Saturday, January 30, 2010

Look Up and Live

He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished (1 Nephi 17:41).

This is one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon, because it speaks to one of my greatest weaknesses. Being a fairly independent and resourceful person, it has always been a little too easy for me to get up a full head of steam and set out on my own to solve the world's (and my) problems. Then, as I become embroiled in whatever difficulty arises, my efforts tend to become more strident and less effective until I finally remember (usually after an unhealthy dose of stress and strain) that I am not in this alone.

Why would any sane person forget to do the very thing that makes life, in all its shades of darkness and light, remain joyful? The ability to call upon the Lord, making Him a partner in all things, is a blessing beyond description. Why, then, am I (as Come Thou Fount gently reminds) so prone to wander off on my own when I could be navigating my way through every difficult detour on life's journey with an omnipotent and omniscient Being guiding the way? Yet, though life has taught me again and again that outcomes are much better when I remember in Whom I have trusted, I still fail to remember, at times, in Whom I have trusted. (Can you say "slow learner?...lack of humility?...big dope?!)

I should clarify that my problem in these moments is not forgetting to pray. Rather, it's taking the process of prayer for granted...forgetting how much I need assistance in every phase of my life. Time and again, pride obstructs my awareness that all of my machinations are like chaff in the wind compared to the simple act of looking up. But as the scripture says, because of the "simpleness of the way or the ease of it," I sometimes miss the mark, like the Israelites. Beset by poisonous serpents, all they had to do to be saved was look up at the brazen serpent, but it was too easy...too simple...and many perished.

Fortunately for me, I do manage to find my knees and raise my eyes to the heavens in earnest before I perish, but I often wonder why I (simply) don't begin my process of dealing with even life's less dramatic situations from that vantage point. I tend to start petitioning the Lord mightily just about the time that the snowball I dismissed as a trifle and left out of my prayers entirely is two-thirds of the way down the hill, gaining speed, and about to land on my head or the head of someone I love. I think I confuse being independent in action to being independent in spirit. And let's face it, my spirit is dependent upon the all things, great and small.

Life feels a bit challenging to me right now––not in big, dramatic, crisis-oriented ways (I've been there, too!)––but in an abundance of painful, mid-level struggles for people I love. Today I find myself thinking of the brazen serpent and wanting to remind myself and those loved ones that comfort, relief, and even resolution are always available. All we need to do is look up, and while the way is simple, the etymology and symbolism are deep and far-reaching.

Just as Moses lifted up the brazen serpent in similitude of Christ being lifted up on the cross, so the power of His atonement will lift every one of us. No matter the tribulation, no matter the situation, no matter the worry or sorrow or pain, we can look up and live. That is the promise. And the Lord keeps His promises.

...these are not the only ones who have spoken concerning the Son of God. Behold, he was spoken of by Moses; yea, and behold a type was raised up in the wilderness, that whosoever would look upon it might live. And many did look and live. But few understood the meaning of those things... (Alma 33:18-20).

If I would be numbered "among the believers," my task is to make sure my life and actions fall in line with the many...and not the few.

That's my plan. And His plan.

I'm in.

Friday, January 29, 2010

On Seagulls and Starfish

(Please click on this exquisite photo to see the detail.)
The bird is holding dinner in its mouth.

Initially, my sympathies are with the starfish.

But perhaps I judge too hastily.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A "Grave" Matter

Okay, here's the thing. My husband and I are experiencing a rather odd difference of opinion...not quite an open argument, certainly not an active dispute, but verging on the kind of simmering disagreement that will eventually have to be addressed even though it seems wiser to avoid it completely.

One of the strangest things about this little matter is that neither of us is yet 60, so the issue really isn't all that pressing. For some reason, however, the subject of where we will eventually be buried seems to have reared its surprisingly controversial head...and it looks like both of us are going to have to use all of our diplomatic skills to arrive at a mutually satisfactory resolution. This will be made somewhat more difficult by the fact that my husband doesn't seem to know exactly where he wants to be buried; he only knows that he sort of has a feeling that it almost but not quite for sure isn't where I am thinking we should be buried.

