Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Frames

I picked up my new glasses last week. They immediately caused a mini crisis.

The frames reminded me too much of the frames I had in the eighth grade! When I first looked in the mirror at the optometrist’s office, I was thrown back to another lifetime marked by huge amounts of insecurity. Frank and the girls had to work quickly in order to pull me back from the ledge of severe emotional trauma. Smile.

I’ve always thought someone should endeavor to find a better way for people to choose eye glass frames.

Please consider. Just exactly WHY are you there choosing frames? Because you can no longer see without assistance! So how in the world are you supposed to choose frames that work well with your face when you can’t even see the things?!

The lovely optometric assistant walks with you to the wall of possibilities. If you’re thinking ahead, you ask her to point out the frames in your price range. She gives a vague wave in “this” section, while you HOPE you’re facing the right way. Then you’re left to squint your way toward a choice!

Only after the purchase is made and the glasses have been delivered do we find out what we actually ordered. There must be a better way!

(I have a great story about how I transitioned from the classic “cat eye” frames of my youth to the more mature tortoise shell ovals in eighth grade. Smile. But that will have to wait for another day.)

Today, Frank and I are headed to NC for our final wedding of the summer.

Our wonderful Amanda will be marrying the man of her dreams on Friday. And we’ll be the joyful participants performing the ceremony.

Too much transition for one short summer if you ask me.

But then again, no one asked me. These amazing young people that we’re privileged to journey beside, have an interesting habit of finding a spouse or a new direction and moving on to lives that God has ordained for them.

As we all gather for the celebration of Amanda and Webb, we’ll be joined by another one of “our girls” who just found out she and her husband are having a baby girl! We’ll enjoy firsthand the reports of one who recently moved to Chicago to help plant a church. We’ll listen to the story of doors God has opened for another moving back to FL to pursue her dreams of recording music.

And if I still saw life the way I did in middle school, I’d feel very sad and a bit empty; maybe even left behind.

But my mature, dimming eyes allow me to see some things more clearly than I did in my youth.

At this age I finally understand that although these changes cause tears, they will also bring growth and expansion. (I’m no math scholar, but even I understand adding versus subtracting! Smile.)

A piece of my heart is moving back to NC with Amanda; no way around that. But that’s why someone invented Skype, isn’t it?

Mature vision also helps me see that perhaps someone else needs to be pulled in close for a few months of mentoring and mothering. What an honor to serve these young women in that role. Even though it means opening my heart once more with full knowledge that they will eventually move away taking a piece of me with them. Sigh.

Yes, life looks very full these days. I’m so thankful that God has chosen to frame it all with His love and grace!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Working Out

(Must tell you I'm already smiling like a goof just thinking about this post! )

So, someone asked about this exercise routine Frank and I have started.

It's called "Supreme 90". Not to be confused with the "P 90 X" which was apparently designed for super human types that do nothing BUT lift weights and walk around intimidating the rest of us. Smile.

"Supreme 90" costs only $19.95 plus S&H.

It arrives at your doorstep in a plain brown cardboard box. No glitz. No glossy, full color anything. Not one picture of the handsome, sculpted Adonis that promises to lead you to a full-body renovation. Nope, none of that.

Just an unassuming brown box containing ten CDs hosted by a little guy named Tom. (Not Lars, Sven or Arnold - just, Tom.)

Frank and I opened the box respectfully. This was our "Do or Die" moment. We meant business. We rehearsed our encounter with the guy who told us about "Supreme 90". You know, the 62 year old who looked 45. And we knew in our hearts that: "We too have what it takes to be stronger and healthier in just 90 days!" (At least, that's what all the ads say.)

The first three days were grueling!

We huffed and puffed. We groaned loudly without embarrassment! We complained to one another about how badly our muscles ached.

And those three days were only the stretching/warm-up exercises! Smile.

When we finally got brave enough to watch the first work-out CD, Frank and I just sat staring. I would occasionally sneak a glimpse at him with my brain screaming, "You think I'm gonna do that?!" Frank, however, started smiling.

Working out is pure enjoyment for Frank. When we met in college, he sported a six-pack that was the envy of most men on campus. (I didn't know what a six-pack was. I just liked that after being known as "the heavy girl" I'd finally met a guy who could sweep me up into his arms and not groan or grab his back afterward.)

