Don’t Sleep On Small Surprises

I have read many articles about how we are all trying to figure out this thing called parenting. And we can all agree that no one has it all figured out. That’s because each child is different, though they may share similar interest. I think we can all agree that at the end of the day, if we can hear our child say, “Mom, you’re the best” Then we are still winning. We are not trying to blur the lines between parenting and being our child’s homie…. And we want to make sure that there isn’t just a fine line in between either. We want there to be a noticeable difference so that we can establish boundaries and respect.

While parenting is not all about pleasing our children and catering to their want and needs like we are their servant, we still want to hear those words, Mom, you are the best, thank you mom, I appreciate you mom, I love you….To hear those words are encouraging to parents. They are inspiring. They are just what you need to hear on some days when you are pressing on to be the best parent you can be. The simple things in life… in exchange for something so empowering.

It is true that we doubt ourselves at times, even when we know that we are doing the absolute best that we can. We do this because we are constantly trying to make sure that our children have all the essential things they need to excel. So, when they even so much as remotely show signs of unhappiness, we are back at the drawing board trying to figure things out. If you are a parent, just remember not to beat yourself up.

My son reminded me that I was the best and for the remainder of the day, I felt as though I was wearing a crown.

It was last week, leading into Independence Day, when I was online searching for some fun in the city. Something local and affordable, where he would be able to watch a fire-works show among other things to maximize our time together. I found out that there would be all-day activities for kids; including an inflatable waterslide, discounted prices for Museum Entrance, face painting, bean bag toss contest, food, drinks and more along the waterfront at one of the local attractions. I began to plan for the event that would also end with a fire works show over the water.

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Upon our arrival to the park, the first thing that my son noticed was the inflatable water slide. His eyes widened, as I kept watch on his reaction. As we got closer and he was able to get a better look at it and saw the other children playing, he said ooh, mom! …then he said never mind. I asked, “What?” all the while knowing what he’d seen and what was going through his mind. He responded again, “Never mind… I would have to have swim clothes so it’s ok.” Just before we got to the water slide, I asked him to step into the bathroom. Once in there, I reached into my bag and pulled out his swim trunks and a tank. His face lit up! It was the highlight of my day. He said, “You the best mom!!!” These moments are what I live for. To surprise him with something so little and he be so grateful.

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Spending time with my child this summer has been most rewarding, even when out of spite one day he told me that my dress made me look fat. LOL. It was a funny story and I wish I could remember what exactly it was that he wasn’t getting his way with that day, which made him say it. But it reminded me of that sour patch kids commercial… (First, they are sour then they are sweet) Whatever it was, he had me standing in the mirror second guessing what I was wearing to church that day. I took it with a grain of salt and laughed because he wasn’t totally lying. However, he did take full advantage of the moment to make his opinion known.

https://www.facebook.com/NDKENNY/videos/10215987556579714/?t=1

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But anyway… We have a few weeks left in the summer. Here’s a few things you may want to keep in mind as you continue to make it the best one yet; while in the process, pull off a surprise of your own.

Always being prepared: Use your trunk for things like a cooler, an umbrella, one to two lawn chairs, a picnic blanket, a thermos for coffee or beverage of your choice and a cup for the kiddo. Take snacks with you to save on spending at fast food restaurants along the way or on expensive food trucks and food stands that are often set up at the park or venue and attraction.

Leaving ahead of time to give yourself ample time to arrive, park, make provisions for traffic and accidents which may have caused a delay on the highway.

Search for all the free or low cost local attractions and attend those rather than spending the bank on traveling away. Take advantage of what’s in the city.

Save on parking: If off street parking is cheaper than parking in a garage attached to an attraction, explore that as an option and use the time walking, to sightsee

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Checking ahead of time: This one depends on the attraction. I only thought about it because you have places like Urban Air and other trampoline parks where there are a lot of parties being planned on the weekend. If you have time during the week or earlier in the day to visit these establishments it may be worth it rather than going while they are jam-packed or when a party is going on where they will have certain areas blocked off for a party, limiting your child’s activities while being there during this time.