The good news is that we do have one point of common ground: our desire to be planted in common ground. (Of course, that is also the bad news, since it requires deciding where that common ground should be.) Let's face it; the whole thing has a distinctly humorous side. In fact, the son who happened to be with us when this discussion first came up was clearly amused. I've gotten a chuckle or two out of it myself, but the plots are nearly sold out at my PRP (preferred resting place), so I'm in a bit of a hurry to close the deal. It's even occurred to me to request a plot (for both of us to be buried in) as my Valentine's Day present. What gift of love could be more fitting than a lovely spot in the nearest cemetery, just waiting to be shared? Ah, sweet romance.

Of course, my husband's fallback idea is to set up a National Park travel fund in his will, be cremated, then have our children split the ashes four ways and spread them throughout the entire National Park system.*

*If this ever becomes a real plan...I'm in.

Seriously, though...What could be nicer than this?!
(It all but screams "final resting place.")
Am I wrong?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Here I Raise my Ebenezer...

Then Samuel took a stone...and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying,
'Hitherto hath the Lord helped us' (1 Samuel 7:12)

A couple of days ago, I promised you a run-down on the pithy and poignant moments of the ward conference held in my husband's singles ward last Sunday. Today, I will do my best to deliver on that promise.

The handsome bishop (yes, I may be a bit prejudiced) opened by reading the words to one of his favorite hymns: "Come Thou Fount." He went on to explain the lyrical phrase, "Here I raise my Ebenezer." In the Old Testament, Samuel lifted up a stone to memorialize the Lord's help in preserving the Israelites when they were attacked by the Philistines. Ebenezer literally means "stone of help." My husband's suggestion was to ponder what stones (i.e. monuments to the Lord's help or Ebenezers) we might raise in our own lives to, as the song says, "lead us safely home" and "seal us for His courts above." (Stone of service, stone of obedience, etc.) Great food for thought.

The second counselor in the stake presidency used the game of golf as an analogy for life on earth, with all its traps and snares. Every player knows the rules and risks up front, yet he or she still chooses to participate. The way to succeed is clear and direct, with penalties for deviating from it. He went on to explain the rest of the obvious parallels, point out a few that were not so obvious, and then relate the sad tale of a man whose ball had been consigned to oblivion by a poorly executed swing. There it lay, far from the green and lost in tall, thick grasses. Quite a predicament in which to find oneself, our speaker observed, but then he added the thesis of his entire talk: "The important thing is what you do next." I know he made his point, because one of the young adults posted this very statement as her Facebook status that same afternoon.

The first counselor, a good friend from my home ward, gave an inspiring talk about finding and moving to higher ground. He shared a true story about the companion his son left behind when he returned home from his mission in Samoa. That young missionary was a Tongan, called to serve in a culture whose long history included enmity with his own. Based solely upon that history, he was not accepted by the Samoans, and their lack of trust was impacting his success in the missionfield. Thankfully, all of that changed one morning, due to a tidal wave that nearly engulfed the island. Not being familiar with the tidal wave drill (so to speak), the missionaries were slow to act. They were the last ones to respond to Samoan cries of warning...the last to take off running for higher ground. Realizing they were not going to make it there in time, the two were about to heed shouts from the villagers to "climb a tree," when they came upon three small children who'd been left behind in the frenzied rush to reach the nearby volcanic mountain and safety. At great risk to themselves, the missionaries swept the three children up and still managed somehow to climb a nearby tree. Seconds later, the tidal wave struck, and the Tongan missionary's legs were hit hard as he threw the last child upward to his companion and held on for dear life. Youth and strength prevailed, and a few moments passed. Finally, gathering all the courage they could muster (knowing full well the wave would return as it receded), the young men chose to leave the marginally secure safety of their tree and climb to higher ground. In neck-high water, carrying precious living cargo upon aching shoulders, they reached the top. There, they located a distraught young mother who was convinced she'd lost all of her children. Imagine the joy of being able to return them to her arms. Needless to say, the Tongan man had no more trouble in that Samoan village. And the lesson about heeding a warning to move to higher ground will never be forgotten.

