Missed one of this week's posts? No problem! Click the title above the photo!
Remember When by Audra Easley
Overcoming Fear with Faith by Laura Butler
How I Overcame Anxiety by Rebecca Smith
Barbara Bush's Final Gift to Us Women by Tammy Valdivia
When God Calls - This week's Friend Friday
Comment Audra's pick
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Book Us! Tammy's pick
We By Faith She girls love to be together and minster together! This past January, we were blessed to be a part of an area Women of Faith night at White Oak Farm featuring Susannah Lewis of Whoa Susannah. We were the "opening act" serving as a panel answering questions from everything like our secret guilty pleasure to how to conduct yourself on social media. We had so much fun and would love to come to your church or event.
What can we do? We can sing, we can speak, we can dance. (Well not dance. Lol). But Laura sings beautifully and can lead worship. She, as well as the rest of us, can conduct breakout sessions and anything else having to do with women's events. We love Jesus and love sharing His saving grace with one and all! So, book us!
Contact us at the e-mail link at the bottom of this page!
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First ~ Beautiful photos that don’t cost a ton of money are hard to come by! That’s why we are asking you to snap a picture similar to some of the ones you have seen us use on our blog. We just might use it in a post, and we will always credit it to you! Send submissions to the e-mail link at the bottom of this page.
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Happy Friday, it’s Audra here! Today on Friend Friday one of my sweet SIL’s will be sharing about God‘s calling on her life to be a missionary in China. This is just one of the thousands of By Faith stories she could have written. It has been truly inspiring to watch her live out her faith with each new step that God had called her to. Whatever God is calling you to today, I hope her story inspires you to say YES Lord!
One of my favorite things is to hear a testimony from someone who said “Yes!” to God’s calling on their life. In elementary school, I was in a group called GA’s (Girls in Action), a church program for girls to learn about, pray for, give to, and get involved in missions. It was exciting for me anytime a missionary would come and speak to us about what their life was like on their mission field. Little did I know that one day God would call me to a foreign mission field.
I distinctly remember the day I knew that my husband and I would be moving overseas. My husband was a high school pastor and had recently returned from leading his second mission trip to China. I came home from work one Monday and it was clear he had been deeply burdened about China and sensed God leading us there. Through much prayer and fasting, we felt certain God was calling us to China. And to the shock of my husband, without hesitation, I said yes! I had traveled abroad to seven different countries, but had never been to China. The Lord had been preparing my heart and mind for this well before this day. God has a way of confirming His will through other people, through His Word, and through the alignment of circumstances that cannot be coincidence. I couldn’t see what the whole picture looked like, but He showed me what step to take at that time. That was my role in all of this - to take that step. It required faith and trust in a God who knows what He’s doing and who has it all figured out even when I don’t. This is how I can partner with Him in making an impact for His kingdom! He leads and I follow with complete trust in the God who sees the end from the beginning. Beautiful submission!
As excited as I was to get to China, it was quite a daunting task to prepare to move our entire lives to a foreign country. There were less than five months from the time we were sure of God’s calling to China until we actually landed there. God had opened a door for us to teach English, but we didn’t know what ministry would look like. Even though God didn’t show us a blueprint of His plans before we got there, He went before us each step of the way. Moving to China was a big step of obedience, but it was only the first step. Being submersed into a new culture drove us to complete dependence and obedience for every part of our journey. We’ve been back in America for a few years now, and I love reflecting on our four years in China. I could never have imagined all God had planned for us there. When we arrived, we felt unqualified and unprepared in many ways. However, looking back, I can see how God had prepared us for ministry in China well before we moved there. And while in China, God was preparing us for church planting in the Chinese populated city of Bellevue, Washington, where we currently serve.
M. David Sills, in his book The Missionary Call, shares one of the best quotes I’ve heard about God’s calling. He writes, “His call is for life, but the ways and places where we fulfill it and live it out will change throughout our lives as He guides.” It is vital that we understand that as believers and followers of Jesus, we are all called to live our lives on mission. Sharing Jesus with the world is not reserved only for those with seminary degrees or years of ministry training. The Great Commission Matthew 28:19-20 is for all believers. While God did call us specifically to a foreign mission field for a season, we are called to live our lives on mission wherever we are. Every believer is called to leverage their life for the spread of the Gospel. This means that your home, school, work, social media, with your friends, at a coffee shop, are your mission field. God may never call you to a foreign land, but know that He has called you, as follower of Christ, to join Him in His mission every day of your life.
