Mustard Seeds

Mustard Seeds

Friday, April 30, 2010


All I want to do right now is go play with kids. Not school. Not work. Just a care-free day of jungle gyms, fishie crackers, little hands and feet, and giggles. I saw the kids from the children's center this morning and I was toast. They were running around Dexter lawn and coloring and just being incredibly cute and now I just want to go play with kids. I don't know how that would happen though without me being a creeper at a park. So yeah, I'll go hang out with my essay instead.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Inspirational pictures of the day... or wishful thinking. 
I want summer to be here just a little bit. =)
We were in all stages of learning...

I want to be in these pictures so badly! But alas, I am here, trying to be inspired to finish my senior project.


I love my buddies at work...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Replacing Thorns with Beauty

"Joy is the echo of God’s life in us."
- Abbot Coumba Marmion
Look at this thistle. Deep purple and unique. It could be called beautiful in its own right. You would never anticipate the thorns hiding below the purple petals if you only looked at the top. At least you would not expect that the thorns would be as painful to the touch as they are (take my word for it, I got one in the leg).

This is how happiness is. Surface level. From the top I can look put together and fine. But without Joy it doesn't go any deeper then that. Underneath I feel prickly and scary. Inside I am barely holding it together. That is where Jesus comes in. He is perfection and because I am like a thistle I cannot be near Him with my prickles. Don't get me wrong, He accepts us for who we are, thorns and all. But he does not let us live with those barbs. He removes them. He works on us and refines us till we are beautiful all over and makes it so we can experience Joy in our lives no matter what thorns may be growing in us. Joy is not contingent on everything in our lives going well. It is instead a deeper rooted faith in God's plan and understanding of his love.

"Joy is not the absence of suffering.
It is the presence of God."Robert Schuller
"In thy presence is fullness of joy." - Psalms 16:11 
"Heaven, the treasury of everlasting Joy." - Shakespeare

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Best Movie Ever

I have really been in the mood to watch Braveheart again lately. I think I average watching that movie about three times a year and even that is quite a feat since girls don't really like it and people think it is too long. Mission for the week: watch Braveheart. Don't watch it by myself.

Also, I just added Braveheart as a word in my work computer's dictionary. It is welcome.

New Spot

Saturday I went on a hike/bike/walk thing to spend time with Jesus. Sounds great right? Well my concentration was off topic for a lot of it, I got distracted easily, and I was hardly silent before the Lord. So there was really no room for Him to speak to me.

Yet, He still took the opportunity to bless me. I love my Dad. Seriously though! I was prancing around in my own little day dream and he still provided the absolutely most perfect quiet spot! I am calling it my Reflection Tree. Here are a few reasons this fallen tree was so wonderful. One, it is super wide and flat so I could lay on it and look at the sky, sit on it and dangle my feet, or sit cross legged on it. Two, it is off the trail and hidden with a ton of fallen branches so I was pretty secluded but people walking by were still visible (when you are a girl, safety first!). Three, the trunk is so beautiful! I love love love wood and God provided a tree where I can stare at the details of the bark for hours and admire God's handiwork. Here are two pictures of my Reflection Tree and it's patchworkey glory. 
(taken on cell phone)
So I was loving this new tree (this is only a tiny part of it) and my mind was wandering away from God once again when a rustling arrested my attention. Of course I went to investigate and I found a wild turkey poking around in the brush. I accidentally scared mama away with my attempts to take cell phone pictures of her but she left this beautiful nest with nine perfect speckled eggs in her trail. I'm pretty sure she came back after the danger was gone but I took the opportunity of her absence to admire God's handiwork.

There are so many textures in nature, so many small details. From the tiny lizard who joined me for most of my time there, to the low hum of bee hives I could hear on the breeze (I plan to follow that noise next time if it's still there). From the bark of a tree, to perfect brown egg speckles. I love that God spoke to the outdoor, nature loving part of my soul this weekend. It was refreshing.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More Lies about Truth

It is gone. It died a slow poisoned death. And the weight of the loss is killing my hope of getting it back. It is easy to let the loss rob me of my ability to revive it. But I feel called to get up off my chair and battle for it instead. It is not lost forever unless I allow it to be. Choices: wallow in bereavement for it, ignore that fact that it is gone, or pick up my sword and slay the forces killing it. Why wouldn't I fight for it?

