Diary of a Misfit

Calling in Scared

YIKES or YAY?!?888328953e3cc9c17a6b4c8f82b81ba7

 

My body can’t tell the difference between YIKES and YAY. Fear and excitement both set off the same alarm bells in my lousy nervous system. Statistics say that’s true for nearly 25% of us now. The chemical and cultural stresses of our fallen world are upping the figures all the time. “Generalized Anxiety Disorder” and “Panic Disorder” and lotsa other UNhelpful labels abound.

The horrid thing about “ANXIETY” is it’s INVISIBLE to others. And they think they know what you need to do about it.

Yeah. About like we know what THEY should do about their jock itch and anal fissures. NO!

For one thing, the docs need a new NAME for it, in my opinion. Instead of the dismissive little hand pat “there there, it’s just anxiety”. Because now science has proven there is an inborn GENETIC reason for a lot of it. It’s the way some bodies process chemicals, foods, meds, adrenaline, etc. People think “anxious” means you are scared. Or nervous. Or “think too much.” Or worry too much. Wound up too tight.

Well, sure, that could be true sometimes. But LOTS of “normal” folks do ALL of that and do NOT suffer from “anxiety disorder” or “panic disorder.” Those of us who DO know the difference. HUGE difference. The hardest part of which? That “they” do NOT. At least if you have a broken leg you get to wear a cast and get autographs on it. Sympathy. Not “The Look.”

Anxiety is mostly the skid marks the traumas of life left on our nervous system. Your nightmares echo your darkest sensory abuses from childhood, and every slight of daily life is a fresh bloody wound. Complicated by iffy genes in some of us too. NOT the hyper, Type-A, overachiever, worrywart thing most people THINK it is.

It’s hard to live in the “make a list” world, even in ministry, when you never know WHEN your nervous system is gonna go off. So you find yourself backing out of life in iffy ways. Lonely in spite of desire to serve, a need for people. Wanting to DO more, lucky to be DOING at all.

Worst is, because of the “stigma” of the “mental” sticker, we never just say it out loud. Keep it more secret than hemorrhoids or “female trouble.” We call in sick to work or say we stopped to feed homeless people on the way to church. Because how to say “I’m scared to leave home?? Or “I think I’m having a heart attack but the ER tells me it’s ‘just anxiety’.” Or that you’d LOOOVE to go…but trapped on an airplane 4 hours would stop your heart?

99% of the anxiety tips on the internet are ways to relieve “stress.” NOT the same. WE know it, those of us too ashamed to just “call in scared.” We’ve worried about bills or life or kids and NOT had anxiety. We do know the difference. “Anxiety” is WORSE and it doesn’t go away when life’s problems do. It’s a DISEASE and it would help if they’d give it an honorable scientific NAME. But the Lord’s got His ways of keepin’ us humble.

There’s so many good verses in scripture about “fear” or “worry” or “anxiety”… and memorizing them helps fill that toxic void our traumatized brains will fill with if we aren’t careful. But most of THOSE are actually talking about “worry” too. Not to WORRY about the stresses of life. How that shows a lack of faith, mainly. And those of us with the YIKES n YAY Syndrome know we have OUR illness whether we have things to worry about or NOT.

So even us believers gotta be careful or we end up thinking God is mad at us or something. I myself have memorized most the fear verses over the years. But usually end up settling on “WHEN I am afraid, I will trust in You.” (Psalm 56:3). Because accepting that it IS gonna come is part of the RELIEF for it. Trusting His Love to be there at the other end of each dark tunnel of unreasonable fear and physical symptoms.

The MOST helpful way to use what we learn in scripture is that He can turn ANYTHING to GOOD (Romans 8:28). Hey, we’ve seen quadriplegics turn their suffering to God’s use in glorious ways. Why not ours? And that we can fight the flesh (and sometimes demon whispering) that tells us God must not like us or we must not have “enough” faith. Bullcorn. It MEANS that THIS is what we have and HE LOVES US and PROMISES to TURN IT TO GOOD.

I have trouble being grateful for the crummy genes myself. Not to mention the painful childhood scars. But can sometimes work up a holy gratitude for genes I DON’T have….and the blessings I DO. Because I have to admit, there’s worse genes, worse burdens, worse suffering. And many who wouldn’t recognize a blessing.

Our biggest blessing? When each fresh onslaught is over, we have to admit it HAS kept us closer to Him. Clinging to His love, His Word, His faithfulness. Close enough to Him day and night that only a whisper from Him turns us to His good purposes. We are never far from Him. We NEED Him. And have noticed, over the years, that the anxiety FREE days are not as holy in our steps as the HARD ones. Be honest. When we feel good we turn to good times. When we don’t, we cling to Him. Hard, simple, eternal truth.

