Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Bad Parent

I know this awesome mother . . well I know several actually.  But right now I'm just thinking about one in particular.  She has four children as well, but not the same boy to girl ratio as I have.  A few weeks ago she posted on Facebook about being a bad parent.  I never did ask what happened, because it really doesn't matter.  The road of parenthood, and of life for that matter, will always have "bad" choices or behavior moments.
Today, I was feeling like a bad parent.  This was after last night of feeling like a bad parent.  Both of these situations were involving different children.  I apologized to one and not the other.  Because honestly, with one situation, I should have put myself in the corner and calmed down.  But the other situation, I really couldn't predict or control what happened.
So every once in awhile, when I have a bad parent moment, I reflect on more of my bad parenting moments.  Last night, I was not up for this stroll down memory lane because I felt pretty bad.  Today, was ok, because seriously, I didn't know that two hours in to school my child would be falling asleep in class after he slept for over 11 hours last night.  I didn't know he was in that state.  I thought the good night's sleep had maybe reset him a little and he just had a hard time waking up.
In thought of every good parent out there who has bad parent moments, I would like to share.  I can sadly state that I have banged my baby's head on the wall pretty hard, actually I think probably each baby has had this happen because I carried them and I'm a klutz; but there was no brain damage.  I have forgotten to feed people dinner because I wasn't hungry and wasn't paying attention; and no one starved.  My children have left the house in yesterday's clothes without me noticing; and they were fine.  One of my children once drank pop that was in a to-go cup in the garage that had been there for about a month that I hadn't taken care of and got sick; but was fine after about a day.
I have left a to-go cup sit in the garage for about a month and didn't notice it until my child was drinking it and I wondered where it came from; and well, I fell pretty crappy about that one . . . but we all lived.  My children have left for school on occasion without teeth brushed or hair brushed and I didn't notice until we were at the school; but they didn't get kicked out or expelled for bad breath.  I have not paid attention to my own "you can only have a few pieces of candy from your Easter basket" statement and found dozens of wrappers under the couch; but their teeth didn't fall out.  One time I actually spilled my drink, accidentally of course, on to my own child in a restaurant; but the child air-dried and forgot their temporary humiliation after seeing my own remorse.
I try my best.  I screw up.  I apologize.  And I keep trying.  That is what a good parent does.  Those bad parent moments should never define us.  Apologize for them and move on.  Use them to teach that everyone screws up.  Everyone falls down; but it is how you get back up that really matters.
Tonight I am thankful (especially after writing that relatively small list of my collection of mis-haps) that I have some pretty awesome children that I haven't messed up!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


Today I had two school conferences for my darling children.  The middle school conferences were a couple weeks ago.  And I have one more conference tomorrow.
I like hearing who my children are when I'm not around.  As a parent, my hope is that they leave this house and take all the very best of what they are, with them.  I know sometimes when they get home, they bring the worst of what their day was and dump it all out at once.  There are some times that I feel I should bring them home with a zen like calm to help work thru their day.  This is real life and it doesn't always happen that way.  But we work on it.
I sometimes wonder if the day that I'm hearing from my kids' perspective is the day that really happened.  I have two children who are hard on themselves and the reports I hear at school are much better than what my children think I will be hearing.  I love sharing those reports to build up them up!  One day they won't be quite so hard on themselves.
Of course I share all good reports with all the children!  Because all of them need to hear how great they are doing!  They go and they try their best most of the time, and I couldn't be prouder!
Tonight I am thankful for conference time at the school to hear that my children are doing well!  One more conference to go tomorrow and I'll be all caught up on what is going on!  Oh, and yes . . the kids are thankful for spring conference time too because the book fair is going on in the library :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

One More Day!

Holiday time is usually a busy work time for me.  When other appraisers go on vacation, say like for spring break, I accept the extra work that is left behind.  It is my choice, so I'm not complaining!  Some day I will go on vacation as well . . . like when I get a little farther on my D.R. Baby Steps plan.
By the end of last week I had a stack of orders on my desk.  And I have planned and re-planned to make sure that I have everything scheduled right.  BUT, with this influx, I was NOT going to work Easter Sunday!  And I didn't touch any appraisal yesterday!!
Taking a day off right now also meant that this morning, I was up when the alarm told me to get up.  I didn't even hit snooze.  I've been moving right along.  And I thought I had one more report to go before midnight.  I was cruising on that one too.  I checked the website just to make sure I had read the order correctly (my printer is low on toner and I don't want to put the new cartridge in yet . . . because I'm thrifty like that).  Anyway, I hopped on the website and found that this last report is actually due tomorrow!!!  The date was adjusted last week and I never updated my printed off copy!  Hooray!
So tonight, with 15 hours clocked on my timeclock app - that thing is a nice tool and a depressing one - I am thankful that I can call it a night!  Everything is done that needed to be done today.  And I'm off to visit my bed and get some sleep!!  Good Night All!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

I Did It!

In the spring of 1999 I trained to be able to run my first 5k.  Every spare minute I had that wasn't in class or working was spent at the indoor track running.  And when the big day came, I ran the entire way.  I was one of the first ones to finish.  I was so proud.  And I was so thirsty.  There was no water set up yet.  I had to walk all the way back to my dorm to get a drink.  I vowed I would never run another 5k . . .  Well that was a vow I didn't keep.
The point however, is that there was a goal that I wanted my body to reach.  And I trained and trained until my body could reach that goal.
In the past, I was thankful that I could do this.  But I don't think I ever realized the extent of how grateful I should be.  In the past year with thyroid crap, some internal stuff, and lately the torn PCL; I have gained a whole new appreciation for a properly working body.
This morning I was down in my basement gym working out.  I was on the laid back exercise bike for a bit.  Then I moved on to the elliptical.  I was going fine for about 8 minutes, and then there was searing pain in my knee again.  So I stopped and came upstairs.
After our Easter lunch with family, we were back home enjoying the gorgeous weather.  I had this crazy idea to try a bike ride.  I have not successfully tried a regular, upright bike of any kind since before my accident.  And I had already pushed my knee a bit this morning.  But the weather was so enticing, that I just had to try.
I asked the hubster to keep his phone handy in case I couldn't make it back.  The hubster was not in favor of me going.  Fortunately he's used to my stubbornness and he said he'd keep his phone by him.  I took my daughter's bike,  I broke mine last year.  My knee wasn't exactly comfortable feeling, but I made it around the yard ok.  So I went out on the road.  And I was doing it!  I was riding a regular bike!!!
It doesn't sound too special probably.  But it was amazing.  I went about three miles and made it all the way home by myself!  My knee swelled up and I had to elevate it for awhile.  But today wasn't the worst I've been.  So it was totally worth it!
Tonight I am thankful for a wonderful Easter spent with family!  And I am thankful for my own personal Easter miracle of being able to ride a regular bike again!  Here is a proud gal on her bike ride today!

