Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Escaping the Black Hole

This morning I couldn't get out of bed.  Yesterday I could barely drag myself out of bed.  It is dark and cold when my alarm goes off which clearly signals to my body that I need to continue sleeping.  Hibernation.

I knew this would happen when I started setting my alarm 6 months ago.  It is easy to spring out of bed at 6am when the sun is streaming in through the windows, the house is a comfortable 70 degrees and your whole life is new.  It is fun to go on a run just after sunrise but not so much in pitch dark.

Still today it felt like more.  It felt like a black hole.  I had spent the night before laying on the couch watching tv, then I went to bed before 10pm and I still can't get out of bed.  It felt like my life was being sucked into a black hole.

This is what happens when you loose your focus and don't have goals.  Nothing.  "What is it?" they asked in the Neverending Story. "The Nothing".  Do you remember that movie?  The nothing was taking over their land.  Now it is taking over my life.

OK, ok you know I have goals.  I always have goals.  But somehow I got off track and forgot what they were, stopped pursuing them.

So this morning when I woke up there was nothing to spring out of bed for.  I hadn't planned to go on a run, had no blog post thoughts, hadn't really sat down for an extended time with God in weeks and so it seemed like there was just no reason to get out of bed early.  I didn't care if the laundry needed to be caught up, the kitchen cleaned or the check book updated.  It would all get done when it had to be done and I just couldn't be excited about it at 6am when I knew my house was cold and covered in clutter I couldn't take care of in an hour.

But finally I got out of bed and started at the beginning.  Not the beginning of the laundry pile or dirty dishes but the real beginning.  I spent and hour with God.  My mind wandered a few times, it does that, but overall I managed to feel a little more hopeful than I did when that alarm went off.  Nothing life changing but the peace and hope that comes from the love of God which wraps its arms around me whenever I am feeling a little disconnected.

"Many are the woes of the wicked but the Lord's unfailing love surrounds the man who trusts Him."  Ps 32:10

Sunday, November 27, 2011


Anybody can write a post about what they are thankful for on Thanksgiving.  Boring.  I decided to wait until Sunday to tell you about all the things I am thankful for.  It was a busy week:

Number One:

My "41th" birthday was 2 days before Thanksgiving this year.  Isabelle came up with the idea to do a cornucopia with what they are each thankful for about me on each fruit for my birthday poster.  Loved it.

Which completes the birthday poster wall.  I don't normally have them up all year but somehow never got Isabelle's poster down after her birthday and then John and Jake's birthdays came right on top of each other and then it just seemed like I had to leave them up until my birthday.  But this is where the Christmas tree goes so they are gone now.

The day after my birthday I got a HUGE gift.  I won this contest:
Family Circle's Orlando Vacation Makeover Contest

"Write your travel challenge and you may be one of three families to win a customized Orlando dream vacation makeover with more than 100 experiences to select from. Each Grand Prize consists of a 5 day / 4 night trip to Orlando, FL for each winner and up to three (3) guests including RT airfare, hotel, attraction admissions and more."

I couldn't find a picture since the contest is over but here is a link to an article that looks like it was written about last years winners.

The important thing is that I WON THIS CONTEST!  I can't believe it.  I got the email while on my break at work and I was seriously shaking for about an hour or more afterward.  I was standing at my brother's desk when I read it and he asked me if I needed a bag to breath into!  I think I might need one right now as I re-tell you the story!  Excited!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

On Thanksgiving day we all covered the chalk board with things we are thankful for.  Guess what my second thing I was thankful for after family, yep, Orlando trip.  Anyway, we headed to my parents for the big meal. 

It was a beautiful and unseasonably warm Thanksgiving day and I HAD to get pictures of our family because I came up with a great idea for our Christmas card theme this year.  Here is a little peak, can you guess what the theme is?

We took about 200 pictures and 60 of my favorite friends and family will get a photo card with the winning 6 photos but don't worry if you aren't one (or be offended) because they just have a link to my blog where I will be doing a detailed Christmas post like I did last year.  So keep an eye out.  I ordered the picture cards and will publish when I get them mailed out.

