9 reasons I responded : an open letter to a critic | meg marie wallace

Last night, just after folding the last few loads of laundry and putting the last kiddo to bed, I set my phone down to plug it in and noticed I had received an email. My blog alerts me each time I receive a comment and, although it was late at night and I shouldn’t have been anywhere but asleep, I decided to read it. As I scanned through the words, I immediately could feel my face getting hot and my hands begin to tremble…embarrassment, fear, anger, sadness…right away the lump in my throat was there.

An unnamed critic had decided to let me know what they thought of me…and it wasn’t good. What do I do? Do I respond? How do I respond? Do I ignore it? Do I listen to this person? Do I take their advice? Which parts of this are true? Am I able to sleep with this on my mind? After talking it through and spending some time praying, I decided to write back…

And here’s 9 reasons why…

  1. For my own sanity. The man last week who sent an email full of curse words calling me a satanist was easy to blow off. But it’s the comments like this with half-truths that pull on my heart strings and press up against my own longstanding insecurities. These are issues I’ve spent countless hours/days/weeks/months/years fretting over…am I able to be “me”? Will people just stand back and judge? I know how far I’ve come and how He has grown me…and writing it out sure does help keep me grounded. Help me, Lord, to walk in the freedom you say is mine. Help me to walk carefully…help me to refrain from doing what I do – and NOT doing what I don’t do – simply to please others.
  2. To keep my flesh in check. The knee jerk reaction is to blow it off, get angry, or just take it personally and cry. But forcing myself to really think through a response helps me to be of sound mind and to work through how I feel in order to write out a loving response.
  3. To encourage my own heart. When I think of who I would be apart from Jesus, it is someone who would never in a million years put herself “out there” for others to see. I’m far too scared of what people think and would call myself a recovering “people pleaser.” But praise God, there is so much freedom now! As I learn more of who He is, and who I am in Him, I am continually humbled and rejoice in the freedom to be brave and be who I am made to be, enjoying how He has created me. Learning how to respond to people who miss who I am and what I’m trying to do reminds me of what I’m doing in the first place. Responding is a chance to re-focus once more on who I truly am in Him.
  4. To encourage others. I can think of four very close friends of mine who have recently expressed a strong desire to begin speaking more boldly, using their words and lives to proclaim Jesus. One has a love of food and want to use her skills in the kitchen to also speak of Jesus. Another has a keen eye for home decor and wants to use decorating homes as another way to speak of Jesus. Another is amazing at studying the Word…and wants to teach others, specifically women how to study on their own and how to enjoy it.
    Yet when I ask these friends about the hesitation they have each has responded with fear of what other’s might think. “I really want to but what if people don’t like this…or that…” And to you I would say, “go for it!” There will always be people who miss your heart and miss what you’re aiming at…but let them only sharpen you, humble you and help you again realize that your true identity is rooted in Jesus.
  5. Because this is a real person. Sure there will always be trolls out there who only wish to cut down and cause harm, but behind each word, email or comment there is also a soul. Although I am saddened by the negativity, I do still wish to treat people with kindness. Having soft hearts as I describe in marriage actually applies to other relationships too…even ones like this.
  6. My response matters, and yours does too. Responding may have far less to do with whoever actually receives my words…my responses to things like this likely has far more to do with my own heart learning to love those who are difficult to love. Learning to walk in grace and by faith pulls me toward Jesus, which only builds character. After showing this comment to a few friends the resounding response was to not give this person the time of day…but I know that how I respond to these things helps me grow stronger and is yet again another opportunity to speak of Jesus.
  7. In case anyone else out there is struggling with my blog in the same way. As mentioned below there are quite a few articles having to do with image, photography and what we put our hope in…but I’ll use this as another chance to say it once more. Apart from Jesus there is NO hope…apart from Him there is no good whatsoever in my life. Yet God is a good Father and He gives us all good things to enjoy, which includes photography, fashion, style and clothing…when put in they’re rightful place.
  8. I will not carry the ‘grenade’. Sometimes receiving critical comments feels like someone just dropped a bomb in your lap. And sometimes that bomb is meant to be picked up, examined and absorbed…as sometimes the things people say are right. Sometimes there is truth wrapped up in hurtful words and it would be beneficial to look past the sting and hear them. But sometimes that bomb is meant to be lovingly handed back to the one who dropped it. Sometimes what a person says is not true and that grenade that’s now sitting in your lap isn’t meant to stay in your lap. Praying through it, seeking wise counsel, and moving out of it means there’s no need to remain holding on to that grenade…don’t carry what isn’t yours to carry.
  9. To extend grace. Grace is undeserved merit or favor. Grace is giving when you know the other will only take. Grace is loving like Jesus does, who gave up His very life for our sake while were His enemies, and there’s nothing I want to learn more in life than to love like Him.

