Thursday, September 25, 2008

So cute, but you better not laugh!

Anyone who has ever worked with children understands that situation. The one where the kids do something so funny or so cute, but so naughty, and it’s all you can do to keep from laughing at them and thus encouraging undesirable behavior. Caedmon gave us two such examples within the past 24 hours.
Last night it was time for his bath, so I took his clothes off and told him to go get in the bath tub. I turned to walk to the bathroom and when I glanced back to make sure he was following me, this is what I saw:
Hmmm…He was just taking a slight detour, I guess!

Then today I put Caedmon down for his nap at 1:00 like usual. This past week he has been having a hard time falling asleep for his naps and at night time. He’ll stay in his bed like he’s supposed to, but you’ll hear him in there talking and singing for over an hour! Well, today around 2:20 (an hour and twenty minutes after I laid him down), he broke the Cardinal Rule and got out of his bed. Andy and I both thought he was sound asleep when suddenly he looks up and sees Caedmon sneaking around the corner with a huge grin on his face! Andy said it was all he could do not to laugh! I’ll end the story here so you won’t have to read about the unfortunate series of events that followed the breaking of the Cardinal Rule!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Caedmon!!

Yesterday was Caedmon's 2nd birthday, so now we are the proud owners of a 5-foot slide and a pop-up tent that are currently taking up all the space in our living room! Here's a glimpse of our day...

Lunch and games at Chuck-E-Cheese

A million dollar smile

Prizes! (actually junk that he'll never play with and I'll end up just throwing away)

Uncle Archie on the grill....Mmmmm

Don't those look fun?!

Presents! Presents!

Caedmon's first "bike"


Caedmon getting brave with the slide!

Night, night to my baby dinosaur

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Art & Wine Festival

Our first mission team from Lake Pointe Church is here right now to serve with us at Santa Clara's annual Art & Wine Festival. Over 50,000 attend this event every year, and South Bay Church set up a booth and is serving with set up, take down, and clean up. It's a great first connect point with the city.

As I came home from the Art & Wine Festival this afternoon to put Caedmon down for a nap, I was feeling overwhelmed and burdened. Overwhelmed because of the tens of thousands of people who were there that, at this point, we have no relationship with. And burdened because 95% of them probably don’t know Christ. I felt rather insignificant walking around this morning trying to meet people and tell them about South Bay Church.

So once I got Caedmon down, I spent some time in prayer, explaining how I was feeling to God, asking him to encourage and strengthen you guys, and praying that He would give us influence into the thousands of people’s lives represented at the Festival this morning. Then I read began reading my Bible where I had left off…Jeremiah 24. God encouraged me so much as I read about the Israelites who were living in captivity in Babylon. There hearts were hardened and far from God. But, as God spoke to Jeremiah he said, “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Instant relief flooded my soul! All morning I had been carrying the burdened of these people’s salvation. I felt responsible to connect with all 50,000 people, win them over, and convince them of the gospel. Then God reminded me that HE is the One who gives them a heart to know Him. He is the “convincer” of hearts and the irresistible truth and love that woos people.

In knowing that God works in the heart, we can remember that we play a part, a vital role, in leading people towards Christ, but God is the one who is Sovereignly working to draw men to himself. I want to play my part well!

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.
They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Jeremiah 24:7

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pics of Our Apartment

Several people had asked to see some pics of our new apartment, so I thought I'd just upload a few. It's nothing fancy, but we were able to fit everything in and we love it! We really feel like God has placed us in an ideal location to launch this church.

If, by chance, you're thinking to yourself, "Wow, that looks really neat and orderly!" should come open my closets! These apartments have virtually no extra storage, so every closet is stacked floor to ceiling with Tupperware! But as long as we keep the closet doors closed, no one will ever know! Well, except for you, that is...

Caedmon's Bible

Caedmon is really loving his Bible right now...almost like an obsession. He wants to read it first thing in the morning, before he goes to sleep, and multiple times throughout the day. He's also getting all the Bible "lingo" down. For example:
"Climb tree" means "Let's read the story about Zaccheaus."
"Puffy clouds" means "Let's read the story about creation."
"Jesus hold you" is referring to when Jesus allows the little children to come to Him. (this is his favorite story which is probably read 6 times a day)

He also likes when Jesus calms the storm and says, "Funder, Funder!" meaning "Thunder, thunder."

This past Sunday Caedmon asked (for the first time) if he could take his Bible to church. Then, today I told him we needed to put our shoes on because we were going some where. "Church?" he asked.

"Not today. Today we're going to the grocery store."

But I guess it's all the same to him because as I pushed the cart up and down the aisles Caedmon kept raising his hands and shouting, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" My child, the charismatic!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why you should never attempt to smell BENGAY... September 5, 2008

Yesterday Andy strained a muscle in his back while helping Filipe unload their trailor. Being the ever-compassionate wife that I am, I volunteered to give him a back rub last night. After rubbing his back for a few minutes I remembered that I had some BENGAY muscle relaxer. As I went to get it Andy protested saying, "NO, that stuff stinks!" Trying to reassure him I replied, "It's not too bad. Kinda smells like wintergreen." To prove my point I opened the top of the tube and took a big whiff just in time for a huge blob to squirt up my nose and in my eye! Have you ever had BENGAY in your eye? You know that hot/cold sensation it's supposed to create? Doesn't feel so great in your eye. And, well, for that fresh wintergreen smell that I was talking about...I got to enjoy it all night!

How we turned a 12 hour trip into a 30 hour trip! September 4, 2008

Oh, the joys of traveling with a 2 year old! This is my first post since we've been here in CA. It's been all unpacking for us these days. But I couldn't NOT tell you about our trip out here...maybe the very worst traveling experience I've ever had. I would have never made it if it hadn't been for my mom. She's amazing.

The plan was to drive to Charlotte, fly to Atlanta, fly to San Jose, and drive to our apartment only 5 miles away. Simple enough, right? We all knew it was going to be a long day, but we never anticipated how long!

