I laughed when I realized how many years it took to discover who I am.... by first zealously exploring who I am not

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The act of being a class act

I had something happen that I just haven't been able to get off my mind. A friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook of a new decor item in her bedroom. As her friends oohed and ahed over it, one of her family members made the comment that she must of made her bed in order to take the picture and how long had it been. Immediately, her fierce and loyal friends began posting meme's to the shadiness of posting that comment. Because I have no filter and tend to call a spade a spade, I told her it was rude and how it was perceived. See I have that family member that critiques and has an opinion on everything. I control it by just not telling them anything. I know what it feels like to have someone mean well, but still just say something that is flat out rude disguised as a joke. Putting "hee hee" or a smiley face does not make it less rude or pull the sting away. But then they responded with how they were making it right and how sorry she was it had been taken that way. I looked at all the comments from all the people who were trying to help my friend and I felt guilty. So I asked her forgiveness for what I am sure felt like a gang beating up on her. I have always said I don't have a tribe, I have a mob. One of my friends posted in another group that I was class act for apologizing. I felt good about that for all of 2 seconds as the realization hit me that on any given day I could go either way. Every day I am faced with decisions where I have to choose my response. Some are easy to choose the right way-I wouldn't steal or lie to someone- that's an easy right choice. For that day I chose to be kind and understanding to the fact that I wasn't privy to a lifetime of relationship and the private texts she had already sent apologizing. I could have continued to rip her a new one even after she apologized because it doesn't remove the fact that she said it to begin with. Every choice, every situation is a tight rope walk wondering which way am I going to fall- in the pit with pettiness, lack of grace, anger, rudeness or will walk the rope being as my friend says "a class act". As I have thought about this, I have decided that really it's all an act. At the end of the day, anything I handle with grace and compassion is only from the Jesus in me. My flesh is not drawn to act that way. It is drawn toward self serving and my own opinion and beliefs. All flesh is drawn in that direction. It's why Jesus calls us to die to ourselves. I heard someone say one time the first one dead wins. I love this because when we are truly sacrificing all that is in us, all that is left is Him. So may you find a new way to die today. May I find a new way to die today. See you at the finish line because when we live a life dead to ourselves- the world wins Jesus.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dear 2017......

I haven't sent out Christmas cards since 2011. I lost both of my parents that year and just couldn't' find it in me to do. The next year found me still grieving and I didn't even put up a tree. Years continued to pass and like all things that change, I've found my joy again in the Christmas season, but I still haven't sent out the cards and carefully crafted letter updating everyone on the happenings of our lives. At this point, I think I relish the realization that the world didn't cease turning without my annual diatribe mailed out to all the people I've ever met so why start it up again.  However, this morning, as I looked back over this year in the life of our family I had some thoughts I wanted to share. So I will just post them here and save myself a stamp.

Dear 2017,

I feel like someone sliding into home just ahead of that ball, going we made it. We have some mud on our knees that may never come out, a couple of holes and rips that we will fix, but will always be there- but we made it. Whew.

2017 you started in strong and hard as I was diagnosed with cancer in January. The first part of the year was full of doctor visits, fears, worry, questions and lots and lots of tears. I had a hysterectomy in March and God provided such care in the aftermath through my church family, my work family and so many friends who came and stayed with me, cooked for me and some who just sat on the sofa with me. He is so faithful.

In May a very dear friend of mine went in for a routine surgery and through very unheard of complications we almost lost her. I remember the night I came home, after another discouraging update, and just sat in my car and wept and cried, "Lord, please don't take her from us. Please, spare her life." It's been a long road, one that she is still walking, but she is here and she is healing- even though the scars remain. He is so faithful.

My husband made the decision to leave the company he has worked for most of his adult life, and a boss that truly loved him, and take a new job- even though it was a tremendous pay cut. A job that would allow him to be home every night and not work 12-14 hr days, 6 and even 7 days a week. A job where he is so valued by the people that I can't even count the ones that stop by my office to tell me how much they love and respect him. Despite the pay cut, our bills our paid and truly, we have lacked for nothing. God is so faithful.

