Just Turn The Page

Just Turn The Page

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Spring Madness


When the deadness of bitter cold winters awakens to the warmth and renewal of spring, I always feel a stirring in my heart. I feel as if my heart comes to life with each new budding tree and blooming flower.

For me, the changing seasons represents seasons in my life. Winter seems to be a time of pruning. A time of self-reflection, of examining the things that are working or not working in my life. To look back on the year’s events and see where I’ve grown or became stagnant. It’s also a time for me to look at my goals: Am I on target or behind? What do I need to change? Where do I keep on persevering and what do I let go? Winter speaks to me about my spiritual life as well. Where am I growing in my relationship with Christ? Or did I let the things of the world consume me? Did we become closer or further apart? Or am I stuck in a place that I have not allowed Him in? Winter provides the perfect solitude to explore my inner-self and to think about changes, especially the constant need to find balance in my life.

Ironically, Spring Equinox means to bring into balance. Quite literally, “it’s when the sun shines on the equator and the length of day and night are nearly equal” (timeandday.com). A perfect balance. I only wish life was perfectly balanced instead of a constant juggle. Yet, I find myself in constant pursuit of achieving balance knowing it’s really not possible. Still, spring reminds me of renewal and rebirth. A season in time when the old passes away and the new emerges. Spring allows winter-time reflection to become action. Instead of a gradual easing into each new period, a rush of the seasons promise arrives on stage before we are ready to shed winter’s layers, only to change back a week later. Sometimes, like the changing seasons, life reflects the rush and drawbacks of the new season. Mother Nature cannot decide if she is ready to let go of winter’s hibernation for the liberating freshness of spring or jump into the new without looking back.
Yellow Snowdrop in High Mountain Valley: Elena Moiseeva
I am like that. Most of the time, I jump in and figure it out as I go. However, with age comes experience and experience wisdom—we hope. Winter provided a lot of time for me to reflect on my life. A lot of time to rest and grieve the past year’s events. To finally deal with things I put on the shelf. To face changes in my life; the things I held onto not wanting to let go. To face the changing seasons of my own life. I am reminded of the lyrics from Stevie Nicks “Landslide”:
I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
‘Til the landslide brought it down
Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing’ ocean tides?
Can I handle the season of my life? 
Eventually, Mother Nature will release her hold on winter and usher in Spring with joyous fervor. In fact, she really hasn’t a choice. I do. However, I choose to release those things that keep me from growing, changing, and becoming the best version of me. I don’t always know how the plan will unfold, I just know not trying is a waste of the grace I am given to live each day to the fullest. I may never achieve optimal balance, but doing a little each day I will accomplish my goals and achieve my dreams. Most importantly, I also know that by His grace and grace alone, I will sail through the changing seasons of my life much like my kayaking adventures; on calm rivers and raging ones.

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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Finding Normal

Dear reader, can I be honest with you? Life is cruel. I am not saying others haven’t had their fair share of hardship. In fact, I know quite a few people who are struggling right now. People, like me, who wonder if there really is a calm—a long one—after the storm.

Truth is, suffering is a part of life. Part of my story involves a lifetime of sorrow, even as a Christian. In fact, when I became a Christian the sadness that plagued my life did not go away nor did my chaotic life. The reality? Nothing changed—I mean really changed— for a long time. Oh sure, I stopped doing those wretched secular things. You know, the obvious sin’s that set apart Christians and non-Christians.  I exchanged all my secular activities for church activities. I read and prayed daily. I was zealous for change. I knew I was a hot mess. I am just not sure God knew.
Yet, no matter what I did, something was missing. Instead, my life experience’s contradicted the ‘promised’ life I heard preached. Ted Dekker calls it a “crisis of experience.”[1] I agree. In fact, a series of tragedies in my life brought me to my AHA-moment. You know, that moment when everything finally makes sense. Honestly, I find it a bit peculiar that a moment of incredible hurt opened my eyes and not some awesome magical moment, like we see in the movies. Nonetheless, it was the necessary twist needed in the plotline of my story.
“I’m tired of the chaos,” she said.
“Me too,” I mumbled.
“I guess God is taking us different directions,” she said.