Random cute picture of my kids and my brother's kids on Thanksgiving.  Because I adore every single one and am thankful for them all and the wonderful close relationship the cousins have and I have with both my siblings and their families.  (And, yes mom, the relationship I have with my parents too.)

Finally after going to bed before Best Buy put their black Friday deals online Thursday and therefore missing the opportunity to skip standing in line in the cold, John and I set up shop 4 hours before the store opened at midnight Friday and relaxed in our camping chairs under blankets while sipping hot chocolate from McDonald's (the only place open) and watching netflix on John's phone.  We then entered the store at midnight, grabbed what we came for and were home and in bed by 12:20 having checked Jake and ourselves off the Christmas list.

The holiday was complete.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Can't wait to see what happens next...

So the new furnace is warming my house, we have stuck a  nail in the lost screw hole to fix the handle on the back door and are not thinking too much about the now totally broken garage door but are instead focussed on the snow begining to fall.  John is busy staking the edges of his plow contract driveways and getting the plow out of the broken garage.  Jake is supposed to go to a training pep rally for his Cutco sales job.  I am still in my pj's close to noon and busy washing all the bedding because while there is no evidence of lice in our home someone in Isabelle's class has lice and that just makes me want to scrub down the whole house.  I CAN NOT do another winter of lice.

Then Jake calls.  He has a flat tire.  And the spare is flat.  So I guess we can't avoid buying a new tire.  While we love our 300 I have to admit it has been a little more costly to maintain.  The tires are performance tires and you pay for them.  There is no $39.99 tire out there for this car.  Luckily while I decided to add free towing to this car when I was worring for my insurnace agent last winter.  Jake gave them a call to come get him while I made some calls to figure out where they should go.

Frugal Tip #3:  Used Tires

At first I thought I had found a deal with a coupon for buy 1 get the 2nd for $10.  Even with the $100 warranty you are required to buy with this deal it was still the cheapest tire I found.  But then John gave me the number of the used tire place.  Amazing deals, my tires for under $100!  Considering I am usually amazed to find them under $200 for this car that blew my mind.  3 new (to us) tires later (we did have one good tire on the car) and a fresh tire on the spare, Jake is ready for winter driving.  Well as ready as you can be with performance tires.  The tire guy managed to mention that this car was terrible for winter driving about 2 or 3 times.  We love it anyway.

What is amazing is how God has provided for all these expenses.  We have savings for the first time in about 2 years!  Even after all this it isn't tapped dry.  AND, yesterday with the snow coming down we had calls from 3 plow clients that hadn't yet re-signed with us.  One of them brought us 5 NEW CONTRACTS!  That will more than cover the tires.

So we continue on excited to see what will happen next and how God will take care of it.  Every step leads us closer to Him as we trust follow.

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  34 So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. "

Now it is just getting funny...

So the furnace is getting replaced, the garage door has exploded and I am heading off to work.  Isabelle runs after me to get one more hug and as she grabs the outside handle of the back door it falls off in her hands.

I just laugh as I give her a hug and keep going.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And THEN...

So we are keeping warm with space heaters for the week enjoying a very sunny fall weekend while we wait for the new furnace to arrive.  John is working up a sweat outside cleaning up our fall leaves while I am working up a sweat getting the inside of the house back in shape after a week of neglect when it happens.  I hear a bang outside in the garage.  I am momentarily startled but don't think much of it.  If John was to get trapped under a pile of debris in our garage he would probably lay there for hours before I discovered him.  Poor guy.  Anyway, he was fine and continued to finish up the yard cleaning.  When he came inside he announced the new problem with our house.  The garage door is broken.  At first he couldn't get it to go all the way up and down and then suddenly it just banged down (the noise I heard) and it was over.  Apparently springs exploded and tracks are bent.  Luckily all our cars were in the driveway so while I knew I would need to get it repaired if i wanted to park inside this winter I kept my focus on getting heat in the house.  I can only worry about one thing at a time.