My mothers house finally sold and that huge, open, gaping would that I've needed closure with is finally beginning to heal. While some things haven't finished, just having the house gone has done tremendous things for my heart and walking out of just the burden of undone and unfinished. With some of the money we received we have paid off almost all of our debt including cancer medical bills we were still paying on from when Jeremy had cancer in 2010, as well as all of my cancer stuff, which BTW, is what allowed my husband to take a lower paying job. All in God's timing. He is so faithful.

I've seen dear friends uprooting their entire lives and moving their family to GA. I've seen them walk through adoption struggles and the heartache and trauma involved with babies and mommas who need to see Jesus. I've seen the questions and the wondering and the aches and pains that come with all of life in the midst of the hard. He is so faithful.

One of the hardest battles has been watching someone who is like a mother to me, in every sense of the word, battle her own cancer. I've seen her wiped out by the chemo and struggle to just move from bed to chair. I've seen her at the top of the mountain and bottom of the valley. Gracefully broken. Poured out. I've seen her live her faith in ways that I hope one day I walk in. I've seen her stand strong- even in the middle of all that is coming against her and I watch in amazement with tears at her faith in a God who holds her next breath. Every Sunday I watch her worship- arms raised, voice strong singing praise to the God she loves and has served her whole life. He is faithful, every day, every time.

As this year closes in just a few short days I see His faithfulness in every step we have taken. I see His faithfulness as dreams come to fruitions, promises come to pass, as friends announce new babies coming and others let go of bitterness and hurt. He is Faithful. He is so faithful. Thank you for teaching me this 2017.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Come, and make yourself uncomfortable for awhile

It's 6:30 on Friday night and I sat down in a chair waiting on my son to get dressed so we could go eat with some friends from work. Only, I sat down in my chair an hour ago and now it is to late for us to go so once again, like numerous times over the last few months, I am cancelling on something because I am just to tired to go.

I have cancer. I heard those words over the phone, sitting in my garage 3 weeks ago. I will never forget my doctor calling me and then asking me if I was ok. I mean, are people normally ok when they hear those words? I would love to say that the last three weeks have been filled with me standing firm in the faith that I profess to have. That I have taken hold of God and stood fast, claiming and believing that I am healed. That I have banished Satan from my house and my body and that I sing worship songs nonstop as I praise God for my healing. I would love to say all those things because I am a good pentecostal girl and I'm on staff at a church so of course that's what is happening. But that is not what the last three weeks have been for me. They have been filled with tears, and lots of pep talks to myself to suck it up. They have been filled with planning and getting ready for a hysterectomy and being out of commission for 4 weeks to recover. They have been filled with me convincing myself that I will be ok and yet knowing that I'm not really feeling ok. They have been filled with feeling thankful for the people praying for me and then struggling to not throat punch everyone who comes up and wants to pray for me because I don't feel like praying. It's been please don't touch me or be nice to me because I will absolutely die if you do. I feel like crying. They have been filled with FEAR. Which is a new emotion for me. You see, I've never struggled with fear and I don't know what to do with it especially when the fear comes in crashing waves drowning me over and over again in the worry of the unknown. Has it spread? Will they open me up and find out that it is everywhere? What am I really dealing with? How did I get cancer? I'm overwhelmed with feelings that I am struggling to express and process. If you have heard me speak anywhere in the last year- you know that I am all about the struggle. I lean into the struggle. I believe with my whole entire heart that God is found in the middle of the struggle and that in brokenness we find ourselves and more importantly, we find HIM. We know that He is good because of the brokenness in our lives. We know that He is good and faithful because we can trust Him to move in those places. But I can't find Him in my fear. And that scares me more than anything that I have ever experienced in my life. You see I know how to seek God. Me and Him meet in the secret place often. I sit at my piano in my quiet house and I play and worship and He meets with me. But I have missed Him the last few weeks. My heart isn't in my worship, because the fear has clouded my ability to see Him. I go to church and just want to come home. I see people who love me dearly and mean so well and I just want to hide. I just want to be unseen, yet desperately need to know that I'm not alone. I've never ever in my life been in a place like this. I've walked in the depths of depression and grief and overcome. But this fear- is crippling and it is overwhelming. I have a sweet- well, feisty and sweet friend who has really pushed me to get in touch with my feelings and to really FEEL them. It's been really hard for me to admit I am not ok. But life altering news does just that- it alters your life- no matter how strong of a faith you have some things are just big. Yes, God is bigger. I know this. I know that He is good and He is holding me and my family and the end will be ok. In my heart I know that I believe this. But right now the lies and the fear is louder than my faith. It is just the place that I am in. My friend challenged to just find space to cry and process through. About the same time I heard a song by Ellie Holcomb called "Find You Here". Every day I drive to work with that song on repeat and I cry- all the way there and all the way home. It's my space to fall apart and say I'm struggling and I'm not ok. But I'm gonna believe that you are here somewhere in the midst of all of this even if I can't feel you or see you and touch you or even believe right now.