He loves gyms, sports, and courts of all types. The only "D" I ever made in school was in P.E.

We were required to run a certain number of laps in a certain amount of time or fail the class. I can't even remember the name of the tiny, blond woman with the stopwatch who kept yelling, "Pick it up, Sheri! I'd hate to fail you!"

Each time I circled the track I glared at her wanting to scream, "YOU pick it up!"

Yep, Frank's done a pretty good job of staying in shape through the years. Although he would say the shape has morphed somewhat. And he decided it was time to halt the morphing process before everything slid so far south that there would be no hope of recovery. Smile.

We plunged in with determination and started doing what we were capable of doing as Tom barked orders through our television like a drill sargeant.

"Come on! You can do this. Keep your form. Form is Everything! Give me 90 days and you'll see great results! C'mon, just two more! Don't quit now! You can do this!!"

These people are wise to record themselves then never show their faces in public. That's because those of us who buy these exercise videos would hunt them down and HURT them!

Yesterday as I worked along, Tom said in his confident voice, "You may be only using an 8 or 10 pound weight at the beginning. That's okay! Just do what you can and keep challenging yourself."

"Hmm, how big is the weight I'm using?" I wondered. "This is tough. Maybe I should be using a smaller one."

I stopped and looked at the end of the purple weight I'd been struggling to get over my head. Three pounds! Don't think they make them any lighter than that!

Soooooo, I'm won't be competing for a body building title any time soon. At least I'm moving.

And that has become our mantra: "Something is better than nothing." We certainly can't do what they're doing on these videos. Some of that stuff is SCAREY! But at least we're moving.

And after six weeks, I'm not huffing or puffing during the stretching portion! Win!

One of my favorite portions of scripture says, "Don't despise small beginnings...."

That's the one I'm clinging to these days. After 90 days I'm still not sculpted or skinny. But we have lost a few inches and I can wear some of my slacks again that I thought I'd never button again.

And Frank needs suspenders for his suit pants. He regularly buttons his coats on Sunday mornings now too!

Gotta get going. There's a bowl of oatmeal and flax seed with my name on it! Smile.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

New Menu

Frank and I are eating better!

Now that may not seem worthy of being an "Exclamation Mark Statement" to you. But for us, it definitely is!! (Two ! for added emphasis. Smile.)

In May, we met a gentleman who appeared really odd at first glance. He caught our eye while struggling to get weights to co-operate with his duffel bag on rollers.

The weights kept clanking past the wheels onto the sidewalk. No matter how he rearranged them - they clanked and drug. We were amused. (Which means we were laughing; just not very loudly.) Finally, the exasperated man hefted the duffel bag over his shoulder and leaning into the weight, man-handled the bag into the hotel lobby.

As olympic-style people watchers, we were intrigued. Who travels with dumbbells? It's hard enough for us to keep a suitcase under the 50 pound limit. Who in their right mind adds weight?

Frank's curiosity got the better of him and the next thing I knew, my husband was deep in conversation with the odd, bald, weight-lifter. (We've discovered that some odd people have magnificent truth to share. Not all of them, but some. Smile.)

Seems the gentleman experienced a heart-attack ten years ago and made drastic changes to his life-style in an attempt to keep living. When we found out that this guy who looked forty-eight was actually sixty-two, he had our attention! Exercise, clean foods and clean living were the keys.

Clean living is no problem for us - we're preachers for heaven's sake. Clean living is what we promote. And I walk; Frank bikes.

But clean eating? Fundamental problem.

My catholic friends have rosaries; Jewish friends have torahs. But Pentecostals? I'm afraid that our main religious symbol is a casserole dish! It's hard for us to find a reason NOT to eat when coming together.

"All Church Dinner" ads can reach even the most hardened sinner. Everyone knows that church ladies can cook. And when they turn that ability into an evangelistic tool........ well, don't get me started!

Our new odd-looking, bald friend shared powerful tips with Frank that set us on a new course of action. (That and the fact that I had a melt-down over how my flabby, upper arms would surely flap uncontrollably in all the wedding video footage!) My tears that day sent Frank over the edge and we're now eating all kinds of "clean" things.

Wheat germ, hummus, flax seed, and anything else starting with "organic". If it's live, leafy, colorful or seedy I'm allowed to eat it. If it bears the smiling face of my favorite culinary artist - Little Debbie - I'm required to flee! Woe is me!

