Coming Full Circle 1/3/16

Thank you, Stephen Blair Kopacki, for the amazing header photograph!

In April of 2009 I wrote the first post to Bree’s Mackinac Island blog.  I began it on a whim and as a chance to satisfy a life-long desire to write.  I’d always heard the easiest thing to write on was something you were passionate about, and Mackinac Island sure fit that requirement!

Over the past almost-seven years, that first blog morphed into four other blogs: Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog (when we were off the island at our home in south Georgia), the VERY short-lived Dog-Eared Page Blog (about the dogs of Mackinac Island), Bree’s Connecting the Dots Blog (the transition from Mackinac Island and Georgia to our new home in Florida), and recently Bree’s To Be Clay Blog (about living in Florida).  To those five blogs I’ve posted a total of 1,227 stories.  That’s pretty much one story every two days – for approximately the last 2,340 days.  To those five blogs, and over that same time period, readers took time out of their busy schedules to post 20,124 comments.

Our sweet little cottage at Lake Blackshear in the Spring.

Bree’s Lake Blackshear Blog:  Our sweet little cottage at Lake Blackshear in the Spring.

The Dog-Eared Page: Maddie and Bear playing with Buddy, an island friend.

The Dog-Eared Page: Maddie and Bear playing with Buddy, an island friend.

Connecting the Dots - this mound of dirt eventually became part of the foundation for our new home in Sunset Inlet.

Connecting the Dots:  This mound of dirt eventually became part of the foundation for our new home in Sunset Inlet.

To Be Clay: The good life in Beverly Beach!

To Be Clay: The good life in Beverly Beach!

So – where am I going with all this.

As I do every year about this time, I’ve taken the last few weeks to think about how I can continue to write something interesting – or whether I want to continue writing at all.  And every year I come back to two truths.  I love to write, and I love my readers.

This year I’ve had to dig a little deeper though.  With age and with some health issues, I find the need to focus on the things I love to write about most. And – surprise! – that is still that tiny island sitting in the Straits of Mackinac.  In studying the comments, the statistics, and the overall feed-back on all my blogs, I know – without a shadow of a doubt – that same tiny island is also what you most want to READ about.

My latest blog – To Be Clay – has an average of 400 readers for each post.  Most of you are Mackinac Island fans who have followed me almost since that first island blog in 2009.  You’ve been my loyal “core” family, and I love you with all my heart.  You’ve continued to read whether I’ve been in Georgia on the lake or in Florida across from the Atlantic Ocean.  You are the reason I’ve continued to write for this long.

But – when I traveled to Mackinac in December to write for Original Murdick’s Fudge – my reader average jumped to almost 1200 a day.  That number continued throughout my stay there.

What that tells me is that ultimately “Mackinac Island” is what you want to hear about – what you want to see photographed, what you want to learn more about.  Just as when I first starting going to Mackinac and would search everywhere for news about the island, I know there is a group out there right this minute doing the same thing. I know there are those who already love the island – and harbor a dream of maybe one day living there.  You are constantly soaking up every single fact you can find about how to make that happen.  I want to help with that.

So – as of right now – there will only be one place I’ll be writing.  Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog – the first and the most loved – will be where you’ll find the Hortons.  This will be the last post to To Be Clay.

The content won’t really change.  I’ll be sharing our lives here in Florida, sharing photographs and news from Mackinac when we aren’t there, and – good Lord willing – taking y’all with us in July when we travel north for three months on our favorite island.

And hopefully, in between all that, there may be some visits to other places!

And hopefully, in between all that, there may be some visits to other places!

I hope those of you who only follow the To Be Clay blog will click here: http://bree1972.wordpress.com and then hit the “follow” button – so you’ll continue to be connected when there’s a new post!

Instead of going back to the future, we’re going forward to the past. Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog is where it all began.  I’ve got stories to tell, photographs to share, people to meet. It makes me feel both excited – and quietly content – to come full circle.

Woo Hoo – we’re off!

St. Anne's by Tom Chambers.

St. Anne’s by Tom Chambers.

