Posted in Health, Marriage

Manly, Girly or Me

Screen Shot 2020-08-05 at 6.46.07 PMI got a leaf-blower for Christmas.

Not a girly, light leaf-blower.

A manly, heavy-duty, back-pack, professional leaf-blower.

Last fall, we moved to a house in the woods and there were lots of leaves once the trees said “goodbye for now” to their petals of yellow and orange.

Lots of leaves.  Everywhere.  Constantly.

Enough to jump in and be lost for days in a pile of them.

You get the point.

I begged my husband for said leaf-blower and when I opened my bright shiny Christmas package, I giggled with glee.  My kids nodded in amusement because they just know.

What do they know?

They know some out-of-the-box, but very cute things about me.  Okay, not so cute.  More out-of-the-box.  Or at least out-of-the-gender-culture-box.

I like those things about me.
I like them a lot.

I am who I am.

I am not super girly.  Or more true, what culture says girly is.

I like NFL football.
I like being physically strong.
I like spreading mulch.
I like feeling powerful.
I like taking care of myself. 

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I really like rescuing people.  In fact, I just did it this afternoon when my husband texted and said, “I have a flat tire.”

I like being a little manly.  Or more true, what culture says manly is.

I am who I am.

You know how parents get a lot of things wrong?

This is a BIG DEAL one that my parents GOT RIGHT!!

They never ever told me who I should be.  They let me be ME.  Fully.  Always.

If that meant being strong, so be it.
If that meant traveling alone in Europe at 21, so be it.
If that meant moving to North Dakota on a whim, so be it.
If that meant loving football, so be it.

Yesterday, we had a huge storm.  Leaves everywhere.  Branches down.  The yard was a mess.

Guess what I did?

I woke up and declared mightily, “I am going outside.  Where is the leaf-blower?”

You know how spouses get a lot of things wrong?

This is a BIG DEAL one that my spouse GETS RIGHT!!

He never tells me who I should be.  He lets me be ME.  Fully.  Always.

If that means spreading mulch, so be it.
If that means having a fantasy football team, so be it.
If that means rescuing him on the side of the road, so be it.
If that means taking a picture of me donning my leaf-blower, looking powerful, so be it.

(SIDE NOTE:  My hubs chuckled with admiration as he watched me…maybe he thought I was sexy with this giant backpack, conquering leaves and sticks and yard debris.  I sure thought he was sexy when I went back into the house and found out he made the bed.)

One last thing.

Sometimes, I am not so strong.
Sometimes, I need help.
Sometimes, I am a girly girl.  Or more true, what culture says girly is.
Sometimes, I can’t pull the throttle hard enough to turn a leaf-blower on.

Guess what my husband did?

My tall, flower-loving, bed-making, likes-to-shop-at-cute-little-shops partner still let me be ME.  Fully.  Always.

“Yes.”  He said, “I’ve got you.  I can turn that on for you.”

I am who I am.  Period.

Manly.  Girly.  Me.

P.S.  Our yard looks beautiful again.  Driveways clear.  Walkways clean.  Sticks gone.  Leaves blown.  Yup.

Manly.  Girly.  Me.

 

Posted in Childhood, Family, Guest, Motherhood

Cognitive Dissonance and the Upcoming School Year

I was off to the races yesterday morning.
My teacher/daughter and I were chatting about the upcoming school year and ALL. THE. THINGS. surrounding it.
I had a million ideas and shared them a little too eagerly.
Here’s what you should do!
Look at this idea I found on Pinterest!
Ya-da ya-da ya-da.
“Whoa, Mom,” she gracefully, yet boldly stopped me. “I can’t do this right now. I have to take one step at a time. I need to WAIT for my district before I dive in.”
You know what I did?!?
Not my normal, “but I think you should…”
I stopped. Just like she asked me to.
Yes, often I am the teacher, the wise one, the mom giving counsel.
But motherhood is a two-way street. I am ALSO often the learner, the ignorant one, the mom receiving guidance.
We got off the phone, me feeling beyond grateful that I have a daughter who is really coming into HER OWN VOICE and here is what she wrote only an hour later.
WISDOM beyond WISDOM.
Yup. It was good for me to zip my lip and open my ears.