Long post, so I'll save our stake president's true story (both personal and powerful) for another day.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Family Is a Rock

My little grandson is going to be a good dad someday.
He's practicing already.

Look at him kissing his little family of rocks.

Proudly, he gives them a much-deserved ride on the slide...

And laughs with vicarious joy at their rocky pleasures.

(Thanks, as always, for the great photos, Heather.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Now Hear This! And This!! And This, Too!!!

There's an interesting article over at Segullah entitled "Speak Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace." The writer, Angela, asks some good questions and makes some even better points about when to speak and when not to speak in life. Her essay invites one of my favorite things, self-analysis, and she tacitly encourages the reader to determine on which side of the speaking-or-not-speaking coin he or she lands most often.

I happen to be one who is prone to speak too much rather than too little. (Regular followers will not be startled by this revelation.) When I was in high school, a favorite English teacher once quelled my loquaciousness by explaining to the class, "Sue has a need to be heard." I felt humiliated at the time, but I now realize that what she was saying was no more and no less than the truth. I do have a need to be heard, as three published books (non-published wouldn't have satisfied the need), numerous poems (placed, for the world to see, on a free-for-public-use website), and this oft-updated blog unabashedly testify. I've written articles for online magazines, filled an embarrassing number of journals, created scripts for road shows and church programs without number, and authored short stories galore. In fact, I am happy to share almost anything I can somehow get down on paper (though I admittedly have an easier time sharing things I get down on computer paper, because my penmanship handwriting is all but illegible). And I rarely say no to an opportunity to speak, either. Nor do I resist the urge to raise my hand (I do try not to wave it around), offer advice (too many times, unsolicited), or give my opinion (too often, unrequested.)

Oh, and one more thing. (If I'm going to tell on myself, I shouldn't forget this.) When I was interviewed for entry into my graduate program in counseling, the woman conducting that interview said rather dubiously toward the end of the conversation, "Well, some people like therapists who talk a lot." Upon honest reflection, however, I did not see this trait as a good thing and spent most of my training learning to be silent and listen. It wasn't easy; it surely didn't come naturally, but it was worth it.

Over the years, I have continued to improve in this area. While I am still happy to speak up in a class or group setting, I no longer have a "need" to do so. In fact, I am frequently able to hold my peace until the Spirit prompts me to say something! Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to change my propensity to voice feelings and opinions. In fact, my patriarchal blessing encourages me to speak my piece when inspired to do so. These days, though, I do tend to wait until I am inspired, which is undoubtedly an improvement over my schoolgirl need to respond verbally or in writing to any and every stimulus that prompted brain activity on my part.

Anyway, Angela's is a good essay and well worth reading. I also like the little story below, which brings the point home for me. (I'd like to list the author, but searching the internet yields only that credit which is every writer's worst nightmare: "Anonymous.") Ah well, I salute the creator of this piece, wherever you are...

"A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him.

It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.

The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember, and placed it to one side of the hearth, all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

The host watched all this in quiet contemplation. As the one, lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow before its fire was no more. Soon, it was cold and dead.

Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave. He slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, 'Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday.'

We live in a world today, which tries to say too much with too little. Consequently, few listen. Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken."

Having established that premise (and yet being anything but a black-and-white person), later this week I will be sharing with you a couple of the "sermons" spoken by stake leaders in my husband's singles ward conference yesterday, conclusively proving that those spoken sermons can be pretty good, too!

Don't you love grey area? AND gray area?
(Hmmm...grEy or grAy??...another non-black-and-white issue...)

PS. So, which side of the coin do you fall on?––speaking or not speaking??
(You can sound off on grey and gray, too, if you like.)