Saturday, March 26, 2016


I noticed the start of Lent.  I heard Easter was coming.  I don't know . . somehow, I just never really expect Easter in March.  Easter is more an April holiday for me.
So yes, I was unprepared.  I had made plans weeks before for Saturday afternoon.  (Thank you to my friend, for letting those reschedule!)  It was Tuesday when I thought to stop at the store and get things for Easter baskets.  It was that day as well that I had the kids bring down the Easter box of decorations.  Not even a whole week before Easter . . . tsk . . tsk . . tsk . . .
I have a collection of Easter movies.  The kids haven't watched any yet.  My favorite is the Veggie Tale Easter Carol.  If you haven't seen it before, I highly recommend it.  It is great for telling children the story of Easter and bringing in the plastic eggs.  We'll watch the Easter movies tomorrow!
We got the eggs colored tonight.  The hubster and Uncle Bill were enlisted to help fill and hide plastic eggs tonight.  And we are ready for the morning!  The kids have instructions not to come down the stairs until at least 7am.
Tonight I am thankful for being ready on time for Easter!  But more than that, I am thankful for the first Easter, which brought about life.  We'll talk with the kids about that tomorrow while we munch on candy :)

Friday, March 25, 2016


Do you ever notice that sometimes the things you should be doing keep getting reminded to you in life?  I have prayed on several occasions for God to please help me see the things that I need to be doing, because I often miss things.
This morning I was reading an article from my favorite Facebook following of Entrepreneur.  The articles are just good to keep myself in the right frame of mind and to keep being encouraged!  Well the part that struck me today was about goal setting.  I've always set goals.  On occasion I've written them down.  And I have different goals, short term, long term, etc.
The article was talking about writing down specific goals by timeline and writing down the plans to get there.  Honestly, I'm not really sure if I've ever written down a whole collection of goals and plans.  I scribble thoughts down sometimes.  I have notebooks and notebooks of scribbles.  I put sticky notes up sometimes to remind myself where I want to be.  But I really don't think I've ever done it quite the way the article suggested.
Then this afternoon I was sitting at CP Federal Credit Union with the girl scouts (by the way I love my credit union!  And they have some awesome programs to educate kids and teens about a variety of money things, budgeting, investing, etc.  And they really care about what they are doing!).  Anyway, I was there and the last worksheet that they handed to the girls was about budgeting goals.  It was to help the girls write out very specifically what their money goals were short term, intermediate, and long term.  Then, there was another section to break down those goals in to smaller pieces . . . like planning for the goals.
Hmmm . . . twice in one day.  Well, I know what I'll be doing this weekend.  I have so many goals and so many plans.  And I'll admit, sometimes they do seem to get a bit tangled.  This is a busy weekend with Easter and all.  But this weekend, I'll be putting pen to paper and planning this all out!  I have faith that this can only lead to good!
Tonight I am thankful for those reminders that God sets up to push us forward and guide us to the next step.  I feel like I've grown so much with so much knowledge about more concrete plans and greater dreams lately.  I'll stay on this path whole-heartedly!  I can't wait to see how far it goes!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

An Instructor

Well, I guess I never made a big announcement or anything . . mostly because it isn't fall, so it doesn't matter a ton.  But, I have taken on a wonderful opportunity with the cheerleading program here for grades 3-8.
I'm excited.  I think we are going to make this an awesome program for the kids!  I have a super talented coach who can do the technical stuff  wonderfully!  I've got some excited kids looking forward to fall!
And . . . those are the positives.  Those are the great things we've got going right now!
The negatives include a collection of mis-matched uniforms that were never planned to accommodate fluctuating girls from year to year.  And no funds to correct this problem.
I met with my super talented technical coach and we made a good plan!  We were talking ideas so long that the hubster called to make sure we were ok :)  And, I've got even more ideas swimming around that I haven't told anyone yet.  They are just swimming around in my brain to see if they get to stay or if I'll kick them out.  This is a good process for me, because some of my ideas need to swim away sometimes ;)
But the best idea for right now was to plan a gymnastics clinic for the girls.  Several girls wanted to learn tumbling.  Not encouragingly, I remember being a kid and trying to learn to do a cartwheel.  It seemed to take me forever!  And I only really learned it the year the school had a teacher who taught gymnastics in the school gym for a little while.  It was not something that came natural to me.  And most likely not something I could ever teach someone else.
First I contacted a cheer/gymnastic company.  It sounded promising . . until they stopped returning my calls.  Then I called 3 different gymnastic companies.  Only one called me back.  But hey, one was all I needed, right?  She sent me on a while goose chase to find out all this information.  And then she wouldn't return my calls.
BUT, where there's a will there's a way.  My two options left were to YouTube instruct myself and use my children as guinea pigs to see if I could actually teach these things or see if anyone that I knew might know someone that could help.  Option 2 seemed the much better situation.  And what a great way to go!  A friend let me know that my daughter's dance instructor used to teach a tumbling class!  I contacted her, and she's on board!  We're even using her studio and her mats!
So the clinic will be outside of the school.  But that's ok, it's not very far away!
Tonight I am thankful for finally finding someone to teach this clinic!  It's been at least two months since I first started looking!
And I am thankful that I have no shame in self-promoting on here :)  So if you have a child that wants to learn some tumbling, mark April 16th from 10 - 11:30 on your calendar!  Feel free to contact me for more information.  Next week, I'll get fliers out to the school!  We are on our way!  Hooray!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