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Education is under fire right now. It’s the next big thing under scrutiny during this pandemic. School districts, administration, and educators are under a microscope as the world cries out, “What do we do next?”
As a teacher wrestling with this very question, here’s the truth: No one knows! There is no right answer.
At the same time, there are lots of other true things:
Kids are falling academically behind
Parents need to go back to work
COVID cases are rising in many states
There are high risk teachers, students and family members
Children’s mental and emotional health is important
All of these truths exist in exactly the same space.
The questions we must ask ourselves are:
Can we sit there with them?
Can we sit there as one truth butts up against another, rubs it the wrong way or opposes it completely?
Can we sit there with truths swirling around without letting go of others?”
That is HARD.
And when things get hard we want answers.
We want certainty.
We want someone to blame when things go wrong.
Instead, can we acknowledge that when things are hard, mistakes are most likely going to get made not because we are bad but because we are HUMAN?
Brene Brown (my famous life coach and secret BFF) speaks to this phenomenon of cognitive dissonance. In her words, cognitive dissonance is “the psychologically painful process of trying to hold two competing truths in a mind that was engineered to constantly reduce conflict and minimize dissension.”
In a nutshell, holding opposing truths is real soul work. It is hard but worth it.
In the sacred space of my classroom, I teach my students that mistakes make them HUMAN, not bad. Together we engage in the truly and completely vulnerable act of learning. I want them to extend grace to themselves and to others as we find that perfection does not exist, but love does.
As teachers, as parents and just simply as people, may we have the wisdom and willingness to get uncomfortable sitting with multiple truths at the same time. May we model for our students and our children, not how to make perfect decisions but how to make them in love.
So what are you, your family, your school, your district going to do this fall? Let’s aim for love, not perfection.
Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Family, Friendship, Motherhood

Finding PEACE when we are FRAUGHT

FRAUGHT. Adj. (of a situation or course of action) filled with or likely to result in (something undesirable).
THIS IS OUR LIFE right now. NO clear answers, much less any that we like.
Should I send my kids to school in person, online or homeschool?
How should I respond if someone puts their hand out to shake mine?
How can I safely see my aging parents? Should I quarantine? For how long? What does that even mean?
What do I do at work when someone comes in without a mask on?
When should I plan that dentist visit?
How do I respond with my friends, online, on the news, with my family when other people are not making the same choices as me?
Should I have friends over? Inside? Where will they go to the bathroom?
Is it okay to serve at the soup kitchen? How close will I have to get to the other volunteers?
FRAUGHT.
YUP. We are FRAUGHT.
Whatever decision we make is likely to result in something undesirable.
So what are we to do to have PEACE in the middle of it all?
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DISCLAIMER: I’m on the same struggle bus sitting 6 feet away from you with my mask on. We are here kind of socially-distanced together, high-fiving and cheering each other along on this bumpy, twisty ride.
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Okay. Back to our regularly-scheduled programming.
I had one of these FRAUGHT-FILLED decisions just this weekend. I was officiating a small wedding and I suddenly remembered I was going to have to talk to people. The bride. The groom. The wedding coordinator. The parents. The little cute kids wandering around. I’d always done it with ease and now it was complicated. FRAUGHT!
Will they think I am rude? Should I stand six-feet away from them? What if someone is immunocompromised and I have no clue? What if they want me close to them?
I would love to tell you that I knew exactly what to do and how to do it and that I was super confident in my decisions ahead of time. HAHAHA. NOPE!
I reverted to all those things I normally do.
I asked my husband what to do.
I wrung my hands.
I called an officiant friend for his advice.
I freaked out a little inside.
But then, I had to get out of the car. I had to make my decisions. The wedding was upon me.
I put on my big girl pants (I mean dress in this case) and I did what I knew to be my own best practices.
  • JUST DO THE VERY NEXT THING. I am not in any kind of position to plan ahead because my world is changing at break-neck speed. Don’t add anything extra to my plate right now. Add my best version of LOVE into the mixture and trust it will be really okay in the end.
  • DIG DEEPER TO FIND OUT WHAT IS GOING ON BENEATH THE SURFACE. Is it fear? Is it bad boundaries? Is it people-pleasing? Is it comparison? Maybe it’s something good. Faith? Good boundaries? Being true to myself? Take a minute to listen.
  • WATCH HOW MY BODY RESPONDS TO EACH OPTION. Do I tense up or do I sigh with at least some measure of relief? Check myself again and again until I sense which direction my body is sending me.
  • SINK DOWN INSIDE OF MYSELF WHERE GOD DWELLS. He is filled wisdom and love, goodness and life, healing and hope and SO AM I. Trust my God-filled gut.
  • GIVE MYSELF PERMISSION TO CHANGE MY MIND. The decisions I make do not have power over me. I have power over them. There is not one right one choice and everything will go to “hell in a hand-basket” if I make the wrong one. Change is often a good thing. It means I am learning and growing.
Yes. I am FRAUGHT. I certainly was this weekend and will be again for the foreseeable future. So are you. We all are. It’s a perfect word for the times we are living in. NO GOOD OPTIONS.
But good options are not the dictator of whether we have PEACE. Peace comes from within, not from without. Nothing has the right to steal it away from us. NO ONE. NO THING.
We need PEACE so very desperately because it’s our GUIDE, our HOPE and FRIEND.
And it’s ours for the taking because, after all, the very Source of PEACE is with us and for us and around us and IN US.
IN US.
IN US.
So struggle-bus companions, let’s keep asking for and giving ourselves the gift of peace. The unexplainable, undeniable PEACE that is rightfully ours, if I may say so myself.