I have lost my joy. But it is not lost forever. Satan wants to keep me weeping about it but that only prevents me from finding it again. I want my joy for praising the Lord back, I want my joy for life back, I need my joy in serving God back. It will happen. Worship will stop being just another task to check off. Serving God will stop being an item on my to do list. I will return to a place of joy. I will fight for this. Satan, you have NO place here... stop robbing me. 

Isaiah 56:6+7
"And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
       to serve him,
       to love the name of the LORD,
       and to worship him,
       all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
       and who hold fast to my covenant-

 these I will bring to my holy mountain
       and give them joy in my house of prayer.
       Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
       will be accepted on my altar;
       for my house will be called
       a house of prayer for all nations."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Bible Study

This morning David and I struggled with two verses for over an hour while planning bible study. Two verses!!! There was so much historical background, contextual information, and biblical ideas that needed to be understood in order to really understand them. So we followed trail after trail of verses and footnotes till we had some semblance of an idea of the meaning of these verses. We were still nowhere close to understanding them though. So we prayed for God's wisdom and his discernment (since he did write them) and then re-read the section. One word is all it took. One word we did not see before seeking the Lord on it. One word and everything we had been reading made sense, the pieces fit. It was such an amazing answer to prayer! Our own knowledge got us nowhere but God's guidance opened our eyes. It was sweet! We were able to answer most of the questions at bible study and we were able to really teach it. This study is so amazing and such a blessing to me! Love them all!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Convicted and Freed

Have you ever found the perfect word to express what you are feeling? A word that sums up all of your internal feelings and enables you to fully articulate yourself to someone? A phrase that makes it so they completely get what you are going through? Well, I found that in Isaiah... the perfect passage to sum up the past few months. It is crazy convicting because rather then Matthew 25:23 summing up my year, this passage points out my utter lack of faithfulness. I love this conviction though because with it comes a spring board to get out of my state of complacency.

Isaiah 57:10-13
"10 You were wearied by all your ways,
you would not say, 'It is hopeless.'
       You found renewal of your strength,
       and so you did not faint.
"11 Whom have you so dreaded and feared
       that you have been false to me,
       and have neither remembered me
       nor pondered this in your hearts?
       Is it not because I have long been silent
       that you do not fear me?
12 I will expose your righteousness and your works,
       and they will not benefit you.
13 When you cry out for help,
       let your collection of idols save you!
       The wind will carry all of them off,
       a mere breath will blow them away.
       But the man who makes me his refuge
       will inherit the land
       and possess my holy mountain."

Do you see verse 10? That conscious knowledge of being tired of how I live my life but refusing to give up on my fruitless ways? Happens ALL the time. And then I find some renewal of my strength in an awesome night of worship, an encouraging note, a pretty sunset, or a great church service and I am good to go for a while. I have the idea that I don't need to be personally close to God but can live off of other people's walks with the Lord.

And then verse 11 hits home. I have been false to God, forgotten Him, neglected His word, treated Him as if He is powerless. I am not just forgetting our relationship; I am forgetting everything He has done for me. I have forgotten who He is and treated Him like trash to be thrown out of my life.

Verse 12 speaks of our righteousness being exposed. This is not such a good thing though it might appear to be a good thing. This is not righteousness in the sense that we are good people, that I am a person of great works. It is the self-righteousness, the works I do to make myself look good, the deeds that are apart from love and Christ. Theses are the things that will be brought into the light and they will not benefit me.

Verse 13... Other things that won't benefit me: my idols, my plans, my strength, my worldly identity. Not only will these things not help me but they will float away and all the castles I have been building to live in will become nothing. Not a pebble of rubble will be be left to hide under. It will all be lost. But listen to the end of this verse! In place of homelessness I get an inheritance greater then any here on earth. In place of poverty I get land, God's holy mountain for my nothingness.

Verse 10 is where I am coming from  and verse 13 is where I can go, if I choose to give up the things spoken of in verse 11 and 12. There is so much freedom in this!!!

