Tarrant’s Cafe

What to do on a rainy day with your love?  My husband and I desired to “get away” for just a short day trip to Smithfield, Virginia, which is a quaint town, but the rain and late start made us re-think.  If you want to escape, but can’t leave the Richmond area, go to Tarrant’s Cafe.

1 W Broad St, Richmond, VA 23220


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I loved being there on a Monday at 4:00. The lull before the crowd; the linen tablecloths and napkins; the lighting and the music, wooed me to another time and place.

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For me, it had a Victorian touch. Music from the Louis Armstrong era was playing, like Etta James, Blues & R&B (a personal Pandora favorite). If you want to enjoy some wonderful music that will take you back to that time, type in Louis Armstrong as a station in Pandora.

Etta James, A Sunday Kind of Love

Can you hear it?

The waitstaff were friendly and knowledgeable.  I asked them about the history of the restaurant, and she came back with a three-ring binder filled with historical data.  The building has been owned and operated by various entrepreneurs such as a druggist/drug store and shoemaker.  Stories from the civil war era were shared. I imagined the business tycoons who purchased the property (which used to be two buildings, but now is one large building) and the tenants who sought to become successful entrepreneurs.

The ambiance was classy-romantic, and the smallest of details were seen to.

We went back in time….

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The food was equally divine and wonderful.

I had the Rockfish Pan Seared with artichokes, olives, capers, lemon, and garlic.


My husband had the Oyster Po’ Boy Tacos with coleslaw


For an appetizer we had fried green tomatoes with homemade chips, and garlic bread came with your meal

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They offer valet parking if the city parking frustrates you, but we found ample street parking at that time.


Their menu has a variety of options for all palates

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As I cozied into my seat to drink a warm cup of coffee with a cannoli and strawberries, Parish and I dreamed and talked about making a pergola for our back patio and wisteria.

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As we were talking, the lights dimmed–the 5:00 dinner crowd will soon show.  They have tables, booths, and round tables for the intimate family feel.

They offer a Sunday brunch that I was so blessed to partake of a few months ago.  I highly recommend this restaurant for a romantic get away, celebrations, business lunches, or just because.  My first time at Tarrant’s was on the recommendation of Dr. Webb and our first Capstone meeting with our client.

I love Richmond!  My 83 year old father tells me stories of taking the horse and buggy to Richmond to pick up his mother from work!  If you happen to go to Tarrant’s, please text or send me a picture.  Feel free to leave your comments, too.




Cottage on Hill, Manteo, NC

Our family vacationed this year at Cottage on Hill in Manteo, NC.  This is our take on the place!  The owners Mr. and Mrs. Bell were friendly and responsive to our needs not only in deciding to rent from them almost seven months ago but also the week we were there.  They live near the property and can help with anything that may arise during your stay.

Down a long dirt road you will travel until you reach the very end of the road, in which, the sign “Cottage On Hill” is located.  The cottage is positioned on a hill with steps leading up to the porch and front door.  The cottage has a deck in the back of the house leading out of the kitchen/eating area.  Each morning, I would either sit on the back deck, or travel down the private beach access path to watch the sunrise.

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The private path to the beach was like a secret garden with well-kept flowering bushes.

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They provided kayaks (one adult; one child, or small person).

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One of my spiritual awakenings came while kayaking the luminous path of the sun’s rays! I was travelling into the path of the sun! The sun on my face was invigorating!
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You can fish from your private beach, but remember to get a fishing license at Fishing Unlimited Tackle or Whale Bone Tackle in Nags Head, just a few minutes after you cross the bridge from Manteo into Nags Head.  The cost was 12.00, and you pay in cash.

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You can kayak over to a sand island, or bar within 5 minutes. The sunrise is worth getting up early for.  I would take my Bible study, coffee, and they provided chairs near the beach. I would sit and wait for the sun to rise.  It was truly a worshipful experience.

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One morning, I was so overwhelmed with the presence of the Lord, I had to write about it on another post. I hope you can visit the post called Brand New Dayhttps://arrestedbygrace.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/brand-new-day/

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There was a master bedroom with a full bath downstairs.  This was helpful for my daughter and her husband who had recently had a baby.  They had access to the kitchen, a bathroom, and a quiet space for those middle of the night feedings.  The two bedrooms upstairs with a shared full bathroom between them was perfect for my husband and I, along with my other two daughters (twin beds in their room).  The outdoor shower on the front porch deck provided extra shower space during those moments everyone wanted to shower.


