Thursday, January 31, 2013

Pistachio Perrils

Parents have very trained ears.  We also have some type of God-given intuition about our children.  It's how we know whether or not a cry is indicative of emergency level ten or something that can wait for the next commercial.  We have this same ability with our spouses as well.  I know the difference between a phone call from her with a generic gripe about the kids and a race-home-right-now type call.  So before my wife could say that full sentence to me yesterday I had hung up the phone, fully charged with adrenaline, and accelerated down the highway at 80MPH having had just enough logical thought in my panicked brain to lock up my office before hitting the pavement.

Michael, my eldest son, tried a pistachio nut for the first time and went into immediate anaphylactic shock.  My wife didn't realize this at first because he often over-exaggerates his reactions to new foods being a very picky eater.  So the initial gagging and complaining that he thought it was caught in his throat was met with eye rolling and encouragement to stop being so dramatic and drink some water.  By the time I got the phone call, she was on high alert and I heard it in her voice immediately. A groan in the background from my son that wasn't of the playing possum variety were all the triggers I needed to release the adrenaline hounds and bolt out of here.

I was on the phone with Rachael and my son or temporarily with the doctors office asking for direction the whole way home.  Thankfully our pediatrician is equipped to handle this kind of emergency and we avoided a five hour ER wait and what probably would have been a night of observation in the hospital.  But we have now officially diagnosed a Pistachio allergy with high probability that he is allergic to all tree nuts.  Thank God in heaven that peanuts are legumes or the poor boy would have nothing to eat since that is a staple in his current and very picky diet.  He was also instructed not to try ANY new foods until mom and dad could get him tested for other possible allergies.  He's never been so happy!  Doctors orders to be able to tell  mom and dad, NOPE...not going to eat that.

The only reason Michael was not hospitalized was due to the small amount of the nut he actually consumed and the fact that his body forced him to expel the contents of his stomach (I just realized there is no delicate way to say or describe vomit).  Had the nut not been expelled or had he consumed several nuts instead of one tiny piece, yesterdays emergency could have been quite a bit more severe.  Thanks be to God for His provision and helping us to avert such a tragedy!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Doubting My Faith

Relax. Some of you rushed here to see if I have given up on my Christian faith. I haven't. Not sure how many of your are relieved and how many are disappointed but the title, while not describing my current condition, is still an accurate one for this post.  The Youtube show ThreeOneThree that I am producing just released a video covering this very topic and I thought it pertinent to share a little bit of what I've been through and what I've concluded on the topic.

Since coming to Christ, I cannot truly say that I've ever doubted the existence of God.  To me that is the most abundantly clear and obvious observation one can make about life.  One need not be a scholar to look around and see creation and its very ordered design elements to conclude that an intelligence must be behind it all.  But I have had some struggles with doubt with the specifics of Christianity and most especially Old Testament narratives.  I've also questioned whether God is the Christian version or perhaps an altogether different character.  I've questioned the trinity and how Jesus exactly fits into the Godhead.  In those times of temporary crisis, God didn't always come to my immediate aid...though I'd call out to Him with just such an expectation.

But answers did come and my patience and faith was rewarded. I've learned that doubts can be a form of testing and strengthening of your walk.  That if you entertain doubt but hold onto the faith and the promises you know to be true, the areas or subject matter that has you tripped up will be resolved.  I've also learned that doubts many times have more to do with my state of mind and emotional response to challenges than it does the notion that Christianity is a flimsy world view.  We have an abundance of good reasons to contend for the faith and to stand firm in Christ.  Doubt says more about our finite ability to grasp the infinite grandeur of God and what He's done for us than it does God's existence or plan.  It is not He who is found to be lacking during these episodes, it is us.

But doubt is healthy too.  If you cannot emerge through the other side having investigating the areas of weakness that instigated these feelings with confident resolve...(1) you either haven't thought through your belief system very well and need to seek further assistance or (2) you quite possibly have an erroneous world view.  Sadly many just entertain doubt, fail to investigate further, and let their faith die on the vine.

