Sunday, November 30, 2014

I have been given today.

I have been given today. It's a gift. A gift that I slowly unwrap moment after moment, minute after minute, hour after hour. Somedays I tear through my gift without a thankful heart. I sit angry, hurt and bitter, because I fail to see that the painful trial of that day isn't meant to drag me down, but to make me stronger. Like the irritation of a tiny speck of sand inside the mouth of an unsuspecting clam, my day, my irritating hard day, is actually the start of a beautiful pearl forming. My sweet Jesus just sits and smiles, and even giggles as His daughter toils and turns. As she fights her way into what seems like freedom, wishing, hoping, praying that it would get better or be easier. Little does she know, little do I know, that the process, the pain, the turmoil, the trial, is making me into her; the beautiful clam that turn a piece of sand into a pearl. I am His daughter, and His creation. I was made for His glory, made for His pleasure, and made as a display of His splendor.

So if you find me amidst a day that I am tearing through, consumed with my life and my list and my trials, remind me about the pearl that Jesus is creating in me, and I promise to do the same for you.

Until next time.....

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving

I'm giving myself a challenge. I want to think of 50 things that I am thankful for. I'm sure that some will be serious and some will be silly, but I want to be a woman with a thankful heart, and today is Thanksgiving, so here I go.......

1. I am thankful for my salvation. Having a relationship with the living God has radically changed my life, and I would not be who I am today if it weren't for the love of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son and the council of the Holy Spirit.

2. I am thankful for my husband. Brent has been my "lobster" for over 20 years. For those of you who don't know, that is a Friends reference. He is kind and loving, he is a great provider, and he is truly my best friend. He has seen the worst in me and he has called out the best. He always has my back, and although he is in my corner, he is never afraid to say the hard things to me. I am a better woman because he is my man.

3. I am thankful for my Mackenzie. My oldest daughter is almost indescribable. She is breathtakingly beautiful, she is driven, she is smart, and she reliable. She loves people well, she loves God and she is a blessing to those who call her friend.

4. I am thankful for my Sydney. My incredible middle child has gone from being a beautiful little girl who was a bit of a tom boy, to a stunning young woman who has fully embraced her femininity. She is elegant and graceful. She is artistic and focused. She loves to help me in the kitchen, and I am certain that her culinary abilities will far surpass mine someday soon.

5. I am thankful for my baby girl Colleen. I have always called Colleen my gift from God. When we thought that our family was complete, God had other plans in mind. He took two controlling first borns and gave us the wonderful gift of a spunky, creative, prophetic third baby. She challenges every absolute statement that we have ever made in our lives, and her life has caused us to grow in ways that we never thought possible. She is compassionate, loving and full of life. She is passionate and larger then life. We can't imagine life without her.

6. I am thankful for my sister.  My sister and I are only 21 months apart, but we are very very different. We love each other deeply and make each other crazy all at the same time. We have our own special language that only the two of us understand, with the exception of our Swedish sister Maria. (She is a whole different thing I'm thankful for.) When my sister prays for me, I can't explain it, but something shifts in the supernatural. It's fantastic!! I am truly thankful for my sister.

7. I am thankful for my dad. My dad is an amazing man. He has taught me the value of hard work and the joy of generosity. The older I get the more I realize how much I am like him. Many try to avoid being like one of their parents, but I am lucky to be like my daddy. A few years ago he asked me out on a date for the first time. Even in my 30's, I was like a little girl, filled with joy because my daddy wanted to take me out on a date. We went to dinner and he took me shopping. It was one of my favorite nights. Since then, he takes both me and my sister out on a date every year at Christmas time. My date is coming up soon, and I'm thankful for that too. This year has been extra busy, so I asked my dad out on an extra date. He didn't let me pay, but we enjoyed out time catching up and enjoying a beautiful California evening in November. I love my daddy and I'm thankful he's mine.

