Dear Mama: Your JK will be OK (& so will you)

Hello Friends!

Well…the kids are back in school…and all of the moms and dads breathed a collective sigh of relief…we survived!  We did it!  Actually, truth be told, it wasn’t all that bad…although it definitely had it’s crazy moments, overall, it was a good one for the books…could’ve even been a little longer in fact (and I’m not one to say that usually as I looooooove the Fall….but no Summer humidity = all the heart eyes).

So as I sent my two oldest back to school, with the thought of my youngest heading to Kindergarten next year as a tiny 3-year-old (thank you December birthdays…also I think I’m still in denial that she’ll be going next year…she’s still in diapers! Though we began tackling that one today…potty training Day 1…no toilet tinkles but at least she sat there…though I digress…)… all of this got me to thinking about all of the little people heading to JK this year…and more specifically the mama’s of those little ones…because let’s be real…it’s never the kids that have an issue with this…it’s always us mama’s…I mean…our babies…they’re big enough for school now…what?!

Anyways, with that being said, I thought it might be fitting to share an old post here from when my now-6-year-old started JK two years ago.  So without further ado…

(Originally Published on September 10, 2015)

It’s been forever since I was last on here and life has gotten much busier with an almost 9 month old in the mix but as summer has come to a close things have begun to get back to normal with my son now back to school in the first grade and my daughter to follow tomorrow. Yes, you heard correctly, my sweet little girl of just barely 4 years is beginning Jr Kindergarten tomorrow.

She’s been there often enough in the past two years; to drop off her brother with me, or meet his teacher, to see a Christmas concert, hear about bus safety, and just today to meet her teachers, however it didn’t really sink in that she’d be going herself until tonight. You see, tonight as I went in to give her a kiss after she was asleep, she had her little arm wrapped in a cozy hug around her white, falling-apart sheep pillow… The sheep pillow that had wrapped around her most favorite baby blanket and that she had slept with every night (except when it was in the laundry) until she was three, at which time she had moved into her big girl bed and the sheep pillow and blanket went into hibernation. Not seeing that pillow for over a year made me realize how much a child can grow in a year and how quickly life can pass by and change in that time. It seems like just a heartbeat away that I was laying with her in my hospital bed for our first night together, literally nose-to-nose and lip-to-lip; the first snuggle of many with my affectionate little girl. And now tomorrow she’ll be going off to school with her big brother.
I’m trying to convince myself that it’s not a huge deal and that she’ll do great, but I think that’s part of what makes it so difficult for us mom’s.

We know that our children are resilient, we know that given the opportunity, they will rise to the occasion, we know that these amazing little people will make friends and win hearts, and I think that’s what can scare us, or at least me.

Yes, there is the part of me that worries about her getting hurt or feeling alone, but there is a bigger fear than even those; it is the fear that my children won’t need me, that the voices of friends, teachers, and even scarier, media and society will begin to become more appealing and louder than mine. It’s the fear that snuggling with mom will be old news, and hanging with family a chore, ultimately, it’s the fear that says “your job here is done”; and I’m not anywhere near ready to hand my job off to a big scary, ugly world.

So what do we do as mom’s, as dad’s, as caregivers to these precious children with whom we’ve been entrusted for such a short time? What do we do to battle these fears? How do we cope with the overwhelming desire to white-knuckle parent our children?

For me, I’ll do the only thing I know to do, sometimes only daily, sometimes hourly, but today and tomorrow – by the minute,

I’ll hand these children off…Not to the hands of a hard, calloused world, but into the hands of my loving Heavenly Father Who wants the best for them and Who loves them with a love that is even stronger and fiercer than my own.

I’ll choose to trust Him, sometimes trembling, and when I feel weak, to call out until His hands grasp mine.  I'll choose to trust Him,sometimes trembling & when I'm weak to call until His hands grasp mine Click To Tweet You see, if I don’t do this, the only other option is for my fears to control my actions; and instead of being free to guide, nurture, and teach my children, allowing them to choose and make both good and bad choices, my hands then become closed and clenched around them and the very things I fear may become my reality.

So tonight I take a lesson from my four-year old daughter, the one who conquered her lifelong fear of swimming this summer, who finally let go of the steps and swam into the deep and who will bravely walk into her JK classroom tomorrow – I let go.  I let go of the fear and the control, and I grab onto perfect love, the perfect love of my Saviour.