But then it happened.  It snowed.  And we realized something.  The plow is in the garage!  John and Jake did manage to get the garage door up and the plow out but then I heard another loud bang and John assures me it will not be going up again.  Frankly it barely went up in the winter anyway, I often had to get out of my car and help it along.  I sure hope my running into the garage door a couple times doesn't have anything to do with it breaking.

Frugal Tip #2: Sale at Menard's

I was looking on Craig's List for garage doors and there are some great deals but John found a new door on sale at Menard's as I was typing this post and we decided to go with it.  Still wondering if Craig's list might be a better way to go but the sale ends today.  Home Store Tip:  They are great about returns.  Buy now, return later.

So to be continued on what we actually end up doing with the garage door.  But wait!  There's more...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Never a Dull Moment

It was a regular day like any other.  A Tuesday.  And I came home from work just like usual.  John had dinner almost ready and I headed straight to my room to change into regular clothes.  As I was walking back to our room I made some comment about it being really cold back there.  It is fall and the temperatures were going back and forth between 30 and 60 each day.  John walks over to the thermostat and says, "that's not good."  Words you never want to hear when your furnace is over 20 years old.

The next day our friendly furnace repairman stops by and long story short red tags our furnace.  In other words, do not even try to turn this thing on.  It is too dangerous.  Suddenly understanding why Isabelle has been having headaches and feeling very blessed by the mild fall weather we have had.

Frugal Tip #1:  Order your furnace online and install it yourself

After talking to a couple friends that installed furnaces themselves we ordered a new one online for ridiculously cheap.  It arrived the Monday after our furnace went out.  Space heaters kept our bedrooms warmer than our furnace ever thought of keeping them during the 6 days in between.

The old furnace used to sit under the hood of this big duct.  John decided to take the opportunity to move it over a few feet and open up the space into the storage/work room.

The official red tag.  Actually still red unlike pink slips and green cards.

I think the look on his face pretty much sums the whole thing up.

Our friend Andy helping move over the gas line.

The new furnace.  Not done, the big vent hood still needs to go over the back.  John is at Home Depot as we speak.

And these wires are still hanging in the location of the old furnace.  Somehow thinking that isn't very safe.  But the house is nice and toasty warm and we are all breathing deeper confident the air is safe with our new CO detectors checking things out for us.

New problem:  These chairs used to be in the location where the new furnace now sits.  I see a storage room cleaning/organizing/rearranging coming on soon...

But that is not all, Oh no, that's not all.  Tune in tomorrow for the continuing saga...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New Direction

In my mind I always think I am going to plan, prepare and get all the I's dotted and T's crossed before I roll any new thing out.  But lets be honest.  I am totally impulsive and I go flying ahead without fully planning it out.  And while the other way might work well for some people this "learn and adjust as I go" method is what I know.  So here we go again.

I have been thinking a lot about what kind of web site I would like to create, many ideas have come to mind but the one that has stuck is the one most relevant to my life right now.  Transitioning from homemaker to working mom.  After doing a tiny amount of research I can assure you there is next to nothing on the subject out there.  Of course with 6 big months of working full time under my belt I am hardly an expert so I have been dismissing this idea for a couple  months but now that my brain is sort of starting to work again I have decided to tackle the topic.

I started a new blog over at here to discuss all the ups and downs, trials and errors of transitioning from homemaker to working mom and all the details that  need to be re-learned now that I work.  Intro post up, more to come.  Actually I will probably just re-write a few of the posts I have done here to start with while I do a little, teeny, tiny about of planning about what I want to write.

In the mean time I guess this will go back to being my blog for family stuff and any othe random thoughts that come to my brain.  In the past couple weeks I have really started to feel like my old self.  Which is good and bad, suddenly I am talking a lot more at work, which is bad, I don't have a good filter on my mouth sometimes.  But I also feel like I am started to re-engage at home and with friends and family more, which is good.

We have lots going on over here lately so I will try to write up a couple more posts today to publish while I am working this week.  Sorry to leave you hanging on the same post all of last week.