Taking one for the team: Being outside in that heat, turning three shades darker, sweating and sitting… consider this: Take an enjoyable book or earphones to listen to music. Talk to people around you who may be able to swap ideas on what to do.

Covering the basics here, is what sets the stage for you to pull off a great surprise!

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A “GETAWAY” is Not Always About “Getting Away” From Something You Don’t Like

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Some of the best travel experiences I have had included Las Vegas, Nevada. Yup, right here in the United States. The first time I traveled there was in 2010, on assignment during the time I spent writing for Examiner.com. It was a media assignment to cover the Floyd “Money” Mayweather and “Sugar” Shane Mosley Boxing match.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley was a boxing welterweight non-title super fight, in which Mayweather won by unanimous decision with two judges scoring it 119–109 and one judge scoring it 118–110.

I visited again while writing for Examiner.com to cover another fight: Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao, billed as The Fight of the Century, or the Battle for Greatness, was a professional boxing match between undefeated five-division world champion Floyd Mayweather.

While I had a strong interest in the sport of boxing, being in attendance for both the weigh-in and the fight, along with the activities and events that surrounded the weekend; it was the time I spent sightseeing in my free time that I was able to fully enjoy being in the city. So many things to do and so many things to see was what inspired my third trip simply because I couldn’t pack it all into the first two.

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Getting off the plane on that third visit to Las Vegas was majestic. It was hot as tamales of course, with temperature up to 110 when I arrived, but once I kicked the layers off, threw on some shorts, sandals, a tank top and tied my hair back, the rest was history. This time, I was still on assignment but was writing with a media outlet where I had more freedom to explore the city and share with my readers all that Vegas had to offer. So, while I was still working, I was having fun doing something that I loved to do. I had found a way to combine work with play.

Vegas is truly like one super-sized adult theme park on steroids! From the architectural designs of the buildings/hotels to the layout of the famous Vegas Strip. A sea of lights and it’s no wonder it’s called the city that never sleeps!

The highlights of my trip included:

The Mob Museum: Officially the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, is a history museum located in Downtown Las Vegas, Nevada.

Las Vegas Observation Wheel: High Roller is a 550-foot tall, 520-foot diameter giant Ferris wheel on the Las Vegas Strip in Paradise, Nevada, United States of America. It is owned and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation

Freemont Street Experience: Sprawling 24-hour mall featuring a huge LED canopy, casino & restaurant access & free entertainment.

Aerial Photography of City during Evening

The Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay is a public aquarium located at and owned by the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Its main tank is 1,300,000 US gallons, one of the largest in North America

Madame Tussauds Las Vegas: a wax museum located in the Las Vegas Strip at The Venetian Las Vegas casino resort in Paradise, Nevada. The attraction opened in 1999, becoming the first Madame Tussauds venue to open in the United States.

The Grand Canyon Tour: Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters – This magnificent helicopter ride provides stunning aerial views of Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and Grand Canyon West. Additionally, passengers will experience an exhilarating landing at the bottom of the canyon on our private plateau overlooking the mighty Colorado River. Upon landing, guests enjoy a champagne picnic with refreshments and have ample time to explore the awe-inspiring grandeur that is the Grand Canyon.

Vegas Shows: Baz! Set in a modern and intimate cabaret, BAZ is a celebration, a mash-up of music, and moments from the greatest love stories imagined by Oscar, Grammy, and Tony Award-nominated director Baz Luhrmann. Theatregoers follow the romances from Luhrmann’s iconic films: Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge, and The Great Gatsby as the lovers discover whether fortune is in their favor.

Las Vegas Strip Signage

I encourage everyone to do a little traveling in their lifetime. Even if it starts with visiting the next state or over from them. There is so much more out there to see. But here’s why I think that part is important: It broadens your horizons. You meet new people. It connects you with people. You learn about culture. You become more versed in communication.