Everything was going just as planned as we arrived at our gate in Charlotte. Caedmon did great going through security and was playing so sweetly right up to the point it was time to board. That's when the delays started. Not sure if you saw this on the news, but last Tuesday (the day we were traveling) the FAA's computer system in Atlanta crashed so they had to manually enter about 3,000 flights! That meant Atlanta was completely gridlocked. Hardly anything was getting into or out of Atlanta. So we waited, and waited, and Caedmon started melting down, and we waited some more. We finally boarded the plane 2 hours after our scheduled time of departure, and then sat on the runway for 2 more hours! By the time we got to Atlanta, we had missed all outgoing flights to CA and needed to spend the night in Atlanta.

So you have to picture this in your head. I have a 30 pound duffel bag strapped to my back, I'm pulling the carseat on a roller thing, and I'm carrying 30 pound Caedmon because he's too tired to walk. My mom is also weighted down and we have no idea where we're supposed to go or what we need to do. An airline employee finally tells us to walk "this way" and we will see all the hotel shuttles and they told us which hotel to go to for a discounted rate. So we walk (I'm not exaggerated) somewhere between 1/2 mile and 1 mile winding around the Atlanta airport. My arms are shaking from being so fatigued by carrying Caedmon.

We get to the hotel shuttles and it is absolute chaos. There are people everywhere and there is no organized system for where the shuttles park. There are about 50 parking slots that are first come, first serve so you just have to walk up and down the sidewalk (with all your stuff) looking for the right hotel. I saw our hotel's shuttle driving by, so my mom turned to go chase it down! She tripped over someone's luggage and fell, tore her pants, and skint her knee! I was so relieved that she didn't also break her arm!!!

Here's how the rest of the night unfolded:

10:30p check into hotel, quick bath for Caedmon

11:00p lights out, Caedmon is in bed with me because there's no pack-n-play available

11:45p Caedmon finally stops talking and falls asleep

1:30a phone rings for our wake up call that we DID NOT ask for

3:00a Caedmon falls out of bed

5:00a Caedmon suddenly sits up and jumps on top of me like a WWE wrestler. He clings to my neck like a monkey until he falls back asleep.

7:00a Caedmon is up for good. Quick shower. No need to change clothes or do my hair and makeup because I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO THAT WITH! So much for looking nice for Andy when he picks us up!

9:00a Back through security...this time with Caedmon laying on the ground kicking his feet.

We finally made it to San Francisco later that day. We were supposed to fly to San Jose, but, whatever, that's close enough. Caedmon slept a total of 8 hours in a time span when he normally would have slept 18 hours! Needless to say, he was on the verge of a meltdown at any moment for the next 3 days. But we made it and things are starting to settle down!

Our New Apartment; August 27, 2008

Here's the website for our new apartments. There's a photo gallery if you're interested in seeing pictures. We are so excited about this place! Here are my top ten reasons:

10- We were able to get a 3-bedroom (and a little extra space goes a long way in keeping my sanity in tact).

9- There are 3,000 units to this complex which means that there are over 7,000 people living here. It's like a small town. Great way to meet people.

8- There are multiple pools and, very important, they are all heated year-round! (The reason that is important is because I'm from South Carolina so I don't swim in water that cooler than 80 degrees. I know, I know, I'm a wimp.)

7- There are 3 work out facilities that residents can use for free and a 1/2 mile walking track outside.

6- There is a "Moms' Club" that I can join to meet other young moms.

5- There are multiple playgrounds in the complex for Caedmon to enjoy.

4- The apartments are less than a mile and a half away from Rivermark, which is the centerpoint that we're trying to target as we launch South Bay Church.

3- Andy has already seen people playing pick-up games of soccer, so I might get to bust out my old soccer cleats.

2- There is a Starbucks less than 100 yards from our apartment! (I mean, really, what more could you ask for?!)


1- Mandy, Filipe, Lily, and Cailyn live less than 100 yards away from us! Talk about doing ministry and living life as a team! Ah, I'm so excited!

Funny things that Caedmon says... August 26, 2008

Caedmon's language has developed exponentially over the course of the summer. Here are some things he's saying...

"May-men" (his attempt at saying Caedmon)

"I'll hold you." (when he wants to be picked up)

"Ouch, Charlie! Bite it." (have you seen this You-Tube video? Evidently Caedmon has!)

When he wants something, particularly when he wants something to eat, he holds up one finger and says, "Want one grape." "Want one yogurt."

"'sup G?" (taught to him courtesy of Andy's brothers)

"Ain-ain" (raisins...I have no idea)

"bears" (Teddy Grahams)

"choo-choo" (could be referring to a train or have to listen for context)

"I" plus any verb. (i.e. "I helping" "I climbing" "I walking")

"Mudder Juice" (Mother Goose)

"eyes" (sunglasses)

Can't quite get the 'p' sound so "heaches" mean peaches and "Hops" means Pops (my dad's grandpa name)

My favorite is "I love you" which, for whatever reason, he always says in a falsetto voice. What a funny kid!

Tomorrow is the Big Day! August 25, 2008

Caedmon, my mom, and I will be traveling all day tomorrow and will arrive "home" in California late tomorrow night. Here's the plan...we will leave Columbia, SC about 1:30p to drive to Charlotte, NC to catch a 4:30p flight. We will fly to Atlanta, GA where we have a quick layover before the long leg of the trip to San Jose. We will arrive in San Jose at 12:30a South Carolina time (9:30p CA time), get our bags, and head to our apartment which is less than 5 miles from the airport.

Hmmm...I wonder how Caedmon will do. If you read this blog in time, please take a minute to pray for him...that he will be calm and have peace and be cooperative throughout the day. It's going to be a tough day for him as he will be missing his nap (1:00-3:30) and his bedtime (7:30). Which means it has the potential to be a tough day for ME (and all of the other very blessed passengers who get to sit near me)! Pray that God would allow us to have bulkhead seating (the row where no one sits in front of you). The last time we tried to put Caedmon's car seat on the airplane, he kicked the row in front of him the whole flight which meant I had to restrain his legs with my arms the whole flight. That could make for a very long 6 hour flight! If we don't get bulkhead (which we won't know until we get to the gate) we just won't take his car seat on board and then his feet won't reach the row in front of him. But, if we don't have the car seat, I doubt he'll fall asleep. So, just pray we get the bulkhead!