The town of Manteo is filled with charm and a family feel.

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Some spots we enjoyed were

Olde Towne Creamery

They had wonderful ice-cream, fudge, treats, and the best hot dog!  I ordered the hot dog with their slaw–divine! They have space inside to eat out of the heat, or shaded areas outside with comfortable seating.

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The shops and restaurants of Manteo

Just a few we enjoyed….(please click on store names to go to their websites)

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My Recycled Life is in the variety of artist’s shop Coastal Carolina Kaleidoscope

As you walk in and to the right you will find recycled boards with inspiring quotes and verses like the one below.  I purchased this one!  I had a difficult time selecting an item, because all the quotes seemed to speak to you–the verses had a universal theme.  With each board, I thought of someone.  All the items in the store were perfect gifts for that special someone or occasion!  I left this shop feeling warm, welcomed, and inspired.  The shop owner is free to talk about her work and a down to earth kind of gal!

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The Laughing Lollipop

This shop has the old time candy from your youth and fresh cotton candy! I purchased gummy bears, my personal favorite, and an old fashioned sugar cane root bear!

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His Shells

Ortega’z Southwestern Grill

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Poor Richard’s Sandwich Shop

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They have many odds and ends shops, antique stores, and unique crafters displaying their treasures. In the pavilion area, they have a bike rack.

On Saturdays in Manteo, they have a farmer’s market that will blow you away!

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A favorite tradition is to go shopping at Tanger Outlet Mall.

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Another tradition is bucket grilling on the beach.  We use E June Street Access. For our favorite recipes go to this post called Bucket Grilling on the Beachhttps://arrestedbygrace.wordpress.com/2014/07/31/bucket-grilling-on-the-beach/

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We like to order our crab legs from Sugar Creek and family dine at home.

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They also have a restaurant with specials and discounts for early birds from 4:00 – 5:00

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We went to the lighthouse in Manteo, NC for our last night family pictures at sunset.  We missed the sunset by a few minutes, but the night was beautiful.  These were taken by using our cell phones!


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They may not be professional but the memory and time spent together springs forth when I look at these photos.

A day at the beach….

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Manteo has sidewalks for bike riding.  The owners provide bikes for the renters in a sturdy shed that is near the cottage.  You can also store your beach items in the shed.  They provide a grill for outdoor cooking.  There is a service station just up the road from the cottage if you need air in your tires.

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There are local grocery stores in Manteo, or you can ride into Nags Head for more options.

The greatest gift was having my first grand-daughter with us.

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What a blessing to see her parents so in love with her, and meeting her every need.  Of course, I was ready to jump in if needed…

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For more information about Cottage On Hill go to:



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Jelly Toast

I grew up in an older home from infancy until about sixth grade.  My years there were filled with warm summer nights with box fans in the windows, crickets serenading me to sleep, and a pretty pink canopy bed, with pink shag carpet. My yard had large oak trees, and one tree was well suited for a tree house and rope swing.  We’d jump from the tree house ledge on the rope swing and fly through the air.  That was the closest I ever got to flying as a little girl, and it was pretty close.  My brother closest in age to me, loved to dare me to do things; and I aimed to please.  He dared me to fly on the first jump off the ledge, meaning, I would be at the highest elevation.  That day I flew high; however, with gravity, what goes up, must come down. Down I went. Hard. I landed on my feet, and I can still feel the sting. I impressed his friend that was visiting.  I can still see his eyes wide and mouth open.

I’d give a million dollars to have a picture of that tree house and our swing.

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My mom sent me this picture of our home. Much has changed. Trees have been taken down, businesses have popped up around what used to be my backyard, and they have modernized the home.  In fact, the home is a business. Looking at the front yard, my mind went back to a revival night.  We provided worship music, a message, and watermelon.  It was a night of adventure and mystery.  In the dark of the night, we worshiped and poured out love to our neighbors. Folks sat on blankets and sang along with the musical talent on the front porch. When the watermelon was passed around, as a child, I was thrilled. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted watermelon again quite like that night–sweet, filled with water, crisp, and smelled divine.