And we're doing this exercise program that was surely designed by the devil himself! I didn't know I had some of these muscles. And when you combine that with joints that thought they were ready for retirement. It's truly the perfect storm.

The up side to all this torture?

I was shocked to discover that some of my summer clothes that had to be skipped last year, suddenly fit again this year. And although my upper arms jiggled during the wedding, I didn't hit any small children in the face with them. That's a win.

AND Frank and I have come to a point of balance. We eat the "clean" stuff unless our dear church ladies have prepared something special. Anything they prepare is fair game.

And since I manage the church calendar, I see multiple "All Church Dinners" in our future! Smile.

Blessings for your Sabbath!

Friday, August 19, 2011

The Comment Button

As a novice in the world of blog-writing, I must admit that I l-o-v-e reading any and all comments left on this site.

And "Debbie" let me know early on that trying to leave a comment on this site is like trying to swim the butterfly stroke in Jell-O - not an easy thing! Smile.

Comments are like the immediate feed-back every essay written in school begs for. They serve to let me know that people are actually reading. The stories encourage. The self-examinations hit home with some. The embarrassing moments revealed cause others to smile or even laugh right out loud.

Good to know!

So when I received a comment the other day from a dear reader named "Catherine," I took it to heart just as I do all the responses readers take time to record. She wrote about the testimony I recorded (Kristin's good report) and beautifully pointed out the flip side of that coin.

Not everyone hears those precious words, "Not Malignant."

My heart went out to her as her own daughter (just like our precious new family member, Sarah Smith) was diagnosed with cancer. Those darling girls had to endure months of treatment and all the accompanying struggle for life. As did their families.

She's so right. Not every prayer is answered the way we want.

Does that change God's abilities? Or should it change what we believe about Him? No, I don't think so. (Catherine was careful to point that out as well.)

My mom's battle with cancer certainly didn't end the way I wanted. And when my dear friend, Jimmie Lee, went to Heaven just seven weeks after Mom, that wasn't answered the way I'd prayed. (She had been like my 'Nother Mother since childhood.)

In fact, I sat pondering several weeks back and realized that over a short, eighteen month span of time, the Lord had walked me through SEVEN such losses. It was, indeed, a difficult season; not one we'd ever ask to experience.

But blessing can always be marked in the midst of difficulty - if we search for it.

In my line of work (as a pastor), I walk with people through the "valley of the shadow" regularly. And believe me, that valley includes more than just death. It is littered with broken dreams and promises, destroyed relationships, disappointment and heartbreak that no one can bear alone.

That's why I must cling to the belief that God never forgets us, no matter the circumstance. And that He works ALL things together to make life better than it could be otherwise.

Rain falls, loss comes to every life. That's why it's so important that we are generous with one another.

We don't know what's going on in the life of that person who's so rude or the one who cuts us off. If we knew their story, we'd probably choose to extend a little more grace. Heaven's knows I need grace pretty regularly! Smile.

I've also come to believe that one of the most generous things I can do is celebrate the joy of another. Rejoice with the person experiencing the answer to prayer that I long to know as my own. In fact, that habit (of celebrating with others) is probably an entire post right by itself. I'll try to get to that soon.

All that to say, thanks so much to Catherine and others like her who take time to thoughtfully add to this site. Your input is valuable and much appreciated!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

He Watches

In the fall of 1978, I was beginning my senior year at Southeastern University. It was also my second year to sing with a tour group called “Joyful Sound” – such a catchy, original name, don’t you think?! Smile.

A young man named David joined our team that fall; he had just arrived in the U.S. from India. His parents were missionaries and he had spent almost his entire childhood in that foreign culture.

Joyful Sound practiced every week and traveled (promoting the university) most week ends. Needles to say, we were all close.

During the long drive back to campus one Sunday evening, I ended up seated near David. As a senior member of the team, I felt it my duty to be magnanimous and talk with the freshman. (Insert false humility cough and prideful chest expansion here. Smile.)

But by the time we rolled onto the campus, I truly was humbled - to the point of tears.

You see, David along with his two younger brothers and a sister, were missionary kids during the days of boarding school education. It was deemed the only educational choice at the time.