My Friend

There are people you meet in life that stick with you.  I remember the first time I saw my friend.  After I had Elaina, I worked part time as a cashier at a local grocery store around the hubster's work schedule so we could take turns with the baby.  I saw my friend come in to the grocery store regularly.  She had babies that looked close in age to my baby.
I ended up chatting with her off and on.  Thanks to modern technology, we caught up on MySpace first I think.  And now on Facebook.  We ended up having babies about the same time.  And she had went on to have a couple more babies than me.
The wonderful thing is that my friend has a huge heart.  She cares about others.  She loves her children unconditionally.  She is a wonderful woman.
A few days ago, she was faced with a parent's nightmare.  A tumor was found in one of her babies.  I couldn't even imagine.  I pray that I never have to.  And I pray for every parent that has that moment and the many moments that would follow.
Then there was the testing.  Then there was the waiting.  Through it all there was the praying.
Today there was the answer.  The tumor is not cancerous!!!!
Tonight I am thankful for my friend finding out that her daughter does not have cancer!  What a complete blessing!  And tonight I pray for every parent and every child that does not get such good news.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


I've seen the little picture floating around Facebook that says "You were meant to do more than just pay bills and die".  Personally, I've met that saying with dueling emotions and dismissed the whole thing.
This morning on our way to school, my daughter (who has a phone and the ability to scroll thru Facebook and find such things herself) shared that saying with me.
That brought about a teachable moment for me.
First of all, the saying is true, but it is not all inclusive.  Second of all, I do more than work and pay bills.  Thirdly, the kids do see me work a lot.  More than a lot most days, weeks, months, etc.  Fourthly, the blame is on me for not sharing and reiterating the goals to the children.  Because it is easy for children and adults alike to lose sight of the goals when they aren't visible regularly.
I have written on here many times about our Dave Ramsey journey.  And I have shared a few things with the kids here and there.  But this morning they got an earful.
First I mentally kicked myself for not bringing these goals in front of them sooner!  And then I explained.  I am not working just to pay the bills.  Daddy-O is not working just to pay the bills.  We are on a journey with this.  We are working to obliterate debt and have it be gone forever.  And we are working to lay a foundation for all four of the children to live a life where debt is never needed.
Very quickly I explained to them how the world makes it sound like debt is necessary. Credit scores, student loans, mortgages, etc. are all preached to the masses as the way life should be.  And I told the kids, hey, your dad and I bought in to it.  We allowed ourselves to be led blindly.  We never stopped and asked ourselves why?  Why are these debts necessary?  Why shouldn't we wait until we had the cash to buy the things we wanted?  Why would it ever be smart to live a life of debt, idolizing a credit score that pretty much rates how good you are at paying people extra money to borrow their money for things?  There was a time when I was quite prideful about my credit score.  I look back on it now as foolish.  All the score did was declare how good I was at buying things I couldn't afford; and then paying additional money because I had borrowed the money from someone else.
I told the kids that I want more for them!  I told them about reading the Dave Ramsey book written by himself and his daughter.  His daughter is within a decade of my age and has lived her life never owing anyone any money.  What glorious freedom that must be!  And I want that for my kids!  I want that for them so much, I had to write it twice!  I want it for them so much that I am reading all I can to learn how to make this happen!
My daughter recently teased me because all the books that I read are either about appraising or about finance.  I told her that if you want to learn to be better about something, you have to educate yourself about it.  I need to make better choices and change my future or I will never be able to help my kids make better choices and change their futures.
Tonight I am thankful that I am not meant to just pay bills and die.  I am thankful that I do have the opportunity to work hard to change a path that my family was on.  I am thankful for the opportunity to share these goals with the kids.  I am thankful for the chance to tell them that I am not working so hard just to pay bills.  That I am working this hard and learning so much to make a better future for them, each one of them.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Special Secret

Everyone has their own special secret for peace.  If you haven't found yours yet, keep looking.  It'll be something in nature that speaks to your soul when the rest of the world just can't bring solace.  I am pretty convinced that it has to be from nature because we were created with this world to be for us.
Mine is water.  It has always been water.  It will always be water.  There is something so calming, yet not at all disingenuous about the fact that it isn't calming.  It is always moving, but always stationary.  It seems so non-threatening, yet is powerful when stirred up.  It looks so level, but has incredible depth.
Whatever the reason, water connects to my soul.  When I'm by it I find calmness, peace, and hope.
Today my appointments had me driving by this lake. I pulled off in the boat ramp parking for a few minutes and just breathed in life.  It is a good thing to do from time to time.  I didn't look at my files.  I didn't look at my phone.  I shut off my brain and the thoughts for the agendas of the day.  And I was just there by the water, letting God's creations calm my spirit.
Tonight I am thankful for the unexpected gift of a calming lake on my route while working today.  It was a much needed reprieve from life, if only for a few moments, the effects last much longer.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Good

Lots of bad happened this weekend.  I thought yesterday was bad enough.  And today it just kept on coming.
So tonight I will be focusing on the good.  This weekend did have good in it too.
Tonight will be short because my heart is heavy.  But I think about that quote from Fred Rogers:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”  It is the same with bad stuff in life.  There is always good too.  Look for the good and you will always find the good.

Tonight I am thankful for the good in life, shining thru the bad.  I am thankful for my kids, their smiles, their laughs, and their hugs to brighten any sadness.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Not Shy