My family is away on vacation. I’m much older with a full life. I recently became a grandmother. Becoming a grandmother forces you to reflect.  I watch my oldest daughter with my grand-daughter; and I go back. Memories I’ve stored in the recesses of my mind spring forth like a pop-up book–taking you by surprise at the beauty and details. This side of the memory has more meaning. You close your eyes and imagine your grandchildren’s memories they will make with you.

Jelly toast.

Our kitchen had the largest table to fit the whole family for meals. My mom was an amazing cook. One afternoon, a friend was visiting, and she served coffee and jelly toast. I was sitting next to my mom across from the friend.  The window was open, and the toaster on the table.  She would toast the white bread, smother the softness with real butter, and then the grape jelly. Up to that point, I had not really experienced the process of jelly toast.  I guess it was the company, the breeze, the simplicity of the afternoon, but my mouth had never tasted such heaven. I loved the way she toasted the bread just enough to make it warm, but not crisp, or burnt. What was equally unusual was my mother’s change in the rules.  She was conservative.  You ate three balanced meals a day, no snacks in between except for fruit, and over eating was not encouraged.  I thank her for this.  I’m healthy today because of her wisdom and discipline. This time was different. She picked up on my experience of heaven and decided to serve my fantasy of jelly toast.

Like Oliver, I asked for “more”, and instead of turning me out, she served me.  I think I ate about four pieces of jelly toast that day.

On our vacation, we had breakfast together; we had jelly toast. Grape jelly.  Butter. Warm toast.  I told them my pop-up book memory, and my youngest smiled at me. “Grandma made me jelly toast, too.”  We reminisced together.

Life is much like jelly toast stories. We experience the daily grind–work, cleaning, disappointments, chores, going, and doing. The necessary prevails.  In fact, the necessary provides the structure to experience the jelly toast stories. Simple things you do out of love will be remembered and treasured for a life time. The next time you are doing the ordinary for someone extraordinary it matters. You are creating a beautiful pop-up book, in which, your love will be the thematic thread woven in the legacy of your family story.


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My house is filled with a thousand dreams….

“I just pray that hope will go on living
In this house of a thousand dreams” Martina McBride

When I hear this song–I go back, smile, and the happy tears flow….


Dar Luz–The Light Has Come

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.


Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

And, God saw that the light was good;


and God separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.  And there was evening and there was morning , the first day.  Genesis Chapter 1









God created every intricate detail of the world, and every hair follicle and cell in your body.  It stands to reason, that we, too, are asked to join in His creation.  God is creative and full of life-giving promises.  He takes chaos and brings order.

“Wherever there is darkness and pain it is the will of God that humanity acts on the side of goodness and truth.  God’s act of creation continues to this day, and Advent is a reminder that human beings are called into living deliberately to make the world a better place.” (Bozzuti-Jones, The Womb of Advent, 2007)

Believe that you, God’s creation, can participate in God’s continuous and magnificent creative creation!

I think upon God’s perfect order and the harmony of His work.  Night gives way to day, just as the darkness gives way to light. God created the darkness for a purpose.  How could we enjoy the sunrise without the darkness of the night?  How can we fathom redemption without our desperate need for a Savior, a blessing without the knowledge of a curse, or healing without suffering?

Jesus, the light of the world, was hidden in the darkness of the womb of Mary. The darkness of the womb was created by God to fashion a human soul, and for His Son, Jesus, to be brought into a world in desperate need of His light.

“In Brazil, they actually describe the birth of a child as the giving of light: dar luz, people say.  It is their way of saying–and I delight in this–that a woman has brought a light into the world.”  (Bozzuti-Jones, The Womb of Advent, 2007)

Our first grandchild is to be born in June, 2016

I love that my daughter and son-in-law put the baby picture on their Christmas tree–the coming of Advent season, the coming of Jesus, the coming of God’s creation in my daughter.

During the time we found out that our first grandchild is to be born, we went away to a marriage encounter weekend…..

My husband and I experienced an incredible Marriage Encounter weekend.  The entire weekend was God creating something new in us individually and as a couple.  Our tears brought exhaustion, healing, and hope.  We were a part of God’s creation.  With no time to walk the beach during the encounter weekend, my exhaustion burst into a renewed spirit as the weekend came to a close.  It was just my husband and I, sitting on the deck of the hotel watching the sun set.


The day closed with us watching the stars appear, but so very dear to us, is that first star that appears so bright in the sky.