For more on this topic, please enjoy today's episode of 313:


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Heroes & Hope 8.0

We live in trifling and uncertain times. I tend to highlight the more concerning topics fairly often. So in effort to be fair and balanced, it seems appropriate for me to present another series that highlights people, events, accomplishments, and the rays of light God gives us for encouragement sake.

This week I have two young boys that share the kinship of brotherhood.  Conner and Cayden Long just won the 2012 SportsKids of the Year award from Sports Illustrated.  Cayden has cerebral palsy.  Doctors tried to convince his parents to put him in a home and move on with their life.  They urged them that it would be too burdensome to raise a child with these kinds of special needs and reminded them that they already had a healthy child to care for.  Well as you can imagine, they didn't listen and neither did older brother Conner.

Conner took the opportunity of having a brother and best friend well beyond that of average brotherly relationships and began doing triathlons, pulling and pushing his brother Cayden along.  This is a heart warming story that touches the very core of what the human experience can be.  Such young men to be teaching the rest of us such big lessons.  Such young men to be so heroic.  But alas, they are indeed...heroes.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Just another day...

Today is just another day.  That is how I think of most birthdays after twenty-one. And its how I feel about this one for the most part. Except I do find myself being more reflective than usual. In fact the older I get, the more I tend to do this and I suppose its a natural thing.  We look back and evaluate times past.  The good the bad.  How it shaped who we are now.  What, if anything, it may tell us about our future.

I am thirty-eight today which in and of itself is not a significant number.  But two major realities are hitting me as I let this reflective process take root.  (1) Forty is a very real number to me now.  That used to be the age of my parents and they were OLD.  It's one of those numbers you don't think you'll reach.  Not because you morbidly assume an early death but because it will just take an eternity to get there.  Forty seems to be a number where you can no longer continue to convince yourself of how youthful you are.  (2) I am twenty years removed from high school.  I think that is more astounding than being so close to forty. Sometime this year I will be attending a reunion with many people that I haven't seen since we were eighteen.

I won't be cliche and say that twenty years passed in the blink of an eye.  But it did move quite a bit faster than expected.  The tragic thing about aging is that you mentally don't feel any different.  Perhaps physical signs exist to prove a few years have passed but inside you're still this kid.  In fact my biggest parenting challenge is keeping that a secret from my children.  That I am just a kid, not much more mature than they are.  I think God knows how scary that fact might be to them, so He put little touches of gray in my hair, so they think I know what I am doing! But one day they too will find out and my cover will be blown.  But by then, they will be parents and my "touches" of gray will be more like "touches" of brown with mostly gray.  Or perhaps it will just be "touches" of hair period?

Here's to another thirty eight years!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 97

Category: Alternative Defense

Vote closed. Winner: Swiss Army Light Saber

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on Desktop Site to vote.

Click on images to enlarge them.

Sniper Crowbar

Slightly modified classic

Ninja Hamster

Tuba Cannon

Dachshund Blaster 

Hey! It worked for David!

Weapon of Nomnom Distruction

Swiss Army Light Saber

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Band of Brothers

Ever watch that movie?  What about The Pacific?  Both movies cover WWII and follow small units of military personnel giving you a sense of what they went through.  How the relationships formed, how the loyalty developed, and how men could be both tough as nails but also emotionally charged in various circumstances.  Movies like that hit me somewhere deep.  It exemplifies this unwritten man-code that we all inherently have.  Not unlike David and Jonathan in the Bible, it's men being sweaty warriors but with a deep friendship that allows for moments of vulnerability, trust, and encouragement of one another.

Years ago, I scoffed at the idea of a men's accountability group.  I thought of them as prying into personal lives, seeking out your flaws, with the intention of fixing you.  I thought of them as a place where men got too sappy and all asked each other how their struggles with sin were going but no one ever really moved forward.  Being such a positive person, I am not sure where or how I let such skepticism come in.  Suffice it to say, I finally became part of such a group and it was great.  It fed a need in me that I didn't realize I had.  The Bible describes this process as iron sharpening iron and I think that is an awesome description.

