Thursday, June 30, 2011

Stop, Drop, and Pray

A year ago, a dear Pastor of ours gave a sermon called: Stop, Drop, and Pray.

In fire safety, we are taught to stop, drop, and roll if we realize we are on fire.

In our spiritual lives, we need to stop, drop, and pray when we realize our lives are in a fiery furnace of doubt, pain, and suffering.

Last night a dear friend shared a fiery furnace of pain that is happening in his family's life. Our church softball team stopped, dropped what we were doing, and surrounded him in prayer right there in the softball dugout.

I've been praying for him and his family every few hours since then.

If you or someone you know is feeling the heat of painful circumstances, I encourage you to stop, drop, and pray. Don't promise to do it later, just stop, drop, and pray right then and there. It could save your life, or the life of a friend, in a way that truly, deeply matters.

"Pray continually." 1 Thessalonians 5:17

"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a rightous man is powerful and effective." James 5:13-16

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Writing By Hand: Is the Pen Mightier Than the Laptop?

Writing By Hand: Is the Pen Mightier than the Laptop?

This summer I’ve tried something new. I’ve been writing by hand.

Whoa. Isn’t that old fashioned? Unnecessary? Like teaching kids how to write cursive when they should be typing?

I used to think so, and then I didn’t have my laptop with me for a few days. My fiction and poetry seemed stronger than usual. So I experimented.

I wrote short fiction by hand, then typed it. Then I typed new fiction. Guess what? The handwritten fiction is stronger in all aspects: pacing, characterization, setting, plot.

I even tried starting in handwritten form, and then finishing in typed form. When I read those pieces, I can tell exactly where I typed up a handwritten section versus re-typing a typed section. It isn’t just a transition issue, it’s a whole text issue. Nice, flowing prose with great characterization turns to stilted, poorly written junk.

When I write with a pen, I write slowly. Super slowly.

Why? I’ve had two sports related accidental injuries that caused my median and radial nerves to get entwined and pinned down by my veins and muscle. Only 1 in 40,000 people ever get such injuries, and then only 1 in so many thousand requires surgery to fix them. Guess what? I am number 1! During my last major arm surgery I had surgeons from all over the world come to watch in the operating theatre at the University of Washington's hospital. I didn't tell my main doc, but really I would rather be of number 1 interest in something else. :-) However, how many people can say they've woken up to multiple languages in their recovery room, and joked with a doc from South Africa? Interesting experiences make for great stories.

But back to writing slowly - with plenty of physical therapy I regained 90-95% dexterity, sense of touch, and strength with both my arms and hands. I will always be very slow at handwriting, but I seem to need that pace with my fiction and poetry.

With a pen, I take more time with everything: my characters’ voices, actions, thoughts, feelings, and relationships; sentence length, pacing, and word choices.

So, I should take my magical new recipe for better writing and skip happily through my revision process, right? I suppose. I love the fact that I’ve found a way to strengthen my writing. I don’t like the fact that it is so slow. I’ve already made headway with my revision of The Crystal Sword. If I start re-writing it by hand, and then type it all up again . . . whew!

One page at a time, one notebook at a time . . . and eventually I will get there. The pen is currently mightier than the laptop at my houseexcept when I blog. :-D

Have you ever tried writing your stories by hand?

Scripture Blessings:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries an all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but I have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrendur my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Book of Names

Teaser Tuesday: The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs

"'Think, Ewan,' he told himself. He was surprised at his momentary calm. 'Think.'
It seemed pointless to call for help. The woods were empty. He tried to retrace what had happened in his mind, feeling a vague sense of body memory, dressing in his coat, wandering to the briar patch, carrying his flute. How could he have sleepwalked the whole thing? Played music, crawled through? Yet he knew it wasn't a normal kind of sleepwalking. But then . . . what? He had obviously been transported somewhere."

For Teaser Tuesday, I'm making some of my own Teaser Tuesday rules: short passage of a book I'm reading, passage of my choice that I hope will tantalize your taste in reading.

Check out The Book of Names at Amazon
if you like Christian Fantasy Adventure!

Scripture Blessings:

"I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. the city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no days will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." Revelation 21:22-27


"'Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.'" Revelation 22:14

Monday, June 27, 2011

Belated Sunday Blessings

Belated Sunday Blessings
One of my goals this next "year" of blogging is to be more organized and less random, and yet have the flexibility to post on different subjects. See my sidebard or page for my "hopeful" schedule.