This meant that every fall and at the end of each Christmas vacation, all four children were put on a train that took them back to the boarding school they attended. The school was five hours away from their parents.

David quietly and without much emotion, painted a vivid picture for me.

I listened as he told of his mom entrusting him with the care of his siblings. I could hear the youngest brother crying to stay with his parents. I could feel the crush of Indian bodies crowding the platform as the strange, white family huddled together for a tearful farewell. I could sense the coldness of teachers and dorm guardians fulfilling their duties: to educate and keep order.

“Why did they do it?” I asked with a voice choked by tears. “Why did your parents send you all so far away? You were only children. You needed your mom and dad!” I became indignant. (Ah, the luxury of youthful ignorance!)

David looked at me with a surprised expression, “Because, Sheri, they were called to share the Gospel with the people of India. And sending us to boarding school was part of the price of that call.”

Simple facts. No bitterness. Not one tear of self pity. Only a tired patience with my lack of understanding.

The Lord reminded me of David’s story often. In fact, Frank and I stayed in touch with David through the years. When he married and returned to India as a missionary himself, our church supported him.

In 2000 while home on furlough, he pitched the idea that one of our girls should help them as a nanny/home school teacher. Kristin jumped at the opportunity and worked with them in Kodai-Kanal, India for five months.

Fast forward to August 4, 2011. U.S. Airways arena in downtown Phoenix, AZ.

I sat in the middle of some 20,000 people and listened as they announced the guest musician for the offertory. Frank and I watched with pride as our dear friend, David, stepped to the center of that round stage and began to sing.

The powerful strains of “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” filled the rafters of that arena.

The next day as I sat talking with another mutual friend, we celebrated the fact that David had been chosen to sing; such an honor.

Cheryl made the connection for me. She said, “I sat there last night and thought. ‘Oh Lord, your eye was on that little boy every time he stepped on the train to travel far from his parents. You watched over those children as they studied and lived without their mom in that foreign land. You comforted the hearts of those missionary parents. How appropriate that David would be asked to sing, “His eye is on the sparrow. And I know He watches me.” You are so faithful, Lord. And You never forget.’ “

(Cheryl will be writing her own version of this story soon and I hope to link you to it when she does. Smile.)

The end of this story of sacrifice?

Well, David’s parents are still hard at work in Chennai. They are completing work on a Bible translation with study notes for Indian pastors who can’t afford to attend Bible school.

David, his wife and three children serve as missionary evangelists in that turbulent nation.

One brother is a law enforcement officer. Serving God in his local church and raising three awesome young sons to follow God too.

The sister married another missionary kid and they serve as support people for missionaries all around the world.

The baby brother? He and his family are missionaries to Latin America.

We know all these people and they would never refer to themselves as heroes. But we do! We believe they are the real heroes of our day.

Maybe you needed to be reminded today that His eye is on you as well. And although you can’t see the end result right now, trust Him. He always remembers the sacrifice of His children. And He will reward those who serve Him!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Not Malignant


Surely this must be the most magnificent word combination in all the English language! Not malignant. Benign. No cancer found. Clean.

These are words that sounded like music to our ears sitting in the doctor's office yesterday.

Our testimony actually begins with a visit to his office on July 14th. (Yes, I do mean nine short days before the wedding.)

Kristin (our first-born) had been having some real problems with her throat since late spring. We ran through the usual treatments. Sore throat? Chloraseptic is the universal cure. But this time, it did no good.

Sooo, we "treated" post-nasal drip. Nope. She endured voice rest. Still hurting. Herbal remedies. Nothing.

Finally, we found a good ear, nose, throat specialist. He concluded that she had no nodules on her vocal chords. (Always a concern for singers.) And wrote a prescription for a serious antacid.

But before dismissing us, he started massaging her throat and looking at the corner of the room in that "Dr. Pondering" way. It meant little to us.

He stepped back, made a few notes on the computer, then casually said, "I feel a small node I can't identify. I'd like to have you come back in for an ultrasound. Let's find out what this is."

The ultrasound passed uneventfully and on the 14th we returned to his office. Kristin and I talked and laughed about all that was going on at "Wedding Central" while we waited for the doctor to come in.

Fifteen minutes later we were sitting quietly. Completely attentive to every word. Trying desperately to keep our heads from spinning in order to process what he was explaining.