Iron because men are tough, not easily molded.  Sharpening iron because it takes a tough, rigid material to mold a tough rigid material.  But molding does take place which means we do break down those protective walls and allow for growth.  That first group dissolved two years ago and I didn't realize what a gaping hole it would leave in my life until it disbanded.  Other commitments at church and helping my wife with the twins and a newborn consumed my time such that a new group just wasn't advisable.  That is until today.  With Joshua turning two in March, his newborn status is turning into that of toddler making his needs not quite so elevated.  And my awesome wife agreed to take on my responsibility of taking the twins to school every Thursday morning so I could take part.

I just met these guys and will let God lead.  But I can certainly see the potential for another Band of Brothers.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Daddy Daughter Dance

I grew up with one brother and no sisters.  As such, girls were always a bit mysterious for me.  When I started dating, I had this respect for my date that was fed from that sense of mystery along with the chivalrous lessons of my dad. He made sure I knew to open doors, pay for dinner and movie tickets, and just treat girls like royalty.  A third motivator as I got older started to sink in.  This is someone's daughter.  And I knew that if I were a dad of a girl, I would only want the best for them.

The healthy respect that developed from all of those factors almost made me too shy around girls but I'd rather that be the end result than some of the alternatives.  I knew even back then, that one day I wanted to be a dad of both sons and daughters   And God took care of that on our first pregnancy with twins of each gender.  They just turned seven in December but it still seems like yesterday I was swaddling them like burritos in their newborn receiving blankets.

A blink of an eye later and my first grade daughter brings home a flyer for this years Daddy Daughter Dance being hosted by our small town, north of Dallas.  She is so excited about dressing up and having a special night and I can't wait to give it to her.  I want to start early and show her how we boys are supposed to treat our ladies.  I want her to have a standard by which to measure boys so that when she's old enough for a date, she has an idea of what to look for.  I want her to remember she's not only my daughter but a child of God which really does make her...

...a Princess.

Monday, January 21, 2013


It's been a little more than two years since my wife and I were part of a Home Group at church.  Various good reasons led to the disbanding of our former group including some added responsibilities I've taken on at the church.  We do our best to be involved but keep our priorities straight.  Too little involvement and you are not being a good steward of the Spiritual Gifts God has blessed you with.  Too much involvement and you get burnt out and cannot function well for those you mean to benefit.

But we felt it was time to try another group and this one solves many of the logistical issues from times past.  They meet every other Sunday at church rather that in homes and childcare is obviously available during those hours.  Yesterday was our second class and we are participating in a Marriage Study.  The group is super welcoming and comfortable even though we have yet to really get to know anyone on a deep level.  I had forgotten how good it feels to do life in a small community of fellow believers.

More than that though was listening to these other married couples share struggles and victories that are so similar to our story.  There were times I wanted to laugh aloud.  There were times I bit my lip.  But both were direct reactions to hearing MY story be told by other couples.  Ultimately Christ is what unites these folks with us and makes them fellow brothers and sisters.  The added blessing that I rediscovered yesterday is knowing that marriage and parenthood is a pretty universal experience.  You are not alone in the pure joys it can bring nor are you alone in the strife.

Can't wait for next week!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 96

Category: Staying Warm

Vote closed. Winner: I haz a sock

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on Desktop Site to vote.

Click on images to enlarge them.

This MY radiator!

For warm internet searching

Doggy snuggle

Winterized toilet seat

Canine Cap

Beanie Beard

A frosty forecast

I haz a sock.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Power of the Notification

If you are anything like me, the image to the left causes an interesting reaction of excitement.  I first became hooked on this kind of notifier back when AOL chat was a thing.  There was nothing quite like logging in and having someone initiate a conversation.  We have other similar stimuli from emails, text messages, and voice-mails 

Yet I wonder why we get so excited, possibly even more-so than we might if any of these people bumped into us in person.  Why do we like a voice-mail instead of a phone conversation?  Perhaps its a control thing.  We want to know what the person has in mind to discuss on our own schedule before committing our valuable resources of attention span to them?  We love the attention.  But we want to take it in the doses of our own choice perhaps.  Then again, we live busy lives.  Voice-mail and email exists as a means of communication where we are not interrupted and can access the message when time allows.