However, I am kind of random by nature, so there are going to be days like today, when I take a break from my schedule-under-trial and do something different. Yesterday I missed my Sunday Blessings post, and I really need to post some blessings.

In addition to that it is a triple Birthday Week for my family. Today is both my mom's 70th birthday, and my niece Steph's 21st birthday! Tomorrow my nephew turns 17. Of course, my youngest reminds me that this means that her first double digit birthday is only a month away from today. So Blessings and Birthdays are on my mind.

Blessings and Birthdays:
1. My house is actually dinner party clean, with a few closets cleaned out too.

2. My mom's birthday party yesterday afternoon, although smaller than we originally planned, was sweet and just right. We had three cakes - one ice cream, one gluten-free and egg-free, and one "regular" cake with berries on top. 70 candles, and three candle-blowers! My mom wanted my daughters to help her blow them out, and they were happy to do so. I wish I had taken a picture of that.

3. We have new pool deck furniture. It isn't fancy, just folding tables and chairs from Costco, with a few smaller ones from Target. The big deal is this: I have wanted new deck furniture for about 10 years now, and finally purchased some. The tough part of the decision making came down to wrestling with my desire for something fancy and hard to move/clean/store and my desire to have something I could rearrange at a moment's notice, clean in thirty seconds, and store in a small pile in our shop/garage or in the basement. The side benefit of folding sturdy tables is that they can be brought out for other gatherings throughout the year and won't be sitting unused in the rain for nine months.

4. My kids are sweet! They almost always are, but this week they helped me clean my house with kind and helpful hearts, doing things without me asking them to do them, and doing jobs they don't normally do. My oldest strongly dislikes washing the dirty dishes, (always willing to put away the clean ones) and she actually washed dishes last night without being asked.

5. My youngest made my mom a beautiful beaded necklace for my mom's birthday. She is a talented bead artist, and I know this sounds horribly braggy but I think she makes better necklaces that you can buy at a store. These are not macaroni necklaces, but beautiful beaded creations.

6. My oldest has been called the "four-year-old whisperer" by the Sunday School team at our church for her talents with four year old kids. The really cool part is that she loves caring for younger kids, and she spent yesterday evening caring for a little boy at the church softball game.

7. God Squad, our church softball team, won their game! I didn't play since I came late from my mom's birthday party, but I enjoyed some great cheering section company and watched my kids play at the playground nearby too.

8. My husband is "mission impossible" man. He single-handedly solved a worship "blip" yesterday, cleaned out the garage/shop and cleaned off the entire deck, helped host my mom's birthday party, fixed and loaded up a new used mower/tractor to be taken to his oldest sister's house in Eastern WA, and played a winning softball game - all within 48 hours. In his spare time, he cuddled with our daughters and me, and edited videos. Then he got up and went to work this morning. He doesn't know the meaning of the word "rest" unless he's on vacation, and even then we usually ski/swim/hike/snowboard/boogie board/stay active.

9. My wonderful, one-of-a-kind Mom is 70 today. I love her so much. She has filled my life with faith, inspiration, laughter, and joy. She has faced trials, and prayed her way through them with determination. She loves sparkly hats, and colorful clothes. She draws, paints, folds origami, and gardens with an artist's hand. She mows grass mazes in her back lawn, and has a love/disappointment with the deer who romp through her meadow and eat her flowers. She has decided that 70 is the new beginning, and not the end, and I love her attitude. Happy Birthday Mom!

10. My niece Stephanie is 21 today. She's young, sweet, and full of surprises. She has a wonderful laugh, and a terrific smile. Happy Birthday Stephanie!!!

11. Bonus Blessing: Our neighborly eagle owl sang us sweet lullabies last night as we went to bed, and I finally had a full night's sleep for the first time in three weeks.

Scripture Blessings:

"For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.' In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, 'This cup is the new covenent in my blood,; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Social Causes: Can Blogging Make a Difference?

Social Causes: Can Blogging Make a Difference?

From facebook to e-mail to a website of a Christian speaker and musician, to his blog, to another blog, to Bloggers for Compassion, then onto World Vision. . . that’s the trail I took yesterday.

It led me to think about what I’m doing here, right now, when I blog.

Is there a reason beyond me?

I hope so.

I know so.

God has given each of us a unique shape and purpose for life.

I happen to love to write.

I love to journal.

Blogging comes naturally, mostly, except when I doubt anyone is reading anything I write, or I doubt my ability to write anything worthwhile.