The ultrasound revealed three nodes on her thyroid. The center one had calcification typical with cancerous growths. His nurse would schedule a biopsy. A needle would draw tissue from each node for testing..................

He is a good doctor; thorough; competent. But it sounded to us like he was reading from the menu for the evening dinner choices.

Our reeling minds struggled to comprehend what we could not comprehend. Kristin and I looked at one another dumbfounded.

Did he just use the words: "cancer" "biopsy" "Kristin" all in the same paragraph? Unthinkable!

Life offers enough drama that must be navigated. (And with a household heavy on the estrogen side, we've always worked hard at not being overly dramatic people. Smile.)

We asked questions in low, deliberate tones.

We dried a few stray tears and gathered our purses.

We stepped into the nurses' office to schedule the biopsy.

We walked into the waiting room like zombies.

We drove home and shared what we had heard in unemotional terms.

We prayed.

When she regained her composure, Kristin made a simple statement. "I believe this is going to help me defeat the fears that have been tormenting my mind. I really believe this is going to be the end of fear for me!"

Frank and I agreed.

There was a wedding that had to move forward. Guests were soon to start arriving. Last minute details needed our attention. Besides, what more could we do?

But I assure you, hardly an hour passed without our prayers for healing going heavenward.

On Sunday, we did exactly what the Bible instructs in such situations. We asked the elders of our church to meet us in the office immediately after service.

We explained what the doctor suspected. The upcoming biopsy. Our own concerns. Our need for prayer covering and support. The desire to keep the situation quiet.

(At a time like this, we believe it extremely important to speak life. Sometimes, well-meaning people can talk more about fear and death and negative experiences than they do about hope and faith and belief in what God is able to do.)

The precious elders we've come to love and trust anointed Kristin with oil and prayed for her healing. They also prayed for grace to cover us as we walked whatever journey the Lord had planned for us.

We put it all aside and marched on into the wedding week full of joy and confidence that God orders our journey. Frank often says, "God is faithful and you can trust Him." It was time to act on that.

Tuesday morning following the wedding, we went together for the biopsy. Then we waited.

Kristin flew back in yesterday from doing a kid's crusade in NC. Several children gave their hearts to Jesus during the crusade and she was full of great stories.

At 4:00, Frank and I drove with her to the doctor's office. While waiting for him to come in, Frank held Kristin's hand and once again spoke simply to our Father. "Thank you for being with us. Give us grace for whatever is ahead."

You already read the end of the story in the title: Not Malignant.

We all three calmly listened to the report. Asked questions for clarification. Discussed the follow-up plan.

We walked to the car and quietly thanked God together for the marvelous report.

Then Kristin and I finally cried.

Frank felt it best that we stop at McDonald's for ice cream! Ah, the heart of the Daddy! Smile.

I asked Kristin for permission to write about our latest testimony. She agreed that it needs to be told. God has truly blessed us!

And that fear issue? Pretty much gone completely.

"All the earth declares His greatness!" And so do we. So do we.

Saturday, August 6, 2011


Is it possible that two full weeks have passed?

JULY 23rd has come and gone!

The date circled in everyone's calendar. The countdown date. The date that affected travel plans scheduled for air, land and sea. (Um, wait. No one traveled by sea. I just got caught up in the moment. Smile.)

I spoke with a friend who's daughter will be married next year. "Just remember two things," I said. (Offering unsolicited advice is an occupational hazard.) "She'll be just as married at the end of the day. Choose what's really important and skip the emotional frills." I had her husband's attention.

"And BE THERE!" She looked at me with a quizzical expression. My friend is one who takes care of all the details; making things run smoothly - we know one another. "Turn all that over to a trusted friend who can make decisions on your behalf. Then BE PRESENT; or you'll miss the entire day."

She smiled sheepishly. We exchanged knowing glances and a quick hug.

Why do we women so often take on that burden? The burden of making sure everything is running smoothly for everyone around us so that they have the best possible experience of their lives?! It's pretty unrealistic if you ask me.

Thankfully, Frank and the girls have worked on me a lot with this issue. So much so that at least on "Wedding Day" I'm able to fully engage.

One of my favorite wedding day moments is when I leave the bride room after my last kiss and just before walking into the church. (Please remember that we have three daughters. So weddings are a multiple in our family.)

