Oh, Give Me A Home…..

akansasFor the first time, on a frigid winter day in 1979, my thoughts turned to leaving Kansas. With the wind piercing my thin white nurses uniform, I scraped ice from my windshield, racing time to get to class. “There has to be a warmer place than this and when I graduate, I’m going to find it!”

And I did. A few months later, boxes packed, I moved onto bigger and I was sure, better things. All I wanted to see was Kansas in my rear view mirror.

But I always came home. Christmas and vacations and weddings and wheat harvest. Funerals and new babies. For family and friends.

Highway 34 unrolls miles of red dirt through Oklahoma before becoming Hwy 1 in Kansas and somewhere along that road, home begins. Two lane black top miles stream by low green pastures with fat cows that give way to wheat fields and farm houses. I’d fill my lungs with the breath of Kansas and let the scene unwind muscled knots. Breathing in home. Breathing out being away. Only then do I realize I figuratively hold my breath until I am home in Kansas.

It only surprised me when I moved back. I’d long spoken fondly of Kansas to my friends across the United States, fed them Kansas famous person trivia ad nauseum (Did you know the Unknown Comic from the Gong Show was a Wichita State U Alum? And Kirstie Alley grew up in Wichita?)

Interestingly, the whole time I was gone, I met expatriate Kansans. No matter how long they’d been gone from the state where the buffalo roam and the antelope play, we’d click, often not knowing till later we were Kansans. And as we connected and found there were less than 7 degrees of separation between us, for a few moments I was home.

asunsetPart of home is being understood. Being known in a way that only time allows. Shared history. The sense of place and season’s change. Of wide spaces. And no one paints a sunset quite like God does in Kansas. Purple evening shadows on low hills and across golden fields that light up from the inside out. Beautiful Kansas.

And when I found Man of My Dreams, one of things we had in common was our love for our state. Before we’d ever met face to face, we talked on the phone about that sense of place. Goose bumps when he said, “I just felt like I could breathe again whenever I came back home.”


And giving my heart to him planted my roots even deeper into the soil of Kansas.

But twenty-two years later, I forgot for a bit what it means to be home. After two lovely weeks of unseasonably warm January days with snow in the weekend’s forecast, I have groused about the seasons and the cold and dreamed of living in warmer climes. Reading this quote from G. K. Chesterton yesterday flooded me again with gratefulness in my journey.

“There are two ways of getting home and one of them is to stay there. The other is to walk round the whole world till we come back to the same place.”

Beautiful Kansas. Always home.



(Happy Birthday, Kansas! You are my Home, Sweet Home!)akansasseal

Attention, Please!

Word Press is a little like Facebook. When I log on, it asks, “What’s on your mind?”

Well, Dear Reader, it’s this:

“If a blogger writes a blog in a forest and no one reads it, does it make a sound?”atree

I’m only in a metaphorical forest–I’m actually in a quaint little town in Kansas–but the question is the same……

I write because I have something to say. I write to connect with others who are on the journey to holiness but most times find themselves just plain holey. I write so that we don’t feel like we are the only one out there.

What I don’t do is write to be a voice crying in the wilderness, so to speak.


I really don’t want this to be a one way conversation where I yammer on and on about things that interest me, but no one is “out there.” Believe me, I am honestly interested in your thoughts and where you are on this crazy life journey!

So please, “Talk back!” even though your Mama said, “Don’t.”atalk

For shameless bribery, I’m offering the first contest on Holy Life/Holey Wife. With TWO prizes! For the writerly types out there, a copy of  this book:The Moral Premise Great writing book! You’ll love it!

For the “normal” non-writerly people out there, a 20.00 Amazon gift card! amazongift

What’s the catch? You just need to comment HERE, on the blog. Tell me what interests you in your pursuit of the Holy Life. And let me know if you are a writer or a normal someone who doesn’t have characters that talk to you in your head! I’m outa town at the end of the week, so comment now because the contest ends on Saturday. I’ll draw for prizes when I get back on August 4th!

Can’t wait to hear what you have to say! I’m listening!

Finding the Lost

I have been a crazy, cleaning fool the last couple of months. Working towards getting my life back. I started to write, “back in order” but in reality, with the last few years? Nothing has been in order! (Okay, true confession: I’m not sure my life has ever truly been in order for any length of time. Procrastination + crazy busyness = controlled chaos!) It’s been a recurring theme, so I’ll just leave it there.