Obeying God’s call on your life is the best and wisest decision you can make. It brings blessing because God honors those who honor Him. Obedience to God’s calling also involves submission to His authority and plans over your own. Remember that when you submit to God, you are submitting to One who is good, loving, and never changing. He is all-powerful. He makes possible the impossible. Obeying God demonstrates trust in His goodness and control over all things.
Is there something you have sensed the Lord calling you to do? Whatever that looks like for you, be courageous! You don’t have to see the entire picture to be obedient. Be obedient in taking the first step. It can happen right now. He who called you is faithful.
Last month, I came across my own "Barbara Bush." Over Spring Break, we went on a mission trip to TX/MX. I met the most beautiful silver-haired lady from Kansas named Mary. She’s 89! You'd never know it by watching her serve with love and laughter. Her goal: to celebrate her 90 birthday on another mission trip! Amazing! I want to live like that!
Last week, the world said goodbye to Barbara Bush. She was known and loved the world over. Her signature snow-white hair and strands of pearls added to her charm. She extracted as much as possible out of living with little concern for her own wrinkly, age-spotted skin.
She resisted culture's lure and poured more energy into her inside than her outside.
Reminiscing about these two older ladies, it hit me! We have been duped! From songs and commercials, to magazines and sitcoms, aging has been frowned upon and something to be feared. And slowly, we Jesus girls have bought into that lie hook line and sinker.
With each commercial and social media ad, we pour more and more of our money and time into something that is fleeting. Yes, quickly slipping away. We can delay the sagging and spotting, but we can't stop the toll aging takes upon our face and body.
What are we thinking?
Am I advocating we rise up and flush our anti-aging miracles down the toilet?
My concern though is where are we finding our worth? As Jesus girls, we need to ask ourselves hard questions:
"Is my worth found in the reflection of a mirror or in reflecting the Maker?"
"If all my anti-aging magic suddenly disappeared tomorrow, would I still feel worthy? Beautiful? Needed?"
So what is the remedy? How do we in our 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's grow old gracefully? I don't know Barbara Bush's faith story, but I do know Mary's.
Here are seven pro-aging pearls from their lives to string on the silken cord of aging well no matter the age.
Pearl #1. Embrace God’s Perspective on Aging.
Our hearts were made for eternity. This earth and these ole bodies are passing away. In past generations, the elderly were revered. They got it right! We need to, also.
Gray hair is a crown of glory;
it is gained in a righteous life.
Pearl #2. Be a Woman of the Word
Spend your downtime in the Word reading and growing in wisdom and knowledge. The old hymn sings, “Sweeter as the years go by…” May knowing God more, truly be sweeter, more rewarding, and so much more satisfying each year of our lives. Proverbs 31:30. Matthew 13:45-46.
Pearl #3. Lead by Example
When you were born, phones were attached to a wall, not to your hand. Therefore, model how to interact one on one or in a crowd. When you’re with others, resist being on your phone.
Take notice of those around you. Speak a kind word to the weary momma. Encourage the disgruntled youth. Thank your server. Make eye contact. Smile. 1 Peter 3:4. Colossians 3:15.
Pearl #4. Embrace Your God-Given Beauty
Trust me; I too wrestle with the effects of aging. The mirror doesn’t lie. Nor do photos. (Selfies are of the devil every aging woman knows! Lol) We must marvel at the truth in Psalm 139:14 whatever our age!
Pearl #5. Don’t Grow Frumpy.
Just because we’re aging isn’t a license to let ourselves go. It’s essential to maintain our health and body as much is possible for the glory of God.
God has given us a bevy of resources to fight the toll aging takes on our bodies thru exercise and eating. It’s good to still style our hair and dress attractively. 1 Corinthians 10:31
Pearl #6. Testify of God's Goodness!
As the years pile on, so do the faithful acts of the Lord. Psalm 71:18. 1 Thessalonians 5:11.
- Testify to that young momma that the long days of toddlerhood will soon pass, and she’ll make it!
- Testify to the young widow that God hasn’t forsaken her. She is still dearly loved. He is fighting for her!
- Testify to the weak that God hasn’t given up on them. God’s faithfulness and trustworthiness and steadfastness is their stronghold!
Pearl #7. Step up and serve!
God hasn't called you home yet, so do something!
- rock the babies in the nursery.