Something I've recently discovered is that the way I see myself is not entirely accurate as to who I am.  I actually realized that while writing some things in this blog about my past and while watching my children - who act a lot like me sometimes.
I've classified myself as shy when I was little.  And I was to a point.  But I don't think I was as shy as I remember.  I was quiet.  I'd rather listen to people and gauge my surroundings and the people in them.  But when I had something to say, I would say it.  I think of times like when I was in 2nd grade and threatened a high schooler on the bus because he was mean.  I remember when I was in elementary school and threatened to beat up a boy two years older than me because he was picking on my big brother . . . mom asked me not to do that one again, apparently that wasn't good for my brother . . oops!  I had my moments.  Moments of strength - I wrote bravery there and deleted it because I didn't feel brave. I just did what should be done.
So I was quiet and bold.  I now think that fits my littler self better than shy.
One thing I've always known though, is that I am good alone.  I like people.  And I know where to find people when I have had enough alone time.  But I need that alone time.  I thrive in it.  And most organized group activities make me cringe.  I went to a fundraising dinner recently and put forth great effort for that.  It was fun night, don't get me wrong.  But that will never be my scene.
I like to be alone.  Or with animals.  I like to be able to think my thoughts.  I can't do that with people around.  Those closest to me know that I over-think everything.  And I am really ok with that.  That's who I am.  And that is how I eventually get to a truth or to an idea that wins out over others.  I need that time to breathe and just be myself.  And I need a lot of it.
With my alone time and my anxious uncomfortableness when around others, I don't always come across like I care about people, when I do.  If I've met you, I care. If I've met you, I pray for you.  And if you can pin me down long enough to have a conversation, I'll try to tell you.  I don't always show it because I'm trying to figure out how to get to the back of the room and slip out the door.  And I don't like talking on the phone much either.
So please remember, when I smile at you, it's a real smile.  When I "like" your post on facebook, it's a true sentiment.  When I don't wave at you - hey, I don't notice things, don't take it personal.  I drove by my own daughter on the street on Thursday and didn't notice her.
When I say "Hi, how are you?"  I really do want to know if you are ok.  If I didn't want to know, believe me, I wouldn't ask.  And when you're down, when you feel like no one cares, when you feel like you need a friend, when it's real, I care.  Let me know.  Message me.  When it's bad, you can even call me.  Stop over (don't be afraid of my pj's).
Tonight I am thankful for the knowledge that when life gets too rough here on Earth, that God has open arms for his children in Heaven.  I am thankful for the chance to get to know my cousin Amye a little bit.  I hope she knew I cared.  I am thankful that her sadness is gone now and that she can have peace.

Friday, March 18, 2016


Monday I scratched my eyeball while putting in my contact.  I do this fairly regularly to be quite honest.  But this time, like a complete fool, I left my contact in my eye.  I was running out the door for an appointment and was sure my eye would be ok.
I was wrong.  It watered and HURT the entire time.  I postponed my next appointment to come back home and put my glasses on.
Tuesday I tried to put my contacts in and had to kick the wall so I didn't claw the contact back out of my eye.  Wednesday I didn't even try.  Thursday I tried and there was discomfort, but not searing pain.
Today I did it!  I put my contacts in and it didn't hurt!  Hooray!  It was so nice to walk around today in my contacts.  It may seem like a little thing, but it is a huge thing to me!  I am used to my glasses here at home, but not driving.  With the peripheral vision difference, I've almost pulled out in front of at least 5 cars this week.  Please notice the word "almost", I did see the cars at the last minute and stopped, like half way out from where I should be.  I'm a much better driver in contacts!  And I can read signs better!  Since I spend many hours on the road per week, I think around 25 hours in the past five days, this is a big deal.
Tonight I am thankful for being able to wear my contacts today!  I can see clearer!  To see things like this beautiful tiger from tonight's Family Fun Night at the school!

Thursday, March 17, 2016


When I was growing up, on my Grandparent's back deck there used to be a metal glider bench.  I used to love that thing!  We always had to get up when Grandpa came out, so he could sit on it.  I remember catching him napping on it on more than one occasion.  It is one of those nice Grandparent childhood memories.
I wanted one.  I've wanted one for awhile.
I saw one for sale online for around $200.  I guess they are retro now and being made in present time.  My thing was that I don't really need one.  So spending that much on a bench is not really in the budget.  Especially when we have plenty of outdoor seating already.
There was one at an auction last year.  I was so excited.  I thought for sure no one would bid on it.  Um, yeah, I was wrong.  The used auction one went for well over $100.  I don't remember exactly.  But I know I was willing to go up to $80 and the bidding kept going well after my limit.  I was a little heartbroken.  But I have never lost hope that I would find one at a reasonable price.
Then yesterday I saw it!  I was scrolling on Facebook and saw a post for a moving sale.  And there was a picture of a metal glider!!!  It was different than the kind Grandpa used to have.  But it was a metal glider anyway!  The post said there would be no pre-sales and no holds.  So I had to wait until 5pm tonight.  
I was so bummed.  I had to be at the school picking up my daughter at 5pm.  And I couldn't run there afterwards because my other daughter had a meeting at 5:30 and the sale was about 18 minutes away.  I tried calling a few people in the area of the garage sale and couldn't get thru to anyone.  I just figured this wasn't the one for me.
Then the hubster called!  He had a training today at work and got out early!!  He doesn't really do the garage sale thing.  But he could be at the school at 5 and do the other running around with kiddos!!!  
My Sammy and I made it to the lady's house about 5:05.  There were no other cars there.  She had no signs at the road.  I wasn't even sure the sale was happening.  I rang the doorbell and was invited in.  The first thing I saw was "sold" signs on a bunch of things.  My heart dropped a little.  I asked her about the bench.  She still had it!  It was outside on the back deck. 
We went back and I was trying to play all cool about it.  You know, acting like I could turn and walk away and not give it another thought.  I made it glide.  I pushed on the seat.  I tilted my head.  Then I asked, how much do you want for it?
Without further delay, I am pleased to announce that I am now the proud owner of a metal glider for $40!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  It isn't exactly like my Grandpa's.  But it is close enough for me!!  
Funny side note - I told my Grandma about a month ago that I was after one of these gliders and she made a face.  Apparently Grandma was never a fan of the metal glider.  She was pretty shocked that they are a sought after item now a days.
Tonight I am thankful to be the proud owner of a metal glider at a reasonable price!  This is why we allocate budget money to fun spending now and then!  And you can bet I'll be spending quite a few hours this summer out on the patio just gliding away.  Some days, I'll bet I'll feel like Grandpa is right there gliding besides me :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Ten Minutes

Want to know why I have two separate calendar apps - one for me personally and one for the family?  Want to know why I write every single event down twice - once on a calendar that sits on my desk and once on a calendar that hangs in the kitchen?  Do you want to know why?
Fine, I'll tell you!  It isn't really because I like the extra work.  It is because the more places a thing is for me to see it, the better chance there is that I'll actually remember it.
Take today for example.  I dropped the kids at school.  I did some work.  I was all settled in for a comfortable - not over-scheduled day.  I was actually looking forward to the comfort level of today's schedule!  Then I brought up my calendar to make some phone calls and plan appointment for the rest of the week.
Guess what I saw?!?!?  My daughter had a doctor's appointment today!  I think my eyes bugged right out of my head and splattered on my monitor.  I called the school, who very forgivingly did not give me grief about locating my child and having her ready in ten minutes.  I am happy to report that we arrived in the parking lot at only three minutes after her scheduled time.  They still let us in the door.  And all was right with the world!
Then of course, back at my desk it was chaos because my easy, comfortable day had just lost about two hours.  But, it all worked out.
Tonight I am thankful for multiple calendars so I don't forget things.  Seriously . . . this doctor's office had even called to remind me of the appointment the other day.  Over the years I have forgotten about birthday parties, sports practices, and scout meetings.  I am happy to say that I still hold a record of not missing a doctor's appointment with these kiddos . . barely!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