OH and while creating my new blog I discovered a new blog feature, email.  Now you can get my blogs emailed to your home.  How exciting!  I have a couple friends who have told me they will not go online to read my blog but if I emailed it to them they will. (These friends don't do facebook either.  Who are these people???) So I am totally signing them up!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Tomato Soup Incident

My favorite blogger I don't know in real life is over at Blue Cotton Memory.  If I was ever driving through Tennessee and had even an inkling of where she lived I would totally drive out of my way to cruise past her house like a crazed fan taking pictures and saying to whoever I dragged with on my adventure, "Look it's Blue Cotton Memory's house!  Can you believe it?!"

Have I every told you I am secretly a stalker?

Amazingly enough, she actually reads and likes my blog too, which really makes me feel special, and recently she gave me this award:

She likes me, she really likes me!  Thanks Blue Cotton Memory!  So maybe if I see her wave our her door when I am cruising by I will actually stop instead of speeding off in embarrassment.

Of course there are a few rules to go with this award:

1. Thank the person who gave you this award.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!

4. Contact the bloggers you’ve picked and let them know about the award.

OK first one done.

Next, 7 things about myself:

1. I am a stalker.  I shared it earlier in the post but can I still count it as one of my 7 things?

2. I desperately miss having time to sit and do my nails every week.  I actually lost this when Isabelle was born.  I used to sit down every Tuesday night, turn on Gilmore Girls and do my nails.  French Manicure, the only way to go.  I was at a mommy play date with a couple other new mom's a few months after Isabelle was born and mentioned this thinking I would get an "amen" but instead got blank stares from
the only 2 women I know who don't ever do their nails.
3. I am currently reading "Walden; or, Life in the Woods" by Thoreau and loving it.  I actually did a post a while back called, "the cabin in the woods" about how I always wished I lived alone in a cabin in the woods and initially referenced Walden Pond when I wrote it but then was afraid that my understanding of what Walden Pond and Thoreau was about might be wrong since I had never actually read it so i took it out.  I didn't want anyone to find out I just make stuff up most of the time.  But now that I have read it I really wish I had left it in because it is exactly what I was thinking and it would have made me look so smart.  I might have to go back and add it in case someone reads back several months and comes upon it.
4.  I want to write a book by the time John finishes school.  6 years should be enough time, assuming I can come up with a topic and actually start writing it.  Suggestions?  I might shortened the goal simply to getting published somewhere, anywhere.  Suggestions?
5. I used to sell Mary Kay when I was younger and although I am not clear I made money for anything other than paying for my own product, the sales training I received was so fantastic I would say I literally use some aspect of it virtually every day.  OK maybe not every day but monthly?  Everyone should sell something for a time in their lives which is why I am so glad my son is selling Cutco knives right now even though I am not clear he is making any money.
6. I do not craft.  I am not crafty, I do not like gluing little things on other things.  I am not really that neat and not a perfectionist so my crafts usually come out looking like, well...crafts.  And then they sit around my house taking up space because I don't really have a crafty decorating style and then finally I throw them away because I am not a hoarder and I hate keeping stuff around that stares at me and calls out my ineptitude.  But then I am frustrated that I wasted the time and money on it.  So I don't craft.
7. Today at lunch I put soup on the stove and walked away, my husband found it at a rolling boil spitting tomato soup all over the kitchen while I was skyping with my sister.  This is not the first time I have been distracted like that.  I  have boiled all the water out of a pan, boiled noodles to the bottom of a pan and started an oil fire after leaving oil heating in a wok for an undisclosed amount of time.  And right now I have water on to boil for my daughter's mac and cheese lunch which I am feeding her at 4pm because her and her friend have been playing together all day and this is the first moment either of them have commented on being hungry.  I wanted to say it was time for the friend (who lives just a couple houses down) to go home but then I realized her parents might find out that I have had her here since 10am and never fed her lunch.  So I have to feed her before I can send her home.  And hopefully I will finish this post, or get up from the computer, before the water boils off.  I better go check it right now...yep it was boiling.  Added the noodles so I have, what, 5 minutes?
OK now the hard part.  I am supposed to pass this award on to 15 bloggers I have recently discovered and think are fantastic.  Well, if you read this blog you know that I am not doing much new these days and so I have not had time to discover new blogs I love, although I really would like to spend some time finding a few.  SO here are the blogs I do read regularly that I really do love.  Because at this point in my life if I didn't love them I wouldn't bother.
1.  My Asian Life
2. The Pile I'm Standing In