8. I am thankful for my mom. My mom and I are very different. I spent most of my young life making her crazy and hurting her deeply. Still, she loved me. Still, she hoped for the best for me. Still, she supported me. I'll never forget when I fell in love with my mommy. I was only 23 when I had my first baby. I was a baby myself, but being the oldest daughter, I could totally handle this new adventure/challenge on my own. Yeah right!! My mom was right there to take care of me. She made me meals, held the baby when I needed to sleep, and always told me that I was doing a good job. Since then, she has continued to shower me and my family with generous love and support. She is always there when I need her and she sacrificially cares for us to this day. My girls adore her, and she has taught them the value of generosity. My mom worked until one year ago this month. This year has been quite a transition after 40+ years of working, but my mom is finding her way. She is taking care of herself in a way I have never seen before. She is gaining strength because she needs that to do what brings her joy. She loves to serve and take care of others. I am so thankful for my mommy.

9. I am thankful for my in-laws. How many people can say that?? For the last 20+ years they have loved me well. I was 17 years old when I was introduced to them as their sons girlfriend, and at 17 years old, I was far from the woman that I am today. Despite my intense dominate personality, my loud and crazy verbal processing's, and the poor choices I had made in the past, they chose to love me for who I am. They continued their love as we had 3 babies in three years, moved 3 times, and engaged in different business adventures. They pray for us faithfully and encourage us lovingly. I am so blessed by my in-laws.

10. I am thankful for grandparents. It is crazy to me how many people my age do not have any living grandparents. Yet my children have grown up with 3 great grandmas and 2 great grandpas plus 2 sets of grandparents. All with intact marriages, and only separated by death. Each one has made a permanent mark on not only our lives, but the lives of our children. Although we lost Grandma Miller last year, Grandpa Miller turned 100 and became a great great grandpa this year. They have each left a legacy and memories that will be passed down for generations to come.

11. I am thankful for extended family. Unique is the only way to describe my family. When I say my family I mean both mine and Brent's extended families. Truthfully, I am just thankful that we have extended family. So many people don't have any let alone second and third cousins and great aunts. We are truly blessed to have such a great extended family.

12. I am thankful for my friends. In regards to my friends, I have more to say then would be appropriate on this blog. Each person that the Lord has brought into my life during different seasons has been an incredibly important part of my journey as a wife, mother and woman of God. I have been blessed beyond measure, and I am so incredibly thankful to each of my friends who have loved me well and taught me much through all of the crazy seasons of my life. If you are reading this, you know who you are. :0)

13. I am thankful for the Word of God. This is my manual for life. It is my love letter from the Lord. It's the lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path. The Lord teaches me as I study and the Holy Spirit encourages me with it by singing scripture to me as I need encouragement. It helps me make wise choices, and draws me closer to my Maker. I love studying it, reading it, sining it and meditating on it. I love God's Word.

14. I am thankful for my house. It keeps us warm at night, provides us shelter and holds many memories.

15.  I am thankful for hot showers.  No explanation needed.

16. I am thankful for yummy smells. They make me happy.

17. I am thankful for girl time. A quick cup of coffee or a glass of wine with a girlfriend is a wonderful way to recharge my mom/wife batteries.

18. I am thankful for Francine Rivers. She is my favorite author of all time.

19. I am thankful for living in California. Although expensive housing is very frustrating, being 15 min. from the beach and less then 2 hours from the dessert, mountains and rivers is a huge plus.

20. I am thankful for home schooling. I have home schooled my children for the last 10 years. It has been both hard and rewarding. I am thankful for the freedom to be a home school parent and to not have to hide from the government.

21. I am thankful for worship. Worshiping God is one of my favorite things. To get lost in the presence of the Lord, singing and dancing and praising Him. I am so thankful for the freedom I have to do that.

22. I am thankful for transition seasons. These seasons can be very very hard, yet they tend to build my faith and trust in the Lord.

23. I am thankful for dance. All three of my girls dance competitively. They are all beautiful dancers, but what I love is that dance taps into a different emotional place for each one of them. Seeing each one of them grow in this skill from year to year has been wonderful.

24. I am thankful for books. We love to take adventures together as a family through books. Then we all have our own adventures on our own as well. My favorite is when I am reading a book that my sister or my friends are reading so that we can all have a fun adventure together.

25. I am thankful for Classical Conversations. This is a home school program that I found a couple of years ago and we have been so blessed to be a part of such well thought out, intentional, and equipping program.