For the past year I've had my blogs peppered with our family's journey with budgeting and Dave Ramsey principles.  I've shared on here that I love the Dave Ramsey facebook groups.
Those groups are such great motivation.  People chime in from every walk who have paid off things as little as a couple hundred dollars, to people who have everything they own paid off.
Tonight there was a post that I liked.  The person wrote in and said they couldn't wait until they had everything paid off, and had extra money to bless people with.  They can't wait to be able to buy groceries for someone who needs it; or just a random dinner for someone else while at a restaurant.  That is some awesome dreaming!
It is one amazingly exciting thing to imagine your own situation better than you had ever dreamed.  But what if you could imagine your financial life to be such a blessing that you could bless whoever else you wanted, whenever you wanted!  That is exciting stuff!
The envelope system has been working well with the kids for the past couple months here.  And I have one child who is saving up in her "Give" envelope to buy a night at the hotel in Lansing for the homeless!  To say I'm a proud mom, could be an understatement.
There's just something extra exciting to let your thinking go beyond yourself.  A paid off car is one very nice thing; being able to buy a meal or a place to sleep for someone who doesn't have those things is something completely more and deeper.
Tonight I am thankful for motivation and reminders that this journey we are on will be a blessing for our family and for countless others as we continue down this road!

Monday, March 14, 2016


My kid before having kids was Bruno.  He was my baby.  And I got him as a baby.
Alone and in my own house at 19, I wanted some home protection.  So I got this Rottweiler / Lab mix.  He was sure to be a good guard dog.  Except the dog wouldn't bark at anything.  So I'd bark at cars that went down my little side street at the time until he barked.  That really worked well until I had kids and went over animal sounds.  I'd say "the dog goes bark, bark".  And Bruno would run to the window barking :)
Anyway, so Bruno loved tennis balls.  He would chase and chase and chase.  Hot summers, he'd be frothing at the mouth because he wouldn't want to stop and get a drink.  Towards the end, his arthritis was so bad he could barely walk; but he wanted someone to throw his ball for him.  His jaws were so strong that sometimes he just sat there and chewed on a tennis ball like it was bubble gum.  I bought him an indestructible ball once, and he had it broke in less than an hour.  In hindsight, I probably should have bought stock in the Wilson company for how many tennis balls I bought for that boy!
I have his paw print here on my desk still that the vet made him.  And when I think about him, I still cry and it has been over five years.  He was my baby.
Today I went to a house for an appraisal.  The realtor had told me that they had two big dogs.  And there were big sounding barks coming from the other side of the door.  A woman was calling the dogs back and I heard her say "Bruno!"  Even hearing that name tugs at my heart.  So I took a deep breath and watched as she opened the door, hoping a little that her Bruno would be a big, black dog.
She opened the door and there was a big dog, maybe a German Shepherd / Sheep Dog mix.  That dog was named Lucy.  And then I saw Bruno.  Bruno was maybe a five pound tiny dog!!  Bruno brought me his ball to throw.  Honestly, I'm not sure how this Bruno's mouth opened big enough to hold the ball!
Bruno followed me around the house.  When I went up stairs, Bruno climbed about four steps and let his ball go, so he could go and catch it when it bounced down.  My Bruno used to do that too!!
Tonight I am thankful for meeting another Bruno!  He may not have been near the size as my Bruno-boy.  But he sure had the same spirit!  Oh, and Lucy was nice too :)

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Where It Started

It seems in January of the last several years that I've taken a moment to reflect on this blog.  This year it crossed my mind.  But if I recall correctly, there was something really exciting that particular day; so I went a different direction.
Today I was asked about my blog.  Why did I start it?  What it is about?  Why do I do it?  It is wonderful to be able to answer those questions with such a heartfelt testimony.  There are things that I do in life because I have to do them.  I have to work.  I have to get out of bed every morning.  I have to feed my children (well, sometimes I let them eat popcorn for dinner, but you know what I mean here).  My blog is not a necessity.  It is something that I choose to do.
Five or six years ago I was in a hard spot of life.  My family had just made it thru some very big and very devastating times.  Sometimes you can make it thru a hard part of life, but when life settles down; that is where the enormity of everything hits you.  And it had.  When you think about big, bad things that can happen in life, the list probably stays around a dozen.  I mean the really big, bad things that could happen.  We had went thru five of them in a matter of about three years.
We made it thru.  And then it felt like things were just smoldering.  There weren't big fires anymore.  But there wasn't peace.  And the problem was me.  I knew it was me.
We were dealing with some aftermath things.  But overall, things weren't too bad.  I knew I had a lot to be thankful.  But it didn't feel like it.  Thoughts and emotions are often two very different things; and hard to connect together at times.  I could sit there and list the things that I had to be thankful for, but it didn't reach my soul.
So this blog was born.  I thought if I sat down and really thought about something to be thankful for each day, it would be good.  This is different than a list.  This is something I have to really think about because I have to write about it.  I have to put some thought in to what I'm writing.  And if a person puts that much thought in to something that they are thankful for, it changes you.  And this blog has done that.
My perspective has changed immensely.  And it was a greatly appreciated change.  I didn't like feeling like a thunder cloud waiting to erupt.  I didn't like looking over a life that held so much good, but not really being able to grasp it as a part of myself.
So tonight I am thankful for this blog.  I am thankful for the God given idea to try this blog for a year and see if it helped me.  :)  (I just couldn't stop after one year!)  I am thankful for the love of all of you that has inspired me to stay open and uncensored on here; because life happens to everyone, and it is good to hear that and relate to it.  I am thankful  . . . just thankful for it all tonight :)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Couch Potato

This morning I woke up to the sound of kids arguing over the Saturday morning cartoons.  They worked that out themselves, which was nice!  And I fell back asleep.
I woke up about twenty minutes later to two loud boys.  I sent them to play up in their room and I fell back asleep.  I woke up about fifteen minutes later to the loud boys back downstairs.
I pretty much gave up at that point.  But I laid in bed for awhile still.  The sun was shining thru the window.  I could hear my rooster crowing and the birds chirping.  The loud boys were at least playing nicely.  It was one of those moments to cherish.
After I finally rolled myself out of bed, I looked out at my Saturday-morning-couch-potato-children.  They were all curled up on the furniture, in their jammies, wrapped in blankets.  I should have taken a picture. :)
Tonight I am thankful for a slow Saturday morning made for relaxing.  It was a great way to start the day!