So THANK You for these hellacious sensations in our bodies, Lord. The ones that keep us from doing something “else.” That keep us humble, skulking out of ERs and calling in to work. That keep us looking UP. That teach us about Your faithfulness. Thank you. Maybe not while we are sobbing or taking our pulse outside the ER or looking for the right pill. But all the holy space around it that we have filled with YOU. Because we know, more than most, we are entirely lost without You. Thank You, Lord. Turn it all to good, Lord. So grateful for Your gifts—righteousness, sanctification, redemption—that do NOT depend on what WE can or cannot do. Only on what You already did.

Whew. Thank You.

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!!! Celebrity News !!!

patrons_6Celebrity News!

I just read the current “Top 100 Celebrities List.” I only recognized 16 of the 100 names. Some actors or musicians, the rest famous for going into rehab or jail or attempted suicide.

So apparently FAME doesn’t buy happiness any more than MONEY does. Yet those are what 99.4% of the emails, blogs and ads are pushing.

Still, we idolize them. Read about them, watch for them on TV. Wish WE could be famous. Maybe one of the NICE famous people. Billy Graham in a coliseum, Mother Theresa at the United Nations. THEN we’d be happy. THEN all this pain would have been worthwhile.

Don’t kid yourself…church can do this too. Work for the applause. Preach for the fame. Do good so others will notice. Tempting. Subtle. Everywhere.

But what if we were made for another country? A place where living through all this pain was what MADE us famous? What if our halting steps were saved in a mirror image in that world?:

LOOK what he endured! So sick yet saving his family with his love. Look how brave she is to feel so sad yet gift another with her smile! Look, they could have bought a bigger house, a pool with their money, but they dribbled it away on friends and family and tiny churches and invisible missionaries!

“If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Jesus told one rich man. Then moments later: “many who are first will be last; and the last, first.” (Matthew 19). Yes. Jesus really DID turn everything upside down.

This world is not our home. We really are pilgrims, walking for a time in the only way we CAN walk in these cumbersome earth suits. In that other world there is a screen bigger than our movie screen, slicker than People magazine, more familiar and beloved than our television.

And there we ARE famous. When we go home, we will see the meaning of our lives. This daily push through the forest. This life cut out for us here in the fallen world. THIS garment that we wear and tend and hate and love and feed and starve. The president’s life was not cut out for us, nor the bikini woman’s, nor the drunken actor’s.

But it was not a mistaken suit, this life, cut out in error with wrong materials. It was cut out to make our soul famous in that other world. Our forever Home. Fitted to pinch and pull and choke and drive us higher in search of the air of that other world.

In my child’s mind the only way to get the massive amount of love I craved was fame. Celebrity. They would all see me, all love me because of the beauty or talent or sacrifice. How else to get that huge amount of love? But without the gifts to get it?

But in that other world there is PERFECT love. ENOUGH love. For the first time. And forever. Home.

Our infatuation with the blockbuster has blinded us to the quiet poetry all around us. Made us doubt the glory that awaits us.

Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. Matthew 23:12

An email from a sweet friend says it all:

I think that the more misfit one is, the less space there is in him the world can occupy and more that God can fill with Himself – and when He does fill it, it is stunningly beautiful.”  

Larry Travis

 

 

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The Magic Cure for Lonely

THE MAGIC CURE FOR LONELYshare

It’s not people around us we need, is it? We GOT people around us. Wanting, needing, working, talking, bossing, criticizing. Sometimes even fun or helpful. Lots and lots of people.

No, what we are LONELY for is someone who GETS us. KNOWS us. LOVES us anyway. Someone to talk to who listens, cares. Doesn’t turn it back to themselves. Who doesn’t tell us what we are doing WRONG, but encourages us towards what we wanna do RIGHT. Who NOTICES. THINKS to ask or pray before we ask. O, we do get so lonely for that don’t we? So disappointed when we don’t get it from those around us.

We know God is there for us in that way. But our hearts ache for someone with skin on ‘em. Someone walking through the same trials of Life WITH us every day. Who KNOWS what it’s like, and can hear us, love us, help us when we share our joys and pains. Can speak our language.

A deep heartache that persists even as we learn to let God fill us with His Spirit in our journey with Him. In spite of good “church friends” and loyal husbands even.   A void.

Well, it took a lot of research and development over many years, but I have the CURE!

Many opportunities and tears, testing and re-testing. The results are IN:

GIVE what you NEED!