Being knowledgeable/aware of different things helps you understand different people and with that understanding, it organically generates compassion in the vessels of the heart. Depending on where you go or how far you travel outside of your comfort zone, it opens your mind to the things going on around the world, in which you will most likely relate to or at least have more insight into.

I came across a post on twitter recently, where the twitter user referenced “people who have to getaway” It read: “People are always talking about getting away and taking a getaway. If they didn’t hate their lives and were to create a life that they are happy with or if you were a happy person, there would be no need for a getaway. You don’t need to getaway if you are happy.” She then referenced hotel and vacation advertisements that use the word “getaway.”

Now, I am not fully sure of her understanding of a getaway and the purpose that it serves for most people, but on the surface; it sounded (at least to me) as if she was confusing people who are in an unhealthy situation who are always talking about one day getting away from a certain situation, with people who have a natural desire to simply want to getaway to a different place to broaden their horizons.

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I thought to myself that this was probably the most least profound thing that she could have said. Especially being a motivational public figure… (that’s the title individuals give themselves when they have a lot of followers on twitter) LOL

It’s not always about “getting away” from something you don’t like. And just because you take a vacation, (A Getaway: a place suitable for a vacation; a vacation especially of brief duration) doesn’t mean it’s so that you can leave a life behind that you hate. A getaway is just relaxing. For some, it’s therapeutic. For writers, it’s inspiring to have a change of scenery. Sometimes you just want the adventure of exploring new sights, sights unseen… going to unusual places because you cannot live in 100 places all at once.

Who doesn’t need a break from time to time anyway? Are you telling me that you can never go to enjoy the fruits of your labor because if you do, it means you hate your life? If you can show me someone who says they don’t want or need a getaway, I will show you a liar.

But for now, I digress. I would rather balance the universe by stating that it’s perfectly OK to want to getaway. It absolutely does not mean that you are unsatisfied with your life. It means that you are open to discovering the world and that you are realistic about the common day to day life that invites the idea of wanting a break to enjoy the other side of your front door.

This Is Why It’s HotLanta and Here’s Why It Should Be On Your Radar For 2018

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Photo Credit:http://www.atlanta.gov

Atlanta acquired the nickname HOTLanta long before I can remember, but if forced to remember, I would say that it was the year 1995 when I remember taking my first trip and determining for myself why it’s HOT. Hot in a major way, not just the weather. However, considering it’s not the hottest city temperature wise, there’s no complaints here. It has always been a city on my radar. Aside from Atlanta hosting the largest, free Jazz festival in the Country, their educational programs such as: The Cultural Experience Project, I remember saying to myself that when I graduated college, I would go to Atlanta to secure employment and set up residency. Here’s why: Dominant Sectors Include: Trade, transportation, and utilities 530.3 Professional and business services 391.4 Government 311.9 Education and health services 282.3 Leisure and hospitality 218.3 Manufacturing 146.5 Financial activities 128.5 Residential Transit… (Employees (Thousands))-Wikipedia

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Photo Credit: Ballard Spahr LLP

There must be a reason why Atlanta has the most traveled airport in the world, right? It ranked #1 – Serving 110 million passengers annually and functioning as headquarters for Delta Air Lines. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport connects more people than any other in the world. (http://www.metroatlantachamber.com) It probably has something to do with the state of Georgia being ranked #1 as the best state for doing business: Corporate facility investors and site consultants awarded Georgia has ranked #1 state for business climate four years in a row and the #1 state for business three years in a row.

Business & Networking: Atlanta’s Business and Networking scene is almost unmatched on the East Coast, and ranks Fourth in the number of Fortune 500 companies headquartered within city boundaries, behind New York, Houston and Dallas. With many large companies and corporations established in the city, there’s a dominant source of leadership, mentorship and affiliates to connect with as an entrepreneur, intern, or for entry level and executive level positions. Atlanta has produced some of the Country’s best in Media & Communications, Film & Television and is the source for Logistics, such as Delta Airline, which is the city’s largest employer and the metro areas third largest.