Lonely Series - Inner Chaos by Leda Carter

The phone call ended. We haven’t spoken since, and that was two-years ago.

I was adrift, alone, without any tether to my true identity. I was lost, starving for intimacy, desperate to be valued, swallowed by a sea of lonely hearts, thinking that perhaps I was the only one who was lost. Ted Dekker
The problem was she was right. My life, for as long as I can remember, has been a series of crisis. My marriage was chaos. I was chaotic. My children followed suit.

However, she was also wrong. My whole life I believed that there was something inherently wrong with me. In truth, there was a lot wrong with me. The problem was I wasn’t the only one and nobody told me.
I became a Christian because I wanted to be ‘normal,’ somebody other than me. If I could just get the Christian thing down, then maybe my life would be normal’ or so I believed. Unfortunately, so many people think this way, and they find themselves standing in a crisis of belief. Then we begin to think maybe God isn’t really for me or maybe we are too far gone to be saved or maybe we are just not worth it-to God or others. We become disillusioned with Christianity, people, even ourselves; thus, the second reason for my silence this past year.

I have been trying to find normal.


The beautiful thing about aha-moments is something good usually follows. I took a course on PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) to understand my husband, myself, and others. I learned that living with PTSD is learning to find a “new normal” in life.

What never occurred to me, and what I failed to learn from the messages being preached is none of us are normal. There is no such thing. We are all sinners in need of Grace. Yes, Christians may be saints, but “a saint is just a sinner who [falls] down.”[2]In reality, Christians fail every single day. We fail to live the full un-adulterated gospel, no matter how hard we try. Our humanity gets in the way. Hence, the reason we need a Savior. His grace and mercy covers us.
As long as I kept searching for normal, I could never accept who I am faults and all. Nor could I receive, in all His fullness, God’s deep love for me. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I finally know that’s okay too! I don’t need to. I just need to let go and Just Be Me.
I promise to lighten up just a bit, to share the joys of my life, and not just the struggles and burdens. There is purpose in life’s madness. I’m still a tad bit chaotic, sometimes flat-out crazy in a fun-off-the-wall-sorta-way, but I am also intense, deep, and slightly introverted. I tend to stand on the outside and look in, and for the first time in my life I am okay with that.
There is a whole lot of awesomeness in this life. More so when you find others who you can relate to. It is my deepest prayer that those who feel like I did and still do, at times, will find a friend in me. Together we can navigate the ups-and-downs of life and become the best version of ourselves.



  [1] Dekker, Ted. Waking Up: How I Found My Faith By Losing It - The Forgotten Way. Outlaw Studios, 2015.

[2] McClurkin, Donnie. "We Fall Down." Live in London and More. 2000. Electronic.





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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Child Within


Losing someone you love is devastating. No one can escape death. However, watching someone die adds another dimension to grief. More so, when the relationship you shared is filled with regret.
I did not watch my mother die, like her husband, Bill, my two siblings, and aunt. I lived three-thousand miles away, but I felt her leave for the second time in my life, and that pain was almost unbearable.

The woman they knew was not the woman I knew. I spent the majority of my life estranged from my mother. In fact, most of my teen years and entire adulthood I spent alienated from my family. As in all relationships, this was not all one-sided. It had as much to do with me, as it did them. Nonetheless, my heart was filled with regret.

The turning point in our relationship came in 2008 when my mother came to my oldest daughter’s high school graduation. Despite the hectic schedule, we were able to share a few treasured moments together: moments of tears, apologies, holding hands, and most of all, forgiveness. Moments forever etched in my memory.  

Yet, I was still unsure. I didn’t know if I could open my heart to a woman I barely knew or understood. It would be cruel to imply that my mother intentionally hurt or rejected me. She did not. She was fighting battles I could not understand as a child. Still, dysfunctional families leave a mess in their wake. No one comes out of chaos unscathed. At the time, the woman in me knew and understood this truth. But the child in me did not.