Lost Thoughts

The great thinkers, the famous politicians, the mighty warriors, and the genius poets we revere all live on in history. In our textbooks. In our minds. But how many of them are really living today? Eloquent words, inventive thoughts, and successful battles... don't save. All of these people with all of their relativistic thoughts, all of their brilliant brains, are not saved because of those things. You can't think your way into Heaven. You can't campaign your way into eternal glory. High kill counts and books of witty arguments do nothing for the soul.

This hit me hard today: The loss that humankind has suffered on account of over thinking. So many academics lost because their ideas got in the way of the simplicity of following one Truth. It reminds me that my professors need Truth just as much as the students on this campus. Just because my teachers tend to disagree with me in class doesn't mean the Lord isn't working in their life. Don't forget the academic world. Plato needed God just as much as St. Augustine.
*Pictures from Tommy Dyer's trip to Greece with Hume International.

Monday, April 19, 2010

200 and Counting

I am post 200 already? Crazy!

I just want to leave you with a quote for this post. It made me think:

"God is hearing you now, just as simply as a mother hears a child. The difference His timelessness makes is that now (which slips away from you even as you say the word now) is for Him infinite. If you must think of His timelessness at all, don't think of Him having looked forward to this moment for millions of years: think that to Him you are always praying this prayer." - C.S. Lewis


Yesterday was glorious! So many of my favorite things were crammed into the day. It was just what I needed to tackle another week. I started out my morning at the rodeo unit with Jeremiah and a few other friends. I got to hang out with Jeremiah's dad, who is amazing, and ride Boomer for about 2 minutes. That was enough to make me really want to ride. I then came home and washed all the hay out of my hair (it was everywhere!) and went on a motorcycle ride to Lake Lopez. Incredible! Being on my motorcycle makes all my cares fly out the window [metaphorically speaking of course =)] and lets me appreciate the Lord's creativity in a first hand way. I then had worship practice which despite the fact that it was a hard practice, was an awesome time of fellowship and worship. Dinner afterward, at the guys' house, was great as well and then I got to have frozen yogurt with the girls and friend who was in town. Yesterday was wonderful for a few reasons: I got to talk to a lot of my friends that I needed time to catch up with, I got to ride my m/c for an hour and a half, I was able to de-stress and relax after working aaaalllll weekend, and I was able to spend time praising God for things that he is doing in my life. I loved yesterday. Today? Class and senior project research....

Jeremiah pitching his rope. He was just as stoked about this picture as I was, so I am pretty proud of it. =)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Birthday Party

A few weeks ago was my roommate's and my 21st birthday party and I am quite proud of how that barn looked when we were done decorating. It was very teal and purple and the twinkle lights were a nice touch (thanks Dad!). The most important thing is that I am pretty sure everyone had a good time. That's all I could ask for. Laura and I had a blast too though. And I got enough of a fix of line dancing that I am itching to go sometime soon. I am considering going this week since it is now only $5 for me to get in. Being 21 has it's perks! =)

Overall, it was a great night of carnival games, dance music, swing dancing, friends, family, food, and really encouraging notes. My whole birthday weekend was very uplifting actually and I felt very loved. Thank you to everyone who was a part of that! Here are some pictures of the party (weeks after the fact):

Singleness in Perspective

A dear friend of mine sent me this article:
Singled Out by God for Good by Paige Benton Brown

It is FULL of wisdom, truth, and crazy awesome perspective. Here is one great section:

"God will not be less good to me because God cannot be less good to me. It is a cosmic impossibility for God to shortchange any of his children. God can no more live in me apart from the perfect fullness of his goodness and grace than I can live in Nashville and not be white. If he fluctuated one quark in his goodness, he would cease to be God.

Warped theology is at the heart of attempts to "explain" singleness:
  • "As soon as you’re satisfied with God alone, he’ll bring someone special into your life”—as though God’s blessings are ever earned by our contentment.
  • "You’re too picky”—as though God is frustrated by our fickle whims and needs broader parameters in which to work.
  • "Before you can marry someone wonderful, the Lord has to make you someone wonderful"—as though God grants marriage as a second blessing to the satisfactorily sanctified.
Accepting singleness, whether temporary or permanent, does not hinge on speculation about answers God has not given to our list of whys, but rather on celebration of the life he has given. I am not single because I am too spiritually unstable to possibly deserve a husband, nor because I am too spiritually mature to possibly need one. I am single because God is so abundantly good to me, because this is his best for me. It is a cosmic impossibility that anything could be better for me right now than being single, The psalmists confirm that I should not want, I shall not want, because no good thing will God withhold from me."