Friday, March 11, 2016


Everybody has their own "spidey sense", for a fun way to refer to it.
Just last week the hubster found my dream truck online.  And it was the awesome-st of deals!  We are totally NOT in the market for a truck right now.  But hubster was so excited to get me the truck of my dreams!  So, I started talking to the person and it just didn't seem right.  Hubster told me not to give up.  I kept messaging and Bam, there it was . . a scam!
Spidey sense works with people too.  It's harder with people.  You have so many emotions and thought and feelings inside you; it's easy to buy the spidey sense within.  But when you keep telling yourself that it's ok; when you keep making excuses for the other person; when you keep telling yourself that maybe you just aren't understanding enough . . . well, it's not good.
If a friendship is good; if someone truly cares; if someone actually wants you to care as well; if there is mutual respect, well then you won't need to keep reminding yourself of the things mentioned above.
Tonight I am thankful for God given "spidey sense".  No, I know that is not a biblical term :)  But, it is a God given thing to help when our own understanding just isn't where it should be.  And tonight I'm thankful for it.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Blue Lights

The Current Time Was - 2:35pm
Time to Be at School - 3pm
Drive Time between current location and school - 19 minutes
My brain processes the above information to mean that I have 6 minutes available to stop at one house on the way and verify that repairs were made per the anticipated loan's specifications.  It'd be tight . . but I could do it.
To make sure I make it on time, I may have pushed the gas pedal down a little too far.  A local high school had let out and there was a lot of traffic.  Thankfully the traffic was going the opposite way that I was going.  I cruised on by and at the last driveway in to the high school parking lot, I saw the lights.  Oh yes, in a moment of approximately 30 to 40 teenage drivers, I was the one driver foolish enough to get caught speeding.
It has been several years since I have been pulled over or gotten a ticket.  I was sitting here thinking about it tonight.  It's got to have been somewhere between 7 and 9 years that I can think of.  I reached in my glove compartment and it turned out I was missing my proof of insurance.  I promised the officer that I was fully insured, my mother works for State Farm!
As he headed back to his car, I texted my daughter that I was going to be late picking them up from school.  I just knew I'd be getting one, maybe two citations.  It was going to be awhile for sure.
Miraculously, just a few short minutes later the man came back.  I was spared!  I'm pretty sure he got anther call in because he left pretty quickly.  And I even made it to the school on time.  WHEW!
Tonight I am thankful that I did not get a ticket today!  You can bet that at this very moment, my proof of insurance has been located and placed in my car.  And you can bet that tomorrow I'll drive a bit more consciously to obey the law!  Whew!!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cut Tongues

My son takes guitar lessons.  When he first said he wanted lessons, I made him wait.  Kids are known for losing interest in things rather quickly.  After about two years, the boy was still saying that he wanted to learn.  So we contacted a local shop and he started lessons.
I sat in on the first several lessons.  It was ok.  But it was fairly apparent that the instructor was no used to handling someone with my sons . . . um . . . energy.  The day my son came home and told me that in his 20 minute guitar lesson the instructor told him how some people have that piece on the bottom of your tongue cut so they can stick their tongues out farther . . . that was the last lesson at that establishment.  I wasn't paying for my 10 year old to sit and discuss such things with a person I barely knew.
So we went awhile without lessons.
Over the summer I got a call from a woman that I had spoken to when we first decided on lessons.  I knew she should be good.  But she only did lessons from her house, about 35 minutes from my house.  That's over an hour of driving for a 30 minute lesson.  I took him out there for the first time around last July, telling my husband that "this was just a one time thing".  Famous last words . . .
So here we are several months later.  She is so great with my son!  She already knew him from school, so she was aware of his personality - which sometimes is comparable to someone who has drunken five gallons of coffee.  She is calm and encouraging.  She is awesome.  And he is learning so much.
I want him to have music.  His brain runs in circles at warp speed and he needs an outlet.  He loves playing the guitar.
So I drive.  It is worth it.  Usually I bring work with me while I sit in the car and wait; like today.  Today though, I put the windows down while I worked.  This woman's house is in a beautiful location by a lake, on a hill, amongst trees.  It was so relaxing!  Everything was still except for the sounds of the birds on the lake.  I stopped working a few times and just sat there and listened.
Tonight I am thankful for guitar to channel and calm my son.  I am thankful for just the right teacher that can see the talent in my son hidden underneath all his energy.  I am thankful for the beautiful drive to lessons and the one on one time with my son while we drive.  And I am thankful for moments of serenity while I sit and wait.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


Tonight the hubster took the older children out with him for one of them to attend dance lessons.  He wanted some company while he waited, so he grabbed a kid to go along.  That left me and the two younger kids here.
With the kids getting a little older, they do tend to branch off more with the boys together and the girls together.  It was nice tonight to see my younger two playing well together and enjoying each other's company. :)
I've always wanted all four of them to be friends with each other.  I pray that they will always have their unique group bond that happens so amazingly; and a special one on one bond with each other.  So seeing part of that tonight made my heart smile!
Tonight I am thankful for being able to witness my children be friends with each other.  Being friends with someone you spend this much time around takes work, lots of understanding, and lots of forgiveness.  And my dream is for them to reap the benefits of their efforts for a life time!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sorry Men!