So what is the point of this blog if not to share with the world how I am overcoming in this season. The purpose is to invite you into my brokenness.  To share with you the uncomfortableness of not being ok. Of being able to say that I don't see God, but I believe Him to be good and faithful and I know that I will eventually find Him again. This is a hard thing to do because it's uncomfortable to most people to not be able to fix it, or pray for it or to heal it. It's uncomfortable to sit with a fellow believer as they struggle and just let them struggle. It feels contrary to what we normally do but its the season I'm in and if you haven't walked my path then you can't understand my season. Its hard to sit in the uncomfortable. It's even harder to invite you in praying that you will be gentle in this space and understanding of the enormity that this is to me. But I do it open handed. Come sit with me. Just be with me. But don't touch me, because I'm not sure I can handle it.

Find You Here
It's not the news that any of us hoped that we would hear
It's not the road we would have chosen, no
The only thing that we can see is darkness up ahead
But You're asking us to lay our worry down and sing a song instead

And I didn't know I'd find You here
In the middle of my deepest fear, but
You are drawing near
You are overwhelming me, with peace
So I'll lift my voice and sing
You're gonna carry us through everything
You are drawing near
You're overwhelming all my fears, with peace

You say that I should come to You with everything I need
You're asking me to thank you even when the pain is deep
You promise that You'll come and meet us on the road ahead
And no matter what the fear says, You give me a reason to be glad

Here in the middle of the lonely night
Here in the middle of the losing fight, You're
Here in the middle of the deep regret
Here when the healing hasn't happened yet
Here in the middle of the desert place
Here in the middle when I cannot see Your face
Here in the middle with Your outstretched arms
You can see my pain and it breaks Your heart

And I didn't know I'd find You here
In the middle of my deepest fear, but
You are drawing near
You are overwhelming me with, peace
So I'll lift my voice and sing
You're gonna carry me through everything
You are drawing near
You're overwhelming all my fear with peace

Rejoice, rejoice
Don't have to worry 'bout a single thing, 'cause
You are overwhelming me with, peace!
Don't have to worry 'bout a single thing
You're gonna carry us through everything
Overwhelming peace ...

Friday, October 21, 2016

October, Tears and Legacy

I've been weepy for days. I've blamed it on allergies and not feeling well. I've blamed it on being a woman because let's be honest, that right there is enough. However as I was driving home yesterday with beautiful leaves all around and a cool breeze blowing in my little mountain town I had the realization of why. It's October. Its the month of my birthday, my husbands birthday and my mom's birthday. It's also the month that 5 years ago my mom passed away, just a few months after my dad,  literally making me an orphan. I called my brother in law and talked to him for a few minutes and cried about all the things I wish she was here to see and be a part of. Things like Andrew serving in New Orleans- my mom was a missionary at heart and she would be so proud of him and the path that he has chosen. This morning I remembered a writing assignment I had to do for school where I wrote about her.  As I graduate in December it's another memory and momentous moment that I will grieve my mom not being a part of- yet she is a part of my life in so many way. When I play the piano she is part of all the piano lessons. When I sing or paint, she is part of the fact that I grew up in a home where music and creativity was valued. She is the reason that I'm strong willed and determined and I believe truly that I can do anything I want because she told me so my whole life. I just wanted to share this story- some of you may have read it before but it's always a good reminder of her touch on my life.