 

 

 

PS: And in case you were wondering…those JK and SK years went quite swimmingly!  Now if only I can remember this for next September…feel free to refer me back to my own words at that time. 😉

Thank you to Zakkiya at Inkstruck Studio for the pretty Free Watercolor Brushstroke shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site at http://bydawnnicole.com/2016/12/free-watercolor-brushstroke-graphics.html

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The Gift of Time

A few summers back I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided that I wanted to get my thumb a little green.  When we first moved into our home 8 years ago the gardens were abundant and beautiful; organized yet spontaneous and wild.  My Grandma, who had lived here for many years prior, had excelled at creating something that looked so effortless, as various blooms sprang up one after the other from early spring through until fall.  But when we moved in, it didn’t take long for me to realize that such beauty came with much effort.  As the summer’s passed and our family grew, the time that I could devote to maintaining those gardens became less and less, until one year we decided to uproot several of those beds and replace them with grass.  (I’m fairly certain I could feel the shudder from every gardener just now)

And then a few years back the most unlikely thing happened – I decided that I wanted to change the smallest of corner gardens in my yard by simplifying and salvaging what was left to make something new that I could handle.  I’m not sure if it was the accidental discovery that my abundance of ferns were actually not weeds, or if it was simply that I had slightly more time on my hands with children out of diapers, but whatever it was…it had set me on a path of discovery.

My journey of observation and asking resulted in my realization that I could create something very manageable with what I already had…all that was required was a simple Google search and a quick YouTube tutorial to arm myself with the knowledge of splitting and transplanting a Hosta.  Now being as my knowledge of plants was very limited, I decided to split off as little as possible so as not to destroy both the old plant and the new if my venture were to fail.  So needless to say that little hosta plant was quite small and sad-looking that first summer.

However I did not allow that to dampen my spirits…in fact…in my mind…it was a great success that the plant had survived at all, and it inspired me to stretch myself even further.  (Really it was only after viewing a picture I had taken of it that I realized how pathetic it looked on its own).  I began to do more Google searches and less “weed pulling” as I learned that many of those weeds growing were in fact, flowers; and over time I began to maintain the remaining gardens with my slowly growing knowledge until we finally tackled the largest gardens at the front of the house, uprooting overgrown bushes and wild shrubs, and in its place transplanting more of my new garden favorite….the Hosta.

Now, two years after it all began, that initial Hosta has grown into a lovely not-so-little plant, filling up and adorning that tiny corner of real estate.  The “weeds” are growing quite nicely beside it, and the ferns I had hastily uprooted and destroyed are now full and lush (yes lush…like those mascara advertisements you see…exactly like that…but green and bigger…much much bigger).

The new Hostas in the front garden are only now experiencing their first summer in their new home as last year was their big move, so they’ve yet to take off, but I’m not concerned because out of all of my garden growing and learning, probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned has been from the teacher of time.  You see,

all good things take time to grow; time to be nurtured, time to be fed the right amount of water, time to bask in the adequate amount of sunshine…time to allow for the roots to stretch out and familiarize themselves with the soil, to go down deep and become strong enough to sustain the life of the plant.  It takes time to uproot the weeds that would try to choke out the life of the new plant, and time to learn and educate oneself in how to best care for it.

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Two Words That Changed My Marriage

Hello hello Friends!

I’m writing on the occasion of my 10 Year Marriage Anniversary, and although I may not get this published in time (read: I will not…it was May 26th) – I had an overflow of words that had to be said, so here we are.  Ten years ago I said the word’s “I do” to my husband, and while I knew that our lives were about to change in a big way; at the time, I had no idea as to how much each of us would change, as individuals.

“I do.”

Two words simple enough in and of themselves, yet two words, when worked into one’s thoughts, motives, and actions bear the incredible weight and potential to forever change the course of one’s life and marriage.

“I do.”

It’s the part in the ceremony that leaves most women reaching for their tissues as they witness the exchange of undying love and commitment take place – regardless of whatever curveballs life may throw at the young starry-eyed couple.  For some it’s the part of the ceremony that brings back memories of broken promises; mixed emotions of hope and disappointment, excitement and pain.  For the young, it’s a time of joy and celebration, as they watch dreams become a reality and think of their own dreams in turn.