 

Farewell to 2015 12/27/2015

Just a quick note to say I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas!   It was so much fun having our whole family here, and Ted and I will take the last one to leave – Blake – to the airport Monday morning for an early flight out of Daytona Beach.  The house will sure seem empty after all the laughter we’ve shared these last few days.

I’m giving myself another week’s “vacation” from blogging  (when you’re a blogger you get to declare vacations whenever you like – I love that)!  But I’ll be back next Sunday night – January 3, 2016.

As usual, the beginning of a new year will bring some changes in the blog, so stay tuned for that!

Have a wonderful, fun, and safe New Year’s Eve.  Our great neighbors, Todd and Brandi, are having a party that night, so we’ll be celebrating right here in Sunset Inlet.  Love it when you can just walk home from a party!

See you next Sunday with lots of news from . . . . everywhere!

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Trying out a Christmas gift – a selfie stick!  I obviously didn’t get the “sunglasses required” memo.

Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar Trip – Post 6

Just getting in from the Christmas lighting ceremony, followed by a quick visit to the rummage sale (part of the Christmas Bazaar), and a walk back up Market Street to see the lights.

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Captured this out the back door just as we were about to leave this afternoon.

Christmas elves!

Christmas elves!

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Right after the tree lighting we rushed – along with everyone else – over to the fire station for the rummage sale.  Jill and Sue found a great Pink Pony shirt.  Ted, they’re planning on sending this home with me for your Christmas gift.

The light show started one house before the corner.

The light show started just a few feet beyond the fire station.

The beginning of the corner . . .

The beginning of the walk to the corner . . .

. . . and when you turn the corner - WOW!

. . . further up the street . . .

A beautifully decorated house across the street from Chambers Corner.

. . . . a beautifully decorated house across from Chambers Corner . . .

. . . and around the corner - WOW!

. . . and around the corner – WOW!

On Mackinac Santa's sleigh is drawn by a horse - of course.

On Mackinac, Santa’s sleigh is drawn by a horse – of course.

This window is just so happy looking with all the Santas!

This window is just so happy looking with all the Santas!

Elves on the front porch of the Chambers house.

Elves on the front porch . . . and on the steps!

Love this window.

Love this window.

Back to the Village Inn for a little something to warm us up!

Back to the Village Inn for a little something to warm us up!

As I stood in this beautiful spot with these beautiful people singing Silent Night, tears came to my eyes. I thought to myself that, although majestic, you really don't need huge choirs and symphonic orchestras to celebrate the birth of Christ. Listening to these folks tonight - singing those special words a cappella - was a very moving experience.

As I stood in this beautiful spot tonight, with these beautiful people singing Silent Night, tears came to my eyes. Although majestic, you really don’t need huge choirs and symphonic orchestras to celebrate the birth of Christ in song. Listening to these folks tonight – singing those special words a cappella – was a very, very moving experience.  I’m so glad I was here.

Tomorrow the Christmas Bazaar officially begins and will include a silent auction and a huge room full of home-made and brand new items to purchase and to buy at auction.  A special time for the kids will be the arrival of Santa Claus via a fire truck.

See you there!

Personal Note:  I’ve been trying to post these Christmas Bazaar stories to both the Mackinac Island Blog AND the To Be Clay blog.  But – that is really time consuming, and I think most of you are reading it from the Mackinac Island blog anyway.  SO, after this one, I will only be posting to Bree’s Mackinac Island Blog while I’m here this weekend:  That blog link is http://bree1972.wordpress.com.  If you’re not already a follower there, please just click on the “follow” icon, and you’ll get an alert when I post.  Thank you!

Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar Trip – Post 3

It’s been a long day friends – but it’s all been worth it cause I’m sitting at my laptop on Mackinac Island tonight!

I arrived at the Pellston Airport 15 minutes EARLY and was met by Jill, Sue and this fellow (one of the permanent displays at the airport).

I arrived at the Pellston Airport 15 minutes EARLY and was met by Jill, Sue and this fellow (one of the permanent displays at the airport).

We collected my luggage, jumped in Sue's car, and we were off. We made it to Mackinaw City, crossed the bridge and pulled up with minutes to spare at the Arnold Dock to board the mighty Huron.

We collected my luggage, jumped in Sue’s car, and we were off. We made it to Mackinaw City, crossed the bridge and pulled up with minutes to spare to board the mighty Huron.

