Have We Forgotten That Love Is Kind?

Jun

20

Posted by on Jun 20, 2018 in Faith, Inspiring, Life Philosophy, Personal, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Have We Forgotten That Love Is Kind?

  Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CSB, emphasis added by me not Jesus 🙂 )   It should never be a surprise when lost people behave like lost people, but it is shocking to my core when those who profess Christ act like lost people. Is it wrong to expect more? Salvation doesn’t guarantee sinlessness, so it’s not that I expect perfection from believers. But it breaks my heart to hear the vitriol spewing from opposite viewpoints of the hot-button issues of our day. Blistering lava destroys what it touches. Pick any comment thread of your favorite news outlet or open a tab for Facebook or Twitter. Why would anyone value what you have to say if it’s mean or rude? Why would I listen to anyone who pummeled me with contempt while trying to make their point? It was disconcerting to me when Tsh Oxenreider, a good friend and trusted colleague, posted a thoughtful and reasonable essay, Child-Parent Separation at the Border and What You Can Do, only to be hammered on Facebook. Those who didn’t agree with her thoughts were angry and loud; when I skimmed comments, no one who disagreed seemed kind. Recently I was startled by the effect of wearing my Kindness is Golden tee shirt: strangers talked to me. No lie, half a dozen people  initiated a conversation with me about what it says, telling me why they agreed with the sentiment, why we need more kindness, or even about similar tee shirts they own. It was weird. Now, granted, I was in a place where I encountered more people than usual (an airport and then hotel lobby with lots of folks taking advantage of a free continental breakfast), but it was interesting to me so many different people (diverse men and women) approached me.   Who knew my tee shirt was an invitation to conversation? I suppose it’s because it demonstrates something important: Kindness is powerful because kindness is an incarnation of love.   When you lead with love, I will listen to you. You have instant credibility with me. When you lead with love, as manifested in kindness, it tells me that you value me, you care about others, you’re listening as well as speaking, and what you have to say warrants my listening…even if I don’t agree. When you are hostile, antagonistic, or condescending, the effect is la-la-la (fingers in ears) I-can’t-hear-you. I don’t even mean to do that; it’s a by-product of being disrespected. In John 13:34-35 (CSB), Jesus could not be clearer:  “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Loved people love people. Could it be that many of us are simply forgetting how dearly we’re loved? Galatians 5 has a compelling passage describing the difference between walking by the Spirit or...

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Inspired to Inspire #OYTO

Apr

28

Posted by on Apr 28, 2018 in Art, Do Something!, Empty Nest, Encouragement, Favorite things, friendship, Inspiring, Life Philosophy, Personal | 2 comments

Inspired to Inspire #OYTO

  “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” ~ Thomas Merton   I have a love/hate relationship with social media. On one hand, I’m convinced our lives were better without it overall. We had fewer friends, sure, but they were real life flesh and blood humans who would show up in person at your back door with a meal or a paintbrush or a hug depending on your need at the moment. We trudged to the library and navigated a card catalog to research anything and we had to buy magazines to catch up on the newest fashion or home design trends. Our houses had a whole lot more color before all the home dĂ©cor and DIYer instagrammers showed us over and over again how beautiful stark white could be. (It is a mystery to me how they can photograph the same room a thousand ways and we like it every time.) You knew what adult America was doing at 6pm and 11pm every night, and if anything happened after that, you could read the news in next morning’s paper, delivered right to your front door.   Amazing.   On the other hand, we never have to be dumb or ignorant for very long. We hear immediately when a Royal goes into labor, gives birth, reveal’s the new little prince’s name. We know the nanosecond a celebrity dies (except for Abe Vigoda who never could make up his mind) as Facebookers or Twitterers race to the internets to offer their public condolences, a thinly veiled ruse to be first in letting you know how well they’re connected, which always strikes me as funny. And it is cool to engage with people you admire, to have an inside glimpse into their behind-the-scenes lives. And sometimes you make a real connection that translates to real life and geography doesn’t really matter.   Social media has it’s lovely sides, too. What we see or read can inspire us to go and do likewise.   Recently, a real life friend of mine I haven’t seen face to face in forever began posting images of watercolors she painted. Oh…my…her work was beautiful and I would have guessed she was an art major before becoming a full time mama. When I asked if she was taking classes, she admitted she was just trying something new.   Well….   Slap me naked and hide my clothes–girlfriend just unearthed an incredible gift.   And here’s the beauty: Rebekah inspired me to try something new because she tried something new.   Right after this, our church hosted a two-night water color class. I signed up immediately. With low expectations, high hopes, and a few butterflies fluttering around my stomach, I walked into class. The first night we were instructed what to paint (a landscape), but the second night we could choose on our own.   I knew exactly what I wanted to paint: fat birds, like my friend, Rebekah.   While my little creations were far from perfect, I absolutely love both! Watching them come to life and at least resemble what I was going for thrilled me. Starting with a blank page and swirling a paintbrush into a little color you create something from nothing.   Painting is magic!   I...