Lately, I’ve been reading some great books. Some of them are fun. Some of them make me think. I highlighted one that makes me think last Tuesday. Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn is a secular book highlighting the needs of women in countries all over the world. Women are mutilated, raped, kidnapped, abused, assaulted, prostituted, and subjected to horrific treatment on a daily basis.

If you would like to help women worldwide, there are many organizations that give aid to women.

World Vision is one of my favorite aid organizations. If you would like to know what they do to give aid to women, just check out these three links, and explore their website.

Women of Vision

Women and Girls

Gift Catalog Items for Women and Girls is an easy way to donate and give a gift.

Can blogging make a difference?

I hope that it can.

Scripture Blessings:

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord." 1 Corinthians 12:4-5

Friday, June 24, 2011

Challenges and Blessings

Sometimes Blessings come all by themselves, unannounced and surprisingly sweet. Sometimes they come amid challenges, as the product of hope and faith.

Earlier this week, my family missed celebrating Father's Day. We were challenged by time, circumstances, and scheduling. Thanks to the creative efforts of my sister-in-law, and God's provision, we were able to celebrate late on Wednesday night and include some birthday celebrations as well. In fact we celebrated five Dads, and four birthdays! We had great conversations, laughter, and sweetly tart lemon sorbet.
A challenge led to multiple blessings.

Yesterday I felt exhausted in the afternoon. I wasn't sure if I should go to the church softball game. Getting there, and getting started challenged me. Thanks to the positive attitudes of my team mates, and the fumble of the first baseman, I made it on base at my first bat, and was sent home by my next teammate. I was surprised that I could run as well as I did. Not saying I did great, but considering I hurt my ankle about a month ago, I did much better than I expected. Again, a challenge led to multiple blessings: fun, exceeding my own expectations, feeling healed from my hurt.

Last night, my kids were challenged by some rude behavior by four boys at the game. They focused their attention on two younger girls, and played with them. The blessings here: my daughters showed me how responsible they are, and I know they are able to talk to me about their challenges. (although I would have liked to have known sooner) My oldest daughter who doesn't always stand up for herself, stood up for the two younger girls and protected them.

This last week, I've been challenged by lack of complete sleep. By complete sleep, I mean more than five or six hours. The blessing that has surfaced in this challenge is that God has provided me with wakefulness when I most needed it, and provided me with nap-time on the day that I couldn't make it through without more sleep.

From my experiences in life, I know that God is refining me through each challenge, and that I can trust Him to provide me with rest, faith, and hope for each day.

Scripture Blessings:

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."
1 Corinthians 9:24-25

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Imagining the Sea

I can smell the sea this morning
and hear the birds sweet trilling

The air is soft with moisture
the fog holds the trees closer

Salty water beckons beyond the treeline
so I close my eyes and imagine

the sea, lapping the shore by my toes
or a kayak paddle lifting up out of the water
and a seal poking its head out to look at me
sand dollars tilted in the sand,
or layered over one another in a bed of purple
or sea stars, mussels and urchins clinging to rocks
or . . .

you can imagine . . . .

What do you imagine this morning?

Yesterday, I woke to gray cloud-fog that burned off as I went for my daily walk. This morning, the fog is already fading into blue, which I love too. :-)

Scripture Blessing for the Day:
"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Teaser Tuesday

Already posted today, but I forgot that it is Tuesday - that's what happens when summer begins settling into my mindset. Days roll by without being named.

Teaser Tuesday involves picking up your latest book, randomly choosing a page, and writing down two sentences. I've seen it at other blogs, and thought it was pretty cool. So here goes.

"After visiting with Meena Hasina and Ruchira Gupta in Bihar, Nick crossed from India into Nepal and a border village crowded with stalls selling clothing, snacks, and more sinister wares. That border crossing is the one through which thousands of Nepali girls are trafficked into India on their way to the brothels of Kolkata."

Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

This is a heavy, but worthwhile read.

Gray Sky Blessings

Gray Sky Blessings

Gray skies permeate life in the Northwest. Clouds and fog shorten the horizon to the treeline. The rain is easy to live with, but the gray skies can be oppressive even for those of us who have lived here our whole lives. For those who move here from brighter climes, they are often overwhelmed not by the rain but by the grayness that hovers close over our heads for days on end.

However, I think these days mark a time of contemplation. There is a rythm to the Northwest life. Even outside walking, running, or biking, the gray sky atmosphere lends itself to prayer, thoughtfulness, and musings.

Evergreen trees break the grayness with a steadfast, upward resistance, their topmost branches disappearing into the clouds. Fairyland like wonder can be found in the blurry edges, a mystery in the mist.