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Posted in Anxiety, Faith, Family, Grief

How Did You Feel?

How did you feel, LITTLE ANT, the day your world was turned upside-down, the day I moved the huge rock that your whole little life revolved around and was protected by just so I could build a rock wall to line the fence in my yard?

How did you feel?

Maybe you felt…

CONFUSED.  You were scampering along, working hard to take care of your family, happily doing what you were supposed to do.  Suddenly, you found yourself exposed to a world you’d never known.  Maybe you asked yourself, “What the heck just happened?  Why oh why?”  I don’t blame you.  I would feel the same way.

Maybe you felt…

ANGRY.  I know you did because you bit me, at least three times.  I felt it sharply under my pants just moments later.  You know what?  I would bite me too.  Maybe it was all your little self could do to yell, “THIS IS NOT RIGHT!  SEND ME BACK TO THE WAY IT WAS!”

Maybe you felt…

OUT-OF-CONTROL.  After all, life as you knew it had just changed forever.  All those systems that you had put in place to make your little life easier and more predictable blew to bits.  Your formula for how the world works and works well was upended, to say the least.  When I ventured back to check on you, I saw a whole bunch of you just scurrying around, looking like you didn’t know what to do next.

Maybe you felt…

AFRAID.  Who wouldn’t?  I sure would.  Would some giant ant-eater come out of the woods and gobble you up?  Would your life ever look remotely the same as it had before the rock was taken away?  Would your ant family be okay with this new normal?  Would you be able to find another rock?

Maybe you felt…

SAD.  Some of your family and friends were just taken away from you, some never to be seen again and some that you don’t know when you will see again, eat with, play with and work with.  It’s just horrible, my little ant friend.  Just horrible.  It’s not really supposed to be this way and I’m so sorry what happened is putting you through this.  I would just stop right now and cry the tears that are rightfully yours.

Maybe one day, LITTLE ANT, you will have a whole new world, one where you will be working, taking care of your family, busily at peace and full of new adventures.  Yes.  I bet it will happen soon enough.

But for now, my new found friend, I get it.  I get you.

I’m with you and I AM you, more than you will ever know.

God-speed, my LITTLE ANT friend.

 

 

 

Posted in Childhood, Faith, Family, Motherhood

Saved?!?!

Wait!!! What?!?!

Me? Not my kids’ savior?

But I’m a mom and I want to be. So very much.

I like saving them.

From pain.
From loss.
From danger.
From rejection.
From struggle.
From failure.
From judgment.
From conflict.
From bad choices.
From all that’s wrong with the world.

It feels really good.

For the moment.

But I know it’s not good.