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Your Influence Matters

Apr

27

Posted by on Apr 27, 2018 in Art of Simple, Inspiring, Kids, Personal, Uncategorized |

Your Influence Matters

  Green and inexperienced, I was recruited to step into the role of marketing director for a local retirement community. My education combined with a love and natural propensity for those senior than me far outweighed my managerial skillset, and only days after I was hired I found myself in the position of needing to hire a new sales associate. Because I hadn’t interviewed many people at that time – okay, any people –  I read what I could could get my hands on about best interviewing practices and compiled a list of basic questions. Plus, I had been interviewed a dozen or more times, so there was that.   Sifting through a competitive pool of applicants, I selected three people to interview. More than anything I was trying to find a good fit for the role and someone with whom I felt comfortable. We would be working closely together.   I would go on to hire Mary Jane, over 20 years my senior. Time would soon tell she was an excellent choice–professional, empathetic, and, man, she could close a deal.   Over 25 years later, I still remember Mary Jane’s interview, specifically her answer to one question:     “What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?” Without hesitation she replied, * * * Considering I’m writing about a conversation that took place over 25 years ago, it’s interesting to hear how a interview answer impacted me in such profound ways. Do keep reading Your Influence Matters at the Art of Simple today, and be sure to tell me your thoughts or if YOU remember something someone said forever ago that influences you to this...

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First Ask Why || Interview With Author Shelly Wildman & Book Giveaway!

Apr

24

Posted by on Apr 24, 2018 in Book Review, Books, Mom stuff, Parenting |

First Ask Why || Interview With Author Shelly Wildman & Book Giveaway!

  The internet has introduced me to a lot of writing friends, and when they go on to publish a book, I can’t help but stand on the sidelines and cheer. Today, I’m celebrating Shelly Wildman, an internet-turned-real-life friend who has just released a wonderful parenting book: Just Ask Why: Raising Kids to Love God Through Intentional Discipleship. Shelly and I have a lot in common, starting with our age and including each of us having three children. We’ve learned over the years we share a similar parenting philosophy, and when she told me she was writing a book about parenting, I knew it would be one I’d recommend to others. I was right. It’s good, y’all. This isn’t a how-to book, but it lays out a framework for (as I phrase it) parenting “hard and on purpose;” in her case, in particular, with the goal of discipling your children in their faith. Parents of children still living at home will want this book, and it will make a fantastic Mother’s Day gift for anyone in the childrearing trenches. I’m also giving away a copy (comment on Instagram or Facebook). I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read the following interview with Shelly; you’ll understand quickly why I regard her counsel and why I’m bossing you to pick up your own copy.   Writing about parenting can be a powder keg—people have pretty strong opinions about raising kids. Why did you choose to write a parenting book?   I kind of feel like I didn’t choose to write a parenting book, but that the book chose me. (Sounds like a scene from Harry Potter, doesn’t it?) I fought writing it for a long time because I knew I wasn’t a perfect parent—I had messed up so many times that I didn’t feel qualified to write this book. I still don’t. But the idea kept nagging at me for so long that I finally felt like God might have been pushing me to do it.   I believe with all my heart that stronger families will make for a stronger society, which is so important today. And I believe that the strongest families are those that have Christ at their center. But so many parents today have lost their focus or their sense of purpose. They spend their time on meaningless, temporal things, when, really, the most important mission field is right in front of them. I’m hoping to encourage parents to look at the bigger picture, to ask why they are doing what they’re doing, and to think critically about God’s purpose for their kids and for their families.   I have three adult daughters now, and my hope is, now that my husband and I have raised them, that they will go out into the world and make a difference. And should they have children someday, that they would also make disciples of their kids. Instilling a Christ-following legacy is important work—I believe it’s THE most important work parents can do—and we’ve got to be intentional about it.   What makes your book different from other parenting books?   So many parenting books are “how-to” books. They seem to say, “Just follow these ten steps and here’s what you’ll get in the end.” But I don’t believe...