Let's talk husband bashing, shall we?  It happens.  Sorry men.
Sometimes it is just venting.  Sometimes a woman can only take so much of a husband's tushy being stuck to the couch, or only so much temporary blindness as you pass by a sink full of dishes or a pile of laundry.  For these things, you men shouldn't feel too bad about women venting to each other; it keeps us from smothering you with a pillow as you sleep.
Sometimes though, this talk crosses a line.  Sometimes it builds in to just flat out complaining.  I've been guilty of this myself from time to time.  The difference that I've noticed is not visible.  It's somewhere inside me when I no longer feel relief from venting some pent up aggressions, but I start feeling mean.  Everyone has flaws.  And I don't want to turn in to a bully about my husband's flaws.
I hate that feeling.  I am the wife.  I should have his back, not turn on him whenever the chance presents itself.
The good news is that I've found one sure fire way to turn these bad feeling around.  When I start feeling like my husband's biggest critic, I look at how far he's come.  I can turn in to his biggest fan faster than Street Outlaw's best car can go 0 to 60.
Even without considering growth, it is important to remind myself that some of the things that drive me crazy about my other half are some of the things that make him the perfect other half for me.  This man can block from his head any thoughts that upset him, while I can play the what-if game until my eyes are crossed. He calms my thoughts.  I flutter around from idea to idea and task to task like a feather in the wind some days; while this man does one thing until it's done, then he moves to the next.  He grounds me.  I can push myself 22 hours a day to go, go, go.  This guy next to me on the couch rests.  He reminds me to rest.
Tonight I am regretful of the times when I've crossed from venting to bashing - I'm sorry!  Tonight I am thankful for the growth we have both experienced together.  And I am thankful for the things that are different about us that make us fit together so well.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


Have you ever had a dream that you believed in so much that you just knew there was no option for it to not happen?  I remember laying in my bed at about 15 or 16 years old and dreaming about college.  I wanted to be a writer.  I wanted my bachelor's degree.  And I wanted my to attend ORU in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
I laid there many nights just thinking about it.  There was simply no other option but for this to happen.  There was no Plan B.  It was going to happen.  I met with the guidance counselor.  I applied for scholarships.  And when the time was right, I applied to the school of my dreams.  I was accepted, with a scholarship!
And the rest of the story of course, I went to Tulsa for one year.  I got engaged and came back home - happily.  I had followed my dream to Tulsa; and a new dream brought me back.  And I made a lifetime of memories in Oklahoma.  My first journalism class made it obvious to me that a career in journalism was not my calling.  Back home though, I did get that bachelor's degree.  I was satisfied with accomplishing the things I had dreamed about for years, even if they ended a little differently than I had first thought!
I've had this same kind of concrete dream lately.  I was talking to a friend the other day and I made a statement that pretty much summed up what I'm after.
See, when I talk about Dave Ramsey and following his plan (with our own modified goals); it sounds like it is all about money.  It isn't.  I'm not after a dollar sign with all this.  I don't particularly care what number we end up with at any given time.  I'm after freedom.
That is what I told my friend.  I was talking about working so much.  Because I do work excessively.  I see those neat little signs that remind a person that there is more to life than working.  This is true, but sometimes working goes along with quality of life.  And I'm not working, just for the money.
I used to work excessively for survival.  There was a time several years ago when we needed all the extra that we could get.  And I worked every chance I could because my job allows me to work like that and still be here for my family.  So why wouldn't I?  I admit, I had way too many nights of sleeping not near enough hours.  But it helped our family and a very bad situation turned around monumentally faster than the course normally takes.
So when I was chatting the other day and I said, "I used to work so much for survival.  Now I work so much for freedom."  That is it.  That is my new dream.  I don't want to worry about missing a paycheck or receiving a huge bill from an injury (i.e. a torn PCL . . . no surgery, but still not cheap!)  I want to have enough to bless someone who needs it.  If I hear of a family that needs groceries or propane or anything; I want to be able to write a blank check (well, you know what I mean).
I want freedom.  "The borrower is servant to the lender".  It used to sound like an unattainable goal to not live that way.  It doesn't seem that way anymore.  The big thing that has changed is me.  I used to limit myself in my thinking that only millionaires lived free from debt.
Strangely my job first started me thinking differently after I appraised a few foreclosured homes worth over a half million dollars each, in gated communities, with imported materials, etc.  The key is not in how much you make.  The key is in what you do with it.  The idea started as a seed.  Then little by little the door to this thing opened a little more and a little more and a little more, until I finally got it.
This is so real that I can taste it.  So when we sit down and talk about the upcoming summer.  Well, we aren't traveling the country.  We may splurge on one hotel night some time . . maybe.  But we'll go to the beach.  We'll go hiking.  We'll make many memories.  And we'll keep working our butts off.  Because the dream is set.  It is real.  It is a family venture.  And changing the family legacy.  We will be free.  And I hope to instill this lifestyle choice in to my children so that they may never know the crushing stress, anxiety, and depression that can come from being a servant to a lender.
Tonight I am thankful once more for learning a different way to live, for believing that it is attainable; and for being able to articulate what it is exactly that we are after.  To some it sounds like it is all about the dollars.  It isn't.  Not at all.  It is about the freedom.  The dollars play a part.  But the dollars could never bring about freedom all by themselves!

Saturday, March 5, 2016


I've been on about a two week hiatus from my basement gym.  This morning I dragged myself out of my nice, comfy, warm bed to go work out.  I haven't been hiding out on purpose.  Just . . ya know . . life gets busy.  It is amazing how things change in two weeks.
Now, I did cut myself a little slack because my knee has been pretty swollen lately.  I will be very happy when the snow is gone.  The slippery ground, my job of being outside walking a fair amount of time, and my moody, healing knee are not a good combination.
For those that don't realize - because I honestly didn't realize until this happened to me - the swelling can many times be worse than an actual injury.  I rarely feel pain from the actual ligament damage lately.  But the swelling in my knee and the pressure inside the joint are the things that make me cringe.
I tried to keep going this morning.  I think I gave it a good try.
Want to know what did me in?  This is so funny (but not like ha-ha funny).  Since day 1 of physical therapy, my nemeses has been a rolling chair.  Like an office chair.  Sit on a rolling chair, use your legs only, push back about 10 feet; then pull yourself forward the same distance and repeat until your almost in tears (well maybe those weren't the exact words of the directions given).  This particular action makes my knee feel like it is going to pop right off of my leg.  But, that is a step forward because it used to feel like a hammer was digging in to the back of my knee during this particular exercise.
Now, I made a little goal for myself to not complain on here about my knee.  So, please note that I have not technically complained . . right?  I'm on the line aren't I?  Maybe crossing the line?  So, here we go before I keep rambling . .
Tonight I am thankful for getting back to my basement gym.  It won't be another two weeks before I go back.  In fact, I plan on going back tomorrow.  I can do the bike ok.  I can do the elliptical alright.  I can kick some butt with the weights and punching bag.  I will do the stupid rolley chair too . . because it is good for me . . and because I chose to be thankful that I can still do it; and because I will keep getting better!