Below is the comment I am referring to. And under that is my response. My greatest hope is that in reading it you would be strengthened, firm and steadfast in your identity in Jesus. My prayer is that you would be free to live beautifully however you have been created, using whatever gifts, skills, talents, interests, or passions you possess for His glory and for the good of others.

May we not walk in fear of people’s opinions…you and me both. For those of you who are on the fence with a strong desire to step out in faith and use your life to speak boldly of Jesus, I cannot encourage you enough to please do so!!!! There is no fear and no condemnation in Christ Jesus!!! Be brave, sweet sister! Be brave in Him.

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Comment: “Do you ever get tired of posing? I’ve never seen anyone blog who posts more pictures of themselves than you do…why can’t you let your words be the focus? It’s hard to take you seriously, I think you have some great words and valuable things to say but you are constantly putting your face and body and “beautiful life” as the front and center. I can’t ever work past the vanity to truly appreciate what you are offering as I feel you are using your platform to promote yourself. I always wonder if you just pay someone to walk around following you as you pose everyday for a new photo shop…it completely cheapens who I think you really might be and who you want to be. Stop.”

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Hello stranger,

I see I have clearly touched a nerve within you to have warranted such a response. I do apologize that you dislike my content but feel your lack of softness makes your own message a bit blurry to hear. I was unsure as to whether or not I should respond to you because it would seem you are not desiring to begin an actual conversation, or help, as much as you desire to just put me in my place and make your opinion known. I do genuinely care for you as a reader, even without knowing your name, so I’ll give this an honest attempt.

To answer your first question, no, I don’t get tired of posing. I’m actually, within the past year, just beginning to be okay with pictures being taken of me at all. My nerves are slowly easing up and each time I’m becoming a bit more “me” in front of the lens. I’ve hidden on the other side of the camera for a long time and have finally realized that there is joy in allowing myself to be okay with photography and fashion.

Why can’t my words be the focus? Well, with all due respect they are. At many points along my blogging journey I have desired to simply be a fashion blogger. Some of the girls I follow are insanely successful just posting about what they wear and styles they love. It’s very tempting, for many reasons, to join in with them…but seeing as how clothes, style and the way I fix my hair are meaningless in comparison to the Truth and hope we have in Jesus my heart just can’t allow it to be solely that.

Yet, I would ask…does it mean there ought to be no place at all for such things? Does it mean there is no room whatsoever to enjoy photography, clothes and style? I have wrestled for a long, long time on this issue. Does loving photography, fashion and style automatically equal vanity?

And here is where I land…I believe God is a loving Father who has given us all good things to enjoy…for our good and for His glory. My face, my body, what I put on my body AND my words are all intended to be used for His glory. However, life is ultimately not about any of those things. Our clothing will rot, as will our bodies…they will fold up like tents and will fade away into dust one day.