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Atlanta is also a major center of television production and is the hub of the nation’s third-largest film industry. Atlanta counts the presence of Turner Studios, which produces content for the Turner Broadcasting family of stations; since 2008 the Tyler Perry Studios in Southwest Atlanta; and since 2010 the EUE/Screen Gems soundstages in Lakewood Heights, south Atlanta. Atlanta is the setting for popular TV shows such as the Real Housewives of Atlanta and Tyler Perry’s series. Due to Perry, the “Housewives”, and others, Atlanta is also known as a center of black entertainment in the U.S

The city is a major cable television programming center. Ted Turner began the Turner Broadcasting System media empire in Atlanta, where he bought a UHF station that eventually became WTBS. Turner established the headquarters of the Cable News Network at CNN Center, adjacent today to Centennial Olympic Park. As his company grew, its other channels-the Cartoon Network, Boomerang, TNT, Turner South, Turner Classic Movies, CNN International, CNN en Español, HLN, and CNN Airport Network-centered their operations in Atlanta as well (Turner South has since been sold). Turner Broadcasting is a division of Time Warner. In 2008 Tyler Perry established his studios in Southwest Atlanta; and in 2010 EUE/Screen Gems opened soundstages in Lakewood Heights, south Atlanta. The Weather Channel, owned by a consortium of NBC Universal, Blackstone Group, and Bain Capital, has its offices in the Cumberland district northwest of downtown Atlanta.

Cox Enterprises, a privately held company controlled by James C. Kennedy, his sister Blair Parry-Okeden and their aunt Anne Cox Chambers, has substantial media holdings in and beyond Atlanta; it is headquartered in the city of Sandy Springs. Its Cox Communications division, headquartered in unincorporated DeKalb County, is the third-largest cable television service provider in the United States

Employment: Anytime there’s a strong and secure platform for networking, there’s a foundation for the possibility of securing long-term employment, accomplishing career goals and maintaining longevity in a position with a major company who provides adequate benefits and pay structure. You know the adage, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know?” Well, I firmly believe that it’s what you know also who you know.

Atlanta has a growing hi-tech community and is also home to a growing Biotechnology sector, gaining recognition through such events as the 2009 BIO International Convention. Atlanta is also the headquarters of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Region II.

Unincorporated DeKalb County is also home to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Adjacent to Emory University, with a staff of nearly 15,000 including: engineers, entomologists, epidemiologists, biologists, physicians, veterinarians, behavioral scientists, nurses, medical technologists, economists, health communicators, toxicologists, chemists, computer scientists, and statisticians.

Top Employers in the Metro Atlanta are: Delta Air Lines, Emory University / Emory Healthcare, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., The Home Depot and AT&T. Atlanta provides the stage for connecting the who’s who in business, and other like-minded business professionals, along with the movers and shakers in multiple industries….

Including several National and International companies which are headquartered in metro Atlanta, including seven Fortune 100 companies: The Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot, United Parcel Service, Delta Air Lines, AT&T Mobility, and Newell Rubbermaid. Other headquarters for some major companies in Atlanta and around the metro area include Arby’s, Chick-fil-A, Earthlink, Equifax, First Data, Foundation Financial Group, Gentiva Health Services, Georgia-Pacific, NCR, Oxford Industries, RaceTrac Petroleum, Southern Company, SunTrust Banks, Mirant, and Waffle House. Over 75% of the Fortune 1000 companies have a presence in the Atlanta area, and the region hosts offices of about 1,250 multinational corporations. As of 2006 Atlanta Metropolitan Area ranks as the 10th largest cybercity (high-tech center) in the US, with 126,700 high-tech jobs (Wikipedia)