- serve as a greeter at church.
- make the coffee for this coffee-loving generation.
- write encouragement notes to new visitors.
- bake a cake and deliver it to a new momma or a recovering member or to your pastor.
Barbara Bush's final gift to us women? Barbara poured more energy into who she was becoming rather than pining over who she was. Beauty from the inside out. Her silver hair and wrinkles didn't stop her from living beautifully.
I want to do that, to become more beautiful on the inside as the years pile on the outside.
Like my friend Mary, I long for my worth to be found in reflecting my Maker rather than the reflection in my mirror.
I'm with you, my friend. The mirror reminds me I'm aging. My joints moan and groan one too many mornings. My clothes fit differently than they did a couple of decades ago. (ahem.) BUT! I pray I am becoming more beautiful for Jesus. I pray I am contagious in living a life full of love and joy and laughter and kindness and truth.
Join me, dear one. String the 7 pearls on your silken cord of life so you too can bloom in this next season of sagging, wrinkling, and creaking. May your worth be found in reflecting the Maker rather than in the reflection in the mirror.
May others be drawn to you because your inner beauty is irresistible. Just like Barbara Bush. Just like Mary.
The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock,
and there is no unrighteousness in him.
Going into each new year, I like to pick a Word of the Year. This word of the year is my theme for the upcoming year and signifies an area where the Lord is directing my focus in order to grow me spiritually. This practice has proven to be far more effective than making any well-intended yet short-lived New Year’s resolutions.
For the year 2017, I was hoping for a strong word such as COURAGEOUS or FEARLESS. It didn’t happen. Instead, the Holy Spirit kept impressing a word on me that I was not so eager to claim: THANKFUL.
Umm, can we have a redo?
The word "thankful" seemed too vanilla and boring to me. I pretty much told the Lord, “Any word but that word!”
Certain that I had gotten it wrong, I persisted in prayer and hoped that a new word would soon emerge. But, nothing else came. It took me weeks to accept that, like it or not, thankful was indeed the Lord’s intended word for me for 2017.
Choosing the verse to accompany my new word was much easier than claiming the word itself. The Lord started sowing the verse, "Give thanks in all circumstances," into my heart months before when I read The Hiding Place, a biography written by Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. It is a book of unflinching faith in the face of extreme adversity. And, tucked within its pages is a story of the transforming power of thankfulness that Corrie learned from her sister Betsie:
It will be better, everyone assured everyone else, when we move into permanent barracks. We’ll have a blanket apiece. A bed of our own. Each of us painted into the picture her own greatest need.
The move to permanent quarters came the second week in October. Betsie and I followed a prisoner-guide through the door at the right. Our noses told us, first, that the place was filthy: somewhere plumbing had backed up, the bedding was soiled and rancid. Then, as our eyes adjusted to the gloom, we saw that there were no individual beds at all, but great square piers stacked three high, and wedged side by side.
At last she pointed to a second tier in the center of a large block. To reach it we had to stand on the bottom level, haul ourselves up, and then crawl across three other straw-covered platforms to reach the one that we would share with – how many? The deck above us was too close to let us sit up. We lay back, struggling against the nausea that swept over us from the reeking straw.
Suddenly I sat up, striking my head on the cross-slats above. Something had pinched my leg.
“Fleas!” I cried. “Betsie, the place is swarming with them!”
We scrambled across the intervening platforms and edged our way to a patch of light.
“Here! And here another one!” I wailed. “Betsie, how can we live in such a place?”
“Show us. Show us how.” It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.
“Corrie!” she said excitedly. “He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!”
I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. “It was First Thessalonians,” I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen. In the feeble light I turned the pages. “Here it is…‘Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus – ‘”
“That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. ‘Give thanks in all circumstances!’ That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!”
I stared at her, then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.
“Such as?” I said.
“Such as being assigned here together.”
I bit my lip. “Oh yes, Lord Jesus!”
“Such as what you’re holding in your hands.”
I looked down at the Bible. “Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all the women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.”
“Yes,” said Betsie. “Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re placed so close, that many more will hear!” She looked at me expectantly. “Corrie!” she prodded.
“Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed, suffocating crowds.”
“Thank You,” Betsie went on serenely, “for the fleas and for – “
The fleas! This was too much. “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.”
“’Give thanks in all circumstances,’” she quoted. “It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.”
And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.