Colors of Fate Colors of Fate Series

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Breaking the Silence


October 12, 2014 started out like a typical Sunday for my family, church and an afternoon drive to Cary for my son’s basketball training. I decided to take my daughter along for the ride to spend a little girl time while we waited.
The drive was peaceful, quiet, maybe a little too quiet with two teenagers in the car. I guess some days are like that, each of us lost in our own thoughts. Despite the serenity surrounding me, inside I was anxious. I was waiting, waiting to face what I feared most in my life.
We dropped Charlie off. Then toured the local shops. Over subs, we chit-chatted about college, her boyfriend, and life. Basically, your typical teenage girl stuff. When we finished, we headed out to the car to pick up my son. Then it happened.
My hands involuntarily reached for my phone as the blood rushed to my cheeks. Every sound muffled by the sound of my pounding heart. Slowly and somewhat forcibly I read the text from my Aunt. I scrolled through the message, “It’s time. You need to call now!”
Summer reached for my hands, as my body switched to auto-pilot. Avoiding eye contact with her, I dialed the number. After a few rings, Bill answered. To this day, I do not remember speaking with him, I only remember the sound of her labored breathing. Eternity passed between us. Everything became so surreal, like a movie in slow motion. Then I heard a faint voice. At first, I thought she was talking but it was me speaking to her or at least I thought it was me. The words sounded like they came from me, but I felt no ownership to them. They were saying goodbye, while inside I was screaming, trying desperately to hold on.
Sometimes, the greatest treasures are found in the moments of our deepest pain. As we drove home, my two teenagers sang, at the top of their lungs, with me “She Will Go Down in a Blaze of Glory” by Jon Bon Jovi, over and over again. Seriously. No lie. It was the sweetest moment of my mother slipping away. Yet, the hour still had not come by the time we got home.
I went straight to my bathroom and emerged myself into the piping hot water. The humming of the jets drowned out the roar of my aching heart. Suddenly, silence filled the space of my existence. She was gone. In her wake, silence.

It has been a over a year since my mother’s passing.
Although life went on, for me it was enveloped in profound silence.

Silence W.H. deVries

Grief numbed my soul. I went through the motions of doing, but not really living. I could not write. I tried. I could not sing. I tried. I could not dance. I tried. I tried to reach for life, but silence held me. I could not let go.

Give sorrow words: The grief that does not speak. Whisper the o’re-fraught heart, and bids it break
. Shakespeare’s Macbeth

But then slowly, gradually the silence that cocooned me released its hold. Sorrow still grips my heart, for many reasons, but like a butterfly I will break free.   





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Thursday, January 8, 2015

Just Three Words

Just three words sum up 2014 for me: change, loss, and grief. Usually it is just one word, but if you look at those three words, you can see how they connect. The inconsistencies of my postings also reflect how I handled those themes in my life. As I sit home recovering from a second spinal surgery and mulling over what to write; I consider what I learned or did not learn this past year, the parts worth sharing and the stuff that needs dumping, for both our sakes! I also pray about a theme for the New Year. 

Why?
Usually around the end of December, I take the time to reflect on the year ending and the year ahead. (I am a little behind due to my surgery). First, I check to see if I achieved any of the goals I set out to accomplish. I did. I make sure I am still on the right track for those lifelong goals. Sorta of. For example, am I staying healthy or did I get off track. Seriously off track. Even though I am getting ready to graduate, am I still learning? Yes. Did I take the time to learn in other areas of my life? Yes. For instance, am I growing as a parent, a wife, a friend, and so on? Yes and I hope so. Or have I become stagnant in some or all of those areas? Yes.
Secondly, I consider how I am doing spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. Am I out of balance?  Yes! Are there some things I have neglected within myself? Again, yes! How about my relationships with family and friends? Have I neglected any of those? Maybe, I need to tend to some relationships or mend some broken ones. Again, yes!

I have to be honest; I have not always done this. Oh, I have tried, but it seems every time I try to plan or make goals something comes a long and knocks my goals and dreams out into left field somewhere.

