as the voice came over the radio telling of one building up in smoke … and shortly thereafter, the other.  The twin towers were hit.  It was a terrorist attack.

I remember the shock I felt as the waves crashed into me of disbelief, horror, and fear.

My foot immediately came off of the accelerator as who could possibly think to press it when you’re having trouble just breathing in that moment you are hearing that the world, as you knew it, was coming to an end.  Was this, in fact, the end of the world?  Was this the beginning of the end that they talk about in the bible?

I managed to force myself to breathe in as I reached for my cell phone.  I called out to someone – anyone – to see if this was just a bad dream or if I caught the tail end of something horrible on the radio that wasn’t really truly happening.  No, it was no nightmare.  There was no waking up from this.  It was really happening.

I cannot begin to imagine the feelings that swept over the entire nation as they learned of this horrible attack.  So many lives were lost that day.  It was something that never should have happened, yet it did.  It left so many lives destroyed, so much devastation behind, and people every where asking WHY this had to happen.  Families were torn apart.  Lives were lost, blood was shed, and the entire nation mourned.

Even what seems like “all these years later” … we still remember.  This is something we will never, ever forget as lives every where were altered and changed that day.

Will you join us in prayer for our nation?  For the families that lost loved ones that day?  For the precious children … the husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, friends, coworkers … all of the precious lives cut too short, gone too soon?

Pray for our nation.


We will NEVER forget.

We Care Wednesday: An Open Letter to…

As I sit alone in the evening, the wear of dismay covers my soul from the trials of the day. I wonder where to turn, what to do, as my mind bounces from one stressful situation to another and back again. There seems to be no respite or solutions to my seemingly endless troubles. In earnest, I shift my mind to the one thing that will begin my ascent form the well of despair; thoughts of you.

Though I am alone, I feel that you are always there with me. It is you that I allowed into my heart where no other has been. It is you that brings me joy with just the mere thought of having you with me in spirit. It is you that gives me warmth when I feel cold inside. It is you that I cherish beyond the constraints of the physical world; for eternity. It is you that has guided me to the true meaning of love more than any other. It is you that will always be in my heart. It is you that I will love forever.

Light, Love, Hope Celebrates Its First Anniversary

To celebrate the first anniversary of LightLoveHope.com we are giving away five copies of Jim Brickman’s Greatest Hits CD. You may enter as many times as you like. Enter using the form below. The contest begins Friday September 4th and runs through Saturday September 20th. Winners will be chosen within 24 hours of the end of the contest and notified of winning via email. The list of winners will be posted here on LightLoveHope.com and on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Shirley.LightLoveHope.

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The day has drawn to a close with the sun setting and the moon hanging high in the sky watching our every move.  We’ve danced under that very moon tonight, laughing, twirling with our heads thrown back, and enjoying the moment.  As we made our way inside, you, yawning and stretching, and me following right behind, you crawl into bed awaiting me to come shortly thereafter to tuck you in.  Snug as a bug in a rug.  My little lady bug.

I stroke your hair and kiss your cheek softly as I whisper, “I love you,” in your ear.  Those three small words … who knew they could have such feelings and emotions behind them … but a mother knows.  From the moment I found out I was pregnant with you, I was in love … every fiber of my being was so in love with you, dear child of mine.  And today, there are so many feelings and emotions behind those three little words.  They are so tiny, and yet so powerful, just like you.

And I sit with you a moment longer, soaking in all of your beauty and wonder … this little child of mine.

Just as I whisper my words of love to you, God does also to each and every one of us.  It’s the sweet whispers of the wind blowing through our hair, the sunlight caressing our skin, the birds singing their melody for all the world to hear … God’s hands are in all things, and He is whispering from His lips to our hearts His love for us all.  Do you hear Him calling to you?

I love you to the moon & stars!

This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt word of:  Whisper.   Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments (which we love, by the way), or link up your own blog post at Kate’s virtual house!