Our First Star

Parish, my husband, read to me,” A Child’s Dream of a Star” by Dickens.  His favorite author and my love for having someone read to me, brought the night to a rapturous close. What a tender story that seemed to give a metaphor to our weekend’s work.

God gently woke us up in the morning with His soft and tender beauty of creation–the new day.  Ever so slightly, as the minutes passed, His glorious sun broke forth into a new start–a new day!  Just as Jesus came into the world over 2,000 years ago.

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This last picture captures my soul work.  As I gazed on the sun’s rays pouring forth over the waters, the power and love of our God was bursting forth from heaven on to earth to His people. I imagined myself, like Peter, walking on water, taking the lighted path to a new and renewed Hope.  His faithfulness, day after day, sunrise after sunrise, beckoning the world to take part in His creation!

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Days after the retreat, I would close my eyes, and I would remember that moment.  “God, please keep me here in my soul, my mind, and my spirit!”  Cause me never to forget the work that was done, the healing, and the promise that each new day brings a new work–another opportunity to be a part of Your Creation.

“When we are aware, we are more creative.  And when we are more aware of the things of God, God is more creative within us.  It is not our awareness that causes God to be more active, but we become more conscious of the power of God in our lives.” (Bozzuti-Jones, The Womb of Advent, 2007)

Love deliberately

Forgive decidedly

Witness consciously to God’s ongoing act of creation

This deliberate decision is not an act of finality or perfection.  I’m still in the midst of my marriage encounter, as well as facing another season in this life’s journey. I walk alongside friends who are struggling with illness, unspeakable loss, and hurting marriages.  It’s in the journey we can rest in the uncertainty, knowing that God is faithful. As we walk the lighted path home towards His light and love, He promises to keep creating in us, loving us, and holding us.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  Psalm 51:10




Grace Home Ministries

If you read my previous post, you’ll remember my joy at finding my old Bible–Blueprint for Living.  The following paragraph was written at that time by Bill Bright, founder and president of Campus Crusade For Christ International, in the section called, “An Invitation to Abundant Living”

Christ engages in the hearts of His people.  He revolutionizes lives and, as His people are revolutionized in sufficient numbers, the world will be revolutionized–the world will be changed. Problems in the lives of individuals will be solved as He is given control.  Problems in the political, social, economic, and religious realms will be solved as He is made master in each area.

Grace Home Ministries is revolutionizing the world one person at a time.  As a school social worker I am faced with teen pregnancy, and they have shown up, supported, and creatively met the needs of students that I serve.  Nothing has been too hard or too complicated for them.  In the moment that a client may feel all is lost, they step in and offer hope, healing, and a future story.

Please support them through prayer, finances, volunteering, and by utilizing their services if you need them.  They stand ready to help.  Their strong mentor program is vital.  You can learn more about mentoring and volunteering.  Their services are confidential and will support you in your time of need as a pregnant woman, or man struggling with the news you are going to be a father.

The informational video below will give you a snapshot of the founder’s mission and personal story as well as the services they offer. I personally know the founder, Julie Carden, and she is a determined woman of God filled with the grace and beauty of Jesus’ love for us.  She is available to speak at any organization to share more about Grace Home Ministries, and she offers her testimony to celebrate how God revolutionized her life so she can serve others.

Kenn Tico

Someone recommended this Cuban restaurant.  After a long week of preparing for my capstone client presentation, we desired to reconnect as a family.  We love visiting unique places and experiencing different cultures.  Kenn Tico sounded like a great place for lunch before we would go to All Fired Up and do a little shopping.

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Parish fell in love with Cubano sandwiches years ago.  We had a dinner party and the Cubano sandwich was the main course.  So, naturally, this restaurant appealed to us.

Our waiter was a young man who lived in the area and was attending college at VCU. He noted that he would eat often at the restaurant and fell in love with the food so much that he wanted to work there!  He was a great waiter and very attentive.

We started off with the Triple Cuban Dipper in which you could choose three appetizer dishes.  Our three were the following:

Tamales Cubano: Cornmeal and seasoned pork stuffed and wrapped in a cornhusk.

Mini Papa Rellenas:  Breaded potato stuffed with spiced ground beef served with ham, cheese and Cuban tostadas.

Yuca Frita:  Fried Yuca sticks served with cilantro & garlic oil sauce.