Yet between now and then there is grace to enjoy all He has given. I’ll care for this tent as best as I am able, and I’ll use this tent to share truth and I’ll enjoy what I get to put on, and in, this tent. I do love fashion, I love hair, and I love being healthy and strong…and I love writing…but I love Jesus most. My plan for this blog is to take whatever I have been given, combine ALL the things I love and put them into a little space I call my blog.

To answer your next question about paying someone to take my photos…the answer is a resounding no. We don’t have the money for that…and even if I did I would loathe the idea of someone following us around all the time. My children have absolutely loved learning how to use a camera…one we’ve had for over 12 years but somehow still works decently. The 7 and 8 year olds have told me they’d like to be photographers someday and they argue over who gets to take the pictures each time. Sure, some of the pics are blurry, but I absolutely love the fact that they have learned a skill they will use for the rest of their lives…and more than that I adore that my blog is filled with photos taken by their sweet hands.

My amazing husband also takes my photos. He has encouraged me to be more bold and to be more brave in taking more pictures of myself as he knows the blogs I am most drawn to are the ones that have real photos of the writers. I love blogs with big pictures, colorful ones that fill up the whole screen, real ones of the actual author, not ones that have been purchased from someone else’s site. I dreamt for a long time of creating content similar to what I admired in others…and it’s taken far too long for me to be okay with creating that myself. Photography and style are two loves of mine…a creative outlet, an art form, something I celebrate…but in it’s rightful place.

I fully believe those peripheral things in life are not evil. Pictures of myself, or of me with my kids or of our outings/vacations together as a family are not wrong and I celebrate that my blog is something like an ongoing scrapbook made with and by the little people God has entrusted to me. I grieve that you feel my freedoms in being creative cheapen my words, but I would ask for you to read carefully the words I write when it comes to fashion, images of “perfection” and what true beauty really is. There is a dying world out there…one where people feel that great pictures, the “perfect” life and upholding their “image” is all that is worth pursuing. I desire to engage with that world and share a different story…a better ending…true life that can only be found in Jesus.

From the bottom of my heart I thank you for your perspective. It’s good to know how to pray, for you and for others, and how to continue to write. But at the same time I do plan to still use creativity, photography and fashion in this space. I would like to take the opportunity to encourage you to use your gifts and your passions in life fully as well, without fear of others opinions and without reservation…for your own joy, the good of others, and for His glory. Making much of yourself or myself is meaningless, but using your passions, talents, and gifts to point others to Him is surely something to celebrate. I would urge you to make life beautiful in your own unique way that others might see Jesus more clearly in all that you create and all that you enjoy.

I would also love to encourage you in the future to be slower to speak and to use your words to build and lift others up instead of tear down. When you have a grievance with someone it’s always best to begin a conversation by introducing yourself and speaking in a way that is helpful and welcomes a response. It isn’t loving when you simply assume you understand someone and let out your opinion without the plan for relationship. the Bible would refer to that as a “noisy gong.”

I’d also like to encourage you to ask more questions about people’s hearts/motives instead of assuming you see the whole picture. Humbling yourself to seek to get to know someone better might give you some clarity or perspective that you wouldn’t otherwise have had, or it very well may confirm what it is you feel you already believed to be true. Either way, the fact that you made a loving attempt to hear someone out will give you a much clearer voice to the person you wish to correct.

And lastly, if you do love Jesus, and if we are siblings in Him, then I would urge you to treat people as you would want to be treated. Treat them as you would your own family, because in Him we are family, and to do so with kindness and compassion.

Grace to you,
Meg

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33 comments

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I’m new to your blog tonight! I have been encouraged in so many ways already. I read your response to the person who wrote you a nasty email. And I am just amazed at your grace, unconditional love and pure heart. You truly are NOT OF THIS WORLD! Very rare now a days to encounter people with the Heart of Jesus. I learned so much about how to respond to souls like this just by your response. You truly walk with the armor of Christ and the Fruit of the Spirit! I prayed while reading asking God to help me be more like Him ( He that abides in you) . Thankyou for being transparent and fearless and obedient! I am praying for my season of Freedom in Christ again. After 3 yrs of being a new Mommy an switching churches I feel like I lost some of myself. I feel encouraged to Glorify him even more with fashion and health now. U r inspiring for sure!