But why does the "notification" have the power to excite us at all?  I've considered everything from the most pure of our innate desire to connect with the most selfish and self absorbed of pride and ego boost.  I'm certain that for each person, the scale may slide one direction or the other and that there is no catchall answer.  So for me personally, I want to bring this under a faithful lens of Christlike emulation and continue to hold myself accountable.  And if the self analysis finds me guilty of lesser than godly motives to connect with friends and share life...perhaps a step back is warranted.

How about you?  Is there an unhealthy obsession over the notification?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Three One Three Project

I have been making Youtube videos since July of 2007.  In that time I have always desired to do more collaborative work with other Christians on that site but nevered seemed to have good ideas on how to make that work.  Well, that changed about a week ago as the format idea for this show came to mind.  The concept is simple and ties in with the title, "Three One Three."  You take three Christian Youtubers, give them one topic to discuss, and three collective minutes to do it in.

Right now I have enough panelists that want to be part of this show that we can easily film five episodes before any one personality shows up again on the screen.  And for once, though I will be a panelist in a future episode, I don't have to stare at my homely mug the whole time.  Futhermore this opportunity allows Christians to speak with one voice on topics.  Yes, there are (as Paul describes) disputable matters and we won't always have identical perspectives.  But the important issues will show unity.

So I hope you will join this effort by supporting it with your viewership and help with distribution across your social networks.  LIKE and SUBSCRIBE to the Youtube Channel and be sure to post comments below each video as a way of participating in the conversation.  Episode one just posted and a new episode will air every Wednesday.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's Your Excuse? 8.0

We all have them. EXCUSES! Reasons why we can't accomplish something.

Reason why we can't:
  • Travel
  • Lose Weight
  • Earn More
  • Have extra time
  • Vacation
  • Improve our skills
  • Better our situation
  • Eat right
  • Exercise
  • And many more...
This series exists to hopefully help you and I both stop making excuses. For today's post, I present an amazing athlete by the name Zach Hodskins.  A six foot two inch guard on the Milton High School basketball team.  He only has the use of one hand but as you will plainly see in the video to follow, he doesn't let that be an excuse.  And, in my humble opinion, he is better with one hand than most are with two.  Enjoy and STOP making excuses!

Monday, January 14, 2013

No Thanks

Admittedly I am not a big fan of the horror genre at all when it comes to movies.  I've been like that for as long as memory will trace back.  But in my teens and twenties I did at least tolerate them and go with friends when begged.  And I tend to classify within this genre levels of depravity. But in all cases depravity of some kind is confronted and put up with as the viewer digests the plot unfolding before them.  The cornier the special effects and the less demonic the narrative, the more I can pallet and almost laugh at the scary adventure.

But lately via internet ad spamming on almost every major website and on several television channels are previews to a movie called "Mama".  I can flatly state that I will never watch this movie.  There is NO redeeming value in it what-so-ever.  Keep in mind that Scripture tells us that our enemy is here to STEAL, KILL, AND DESTROY as I post several quotes from a review done by Josie Campbell on Spinoff Online:
  • After a businessman snaps, kidnaps his two young daughters Victoria and Lily and disappears into thin air, his brother Lucas sinks all of his money and time into trying to locate the missing family.
  • Five years later, his obsession has payoffs as his nieces are discovered living feral in the woods, with no trace of their father.
  • Lily's version of "playing" involves screaming and clawing at people, and both claim an invisible entity named "Mama" took care of them in the forest.
  • She's (Mama) initially glimpsed out of the corner of the eye or hovering just out of focus, but when we finally do get the unencumbered view of the monster she's exactly as terrifying as those flashes suggest.
  • Mama is both the raw, furious power of motherhood and what a person turns into when humanity is swept away and only instinct is left.
  • Although she's as protective of the girls as a mother bear, Mama is also as brutally amoral as an animal, as ready to punish her "offspring" as she is to shield them.
  • Equally fun is how the film plays with the idea of the monster in the closet, as Mama slithers under beds and behind open doors.
  • When a child's declaration of "I love you" raises a gasp of horror from the audience, your main character and your monster are doing something right.
  • Mama is a charming and delightfully creepy examination of womanhood and what it means to love.
There is so much wrong with the quote mining above, its hard to know where to start.  You can certainly see where steal, kill, and destroy are at play between the first act of kidnapping (stealing) the children by their soon to be dead dad (kill), then raised like feral animals by and equally feral "Mama" demon (destroying proper role of a mother).  And that of all things is what bothers me the most about this film and its title.  There is nothing delightful about its interpretation of womanhood or what it means to love, despite the last quote by Josie Campbell above.  The family unit always seems to be a favorite target for the enemy to destroy.  For me personally...its sickening!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 95

Category: Seems Legit

Vote closed. Winner: Safety First

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on Desktop Site to vote.