PPS. Unless, of course, you prefer to remain silent... ;)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Transfixed and Illuminated

My Grandson

I can't decide whether he looks like the male counterpart of Joan of Arc
one of the Vienna Choir boys in a Christmas cowl.

Either way, he's clearly having a religious experience.
(with the television)

Thanks for the great photo, Heather.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

We Have Winners, Folks!

After putting about a zillion slips with various names on them into a bowl and drawing out three of said names, the results are in! (Drum roll, please.) The winners of the TenderShootZ photography sessions (or one of our Nature Doodles, for those who can't match up with any of Heather's travel dates) are:

1st Place - Amy, winner of the Garden package
2nd Place - Karen of K2Cole, winner of the Flower package
3rd Place - Lisa, winner of the Daisy package

Congratulations to all of you! FYI, Heather will be in Northern California from March 27th to 31st (that might work for Lisa, if she wants to make a little trip), Mesa on April 9th and 10th, and Utah on May 1st. If those don't work for you, check out the rest of her travel dates to see if you and Heather can cross paths. If not, you may choose (instead of the photo session) the Nature Doodle of your choice in any of the following sizes: 3x4, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, or 16 x 20. Just let me know which way you want to go by commenting below.

I want to thank everyone for supporting Heather in her new venture, and I hope you enjoy your prizes!


Friday, January 22, 2010

Bungee Jumping?! Sure, Why not?

I usually don't show comedy bits on my blog, but this one is both charming and clever. Jeanne Robertson is such a quirky character (along with her husband, whom she calls "left brain") that I had to share. The lady's southern accent and wry presentation are so enjoyable that you won't even find yourself wishing the video would end more quickly. What you might do, however, is go to youtube looking for more!

Enjoy yourselves. I know you will. But be sure to click off my playlist in the right sidebar so you don't miss a word...

P.S. Hang with it, because the end is the best part of all.

PPS. Don't forget to hop on over to my giveaway and leave a comment before midnight so you can have a chance of winning! The three victorious bloggers will be announced tomorrow morning. Good luck!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Robins, Robins Everywhere!

Robins are good visitors.

They rarely overstay.

They're thoughtful from the time they come

Until they fly away.


Okay, okay, I admit these photos of mine don't quite measure up to Heather's (see photo session/wall art giveaway post), but I did want to try and capture for your viewing pleasure a small glimpse of what I've been experiencing in my front yard.

I'm not exactly sure what's going on in the bird world, but we've had 50 or so robins flitting around our house for a couple of days now. In fact, if I were any kind of photographer, I'd be posting an Audubon-esque pic of at least 20 of these beautiful birds in one group, perched on red-tipped bushes and merrily eating everything they could get their beaks on. No such luck, though. I missed the shot. At one point, they all got spooked and flew away together in numbers greater than I'd realized initially. (Yep, some were hidden inside the hedge). You guessed it. I missed that shot, too.

And it would have been epic.


So, absent visual documentation, all I can do is assure you that the view from my front window has been spectacular. What's more, listening to my robinish friends sing has lifted my spirits, which have been a little on the droopy side lately due to a plethora of not really earth-shattering but still somewhat troubling family concerns that are entirely too "not about me" to mention here.

My point? Robins rock.

tweet, tweet

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Look What's Growing? TenderShootZ!

What started out as my daughter-in-law's mostly-for-fun photo business is now growing so rapidly that she has made the whole enterprise official with a brand new website and accompanying photography blog. In honor of this auspicious occasion, I am featuring her on my blog today––Heather Andersonalong with her blossoming business, TenderShootZ!

Of course, photography is her main focus, but we are also doing a little sideline together that we've decided to call "Nature Doodles." Basically, these are Heather's beautiful nature photos, imprinted with my words, for use as a greeting card, gift, or wall art. You can see six examples here. (More to come.)