So, what is there to do in Atlanta, other than Networking, Working and adding an esteemed list of acquaintances to your little black book, while establishing relationships with the Go-getters of the world? I am so glad you asked. Here’s what I recommend:

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Photo Credit: Expedia

The World of Coca-Cola: World of Coca-Cola at Pemberton Place® celebrated its Grand Opening on May 24, 2007. It’s the only place where you can explore the fascinating story of Coca‑Cola® – the world’s best-known beverage brand

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Photo Credit: Curbed Atlanta

CNN Center: CNN Studio Tours provides exclusive, behind-the-scenes access to the world headquarters of CNN in downtown Atlanta, GA. The tour started in 1987 and has been growing in popularity ever since.

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Photo Credit: CNN.com

COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME AND CHICK-FIL-A FAN EXPERIENCE: 95,000 square feet. A 45-yard indoor football field. More than 50 engaging and interactive exhibits. A shrine to the greatest to ever play or coach the game. All in the heart of downtown Atlanta.

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Photo Credit: Mommy Nearest

FERNBANK MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY: adventure filled with dinosaurs, live animals, cultural artifacts and hands-on science explorations. Take a walk on the wild side as you explore 75 acres of new outdoor nature adventures.

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Photo Credit: georgia Aquarium

GEORGIA AQUARIUM: Georgia Aquarium is a nonprofit committed to inspiring awareness and preservation of our ocean and aquatic animals worldwide.

From boutiques to art galleries, antiques and outlet centers, Atlanta shopping is everywhere. Venture into Buckhead for luxurious Atlanta shopping with upscale malls such as Lenox Square Mall and Phipps Plaza that feature top brands.

Enjoy a taste of can’t-miss American-style cuisine or traditional Southern fare and succulent steakhouses worth writing home about.

Click here, to discover more from ATLANTA

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Photo Credit: AJC.com

Transit includes: Bus, Train & Shuttle –

Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA):

Atlanta Streetcar: Began operations downtown in 2014

Buc Shuttle: Fast, frequent, free shuttle service in Buckhead

Georgia Regional Transportation Authority Xpress Bus: Regional express bus serving Cobb, Gwinnett, Downtown, Midtown, Buckhead, and Perimeter Circle

Cobb Community Transit: Bus serving Cobb, Downtown, and Midtown

Gwinnett County Transit: Bus serving Gwinnett, Downtown, and Midtown

Originally Published On CafeMom.com

Road Trip! And What I learned along the way, while traveling with my child

After a nine-hour road trip from Houston, Texas, to Daphne, Alabama to visit my parents; I am totally convinced of why children were made. They were made to keep us alive, by talking us to death! Because that’s what it takes to keep us alive, on the road. As sarcastic as that revelation may seem, it is the whole truth and nothing but the truth #ThatsMyFinalAnswer

It was bad enough that the trip should have only taken 6-7 hours, and after one stop for gas, it should have been smooth sailing. Had we departed Houston within the time frame, which my experience over the years, had stressed to me, to be the safest time to leave; I would have had 2 hours less the torture. However, because we were 1.5 hour late in leaving, due to making a last-minute grocery run for travel snacks, we also endured the feat of getting out of the city during Houston’s lunch time traffic.

I have never been asked, “why,” so many times in one day, and so I have never felt so ignorant in all my life. I also felt tired and exhausted, long before we made it to Beaumont, Texas. (Only an hour away). I began to question, “Why did I take this road trip? Can I do this? Am I really prepared for this……and LORD, will he ever just shut up and just go to sleep?” All the arrows pointed toward no, but I was waiting on the last answer from the man above, so I continued to drive.