3. So Much to say, So little Time

4. Just Breathe

5. Chasing Inspiration

6. Aslan's Library

7. Gegenwart Bewaltigung

OK that is it.  Every blog I know.  I do read a few other blogs but either only on the rare occasion that they post (you know who you are) or they are read by so many I didn't know if they would even notice the award so I am not including them.  I guess this award is reminding me to go out and find some more blogs.  I love to be inspired by the various people and topics out there and need to work that back into my life sometime.

So  now I am off to let them all know about my award to them.

(By the way, you will be happy to know I did manage to get the noodles off the stove before all the water was gone and my daughter and her friend have been fed lunch.  Now what do you think we should have for dinner?)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Where is my mini me?

17-1/2 years ago I gave birth to my sweet baby boy.  From that moment on I have endeavored to teach him about the world, instill in him a strong faith and values.  As I have grown up along with him I have tried to teach him the lessons I was learning so he would not make the mistakes I made.  In short I have been working very hard for 17+ years to create a perfect version of myself.

So you can imagine my surprise to realize as he begins this final march toward adulthood that he has a mind of his own, that he wants to make his own choices, learn from his own mistakes and do things in ways I would not necessarily choose to do.  It is almost as if he thinks he is an independent individual with a free will of his own.  What is up with that?

But I think about my own parents and how I have, at every turn, done it different.  And how my mom often has said over the years something to the affect of, "we have stopped questioning what John and Melanie are doing."  Because they have come to see that while we have done it different, we haven't necessarily done it wrong.  I can't tell you how much I have appreciated their support over the years, especially now as we look at Jake and realize he is probably going to do a lot of things different than us and see how much we need to trust him, trust what we have taught him and trust the Lord as he goes forward.

Parenting does not get easier.

Just saying.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Melanie's Must Read List #3

For several years I sort of stalked a book at Barnes and Noble called "Home Comforts: The Art and Science of keeping a home" by Cheryl Mendelson.  I loved the idea of the book, loved to glance through it but did not love the price.  Even when it went on clearance I was too cheap to buy it.  Then Martha Stewart came out with "Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook: The essential Guide to caring for everything in your home."  It was even more expensive.  But I was in a homemaking zone one year and put them both on the Christmas list.  I got the Martha book as a gift and found Home Comforts at a used book store for a price I could live with and then I had both. 

(Hey I suddenly realized I could be getting pictures of my favorite books to put on these posts.  I am smart like that.)

They are both about 2 inches thick and while they have similar information they are totally different books.  The Homekeeping Handbook is written in Martha's usual detailed, informative, high brow style and has lots of photos of her various homes.  The Home Comforts book is more well...comfortable.  Its style is more like your grandmother's advice, which makes sense since the writer learned to care for her home from her two grandmothers.

I just love reading about housekeeping.  While I am hardly a great housekeeper, I call it the "illusion of clean", I like to know what to do when inspiration hits.  It helps keep the dirt and grime at bay.  Every spring and fall I think about and read lists for seasonal cleaning.  They are so entertaining.  Sometimes I actually do a couple things on the list.

Mixed in with all the tips for keeping a house is some of the history behind why we do what we do or why our grandmothers did what they did and I find that to be the best parts of these books.  It really gives me an appreciation for how hard the women before me worked and how blessed I am with something as simple and basic as a washing machine or a clean burning furnace.  I don't have to spend an entire day hand washing and drying my family's clothes and I am not left with a layer of soot over the entire house when winter comes to an end.

Now that I have read them both, I actually have read the Home Comforts book twice, they just sit as reference guides on my shelf.  Just a couple months ago it came out when Jake needed to iron his kilt.  "Mom, could you show me how to iron pleats?"  No problem I told him.  Of course I didn't really know if there was a trick or not so I just lead him to Martha's book, it was the one closest to us, and looked up pleats in the index, turned to the page and discovered a very simple method for ironing pleats.  I did have to explain to him what an ironing cloth was and then he was off to iron perfect pleats back into his kilt.