Over the years, hearing and witnessing couple’s exchanging their vows; I’ve experienced all of those emotions, as I’ve walked my own journey of marriage and been at different stages every time.

I’d like to say that these past 10 years have been 10 years of bliss…but on the other hand…I’m thankful that I can not.

You see, at one time I equated the success of my marriage to the happiness in my heart…and I think that the happiness of my heart was defined by the things that others did to make me feel good…both in my friendships and in my marriage.

But that’s not what brings happiness, and that’s not what defines a good marriage.

I think what really defines a good marriage is the factor of “I do”.

Because in all reality, most times in marriage, we behave in a way that sends the message of “you do”; “you do this…” and I’ll be happy, “you change that” and I’ll change after, “you apologize” and I’ll forgive, “you love me” and I’ll love you back.  And so we create this cycle of unhappiness and bitterness, with hearts that become closed off and distanced.  I’ve been there before…and I know how miserable it made me…and trust me…when we get into that place of shifting the responsibility off of ourselves until the other person changes…it doesn’t matter how much they change or what they do…it is never enough.

But real happiness in marriage begins with “I do”.  Not just leaving it as a one-time sentiment at the altar of your wedding day, but bringing it into your every choice, every thought, every action.  Making “I do” a lifestyle…realizing that it’s not what they do…it’s what I do…the potential for change begins with me.

Real happiness in marriage begins with 'I do',not 'you do'. The potential for change starts with me Click To Tweet

“I do”… choose to let go of my way in exchange for honoring my spouse’s way;

“I do”… choose to forgive even before the apology has come;

“I do”… choose to show affection first or before I even feel it;

“I do”… choose to keep my heart open to my spouse;

“I do”… choose to believe the best about my spouse;

“I do” … continue to choose my spouse every single day and in every moment.

If I am unhappy about something in my marriage, I need to look at what I’m doing about it.

If I want to feel more respected, I need to show more respect;

If I want to feel valued, I need to demonstrate that I value my spouse;

If I want to be heard and understood, I need to start listening to understand;

If I want to experience greater intimacy, I need to begin displaying greater affection;

If I want to feel loved, I need to give love;

You see, it’s this thing of “I do” that changes us into better spouses.  As I reflect back on how much both my husband and I have changed throughout these last 10 years; I can see that every change began with an “I do”.  My husband was pretty great to begin with, but who he is today, and who I am today is not who we were 10 years ago.  We’ve both grown and changed into better people as we’ve learned to lay down our “rights” and honor the other first…and in so doing have experienced that in putting down our own guard a ripple effect has taken place with the other, causing their guard to come down too.  And it’s for that reason, that I’m thankful for the times in my marriage that have been less than blissful.

We still have much to learn, and grow in…and I’m forever learning that this thing of “I do” has much less to do with what he does and much more to do with what I do.  But I think that as we continue to walk this journey of life together, being responsible for what “I do” and continuing to choose and believe the best in one another, I can say with confidence that there’s nothing that we can’t face and conquer as One.

So the next time you find yourself at a wedding and the gamut of emotions begins to well up inside as the happy couple utters their vows, or when you find yourself stuck in that place of frustration and “if only…than I would…”, let it be a reminder that every happy story begins with an “I do”…and that my friend, is well within your grasp.

 

 

 

Thank you to Angie Makes at angiemakes.com for the pretty Free Watercolor Flowers shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site. 

 

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{FDF}: I Let Her Wear the Fancy One

Happy Friday All!

So I feel like all week I’ve been having these little moments that all have been telling me the same thing…okay so maybe only two moments…but still…I was all like “wow!”….so I thought it might be good to share one with you.

The most memorable moment was with my toddler, although in all honesty she likely got this from her older sister who is all-things-girl wrapped up into one creative and quirky little five-year-old.  So my five-year-old is always dressing up in either her princess dresses or her fancy “church” type dresses, her pastimes include watching YouTube beauty tutorials for kids by kids, and then mimicking them with whatever “make-up” she can get her hands on…and I use that term loosely because we’ve had to wash markers and gel crayons…and nail polish and I’m sure many other things that I can’t remember at the moment…out of both of our girls’ hair and off of their faces on more than one occasion (several times this week alone in fact); she also has a flair for the theatrics and I’m pretty much convinced that in her mind her life is one great big musical (I’m serious…she sings all day er’ day…she even walks to the bus stop singing dramatically and moves to the rhythm accordingly…even when the rest of our crew is literally running to the bus stop)  But I digress.