Like Corrie, I often imagine a better life ahead. I paint a picture where my greatest needs are met, desires are fulfilled, and life is comfortable and happy. I say, "It will be better when..." And, when that doesn’t happen, I wallow in depression. I get anxious. I fear the unknown. I feel weary. I focus too intently on the fleas, the minor nuisances, and magnify them in my mind.
Worst of all, I never thank God for any of it. None. What would be the reason?
Yet, there I was with perhaps one of the hardest verses in the Bible to live out, “Give thanks in ALL circumstances,” as my verse for 2017.
"Why that word? Why that verse? Why?"
Yet, I knew why. The Lord wanted to cultivate in me a spirit of thankfulness. And, if that’s what He desired for me, I could trust that there was a good reason for it.
Being a born procrastinator, I wanted to put off the task. But, very quickly into the New Year, the Lord decided it was time for us to get busy. It started with my middle child. His health history is long. Our journey with this child has been a decade in the making and not one stage has been easy. I have lamented SO MANY times to the Lord and begged Him to make my job as his mother easier. Anxieties and worries consumed me. But, instead of listening to my lamenting, the Lord began to say, “Tell me 3 things you are thankful for right now.”
What I really wanted to do was continue on with my whine, let my imagination about the “what if’s” run wild, and shout, “Help me Lord!!”
Yet, the Lord wanted me to give thanks instead.
Like Corrie, I would squabble with Him at first. But, ever so slowly, it would happen. I would push pause on my anxious thoughts and search for something positive in the whole situation. With diligent focus, something good would start to come into view.
“Oh, yes, Lord, thank you for ___________.”
“Oh, and thank you for ___________.”
Sometimes I listed three things. Sometimes five. Sometimes seven.
Here’s what happened: my mindset shifted. My mood shifted. My attitude shifted. My worries became praises. My moans and groans became intelligible words of life. Worry turned to hope.
The same thing happened with my older son. He was struggling to make new friends in his new school. My heart has never been so burdened for him! It produced an anxious spirit within me that kept me up at night. I silently transposed my own childhood fears of rejection onto him which proved to be a surefire way to crank my anxiety up even higher.
“Thank me,” the Spirit would whisper.
And, pushing pause on my anxiety, I would do just that:
“Thank you Lord that you are a man well-acquainted with rejection for you know how he feels.” Isaiah 53:3
“Thank you Lord for the one friend that he has at school. He would be so lonely without her.”
“Thank you Lord that he doesn’t sit alone at lunchtime.”
Was this easy? No. My heart cried while my tongue thanked. But, wrapped up in my thanksgiving was peace in knowing that my burdens were safe at my Savior’s feet. Having placed them there, I could begin to see all the ways that the Lord was working in that situation. By faith, I believed that He would weave it into a greater good. And, He has.
These two situations have continued to come up throughout this past year along with some others. Each time, with a racing heart and anxious “what-ifs” bubbling to the surface of my mind, I have begun to go into autopilot and start my thanksgiving.
And, do you know what? My anxieties are gone!
This discipline has taught me that the antidote for anxiety is thanksgiving! An anxious mind cannot co-exist with a thankful heart. It’s as if you have to flip the anxious switch off in order to flip the thanksgiving switch on. What a discovery!
Corrie and Betsie’s story goes on to tell us what happened in those flea-infested barracks:
Betsie and I made our way to the rear of the dormitory room where we held our worship “service.” There were services like no others. Betsie or I would open the Bible. Because only the Hollanders could understand the Dutch text, we would translate aloud in German. And then we would hear the life-giving words passed back along the aisles in French, Polish, Russian, Czech, back into Dutch. There were little previews of heaven, these evenings beneath the lightbulb. I would know again that in darkness God’s truth shines most clear.
At first Betsie and I called these meetings with great timidity. But as night after night went by and no guard ever came near us, we grew bolder. So many now wanted to join us that we held a second service after evening roll call. There on the Lagerstrasse we were under rigid surveillance, guards in their warm wool capes marching constantly up and down. Yet in the large dormitory room there was almost no supervision at all. We did not understand it.
Over one thousand women crammed into that tight, putrid space where the Gospel was shared night after night in six different languages. All of this was done with no disruption whatsoever from the ever-watchful eyes of the Nazi guards. They never stepped foot in there. But why?
Because of the fleas.
Corrie and Betsie later found out that the guards wouldn’t come into their dormitory because “that place is crawling with fleas!’”