The M.O.B. walks alone because Daddy needs to be available for the lovely, trembling bride. Excitement, nerves, anticipation all roll together and she needs Daddy's strong arm to guide her one more time.

Such a precious moment. And although Frank doesn't share with me the words exchanged between only he and the bride, I delight in that private moment. Such a tender sealing and conclusion of the foundation we've attempted to lay.

Each of our girls has looked for someone to love them fully; just like their Daddy always has.

Frank's fairness, strength and involvement through the years have set the stage for what they expect from their husbands. He is the model. His love gives them the confidence needed to fully love the men they marry.

So it is only natural that he would be the last connection to childhood. Waiting with her for the music to swell. The doors to swing open. The guests to stand. Walking confidently with her toward her future.

As Nathan stepped toward Frank and Meagan at the end of that aisle, he and Frank shook hands. It was a transference of sorts.

"I've cared for her all these years. I've loved her tenderly and unconditionally. Now, she becomes your responsibility. She will cause your heart to leap. She will live to make you smile. She will depend on you for comfort and encouragement."

That was a meaningful handshake. A powerful exchange.

How glad we are as parents to know that Nathan is a man led by God. How thankful are we to know that his arm will be her strength. And that because of good foundations, they will walk well together in the days to come.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Figure Out

Routine shouldn't be despised.

Safety. Normalcy. Understanding. Comfort. These are words to be associated with routine.

This morning I'm sitting in Tempe, AZ; looking out the hotel window at rugged mountains in the far distance. And while I'm thrilled to be experiencing our General Council (which convenes every two years) I also miss my coffee cup, badly! Smile.

(The person who serviced our room forgot to replace the sugar and powered creamer stuff. Black coffee is NOT for wimps!)

Frank and I dashed to the airport right after Sunday service and arrived in Phoenix around 2:00 AM our time. Of course the hotel shuttle had just stopped running. So the game of "figuring out" began almost as soon as we landed.

"FIGURING OUT". You know, the tough part of traveling. The part that causes some people to opt for staying home.

Typically, the husband looks at the wife and says something like:
"Did you figure out where we'll eat?"
Or there's "Did you figure out what time we're leaving?"
And "Did you figure out when we'll be able to see our friends while we're here?"

Frank diligently watched for our suitcases at the luggage carousel while I tried to figure out the public transportation system at PHX. A daunting task when you're sleep deprived.

Here I am with a hundred different vignettes and at least twenty full-blown posts waiting to be told about Meagan and Nathan's wedding but no time to blog.

The conference for our fellowship (Assemblies of God) takes place every two years. We have descended on Phoenix in mass. Nearly fourteen thousand participants. And that's only those who are registered.

John and Joy worked with the youth of our church for six months raising funds to participate in the missions portion of General Council.

Each day that we're in a given city, hundreds of our youth from across the country converge on various sites offering free labor. Pre-arranged assignments vary from public park renovations to school improvements to handing out food and school supplies.

It's HUGE!

And John, Joy, Spencer and sixteen of our youth are right up in the middle of it all. (Please pray for them. Have you seen that the weather out here is hitting over 100 degrees each day? Yes, they're staying hydrated; Joy is a good mama too. Smile.)

Because Frank and I are both ordained, we feel a genuine responsibility to participate in the business portion of these conferences as well. So the schedule runs from 8 AM until after the evening service. Which was 9:30 last night.

Then there are the train ride and hike back to our hotel as we try not to think of the stories we've heard about people being attacked in large cities.

(Just realized this sounds very much like whining! It must be the black coffee talking. Smile.)

So, the up side?

We get to see friends we haven't seen in years. We're blessed to be part of the decision-making process that will affect generations to come. We hear some of the premier preachers of our fellowship. And the people-watching opportunities are off the chart! Smile.

It's almost seven and I'm supposed to meet Frank and my Dad (also an ordained minister) downstairs for breakfast in just a few minutes. Thank heavens that I missed the 4 AM call of the train whistle running by our hotel this morning. Sleeping til 5:30 never felt so good.

I promise that more consistent posts are in store. Just as soon as I "figure out" how to get back to our routine. Smile.

Hope your day is blessed!

PS - Thanks to Amanda for working on a new blog site design. I'm very excited! Keep watching.