GIVE what you never GOT!

Yup. The only thing that works. Guaranteed.

God already GAVE us what we NEED or we wouldn’t still be here. The joy and blessings will come when we give to others. THAT is the cure for “lonely.”

So take those teary empty places and hold them up to the Lord and tell Him you will GIVE it instead, however it is His will. Thank Him, praise Him, ask Him to turn it all to His good purpose: building His body, His “church.” His forever Kingdom.

The phone will ring. The knock on the door will come. The letter, the “look” at a get-together. And you will find yourself with someone ELSE who needs what you have to give. Who needs what you have mourned. And when you GIVE it to THEM, your own heart will smile. That raw little ache of YEARNING will turn into the warm peace of GIVING.

I never get over it. Forget to do it, waste hours missing it. And then when I do it for someone ELSE I prove it to myself again.

It works. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

When will I learn?

God couldn’t have put it plainer. It will all be treasure in heaven. But our default flesh drags our attention back to our own needs all the time.   As if that worked!

Nope. The ANSWER is:

GIVE WHAT YOU NEVER GOT.

And learn what feels even BETTER than the pipe dream. And enriches the blessings you already know you have in our Lord.

Promise.

Read these verses yourself, just to be sure. WE always thought He meant MONEY. And knew we didn’t have much. NOPE. He means GIVE what you DO have. You can GIVE someone who needs it your love, your acceptance, your listening heart. Whether they give back or not. Whether they love you or not. You can GIVE WHAT YOU NEVER GOT. And be blessed.

Not to mention the riches you store up in Heaven!

Acts 20:35 – “He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.'”

Proverbs 21:26 – “The righteous gives and does not hold back.”

Luke 3:11 – “And he would answer and say to them, ‘The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do likewise.'”

12 Corinthians 9 – ” God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”

Luke 6:38 – “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

 

 

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Baby Steps to Jesus

Where to Begin?book

I’m never sure how God gets His thoughts into a mind so wounded, but He does.

Once I surrendered to His way, the path was short and dramatic. A Christian counselor who knew me right away. Recognized the locked basement in my soul. Was gentle and patient to teach me my identity in Christ…that I was “holy, blameless, perfect, in love elect” by scriptural Truth. Instead of the hopeless rejected loser I thought I was.

Whispered to me that I was safe. Raised me all over again “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” like scripture says and Life had not provided until that point.

He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Mark 5:40-42

“Talitha, koum.”
Little girl, get up.
Little girl, come to me.
Come.

That verse sang to me when I first saw it.
Jesus spoke His word to the little girl, Jairus’ daughter, and she came back to life. She was dead and He spoke her back to life. She got up and walked around, the Bible says.
Yes.
“Speak to me,” I told Him two thousand years later.
“I am dead.” And I very nearly was.
And He did. Through the Bible I devoured, through the prayers of the children He gave me, through the counsel of a Godly man, the preaching, the singing. And through His Spirit into mine, consolations in the night.
“Talitha, koum.”
And I got up. And began to walk. Faltering baby steps.

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God Speaks Our Language

Sometimes I like seeing it, thinking it, in another language. Reminds me God doesn’t speak English. He speaks GOD. We can listen in whatever odd language he has woven in our hearts. A dialect of hurts and blessings and tears and hopes that no one else knows. Only Him. He speaks that too.

 

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I Love You !

I LOVE you!heart
Isn’t that what you really want to hear? NEED to hear? What your wounded little heart has cried for since the mists of childhood?

I LOVE YOU!
Precious wounded misfits. Children who grew without that wind of love beneath your wings: I love you! I KNOW you! With your addictions and divorces and deaths and losses and scrappy, wounded tearful flesh and fitful nights and deep well of regrets…I recognize you. Know it is all only what you did with your sorrow. With the river of rage where the love should have been.

Even though we cannot say to ourselves “I love myself” …because we DON”T…we can turn our child’s face UP and believe our Lord, our father, our mother, our lover, our friend, when He says, over and over: I LOVE YOU! We can be His child, perfect and innocent in His loving eyes. Probably for the first time. Only time.

He never says “it’ll be easy.” He says “Hug my cross, share it with me.”

He never says “Look what you did wrong.” He says “Trust me, there’s a better way…hold My hand while we walk there.”

He never gave me a new car or winning lottery ticket or perfect health. He gave me what I needed all along: PERFECT LOVE. The one I don’t have to tap dance for. The one that never leaves or abuses or mistrusts or criticizes. The one I needed for so long. The one you need too.