Parish and I loved the Tamales.  The seasoned pork and onions were savory.  The girls loved the Yuca Frita because it tasted like a yummy french fry.  By the way, they have a children’s menu for those who are not so adventuresome.  My youngest said her chicken tenders and fries were the best she has ever had.

Parish ordered his favorite, the Cubano Classico

Cubano Classico:  Old time flavor sandwich, grilled Cuban bread with sliced pork, ham, swiss cheese, a touch of pickles, and mustard.


I enjoyed the chicken soup


and the Arroz Moro: White rice, black beans, mixed with spiced onions and peppers.


We were able to meet Kenny and Tico! They were engaging and loved to talk to you about their recipes and love for Cuban food.  Our waiter stated that they began their journey with a food cart selling their Cuban delicacies. They have been in their restaurant for approximately five years.


The restaurant is located at 204 East Grace Street, Richmond, VA.  They proudly serve “the most authentic Cuban cuisine & beverages in Richmond.”

Cuban Tamales are unique in that the meat is mixed in with the dough and not used as a filling like Mexican Tamales.  My husband just yelled this from the other room while looking for a recipe to cook Cuban Tamales at home!  Love that man!


My girls loved being in the city and seeing all the sights and sounds.  We were able to share with our 11-year-old where Cuba was on the map, and share some history.


We sat next to the window so we could enjoy the city and each other.  They also played fun Cuban music in which we danced.  My teenage daughter announced, “How embarrassing!”   It’s not a fun-filled day until you embarrass one of your children!  🙂

Two thumbs up for this authentic and casual Cuban restaurant!












The Chesapeake Inn

The Chesapeake Inn is a charming and quiet place to get away in the winter months. A typical summer spot, we enjoy our stay in the winter months, too.

Located at 250 Virginia Street in Urbanna, VA, the location is just right for a couple’s retreat.  My husband and I went last year for our 25th wedding anniversary, and returned for our 26th.  The manager of the Inn, Angela St. Peter, greeted us with a smile and a hug.  She remembered us from the previous year.  The rooms are beautifully decorated with some having king sized beds and bedding that hugs you–so soft and comfy!  Each room has its own style and unique decorating.

We took advantage of the regular sized refrigerator in the room to bring breakfast items, lunch meat, and snacks.  A local grocery store is just down the street.

Last year the restaurant was in the process of being renovated.  Included in our package was a gift-certificate for an appetizer at the restaurant called The Works Bar and Grill


The restaurant’s decor is a “throwback” to earlier times. The bar pays homage to the Coca-Cola Bottling days with old Coke bottles and old signs on display. The hallway features old black and white photos of the plant in its heydey.

The menu had typical seafood fare prepared with unique recipes. I had their egg omelet prepared

Smoked Salmon

With caper, tomatoes and goat cheese

I was very tempted to get this

Crab Benedict

Sautéed fresh jumbo lump crab, biscuit, poached egg, topped with house made chive hollandaise

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The Chesapeake Inn offers other packages that include a romance weekend and/or a cruise with Urbanna Cruises.  What a great place to have special events with the restaurant right there on the property, and joining rooms if needed.  We were able to utilize a Living Social deal for a two night stay.

I was truly amazed at the passion I saw in Angela, and their tenacity to make the Inn a memorable place.


We enjoyed other restaurants such as Something Different, Colonial Pizza, and a local Mexican restaurant, Mi Jalisco, that offered take out. The local post office, unique shops, and that old town feel made a long walk an adventure.  With the water’s edge close by, we traveled to a small park bench and marveled at God’s beautiful world.




We also enjoyed the history of Urbanna, and the large Magnolia trees

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This anniversary was an adventure.  We received several cards with that word in it, and I realized, after 26 years, how much our life together has truly been an adventure!  My husband began giving me cards that represented 26 years of memories.  He started days before our trip away and continued throughout the weekend.

I was able to use the pictures my oldest daughter made for our wedding anniversary last year to decorate our room.


And, yes, that’s our wedding topper from 26 years ago.

We headed home by way of Topping, VA to visit another favorite restaurant, Merroir

The tree you see pictured no longer is there, and we happened to have lunch while they were building a pergola to offer shade for the upcoming summer season.

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Our room, and stay, was a time of great conversation, laughter, practicing our duet for my oldest’s wedding in May, sleeping (we needed some naps!), Bible study, and remembering the importance of away time with your spouse.

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