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Aging and Aquamarine

Mar

29

Posted by on Mar 29, 2018 in #OYTO, Aging, Encouragement, Personal, Uncategorized, Writing | 2 comments

Aging and Aquamarine

  Right now, in this hair’s breadth of a moment, you are both as old as you’ve ever been, and as young as you ever will be again.   Interesting thought, isn’t it?   It is not unusual for me to think about time, in general, and aging, more specifically this time of year; March is my birthday month.   Aging comes naturally, but if your wish is to age gracefully, you’re going to have to be intentional.   Aging can be like a riptide, forcing you off course and threatening to pull you under. It can knock you off your feet in a single wave and leave you disoriented and wondering How in the world did I get here?   Neither aging nor aging gracefully are destinations; they’re journeys. One is completely left up to chance, the tail wagging the dog, que sera sera; the other is intentional, contemplative living, controlling and planning for a preferred outcome. The latter  also involves accepting what you can’t control and making the best of it.   A positive attitude ignites your ability to age gracefully; it enables you to receive all of life as this big, incredible, magnificent gift–all of it. That doesn’t mean you’re immune to hardship or disappointment. It means you’re better able to navigate those seasons when they arrive.   When I was a kid, choosing a birthday gift for a friend was always easy: something birthstone-related or Zodiac sign-related. That’s so funny to me now; I don’t think I ever got anything related to either of those for gifts when my own children attended their friends’ birthday parties. My birthstone is aquamarine, and I’ve always loved it; it’s one of my favorite colors to wear, clothing or jewelry. Maybe it’s why I long for and love the ocean so, exquisite aquamarine sea. And though I never bought into Zodiac stuff in terms of practice or belief, I know I’m Aries and it’s associated with fire, and there’s something in that I appreciate.   While the four seasons are like my children in that each one is my favorite but for different reasons – I see the signature beauty in each – I find myself thankful to have been born in the spring. Spring is colorful, alive with promise, with hope, with life! Aquamarine finds her way into spring.   Spring holds the darkest day in Christendom and the brightest. Jesus, in full surrender and submission, enduring a gruesome spectacle of death, demonstrating an incomprehensible love, and ultimately conquering the grave and bringing reconciliation of man to God through His atoning sacrifice. Spring is beautiful and reminds me of our hope in Christ.   I am at the age now where milestone birthdays have lost the meaning they do in our youth. Remember when you couldn’t wait to turn double digits become a teenager get your learner’s permit get your driver’s license vote order a cocktail (or beer or wine…) I am at the age now where sometimes, dammit, I have to check the last box. I wish that didn’t phase me, but it does. I’m also at the age where my body betrays me, alternately catching fire or my hair changing color or just plain hurting from sitting too long. Seriously–sitting too long can hurt? Who knew?  ...