26. I am thankful for yummy fruit.  There is nothing better tasting then a fresh picked ripe piece of fruit. YUM!!

27. I am thankful for my couch. This is my favorite napping spot. Not that I get to do that very often, but when I do it's wonderful.

28. I am thankful for the sun. As long as it's not too hot, I love to sit outside and soak up the sun. It totally recharges my batteries. My favorite thing is to sit outside with a cup of coffee and my bible study. Ohhhhhhh yeah......I am really thankful for that.

29. I am thankful for my health. Sometimes I hurt, and sometimes I'm sick, but all of the time I can walk and talk and sing and dance. I'm not stuck in a bed or fighting for my life. I am very thankful for my health.

30. I am thankful for my husband's job. Brent is a very hard worker and he likes to learn new things. He has been in law enforcement for 14 years, and he is devoted everyday to doing his best. Some seasons are harder then others, but I am truly thankful for his job.

31. I am thankful for my dad's business. My dad owns a party rental business. Therefore, parties in our family are unlike any other. My dad is coming up on his 30th anniversary. I am so proud of his success. But, what this means is that I have had 30 years of being very spoiled when it comes to party planning. I am very thankful for his business.

32. I am thankful for wise council. It is hard to accept that we have blind spots. These are things in our lives that we don't see, but that will bite us in the butt if we are not careful. Before you can seek wise council from those who can see your blind spots, you have to actually let people in to the deeper places of your heart. This means being vulnerable. This is not easy but very important. I am thankful for the people that I can trust to be my wise council.

33. I am thankful for a vehicle that works/that we have two cars. You don't realize how much you drive until your car breaks down and you need to share a car. I am very thankful for my car.

34. I am thankful for vacations. I realized this year that vacationing is a value system for our family. My dad has always worked so much that the only time we were able to spend real quality time with him was on vacation. Now as an adult woman, I realize how much I value taking time away in order to really be present with the people I love. I am practicing being present in my everyday life, however, there is something special that happens inside of me when we travel. So, I have realized that we will never have a big house, fast cars, or lots of stuff, because we have chosen to spend our money on fun adventures, sweet relaxation, and lasting memories. I am very thankful for vacations.

35. I am thankful for Costco. This probably sounds weird, but when we were young and very poor, we use to go on dates at Costco. We could have dinner for under $5 and then we would walk around and talk and look at all of the fun things that we couldn't afford. Now we go there on cheep dates with our kids, and sometimes it's just a great family outing.

36. I am thankful for the new Target shopping center. It is such a great center and it is within walking distance from my house. It's great exercise and there are so many fun shops and restaurants for us to enjoy.

37. I am thankful for Anti-Gravity yoga. I wish that I could do it more, but it is so much fun to work hard, hang upside down and get your body reset. I think that it is the greatest workout for my body.

38. I am thankful for texting. I don't love that you can't read someone's tone, but I do feel like emoji's cover over a multitude of miscommunications. lol Texting is fun and it's a great way to communicate something quickly. Although, if you are in "I" like me, (from the DISC profile) your texts tend to be pages long. ROTFL

39. I am soooooooo THANKFUL for my swedish sister Maria. It is killing me that I did not write this until #39, however I did mention her before. I am so thankful for the foreign exchange program and that 20 years ago Maria became a forever part of our family. She is as much a sister to me as my own biological sister. Somehow, although her technical home is in Sweden, she has been apart of every major event and memory in our lives. There isn't anything that we talk about that she doesn't know about. She gets our crazy humor and she is just as crazy as we are. She has made me the auntie of two beautiful little pumpkins, and I can't imagine my life without her. I love and miss her terribly.

40. I am thankful for surprises. I LOVE surprises. I am not often surprised because I tend to see things that may not seem obvious to some. I have learned to completely shut down that part of myself at Christmas time, because I always figure out what my gifts are well before Christmas. Not because I am trying or I mean to, but just one random seemingly harmless comment will unravel what I am getting. I don't know why, it just happens that way. I have now forbid my family for even telling me that they went shopping, because I really really want to be surprised. I love unexpected surprises.