Definitely going on housewarming list for when he gets his first apartment.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

the big sister

Isabelle's new little sister is a little over a week old and we got to have our first visit with her the other day.  Isabelle was so excited she got a little crazy but not so crazy that she didn't forget to memorialize the moment.  She pulled out my camera and took a picture of Scarlet all dressed up and ready for church.  I love that you can see her in the corner taking the picture.

Their first picture together.  She is loving being a big sister.

Monday, November 7, 2011

What is your hypothesis?

One of the indulgences that is keeping us going now that I work is delivered groceries.  The frozen stuff comes packed in dry ice gets turned into a fun family activity practically every time.  This week Isabelle kept insisting we add food coloring.  Finally Jake says, "why what is your hypothesis?"  Without missing a beat Isabelle responds, "My hypothesis is that if we add food coloring to the water when we add the dry ice the smoke will be a different color."

So now we had to do the experiment.

We used blue and while the water looked great the smoke was still white.

Holding up the dry ice.

If you hold your hand over the smoke and then quickly pull up it follows you.

We added a little dish soap and it quickly bubbled up.  The smoke is inside every bubble making them fun to pop.

Just another fun filled evening at the Hardackers.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Am I busy?

I am feeling so good about working these days.  I know I just had a rebellious breakdown a little over a week ago but every breakdown seems to be a break through to more contentment and peace about working.  I still think about trying to start a business and I still think the work environment is a weird/unnatural social structure to navigate within but I am feeling better about working, trusting my husband to do some of the things I used to do and just relax in my new role.

This week I was thinking about the word "busy".  I hate this word.  I hate when people give the excuse of "busy" to not do something. I may have blogged about this before because my hate of this word has existed long enough that it may have warranted a post in the past.  However, in my new life I have new thoughts on the word so I am re-visiting the thought.

I must admit that I was seriously considering re-thinking my feelings toward the word busy after I started working.  I thought I was busy when I was at home but now working I was appreciating the word in a whole new light.  NOW I am busy.  Or am I?

Now that I am working I have to "do it all" and since that is impossible I really must be busy.  When I was at home I had all day long to do whatever I wanted and while my days did fill up quickly with parenting and homemaking I had plenty of time to help out with ministries at church, in Jake's class and with John's business, etc.  I kept busy but was I actually busy?

However, I have been releasing so many tasks and emotional distractions from my life now that I practically have nothing to do except work.  So am I really that busy right now?

It really is about a readjustment of priorities.  My family is my priority.  Now that I am working I have to be even more intentional about prioritizing them than when I was at home.  And some days that can look like doing nothing, just spending the evening at home watching tv but being present.  Right now in my "release" stage of life we are all getting used to my being home less and them doing more around the house.  But as this schedule becomes our new normal I am starting to see where I might have a little time for something else in my life.  Not today but definitely in my near future.

So am I really more busy now that I am working?  Well, yes and no.  I don't have nearly as much time in which to accomplish things but that is not to say I have no free time.  I am still have my evenings and weekends almost completely free.

I think people use the excuse of "busy" when what they really mean is "I am not willing to prioritize this into my life".    Busy to me is the word you use when you aren't organized or in control of your schedule and you are overwhelmed by life.  Yes or No is what you say when you understand your priorities, what your schedule looks like and how the requested time commitment will affect that schedule.

So right now I am intentionally in a phase of life where I am saying No.  I am spending my time learning how to fit work into my life while still prioritizing my family and re-defining all our roles in caring for our home and each other.  It is coming together, we are all falling into our new roles and learning to be aware of places we can help.  Some of us are learning this skill better than others (Jake?  Isabelle?  You out there?  Can you give us a hand?) but overall it is coming together nicely.

So as I sit at my desk thinking of the business I would rather be running, the ministry I want to lead or the school field trip I would like to go on I can see the light at the end of this transitional tunnel we are in and know that eventually I will be able to work the word Yes back into my vocabulary.

For now I will continue to say "No" rather than "I'm too busy" because everyone is busy, I am just controlling how I spend my time.