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How You Can Make A Difference on International Women’s Day

Mar

08

Posted by on Mar 8, 2018 in Compassion - India, Compassion Bloggers, Compassion International, Good causes, Inspiring, Love Gifts, Personal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

How You Can Make A Difference on International Women’s Day

I’m sitting at my kitchen table where the sun is piercing filthy windowpanes, a thing I notice in the morning but forget by noon’s shadow. A ladybug sits on the sill, I’m assuming dead. Our home is a death spiral for pretty bugs dressed in red with black polka dots, and I wonder why that happens at the end of every winter. It’s International Women’s Day and I wish I could say I knew that on my own, but it’s the internet that tells me so. I’m stung by awareness of my comforts, my plenty, and my relative wealth, and it brings a sort of shame. Those things have cost me nothing, but in some places in this world even lesser things cost everything you have to give. I’m reminded of a woman I encountered almost nine years ago.     She was striking to me, uncommonly beautiful, obviously haunting. The sun on her shoulders. Her expression, somber yet intense. Her shoes matched her saree. She carried a bucket, soap, cane, and, most important, her dignity. In my trip to Kolkata where I met dozens and dozens of people, hers is a face I always remember first. Whatever her age, she had lived a long, and undoubtedly difficult life, and yet she’s endured. She is not victim. She is an unnamed international woman I celebrate. She lived in a village where Compassion International had a Child Survival Center, a place where mothers and babies receive goods, education, training, and services that contribute to their survival. Shortly after my trip with Compassion Bloggers to India, the child I sponsored left the program. Her mother remarried after the death of her father, and they moved to a location where Compassion didn’t have a local presence. Though I wasn’t able to continue helping her family financially, I’ve never stopped praying for Pinki; meeting her carved permanent residence in my heart.   I often wonder what she looks like now – nine years older – and how she’s doing…how all the beautiful children served by Compassion are doing in India. You see, about a year ago Compassion had to shutter its sponsorship program in India; it was heartbreaking for those involved. After decades of ministry, Compassion could no longer send funds into the country due to Indian government restrictions (read more here). We’ve also sponsored a daughter from the Dominican Republic; this year will be our tenth! She’ll turn 16 in May, and our sponsorship began right after she turned six. It never occurred to me until this moment how long we’ve been blessing one another, and make no mistake: Isaura blesses me with every letter she writes and ever prayer she offers for me and my family. Compassion currently operates in 25 countries and has touched millions of lives since beginning its work in the ’50s. Everything I learn about Compassion only reinforces its impact and value to our broken world. Today (regardless of when you read this), in celebration of International Women’s Day, I’m asking you to make a generous contribution to Compassion International. Get your credit card or checkbook out and start here.   You can make a one-time gift or change a child’s life – and his/her family’s lives – by committing to a monthly sponsorship. It’s up to you. ...

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Purpose Power Summit 2018 || Why you *need* to check it out (plus, a fun GIVEAWAY at the end)

Feb

27

Posted by on Feb 27, 2018 in #OYTO, Faith, Giveaways, Inspiring, One Year - 365 Opportunities, Personal | 25 comments

Purpose Power Summit 2018 || Why you *need* to check it out (plus, a fun GIVEAWAY at the end)

~ Giveaway has ended – Heartfelt thanks to all who entered! Congratulations to Susan G. for posting the selected comment!   When Mimika Cooney reached out to me to participate with the Purpose Power Summit she was putting together, I carefully (prayerfully) evaluated if this was an #OYTO opportunity or something I should politely decline. But as soon as spoke with her (gah! that irresistible South African accent) and understood her vision for the online event, I was in. Empower and equip women to step into their life’s calling? Check. Content from a team of gifted, talented, inspiring speakers? Check. Free and virtual, meaning you can watch at your convenience and from the comfort of comfy clothes? Check check. Free gifts from each of the speakers? Funnest check of them all. The #PPS2018 runs from February 26-March 9 and you can register for free here to access all content.   If you’ve never taken part in an online conference, this is the perfect one to try. Mimika emails links to new speakers daily, and you can download all the freebies as soon as you register. Some of the speakers will be familiar, some will be new to you, but all of them have something of value to speak into your life.   If you’ve been toying with an idea, are questioning where to serve, or need a creative spark to light your fire, please take advantage of this summit. Why you might not be able to watch every minute of every video, the time you invest will pay you back in ideas and inspiration. My video goes live on Tuesday, March 6th at 2:00pm EST.   I’m sure you’re marking your calendars now. No, seriously, add it to your calendar, let’s watch together, and then discuss. I cannot wait to see how the segment turns out…and my sincere hope and prayer is that those who do watch will be inspired, motivated, and ready to take a next step, no matter what that “next step” is.   With the conference coming up and knowing new friends might discover my blog, I reached out to DaySpring to see if they’d provide a giveaway. To my delight, they agreed to provide two sets of gifts:   Added: Each bundle will include a “Wear One, Share One” necklace set! What a fun opportunity to keep one and gift one to someone special. #OYTO  If one giveaway is good, two is twice as nice! Details to enter:   Recipient will receive a copy of the A Moment to Breathe devotional, an A Moment to Breathe devoional journal, and a Courage Clip Frame & Art Print Set. One winner will be selected randomly from comments to this blog post; a second winner will be selected from comments to my Facebook post with this graphic. Comments made 2/26/18-3/9/18 are eligible. Must be a subscriber to robindance.me and live in contiguous US. Note: first-time commenters will have to be approved, so please know I will do that as soon as I can! 🙂 (if you notice yours doesn’t show up right away) You’re welcome to comment both on Facebook and this post; but eligible to win just one bundle.   Thanks to DaySpring who has offered $20 off any $60 purchase to all PPS2018 attendees: Use the...