Friend Joan Barch met our boat, and she snapped this pic of me when I first realized how COLD it was - full shudder mode!

Friend Joan Barch met our boat, and snapped this pic of me when I first realized how COLD it was – full shudder mode!  39 degrees with a nice wind blowing.  A big change from sunny Florida!

Our first stop was the Original Murdick's Fudge Shop where Murdick elves have been busy for days creating fudge and other yummy treats to send out across the nation. Jill took this photo of Leanne, Sue, me, Bobby Benser, whose family owns Original Murdick's Fudge, and Joan.

Our first stop was the Original Murdick’s Fudge Shop where Murdick elves have been busy for days creating fudge and other yummy treats to send out across the nation. Jill took this photo of Leanne, Sue, me, Bobby Benser, whose family owns Original Murdick’s Fudge, and Joan.

We got settled in and went to meet Sue’s son Patrick and Joan at The Village Inn for dinner.  There are only two restaurants open in the winter – The Village Inn and The Mustang.  Had a great meal and then headed back to the friend’s house where we are staying.

I love that even though the majority of the businesses are closed downtown, they've still decorated for the Christmas season - like Horn's Bar . . .

I love that even though the majority of the businesses are closed downtown, they’ve still decorated for the Christmas season – like Horn’s Bar . . .

. . . Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island. . .

. . . Little Luxuries of Mackinac Island. . .

. . . and the Chippewa Hotel.

. . . and the Chippewa Hotel (Photo by Jill).

I’m sure there are others, but we didn’t venture off Main Street tonight.

Tomorrow will be a full day, and I’ll continue to post little snippets from my iPhone.  I’ll be covering all the activity at Original Murdick’s Fudge and everything going on for the Christmas Bazaar.  Tomorrow night is the Christmas Tree lighting on Main Street.  If you go to the Horn’s Bar website and click on their webcam a little before 5:00 p.m., you should be able to watch the lighting from there.

It’s going to be a great weekend, and I’m so glad all of you are along for the ride!

Now this old girl is going to bed.  It’s been a long time since 4:00 this morning!

See you tomorrow!

Mackinac Island Christmas Bazaar Trip – Post 2

I love the Atlanta airport – AS LONG AS I can fly INTO there and not have to go through security. Waiting in Atlanta now for my 10:58 flight to Detroit. It’s a two hour flight, and I only have 50 minutes in Detroit to catch my flight to Pellston. That makes me very nervous!!!

So I’m just hanging out – people watching, grabbing a pack of crackers and a Sprite for brunch, and hoping my checked bag gets to Pellston at the same time I do. My only carry-ons are my purse and my laptop, so I’m going to be in big trouble if my bag is late arriving. All my winter stuff is in that bag!!

Won’t have time to post in Detroit, so the next time you hear from me will be sometime after 3:05 touchdown in Pellston, where friends Jill and Sue will be waiting. Then we’ll decide if we can make the 4:00 ferry!!

WooHoo! Even more excited!

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Mackinac Week! 11/29/15

Oh. My. Goodness!  Did everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving week?!  We sure did!

Jason and his girlfriend Jennifer spent the whole week with us, which couldn't have made this mom more happy!

Jason and his girlfriend Jennifer spent the whole week with us, which couldn’t have made this mom more happy!  We laughed a lot, ate a lot, chatted a lot . . . and just in general had a great week together!

On Thanksgiving, we had 13 gathered around our table. Matt (our son-in-law), Matthew (grandson), Matt's parent Carolyn and Jack, and Matt's brother (John) and his family joined us for turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings!

On Thanksgiving we had 13 gathered around our table. Matt (our son-in-law), Matthew (grandson), Matt’s parents Carolyn and Jack, and Matt’s brother (John), his wife Debra, and their three daughters joined us for turkey, dressing, and all the trimmings!

Missing were Julie and Jordan, who flew out Thanksgiving morning for New York City to celebrate Jordan's 16th birthday in December. Their Thanksgiving dinner was something Turkish from a street vendor.

Missing were Julie and Jordan, who flew out Thanksgiving morning for New York City to celebrate Jordan’s 16th birthday coming up in December. Their Thanksgiving dinner was something Turkish from a street vendor.