Friday, March 4, 2016


Here is one thing that I've observed about the most intelligent people out there - they know that they are not the most intelligent people out there.  They are always learning, always asking questions, always asking for help.  So this has been my goal for more than a decade.
I am blessed with a natural curiosity to want to know why and how about everything.  And I was extra blessed with an upbringing where I could ask those questions and not be told to go away because I was bothering someone.
Yesterday and today I have had two very productive meetings on two separate items.  With both areas, I had some notes prepared for the thoughts that I had.  And with some quesitons for the other party.  And at both meetings I heard some brilliant ideas and a completely different perspective than mine.
It is something quite wonderful when you can see how far your own personality will take you and how someone else can take you even further!
Tonight I am thankful for being blessed with people that are different than I am.  I will always be limited to myself.  I can never think like another person because I am me.  And that is quite alright.  But it is even better when a project gets the best of me and the best of someone else to be even better than it could have from just one source!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

End of the Tunnel

I knew if I kept at it I would find the light at the end of the tunnel!  It is here!  So first I will apologize about the excessive amount of work and sick kid updates.  But it has been two weeks without being able to fully relax. 
It really is hard to fully relax when you know how many things are waiting for you to not relax anymore.  I had moments of relaxing in these two week.  I MADE moments in these two weeks so that I didn't go crazy.  Driving with no radio on, just the quiet and the scenery . . very therapeutic sometimes.  I managed a few baths with Epsom salts, that really did do wonders.  I am a firm believer in the power of Epsom salts!  I've read some studies and people's reviews.  There is something even better about seeing results first hand!
Today I was so close to being caught up that I jumped town for lunch with my Marky.  It was so nice to just sit and chat while someone else cooked for me.  I like when other people cook for me and I get to relax!  Of course when I made this particular decision, I wasn't quite caught up.  So I had to come back and get my fingers typing on super-speed. 
Super-speed was easier to obtain after a nice lunch out, I can attest to that.  And here I am, before 8pm and done for the day with work!  Woo Hoo!  Tomorrow will be a full, but not obnoxiously, two days crammed in to one day, full.  I say, Bring It On! 
Tonight I am thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel.  Sleep, sweet, sweet sleep is waiting for me!  I don't want to be late!  Good Night!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


In my mind, it would go like this - school is called off for the snow.  Everyone sleeps in until 10am.  The kids and I wake up smiling and laughing.  I make pancakes and bacon and the whole works.  We all eat.  The kids help clean up.  We put on our snow stuff and head outside.  We build snowmen, go sledding, and throw snowballs at each other.  When we get too cold, we'd head on inside for some hot cocoa and a family movie curled up on the couch together.  Ahh :)
How it really has went - all four snow days have come in my absolute busiest work weeks of the past six months, with sick kids last week.  This week everyone is healthy - thank God!  That part is much less stressful.  Meanwhile though, I'm trying to work while being interrupted every three minutes by children who are either fighting, whining, or wanting to enlighten me about Pokemon - p.s. I am not really interested in Pokemon.
Yesterday the kids were fighting and whining so much, I was seriously contemplating running away for a little while.  I could just bundle up in my warm clothes, go to a far corner of the barn, duck behind some hay bales, and snuggle kitties while the kids searched the house for me.  I was slightly worried with this plan, that I would come back in to the house to find children tied up or half my house broken.  So I stayed here.  By the time the hubster got home, I told him it was his turn and I tried to get what was left of my brain to focus on work.
I am happy to report that today, snow day #4 has been the best of them all.  I slept thru loud children this morning and did get close to eight hours of sleep.  The kids had already eaten when I got up.  They watched some cartoons together fairly well.  They did some chores considerably better than yesterday.  They argued a little, but not near as bad or as much as yesterday.
Sometimes I think the kids can sense when they are pushing me to the brink of a breakdown.  If they can't sense it, they still don't have an excuse because I do warn them ;)  I made the announcement this morning that I had no patience left because they used it all yesterday.  Then there were some threats made about early bedtimes and allowances being used to pay me to be the referee for them.  I thought that was a good call on my part.  If I have to act like a referee; I should get paid for it!
Tonight I will be up for several more hours catching up on work.  But I am in a much better place than last night!  Tonight I am thankful that the kids were so much better today!  I don't know if I could have taken another day like yesterday.  I have good children.  It sucks when they all have a bad day on the same day!  But they recover well.  And they worked hard today to make today a better day :)  I love and appreciate their efforts; and them of course!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


Weather is funny.  When I lived in Jackson County many years ago, it seemed there was always more snow where I lived then the next county north at my mom's house.
For the next 13 years it seems that is the way the weather has been.
Today I left my snowy, slippery driveway; snowy and slippery road; and headed south.  The more south I went, the nicer the weather was.  When I got close to my destination I drove by this lake boat access and saw this lone crane standing there.  He seemed so content.  I pulled in and drove up.  He just turned and looked at me.  I would have stood there longer, but that wind was pretty chilly.  I was a little regretful that I didn't have any little sardines or something to throw to the calm bird.
Of course later today this southern area got their fare share of snow too.  That fact too makes this picture even more tranquil.  Animals have their inherit ability to know when bad weather is coming.  This feathered guy had to have known that soon his lake was going to be a bit colder and a maybe frozen.  And he probably knew that the spot he was standing would be covered in snow.  But he wasn't worried.  Look how calm he was, just standing there, enjoying the beautiful scene in front of him in a silent moment before the storm.
Sometimes things don't show in pictures.  I hope the calm shows thru this picture.  Tonight I am thankful for a moment of calm and quiet thankfulness in another busy day.  I am thankful for a moment of nature proving rest assured that though a storm may be coming, everything will be fine.  Life brings storms.  Worrying only steals moments like these of calm to prepare and sturdy yourself before a storm.   Matthew 6:26 " Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?"