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Listen Closely

Satan is so sneaky. He loves to whisper, "Look at that. Isn't it nice? You want that don't you. You desire that."
Whispers are hard to identify.
So I say, "Oh, yes, I really want that. And I deserve that!"

It could be anything: a relationship, a new dress, recognition for something, for a person God is calling you to minister to leave you alone, a new car, an easy life...

whisper whisper whisper

Satan is not blind to the power of scripture either. He uses that against me just like he tried to tempt Jesus by quoting scripture (Jesus was infinitely more successful though: see Matthew 4). Something whispered to me often is this:
Psalm 37:4-6
"Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him and he will do this:

He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, 
the justice of your cause like the noonday sun" 

When I don't get these "desires of my heart" I am told it is because I am not praying hard enough, God isn't listening, my plan is better then God's... 

whisper whisper whisper

lies lies lies

The Bible doesn't say He will give us the desires of our hearts when we focus on Satan. He promises to give us the things we desire when we are delighting in the Lord. And delighting in God is whole different story then entertaining the Devil. The more we live in the Lord's presence the more our desires are going to be the same as His. That is when He will truly give us the desires of our hearts, because not only will they be what he wants for us, they will be what is best for us. When God whispers into our hearts, it can be just as subtle but instead of lies he whispers truth. It is not the clothes, the guy or girl, or the praise that we desire anymore... it is the peace Christ gives, the desire to love people, satisfaction with what we have, knowing we don't even need that much stuff, wanting to be more like Christ... 

peace truth grace

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Honesty - Last Day(s)

Today I was tempted to just write about my birthday and call that my last honest post. But that is too easy and not the point of these seven posts. So today I am going to tackle something that comes out in how I act but not something I detail in my daily conversations and posts. I am going to share some of my insecurities with you. Things that off and on I have had to battle and that Satan likes to use against me. I hope that if you can relate to them you can take encouragement in the fact that you are not alone in feeling this way. I also hope to combat each of these with scripture and truth because so often the things we are insecure about are grounding in Satan's lies.

Insecurity #1: That God doesn't actually have a plan for me and I am fooling myself into thinking he cares about my future.
Truth: Jeremiah 29:11+12
Matthew 6:25-34
Proverbs 16:9

Insecurity #2: There isn't anything in me that makes me worth people or God's attention. (This makes me hard on myself. I think, "If I point out my imperfections first, I beat people to it and they can't point it out. That way they know I agree with them too.") 
Truth: 2 Corinthians 5:16-18 (A new creation in Christ, that's enough right there!)
Genesis 1:27 (He wouldn't create something worthless in his own image.) 
John 3:16+17 (He died for these imperfections.)

Insecurity #3: No one really understands me.
Truth: Luke 12:7
Psalm 139

[I will try to keep this vulnerable, openness in my blogging from now on, but this ends the one week I gave to really telling you everything about my daily walk. Thanks for reading!]


I have heard this song soooo many times but the lyrics have never hit me until I heard it again today. Not until I talked to the guy at the bar last night, not until I saw the world through a homeless person's eyes, not until I could feel for the girls trapped in slavery in America...

Give Me Your Eyes
By Brandon Heath

San Francisco Trip

It is about time that I filled you in on my Spring Break trip to San Fran. There is so much to share but I spare you the minute details and summarize the short, packed week. For starters here's a bare outline of the trip:
Day 1 - travel and get settled
Day 2 - volunteer at Salvation Army and their ARC (adult rehab center)... prayer walk with YWAM
Day 3 - poverty simulation
Day 4 - sharing on the San Fran State campus... seeing the city (read: authentic taqueria and blocks of walking)
Day 5 - breakfast, prayer, travel back
The Team.