Bright and early Friday morning Ted and I spotted both Julie and Jordan on the plaza at the Today Show, and Jordan had her photo made with Dylan Dreyer.

Bright and early Friday morning Ted and I spotted both Julie and Jordan on the plaza at the Today Show, and Jordan had her photo made with Today Show weather girl Dylan Dreyer.

Also missing was Blake, who spent Thanksgiving with friends in Ft. Collins. Blake is back there working as a recruiter with ELIC. He'll be home for Christmas!

Also missing was Blake (that’s him on the left in white shirt), who spent Thanksgiving with friends in Ft. Collins. Blake is back there working as a recruiter with ELIC. He’ll be home for Christmas!

All in all, just a wonderful day!  Of course, we all ate too much, but hey – it was Thanksgiving!

Jason and Jennifer flew home on Friday, and Ted and I have spent the rest of the weekend decorating for Christmas.

I've never had a staircase to "deck" before, and this year I was ready to give it a try. I used a pre-lit garland from Target and added my own accents from Michael's.

I’ve never had a staircase to “deck” before, and this year I was ready to give it a try. I used a pre-lit garland from Target and added my own accents from Michael’s (red birds, red pears, pinecones, etc.).

I added the same accents to our pre-lit wreath on the front door . . .

I added the same accents to our pre-lit wreath on the front door . . .

. . . and for the first time ever, we used net lights over the shrubbery and accented our magnolia tree with white lights.

. . . and for the first time ever, we used net lights over the shrubbery and accented our magnolia tree with white lights.

Another first! We rimmed the second floor deck with lights . . .

Another first! We rimmed the second floor deck with lights . . .

. . . and used icicle lights on the skywalk railings.

. . . and used icicle lights on the skywalk railings.

We thought it all turned out pretty good!

We thought it all turned out pretty good!

Tomorrow we’ll (hopefully) get our Christmas tree(s) up, and we’ll have the whole month of December to enjoy the fruits of our labor!

Now here it is Sunday evening, and my thoughts are turning toward Mackinac.

Even though Mackinac has received a few very brief snowfalls (this is the school yard in a photo by Reaiah Ervin), the long-range forecast is calling for nothing but moderate temps and clear skies. I guess my prayers for a snowy Christmas Bazaar will be answered with a "no" this time, but that's ok. Just getting to go to Mackinac during December is a blessing, and - snow or not - I'm going to have a great time meeting friends, doing some writing and photography for Original Murdick's Fudge, and sharing it all with each of you!

Even though Mackinac has received a few very brief snowfalls (this is the school yard in a photo by Reaiah Ervin), the long-range forecast is calling for nothing but moderate temps and clear skies. I guess my prayers for a snowy Christmas Bazaar will be answered with a “no” this time, but that’s ok. Just getting to go to Mackinac during December is a blessing, and – snow or not – I’m going to have a great time doing some writing and photography for Original Murdick’s Fudge, visiting with friends, and sharing it all with each of you!

My flight leaves Daytona Beach at 7:20 Thursday morning, and I’m due to arrive in Pellston, MI at 3:05 that afternoon.  The last ferry to the island leaves St. Ignace at 4:00 p.m.  If I make that ferry, it’s going to be a miracle.  No worries though.  I’ll either fly over or spend the night with Sue in Harbor Springs (thank you, Sue, for the invite)!

Here’s the plan.  I’ll be blogging from my iPhone for much of this trip, so I plan to be chatting with all of you 3-4 times a day.  I won’t be able to change the header photo from my phone, so please just go by your alerts that a new post is up – NOT by a new header photo!

I’m excited to try blogging in a different way for this trip, and I hope you’re all going to get a kick out of it also.  So . . . . meet me at the airport on Thursday morning at 7:20, and let’s all go to Mackinac!

God bless.

 

Thanksgiving Week – Here It Comes! 11/23/15

Hi Everyone!

I was beginning to think I wasn’t going to get to blog tonight.  It’s been an incredibly busy day!

We had a surprise birthday party for Ernie Sund, a neighbor here in Sunset Inlet this afternoon.