It is amazing to me how a child can be so adorable and sweet one minute and the next minute act like something you'd see in "The Exorcist". Caedmon is one of those kids. People remark all the time about what a mild-mannered, sweet-tempered, charming little boy he is. And, most of the time, he is just that. What those same people don't see is when he's screaming at the dinner table because he doesn't like what I offer him, or when he just sits down (in the middle of a parking lot) and simply refuses to stand up and walk another step, or when I tell him it's time to come inside and he tries to slap me! I could go on, but I don't want to make my child look like some out of control wild man that should be on "Super-Nanny."

I'm just trying to build my case that I really do need you to pray for us tomorrow as we travel. With Caedmon, it can be hit or miss. Tomorrow, I'm praying for a home-run hit!

Why I would follow my husband to the ends of the earth...and enjoy doing it! August 18, 2008

It's no secret that church planting can be grueling, at least among church planters and their wives. Take a starry eyed, visionary couple with great dreams of reaching their city and look at them again one year into the church'll often find two people exhausted, disillusioned, disconnected from each other, and frustrated with the progress that's (not) been made. I've been to many church planting events and I hear the same emotions over and over again from wives who have carried a burden far too heavy and made enormous sacrifices for the sake of the church. Their husbands may be feeling the same way, but more often I find that their husbands are excited, motivated, and have no idea that their wife is dying on the inside and beginning to wonder if she is on the verge of losing her mind!

I have such compassion for these wives. One, because I've been there. Andy and I went through some indescribably difficult times with Breakthrough. (Starting the church 6 months into marriage at the age of 22 with no money were contributing factors to those hard times!) The other reason I have such compassion for these brave church planters' wives is because much of what they are going through is the result of decisions that their husbands have made and they feel helpless in their ability to change anything about their circumstances. They are just holding on for dear life to a rope connected to a car going 100 miles an hour. The drivers of these cars (their husbands) seem to have no rear-view mirror in which to see their poor wives flopping along behind them as they drive valiantly onward to change the world. The emotional damage that this can cause a wife (and, no doubt, a marriage) takes a long time and a lot of intentionality to repair.

Andy and I often talk about the fact that, in years to come, we will likely have the opportunity to share our story of church planting with other church planting families that are getting started. Andy sometimes asks me what I would want to say to the wives and I always reply, "To the wives, I will just listen compassionately. But to the husbands, I've got an ear-full to say to them!"
That brings me to my explanation of the title for this post: why I would follow my husband to the ends of the earth...and enjoy doing it! The process for starting South Bay Church has felt enormously different than our first church and quite different than most of the stories I'm hearing from other church planting wives. I attribute much of this to the diligent and wise planning on behalf of my husband. Most church planters, my husband included, are activists...meaning that they feel most connected to God when traveling at mock 10. Planning is not on their lists of "Most Fun Things I Like to Do". But, Andy took note of how difficult the launch of Breakthrough was on both of us, applied wisdom to his heart, and did the hard work of advanced planning to make things run much smoother.

During this 18 month preparation phase:

1- We sold our house in Texas. No moving to CA with a double mortgage.

2- Andy raised our full salary AND the full operating budget for South Bay Church for the first three years. I could stopped the list right here and that would be amazing.

3- Andy & I made two trips to CA so I could be familiar with the area. (Andy made an additional two trips without me.)

4- We have a South Bay Church post office box, bank account, and giving website.

5- We have a logo already designed and a website in process.

6- We've been able to spend extended time with family and say healthy goodbyes. We feel emotionally refreshed and energized to hit the field.

7- Andy has been watching Craig's List like a hawk all summer to find us somewhere to live. I haven't had to worry about it at all.

8- AND, this is incredible, right now my husband is somewhere in Arizona driving the largest Penske truck you can drive without having your CDL. He drove back to Texas, loaded all of our stuff into a truck, and is single-handedly driving to CA to set up our house. All the while, Caedmon and I have been on "vacation" with my mom & dad...going to the zoo, the lake, the park. Caedmon and I will fly to CA, be picked up by my husband and driven to a house where the furniture is already set up! AMAZING!!

Andy has done everything he can think of to eliminate as much stress as possible. Don't get me wrong, this church plant will have stressful times and there will be sacrifice that is required, but so much of that stress can be relieved with wise planning. God has been so good to us and I don't want to give any glory to Andy that is only due to the Lord, but I just want the world to know how thankful I am to have a husband that values my sanity and emotional well-being enough to do the hard work of strategic planning!

It's Worth It; August 13, 2008

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'" Isaiah 41:13

Today's entry is a little heavier than what I typically write, but this is what has been going on in my heart this week... Andy left Columbia yesterday and began the cross-country trek to California. Caedmon and I will fly to meet him out there in just under 2 weeks and the reality of the move felt so final as I watched him pull away from my parents' house. We will likely never drive our own car back into my parents' driveway because every trip we make from here on out will be on a plane. To me that makes the distance feel much further.

I don't think I have had to sacrifice much for the sake of Christ or the cause of the gospel. Maybe a few friendships along the way or certain activities, but certainly nothing compared to the sacrifices the Apostle Paul made or that persecuted Christians all over the world are making even as I write these words. By most accounts, the road I've walked has been easy, even convenient, as I have followed Christ.

But the greatest sacrifice I feel like the Lord has led me to make is giving up being geographically close to my family. It is that sacrifice that is heavy on my heart today. Most days I get along just fine. After the initial shock of moving away from home five years ago, I got adjusted to living far away and most days are not hard. But today I feel like I'm moving to another country and life will look very different now.

It has brought me such deep joy and pleasure this summer as I've watched Caedmon develop relationships and attachments to each of our family members. He knows each person by name and has special games that he plays with different people. I'm incredibly grateful for this season that we've had, but it has been a bitter-sweet experience knowing that our time together will soon end. For me the pain is knowing that Caedmon will not remember this summer and these precious people who love him so deeply will not be apart of his daily life.

It may not seem like some great sacrifice. There are millions of people who don't live close to family for various reasons and it may or may not be painful to them. But, for me, this is my sacrifice and my heart is aching today. Yet in the same breath I want to acknowledge that it is worth it. The cause is worth the sacrifice. Seeing hundreds and thousands of people who are currently far from God become fully devoted followers of Christ is worth everything I can give during my 80 years on earth. I should not be pitied. Someone should only be pitied if the dividends do not outweigh the investment. But I know that I live with the truth of the gospel and the reality that awaits us in heaven is more vivid and tangible than this very keyboard upon which I type. My life, my sacrifice, is not in vain.