Stillness reigns. Sounds are muffled. The sound of the highway just 3 miles away is softened to a ocean like hiss. Trills, buzzes, and chirps from birds pierce the air with bright sound.

Moisture touchs the skin on my airs like a cool breeze, even though the air is still. It's not rain. It's not even heavy enough to be mist, but the moisture is almost like dipping into a cool lake. I wish I could describe it more fully.

Most people stay inside their houses on days like this. I think they are missing out on the hidden beauty of the Northwest. This is a perfect day for running, or hard exercise. A perfect day for gardening - moist soil is loose, and the weeds come out easier. If I could be on the water, I would go kayaking or canoeing. The lack of boaters, and the stillness of the air guarantee a soothing, relaxing paddle, and more wildlife sightings.

There is a sense of growth outside, as if the very grass, moss and trees are soaking up the moisture, digging in their roots, and growing upward at a faster rate than they do on a hot, sunny day.

I've only been sitting on my deck, and I feel filled with life abundant. The Lord is good all the time, and all the time the Lord is good. Gray sky days are a gift, like each day is a gift. We just have to take the time to go outside and unwrap them with wonder.

One of my past writing instructors would often ask me, "What is the quality of light?" and that question was written in red ink all over my papers. She wanted to know what the actual surroundings of my characters looked like and how they were reacting to those surroundings. What was the quality of light around them? And how did they see it? How did they feel about it or react to it?

So, today, for all my writing and non-writing friends, I ask, What is the quality of light for you today?

And here are two scripture blessings that blessed me today, and that I hope will bless you too:

"So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who makes things grow." 1 Corinthians 3:7

"Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bored Already?

In that odd moment between school and dance ending, and true summer beginning, I am cleaning off the shelves. Currently our second, overloaded bookshelf is partly in pieces all over our back hallway. I am currently pretty content with that project.


My daughters, with only 2/3 of a summer day under their belts, are bored.

After a week of excitement, we've had a whole 24 hours at home. Yesterday afternoon we decided, due to mommy exhaustion, not to go to the church softball game. I am feeling pretty good today, and again, my eldest reminds me, my kids are bored.

However, I feel that boredom is that place between activities, that place where our minds rest and our imaginations start to work. Boredom is good.

Boredom forces the owner of said state of mind to choose something to think about or do. Sometimes I think boredom is just a state of not getting what we want (friends at our house NOW), or not being sure of what to do next. There are always plenty of activities available around our house like: playing with sister, playing with dogs and cat, training dogs and cat to do tricks, reading, drawing, crafting, scrapbooking, beading, outdoor play on a tire swing or with hula hoops or bikes or . . . well, you get the idea.

There are also the less fun activities to choose from like: cleaning, laundry, dusting, vacuuming, weeding, and giving the dogs baths.

My youngest has wisely decided to read. If my eldest tells me that she is bored again . . . well, there are more shelves to dust.

She really wants me to call her friends' moms and make fun happen for her. I've asked her to call, and she doesn't want to . . . so I'm back to plan A. Today is a day off from all outside of the family activity. It's just us, and it's ok.

I have plans brewing in my head for writing, the worship and music meeting taking place at my house tomorrow night, homeschool planning for next year, my mom's upcoming 70th birthday party, and many other things. Boredom for me just means rest, and time for my mind to plan and daydream. Hooray for Boredom!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Once upon a time, my dad reminded me of all things heroic and good.

As I've grown older I've realized how amazingly blessed I am to have such a good, loving father. Father's Day is not always easy for me because I never feel like I can give him back enough. He has done so much for me in so many ways.

He is loyal, reliable, trustworthy, generous, loving, kind, gentle and yet has an inner toughness and strength that has upheld him through all of life's challenges.

That's not to say that he has no fault or no weakness, but he has always been the measure of what I feel a good man, a good father, and a decent person is.

For many years, my Dad wasn't sure about Christ as his savior, but he always believed in God as Father and Creator. That faith, which he found to be logical and reasonable based on the glory and complexity of creation, kept him rooted throughout storms in life, and helped him treat others with love and kindness.

As the years have passed, my prayers throughout childhood and young adulthood have been answered. My dad has faith in Christ as his Savior. He wants to worship on Sundays. He wants to help others with Habitat for Humanity, and in Christian service. He's always been helpful, but now his helpfulness has expanded to all of God's people and not just our immediate relatives and friends.