by: Elizabeth Noles

The weather was unusually warm for fall.  Nonetheless, I was enjoying the sunshine. I had emerged from a long winter, which was  followed by an even longer summer.  I was looking forward to fall with its decidedly cooler weather and lazy nights.  My family had buried my dad in February.  Like the bold yellow, orange, and red leaves bursting from the trees, I found life seeping into the corner pockets of my heart that had been cold and dreary for many months.  I was looking forward to the weeks my mom was coming to spend with me, and for many days had been planning all the trouble that we would get into.  We were famous for our midnight trips to Wal-Mart, and even more infamous for our outlandish projects that we never quite completed.  However,for all the incomplete projects around my house, there had always been many moments of laughter and many hours spent planning what our next project would be.  Momma left on a Friday to travel on vacation with her sister.  When she returned the next week, our plotting and planning would begin. 
Ona Saturday night, sitting in a crowded Chick-Fil-A, I got the phone call.  “Honey, I’m at the hospital and they are doing surgery Monday morning on my heart.  It’s not a big deal. Don’t worry about coming, but I thought you would want to know.” In that moment, my whole world tilted off balance.  It was like a scene from a movie,where the music crescendos into a dead silence.  The restaurant noises drifted into the background, every nerve, every ounce of focus was on the voice coming out of my cell phone.  “Mom, of course I’m going to come.  I’ll leave in the morning and be there as soon as possible”.  I don’t know in what world she thought I would stay home. Sometimes parents still think they know everything. 
I arrived at Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, mid-morning on Sunday.  I walked into intensive care and tried to block the sterile, pungent hospital odor from my nostrils.  Machines were beeping, nurses were hopping, and families were sitting in hushed circles with drawn faces and concern oozing from every breath. I didn’t know quite what I would walk into when I saw my mom.I walked up to the nurse’s station and quietly asked for her room. “Kathleen Spruill, please?” 
A stoic nurse dressed in the classic white uniform replied “Are you family?” 
“Yes, ma’am,” I answered in shaky voice.
“Right this way”, as she directed me down the hall, dismissing from her presence.
I opened the door quietly and hesitantly; fear was evident in my quiet moves.  I was quickly greeted by a boisterous hello from my mother sitting up in the bed eating jell-o.  I didn’t know the ICU even served patients food; only my mom could finagle what she wanted against hospital rules.  
            The day went by slowly as only days spent in a hospital do.  After much hustle and bustle from doctors and nurses, I found myself alone with my mom in the late afternoon hour.  In the quiet of the room, I sat next to her and gently placed her hand in mine.  I held it softly, tracing every line and every vein.  I thought about my babies, and how she had held them and patted them to sleep.  I remembered how she changed their diapers and wiped their faces with a gentle caress, known only to those who have watched their children have children of their own.  As I looked at a particularly large wrinkle, I thought how these hands did the same for me.  They have cleaned my house, and washed countless loads of laundry, simply because it was a task to be completed.  Those same hands have felt my brow, even as an adult, when she felt that I was ill and not taking care of myself.  Her manicured fingers have pointed at me and held me accountable when I have squandered my opportunities or made bad decisions.  I didn’t quite know how to put into words all that I was thinking, so I simply said, “I love you. I hope you truly know how much I love you and appreciate you.”  I remember she smiled so peacefully at me and said she knew.  What is it about hospitals that make you want to share your feelings in such open ways?  Maybe if we all spent a few hours in a hospital, we could learn to express the deepest parts of our hearts.  The parts of our heart that we keep locked away in the busyness of life.  The parts,that when faced with uncertainty, begs to be released to those who know us best.  As my mom and I sat and talked in the stillness of the afternoon, we shared tidbits that were of no consequence,mixed in with heartfelt apologies for words that had been said, or actions that couldn’t be reversed.  Neither of us speaking out the fear of what tomorrow would bring with the looming surgery,but constantly assuring each other that all would be fine and life would go on as it always had.   At one point she looked at me with a sternness in her eye. The kind of sternness you learn from years of parenting, the kind that comes wrapped in love, but they still know you mean business. With that look in her eye she said to me, “Live your life surrendered to God. It is the only way you will ever be happy. Live your life surrendered to His Will. Nothing else works.”  I looked at her and in that moment, I knew. 
            Monday morning came early and dreaded.  I kissed her face, and as they wheeled her to surgery, she spoke boldly and clearly “No matter what happens, I win.”  On Monday, October 24, 2011, my mother won.  She won the prize that is given to those who live lives surrendered to God. I know that my dad met her there, and together they walked into the place where hearts are fixed and grief is no more. A place where I believe she watches over my children and caresses them with the warmth of a gentle breeze. A place where she can still point her finger when I squander my opportunities. Some days, especially in the warmth of the fall, when the sun rises high in the sky like an orange balloon about to take flight, I look up and wonder what she sees. I wonder what kind of trouble she has found,and I wonder if they have a Wal-Mart in heaven.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

UUUUUGGGHHH..... you can do it.