41. I am thankful for the people the Lord has given me to disciple. I have been working with the youth for over 8 years. High school, college, young marrieds. Every season looks different, but I am so thankful that the Lord has allowed me to learn so much from these amazing people. Although it may seem at first that I am there to help them grow in their walk with the Lord and in life, truthfully each one of them has helped me to grow. I truly love each one, and it has been an honor to walk through life with them.

42. I am thankful for IFF. IFF is a co-op that my girls and I are involved in. Identity, Freedom and Fascination. The goal of this group is to call out the greatness of God in His created. We are all made in the image of God. We have all been created with a plan and a purpose. We also have an enemy who's mission is to thwart the plans that God has for our lives. Every semester is different, every year is different. We seek the Lord for what He has for us to teach/learn. We worship, we pray, we love each other well, and we learn and grow. Week after week, year after year we love and learn and grow. It's beautiful.  

43. I am thankful for freedom. This is something that I think we take for granted. We have lived in a free country for so long we have become entitled instead of thankful. I'm thankful for the men and women who train and fight so that our country can be free. I'm thankful for the men and women who pray and intercede so that our country stays free. I am thankful that I am free to be who the Lord has created me to be.

44. I am thankful for the food that I am going to get to eat tonight. You all know what I'm talking about.

45. I am thankful for family traditions. My family tradition is that we have a family bake day the weekend before Christmas. My grandma, my sister, cousins, my aunts and my kids all descend on my mom and dad's house. My mom is so patient and amazing. She opens her home up for this crazy event every year. My aunt Velma and my Grandma tend to man the sink, faithfully cleaning all of the dishes, while the rest of us proceed to bake enough to feed an army. By the end of the day we all fall on the couch and enjoy a family game before everyone goes back home. It's a wonderful family tradition that I hope to carry on for many years to come.

46. I am thankful for the people who always work behind the scenes making sure that everything goes on without a hitch. These are the people that no one knows about, yet events would never happen without them. They are the quiet warriors that make us extraverted influencers look good. I am sooooooo thankful for the love and hard work of these people, both those in my life, and those that I don't even know. You are the true superstars.

47. I am thankful for crockpots. My crockpot is my friend, and some nights is the only reason that my family each well.

48. I am thankful for creative people. Creative people make the world beautiful. With paintings, architecture, sculptures, jewelry, designs, landscaping, the sky is the limit. These people bless the world with their creativity.

49. I am thankful for music. Music moves my heart like nothing else. It is the one thing that can change my mood in an instant. I use it to memorize, express emotion, or to just have fun. Music is a priceless blessing to the world.

50. I am thankful for love.  Without love we are nothing. We are useless noise makers. We need love to survive and to feel alive. We need love to drive us to do impossible things, and to stop when we want to keep going. We need love so that we can focus on someone else more then we focus on ourselves. We need love, because God is love, and without Him, we are nothing.

There you have it!! The top 50 things that I am thankful for right now. I'm sure that I could come up with 50 more, but it's time to get ready for our family dinner. My prayer is that all of those who I know and love have a very Happy Thanksgiving, and that those that I don't know yet would be blessed beyond measure today.

Until next time.......


Monday, November 24, 2014

Dreams

Somebody asked me the other day, "Have you written anything lately?"

I stopped for a minute, almost embarrassed, because I had seriously forgotten that I was a writer. Somehow, somewhere in the last year and a half, I have lost that piece of myself. It's not even that it has been a longing that I just haven't made time for, I have completely lost that dream for myself.

God has been speaking to me quite a bit about dreams lately. Not literal while you are sleeping dreams, but the dreams that He has placed inside of me. Recently, when I was first challenged to write down my dreams, I was forced to open a door that I had unknowingly shut, for a long time. For me, my life long dream was to become a wife and a mother. At the age of 22 I was a wife. At the age of 23, I was a mother. Life long dream....check. After that, I had aspirations and goals, but never dreams. Finally, when I was 26, the Lord asked me to write a bible study about becoming the Proverbs 31 Woman in the 21st century. I of course laughed at him and asked the famous question, "Really???? Me Lord???" But taking that journey with the Lord unlocked a new dream inside of me. A dream to make a difference in other peoples lives through writing. A dream to inspire, motivate and educate others for the glory of God.  That was my dream, and up until a few days ago, I had completely forgotten about it.