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Doing The Thing You Already Know To Do

Feb

23

Posted by on Feb 23, 2018 in (in)courage, Faith, friendship, Memoir, Personal, Uncategorized, Women |

Doing The Thing You Already Know To Do

  It was the first time my small group would meet her, this dear friend of our dear friend. On more than one occasion Monica had shared wisdom and insight she had gained from Sandra, and we were eager to know her, too. Proverbs 27:17 tells us that “iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” and Sandra had that ability even when her “iron” came through another person.   Jesus knit us together in no time, and small talk went deep. We were sisters, in it together, sharing so many things in common, understanding from the inside out the Holy wrestle. The way of Christ is simple but it’s rarely easy. He invites us to a kinship of suffering, and I find myself wondering sometimes is that so we can better know Him, or did He slip on skin and fill that earth suit with bone and blood just to feel the way we feel?   Sometimes I see Jesus as a circle and it tells me, “Always.”  And, that’s (beyond) enough.   On this morning, we made space for important things. This group will put their ugly out there and remain safe; we love each other to healing, we lift each sister’s chin toward Hope. Though Sandra wasn’t a “regular,” we knew she could handle the ugly and wouldn’t hold it against us, the way we’ve all experienced with other women at some point in our lives. We learn and relearn that some women thought to be safe, aren’t, so when we find a few who are, we hold tight. We meandered our way onto the topic of forgiveness; it was me exposing one of my scars, how I had been wounded by someone I thought I could trust. I explained I had forgiven her but hadn’t forgotten, and then what Sandra said next I wasn’t expecting. * * * Please continue reading A Hopeful Thought About Forgiveness over at (in)courage. (I’d love to hear your thoughts in comments – here or there – and as always,  thank you in advance for sharing this post!...

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Oh, lovely day

Feb

15

Posted by on Feb 15, 2018 in Art, Celebrations, Faith, Family, Family Traditions, Inspiring, Life Philosophy, Memoir, Mothers and daughters, Personal, Valentine Tea, Valentine's Day | 4 comments