Or I live in constant fear that the rug is about to be pulled right out from underneath me… again (My whole life has been like this!). What this really means is my life is usually lived from one chaotic moment to another. The chaos never stops. I end up just trying to survive, instead of living the life God redeemed. I get frustrated, give up, and just go with the flow. I quit dreaming.
TO BE FAIR
Most military families cannot ever make plans. They must be ready at all times—for the needs of the military, which requires families to be flexible and adaptable. We often joked my husband was married to the military and I was his mistress. All my husband ever wanted to be was a soldier.  Honestly, we didn't know how to be a family. He was always gone. So we waited for him. I learned not to make plans... to put my dreams on the shelf...and tried to stay Anchored in Hope.
Yet, Eddie retired three-years ago. I thought civilian life wasn’t supposed to be as chaotic as military life, but honestly I think the chaos is us —my family as a whole and individually--are still trying to find our way. Who are we now; if we are not a military family anymore? At least twenty-six years of our life was the military! Our life was centered on the military. Now what? Finding a good job has been nothing short of impossible. He took a job that almost pays our bills just to get us through until a better one came along. We are still waiting!
I did not want to be a stay-at-home military wife. I was also a soldier, but I had to get out for medical reasons about fifteen years ago. I was quite literally humbled into learning how to become a mom and a wife--literally. Over the past fifteen years or so, being a mom and wife is all I have done. I love it...and I am glad I still have a few more years left before the last one leaves the nest. I went back to school in 2010 for a ton of reasons, which I share in my post a Not - So -Distant Horizon . Check it out if you haven’t read it! My school journey is quite interesting. I will graduate in May.
However, we are still a little lost and unsure of our future, of ourselves, of who we are, where we are going, and so on. I guess that’s what happens when life abruptly changes in the middle of the journey. We were not planning on retiring for a while. It was forced retirement. All those plans we dreamed about…you know the ones that come after military life…well they ended too. All the struggles of the last few years, the losses, the pain, the confusion and so on... has left me a little disillusioned. I feel as if  I have lost my way...I lost me or did I even know me? 
Edited: Flickr.com V.Hart
Confession
I would like to end the chapter of 2014 by throwing it in the garbage bin and setting it on fire; just being brutally honest. In fact, only the grace of God has carried all of us through the year. The confusion that surrounds change, loss, and grief is overwhelming. Honestly, some of it I —we—have navigated fairly well, some of it not so well.
Some of the pains and sorrow of 2014 are carrying over into 2015. At times, I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper into the abyss of depression. Other days, I still think I can conquer the world. Today, I stand on the cliff undecided.
2014
I have decided not to rehash the achievements or setbacks from the year. Some you can gather from my past posts. In 2014, I lost myself, which is actually a good thing. You will discover why in 2015. My husband became lost the day he retired. I probably did too, it just took me a little longer to get there, and a lot more stuff to happen.
I did know early on in 2014 that a lot of change was about to happen in my life. In fact, I started to write about it in my post Tomorrow . Only I thought the change was more external than internal. As if that makes a difference, right? Change, whether internal or external can be either good or bad, always comes with a little punch—meaning it usually comes with a loss of some kind. Change involves endings and new beginnings.
Some change looks negative on the surface, but you will soon realize that space is being created in your life for something new to emerge. Eckhart Tolle
The year ended the same as it started.
BUT that’s not the end of the story. I know this in my heart.
A New Beginning
I know God speaks to us in mysterious ways. I received a package in the mail, not sure from who or why, but in it was a wooden sign. It read:
Never, never, never, never, give up. Winston Churchill
Funny how things happen. How did that person know that I am struggling or with what?  Yes, parts of me is ready to give up. I have reached the end--the end of what I don't know. Me? Life? Chaos? Confusion? Disillusionment?  I know my husband is at his wits end. I couldn't find my Anchor...it felt as if He left me in the middle of the storms. Then I would feel ashamed that I even felt that way as a Christian. I mean we should navigate suffering with a lot more hope and cheery faces. Right? That's the message I am used to hearing.
But still... I hold on. I hold on because I truly believe in, and love my Savior. I also hold on because I believe He is teaching me some things through this time...things He wants all of us to understand about Him and suffering.

I went one more time to my Savior. Tears of grief still roll down my cheeks. Some from my mother, some from weariness, some from ALL the changes that has taken place these past few years that has left me more confused and lost than ever before. Some from discouragement. I am sure some is from the pain from my recent surgery, and only God knows the rest.
 I Prayed

Please give me a theme for 2015, at the beginning not the end and please let it be good. I am not sure I can handle another year of heartache. Still, I know it is His choice. After all, He is the Author and Finisher of my faith.