For their hearts.

Because when I am their savior,

I am also “saving” them…

From growing.
From confidence.
From adventure.
From learning.
From independence.
From success.
From connection.
From responsibility.
From good choices.
From all that’s right with the world.

Doesn’t sound like much saving in the end.

Then what’s the point of this motherhood gig?
If it’s not for saving?

Hang on a minute.

Wait for it.
Wait for it.

What’s that still small voice whispering inside?
What’s that “aha moment” I can’t deny?

Has motherhood saved me?
Has it?

By…

bringing me JOY that I’ve never known before
revealing PATIENCE as I stumble along in the unknown
breathing HOPE when I need it the most
reminding me of BEAUTY in the ordinary moments
granting KINDNESS when I can’t find any in myself
allowing me to experience unconditional LOVE
opening my heart to see the tenderness of good good GOD

The question persists, but the answer comes.

PERHAPS IT HAS.
PERHAPS IT REALLY HAS.

Note to self_ Motherhood is not a religion and I am not the savior of at the center.

Posted in Faith, Friendship, Health, Thanks

If You Only Knew…

If you only knew what I really believe about faith…

Would you still worship with me?

If you only knew how I voted in the last election…

Would you still respect me?

If you only knew what’s happening in my home right now…

Would you still confide in me?

If you only knew what’s happened in my past…

Would you still value me?

If you only knew the number on my scale…

Would you still have grace for me?

If you only knew my opinions about the issues facing our world…

Would you still like me?

If you only knew how I spent my money…

Would you still be my friend?

If you only knew what goes on in my mind…

Would you still trust me?


I hide.
I keep secrets.
I stay in my cage.
I show you a false version of me.
I protect my self at all costs.

ALL BECAUSE I WANT TO

belong to you.
be accepted by you.
be LOVED by you.

Jesus tenderly brings me out of hiding.
I have no secrets with Him.
He sets me free.
He allows the truest version of me.
He protects my REAL self at all costs.

I AM SO GRATEFUL THAT I

belong to Him
am accepted by Him
am LOVED by Him


I want to be Jesus with skin on FOR you.
I want the same FROM you.

Together, maybe we can show this Jesus to everyone else.

Oh may it be so.

 

 

Posted in Celebration, Childhood, Family, Friendship, Motherhood, Thanks

Dear Daughters,

Spending this past week with you two beautiful women was the highlight of my 2020 so far.  (I know that’s not saying much, but bear with me…winky face!)

I couldn’t ask for better daughters than you.  I actually couldn’t ask for better people in my life than you.

You are all that I hoped you would be and so much more than I could have ever imagined.   You breathe beauty and hope and strength and faith and life into me.

You have done for this ONE mama what I long to do for everyone.  You have shown me that all it takes is ONE breath of GOODNESS at a time to infuse LIFE into another.

You breathe BEAUTY (not just the outward kind even though sometimes just glancing at you catches me off guard and I am dumbstruck).  You each see the world through eyes that find the small things glorious, like the sand between your toes or rainbow-sprinkled ice cream on your tongue.  You spend your days creating what’s lovely for my hungry eyes and ears.  THANK YOU!

You breathe HOPE.  Your zeal for making the world a place where there is “liberty and justice for ALL” (and that really means ALL) makes this mama heart do a happy dance.  You adamantly believe that it starts with you and you are more than willing to figure out how to make it happen so that it ripples out into this broken and hurting world.  WOW!

You breathe STRENGTH.  Watching the two of you discuss really hard things from political reform to gender roles to spirituality to personal responsibility made me wish I could grow up in the beautiful world you envision.  You do NOT shy away or disengage, but listen intently and respond with bold conviction.  You are strong, my daughters and I am so PROUD.

You breathe FAITH.  In a world where many of us (your mama included at times) seems to have lost its way, you continue to believe and trust.  You believe and trust your ever-evolving selves (woohoo).  You continue to see the best in others and take joy in loving them right where they are, walking alongside of them in humility and grace.   The two of you have an unwavering anchor for your souls in the good God that is at the root of all that’s right and true and wonderful.  My socks are officially KNOCKED off!