GOD IS LOVE. And YOU are his CHILD!

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. I John 4:16

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 3-5

We love because he first loved us. I John 4:19

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. I John 3: 1-3

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Which Dog We Gonna Feed?

blackdog-whitedog

Which dog we gonna feed?

We’ve all heard the various versions:

“Inside of me there are two dogs. One is black, and the other is white. The black dog is mean and wants me to make wrong choices. The white dog is good and encourages the right choices. They fight all day, every day. “

When asked which dog wins, the wisdom figure always replies:

“The one I feed the most.”

And it is true. The Spirit and the Flesh want different things, don’t they? The winner is the one we CHOOSE TO FEED. Every time. We like to THINK it’s bad luck, bad genes, or Fate. When somewhere inside we know we are reaping what we sow. Getting what we CHOOSE.

I asked an agnostic friend once if God could do ONE thing to convince her He was there and loved her what would it be. Sobbing instantly, she said “Get my son off drugs.” I assured her my praying friends and I would pray for that very thing “without ceasing.” Within the year he was off drugs and in church with his family. Yes, really! Still is, many years later!

She still won’t choose.

We see what we want to see. Choose what we want to believe. Feed what we want to feed.

That gift of Free Will? The one God will NOT take back? (Yes, I beg Him sometimes too). It’s a blessing and a burden. A superpower if we use it for good. A dead-end if we don’t.

   For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use

                       your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh…. Galatians 5:13

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Doubter’s Dozen

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Doubter’s Dozen

12 Reasons Some Don’t Give God a Chance:

~There are many ornery and judgmental people who say they are Christians.
~Hate organized religion.
~Churches just want your money.
~They don’t accept gays. Or addicts. Or…
~Something really bad happened in church.
~Hate Bible beaters or anybody who shoves their opinions down your throat.
~TV preachers are nuts.
~All the Jesus movies are cheesy.
~Science has explained everything already.
~So many religions and none of them agree, so probably ALL are wrong.
~Lots of celebrity atheists now.
~Your own __________ .

Notice anything about the list? Most of them have nothing to do with GOD. All of them have to do with His FOLLOWERS. Or those who SAY they are, anyway. That’s a problem. Hey, I AM one, and I get it. I’ve been burned by people I thought were following the same “God is Love” guy I was.

Might have chapped a few doubters in my day as well.

But would you quit driving your Chevy if GM’s CEO was a perv? Or never drink water because Detroit’s is tainted?

And you can’t see there are hypocrites in the bars n clubs too?

Christians ain’t perfect. Jesus’ 12 disciples weren’t perfect, and they were standin’ right by Him! It ain’t “PERFECT” Jesus is looking for. Uh-uh. Nope. Just “yes.” We take our wounded, fleshy heart and give it to Him. He is the only “perfect.” And with that one nod of “yes we get IN on “Perfect’s” ticket.

THEN you find Perfect will take you where you need to go. Show you “church” is His body…all His people everywhere. And will help you find a group of them where you can serve and learn.

EPHESIANS 4:15-16… speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

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Christian Wackadoos

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A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?
 –Albert Einstein

Sorry, World

Some of Us Christians are Wackadoos

When someone saves your life, they become a hero. We put ‘em on the evening news.

A lot of us, someone invisible saved our life. We were goin’ down, nothing else helped, God put His own spirit in us because we cried out to Him. And BAM, changed everything. Not instantly, no. But completely. New name, new goal, new purpose, new meaning, new guidelines, new mind.

Saved us. Gold from lead, beauty from ashes. Told us who we REALLY are. Why we were born. Even why the Bad Thing happened. And what He does about it.

So we brag about it.

We do.

And annoy others with it too sometimes, hafta admit. Trap you in the elevator, knock on your door. Ask hard stuff like “If you died tonight, do you know if you’d go to Heaven?”

The fireman or lifeguard or kindly neighbor who saved you doesn’t do that. Those heroes saved you from death at a moment. They don’t change your whole life, your very person, your mind, your heart, your very soul. We are grateful to the TV news heroes. But GOD?

That’s a whole ‘nother kind of grateful.

So, to those of you who haven’t needed saving from such dire circumstances, we apologize, us wackadoos who did.

We wish we were better at explaining what it feels like, what it means, to have our very existence have hope and love and meaning. When it didn’t before. To be loved, when we weren’t before. To be a child of a King instead of the beggar in the gutter.

We wish we could pass it to you with the same love and humility in which we received it. Wish we could convey the gratitude without making you squirm. We don’t know what it is like to be like you either. To have all your needs met. To be whole and hearty enough to fight for yourself, get what you want out of life.