Click on images to enlarge them.

Safety First

No one will notice!

Just what I need...

Rolling Prices Back

Got a sweet-tooth?

Time to upgrade.

Who can stop on ice anyway?

Realistic 3-D Logo

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fake Coffee Drinking

This is my second year to drive the kids to school in the mornings.  It's a short drive but often packed with fun.  We play games, we sing, we imagine, and we chat.  I am not sure when I started pouring them fake coffee but somewhere along the line it happened.  I always have a real cup of Joe in my possession.  So one day I asked the twins if they wanted a cup?  I pretended to pour some into a invisible mug and proceeded to hand it to each of them.

My daughter always takes a cup and loves the idea of sipping a pretend warm beverage along with Dad each morning.  Michael is a different story.  Last year, he always refused his fake coffee...politely saying, "No thank you".  This year he has decided to take a cup but only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  So each morning when I offer them their treat, he initially pauses to recall what day it is, and then give me his answer according to his new methodology.

That is what I love about children and especially MY children.  Their imaginary worlds are so important and vital to who they are...that they literally must think through the idea of drinking fake coffee.  And though Mackenzie makes no such rules or limitations on her pretend consumption, she takes the process just as seriously.  More than any other image in my mind as I reflected on the events of Sandy Hook...on that day and ever how many of those beautiful, amazing children had fake coffee that morning with their parents?  Perhaps some took decaf while others immersed themselves in a different kind of role play.

But that is the kind of innocence that was taken from us!  Raising a mug, real or imaginary, in honor of those lost seems appropriate.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The End Is Near 13.0

The idea of this series is to share five links to various sites that show evidence that we are living in the End Times. You will quickly see that for every link that may lead you to a serious article or news coverage that looks to be straight out of Revelation, there will be several more that are just tongue-in-cheek and meant to be funny.

I am not a date setter. Scripture says we will know the "season" of the end but not the time or day. And since a day is to God as a 1000 years is to us...there is really no telling how long a season might be. Here are just a few reasons I think we are in the season of The End...

Machines on the Rise - In the vein of movies like Terminator, one of the categories that is growing quite common in this series is how advanced our technology is becoming. This week, we have one such example:

1. Artificial Brain

Sci-Fi Becomes Reality - Similar to Machines on the Rise we have a category for the non-robotic technological advances that were once only thought possible on the silver screen.  Check out this week's examples:

2. Cloaking Device Reality

3. Text on Contact Lenses

Cases of Injustice- It seems all too often the headlines prove that justice is a hard-to-come-by commodity.  I submit these two examples for your review:

4. Police Fine Toddler for Peeing

5. No More Twinkies!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


As much as routine can cause one to feel stuck in a rut, it amazes me how comforting it can be.  We have literally been out of our normal routine for almost a month.  Between the twins birthdays, celebrating Christmas with three different family parties, New Years, and school being out most of that time...we've been in a chaotic state of limbo.  Unsure exactly what to do with ourselves, justifying a bit of indulgent behavior (hey it's the holidays!), and searching with no reward for something, anything to watch on TV.

But we finally made it.  Today our school district welcomes our children back to school, there are no more excuses for chaotic randomness.  I had already returned to work but that was the final puzzle piece to complete the picture of "normal".  Yes, normal can be boring.  It can stifle and without a bit of occasional spontaneity, discontent can set in.  But from a guy that almost prides himself on being laid back and spontaneous, I can confidently declare that I was happy to resume our routine this morning.