My friend JJ posted a video this week. (you can visit her blog here) It was an innocent video. It was a cute video. I'm currently writing this and planning on stealing it and she hasn't even said yes to whether that's ok. It's her son who is the most precious thing you have ever seen. In the past few weeks she posted pictures of him crying because she told him he couldn't lick people anymore and pictures of him crying because there was no more yard work to do. I've seen him go WW3 on a carton on yogurt and one look at him will make you question whether she feeds him or not. (Seriously, the most adorably chubby cheeks you've ever seen). But this video caused me to just watch and I felt God go--- did you catch that?

People around me are struggling. Sickness, despair, worry, fear- wonder for how the next bill will be paid or food will be on the table. I see it everywhere I turn. There is a family at my church flat out being just attacked with sickness. Prayers have been prayed faith has gone out but they are still struggling. People who have lost babies that were supposed to come live with them and then plans get changed and that child is now living with someone else. Adoption is full of heartache and born of brokenness,  and I have friends right now walking through the darkest part of that process.

But as I watched this video I saw so clearly God. We think we are holding it up. We think we are balancing our cares- our pain. Many of us thrive on having it all together and being able to make things work. What? only me? We are so proud of everything we can accomplish and all we do. We brush our shoulders and work it like a boss. We walk through and we are like Rambo until we meet the mountain that seems to stop us in our tracks. For some it is sickness, for others addiction. For others it is just the unknown of where their life is headed. That mountain looms before us and like a little kid we take off to climb it. We put our arms around it and we start to move it and we don't even realize that God is right behind us giving strength to everything we do. God never asked us to carry the load. In fact He tells us very clearly that His yoke is easy and His burden is light- you know why? Because He does the heavy lifting. When we are weighted down, falling underneath the load we are carrying it's because we said Hey God I got this. But God is looking at us and He's going no, I got YOU! What ever your load is tonight whether its family, job, your kids, your church, your self- whatever it is God has you. He's always had you. He will always have you. He takes care of his children, even when we don't see or know that He's there.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


This morning as I was coming home after school drop off a song came on the radio that a friend had posted the lyrics to this week. This song had meant something significant to her as she is walking through having a child with a chronic illness. My thoughts of her were followed quickly by a prayer for her and the immediate struggles they are in right now. I can't imagine what it's like to have a child with very specific medical needs. It is not something I've ever had to deal with on a constant basis, but because I love her I am moved by her struggles in this season.

If you are around me for more than 5 minutes you have heard me talk about my tribe- my women in #the4500 that came together because of a book launch rejection letter. I'm often amazed and caught unaware at some of the differences in my life because of them. This morning's prayers and thoughts are another example. For most of my life everyone that I was in contact believed like me, acted like me and lived their life like me. The last couple of years I've really felt pulled, <pushed, forced> to see the world outside of my own worldview, my very shallow and narrow worldview. What I wasn't prepared for was just the intense depth of life changing awareness this would bring.

I have such a new view of adoption. I've never been around people that adopted or were passionate about adoption. I'm in awe and totally a weepy mess because I've learned the other side of adoption. The side where there are birth moms with wounded, broken hearts and adoptive moms who are desperately trying to balance and manage the feelings of the child in their care and the deep sense of loss that comes from adoption. I've learned that it's not sunshine and happy days because they have this great family now and someone to love them. It's forced me to see the brokenness in the world in such a different way.

Like I opened with, I have several people in this group who have children with desperate medical needs. To watch and read their daily struggles just to keep their child alive is so heartbreaking and so overwhelming that I can't even imagine their life. I can't imagine the pain they live with yet they walk with joy and so much compassion and so much appreciation for what they do have.

I have friends who have given up everything. I mean EVERYTHING for what they know God has called their family to do and walk very alone in that place without the support of family. They live not knowing there they will live next month, not knowing what the future holds, not knowing anything except the fire that God has put in their heart to do something that is too hard and seems impossible, yet they are doing it.