He didn’t give it to many right away, it took a few more days of praying. Then like a soft warm breeze across my face He whispered, “Becoming.”

In my heart, I knew what He meant, because I have been praying and crying out for months. Who am I exactly? I started talking about my journey on learning to 'become me' in my post Reflections: Just Be, but it got interrupted with my mother’s illness and death, surgeries, and a lot of other stuff. Plus, I tend to run ahead. God gives me something and off I run. Maybe it wasn't quite time. Maybe now is the time, because the last few years have taught me so much.

There is a lot more to that question than just understanding my identity in Christ, it’s a loaded question about me—Samantha. Who am I? Can I come to terms with me—the good and bad? Where did I get lost and why?  And a host of other questions.

Also, 'Becoming' is not just about me, it is also about my husband and our family. We are on this journey together. We are individuals, but connected; each one of us are finding our place in this world, the place God carved out just for us. Its about His purpose and plans. 'Becoming' is about who we are in Him.
Follow me into 2015 and together we can learn what it means to Discover the Best You! Because when we do, we find Him in our unfolding story--even in the mistakes, the pain and suffering; including, the times we've doubted, questioned, made the wrong turn or turned our back. HE never gives up  on us.



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Friday, December 26, 2014

Simple & Meek

I hate to be so cliché, but I am a day late and a dollar short. I meant to get a few more blogs posted before Christmas, but the first few days after surgery kind-of melded together. Really, the first few days after any surgery the brain becomes a tad-bit foggy, to say the least, and all I can say is thank God for coffee; it usually jump-starts frazzled brains—surgery or no surgery. However, severe physical pain and its antidote— narcotics have a way of making me not quite like myself. My family and I never know if I will wake up looking and acting like Medusa or floating around like Olaf—literally, which would be great then I would not have to worry about driving. I could just float happily wherever I need to go. But, I am not allowed to drive and it stinks! I know I am whining. I am completely dependent upon my husband and seventeen-year-old daughter to drive and/or do errands for me. I am so completely grateful that they are willing and able. All of which, has made Christmas quite challenging this year. To be honest, I just wanted to skip it all together.
Turn the Page »

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Round 2

It is what is…I don’t know who said that, but I really hate that saying. Honestly, I cannot live by that truth. However, I am not so naïve as to think that everything that comes my way I can change. I found that is not always the truth, but I can change how I navigate through my circumstances. I guess that is why I love the serenity prayer so much.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Too be honest, there are some days I would like to just beat those words with a hammer until they are all mangled and unreadable. I am not naturally violent so that is my lame attempt at violence--not that I feel the need to be violent or anything--but I think you catch my drift.
Why the pent up frustration?
Exactly six days ago, I had another surgery on my cervical spine. This time it was a little more complicated, but my cervical spine should become more stable as it heals. 
It seems as if all my attempts at trying to keep my spine strong were futile. Okay not completely, I did do all the right things, but my cervical spine was too weak. I cannot change the degenerative disease affecting my spine. Just in case you didn’t know, there is no magical workout or mystery diet that strengthens bones, and before I found out how bad my spine really is, I was running twenty-some miles a week, lifting weights and really enjoying my life, well most of it anyways.
I have prayed and prayed and prayed. It does not seem as if God is going to heal my spine…at least not supernaturally or miraculously. It is definitely not from a lack of faith either. I firmly believe GOD HEALS. I also believe there are times when God allows things to run its natural course. In so doing, it does not diminish who God is. Nor does it mean that I understand why. It just means God is Sovereign. He knows what is best. 
Still, I cannot quite settle for …it is what it is…
What can I do?
I cannot stop the degenerative disease in my spine. I can choose how I am going to live my life. For me, that means taking care of myself holistically. In fact, I am a firm believer that you cannot be healthy in one area of your life and sick in another. We are mind, body, and soul. We are connected. My physical health has a profound effect on my emotional, mental, and spiritual health. You can switch anyone of those areas around—the result is the same.
Quite honestly, I think it’s a tad-bit ridiculous to ask God for healing—even expect healing—then live however your want to live without repercussions. I am not saying that God has a requirement for healing, but reason mixed with faith tells me that if you want to be healthy then live and eat healthy. I am fully aware there is some who do all the right things and still end up with a horrible disease. I wish I could answer that one—I cannot. I am sorry. 
Nothing—I mean nothing— made sense about my mother’s horrible disease that led to her death. However, I saw a woman, who just accepted Christ a few years ago, cling to Christ for every breath— literally. She surrendered the outcome to Him, no matter what. In so doing, her husband of nearly twenty-years became a born again believer. Now that is something!
Quite honestly, 2014 has been a rough year for me. Highlights you will get to read about in my next post Reflections on 2014. A year full of hardships—mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. So much so, that I did not bounce back from my last surgery very well, and now I am trying to recover from a second one. 
However, reflecting always leads to pondering, which leads to change, at least for me. There are definite changes on the horizon; not New Year resolutions—they do not usually stick. All of which, I plan to share with you over the next couple of weeks. So check back with me for more details. In the meantime, drop me a line and let me know how you are doing. I would love to hear about your life or need to Just Turn the Page...