It was a bit strange getting up extra early to take the kids to school.  I almost forgot to put their lunches in their backpacks.  And I almost drove off without handing them the aforementioned backpacks in the carpool lane.  So we are all a bit rusty as we return to what was once so familiar and second nature.  But I think we are all also comforted by it too.  I can't quite put my finger on why routine is so mysteriously connected to contentment and maybe its just our family.  But I suspect many of you can relate and I personally thank God for it!


Friday, January 04, 2013

Photo Friday Frenzy - 94

Category: Resolutions

Vote closed.  Winner: A few modifications

Instructions: Vote on your favorite two photos. You have from Friday (today) until Monday morning to make your selection. Mobile phone users must scroll down and click on Desktop Site to vote.

Click on images to enlarge them.

What should I set it to?

So that's what happened...

Well, it IS cold outside!

Very ambitious


How time flies!

A few modifications

I took him for a knitter

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Love to the Max

On the heels of a national tragedy where we grieve the loss of 20 elementary age children, we in the North Dallas area just lost a local boy.  Max Schwolert, a seventeen year old senior at my former Alma Mater and active youth in his church, died while on Christmas vacation.  Though the circumstances of his death are nothing like the Connecticut shootings, his passing is no less tragic and no less an impacting reminder of the fallen world we live in.

Details are slowly coming out but essentially Max was feeling ill during the trip and got bad enough on the drive back that his parents pulled over to have him checked out in a medical clinic.  They determined his kidneys were failing and advised he be transported to the hospital.  It turns out he had the Flu combined with Pneumonia and later developed a Staff Infection.  The combination of all three were too much for his body to handle even with the aid of a ventilator and dialysis.

This news has hit me and my wife like a ton of bricks.  Max first came to my attention when a fellow deacon of my church emailed and asked that we be in prayer for him.  I really thought a healthy high school teen with the flu and pneumonia would have no significant problems recovering so long as he was receiving proper medical care.  But I prayed for him as though he were my own son, which is how I would hope others might pray for me and mine if the situation was ever similar.  So I am not sure if its due to having prayed for several days for him and his family or if its because this story is every parents worst nightmare.  But this loss is hauntingly devastating   And to quote a friend of his that was interviewed on the news the other night, "If we are feeling like this, imagine what his family must be feeling!"

"Love to the Max" is the legacy and phrase his family and friends are using to remind our community of him.  Prayerfully consider visiting this site and making a donation to this family as they deal with this loss.  Taking care of expenses doesn't even come close to healing this wound.  But its one less thing for them to worry about.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Post Holiday Meh

It's the New Year and this is the part where I, the blog author, encourage you to set and meet goals.  To have a new start and to take advantage of 2012 being behind you.  Meh!  Every day is a chance for you to do all of that. Let's face it, every single minute of your life comes to an end and you have an opportunity at any point to make changes.  I've never really gotten behind the idea that a new year should be any more motivating of a concept than any other.

I am also not focused or driven right now to be motivating and encouraging.  I am, despite my desire to buck the new year mentality, at least taking this transition time to reflect on the events of these past few weeks.

Things like:

  • The Mayans were wrong (big surprise) or at least those interpreting the Mayans were wrong.
  • Fiscal Cliff political wrangling and what effect it will actually have on my family.
  • The unexpected and tragic death of a 17 year old boy from Flower Mound.
  • The unexpected and tragic death of school children and adults in Connecticut.
  • Tony Romo's three interceptions and the Cowboys continued failures.
  • How slow business has been but how quickly it should pick up now that people are back at work and have new year mentality.
  • How my kids just went through three weeks of opening presents (between birthday parties and several family Christmas parties).  With all of that coming to an end and them being out of the routine of school will probably cause a shock to their system on Monday when all is back to normal.
  • How I gained weight back after working so hard for over 15 weeks to lose it.  However, I haven't gained it all back.
  • This year is my 20th High School reunion and therefor I am old!
  • But mostly I am just in a post holiday fog.  Not sure where to focus my attention or what to get excited about.
I am not depressed or hopeless, so don't worry. Just reflective and a little skeptical about where we are in life as a nation and even a global society.  My hope remains in Christ and therefor I can be joyful even in uncertainty.  I just hope my bullet-point-list has a bit more happy and fun items on it...and soon.