He's still not that keen on Biblical study or going to Bible study classes, but he likes a good small group gathering with a little study and a lot of fellowship. I've even heard him pray once out loud. Considering that my dad is often shy, and soft-spoken outside of our immediate family circle, that is pretty amazing . . . miraculous even in an every day miracle kind of way.

Once upon a time my Dad reminded me of all things heroic and good.

And today, he still does.

He's not perfect, but he is close enough for me.

In my early childhood, I had a friend who thought he was the bionic man due to his prosthetic leg, his energy for outdoorsmanship, his enthusiam for mechanics, and the popularity of that tv show The Six Million Dollar Man. However, I think my dad has more strength than the bionic man ever did. He has a strength of heart, and purpose.

The bionic man may have been The Six Million Dollar Man,

but my Dad is priceless . . .

Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday, June 17th

A moment for a sip of tea,
the Bible,
Holy Spirit,
Writing a few words,
With sore muscles, I crouch,
preparing for the day's sprint!

Blessings to all of you today! Our family is off to race through the day, starting with a chiropractor appointment for my oldest daughter, middling with a state homeschool convention, and then stretching our legs for that last stretch of the first recital. Two dance numbers tonight. Costumes, lights, stage makeup, laughter, applause, and a mom in the audience? What? Tomorrow I'll be backstage. Tonight I get to watch. (For tomorrow's recital my kids have 5 dances - but want me back stage)

"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on man's wisdom, but on God's power."
1 Corinthinas 2:2-4

Thursday, June 16, 2011


I am no longer in the midst of my 365 Days of Blessings Challenge, and yet blessings abound, and I feel so thankful that I have to share them:

1. I walked two miles today, with a few tiny jogs between power poles, and my ankle feels ok! I'm still soaking it anyway for better healing.

2. Had an awesome conversation about the Bible, prayer, and healing with my mom today and yesterday, while walking.

3. Even though I am totally bummed out that a sweet friend of mine is moving away, I am thankful for the priveledge of knowing her. It took me a long time to get to know her, and then even longer to realize how precious she is to me. She is the kind of person that I feel comfy around, and she is always encouraging.

4. We had an awesome end of the school year celebration yesterday with our Wednesday co-op homeschool friends!

5. The kids played capture the flag in the rain and I refereed.

6. When the rain slowed, the kids joyfully tossed water balloons at each other . . .an activity they had been waiting for all day.

7. Before the rain and after it, we had sun.

8. The laughter of a three-legged race. We actually had several, with practice time in between because the kids were having so much fun.

9. Encouragement.

10. Taking a needed break in the midst of the second day of 4 hour dance rehearsals last night. Tonight we have a six hour rehearsal and I'm already making plans to be a sea of calm no matter what circumstance arises.

Scripture Blessings:

I tried to read a whole chapter of the Bible today, but I read these verses, and then re-read them, and I just stopped. I felt like the Holy Spirit asked me to sit up and pay attention, for the message right here.

"When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."
1 Corinthians 2:1-2


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Back for more Blessings? and Published Poem!

These last few weeks I've been blessed by busy-ness, books, endings and beginnings, and some rest.

I missed my blog and facebook painfully on some days. I kept keeping track of blessings throughout each day, wondering which ones I would post about and then realizing that I wasn't posting that day.

I missed my blog buddies.

However, I noticed that I had a little more time on my hands. I enjoyed that too.

I planned to have a plan :-) for my blog when I came back, and it's still formulating in my head.

For now, I can say that I have been blessed by this blog, by my blog buddies, by friends, and family. I have ideas for a blog post schedule, theme, and I have "stuff" I would like to share, but I will continue to work on my "plan" over the next few weeks and just post posts that are unplanned, off the cuff, thoughts of the moment.

Thanks for sticking with me in all this, and if you would like to see my latest published poem, just check out this link:

Octopus Rising at Every Day Poets

I was experimenting with short form tanka poetry, and it still doesn't quite capture the feeling and the moment like I wanted it to . . . even after a dozen revisions. However, I feel blessed to be published, and have those words out there still tantalizing me to write something more . . .

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

This is just to say . . .

This is just to say Thanks bunches to those of you who participated in my Blessings Blogfest! I loved reading your blessings, and I appreciate all the encouragement you've given me throughout my 365 Days of Blessings Challenge.

I'm going to be taking a few days off from blogging and facebook, just to see if I can handle it, and to think on my next blogging project, and what my blog will look like over the next year.

I'll be back June 15th with that news, and a link to my latest poem published at Every Day Poets.

Thanks Bunches for hanging out with me!!! Your blogs and your comments lift me up.