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Not- So-Distant Horizon of My Life

There is something magnificent about watching the sunset.  Radiant shades of red, orange, and hints of yellow paint the sky. The distant horizon holds the triumphs of today and the promise of tomorrow. It also reminds me that the hardships and struggles of today end, and tomorrow brings new beginnings.

ON the not-so-distant horizon of my life, I see the finish line. I will be graduating college with a degree in BA English & Professional Writing from Regent University in just six months--May 9, 2015 to be exact! I am so excited that I can hardly contain myself. When I think of how close that finish line is, I break out into a happy dance— much to my kid’s embarrassment.
Turn the Page »

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Stay In the Moment

Stay in the Moment

As a writer, I am constantly looking for story ideas. Not the next big story, but the story behind the story. My mind is always on. I am also a mother and a wife with a thousand things to do every day—all day. Sometimes I find that I am physically present, but not mentally. The recent death of my mother had a profound effect on me. Losing her—again— changed my perspective.
Life allowed our relationship to be reconciled, but it did not afford us time. Instead, what we had were a few precious moments. Moments etched in my memory and heart for eternity. Moments that will find its way upon a page…someday.


Moments are lost when our minds drift in the present. Once gone, so is an opportunity. An opportunity to spend time with your children, husband, and friends. An opportunity to enjoy life and people. Our minds drift to our to-do list or other pressing things. Truth is, everything in life demands our attention. The challenge is to stay in the moment you’re in.

What does that mean?
Simple. Stop thinking. Stop the mental chaos. Live the moment you are in. Make time for the mental organization, but live the moment you are in. Enjoy the car ride with your crazy kids-even the annoying ones. If you have a fourteen-year-old son, I know you know can relate. Listen to the endless chatter of your teenage daughter. Remember what it was like to listen to your husband wow you with his intellect? Okay, not really. But, I bet he did something in the beginning that mesmerized you. Rediscover him. Your life—whatever it may look like—is yours. You only get one shot. Don’t miss it!

WE are not promised tomorrow.

Today treasure the moments God gives you.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Empty Pages

Sixty-seven days without writing equates to sixty-seven days of empty pages. Sixty-seven days of empty pages…sixty-seven days of a grieving heart.


On October 12, 2014, my mother lost her battle with Scleroderma and went home to Jesus.

That was thirty-seven days ago.
The gap in between…the empty pages…the loss of words I felt on the days leading up to her death.
Since her death …the empty pages…the loss of her in my life.

Dear Friends,

Forgive my absence. I do not know if there is a right or wrong way to travel the road of grief and loss. I only know I am on that road now. I would like to tell you that my grief has passed. It has not. Some days powerful waves of grief overtake me, and I feel the waters crashing down on me. Other days, smaller gentler waves remind me of the emptiness in my heart.

Grief takes time. I know. How much? I do not know. All I know is today I found the courage to Just Turn the Page and begin filling the empty pages once again…
 
Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow unit the faucet is turned on. Louis L’Amour

 

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