So as Andy drives even now toward our new life, I am so thankful to have a Father in heaven who is holding my hand (see the verse above). And he tells me not to fear because he's going to help me. He's going to help me on the days that I am desperately missing my family. He's going to help me when I need my mom to watch my kids for the weekend, when Caedmon graduates from kindergarten and his grandparents aren't there to take him out for ice cream, when my whole family is together for a special event and I can't be there. He will help me. And he will hold my hand. And he will remind me that the sacrifice is worth it because the gospel is truth and the dividends will far outweigh every sacrificial investment I've made.

Found my phone; misplaced Caedmon! July 31, 08

The case of the missing cell phone has been solved! I found it in the cup holder pocket on my backpack which had been sitting right beside me for days, even as I wrote the post about how it was missing. I'm surprised I couldn't hear it laughing at me! Oh well, I'm just thankful the prodigal cell phone is home.

Today was a very busy day. I had several errands to run before we leave town tomorrow for 9 days. So Caedmon and I were on the go all morning. After getting him down for a nap, Andy and I had a meeting with the missions team from Northside Baptist regarding their partnership with South Bay. Afterwards, Andy dropped me off at the house and he went up to Atlanta Bread to get some work done.

I had been commissioned with the task of securing our hotel room for this weekend, but I also needed to wash clothes and cook dinner. All of those tasks are somewhat difficult to do with a two year old in tow so I was trying to get as much done as I could before he woke up. I'll spare you all the details, but let's just say that when Caedmon woke up I had not yet secured the hotel reservation, dinner was not finished, and the clothes were washed, but not folded. That made for a very chaotic afternoon.

Andy got home around 4:30 and took over the hotel fiasco and ended up spending over an hour trying to get something worked out! All the while my grandmother and I are in the kitchen trying to finish up dinner and wash up all the pots and pans. My parents were glued to their computers today trying to finalize everything for a training event their doing. And Caedmon, well, where is Caedmon?

I noticed that he had gone upstairs and had just assumed that he had gone in CC's (my mom) office. But then CC yelled something down to me and I said, "Is Caedmon up there with you?"



Two seconds later CC says, "I found him!"

Caedmon was sopping wet playing with all of his bath toys IN THE TOILET! Nice. Proverb of the day: He who leaves a two year old unattended will have very big messes to clean.

The Case of the Missing Cell Phone, July 28, 08

My cell phone is missing and, I'm sorry to say, this is notthe first time this has ever happened to me (this year!). This time the phone was lost in that period of time when we were relocating every 24 hours. Somewhere between Gainesville, FL and Columbia, SC my cell phone went to the place that all missing cell phones get together to mock their previous owners. Can't you just hear your cell phone taunting you as you bend upside down to search under the seats in the car, search through your suitcases ONE MORE time, clean out your purse again and again, and take the skin off our knuckles trying to see if it could have possibly fallen between the cracks of the furniture?!

You would think I'd learn! The last time I lost my cell phone (and all of my contact information) I told myself that I should back up my next cell phone somehow so I wouldn't be in this predicament again. Did I? Of course not! Three cell phones ago (less than 2 years ago) I had a flip phone and the top piece one day just flipped all the way off! Imagine that. I took my two-part cell phone to the ever-so-helpful guy at AT&T and he compassionately said, "Wow, I've never seen that before." Yeah right. That means you probably just got that job two days ago! Since I was in the middle of my contract I was not eligible for a free upgrade, so I just bought one of those pay-as-you-go phones for $30. I promise you, all those phones have the capability of doing are sending and receiving phone calls, and that only if you're in a area with really good reception! If you get more than 20 text messages, your phone runs out of memory! I'm not kidding.

Well, Andy, Caedmon & I went to a conference in NYC just two weeks after I got that phone and, wouldn't you know, I lost it somewhere in the Big Apple. So, we bought another $30 pay-as-you-go phone. This phone got progressively worse over time and I had to hold the receiver very tightly to my ear or I could not hear the other person talking. A year or so passed as I patiently endured the functionless cell phone and all the while Andy's over there dinking away on his PDA. Then, one night Andy and I went to see a movie and the next day I couldn't find my phone. That was convenient for me, minus the loss of contacts, because I was now eligible for an upgrade on my phone!

I was so happy with my new phone. It wasn't too special. No full size keyboard or the ability to check the status of my 401-K as I wait to board an airplane. But it worked for me. It had a camera, which is really all I care about so that I can take pictures of Caedmon when my real camera is not handy. Guess what, two days later, I found my $30 phone! It was in a jacket that I never wear but had worn that night Andy and I went to the movies! OH WELL! I'm keeping the phone!

Two weeks later, Andy accidentally left his PDA at the self-check out at Home Depot. He realized it when he got to the car and ran back inside to get it, but someone had already swiped it. So, guess who started using my old $30 phone! Quite the adjustment from a PDA, huh Babe? Finally Andy's birthday rolled around and so he was able to buy the newly release i-Phone with his birthday money. We were both quite happy with our technological situation. Until now... Ah man, I REALLY don't want to have to reconnect that stupid $30 phone that is currently sitting on top of the TV. But, if you've been trying to call me and I've not returned your calls, please don't get frustrated with me. Just feel sorry for me. I've got issues!

Poison Control & Miracles; July 26, 08

We called poison control for the first time today. I found Caedmon in the dining room kickin' back on a little furniture polish. When I walked up he grinned up at me at me and said, "Juice!" Thankfully, most forms of furniture polish are non-toxic so we were able to avoid a trip to the emergency room!

Andy left today for Atlanta where he's meeting with two different churches who are partnering with us to start South Bay Church. It has been miraculous to watch God provide for this dream in every way. This time last year Andy was just finishing up the launch strategy. We had no staff, no money, and no partnering churches. We just had a vision that God had put in our hearts. And now...well, all the pieces are just coming together. I feel like we are living a miracle and I am so thankful to get to be apart of it.