So her younger sister has caught on to this behavior (and I’m ree-e-e-e-e-ally hoping we can curb it before she’s five because I don’t think my poor laundry machine can handle two girls changing outfits 5 times a day) so I had been getting used to her dressing up with her sister in the princess dresses for play, but I was caught off guard a little bit this week when she came to me during the day (while her sister was at school) and grabbed my hand and said “mama dess” and then seeing that I couldn’t understand, led me into her room where her closet was, and pointed up at her fancy purple dress and again said “mama, puple dess”.  Her message was quite clear at that point, but not wanting to dirty one of her good dresses on a regular old home day my answer was a quick “not that one”.  However she was not about to take no for an answer, and again she pointed up and said “mama, puple dess”.  Again I tried to redirect her to the box of princess play dresses but as I pulled each one out of the box and laid it on the floor in front of her she persisted with her request.  In a last-ditch effort I found the purple Sofia the Princess dress and dramatically waved it around trying to convince her that it would be even prettier than the other one…but she wasn’t having any of it…not at all.

It was at that point that the thought crossed my mind, “why not?”,

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{FDF}: When you Want to Give up

I’ll be honest with you guys, some weeks I feel like I’m killing it so to speak, but other weeks I feel like it’s killing me.  The last few weeks have been the latter unfortunately. Last week I was fighting off something physically so I was drained and exhausted every day. I’m not normally one to nap, but at that time…I was napping for (at most) a half hour most days (which explains my absence on here). The worst part though was that I couldn’t even take a break without feeling horribly lazy and guilty.

So this week I felt like I was on catch up and while some things were accomplished (yay for mopped floors finally!), I just couldn’t kick others into gear – at all…. Such as finding writing inspiration, eating well, and exercising…I mean….I even wore my workout attire in hopes that it would kick start me, but nope… Nothing!

I’m finding that the temptation for me on those off weeks is to just throw in the towel altogether, raise the white flag and admit defeat. I battle self criticism in those times and when I haven’t caught it in time it’s often been the cause of much guilt, shame, and hopelessness… Which has only ever led to despair, depression, lost purpose and defeat.

Maybe you can relate… You feel you’re going strong, nailing everything in your path and then bam! Something happens and you have a setback… And it’s not quite the setback itself that causes the problem, but rather it’s the reeling from the setback that inflicts more damage than anything.

If that’s you, I’m challenging you to join me today in these simple steps:
  1. Choose to focus on your accomplishments
  2. Recognize that a setback is not a disqualification
  3. Give yourself permission to slow down and take a break when needed.
  4. After you fall, get back up and keep going

We all face setbacks from time to time, and I’m almost positive that no matter who you are or how long you’ve been doing what you do…the temptation is always there to give into discouragement in those times.  But it’s not the setbacks that hold the power…it’s your response to it that determines your outcome.  So be encouraged today that it’s never too late to start again; go back to your reason for starting…whether it’s a relationship, a hobby, a new mindset, exercising, healthy eating, following your creative pursuits, learning a new instrument, or something else altogether…go back and remember your why…restore your purpose and then begin again.

Have a wonderful weekend and let the newness and freshness of spring be a reminder that you too, can begin each day anew!

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Angie Makes at angiemakes.com for the pretty Free Watercolor Splash and Leaf Image shown above! Be sure to check out her lovely site. 

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You Are Not the Problem

Now right off the hop, I’m sure that title has you thinking one of two things:

A) “Darn right I’m not!” or B) “What an arrogant, irresponsible thing to say!”

Now I’m sure that most of you fit into category A because, well, you’re just those kind of good folks.  But just in case there’s someone out there wondering what led me to say such a thing…I’ll expand.

So I had a little lightbulb moment earlier this week.  I had ordered a few pairs of pants online recently because I needed some new dress pants and the sale was super good.  So when said order arrived, after trying everything on, in my excitement I rushed to give it the nod of approval and add it to my closet collection.