So, in honor of the website and blog kick-off, she is going to be giving out some very nice prizes! In fact, Heather is hosting a pretty generous giveaway...right here and right now...for any and every person who wants to get involved. There will be a first, a second, and a third place winner, drawn (as usual) from my trusty bowl. Here's the deal:

1. A mere comment below will put your name in the bowl one time.
2. A comment that you've visited one or both links (including your impressions) gets you in the bowl two times.
3. Becoming a follower on her photography blog lands your name in the bowl three times. (You'll need to scroll all the way down to the bottom to find her follow button.)
4. A link to her website guarantees entry of your name four times.
5. A link to her photography blog places your name in the bowl four more times, and
6. Putting her button on your blog promises that your name shows up five times.

This gives the truly devoted contest-enterer the opportunity to have her/his name in the bowl 19 times! (Boy, I am going to need a BIG bowl.) And I believe I may be crazy...

Here's what the winners will receive:

3. Third place winner wins either a Nature Doodle or the Daisy photo session package (valued at $25) .
2. Second place winner wins either a Nature Doodle or the Flower photo session package (valued at $125).
1. First place winner wins either a Nature Doodle or the Garden photo session package (valued at $225).

(Just click on the links above for descriptions of each photo package...When you get there, be sure to scroll down to the Pricing section for details. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at what great gifts these are.)

Heather is located in Southern California. While she is offering your pick of the Nature Doodles as an alternative prize for those who are unable to take advantage of her photography packages due to location, she will be available for shoots in Northern California, Arizona, and Utah in the coming well as in various areas of Southern California, so who knows? Maybe you will be able to work something out. At any rate, you can check her travel dates to see if she will be shooting in a location near you. If not, go for a Nature Doodle as your prize! They're cool. (Or just plan a vacation trip to So Cal and schedule your free session for then.)

Many of you have commented in the past on the beautiful photos Heather has allowed me to post on this blog. If you like the ones posted below, hop on over to her website and take a look at her portfolio. You'll be glad you did! You can also cruise over to her blog and check out her latest shoot. It's pretty amazing. And so are these, as I'm sure you'll agree:

Good luck, everyone! And thanks for playing...


PS. Ever the proud mother-in-law.

PPS. Contest ends Friday night (the 22nd) at 11:59 PM. Winners to be announced on Saturday morning.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Into the Wild...

It's a windy, rainy day in Northern California, and instead of cuddling up by the fire with a good book, I've made plans that will take me right out there in the middle of all this cold and blustery weather. Yep, I have a date with a termite inspector, a rendezvous with a realtor, an engagement with a friend, an appointment with a doctor, and a meeting with a collaborator. All I need now is an assignation with a secret admirer! (Thankfully, I don't have any, because I couldn't possibly fit one into my busy schedule...)

To tell the truth, I'm not exactly excited to take to the freeways on a day like this. Does the word hydroplaning mean anything to you? Not one of my favorite pastimes, I must admit, and with sheets of water underfoot (undertire?), definitely not out of the realm of possibility.

Oh dear, I've done it again. What I mean to say is...Ain't never gonna happen, Mom. I've got it covered. No hydroplaning here. Just skilled, cautious, event-free driving, okay? Okay.


The thing is––I love wet, wild, and wintry days like these. They give me something I can use in my old age: a natural high. Or at least, a buzz. (Can you tell I'm a teen of the 60's?)

Natural high or buzz, I'll take it. And do you think I could get a temporary reprieve from menopause, too? Because I've got one heck of a lot to get done today, and a little more estrogen would come in mighty handy.


Monday, January 18, 2010

The Whole World in His Hands

Don't know if this pic was doctored by photoshop or not (probably yes), but I like the concept. I feel it, too. What's more, in light of all that's going on in Haiti, I find it immensely comforting.