One month from today, Caedmon and I will be on a plane flying "home" to the Silicon Valley. Andy will greet us at the airport and hopefully take us to our newly found house/apartment/condo where we will start to build our lives. I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

On the Road Again...and again...and again! June 24, 08

Can I just say that I am SICK of traveling?! Andy, Caedmon, and I have put over SIX THOUSAND miles on our little green '98 Chevy Malibu in just over TWO MONTHS! That is a lot of miles and a lot of time spent in a car. And, just to make all of those miles and all of that time a little more enjoyable, the air conditioning in the car only works about 60% of the time! Pack and unpack and repack. Toys, booster seat, pack-n-play, a crate full of toiletries, clean clothes, dirty clothes, wet swimsuits, computers, books, sippy cups...we're like a small apartment on wheels. It's really insane. Earlier this week we spent one night in Clermont, FL the next night in Melbourne, FL, the next night in Gainesville, FL, and the next night in Columbia, SC! It's one thing to do that when you're newly weds and life is all just one big adventurous vacation (Andy & I traveled like this our first summer married), but it is quite a different story with a 22 month old child in tow. Caedmon has been forced to become the most flexible baby I know. He can take a two hour nap in his carseat almost as well as he can in his bed. It seems like we're constantly saying to him, "Caedmon, guess who you get to see today!" b/c it's always someone different!He has been such a trooper!

The end is now in sight as Andy is about three weeks away from getting to CA and Caedmon and I will meet him there soon after. Even though we're so excited to get there and ready to be settled, we cannot deny that this summer has been such a gift from God. We've been able to spend extended time with family and so much undistracted time raising support, which is really uncommon for church planters to have. We're thankful for that.

Caedmon and I have a few more trips before this Road to South Bay reaches its final destination. We will be making a trip to Hilton Head, then Myrtle Beach, back to Columbia, quick trip to Gainesville, back to Columbia, and then on to the Bay! By the time I get there, I will not be sad if I do not see a suitcase for a very long time!!!

Happy Birthday, Andy! June 15, 2008

Today is Andy's 27th birthday so I wanted to share a couple things that I love about him.

1- Andy has an amazing amount of faith. He takes God at his Word and truly believes that He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. Andy has full confidence in the call that God has put on his life. There's no doubt in Andy's mind that God will use his life to help start South Bay Church, and as a result of the ministry of South Bay Church countless lives in the San Francisco Bay area will be changed for all eternity. I learn what faith looks like by watching Andy's life. He is sure of what he hopes for and certain of what we do not see. His faith inspires me to have more faith and it is exciting to be on a journey with someone who sincerely believes God for great things.

2- Andy is the most eager (ravenous) learner I have ever known. He wholeheartedly desires growth in every area of his life. He reads about a book week and he will bombard a leader with questions. He seeks advice and counsel from such a broad range of people, from pastors of mega churches to college students. He has the humility to learn from anyone! Andy is always seeking out opportunities to be involved in coaching week when they all happened to coincide at the same time, he had 4 different coaching appointments with a few days! He is application driven so he's not just seeking knowledge, but rather wisdom in how to apply the knowledge to his life. His insatiable hunger for growth is contagious and I find myself evaluating the different areas of my life to pinpoint areas for growth in myself.

These two qualities have transformed my man over the past 9 years that I've known him. He is a completely different person than he was when we first met our freshmen year of college. Well, maybe not completely different. He still maintains the passion and faith that first drew me to him. When we were in college Andy was scatterbrained, disorganized, and an inefficient time manager. But somehow I could see the man that I knew he was becoming. I knew the calling God had put on his life and I knew Andy was willing to do whatever was necessary to fulfill that mission. Andy has even exceeded my expectations for growth and I am continually amazed at the leadership and balance that he has grown into. In many ways I guess he has surpassed the man of my dreams and become a man "beyond what I could ever have asked or imagined."
I love you, Baby! Happy Birthday!

Motorcycle Mama, June 14, 2008

My dad loves to ride motorcycles and he's owned one ever since I was in elementary school. We've been on lots of beautiful rides and made some wonderful memories together all over the southeast on his bikes. Creation is so much more breathtaking from the back of a motorcycle. We've driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Outer Banks of NC, down to Daytona, up to Gatlinburg, and countless trips to Charleston. My dad now has one of those really big interstate bikes that are pretty much similar in size to a convertible car. The seats are so comfortable, but it hasn't always been that way. He started off with a really small Suzuki 650 which would vibrate your butt to sleep in 30 minutes or less.

One day when I was young he said, "Hey Stacie, you wanna ride to Daytona?" (on the back of his Suzuki)

"Sure! Where's Daytona?"

No idea it was 6 hours away! I walked like a cowboy for two days after that ride. Another time we got stuck in Atlanta's rush hour traffic in triple digit heat. I thought my insides might bake as the heat radiated off of that asphalt making it 15 degrees hotter. More than once we got caught in rain storms so we'd typically just put on our bright yellow rain suits and keep truckin'. It's good to be completely covered when it's raining, not just so you stay dry, but because rain feels like little needles at 70 miles an hour! One time we almost ran out of gas somewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We coasted down the mountain at least 20 miles on 'E' before we found a gas station. I would sometimes get so cold on the back of that bike that I would put on every layer of clothing that we had packed as well as the rain suit and I would still shiver uncontrollably on the way home.

Before I got married it was really important to my dad and me that we take one more ride together. We've ridden the motorcycle together since then, but that ride was really special for both of us. I'm thankful that I had a dad that found creative ways to invest meaningful time into his kids! That has shaped my life more than I even know. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you!

Family Time, June 13, 2008

Andy has been very intentional about investing in our relationship this summer. It's so easy to neglect prioritizing time with each other, especially when things get busy. Going a week or two without a lot of "face time" may not seem to effect the relationship a lot. But it slowly takes a toll on communication and enjoyment of the relationship all together. This summer we want to take full advantage of the extra time and free babysitting that is available to us! So we are trying to get in a date night each week and this week we actually had two dates!

Last night we went on a date to Outback, which is one of our all time favorites! (We're both big fans of red meat! Mmmmm!) My mom and dad took care of Caedmon and I always love to come home to hear my mom's report of the evening. It always starts off with something like this: (imagine a sweet Southern accent) "Well, I tell you what, you just must have the sweetest baby in the whole world. He was a precious angel..." and then she proceeds to tell me everything that they did! The comments always make me smile for two reasons. 1- I definitely know that I do NOT have the sweetest baby in the whole world. 2- I always like it when someone thinks that I do.