I need my life back.

Life spun out of control when home became a place to eat supper and sleep instead of a sanctuary from “out there.” We loved every moment of running our coffee shop, but when we opened it, we didn’t stop doing all the other stuff we already did. We added a whole new full-time business on top of two other jobs, plus family, plus ministry, plus our art, plus community work, plus, plus, plus.

In those years of running from one thing to the next, people often asked, “How do you do it all?”

I didn’t. Home was the place we let go.

So here I am, dealing with three years of stuff that had been crammed into closets and drawers and unused bedrooms in an effort to keep some semblance of  normalcy in the rest of the house. It was an illusion of peace.

But these days, I am more into real peace as I figure out what to do with this: aclutter2

And this:aclutter

So that I can have this: myoffice

It’s been a treasure hunt.

And I am finding the lost as I go.

When Man-of-my-Dreams and I got married, we chose invitations with the Scripture from Song of Solomon. “I have found the one my heart loves.”

And truly we had.

We’d been married a few years when I found rings from Israel engraved with that Scripture in Hebrew. I quickly ordered one for Kary, not knowing he’d also ordered me the same gold band. (Of course, I ordered on-line. He called the jeweler and woke him up! Small family business in Jerusalem–they sleep in the shop!)

But when we had Cuppa Joe, my finger got irritated under the gold ring from having my hands in dish water all day. I took it off–and lost it. I searched everywhere. I thought. I was sure it had gotten knocked off the shelf by the sink and swept up after a long day. I was heartbroken. But I kept thinking it might turn up as the new owner remodeled and cleaned or as we cleaned here at home (“Did I take it off at work? Or could it have been in my pants pocket and rolled under something?”) and just a week ago I prayed to the Finder of the Lost, “God, I know it’s a small thing, but if that ring is somewhere here, please help me to find it.”

I’ve been converting my daughter’s old room into my office. Man-of-my-Dreams gave up his Independence Day to paint and move furniture. And in an old purse stuck in the back of a closet, I found my ring buried in the change compartment with the quarters and nickels.

The lost was found and there was great rejoicing! And wonderment because I’m not sure how my old purse got stuck in the back of my daughter’s closet, but there it was.

And here it is:


I’ve found other lost treasures as I sort through stuff I should have dealt with long ago. But more important, I am learning lessons for this stage of life. That the things that are truly valuable can be lost beneath the avalanche of things that have no value. Items I’ve kept due to fear (What if I need this someday?) Or guilt (How can I throw away this Plaster of Paris treasure made by Great Aunt Drusilda?) Or who knows why?

As I let go of the cluttered life, I find more than “buried treasure.” I find the greatest treasure. Peace. With God. With myself. With those I love.

“Lord, Surprise Me!”

ImageOver the last few months, I have jotted down notes for all the Holy Life Holey Wife blog posts I plan to write. Great ideas all, but not tantalizing enough to make me put my seat in the seat and actually write them.

Sorry about that!

I’ve blogged before about my penchant for busy-ness. I’ve blogged often about my desire to do less even as I take on more. To paraphrase Paul, “Oh wretched woman that I am! Chief among the Multi-taskers!” It’s a sickness, really.

So like most things in my life, I made it a matter for prayer. And God answers prayer. And in His answer (and wisdom) turns life upside down sometimes because He’s God and we’re not and He knows what is best for us.

Personally, if the Holy Spirit had a job opening, I’d apply. I love to figure out how life should be and how God should answer prayers and give helpful advice to others! (Can I get a Hallelujah and Amen that the Holy Spirit is doing just fine without my help?)

So Man-of-my-Dreams and I had been praying about the hurry sickness and busy-ness and over-committed life we found ourselves in. We prayed, fully expecting an answer. We prayed with the knowledge that even though we were doing lots of good stuff, neither of us was actually fulfilling our calling.

It’s a seductive place to be—in the public eye doing things which you like to do and that others like you to do and give you great accolades for doing vs the solitary place of fulfilling your calling for the Audience of One.

So we prayed. Knowing He would answer. Knowing life had to change. Knowing it might not be easy breezy, but that it would be good because God is good.