Guess you just can’t WANT something you didn’t NEED. Not in quite the same way anyway.

And yes, there ARE counterfeits. People doing bad stuff in OUR King’s name. Or silly stuff. Or self-centered, fleshy stuff. People who’d rather be “celebrities” than “servants” and strut their stuff. Sorry for those as well.

When we offend you, please know it is because we want to share the riches with you. And don’t always know quite how. We are toddlers, excited with our new words.

Look! And we smile too big, or step too clumsy.

Forgive us.

Call us if you want to talk.

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

                                                                                 I Corinthians 1:18

 

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Beloved Addict

addict

To love an addict is to run out of tears

There’s advice everywhere for addicts. But what about the people who LOVE them?

Because it breaks your heart to watch someone you love ensnared in the net, struggling, unable to get out long enough to find something or someone they love MORE than that “high.”

I saw a dog paralyzed by a speeding car on the freeway one time. Raising its head, desperate, doomed. That is what it is like to watch a beloved struggle against addiction. Suffering, dying, trapped…and we cannot save them.

First hard thing: When you love someone more than your own life, you want to help them, give them things, cherish them like you always have. Then find out that is no-no number one. That is no longer “love” but “enabling.” And your heart falls, desperate to find another way to say “I love you.” When you have always done everything for everyone you love, it is a hammer blow to your heart to be stopped.

And when you love them, you miss the “real” them. Miss being able to talk to them about anything and everything, share your souls. It is like you have already lost them.

You love them so much you want to spare them the hard truth…that their addiction is killing you too.

You can only watch from behind the glass. Powerless. Grieving. Inconsolable.

They don’t want to hear what we say. Our “advice.” Or “rules.” No words of ours are safe.

Their “drug of choice” has become their perfect lover. Always there, easily available. Always whispering the lie that THIS time it will be wonderful. THIS time it will heal their brokenness. THIS time will be their last. THIS time…

Hard to watch, to those who love them. We would give anything to be what they need, to share real life with our Beloved. To be the reward, the friend, the hero, the joy they seek. Their addiction is their best friend, when you wish you were. They can’t live without it.

But they can apparently live without you.   They don’t have to tell you. That kick to the gut sucks your breath away every day. Like watching them die. Every day.

So, how to love and not “enable,” help and not hurt, stay seated on the sideline when you would gladly dive to the deep end of the ocean to save them. How to take it when they tell you what you did wrong. How to keep from blaming them for the holes in your own life. How.

Experts tell us we cannot “fix” or blame. And we need a PhD to discern the difference between “helping” and “enabling.” Balance and boundaries and caution, O my.

Nar-Anon agrees: “Your role as helper is not to DO things for the person you are helping but to BE things, not to try to train and change his actions, but to train and change your actions. As you change your negatives to positives—fear to faith; contempt for what he does to respect for the potential within him; rejection to release with love … “

So maybe our spiritual journey, like a good book, can only “show, not tell.” The best sermons, like they say, are lived, not preached.

So we learn to preach to them only with our lives. Our prayers for them. Our spiritual choice over fleshly drives. Giving them the secret sacrifices they will never know we gave.

O, my beloved addict, come away. Lord, save the miracle. Give mine to them. My heart breaks either way.

Love, on its knees. Love, willing to give the miracle it needs itself to the addict it loves. Love, seeking an even more perfect love for their trapped beloved.   And there is only one. Our love is bottomless. But the Lord’s is the only one that is “perfect.”

“Perfect Love casts out fear.” I John 4:8

So we cling to that Love ourselves. The perfect one. Offer all our own wounds and pains and desires and expectations to Him. And pray. And release. And breathe.

Only then is there room for the miracle. The miracle we could never preach, but could only give. Could never tell, could only show. Which is probably why most addicts only prosper in communities of other addicts. No white coats or preachers ,moms or dads telling them what they WISH they’d do. Or what they did wrong. But only other victims, sharing what they have learned.

God is humble. His love is constant. He doesn’t seem to mind if they (we?) call Him our “higher power” for a while, or the journey a “spiritual” one instead of a straightup Jesus one.

We let them do it their way. The road is long and hard. And they have to start somewhere.

Everyone is entitled to their own journey.

And we hang back and pray that God, that humble Lord willing to go first, will hold them, love them, save them, by any miracle necessary. We pray, believe, sacrifice our own need to preach, teach, criticize or judge. And wait. In faith.

Could we even do it for anything but love?

That is how we are like God Himself.

And love remains, for all time, the most powerful force in the universe.

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