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Wow! What an encouragement you are! Thank you for those unbelievably sweet words! And gosh I hear you that it’s so easy with church struggles and lots of babies to lose our way…our souls…and our sanity! I’m praying for you sweet friend, that you’ll know Him to be near, that you’ll see He never moved in the first place and that you’ll find a fresh new hope in running straight toward Him in this next season. Thank you again for your encouragement!

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A beautifully crafted response! Well done! As a wife, mother, follow blogger, and sister in Christ I can honestly say, I know how you feel!!! And your response was so uplifting and encouraging to read! Thank you for taking the time to respond with thought and grace, and thank you for being brave enough to share!!! You are right, it is soo hard to put yourself and your thoughts out there with the hopes that you encourage even just one other!! BOOMER SOONER! 😉

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Ahhhh!!! Boomer Sooner!!! Your words are so sweet and encouraging! Thank you for sharing! Tell me your blog so I can follow you along as well!!!

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You are so sweet! I hope you like it!

http://faithfulnester.blogspot.com/?m=1

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Thanks for sharing. Newer reader, find your blog and IG posts inspiring.

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Thank you so much! I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and encourage!

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Wow…just wow!! This is DRIPPING with love & grace!! So proud of you & all God has done in you thus far…the growth is beautiful, encouraging & nothing but glorifying to Him!! Keep it up sweet friend…He has given you a beautiful voice & platform for His glory…the enemy doesn’t get to win…EVER!! I LOVE it!!

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Thank you so much Alecia! You’re such an amazing encourager! I was just telling someone the other day that if this whole blogging thing ever makes me mean or unkind that I’d rather crawl in a hole and never write again. I don’t want to let these kinds of comments make me angry or bitter….or want to quit….although I admit I did let that slip out of my mouth that evening…Thankfully His mercies are new every morning and since then I have been absolutely blown away by the feedback from so many who have taken the time to write in something positive. Who would have ever thought so much good would have come from that?!?! Not me for sure. But I’m so incredibly thankful.

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I love your blog AND pictures Meg! One of the reasons I do love it is because I struggle with thoughts that tell me putting time in at the gym or fixing myself up is vanity. I don’t do anything over the top and my husband always encourages me to dress up or workout but then I feel the condescending stares or eyes of disapproval and I slide down into a place where I stop working out or making myself up because somehow it’s not honoring God. However, seeing you and this blog gives me the confidence and reassurance that it is ok. And like you said, God put this in us to enjoy! So thank you for being willing to be vulnerable with yourself….both inside and out ❤️

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Thank you so much!!! And thank you also for sharing. I love reading your response! I want to encourage women to be who God has made them to be…in our own unique ways of course. Some women could care less about fashion or hair or style or trends. And that is perfectly okay! My joy in those things would never mean I would demand or command someone to find interest in them. But for some women there is a genuine value or joy…and for you…and me!…there is freedom! I cannot encourage you enough to be you! And live free. If someone genuinely struggles with your choices, hear them out because there may be something to learn…but if not, and the struggle simply reveals more about their hearts than yours, use it as an opportunity to help that women see their freedom as well. Thank you again for commenting and sharing such sweet and encouraging words! xoxo-M

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Oh, and got to thinking of Joyce Meyer. She too has multitudes of photos taken of herself in the Joyce Meyer Magazine. All of it is God pleasing and in the right context with many other women and men in the Body of Christ!

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The letter you wrote in response was really good!! While reading it, I got to thinking about the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth. Multitudes of photos have been taken of her in her lifetime and much valued. This too is possible for anyone;:the valuing of our lives in Christ Jesus.