You breathe LIFE.  Life in the form of a good morning hug and quick “I love you.”  Life in the form of washing the dishes and saying “Take a break, Mom.”  Life in the form of abundant grace given when I falter and even fail.  Life in the form of laughter over game-playing competitiveness.  Life in the form of your sweaty yoga duet on the deck.  Life in the form of heart-to-heart discussions about our individual and collective fears, hopes and dreams.  Soul-filling LIFE.

So dearest ones, my beautiful girls, two of my closest friends, I salute you.  I believe in you.  I trust you.  I am thankful for you from the tippy-top of my noggin’ to the very ends of my toes to the deepest space in my heart.  I stand in awe of you.

But mostly and always, I LOVE YOU.

Your ONE Dolly Mama

P.S.  I am now over here in the most beautiful and sacred puddle of good tears.   I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

P.P.S.  You are rocking my ONE world, your world, THE world.  You go my girls!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Faith, Health, Uncategorized

There is a Battle that Rages

There is a battle that rages inside of me.

It’s in every decision.

It’s in every moment.

It’s in every relationship.

It’s the never-ending clash of freedom and safety.

Will I fall if my dad takes off my training wheels?
Should I try out for the part in the school play?
What will happen if I ask that boy to the dance?
What should I major in?
Should I send that follow-up email to my coworker about the missing information?
What will my friends think if I take a break from traditional church?
Should I let my kids ride their bike to the neighbor’s house?
Can I tell my spouse about my overwhelming fear?
Should I quit my good-paying job and follow my life-long dream?
Is it too late for me to _____________?

SO MANY QUESTIONS.
All followed up by the three more questions.

Will this keep me safe?
Will this make me free?
Which is more important?

Much of the time, I choose safety at all costs.
What does it really do for me?  What does freedom do?

Here are my humble findings so far.

SAFETY swallows me up.
It says, “Do what’s easiest, no matter the cost.”
It keeps the real me at bay, playing “nicey-nice,” telling me over and over again that “I’m fine” is the answer every morning, no matter if it’s remotely true or horribly false.

FREEDOM releases me.
It says, “The choice is yours to make.”
It calls the authentic me to come out to play, reminding me that any answer I give in the morning is good as long as it’s true.

SAFETY keeps me small.
It says, “You just shouldn’t.”
It prevents me from feeling it ALL, tells me I am only allowed to feel SOME and I need to do whatever it takes to get the HAPPY and stuff down the HARD.

FREEDOM enlarges me.
It says, “You can.”
It allows me feel ALL of it, from the angry to the anxious, from the sappy to the happy, from the painful to the pleasant.  ALL. OF. IT.   Nothing is too much or too hard or too this or too that.

SAFETY says protection is my end goal.
It says, “Don’t let anything bad happen E.V.E.R.”
It stomps out the beautiful possibilities of wonder and ensuing joy and leaves me lifeless and hopeless.

FREEDOM says I am designed for fullness.
It says, “Your adventure is waiting.  Dive right on in.”
It opens me to grandeur, summons me to imagination, bids me to beauty and leaves me wholly alive and able to dream.

SAFETY shuts others out.
It says, “You will be hurt and it will be terrible, 99.9% guaranteed.”
It perpetuates disengagement and sometimes shouts a loud or whispers a soft “NO!” to any kind of closeness.  It leaves me lonely and loveless.

FREEDOM invites others in.
It says, “You will be hurt, but it will be worth every teardrop, 99.9% guaranteed.”
It welcomes vulnerability, openness, intimacy, and gives room for my most basic human need to be fully-known and fully-loved.  I feel my own long sigh exhaling, “Aaahhh!  YES!”

SAFETY downright enslaves me.
It says “Don’t you dare.”
It dictates decisions that lead to an endless and fruitless attempt to control my world, my husband, my kids, my friends, my self.

FREEDOM grants me permission to really LIVE.
It says, “I triple-dog dare you!”
It urges me to ask myself the scary question: what is the truest, most beautiful life that you can imagine?*  It doesn’t stop there.  It implores me to then actually answer and act on that question.

There is a battle that rages inside of me.

It’s in every decision.

It’s in every moment.

It’s in every relationship.

