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It's interesting that most religious and philosophical traditions in the world teach similar lessons. What all these traditions have in common is the rarity of their followers actually living by those teachings. Thanks for this column.

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“...the rarity of their followers actually living by those teachings.”

A sad reality, Charles. I find myself getting angry often with fellow self-proclaimed Christ-followers who go on rants about one thing or another, vilifying and judging their neighbors instead of loving them.

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I agree, and also one reason I've found it so difficult to align with a religion. It's been frustrating actually, very frustrating at times. But it's also good to know one can be highly spiritual and feel close to God even without a religion.

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One doesn't have to be religious to recognize the wisdom found in the Bible. I believe we reap what we sow in this life. If we help others with a happy heart it comes back to us in some way. Too bad more people don't ascribe to this belief; imagine how different a world it would be.

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Selfishness and self-centeredness are the root of so many problems in the world.

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Oh, Holly. What a beautiful post. What a beautiful family. Thank you so much for telling this wonderful, WONDERFUL story. :D

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Thank you, Rebecca. Sometimes we get children we never knew we’d have. 😉

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This is really lovely Holly. It's so easy to get wrapped up in ourselves. My parents are aging quickly now and I think we're really starting into the time that they will need us the most. It's not going to be easy - they live 4 hours away and there's a lot to do. This is a very helpful reminder that it's about them, and all of us as a family. Thank you!

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I have found the hardest seasons of my life produced the most growth. And you are right--it is *so* easy to get wrapped up in ourselves. Caring for aging parents is not so far off for me--maybe another 10 years--and I know it will be challenging. I pray God gives me what I need to meet it head on with love, respect, and patience.

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The further I live from the center of the universe the happier I am.

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I love that, Pete.

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Beautiful story, Holly. Love the bit about how we “spend” ourselves. I’ll be chewing on that this week.

I grew up in a blended family, and while I’m not close to my step siblings at all in adulthood, my step dad loved me as his own and was a very important person in my life. I love to see other strong blended family relationships.

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Right?! The thought of “spending” myself makes me rethink what I do with my time.

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Beautiful essay.

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Thank you for this gorgeous, comforting read, Holly. I am so glad you were able to welcome all these beautiful kids into your life. Humans are incredibly adaptable, and when we keep an open mind we can adjust to circumstances that initially felt impossible. That adaptability is our superpower! It can allow us to live fuller, more meaningful lives than we would ever have believed. ❤️

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“Adapting” was almost featured in this article as a header. You are so right--humans are incredibly adaptable, but I think we forget that as we age and become set in our ways. Definitely a superpower we need to be reminded of from time to time!

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What a jolt in my spirit. Thank you for sharing your story. This entire year has been about giving and trusting God. The passage from Isaiah put it perspective. I never thought of it that way. 🙏

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I’m so glad you took something away from this post, Stella! That’s why I write. We are all learning and growing (hopefully), and I just share my story and what I’ve learned through it. This year has been a big one for trusting God for me too. We got my youngest into a long-term rehabilitation program in May (check out a post called Midweek Musings: The Brotherhood for some insight into that), and my brother’s leukemia came back after 6 months in remission (I wrote a series about this on “Being a Stem Cell Donor). Oddly enough, I have not panicked at all. I’ve had such peace, and I know that comes from intentional trust in God.

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Peace = God. I believe that too!

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I'm not very religious, but that passage from Isaiah struck a chord. That landed in my inbox at just the right time. The other relatable takeaway is that family is what you make it--and it often looks different than we were raised to think.

Also: That shirt! lol.

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While Bible study and talks with God are an at-least daily thing for me, I don’t push my beliefs on others. But some of my writing will naturally flow from that relationship (because for me, God is so much more than religion). I won’t shy away from sharing, but I always hope to do so in a manner that welcomes someone into my experience and leaves them with more in their heads or hearts than they came with. Never preachy.

And yes, family is what you make it! As I continue telling the story of how my heart grew (oh, yes...there is so much more!), you’ll get to meet more family I’ve not mentioned yet.

Also: the shirt is the best!

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Right on. And just for clarity, I didn't see it as preachy at all. I wish more people lived/embodied Christ-like values like you've shown in this story rather than weaponizing them.

When you work for an airline, you learn that "family" lesson early. I've spent more time with my coworkers than some of my own family, and we've shared LOT of holiday meals in a terminal breakroom. I wouldn't trade those for anything.

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It takes a lot of courage to share this kind of story...and I thank you for doing so because it enriched me to read it... Also, I like this quote a lot, "when you open your hands in release, they are free to gather those blessings." And now I know more about you and your newsletter...

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I orally share this (and other) story often, and I figured it was time to write it. It was such a major event in our lives--all of us. Let’s say that living with an infant for a while was fantastic birth control for the younger three kids. They are still child-free to date!😂

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Such a beautiful story.

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Love this so much!! I had to laugh with the picture of The Grinch. I LOVE that story and the part where his heart grows three sizes has been bringing me to tears every year (and I saw it when it FIRST came on TV...was it 1965?) I watch it. May our hearts all grow three sizes just when when we think we can't imagine how...

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Yes! I hope mine is growing until the day I take my last breath!

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Very beautiful and moving, Holly.

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Thanks for sharing an important life lesson through your deeply personal story. I couldn't stop laughing at the T-shirt part. :)

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That T-shirt lives in infamy!🤣

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This is just completely beautiful.

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