On April 17th, my He-Man hubby was brought to his knees with pain. Thought he’d tweaked his rotator cuff working out that morning with a weighted exercise ball. Squeezing pain down his arm and up his neck and oh! Did I mention pouring sweat like he’d run a marathon? We were in the office of Cuppa Joe Espresso with plans for the day. The plans stopped while I took him to the hospital. No problem, all is well. Normal EKG. Normal labs. Being the persuasive guy he is, he convinced the PA he should leave because he had things to do and could come back if the pain returned. A sudden dizzy spell caused her to keep him overnight.

Small graces.

An episode of pain the next morning bought him a one way ticket to a larger hospital, a heart cath and Open Heart Surgery the Monday after Easter.

We look back and see the fingerprints of God molding our lives, orchestrating events, keeping him safe before and through the surgery (the surgeon said he was a heart attack looking for a place to happen–but it didn’t. He had no damage to his heart before surgery—a miracle with 5 life giving arteries severely blocked.)

With an out of control life comes out of control behaviors—less than stellar diets (that full fat latte each day from your very own Espresso machine!), too little exercise and lack of sleep. We had been making changes but stress and the physical laws that God has put into place made it too little, too late.

But Grace. But God!

I didn’t cry much. I am an emotional hot mess over small things—I cry when I am sad, mad and glad, but when faced with a challenge, I am my father’s daughter. I don’t cry. I dig down and take care of business– whatever it takes.

But on Father’s Day, I cried. Remembering losing my Dad two years ago makes Father’s Day bittersweet. I cried, so grateful that Man of my Dreams was here to be honored by our kids. Our Father’s Day could have been so different.

So blessed to love this man. So grateful to share life with him. So excited to have more days to laugh together and to see our kids lives unfold. (Did I mention that there are 3 Zweygardt kids who are college graduates as of May 2014? And all have jobs? Can I get an Amen?)

April 21st, Man of my Dreams and I had prayed together. The title of our devotional was, “God, surprise me!” and we prayed that prayer together. “Surprise us, Lord!” and He did. (Just so you know I’m not super spiritual. God and I had a little discussion over the “surprise” since what I had in mind was an all expense paid trip to somewhere beachy, not this!)

We had been stepping away from some things already. We hadn’t finalized the sale of Cuppa Joe but a verbal agreement had been reached. We thought we’d have a big party and go out with a bang, but instead our last day in the coffee shop ended that Thursday when I walked to the kitchen and said, “I’m taking Kary to the ER.” Not what we planned but since we prayed and trusted we know it was His plan.

Someone asked Kary what he had learned through this. He answered that he knows God is intimately involved in every detail of our lives. We can see now where He was at work in the months before this, but we didn’t see it then. He is trustworthy so why do we worry? And He will surprise us when we ask.

“So don’t be anxious about tomorrow. God will take care of your tomorrow too. Live one day at a time.Matthew 6:34


A New Years Revolution

Ecosystem-Author-JournalThe 2014 list contains the usual. Get organized! Lose weight! Get healthy! Be nicer, love more, talk less, listen more. But this year, it is written only in my good intentions, not on a page. I have more important things to ponder this year.

I do love journals. Especially ones that are almost too pretty to write in. In my house, they are stashed everywhere so that any brilliant thought can be immediately recorded. (If I could just find a pen!) If you opened the journal randomly, the entries have no rhyme or reason and there certainly is no chronological order to the pages within.

Except for one thing.

Most, if not all of them have a first page that reads something like this…

“God, it’s been _____________________ (fill in the blank) since my last confession. (No, I’m not Catholic) Lord, please forgive me. I know I need to ____________________________________ (fill in the blank) more. I resolve to do better. Thank you for loving and forgiving me. Amen. P.S. This is Kim”

Then the next page might be sermon notes, a grocery list, plans for how to transform my life, notes on the great American novel I plan to write, etc., etc.

Blah. Blah. Blah.

Then Life happens. The just begun journal is set aside or left in the car or lost under a pile of books or mail or maybe the dog ate it. It’s all happened.

Until the next journal where I repeat the same process. A new journal equals a fresh start and another chance to “get it right” this time.

This year, I’m thinking about differently.

att-commercial-ftr1I love the cute commercials on TV called “It’s not complicated.” The ones with the little kids saying incredibly funny things while the man somehow keeps a straight face even with the cute factor is rising. This was a new one and the little boy opined that he was going to make a New Years Revolution!