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I was already tired and still feeling the residuals of an “Adult Only” 4th of July weekend, which was followed by a lot of mommy juice earlier in the week. Nonetheless, I was still good for the road. Or so I thought. In my defense, this was not the first time I took the trip, so I knew what I was capable of doing it and I knew that it could be done. But, I must say, doing this trip with a kid, after the 4th of July, was a little different. Any other time, I can coast, with the music blasting… listening to the sound that my own mind makes, while I entertain thoughts of what I will do when I make it to my destination. I was not prepared for this! And GOD had not answered the call yet, about if my child was going to sleep any time soon. I kept driving and he kept asking questions. He continued to talk. No rhyme or reason of course, because he’s only 6-years old. It was random conversations and I truly felt like I was chasing him through a fully crowded amusement park, trying to keep up with him. He kept switching gears and I kept getting sleepier. I got more sleep than he did, so why was this happening to me? What did I ever do that was so wrong, that I would be “talked-to-death” like this? You can’t tell a child to shut up – that’s just wrong. But the traffic was atrocious! And the road rage and angry driver were all around me, so I had to take the good (staying awake and alert) with the bad (being talked into a coma) …and sang into the oblivion.

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Finally, a phone call from a friend came in. I almost ran off the road, trying to take that call. It was like being stranded in a dessert and reaching for an oasis! I quickly answered and desperately sought out some adult conversation, almost as if in a hostage situation where I had a matter of seconds to get the information across. I just wanted to talk about nothing, just anything that did not involve, “Mom, do you know how many people are in the world? … Mom, do you know how many red cars are in the entire world? … Mom, why did GOD make the sun so hot? … Mom, are you going to take a short cut? … Mom, Mom, Mom … UTOH!” * RollsEyes… What is it now, Cornelius? What did you spill? So, anyway… I was happy to talk about a customer service complaint that my friend had to deal with at work earlier in the day. Who wants to hear that! ME! I did! I wanted to hear it, because I could not take another Knock-Knock joke, or another Why did the XYZ cross the road, what did the XYZ say to the XYZ, and I did not want to play I SPOT, anymore!

I feel so terrible about the fact that a game as innocent as I spot a little red car, could generate so much animosity. He just wanted to play a game. OMG, I am such an awful parent. I really just wanted to respond, “I SPOT SOME SLEEP! I SPOT A LITTLE BOY WHO WONT GO TO SLEEP! I SPOT A HEADACHE! I SPOT A BED THAT I WISH I COULD BE IN! I SPOT A MISTAKE THAT I MADE BY GETTING ON THIS ROAD, WHILE I WAS TIRED!” At one point, I swear I spotted an exit that said home, but I was still 6 hours away. Or so I thought. So, I took a deep breath and I kept it together though. I Learned how to do that in co-parenting class. I passed that class, so I knew the routine would work. 10…9…8…7… I couldn’t finish the conversation about the angry customer who called to talk about the over-priced service they were paying for, for the last 5 years and how she wanted out of her contract without paying any termination fees. That is because each time my friend got a word out, my son would ask, “ Mom, who is that? … How do you know him? … How do you spell his name? … How long are you going to be on the phone? … etc.

Right about then, we entered Baton Rouge, Louisiana. We were at a snail’s pace for 2 solid hours… until we hit the other side of Hammond, Louisiana and the talking had yet to cease. I stopped for gas and a bathroom break, just to stretch my legs and to give my ears, eyes and brain a break. I allowed him to pump gas and I just walked around the car, did some jumping jacks, jogged in place, did some YOGA, meditated, tried to summon the man above – so I prayed. Where are you GOD?

We hit the road again, for the final stretch home. But to my dismay, we were greeted by another set of halted cars, which prolonged the trip even more and subjected me to the final hour, which turned into the final 2.5 hours. When we made it to Tillman’s Corner, just after the Welcome to Alabama sign, I thought to myself, “OMG- 30 more minutes and I am home free. That is when the little tyke decided he had to do the number 2. Why GOD? Why? When I finally made it home, I realized that GOD was there the whole time. He was talking me to death to keep me alive.

https://youtu.be/OOv-SXrPsmQ