We had a surprise birthday party for Ernie Sund, a neighbor here in Sunset Inlet this afternoon.  Hmmm . . . should I tell his age?  Will he still speak to me if I do?  I think I’ll chance it – Ernie turned a hale and hearty 75 today.  Happy Birthday, Ernie!

I left in the middle of the party to drive down to Daytona Beach to pick up Jason and his girlfriend Jennifer who flew in for Thanksgiving.  What fun we’ve had with them tonight . . . eating dinner, chatting, and watching movies.

Now – it’s 11:50 p.m. and instead of being sleepy and wanting to crawl into bed, I’m wired and can’t close my eyes.  So, I’m getting to blog after all!

Guess what they got in Michigan this week?

SNOW! No, this isn't Mackinac. It's the front yard of good friends Lowell and Faye. They got something like 12 inches of the white stuff!

SNOW! No, this isn’t Mackinac. It’s the front yard of good friends Lowell and Faye who live in Olivet. They got something like 12 inches of the white stuff on Saturday!  And Lowell got out and shoveled, which I expressly asked him NOT to do.  Sigh.

Mackinac only received a little powder here and there, and the weather forecast is calling for a warm-up before Thanksgiving. (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

Mackinac only received a little powder here and there, and the weather forecast is calling for a warm-up before Thanksgiving. (Photo: Robert McGreevy)

What Mackinac has had plenty of is rough seas and wind. This photo by Bruce LaPine shows huge waves breaking over the east breakwall.

What Mackinac did have this week were rough seas and wind. This photo by Bruce LaPine shows huge waves breaking over the east breakwall.

The island just keeps on awakening to the glory of God's artwork, and Bobby Lee just keeps on capturing it from his spot aboard the Mighty Huron.

The island just keeps on awakening to the glory of God’s artwork, and Bobby Lee just keeps on capturing it.

I got an incredible number of return comments from the blog posting from my iPhone, so I think my trip to Mackinac is going to be so much more fun as far as bringing you along.  Instead of having to wait until I get back to the motel to write and post photos, I’ll be able to “post as I go”.  The only thing I can’t do is add new “header” pics to each post from my phone.  I’ll talk more about all that in the next post.

Ted and I are so excited that this year we’ll be hosting Thanksgiving dinner at our place for 16 friends and relatives!  Even though Julie and Jordan will be in New York (celebrating Jordan’s 16th birthday), and Blake is spending Thanksgiving with friends in Colorado, we’ve still managed to come up with quite a crowd to sit down around the table.  We have so much to be thankful for, and when we say grace that day, all of you will be in my thoughts.  You have blessed me over the years far more than I could possibly express in words.  I am so thankful for each of you.

Have a wonderful holiday week.  Overeat, watch a lot of football, get out and play in the sand/water/snow/mud/grass (whichever fits), hug your family tight, and remember we can always lose all the weight we’ll gain on Thursday before Christmas – when we’ll do it all over again!

Love y’all and God bless.

Note:  Thank you, Greg Main, for the incredible header photo!

 

Testing One, Two, Three

Hi all!  Just checking out how the WordPress app works. Would love to be able to post little notes to the blog from my phone during my Christmas Bazaar visit – without having to go back to the room and open the laptop. If this works, it would be more like a Facebook post – but everyone signed up as a follower would receive it. And there would be several posts per day!

Please comment if you received this post with just a “yes” in the comment section. 

Thanks! 

(Bobby Lee photo of Christmas trees arriving on the island yesterday. )

 

Florida, Mackinac – and Thoughts on Paris 11/15/15

Hi Everyone!

We’ve had a busy week, but that’s pretty normal at the Horton house.  All my blood work came back normal from my annual physical – except for a little cholesterol elevation (no meds prescribed, just a supplement) – and I have a neck MRI scheduled Tuesday to see if they can figure out what’s been causing years of chronic neck pain (something I’ve put off as long as I can).  Volunteer work continues to be a high point in my week’s activities – especially at the Humane Society.  This week they gave me a list of almost 20 stray cats to be photographed – recently brought in and not even ready for adoption yet (still in the “being held to see if they are claimed” cattery).  Each has to be photographed though – for computer records and eventually website and newspaper “mug” shots.