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Great point! And those ladies DO have legit photographers following them around all the time!! I love your perspective of looking at so many other women we all respect as examples. Thanks for sharing that!

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Oh this is beautiful! ! Loved everything you said! Your response spoke directly to my heart and I may have teared up lol ! I’m new to your blog and I love it. I’m struggling with being both judgmental and not allowing the Lord to use me in my gifts and talents. So thank you for this!!! 😚

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What a beautiful and heartfelt response. I appreciate your courage to speak out in a very kind and loving manner. I recently came across your blog and rarely comment on things. The words in your response touched my heart, I wish everyone could be so encouraging! Hugs & may God continue to bless you!

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Thank you Carrie! That means the world to me. It took me a bit to be able to write that…I struggled in the beginning with whether or not to respond at all. But now, gosh, I had no idea that my own little journey of fighting through the struggle of receiving those comments would be a blessing to others and such an encouragement to me to keep going. It’s crazy how God can take the broken things and use them for such good. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s such a gift to me! Grace to you!

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Your words AND kind face- being able to see you as you’ve spoken to me in the past- are what led me to listen. And I love seeing the joy in your eye when you’re with your husband and children. That’s why I love your pictures and your words are sweet like honey bc they’re covered in grace- even the hard ones are sweet. When you moved I was so deeply sad. Your blog is a joy to my soul just so you know. Also this is carrying out “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?” and that’s a beautiful, backwards, salty (in a good way 😂) precious thing. Thank you for the blog the words the pics and the heart behind it. Some of us love to see your face 😉💜

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Alex! I LOVE hearing from you!!! Moving was hard…leaving such sweet relationships was so hard. I’ve thought of you so often and I miss your face and our convos so very much!!! Thank you for leaving a comment and for making the effort to encourage. It means the world to me! I love how you tied in that verse too…it hadn’t crossed my mind, but is an awesome perspective to have. We aren’t given the option to simply be kind to people who are kind to us. And I’m always telling my kids that never are we to repay evil for evil. Honestly though I think it was less tempting to write something mean back…it was most tempting to just ignore it…and some comments I do…but with this one I felt like I needed to grow through it and out of it. It’s been such a huge gift to see others respond as well. Not in coming to my defense and hating someone for me, but seeing people encourage and even offer to pray for that person too. I want to be a part of a community that builds others up…even those who dislike or discourage. God took something one person meant for evil and has turned it into such a huge blessing. How could I then not be thankful for it? Thanks so much for your encouragement. Thinking of you makes me smile every.single.time.

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I love you. Plain and simple. I remember so many beautifully raw moments with you and I treasure them. Even today.

The flesh side of me hopes your critic steps on Legos, barefooted.

The Jesus inside me, the part that makes us sisters, trusts that He will work on that persons heart as He continues to work on ours.

Meg. Meggs. Jesus.

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Oh gosh girl, you are joy, just pure joy. And yes, you did get some of my most raw moments. Can you only imagine how differently my life would be had I gotten what I thought I wanted back then???? God clearly does direct our steps and I am so thankful for that. Your comment about the Legos literally made me laugh so hard I snorted out water from my nose! But I couldn’t agree more about the Jesus inside of you…and me. My heart at times can be no different; quick to judge, quick to become angry, quick to make a comment, slow to seek truth, slow to listen, slow to truly see someone else how God does instead of how I do….I’m no different. My heart needs His grace just as much. One of these days I’m going to see you again and when that does it’ll be such a party! Until then, know how thankful I am for you, your encouragement, your joy and your sweet soul. You are a gift to everyone you meet.

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Thank you so much for sharing. God has really been pushing me to step out in a big way publicly and my hurdle is, “am I strong enough for the hate that lies ahead?” I’m scared what people will do to me emotionally but also know that it is the strategy of the enemy to serve as a deterrent. Your words are encouraging… thank you for sharing.