Oh, lovely day

i. Today is Valentine’s Day, one of my favorite days of the year, one of the happiest reasons to celebrate life: it’s all about love.   I am wearing hot pink shoes now, but I think I’ll be changing into the ones dipped in glitter, gold and a thousand points of light. A thousand reflections of love.   Shoes can say a lot about a person; not always, but sometimes. Today mine tell you I’m feeling sassy and defiant. Sassy speaks for itself, but the defiant part is me telling Cruel Things they will not be the boss of me. Not today.   There has been a long-standing tradition in my family: a tea party on Valentine’s Day. It all started over 23 years ago when my mother-in-law asked me if we could host a mother-daughter Valentine Tea Party. As a mama to four boys, she was longing for girly things something awful. Her first grandchild, our daughter, paved a way to all manner of pink and frilly.   For almost two decades we hosted a Valentine Tea. My heart swells and aches at the memories.   Sarah will not be with us today. She’s home, confined to bed, her love of almost 65 years caring for her around the clock. To me, dementia has stolen the best parts of her, but her one and only still sees that girl he fell in love with. He will tell you he loves her more now than ever. He means it. When he looks at her and tells her “You’re so pretty,” your heart will split in two.   So, I’m raising my fist in defiance, a small and almost silly gesture, but significant to me in that I WILL carry on this tradition because it means something important. Geography and circumstance force a different type of Valentine Tea but its heart beats just the same.   Love. Friendship. The company of women drawn close.    I have been working for four days straight to get ready–not because anyone else cares or expects that, but a) because nothing like a party to kick my housekeeping into high gear, and 2) the effort is a love note to my guests.   The work that precedes opening my home to others is worship. It’s an offering and opportunity–yes! That’s it: OYTO! It’s my personal battle cry springing to action, enlisting others to help. We weren’t meant to go it alone, to carry the world on our shoulders.  But we do this, don’t we? I’m trying to break that old habit because the joy is amplified and the weight lightened when sisters bear the load never intended for one. There’s mutual blessing in the service, the offering, the worship. And this is the kindness of God in this season; He affirms the “who” and the “how” and I remember all over again there’s no “I” in team or teamwork, and laughing with other people is much more fun than laughing alone.   ii. If you could explode from joy, I’d be splattered all over my house.   Yesterday was perpetual motion, and by the time I fell into bed I felt it all. My bones were tired, but my spirit was…satisfied. I’m surprised satisfaction feels so good.   I thought about Sarah often throughout...

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Can Buy Me Love

Feb

04

Posted by on Feb 4, 2018 in Beauty, Personal, Uncategorized | 3 comments

Can Buy Me Love

  I was behind them in line at the Walmart return counter, Dante’s 10th circle if ever there was one.   Brothers, maybe twins, I’m guessing knocking on five’s door. They were crammed into the back of a shopping cart; one kid would have been too big for it himself, but together, potentially, it was a recipe for disaster.   They had been indoors longer than me but their hoods were still drawn tight around their faces. Perfect little round faces that reminded me of a smiley, except the one hanging over the edge of the buggy wasn’t smiling. His expression was absent, blank, not the look you expect on a little boy. His brother was the spicy one. While their mama was conducting her business with the clerk, he slowly, quietly pushed their cart away from the edge, farther from her. His grin told me he thought he was getting away with something. He was proud, a victor…a darling, little rascal.   Tried as I might, I couldn’t get them to look at me. I wanted to offer them kind eyes, a smile, the joy of being noticed and liked. Two little boys ought not be caged in a grocery cart, but I suppose it was simply to keep them out of trouble. Still, it bothered me. Maybe it was in all the time I watched them, neither never said a word. They didn’t poke or pick at each other the way siblings often do, and I thought how well behaved they were.  The expressionless one who kept leaning over could have fallen right onto his head and their mama wouldn’t have seen until too late. I was ready, though, Spidey-mother senses on alert, ready to spring into action if he needed me.   It takes a village.   The rascal was getting bored, looking for new distractions. I had already been there ten minutes and, like I said, they had been there longer than me. Where babies normally ride sat one of those clear cotton candy containers, or at least that’s what it looked like. Rascal wriggled past his brother and peeled open the lid, and that’s when I realized there was money, not cotton candy, inside, paper and coin. He stuck his fist in and pulled out both, metal dropping back into the tub and making a plastic percussion, the “tell” that alerted his mother. It was the first time she gave them any notice, and she did so by smacking Rascal on his mouth and sharply insisting that he “sit down and leave that alone.”   His countenance fell faster and harder than the money in that stupid bucket.   I continued to watch them, still trying to telegraph love through eye-to-eye connection. The blank one kept tracing the squares of the buggy or leaning over its blasted edge, but Mr. Mischievous had all but disappeared. He was hiding in plain sight best he could, his arm resting across the back edge of the inner baby basket, that perfect little face burrowed underneath, refusing to make eye contact with anything or anybody.   I couldn’t help but wonder what happened when they were home, when the mama had freedom to express her irritation or anger without onlookers. Maybe I was jumping to conclusion, but I couldn’t...

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