So what now?? That is what I am asking the Lord. So what now Lord? One thing that I have discovered is that if we have a dream, the Lord gave it to us. And if we have a dream, the Lord has a plan for us. So here I am, reminded once again to lean into the Lord, to hand Him my dreams, and to let Him lead. Life always works out better when He is in charge.

What's your dream? Have you forgotten? Are there new dreams that are yet to be unlocked?
I encourage you to ask the Author of Days and the Giver of Dreams to show you what His dreams are for you.

Until next time..............






Monday, March 11, 2013

Beauty Within

There is an old saying, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I take this to mean that beauty is subjective. What one person thinks is lovely, another might think otherwise. Still, no matter how beautiful one person, or even many people might make you feel, it only takes one voice to make you doubt. One awful, critical voice that tell you that you're not good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough. In most cases it would be fairly easy to cut that negative person out of your life, who needs toxic people anyway. But what happens, when that critical voice is hidden inside of you? What happens when every time you look in the mirror, you see imperfection. What happens when your jeans fit a little too tight and you think that everyone around you, "thinks your fat." What happens when you talk too much, too loud, or unfiltered and you wonder, "why did I do or say that?" You can't get away from that voice. The funny thing is, that voice tells you that you are the only one who struggles, and that all of your friends have it together.

Here is the wonderful truth......there is another Voice. His is the voice of truth, and He tells a different story. He tells us that our beauty should not come from outward adornments, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of our inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. WOW! Is that not the complete opposite of what the media, Hollywood and advertisers tell us. Wear this and everyone will think you're gorgeous. Do this "Hollywood diet" and you will look like a movie star.  Still time and time again, we end up feeling empty, unattractive, and alone with "the voice."

In the book of Luke, Jesus claimes to be the fulfillment of the Isaiah 61 prophecy.
                     The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me 
                    to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 
                    to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
                    to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, 
                    to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion.
Salvation belongs to our God!! This it to wonderful to not shout AMEN!!

But, the part that comes next, that's what really gets to me.
                      He cameto bestow on us a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of 
                    joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. 
                   His Word says that WE will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD 
                   for the display of his splendor.

Did you catch that??? Jesus came to "bind up" our broken hearts. We are free because He ransomed us. In place of the ugly shackles of death, we have been given a "crown of beauty" by the Maker of the Universe. He has anointed us with the oil of joy. We no longer have the come into agreement with that ugly spirit of despair. And check it out, when we come face to face with our Lord and Savior, we will be called Oaks of Righteousness. He has planted us, YOU AND ME, for the display of His splendor. 

So, when that ugly voice comes creeping into your thoughts, tell it,  "Sorry, I am a beautiful princess, crowned by the King and put on display for all to see." Truth is right, and it will win every time. Walk in that truth my friend, and remind your friends from time to time who they really are. They might just need to hear it. 

That's all for tonight.

Blessings,
Jennifer


 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

When God speaks in stereo

Have you ever experienced the phenomenon that I like to call, "God talking to you in stereo"? This has happened to me on many occasions where I will hear the same topic talked about in church, on christian talk radio, at bible study, and it may even be a topic randomly brought up by a friend.  Currently I am experiencing such "stereo",  but it is a topic unlike any before. It's on the topic of abortion.

Now, abortion has been a hot topic in the Christian community for a long time, but I have never been more aware of this issue then I am right now. Interestingly enough, it wasn't even me who identified the "stereo", but it was my husband Brent who brought it to my attention. His comment regarding this made me realize two things. One, that my husband really listens to me when I ramble on about my day. And two, I need to seek the Lord and open my heart for what He is preparing me for.

Although I have never had an abortion, I know many women who have. I probably know several women who have had an abortion and who have never told me, or for that matter anyone. Tonight I sat and prayed with my three beautiful girls for the thousands of women who live with regret and shame over the decisions that they've made in this regard. We prayed for the young girls who are currently finding themselves contemplating this possibility. We prayed for the healing of broken hearts, broken bodies, and broken spirits.