Being Homeless: For five hours I was homeless. I had nothing but an empty backpack and a water bottle. With my group I had to find lunch, get enough money to get home on the train ($10 total for my whole group... we only got $5 all day), and collect cans from trash cans. We had to talk to homeless people and dress the part. We quickly found out that while we didn't fool the homeless people for a second everyone else in downtown SF wanted nothing to do with us. And I could relate to those people who wouldn't look at us, who treated us as less then human, as not part of society. I have been there. I have been the one to avert my gaze when I realized someone was homeless because it was easier to not deal with it, with them.

A few people stuck out to me that day. People, not just a problem. Not semi-members of society but real individuals with a vast array of stories. In the soup kitchen, where we ate lunch that day, a man sat next to me in a business suit and tie. He looked like any other business man except he couldn't afford to eat. He may live in lower income housing, barely getting by on his salary. He may have to eat in a soup kitchen to make it by. That quickly debunked my idea that all homeless people choose to live that way. Another man, a former navy soldier and on parole in SF from prison, reminded me of some of the men I know from home. He was such a fatherly guy and gave me tips on being safe and taking care of myself. He was precious and my heart broke for him.

Out of that experience I realized the shame and humiliation involved in being homeless. Think about this: Most people who are homeless don't have enough money to buy a nice looking outfit or the means to take a shower in order to be presentable enough to get an interview. Then to get job with no resume and no experience is nearly impossible, especially when you have no home and it takes hours every day just to wait in line to get enough food to survive. It is a long term investment ministry and if you have a heart for these people I encourage you to go and do life with them!

The Tenderloin: Another thing we did was a prayer walk through the tenderloin district (the lower income area of SF) with YWAM (Youth With A Mission). This was really heavy for me. We learned about human sex trafficking in SF, LA, and Vegas (it is a trafficking triangle). I don't know if you have ever heard about or seen "massage parlors" but apparently those are just fronts for prostitution and brothels where the girls are taken mainly from southeastern asian countries and sold into slavery here. There are over 270 of these in SF alone and a little less then 100 are confirmed places for active human slave trading on top of having enslaved sex slaves in the parlor. The part that hit me that hardest is that the average age of these girls is 13 to 14. They don't know what city they are in, they don't speak our language, and they are never allowed to leave these parlors (until they are not longer desireable at which point they are thrown out on the streets). Walking around and praying for these women was so hard. And seeing men being buzzed into these places we were praying for (they are high security) was heartbreaking. Every side of this issue needs Jesus: the people running these businesses, the men who supply the demand, and the women who are hopeless and broken in these brothels. A TON of prayer for this would be great. I am also still trying to see where I fit into this besides praying.

Turning Twenty-One

So last night I talked to a drunk guy about God. He heard it was my 21st birthday and wanted to know what makes me happy so he could help make my day memorable (the drink he bought me was not going to do the trick, bleh). I told him Jesus makes me happy. And he said something that I loved. He said, "I love Jesus. Everyone needs Jesus as their Savior." This was right before he said that Buddah, Jesus, and Egyptian gods are the same thing (but we didn't get into our differences on that seeing how he was drunk and was being super nice to us). Despite his confusion however, over what he believed, his statement stood out to me. Everyone does need Jesus as their Savior and it took a guy in a bar on my 21st to remind me of that. I told him that I agreed that everyone should know Jesus and we talked about church. He said he would come to Grace on Sunday and find me but we will see if he even remembers that conversation today. I guess my point in all this is that maybe I should expect the unexpected more often and be more open to potential conversations. Who knows what God will do with Chance Robert Berry and the night he bought a very un-drunk, new 21 year old a cosmo.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Honesty - Day Five/Six

I am combining yesterday and today since I don't have time to really type two posts. Not to mention I don't have a whole lot to write about today.

I still have not made an effort to really spend time with the Lord. Yesterday was party stuff all day and then the actual party. Then tearing down everything, cleaning, and sleeping. Today was errands, cleaning, and hanging out with people. So no valid excuse for today. I had a few hours of downtime where I chose to work on menial tasks and random projects instead of working on my relationship with God. I even blogged about Easter and the compelling power of Christ's death... then did nothing about it. So this post is going to be short. I have a little while before I have to go on rounds and I'm going to spend those minutes with Jesus...