Knowing that the Lord is in charge––that, to coin a popular gospel song, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands"––is a necessary element in my life, and I am far from alone in this need. When dealing with loss of any kind, bringing God into the equation suddenly makes enduring and even coming out the other end seem possible. On Martin Luther King Day, it feels appropriate to remember that, without his belief in a loving God whose interest and support included every one of His children, Dr. King might never have given the famous "I Have a Dream" speech. In fact, without the inspiration that comes from faith in a Supreme Being, Dr. King might never have had a dream at all.

Loss is a heartbreaking fact of life on the earth, whether it is loss of life, loss of liberty, or loss of a dream. We all struggle with it, but most of us do come out the other side, and God has a hand in that. More than a hand.

I attended a funeral on Saturday for the mother of one of my husband's bishopric counselors. She was the beloved matriarch of a large, wonderful family; and it was a privilege to hear the beautiful music, memories, and testimonies shared. This is a family that knows, collectively and individually, that the world...and their in the Lord's hands. Their loss is great, but their faith is greater.

My prayer is that the people of Haiti will find the faith and strength to overcome the kind of loss few of us can even imagine. God does hold the whole world in His hands, and now the whole world needs to BE His hands as we reach out to help these Haitian brothers and sisters who are suffering so deeply.

I hope you will give yourself a gift and read this post from a Haitian missionary's blog. I also hope, if you haven't already, that you will consider making a donation to a reputable charity in behalf of the earthquake survivors. In the event you are unaware of a charity that gives 100% of monies collected directly to aiding those in need, feel free to make a donation through my church, where all administrative fees are paid out of a separate fund. (You might want to read this article about a group of LDS doctors who left over the weekend with two plane loads of supplies to minister directly to the people in Port-au-Prince.) Another good option is Partners in Health, mentioned by many of the Haitian blogs, which seems like a good advertisement for their honesty. Food for the Poor is probably a safe bet, too; as I understand it, this is the organization that is helping to distribute the emergency hygiene kits and food donations recently sent by the LDS Church.

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion is to look out to the earth; yours are the feet by which He is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands by which He is to bless us now” Saint Teresa of Avila (1515-1582).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Glimmer of Hope Becomes Perfect Brightness

A Glimmer of Hope - Abstract Design
by Exper Giovanni Rubaltelli

One of my closest friends just graduated from college with a BA in English. This determined woman has five grown children, a chronic illness, and during the course of her college career (most of which was accomplished with children still at home), she underwent intense chemotherapy for a particularly nasty form of breast cancer. More recently, she was diagnosed with cancer of the eye. Despite this and other adversities, diploma in hand, she is now embarking upon her master's degree.

How I admire my friend's courage and resilience! Every time clouds of darkness enter her life, threatening to extinguish the light that burns so brightly within her, she refuses to be vanquished. Through faith and prayer, she continues to press forward. As one of her close confidants, I am aware that not once has she allowed herself to let go of that little light of hope in her heart. Occasionally it has dimmed for a period of time, but never has it stopped burning.

Observing this great woman, and thinking about what she has accomplished in the past several years, I see more clearly how even a glimmer of hope can be turned into a perfect brightness of hope. "I am able to make you holy, " the Lord promises (D&C 60:7), and we can be the recipients of that promise by turning to Him in all things, making Him the foundation of our lives. When things don't go our way, we can remind ourselves that life is a period of experience, growth, and testing. We can be patient with the Lord and with ourselves as we go through the ups and downs of life. "In your patience possess ye your souls," we are told (Luke 20:19), and becoming the people God wants and needs us to be does take patience. This patience comes by way of faith in God and His plan...accompanied by the enduring hope that such faith makes possible.

I am reminded of the story of the Velveteen Rabbit:

"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all" (Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit).

My friend is one of the most Real people I know. One day, I feel sure that she will achieve her goal and become a college English teacher, but already she has become much more than that to me. She is an "example of the believers" (1 Timothy 4:12), a living manifestation for me and others of pressing forward against all odds, with a perfect brightness of hope.

"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men" (2 Nephi 31:20).

Thanks, M. You are one of my heroes.