I have friends with unsaved husbands who beat the heavens for their salvation and for their children. I see women fighting to find themselves, seeking their purpose and calling- desperate to find God in the midst of this thing we call life and motherhood and wifehood and sisterhood. And this morning, I am grateful. I am grateful that my heart breaks for things that I have never imagined. I'm grateful that these things push me to pray in ways that I've never prayed before because I love these women in ways I've never loved before.  So this morning I'm just praying. I'm praying for all those hard things that suddenly I can't not know. For the people whose lives look nothing like mine as I sit in my warm house with healthy children and so many other blessings that I take for granted. I'm praying and asking God to keep expanding what I haven't seen because for every hard thing, I see Him in a new way. For every circumstance that's overwhelming I'm amazed at the grace He gives to the person walking that path. For everything that there is no answer to, He is still the answer.

My challenge in all of these ramblings is this- move. Move beyond what is comfortable and known in your life. Connect with people who look different and act different and push you to see the world in a different way. Because when you see the world differently you begin to see God differently. You see His awesomeness and his breadth and how truly big he is in the midst of a life that is just messy and difficult. But He is faithful and we can trust him.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

40 Candles

Today is my 40th birthday. A milestone birthday for sure. I haven't dreaded it like I thought I would. Honestly, after the trauma of turning 26, and leaving what I felt was "young adulthood" I may be immune to the getting older dread. (except for when I turned 30 and my little Andrew kept telling me I was "dirty" because he couldn't make his "th" sound) As I look at this day and all it holds I have several thoughts in my mind that I wanted to share.

40 is the new 20
They say 40 is the new 20. Well, I say hurrah and they can keep their actual 20's because I wouldn't go back to being 20 for all the money in the world. While I would love to have back the firm skin, no wrinkles and thick hair, I am happy with what I know at 40 that I didn't even know about when I was 20. Life is a great teacher and if you listen and learn you get to live your life very differently as you get older. You learn to appreciate things that you take for granted- like the fleeting moments of a little baby, the value of friendship and not peeing on yourself when you cough.

No Rules
The older I get, the less rules I feel I have to live by. Quickly fleeing are the days of worrying about what so and so thinks or if I do this will I offend them. I love who I am, I have fought for the healing in my heart and I have finally reached the place where I'm ok if others don't see it. I've learned that the same grace I have demanded people give me for my mistakes must be freely given by me to them as well. When you walk in a place where you realize love shouldn't be based on whether I agree with you politically, or how you parent or what you believe in faith wise, suddenly the world opens up so much bigger with so many more opportunities for relationship. It allows connections to be made that otherwise wouldn't have happened, allowing for a much richer life with more to see and comprehend. It grows you. It makes you a better person. It also makes you less annoying to the people around you because really no one cares about your opinion. They care how much you love them and if you love them well, they will value your opinion.

I've learned that some dreams never come true and that when you can finally realize that, God opens your heart to dreams you never even imagined. People always say dream big but really the biggest that we as people can dream can't even touch the hugeness of a God that has a plan for us. I've watched dreams die. I've had heartache and tears as I said goodbye to things that I thought I would have forever. I've walked with fear and uncertainty down dark hallways looking for light, or even just an ember to spark so I could believe again. I'm learning that you have to walk out believing He is a good good Father with a great great plan and eventually the door will crack, a light will shine and suddenly once again you stand in the light with bigger dreams unfolding before you.

Life and Kids
My husband and I are both turning 40 this month and we are truly in this middle season of life. In the next 5 years both of our kids will be done with school and we will be moving into a totally different season.  I have heard friends share of their struggle as their kids get older and get ready to leave the nest. While I mourn the loss of childhood with my babies, I rejoice in the new season. A season where I'm not their boss. I get to love them and watch them live out all those things I pray they have planted in their hearts. I get to see them LIVE their lives- live their dreams and be who we have been raising them to be. I also get to be Jeremy's wife. We are very young with hopefully lots of years left. We will spend them together, laughing and making music and doing the things we have always done. I'm excited about this time with him. We get to have grandkids and spoil them and send them home. We get to eat out for less than $50. Can I get an amen! Life is just getting sweet and I can't wait to see what is around the corner.

Here's to turning 40 and all that the future holds! Happy Birthday to me.