Today Andy offered to keep Caedmon so my mom and I could have a lunch date! (I know, I know, I'm really getting spoiled) It was such a special treat, especially since, in the words of my husband, my mom has to be one of the most consistently pleasant people to be around that you'll ever meet. Andy and Caedmon enjoyed a picnic at the park and my mom and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Travinia's (a little Italian restaurant). It has been such a gift from God to have this time with my family this summer. Caedmon is really getting to know and love my family. That's important to me because I love my family so dearly and I really want my kids to know what a wonderful family I have. We may never have another season of life with this much extended time together, so I want to treasure every minute!

Kids Change Everything, June 8, 08

For some reason Caedmon has choked on food three times this past week. Choking has to be one of my greatest fears...I even had a nightmare once that my nephew was choking and I was the only one there to try to save him. Well, I'm not sure what happens to me in the moment of crisis, but I have surprised myself with my ability to act swiftly and calmly until the choking episode is over. I think it's part of the whole "mothers' intuition" package that gets mailed to you when you have a child.

For instance, last night as we were finishing up dinner, Andy and I looked over at Caedmon and realized that he was choking. We both immediately jumped up, but our responses were quite different. Andy is standing behind him trying to somehow do the Heimlich with Caedmon still strapped in his booster seat. At the same time, I was getting Caedmon out of his booster seat, turned him face down across my arm and hit his back a couple times until he was able to throw up. After the incident, Andy was literally shaking. This is my husband who can respond with swift decisiveness and remain uncannily composed in the midst of an organizational crisis. In stressful situations that would cause me to lose my sanity, Andy always seems to know the wisest and most logical next step. But in this split second crisis involving a 28 pound little boy, he was at a loss. I felt quite good about myself knowing that I was so needed and useful!

Then, tonight, Caedmon was chewing up a chip and started to choke. We never let Caedmon in the living room with food (especially since we're at my parents' house!), but he had just walked in the living room from the kitchen and was standing right by their very nice, very cream-colored ottoman. I could tell Caedmon was about to throw up (right on my parents' very nice, very cream-colored ottoman) so I dove across the room and put my hands under Caedmon's mouth just in time to get a handful of vomit! I'd like to point out that not a drop got on the ottoman! Andy, who had been sitting in the chair beside Caedmon the whole time, just looked at me as if to say, "What should I do? What should I do?" As I washed my hands Andy said to my, "You could be a Major League outfielder. That was a great catch!"

I'm not sure exactly when that transition takes place. How can a woman go from being freaked out and grossed out by puke all her life to voluntarily catching it in her hands? Well, I think it all goes back to a statement that is becoming more and more common around our house: Kids change everything!

Family Vacation, June 6, 2008

A couple weeks ago, we went on a family vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (Check out the photo album on the side bar.) It was so much fun. I never knew how far out there the Outer Banks are! It's like driving to the edge of the earth...any further and you'd probably fall right off. Even with the all day drive both ways, it was so worth it!

We read, slept, watched movies, and visited some neat places on the islands. After a long, grueling semester (okay, maybe a long, grueling 5 years) we really needed some downtime to completely "check-out" of this world. No cell phones, no emails, no was a beautiful thing. As we were preparing to go on our vacation I said to Caedmon, "Caedmon, we're going on vacation this week! Do you know what that means? That means we get Daddy all to ourselves!" And that was the highlight of my trip!

One ditch or the other, June 5, 08

When I was a little girl, my grandfather made my sister and me a balance beam out of a long wooden beam and covered it with carpet. I could walk across it pretty well, but my sister could do all kinds of crazy things on it. She could do somersaults, back walkovers, toe touches…she even attempted to jump on a po-go stick across it! I just stuck to walking, and if I felt exceptionally confident, I might try to walk backwards!

I feel like every part of life is one big balancing act. Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to balance my roles as a wife and mother with the other parts of my life. Learning how to honor God as a woman can be complicated. All my life I’ve been taught to dream big, to have goals, to reach for my potential. In addition to that I’ve been taught (and I firmly believe) that God has given women the unique role of nurturing the family. I’m at a point in my life where I am trying to discern how those two things work together.

It’s easy for women to fall into one ditch or the other. Some women attempt to throw off all hindrances in attempts to “be all that they can be”. They’ve got a goal, a career, a palm pilot, and they are not going to let anything slow them down. Even women in ministry can become like this…pursuing their dreams with such zeal that they neglect their family, the most important disciples that they are training. Their kids end up with a distracted and exhausted mom who spends a little bit of time with them in the morning trying to get out the door and a little bit of time with them in the evening as she puts them to bed. A woman in this situation finds that she gives the freshest ideas, most creative energy, and best performance to those who don't matter most to her while the ones who matter the most get the leftovers. I don't want to be this woman.

On the other hand, many women devote themselves wholehearted to their family, and their home, and their schedule to the neglect of the outside world. It’s easy to hide behind your family and to become some self sufficient that there is an unhealthy and inaccurate perspective on the world around you. These women can get so busy cutting the crust off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that they forget that they ever had dreams, goals, or God-given gifts that He wants to use for His glory. Once we have kids we can easily put our lives on hold, striking a martyr's pose, and just allow the urgent daily demands to dictate how we spend our time. I don't want to be that woman either.

What I want is to be head over heals in love with my husband and my kids. I want them to know that, next to my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, they are my top priority. I want them to feel like I am supportive and available. At the same time, I would like to strive to reach my full potential and use the gifts and talents God has given me to bring Him glory. I want to be diligent with the time that I have, making the most of every minute. I want to invest in what is of eternal significance (the souls of my family and the souls of those in my sphere of influence).
Motherhood can be all-consuming. It would be easy to allow days and weeks to slip by without doing anything but meeting the full-time needs of my son and my husband. But, if I am intentional, I can find a little time block here and there to read a thought provoking book, develop a skill that I have, or serve the world around me. I really don't want to live my life in either ditch; after all, the view is much better from the middle of the road!

In Honor of Jonathan James, May 22, 2008

Jonathan James (aka JJ) is my 2 year old nephew. He has big blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a tummy so big he has to lift it up to find his belly button! He is also the most verbal 25 month old child you'll ever meet! He brings me such joy and I am so thankful for any time I get to spend with him since we live so far away from each other.