However, it seemed that every time I tried those pants on, they just didn’t feel as good as the first time.  Maybe it’s because I’m acclimatized to joggers and leggings…or anything with stretch really….but after giving them a go again I began to feel that the problem was with me…my body just wasn’t slim enough for them (for more on being enough click here).  As I tried on shirt after shirt I began to get frustrated and feel defeated.

Do you ever get that way?  It’s the worst right?!  Honestly I used to struggle so so much with that…I would cry and whine and finally in utter defeat, stand in front of the mirror and begin to point out every single thing that I didn’t like until I hated everything about myself. (In hindsight, I can see that I may have slightly overreacted) So thankful I don’t do that anymore…but as I struggled to stay positive standing there in those uncomfortable pants I had a thought that changed my entire morning.

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{FDF}: March Break Madness!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy end-of March Break!

In light of it being March Break and all I’m basically just touching down here to say hello.  We’ve had a busy week with everyone coming and going and let’s be real…with kids home during that whole time…there wasn’t much of anything that was going to get done.

So I’ll just highlight one of the key moments that was a common theme here this week: Mr. Sketch Markers

Who knew they doubled as excellent lip sticks?  Sadly I washed my toddlers face before thinking to take a picture…it was during a very busy time (when is there not a busy time with kids? Can I get an Amen?!), but anyways, if you picture the Joker you’ll get a fairly accurate visual.  As for the door decor…well that’s not a first for us….but it hadn’t happened for a while so we were likely due up for some fresh artwork.  I’ll also note that thankfully, everything washed off rather easily.

We really didn’t get up to too much this week as we did our bigger family outing last month at Great Wolf Lodge (which I highly recommend if you’re thinking about it).  So this week has been filled with lot’s of sleepovers with family and visits with friends, as well as a conference at weeks’ end for my husband and myself (I’m bunking with my girlfriends for 2 nights…I can’t even remember how long it’s been since I’ve done that…needless to say I can barely contain the excitement).

I hope you’ve managed to survive your week and even make a few good memories along the way, and if not…there’s still time!  I know March Break can be a tricky one if you don’t have plans, but remember, it doesn’t have to be elaborate for it to be great It doesn't have to be elaborate for it to be great Click To Tweet…and come Monday the house will be back to normal…so try not to stress too much about the chaos now (at least that’s what I keep reminding myself).

Until next week, keep it real…

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When You’re Stuck in Neutral

So I’ve gotta confess something here; you know what one of my least favorite things is? Like I really really really can’t stand it…. wasting time. Yup, just ask my husband. Whether it’s taking the scenic route for a road trip, a lazy Saturday afternoon around the house, or re-cleaning a mess that was already done earlier… It. Drives. Me. Nuts.!!!  But lately what really gets my goat is when I have a short allotment of time to devote to writing and I sit and I stare at a blinking little cursor… And I go for a coffee and I come back and I stare… And I pace in a circle and still… Nothing!! And then before I know it my free time is over and as I look at my blank screen I begin to think of all the things that I could’ve accomplished in that time. Talk about frustrating!

Whenever I’m in one of those situations it’s like a little flip gets switched and all of a sudden I become Captain Efficiency.  Funny because in default everyday mode that very thing usually makes me late so it’s my poor husband doing the stressing…but in my free time it makes it difficult for me to relax and enjoy the journey because I’m always so worried that we’ll waste time taking a wrong turn, or just relaxing when we could be making memories somewhere doing something else instead (literally…that’s like exactly what I think…)

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{FDF}: A Return to Simple

Happy Full Disclosure Friday Friends!

So in the spirit of keeping things real here on Fridays…I must share with you that I’ve come to a realization.  If you’ll recall, or if you’re new here and don’t know (welcome by the way!), when I first started {FDF} I had initially set out to keep these posts short and to the point; to center them around snippets of my real-life, with the point being to simply encourage you that we all have a less-glamorous side of life and sometimes we just need to not take ourselves so seriously and have a laugh at those moments.

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When You Feel Like a Hypocrite

“You’re such a hypocrite!” – I can still feel the ring of those words echoing in my mind and the sting behind them piercing my heart.  Were these words spoken by an ill-willed person?  An enemy? Or perhaps by a close friend or family member whom I had hurt?  No not at all.  Once upon a time, those words were the all-too familiar sound of the lies inside my own mind…lies that I had embraced as my own voice…lies I had believed were absolute truths.