I am so thankful that we have a Redeemer who is close to the broken hearted. He saves those who are crushed in spirit. I'm so thankful that even in our darkest hour we can trust in Him instead of leaning on our own understanding.  You see topics like this force me to become increasingly aware of the fact that every decision that we make effects more people then we know. Our joy, our pain, our laughter, our tears......our choices, they effect people.  When we say things like, "It's my life, I'm not hurting anyone else.", that is simply NOT true.  Doing drugs, getting drunk, having sex outside of marriage, gossiping, watching porn, lying, having an abortion; these things effect the lives of everyone around us.

I'm not sure where the Lord is leading me on this journey we call life, or why this difficult topic keeps coming my way, but I am commited to learning from my mistakes, to growing as I go, and to tuning in when the Lord is speaking to me in stereo. He has promised to never leave me nor forsake me, so, I'm holding on tight, ready to go where He leads.

Lead on sweet Lord, lead on.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Shifting Gears

Have you ever had one of those days, when you think that you know what direction that you are headed, and then all of a sudden something happens that makes you rethink everything? The funny thing is, if I really think about it, it's not as if this one thing is really the center of it all. The Lord speaks to us gently, slowly, preparing us for change, but we don't always see the writing on the wall until it is right in front of us screaming, "This is it!!!"  Still, it's not always easy to switch gears.  Some things are easier than others. Truthfully, when it's just me, I can generally switch gears on a dime. But when it effects my kids or my husband, well, that's another story.

So, today I am seeking wisdom. Wisdom from the Lord, wisdom from my friends, and at some point, I hope to be able to process with and seek wisdom from my amazing husband. Tonight I wait, seek and listen for the still small voice of the Lord. He is generous and trustworthy to lead me where I need to go. He knows my needs and the needs of my children. Jesus says in Matthew, "Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." I want that!!! Whatever decisions I make and whatever gears I need to shift, I want His yoke. I want to learn from my gentle Savior. In Him there is rest. In Him there is not fear of "messing up", or "choosing wrong".

I guess in the end there is this. Thank you Lord for this day. Thank you for the opportunity to trust you. Thank you for the freedom to choose but for the desire to seek direction. I am open to your leading, so lead away.  AMEN!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Parenting is hard

As the mother of three tween (one almost teen) girls, there are days when I'm not sure that I'm going to survive their journey to adulthood. Don't get me wrong, my girls are wonderful, sweet amazing girls who love Jesus and who are growing daily in their walk. BUT......they are kids. They fight, they talk back, they don't clean their rooms, and they leaves messes wherever they go. I think that sometimes I forget that I am a parent. Kids don't come out of the womb perfect. They don't know how to run and jump and skip unless we teach them, and they certainly don't know how to make a batch of cookies just because they've watched you do it a million times. Still, I forget. I need to teach them to be good to each other. I need to shepherd them through social trials and insecure moments. When I say, what were you thinking, and they say, "I don't know!", that's most likely the truth.

Some days I miss their diaper butts, and their innocent baby teeth smiles, their tiny hands and their sweet short prays. But those wonderful times have passed and new wonderful times have come. We laugh A LOT! We talk about grown up things and they are beginning to really understand. They have their own wonderful and even wise thoughts. They stand in awe of the Creator that we have always taught them about, and they love to serve in His name. We play games, we dance, we sing and we pray. It's wonderful to remember that there is so much good.

As a parent, sometimes I find myself operating out of fear. That maybe the choices that they are making mean that I am not doing a good job. But one day, I had a wonderful friend tell me that kids need a place where they are comfortable to mess up and learn from it. We are training them to be a blessing to the world, not perfect people at home. If they are pefect at home, then most likely they are acting out somewhere. This helped me to realize that when people complimented me on my great kids, that was conformation that I'm doing a good job, instead of making me feel lame because I have great kids and yet I still struggle.

So, I'm still learning not to jump into the mud pit with my girls when they fight. I'm learning that there is so much I still need to teach and not expect them to know. I'm learning that hard days help me to rely on Jesus more. And I'm growing more and more certain and thankful that He will fill in the gaps where I have fallen short.

All of this to say, if you are a parent like me, and somedays you wonder if you will ever survive, remember, you're not alone, you will survie, and you are doing a GREAT JOB!!