This past week he and his mom/my sister, Stephanie, were in Columbia, SC visiting our parents. Andy, Caedmon and I are also here in Columbia so we were able to spend a lot of "sister-time" together! Funny how different sister-time looks now than it did in our previous lives B.K. (before kids). Instead of jamming to our favorite music you'll find us singing along to Boz, the big green bear. Instead of lunch at a quaint delicatessen you'll find us serving up grilled cheese sandwiches cut into bite size pieces. Trips to the park have replaced trips to the mall. And laying out on a raft in our parents' pool has been replaced by refereeing two toddlers in a kiddie pool from Walmart! But we wouldn't trade it for the world! Our boys are our joy (ok, well at least most of the time!)

On Tuesday morning I dropped off Stephanie and JJ at the airport only to receive a phone call from her 30 minutes later. I immediately thought she missed her flight or something was wrong. But when I answered the phone she said, "Stacie, I have got to tell you what JJ just said!"
She proceeded to explain that as they were at the ticket counter checking in their baggage, JJ (the ever-talkative two year old) was making friends with the airline employees behind the desks. Always one to love an audience, JJ begins pointing out his body parts. He pulls up his shirt and says, "This is my belly button. Do you see my belly button?" All of the employees, as well as those standing in line, were acknowledging his belly button when, uh-oh, JJ looked a little further down. He announced in a loud clear voice, "My penis is in my pants. It's hiding!"
Stephanie was mortified but everyone else in ear shot thought it was hilarious. Energized by all of the laughter that he received, JJ continued to repeat himself over and over until Stephanie was able to let him know that it is not appropriate to talk about certain body parts in public. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

A Case of "First-Time-Mom's Disease", May 1, 2008

I have been amazingly blessed with a healthy baby! Caedmon is almost 20 months and he's never had an ear infection, only had a slight temperature twice, and a stomach bug once. He does have a runny nose about half the time, but what toddler doesn't have a constant stream of gunk for their moms to wipe 251 times a day? Still, with all of his good health, I have taken that child to the doctor so many times that his pediatrician and I are pretty much on a first name basis and I'm almost certain that the nurses have put my cell number on their speed dial! Why is that?

I've come to a couple conclusions...Although Caedmon is almost always healthy, he is NOT almost always happy! Some days his behavior is so terrible and he's just walking around the house crying and whining with nothing that will satisfy him. That make me think to myself, there is no possible way that he CANNOT be sick! No child who feels well would act this way! So I find myself taking his temperature to no avail just to try to find the source of this fussy attitude. Hmmm...98.6 again, huh?

Sometimes I'll call the doctor when I think he actually is sick. As I'm describing his symptoms, the nurses always ask if he's being overly fussy. I just want to laugh and say, "What kind of question is that?" Overly fussy? Yes! But if I only used that as my guide, we might as well just move into the hospital!

The crazy thing is I am not a medicine person. I would rather a sickness or headache just run it's course than to load myself up with all kinds of drugs. I really have to feel like I'm going to die to go the doctor. AND, I don't want someone loading my kid up with medicine either. I tell my doctor, "Now I don't want him to take any antibiotics unless it is absolutely necessary." I cannot tell you how many times I've taken him to the doctor only to hear, "Everything looks and sounds good!" So pretty much I just paid my $25 to get a pat on the back and the peace of mind that he's okay.

One time when Dr. Jones came in the room, I just had to admit, "Caedmon's not the one with the problem. I think I just have a bad case of 'first-time-mom's-disease'. He laughed and said, "I treat a lot of that disorder!" So after one more, "All clear," Caedmon and I were on our way! At least for a couple weeks...

Moving Day, April 29, 2008

Today is moving day and, surprisingly enough, I find myself cool, calm, and collected. Very different than the other four moves Andy and I have been through. It probably has something to do with the fact that we just moved in December (4 months ago) and I never unpacked about 50% of our stuff! Our friends are coming over this afternoon to help us load the truck and almost everything in our house is already in the garage. The thing I find myself most stressed out about is that I will be losing internet connection after today! Funny how dependent you can become on something that the generation before us never new they were missing! The new place that we'll be temporarily staying does not have internet, so I'm not too sure how I'll pay my bills, respond to emails, etc... So if I don't get a post up for a while, that's why. Okay, back to packing and cleaning my house!

"Pway" April 28, 08

This week I have been consumed with packing up our house as we prepare to move to California. We actually won't be getting to California until August, but we were supposed to close on our house on Wednesday so we scheduled to move out on Tuesday (tomorrow). I say that we 'were supposed' to close on Wednesday because the closing got postponed due to some problems the buyers were having with the loan. Anyway, we are up to our ears in boxes and living like we're on a camping trip, disposable plates and all!

The great thing about having a child, though, is that he forces me to take breaks. "Pway, mama, pway!" I am the type of person that could work from sun up to sun down on a project without taking any extended breaks. I tend to be extremely task oriented, especially when I'm on a time line. But, my little man needs a "pwaymate" and so even in the midst of chaos I find myself reading Dr. Seuss books, playing trucks, and going for walks. It's good for me!

I hear the word "pway" all day long as Caedmon goes from toy to toy inviting me to play with him. The other night as I was putting him to bed he began saying it again. "Pway, pway, pway." I almost said, "No, Caedmon, it's not time to play. It's time to go to sleep." But then I looked at him and he had his hands folded. He was reminding me to "Pray". Two great reminders from a one and a half year old...everyone needs to play, and everyone needs to pray!

Confidence Since Youth, April 23, 08

For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since youth. Psalm 71

I grew up in a Christian family and became a follower of Christ at a young age. I remember in middle school, high school, and college praying with such desperation that God would use my life. I knew the authenticity of my heart when I prayed those prayers (and God did, too!). I was, and still am, completely willing to go anywhere and do anything if God would only use my life for His glory. There has always been this deep passion burning in my soul that is still alive today.

I must say, however, that I had no idea the course those prayers would take me down. Kendall, my college roommate, recently asked me if this is what I imagined that my life would be like. By 'this' I think she was referring to the chaos of starting a church within our first year of marriage, moving 5 times in 5 years, Andy trying to balance being a more-than-full-time pastor, going to seminary, and being a husband and dad, and all of the other craziness that seems to surround my life. I feel like that kid on Charlie Brown who always walks around in a cloud b/c he never takes a bath. But the cloud that keeps following me is a cloud raining down chaos! Or, maybe I feel like I'm hanging on to a rope that's tied to car going 70 miles an hour down the interstate. I just hang on for dear life as I flop along behind the speeding automobile.