It ended up that his plan was to eat more jelly beans (which isn’t a bad idea if you are a jelly belly lover) but that phrase has circled my mind and burrowed into my heart as we savored the Saviors’ birth at Christmas and rang in the New Year with friends.

What if?

What if this was the year that people who call themselves Christians drank deep at the well of grace and began a New Year Revolution?

Because God knows, this world needs it. It needs people who say what they mean and mean what they say. It needs people who walk the walk and talk the talk. People who not only throw open the church doors wide and say, “Here! Here it is! The love you’ve been looking for! Let us love you! Here. The bread of life! Here.” but also a people who go out–to the highways and the byways to share the Good News and to love! The lost. The broken. The sick. The ugly. Those we don’t understand and those we do.

poor-694-694x382Because haven’t each of us who call the name of Christ, who follow Him, don’t we understand where they are because we have been there? Lost? Harassed and helpless? Like sheep without a shepherd.

Recently my pastor preached about Christmas and why God announced it to the shepherds. The lowest of the low. The smelly and the untouchable. And he said something very profound about why God calls us the sheep of His pasture. He said, “Sheep can’t even clean themselves. Neither can we.”

Amen. I’m merely a sheep who found a shepherd to do what I could not.

For too long, we have expected the world to look like us, believe like us, smell like us, and to clean themselves up before they come to us.

What if we started a New Years Revolution that loved them right where they are and let Jesus do the work of the cross?

If a small group of uneducated men turned the world upside down simply by following the command of Christ to “go and do likewise” couldn’t we do the same?

Yeah. I still plan to lose weight and get organized but I am also planning to drink deeply from the well of grace and mercy. To bring up the bucket overflowing with joy and to pour it out so I can pull the bucket up again. My to-do list for 2014 is a prayer list–praying for God to revolutionize my life by loving like He did. And I’m praying my friends, you’ll do the same.

Let the Revolution begin!

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No More Super Girl

womens-super-girl-v-neck-cape-t-shirt-logoI’m hanging up my cape.

You know the one. Bright blue with the red shield and the big stylized “S” in the middle of it?

Yep. I bet you have one too.


Keep it handy at all times. You just never know when you might need to save the world.


Well, I’m hanging mine up.

I am not Super Girl although I’ve done a pretty fair imitation of it at times in my life.

And failed miserably at other times.

Super Girl is a juggler. Her super power is keeping all the balls in the air. No matter how many and no matter if someone throws another one at her.

The balls I juggle are multi-colored, a cornucopia of shapes and sizes which makes it difficult to keep them from crashing down upon me and those I love.

The balls I juggle are labeled. Wife, Lover, Mother, Friend, Daughter, CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist), baker of cupcakes, owner of coffee shop,  caterer, worship leader, dramatist, writer, glass artist, blogger, fashionista (not really, but I wish it did!) and Christ Follower.  Did I forget anything?

Oh. Laundress. Finder of missing socks. Housekeeper of Excellence (it really doesn’t say that one, but I keep hoping that housekeeping gene my Mom and two sisters have kicks in at some point).Grocery shopper. Cooker of Dinner. Payer of bills and Taker of Naps.

I’ve read and written articles about saying no.

And then there comes the fateful words. “Someone should…..” and I become the someone.

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.”

I’d say it this way. “Life is what happens while you are not paying attention. Life is what happens while you wear your cape and try to save the world. Or your neighborhood. Or your town. Or maybe just your family. Life is what happens while you are busy controlling the Universe.”

Businesswoman juggling

Am I advocating letting all the balls drop to the earth, the victim of gravity? The proverbial chips falling where they may?

No. It’s so messy tripping all over those colored spheres littering the ground.

Some of the balls are callings. Some are balls handed to me by others. And some of them were just so wildly attractive, so bright and sparkly that I just had to pick them up. I mean, somebody had to!

But maybe. Just maybe. I’m not in charge of everything and everybody.

Maybe a ball falling would encourage a bystander to pick it up.

So I’m hanging up the cape. When the Super Girl beacon glows across the sky (sorry for mixing my super hero metaphors) someone else might have to answer.