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Thank you so much for writing! Not only because it’s an encouragement to me, but also so I can be praying for you! I’ll tell you this though….you aren’t strong enough to handle it…and neither am I. This comment was mild compared to some of the others I have received, but for whatever reason hit closer to home. Some of them are easy to blow off and others aren’t…and they’d swallow us up apart from the hope we have in Jesus. Abide in Him…that’s the only encouragement I can offer. Stay close, keep your heart near to His. Some things people will say will be true and it’ll be so hard to hear because it’s said with ugliness…but you’ll know you’ll need to receive it. Staying humble in those times and reminding yourself that your identity is ultimately rooted in Jesus will give you the grace to be able to make the changes someone brings to you. But other times it’ll just be a shot to the gut and nothing will be true. And it’s the same thing: stay close to Jesus. Let His truth wash over you and let the Spirit remind you what is yours in Him. I’ll be here to encourage you when that day comes….but between now and then, be brave!!! Get out there!!! His grace is more than sufficient for what you need to do today. Let tomorrow worry about itself!

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I just want to say that it was your “words” that led me to your blog. Keep up the good work and well done with your response.

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Thank you so much Krischa! That is so sweet of you to write.

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Morning Meg,

Loved reading your response to your critic. I pray that you will be able to put the critics negativity far out of your heart and mind and continue to Godly purpose of helping people to focus on Jesus. Do not let these things tarnish your spirit or hinder you from your goals. Love from South Africa

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Thank you so much. I definitely want to be receptive if there is some way for me to grow or learn…but as far as whatever is outside of that realm I just can’t carry it. But that doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t struggle at times. Thank you for the encouragement and for taking the time to comment. And that is AWESOME that you are from South Africa!!!!! Grace to you!

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Dear Meg,
Your advice to your unknown critic was well written. As one of your followers, that has the privilege of knowing your family, I love the photos and styles you share. Fashion and being fashionable are not synonymous with me or my personality. However, I enjoy seeing what you are wearing, and am amazed how inexpensive your suggestions typically are. That being said, your wise words are what draw me back to your site. I love that honoring the Lord and making much of Jesus is your focus. Keep putting Christ first!
Love in Christ,
Micki

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Thank you so much Micki! I love that perspective. I know that even members in my extended family do not enjoy fashion, clothes or style…in fact some of them hate it! But I love that those closest to me can appreciate that we have different likes and different preferences. My hope for this blog is that it would be a true expression of me…not hiding and not pretending…just me. I’m still growing in that. I am constantly pushing through fears and insecurities at every step along the way, but in that I trust that those who actually know me will speak up and let me know if I’m not honoring the Lord. Thank you for always, always being an encourager. Every thing you write and comment on is covered in grace and spurs me on. Thank you for taking the time to read what I write and to respond. It truly means the world to me.

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Meg,

I hope you’ll get an alert on you phone for this one.

I have known you since I was 11 years old. I have loved you and your family a very long time. Your spirit is amazing, your dedication to your family unmatched and your faith in Jesus Christ constant.

Your time and energy have real value. As does the strength of your heart.

I implore you, do not waste those things by making room for other people’s negativity. Do you. Be happy. Be a strong mother. Be a faithful wife. Be a follower of the teachings of your faith.

Let other people’s negativity die on their lips, not yours.

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I got the alert! And thank you for your words. You have always been such an encouragement and I thank you again for sharing. I do agree that some do not warrant a response, but this one was more for my own heart than for theirs. I needed to be reminded of who I am and what I’m doing…it’s good for my soul. I’ll see you tomorrow!!! Can’t wait!!

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Very beautifully written Meg. You are such a blessing. I love your blog and you have inspired me to begin my blogging journey as a woman and as a mom of four. Thank you.

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Oh that makes my heart smile!!! Please let me know if I can help in any way! I know I’m limited but I’m also so eager to see others succeed!! Blogging can make you wanna lose your mind some days so if those days come please get a hold of me!!! I’ll talk you off the ledge!!! 😉

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