One thing that blows me away about today is this:

Jesus died and rose from the dead for YOU. Not only for the men nailing him to the cross, not only for his disciples in ancient Biblical times, but for YOU, ME, US.
Crazy right? He knew we would hear about what he did... he knew we would have the decision to follow him and believe in what he did... and he knew that day, on the cross, how important being tortured and dying was... he knew how vital it would be that we believed he rose again...

Makes me think twice about ignoring the fact that I should be spending time with him and continually communicating with him throughout my day.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Honesty - Day Four

Technically it is day five of this honesty thing but I am going to assume an hour doesn't matter to you. =)

Today I realized that I love holding grudges. For some reason it is just one more thing that seems comfortable to me. I can understand the world of pity parties, grudges, pet peeves, over stressing about life, and putting people down. I have lived there before and often revert back to it. It feels good to be cynical, or so I tell myself. In reality however, it makes me miserable and makes everyone around me miserable. God has been pointing out to me even more lately how these sins in my thought life are pretty prevalent, too prevalent. And because they are so common in my thoughts, my actions and words naturally mimic my inner ideas. I feel like it is so much easier to tear someone down then it is to build them up. But it is so much more important that we do encourage one another... besides this speaks better for you then trying to make yourself look better by making people around you seem worse.

This verse has always challenged me in this and God likes to remind me of it often:

Ephesians 4:29 "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

It all starts with my attitude. It is easy for me to be cynical and a lot of the time I don't want to change my negative attitude. I just want people to do things the way I want them to be done because I think the world revolves around me. Shallow and horrible I know. But it's honest. I guess today's challenge for me was to be more loving, accepting, go with the flow, and selfless. A lot of very hard things.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Ceasar Chavez Day

 love having the day off. Thank you Mr. Chavez for being epic enough to have a holiday in your honor. My girlfriends and I decided to take the day to go to Cambria (a fun little town up the coast from Cal Poly) and eat lunch. We had great italian food, went antique shopping, saw my grandparents on the way back, and got a renewed vision for our birthday party this weekend (which is being held in my grandparent's barn). We also found an incredible cookie place in a sketchy, industrial area of Cambria and ate our fill of the best lemon cookies I have ever eaten. Then we decided to mix things up and we drove back on a windy road that I have taken on my motorcycle before. The view was amazing! We saw the ocean, tons of wildflowers, a turkey (thank you turkey call), and some cows. We found houses we would love to live in, stopped and took cheesy pictures on a bridge, and laughed until our abs hurt. It was a great day! I even got down time between selling back my books and my planning meeting. Then a bible study party last night that was so refreshing and hilarious. =) I love the conversations we have when groups of girls get together.
 We love us a good feet picture. =)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Honesty - Day Three

Staying still and silencing the stuff clamoring for my attention is crazy hard. Sitting in my room (not a good place to escape my thoughts) yesterday felt so wrong. I saw things that needed to be finished, clothes that need to be picked up, stacks of books to be read, homework to be started, and a stack of clothes to fix. And I was itching to get up off my floor, where I chose to spend time sitting before the Lord, to start working on everything.

As I prayed for my racing thoughts and list of things to do, God spoke to me. He said, "Simplify." And my piles of papers, stacks of party supplies, and half painted canvases stopped pressing for my attention. They became frivolous, unnecessary tasks that fill up my time just because I choose to make them important. I don't have to sew straps on that purse, I don't have to fix that hole in my jeans, I don't have to go crazy over planning my birthday party. And I definitely don't have to let these things take over my life. I so easily allow myself to get sucked into organizing the little things I need to do when in fact, if I simplified and focused on what is really important, I wouldn't worry about those petty details at all.

I only lasted ten minutes yesterday before I started one of my projects. But I didn't feel enslaved to my list and to that project. I worked on it while talking to Jesus and with the attitude that it didn't need to be done that minute. It wasn't due that day, it didn't need to be completed by a certain point, and painting could go back to being fun. It was something I could work on at leisure with the Lord. What a relief that was.

I am still mullling over the idea of simplification in my life. So far I decided I am going to clear out stuff in my life (both physically and mentally) that are unnessesary. I don't want extra clutter hanging around crowding my life... more on what that looks like later. =)