And, to think that Corrie was sure the fleas had no good purpose. Imagine if she had refused to be thankful for them?
Why do we have to walk through difficult circumstances? Why has this past year been hard? This past week? Today? I don’t know why. But, I can say this…the fleas have a purpose. Each one can draw us closer to the Lord. He wouldn’t allow them if it weren’t so.
The question is, are you thanking Him for them?
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17
You can thank the Lord for your light and momentary troubles. And, you can thank Him for them tomorrow. And, the next day. And the next. Day after day you can thank Him until thanksgiving is an automatic response that spontaneously erupts from your lips. Your anxieties will eventually give way to your thankfulness.
No, your troubles may not change. But, I can guarantee that the way you look at them and respond to them will.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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Do You Live in Fear?
Fear is a topic that has come up in conversation quite a bit here lately. It is something we all face at some point in our lives, and it's one of the hardest things to overcome.
Dictionary.com says fear is a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.
There are all types of fear; from a diagnosis, a struggling marriage, wayward children, finances, a job loss, or even change. I know you have a story you could tell about how fear has tried to steal your joy.
We know that from the beginning in the Garden of Eden evil has surrounded us (Genesis 3:1-7), but even before Adam and Eve, was the fall of Lucifer, the angel. Isaiah speaks in 14:12-15,
“How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”
Pride and selfishness is nothing new to Satan, and he is out seeking whom he can devour. As a nation that is overcome with pride and selfishness with no regard for a human life and that has fallen further from the Lord, we are divided now more than ever. Satan is succeeding in his destruction.
I have experienced a wide range of fear in my lifetime and sometimes I have walked through it well and other times I have been a complete train wreck! One thing I try to always remind myself of, or I depend on others to gently remind me, is of God's promises to me as His child.
Do You Live in Fear?
My mom has two sisters. Growing up, her youngest sister, Bobbi and her family lived across the street from us. If you ask anyone today that knew us both, they will tell you I am a lot like her. She loved people and she loved being involved with her community. Our family was in the restaurant business and she was the face everyone recognized. If you knew her, you adored her. As I got older, we became closer.
When I was sixteen and she was only thirty-five, evil took her from us. On Tuesday night, July 16, 1996, the course of our family forever changed. You see, someone came into my aunt’s home and murdered her with her eight-month-old son at home with her. It wasn’t until my brother, uncle, and nephew came home from playing volleyball that they found her upstairs. To this day, the case has not been solved. My uncle served time for conspiracy of murder, but the murderer is still roaming. Please know that you are getting a very short snippet to a very long, in-depth story that I don’t have time to go into through a blog. But what I really want you to see is that in the midst of tragedy and fear, you can find freedom and peace.
Do You Live in Fear?
It is so easy to let anger and fear creep into our minds and our lives. For the longest time, I would not go into my house alone and everywhere I would go I would wonder if the suspect was around me. As I got older and began to live on my own, I knew I had two choices in the midst of this tragedy...live my life in fear or trust my life to the one who created me. I finally realized more than ever that we all have an appointed time that we will be called to our eternal home, and I knew mine was heaven. I was determined to not let Satan steal from me the joy that the Lord had filled me. I would literally talk to myself as I would turn the key into my home where I lived alone, “Lord, I am yours and you are with me, I will not fear!”
Although I will never understand the cause of this tragedy, and I will always wonder what life would be like with my aunt Bobbi here today (knowing we would be the best of friends), I have to trust that we have not received closure for a reason. When I stand face to face before the Father, and I am reunited with my precious aunt, all will be perfect!
These are scary times that we are living in and I don’t understand all the evil in the world. What I do know is that we have a good Father who’s promises are the only thing true that we can stand on. We have to take our thoughts captive. When we begin to become fearful, we must hide His Word in our hearts and speak back against Satan. Ultimately he is the one who is causing the fear in the first place.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places - Ephesians 6:12
This life is just a vapor, just a snap shot of what eternity holds for us. If you have not placed your hope and trust in Jesus, and you have not made Him Lord of your life, I pray that you will reach out to someone, even one of us on the blog. When you are a child of God, there is no reason to fear.
Are you walking through a fearful time right now? What is it that you need to lay at the feet of Jesus so you can have peace in your life? Where do you need to release control?
Do You Live in Fear?
Today I leave you with some scripture and a song:
John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Joshua 1:9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Psalm 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?
For more Scripture on fear, click here for a free download.
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!