Which might win today?  Tomorrow?  Next week?

I don’t know for sure.

But which will ultimately win in the end?

I know.  I know.  I really know.

FREEDOM!  FREEDOM!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free!”  Galatians 5:1

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*asked by Glennon Doyle in the book Unashamed.  

 

Posted in Faith, Family, Motherhood, Thanks

It’s 1 am (Hope for Motherhood)

It’s 1 am.
My five-month old cries out from her crib.
Not another night of this!
It’s been three weeks since I’ve had more than 3 hours of sleep in a row.
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
I am barely functioning anymore, bags under my eyes the size of grapes!
I don’t think I can take it anymore!
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
My kindergartener screams from his room.
Why does this keep happening?
The nightmares are getting worse!
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
Am I doing something wrong?
I don’t have any idea what to do!
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
My 10-year old shouts “MOMMY!” at the top of his lungs.
His jammy bottoms are soaked.
He’s wet the bed again.
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
I’ve already called the doctor five times.
Nothing is working!
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
I haven’t heard from my new driver’s license holder since 7 pm.
Her curfew is 11 pm.  She knows better than this!
Is she hurt?  Is she drunk?  Is she alive?
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
I never knew this mom gig would be SO hard!
Will I ever get sleep?  Will I ever stop worrying?
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
My cell phone vibrates on the nightstand.  I ignore it.
It’s vibrates again and again.  I finally pick it up.  Hello?
The campus security guard is on the other end.  My daughter was found passed out on the sidewalk, having had WAY too much to drink.
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
This is un(freaking)believable!  She will be the death of me!
What in the world am I supposed to do now?
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
My eyes refuse to close in sleep.
My son has been furloughed from his job.
This pandemic is wrecking everything.  He was doing so well and now this!!!
God, HELP me!  HELP them!
What is going to happen?
Even if he gets his sales back, will any business have the money to buy advertising? UGH!
I am SO done!

It’s 1 am.
I lay awake on my bed.
I can’t believe the text I got from my son this afternoon.
I burst into tears as I read it, gratitude bubbling up and leaking out!
GOD, you’ve HELPED me!  You’ve HELPED them!
It keeps happening!  Every single time!
You love him even more than I do!  You are our great and only HOPE!
I am SO UNDONE!

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Posted in Anxiety, Faith

Trust the Ripple

Social media altercations.
The confusion over COVID.
Systemic racism.
Riots and looting.
Unkind political rants.

I just want it all to STOP.  STOP.  STOP.

It’s too much for me.

WAY TOO MUCH.

One minute, I want to crawl into my bed and pull the covers over my head.  Wake up when this is all over.

The next, I have visions of marching in my very own one-person protest with a big bold sign that screams and shouts, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? (and ME for that matter)?”

Fifteen minutes later, I feel the forceful drive to “get the heck out of here!”  The colonization of Mars sounds pretty good about now!

After an hour, I’m sitting on the couch, binging my latest show, eating popcorn until my belly fights back.

It’s all WAY TOO MUCH.

I so desperately want peace and love and hope and harmony and unity.

I want LOVE and GOODNESS to beat back the forces that harm.

I cry out to God in the middle of it all.

What am I to do?  What am I to do?  I can’t fix this.

It’s all WAY TOO MUCH.

Covers?

March?

Mars?

Popcorn?

PLEASE!  It’s all I have.

Not true, God reminds me.  Not true at all.

You have ONE DROP of GOODNESS.  ONE DROP.

You can pop a comment on social media that encourages someone, reminding them they are not alone.

You can go to the local hardware store and buy that lightbulb.  You can wear a mask (even if you have no idea whether or not it really works).

You can call your black friend and have an uncomfortable conversation, listening to the pain that they’ve shoved down for much of their life.

You can pray for the looter and the looted, asking Me to do what I do best:  reconcile and redeem.

You can vote, mailing that ballot today.

But mostly, you can remind yourself that I am behind every single and seemingly insignificant DROP OF GOODNESS.

I can and will expand it beyond measure so that the world is changed for the better forever by that ONE DROP OF GOODNESS.

Trust ME and TRUST THE RIPPLE!

Trust the Ripples