So, Kendall, the answer to your question is, 'No'. I don't think that I had the vaguest notion what I would endure over the past five years. Growing up, I fantasized over life as a missionary in a remote tribe or being a writer and touching thousands of lives. I read about Elisabeth Elliot and did Bible studies by Beth Moore and wondered if God would ever be willing to use my life in such a powerful way. But I made no correlation between the pain that accompanies progress.

I don't think that someone has to keep up this pace of life in order to be used by God. And, it's not my ambition to maintain this pace. But I can see how God is working it all together in our lives, how He's teaching us, growing our character, and preparing us to used by Him. It's no secret that Andy's enjoyable pace of life is much different than the one I would chose for myself. But being married to Andy has given me something to write about. If my life is my content, God is allowing it to become rich.

The road that I would have chosen for myself would have been a much more noble road. Less headaches, less callouses, less pain. But I would have had less experience, less wisdom, and less character. I had no idea where those heartfelt prayers of my youth would take me. But I know that God heard them, that He is Sovereign. and He is my hope. The Lord truly has been my confidence since youth.

Is Mother's Day Out really worth it? April 18, 08

This Spring I enrolled Caedmon in a Mothers' Day Out program once a week at a local church. I figured it would be good for him to have a little social interaction and to be around other adults besides me and Andy. I also thought I'd appreciate a day that I could get a little more done than just taking a shower and serving three meals! So, Thursdays were going to be my day!

Well, now, I'm really trying to evaluate if it's even worth it. The program lasts from 9-2 so that gives me 6 extra hours, right? Wrong. Here's how it actually works out. Dropping him off and picking him up takes off about 30 minutes. Then, every morning Caedmon has room time for about an hour anyway so that's not really an extra hour that I'm receiving. In addition to that, Caedmon would normally take a nap starting at 12:30 and go until 2:30. So, minus another hour and a half. If you add all that up I end up getting an extra 4 hours of work time, which is still pretty good.

However, what I pay for it is why I'm not sure it's worth it...The program cost $95 a month. Caedmon has missed the last 3 weeks because we were out of town 2 weeks and he was sick 1 week. So that stinks. In addition to that, he comes home sick almost every time he goes...runny nose, stomach bug, etc...and that makes for a long week of recovery for both of us. And the thing that I think is the toughest is that he typically only gets a 30-45 minute nap on those days, so he cries the rest of the afternoon and evening. four hours of peace and quiet a week worth all of this? Evidently it is because I keep taking him! Oh, what young mothers will go through to get some space!!!

Good to Be Home, March 22

We flew to South Carolina last night because my brother is getting married on Saturday! The last time Caedmon was on a plane he was 11 months old and much less mobile and active. Fortunately the flight was not completely full, so Caedmon, Andy, and I got a row of three to ourselves. Too bad we didn't know that ahead of time or I would have brought his carseat on board with us. But, regardless, it was nice to have the extra room.

In all honesty, I'm not sure how we would have done it without that extra seat. The guidelines allow children under 2 to be considered an "infant in arms" without having to issue them a ticket. Well, Caedmon could hardly be considered an infant anymore and he's definitely not planning on staying in anyone's arms for 2 1/2 hours! I would feel very sorry for the person who was forced to sit next to us.

So, how did he do? Well, let's just say that about 20 minutes into the flight Andy said to me, "Did you feed this kid crack before we got on the plane?"He was wired! Stand up. Sit down. Stand up. Sit down. In Mommy's lap. In Daddy's lap. Thankfully there's a lot of "white noise" on planes so I don't think we were too disturbing to the passengers around us. We were toward the back of the plane and everyone behind us went to sleep. So Caedmon would stand up and look over the back of our seat and say, "Night, night...night, night...(nod his head), night, night...night, night (more head nodding)." I was just thankful he wasn't screaming! So, after coming up with 30 different 5 minute activities, we landed safely and were picked up by our good friend Mandy.

Last night when I went to sleep, I thought to myself, "It just feels better to fall asleep in South Carolina!" Andy must have been having similar thoughts because this morning he was looking out the window and said to me, "I think the sun shines more beautifully in some states than others." I replied, "Andy, I think it's more about what the sun is shining on!" Mmmmm, it's good to be home!

Family Fun Fridays, March 22

Fridays are Andy's day off, so we always try to do something fun together as a family. Well, our family fun day started off with a bang yesterday when I went in to get Caedmon out of bed and found him in only his pajama shirt! At some point during the night he had managed to take off his pants AND diaper! Actually, he couldn't get his pants quite off so they were inverted and just dangling from his ankles. What a way to kick off the day. Everything in his bed was soaked...his sheet, mattress pad, blankie, teddy bear, pajamas, and, of course, he was too. So Caedmon went straight from the bed to the bath tub and all of his bedding went in the washing machine.

After we cleaned up from breakfast, we were trying to get out the door to take Caedmon to the Trinity River Park. Caedmon had been playing in his room and when I went to get him I realized that he had pooped. So we began the clean-up process, but when I took his pants off I realized that he must have been sitting in it for a while because it had squished out all over his legs and onsie! Mmmmm... That necesitated starting another load of laundry before leaving the house!

We played at the park a while (Andy always seems to have at least as much fun as Caedmon) and then we headed downtown Fort Worth to have lunch at UNO's. As I was getting out of the car I noticed something on my jeans. Yep, poop from earlier this morning!

After Caedmon's nap we went to Plato's Closet. I noticed that Caedmon smelled a little like throw-up and I kept looking for signs of it on his clothes. I couldn't find anything so we just kept shopping. The smell got worse and worse until I noticed different people all over the store saying to their friends, "Do you smell that?" and "Yeah, it really does smell like puke!" I could hardly keep from laughing when I noticed one of the employees get out some air freshener and start spraying it around the store! The whole time I knew that if I would just remove my child from the premises, the air would clear...I hope no one else realized that, too! Finally I saw that it was not actually throw-up, but yet another poopy diaper that was the cause of all the camotion. So, Caedmon and I descreetly excused ourselves while Andy checked out.

It never ceases to amaze me how much of my life revolves around Caedmon's bodily functions!