It hit me the other day that if I continue to do all the stuff other people expect me to do and don’t do the things I am called to do, I am spinning my wheels while spinning around this universe.

People who know me know I’m busy. And I even get some things accomplished. Most would say I have a full and busy life. And I do, but are the things I spend my time on worthy of a life well lived?

What would life look like if we all only juggled the balls that we are called to juggle? What would it look like if each one of us played our part? Used our gifts? Took responsibility for our own life and happiness?

The interesting thing is the idea that I’m in charge of this life is smoke and mirrors.

The funny part is I was never in control.

My job is to live well. Without the cape. Getting by with a little help from my friends. Living a life of peace and joy that reflects the counter cultural life of Jesus.

How about you? What balls do you juggle and which are callings? And which are things you should let go?

You can hang your cape next to mine.


When Did Life Get So Ugly?

I have a confession to make, O readers of the daily news! Lovers of newsprint. Subscribers to U.S. News and World Report.

“Hello. My name is Kim and I get my news online.”

I used to devour the daily news in paper form. Folding it this way and that, getting black ink on my hands then on my clothes. Loving the scent of the ink and the newsprint and even dreaming of a chance to be Kim–Girl Reporter.


But after living in a remote location with no daily newspaper, I now get all my news online.

And I’m not sure I like it.

The world has shrunk. The internet has grown (thank you so much, Al Gore.)

We laugh at the insurance commercial where the pretty girl is meeting her “French model boyfriend” she met on the internet. “Bonjour!”


We know not all is truth. We know that often the good doesn’t get reported. We know that there is so much spin that we get dizzy on the merry-go-round of information.

And yet. When did life get so ugly?

I have to believe that it is beyond just getting one-sided news. That gore sells. That ugly sells. That we are voyeuristic and flawed and want to read the sensational.

Instead we are pummeled by a world I no longer can comprehend.

Last night I perused the news. Online.

An Australian man, aged 22, in the United States on a college baseball scholarship goes for a jog in a small Oklahoma town and in the proverbial story of being in the wrong place at the wrong time story, jogs past a group of bored teenagers who decide to kill someone “for the fun of it.” They followed him and shot him in the back and he died in the street.

Since when did the option of killing someone become the answer for teenage boredom?

Our kids were bored plenty of times and my go-to answer to the summer-time, “I’m bored” wail was the garage needed cleaning, the house paint needed scraping and there was always laundry to be done and I was amazed at how quickly the boredom was squelched.

But murder? For fun?

What have we come to?

And a story out of Denver. Not in the “hood” but in an area where people walk to ball stadiums and restaurants and shops, a place where man of my dreams and I walked a few short weeks ago, a man walked into someone snapping a picture. Called a photo-bomb–where someone you weren’t wanting in your picture drops into it unexpectedly, the group of three took exception to this man’s mistake and beat him unconscious. In front of witnesses who called 911. In a crowd of people. Broke his facial bones. Caused him to go blind in one eye. Beat him till his brain bled. Beat him until he could not speak.

Because he dared to disturb a picture being taken on a cell phone.


They were arrested and are out on bail.

Which I’m sure is comforting to the man recovering in a Denver hospital.

You know, we’re not talking National Geographic photography here. Trying to get that just-right photo that will win the Pulitzer. And some oaf sees you taking the picture and decides to be a spoiler. By all accounts, the man just walked by not realizing he was cramping the photographers style by getting in the picture.

Haven’t we all done it? And said, “Sorry.” Or “Excuse me.”
Or laughed in embarrassment and offered instead to take the picture so the photographer could get in the shot with friends.

I don’t even know who or what they were taking pictures of, but whatever it was, or whoever it was, was it worth beating another human being senseless for making a mistake?

Who are we? And what happened to decency? And mercy? And grace?

What happened to simple kindness? And patience? And understanding life is less than perfect?

And sometimes life is boring. And sometimes things go wrong. But life is precious. And precarious.

And there, but for the grace of God, go I?

The final straw was this.

A letter slipped under a grandmother’s door in Canada. A grandmother who cares for her Autistic grandson in the summertime and it appears, God forbid, allows him to go out in public.


Here is part of the letter via Yahoo News.