My favorite kitty from the Flagler Humane Society this week. Meet Shelton, a 2-year-old male who just cracked me up with his antics. He posed like he'd been doing it all his life!

My favorite kitty from the stray list at the Flagler Humane Society this week. Meet Shelton, a 2-year-old male who just cracked me up with his antics. He posed like he’d been doing it all his life!  Surely someone will claim this baby – if not his owner, then hopefully a lucky family will adopt him.

The annual 72-Mile Yard Sale that runs along scenic A1A (the beach highway) was this weekend.  Ted and I and three other couples set up on the grass by the highway in front of our subdivision.  We enjoyed a great day of getting rid of stuff that had been clogging closets and cabinets ever since moving down here.  Very successful for everyone involved!

We finally got a break in the hot weather this weekend! The winds kicked up and by Saturday morning we were comfortable foregoing the air conditioning inside at the Java Joint and enjoying breakfast outside on the deck.

We finally got a break in the hot weather this weekend! The winds kicked up Thursday, and by Saturday morning we were comfortable foregoing the air conditioning inside Java Joint and enjoying breakfast outside on the deck.

Cooler weather means a happier Bear - so happy unfortunately that his increased activity resulted in what we hope is only a pulled muscle.

Cooler weather means a happier Bear – so happy unfortunately that his increased activity resulted in what we hope is only a pulled muscle.

He woke up limping this morning, favoring the same leg he had surgery on. He wasn't a happy boy when I wouldn't let him go out and chase golf balls in the parking lot this afternoon. Going to rest it a few days and see what happens.

He woke up limping this morning, favoring the same leg he had surgery on. He wasn’t a happy boy when I wouldn’t let him go out and chase golf balls in the parking lot this afternoon. Going to rest it a few days and see what happens.

On Mackinac, the weather is beginning to feel more like winter. There were even a few snow flurries this week, but nothing stuck to the ground. I'm still praying for snow for Christmas Bazaar!

On Mackinac, the weather is beginning to feel more like winter. There were even a few snow flurries this week, but nothing stuck to the ground. I’m still praying for snow for Christmas Bazaar, but plan to have a mah-ve-lous time whether the white stuff flies or not!  (Photo: Clark Bloswick)

Bobby Lee is a new friend on Facebook who spends his days on Arnold ferries making the crossing to the island. He takes incredible photographs, and I'm so thankful he's allowing me to share them.

Bobby Lee is a new friend on Facebook who spends his days on Arnold ferries making the crossing to the island. He takes incredible photographs, and I’m so thankful he’s allowing me to share them.

Personal Note:  It was after 10 o’clock Friday night when I turned on my phone and saw a text from Jill about the Paris attacks.  We’d been busy all afternoon and evening getting ready for the yard sale, and the TV hadn’t been on all day or night.  I immediately thought of Steve and Orietta, friends of ours from Mackinac who were spending a month in Paris after walking the Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage to the shrine of the apostle St. James in northwestern Spain.  Thank goodness, my fright was instantly taken away when I read Jill’s next words: “Steve and Orietta are all right, but they can hear sirens from where they are.”

Over the next few hours we also learned three other Michigan friends were in Paris, and they were also ok.  Those three were hunkered down in their hotel rooms, wondering if they’d be allowed to catch their flight out the next day (they did).  Steve and Orietta remain there, although they may decide to come home earlier than their planned Dec. 1 flight.

Even though our weekend has been full – yard sale on Saturday, dinner out with friends Saturday night, Sunday activities – the events in Paris have been a constant on my mind.  It hurts my heart to think how much hatred is in the world and how much violence is being used to show that hatred. 

Alan Paton, who wrote Cry, the Beloved Country said, “There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.” 

Let’s all challenge each other this week to treat others as we would like to be treated.  If everyone chose to follow this one simple rule, we would almost certainly live in a much different world.

Our prayers go out to France and to every other corner of the world where people are being killed or tormented in any form. I know that God hears our every prayer. And I know He is the only answer.

Our prayers go out to France and to every other corner of the world where people are being killed or tormented in any form. I know that God hears our every prayer. And I know He is the only answer. (Photo: Bobby Lee)