All throughout my teen years, that lie would convince me that I was nothing more than a failure every single time that I fell short of the standard that I felt I claimed to live by.  It kept me stuck in a place of wanting to be so much more, but feeling like I couldn’t because what if I failed…it was always two steps forward, one step back.

Fast forward into my adult years as a wife, and mom to three young children.  By this time I had learned a thing or two about that lying voice and in some areas of my life I was able to recognize it for what it was.  But to some degree that voice had somehow found a way to sneak back into my thoughts whenever I would lose my cool with my kids, or selfishly put my own needs before my husband’s.

It was right there waiting for me to mess up…waiting to whisper…”I told you so”….”you’re nothing more than a hypocrite…just look at how you behaved”.

I wanted so badly for nothing more than to be the kind of mom that my kids were happy to be around; the kind of mom that could be that stability for them when their emotions were running amuck; the kind of mom that acted rather than reacted in the heat of the moment; the kind of wife that believed the best in her husband, that made him feel loved and valued.

But it seemed that no matter how hard I tried…I would find myself in the rhythm of that same old dance from my high school days…two steps forward, one step back.

Did I continue to learn new tactics and approaches in my parenting?  Absolutely.  Did I continue growing as an individual; learning how to be quick to own my actions, apologize, and move on?  Definitely.  Was I learning how to accept and love myself, and walk in grace?  Slowly, yes.  However I was still slipping up, still feeling frustrated, and still feeling like a failure for the better part of my time.  I was making progress…but something major still had to change…the recording that was on repeat in my mind had to be replaced.

Now this change didn’t happen overnight, and to be honest, it’s still a work in progress…but the difference now is that I’m learning to reprogram that voice with a new one…one that assures me that a set-back is not a failure…one that reminds me that I may have made a mistake, but I am not a mistake…one that reminds me that I will become what I behold…that I have been given the nature of Christ when I simply received His forgiveness so because of that His nature becomes expressed more and more as I refocus from my problems to His ability.

I’m learning that there is no such thing as a perfect parent or wife and there is no end-date for such a destination to be achieved.

You see, when we allow ourselves to believe that we must be a perfect … {fill-in-the-blank} by a certain time we set a limit on what we can and will do with the abilities that we have been given.  For me, I had allowed that belief to stop me from reaching out and allowing my life to be used to affect those around me….I thought that I had to have things nailed down before I could help another or share encouragement from what I had learned or experienced.  It kept me from opening up to others, and from using my gifts to speak out and do what I loved to do because it convinced me that when I messed up, I would be nothing more than a hypocrite.

And that is exactly how that lie keeps you stuck in a place of frustration and defeat.  You’re passionate about something; you want to make a difference; you want your life to mean something….but then you hear “what if I screw up?”…”I need to wait until I have this figured out”….and so you stop moving forward…you stop the process…and eventually you quit.

Friend, I want to tell you that progress means taking that first step…even though you’re still figuring it out…even though it’s still messy…even though sometimes you may say one thing but then eat your very own words…progress means you keep moving forward.  The end-date is your lifetime.  It’s okay if you are still taking two steps forward and one step back…but just keep going forward.

Progress means taking that first step, even though you're still figuring it out. Click To Tweet

There’s days when I still think…”seriously, how can you write about this when you just did the opposite thing?!”  But friends, I’m learning, and I’m not about to let the one time I failed, or maybe the 20 times I failed convince me that the other 50 times I succeeded didn’t happen.

Maybe you’re feeling that way today.  Maybe you can relate….maybe you realize that you’ve had your life on hold, waiting to attain a perfect-status that is never going to come.  There’s good news for you if that’s the case; you can move forward today with what you do know and are capable of; you don’t have to wait a minute longer because every single day has fresh grace available and a fresh chance to start anew – you don’t have to wait for a New Year, or a new you.

Every single day has fresh grace available and a fresh chance to start anew. Click To Tweet

Your world is waiting, so don’t waste another moment, or another lesson waiting for perfection.  Move forward and use every lesson, every set-back as an opportunity to affect another.

Because for every time you share your one victory, you multiply that victory into countless lives…and that far outweighs any amount of setback you may face.  And that my friend, is not hypocrisy.  That is progress.

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