Dear Lady living at this address,

I also live in this neighbourhood and have a problem!!!! You have a kid that is mentally handicapped and you consciously decided that it would be a good idea to live in a close proximity neighgbourhood like this???? You selfishly put your kid outside everyday and let him be a nothing but a nuisance and a problem to everyone else with that noise polluting whaling he constantly makes!!! That noise he makes when he is outside is DREADFUL!!!!!!!!!! It scares the hell out of my normal children!!!!!!!!!”

The letter goes on to state:

  • Crying babies, music and even barking dogs are normal sounds in a residential neighbourhood!!!!! He is NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • He is a nuisance to everyone and will always be that way!!!!!! Who the hell is going to care for him????????? No employer will hire him, no normal girl is going to marry/love him and you are not going to live forever!!
  • [T]hey should take whatever non retarded body parts he possesses and donate it to science. What the hell else good is he to anyone!!!!
  • You had a retarded kid, deal with it… properly!!!!! What right do you have to do this to hard working people!!!!!!!!!
  • I HATE people like you who believe, just because you have a special needs kid, you are entitled to special treatment!!! GOD!!!!
  • Go live in a tralier in the woods or something with your wild animal kid!!! Nobody wants you living here and they don’t have the guts to tell you!!!!!

And finally, this. “Do the right thing and move or euthanize him!!! Either way, we are ALL better off!!!”

I especially love how this highly educated and caring neighbor who never met an exclamation point she didn’t like, who types a letter but can’t use spell check, calls on the name of God, the creator of ALL life, to proclaim her hatred for this poor grandmother.

Recently, I went to Wal-Mart to get some things for my Mom. The moment I entered the store I could hear a boy sobbing and wailing in the front of the store while his Mom coaxed him into the checkout line. He looked to be about 10. Clean and neatly dressed but obviously upset that his mother had not done what he’d wanted. It was loud. It was disruptive. There were murmurs of “If it was my child, I’d….” from other customers and lots of staring and dirty looks.

All the while, the mother ignored the wailing, writing her check, conversing with the checkout clerk over the noise about did her frozen food need double wrapped. She looked hurried and harried and did not make eye contact as she finished her shopping and took the boy’s hand to leave. The quiet was deafening.

I had a hard time watching this sad ballet of life with an autistic child. Knowing that while it had worn on my nerves the fifteen minutes I stood there, how it must erode the life and heart and soul of this mother.

She had to hear. She had to know. But she needed bread and milk and out of the house for a few minutes so she depended upon the kindness and understanding of strangers.

Because isn’t that what we are supposed to be?

Is my life so puffed up and important that I no longer can be kind and instead of chastising a mother who has laid upon her bed night after night asking the question, “I won’t live forever. What happens when I can no longer take care of my beloved son?” we can be kind and if not offer a hand at least not offer a knife that cuts to the heart of a woman who did not ask for what she has.

Because did any of us?

When I lived in Houston and was at the lowest of the low points of my life, when I really wondered if I could get up the next day and even put one foot in front of the other because my heart was broken and life was raw, I stopped at a stop sign in my subdivision. Ready to be home at the end of another long day. Another car stopped at his side of the three way stop and as I started to pull forward, the car load of teen age boys made faces and rude gestures and screamed ugly words out the window while screeching tires as they cut me off in the street.

Lauren was car seat small. Too small really to know or understand what had happened. But scared because of the slamming brakes and her Mama crying over boys she didn’t even know and had never seen before being ugly for fun.

I’m sure they don’t even remember it 20 years later as they live now in subdivisions just like that and have car seat small boys and girls that they love and look at the world around them and read the news and wonder when did life get so ugly.

Small graces change a life. A smile. A whispered prayer for the mother of the hard child (for who hasn’t wrestled a temper throwing two-year old wishing for all the world the floor would swallow the both of you while the world watched you struggle?) instead of judgement. Not using the gesture or making the face or showing that you were in a hurry and your messy life is causing me grief. Because the next time it may be us. And we all need the milk of human kindness.

So today, speak love. Show mercy. Speak grace. Bring beauty into your corner of the world because if enough of us do, the world will be filled with love. And mercy. And grace. And kindness. In darkness, light shines the brightest.

Please, by all that is holy, shine the Light where ever you are. Create beauty. Practice kindness. Teach it to your children. Our lives depend on it.

"Be ye kind to one another." Ephesians 4:32

“Be ye kind to one another.” Ephesians 4:32