Friday, December 10, 2010

Apples and Oranges

This is that time of year when local schools sell fruit boxes to raise money for local band programs, sports programs, etc. Mark and I ordered our share of fruit this year from a nephew and kids at church. I love to get the fruit and then share it with others because we can never eat it all before it ruins.This is also the time of year where apples and oranges that I normally see in the grocery store at every visit, take on a more special meaning for me and bring back Christmas memories.

You see, when my sister Amy and I were growing up, we always awoke on Christmas morning to find an apple and orange along with tons of delicious candy in our overflowing stockings. The apple and orange were always at the bottom of the stocking, tucked down in the toe. I know I took those poor pieces of fruit for granted and a lot of times left them stuck in the toe of the stocking. I mean, to me they were pieces of fruit that I saw everyday in our fruit bowl on the counter so they sometimes went neglected on Christmas day and  ultimately ended up back in the fruit bowl instead of being devoured along with the Hershey's kisses.

It wasn't until a little later when I was older, that I discovered the reason for the the oranges and apples being in my stockings all those years. I don't think my parents intentionally meant to place the everyday fruit there for a specific message to me and my sister Amy, but years later it always serves as a powerful reminder to me of a simpler time.

My parents would be the first to tell you that their childhoods were not easy ones. Maybe not as hard as other children's, but difficult nonetheless. My dad was one of three children and they moved a lot, often to wherever my grandfather could find a job. Daddy's favorite place of all to live was a house known as the Castleberry Place near the railroad tracks in Eldridge, Alabama. Daddy and my aunt Mary Jane and uncle Landon became favorites of the train engineers and they would throw candy, coins, and fruit to the brothers and sister who would often stand nearby to watch the trains pass.

My mother was one of ten children and knew what it was like to have to share clothing, belongings and to work hard in the fields picking cotton. Treats for a family of ten children were few and far between. To walk to the nearby country store to get a bottle of soda was an event and even after you got the soda, it wasn't entirely your own and had to be shared with siblings.

Apparently in those days, apples and oranges were real treats to have because they were not as readily available as they are now. They usually only made an appearance around this time of the year. Both Momma and Daddy remember getting apples and oranges on Christmas day in their stockings and if they were lucky, they might get a piece or two of peppermint candy.

That tradition was passed down to my sister Amy and I and I don't think it was necessarily intentional. I believe to my parents, those pieces of fruit reminded them of happy Christmas mornings in a day and time where Nintendo or iPhones didn't exist to compete with the simple fruits. A time when you couldn't go to a local Wal-Mart and find a row of every kind of candy imaginable in every flavor imaginable. So, when they had children of their own, they naturally did what they remember had made them happy as a child on Christmas morning.

I haven't been as faithful as my parents about putting an apple and orange in my own children's stockings. I mean, it's hard enough already to fit a bounty of candy and goodies in a cramped stocking and then trying to fit two pieces of fruit is near impossible!

This year however, with our first grandchild coming in May, I want to renew this humble tradition to keep us grounded so that we remember just how blessed we truly are. I plan to tell my grandchild (grandchildren) about their great grandparents and the apples and oranges and hope that the simple fruits will always serve as a reminder to always appreciate God's blessings in their lives and to learn and practice the true art of contentment. I hope it will also serve as a reminder to them to look around and remember those who are less fortunate not just during the Christmas season, but every season.

Just simple everyday fruits that you can purchase at your local grocery store on any given day of the week, but not so long ago those fruits brought much joy and excitement to a lot of little children in rural Alabama and I suspect many other places.

May we never over look the simple joys in life, a warm home, a good job, a cozy bed, a loving church family, loved ones to see at the end of a long work day...joys too numerous to name, but if one were missing, we would give all we owned to have it back. Let us never forget to give thanks to the One who gives us everything we need.

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Your Mother Was Right...Make Sure You Have Clean Underwear!

Before moving to Jasper, Alabama to work with Midway Church of Christ, Mark and I lived in Atwood Tennessee where he was both the preacher at Atwood Church of Christ, and in the latter part of our nineteen years there, he was the town's fire chief. That made me both the preacher's wife AND the chief's wife!

I tried to support him in both efforts and when he suggested that we become licensed First Responders, I was right beside him. For those of you who aren't familiar with the term First Responder, it is basically a person (lots of times a volunteer) who has received medical training to administer care to a person until EMS can arrive on the scene to provide more advanced care. We had to take classes and actually take a test to become licensed to respond. We were not as advanced as an EMT, but we had to have pretty extensive training to be allowed to respond. It was much more than applying a band-aid to a cut! We dealt with horrible vehicle accidents, suicide attempts, cardiac arrests, you name it, we saw it.

As a part of being a First Responder, we had jump bags about the size of a back pack in which we carried all kinds of medical supplies, we had radios so that we could update the incoming EMS unit with medical information before arriving on the scene, we had an oxygen tank, and an AED. Most of the time when we made calls, Mark and I would divide up the supplies. I usually assessed the patient and he set up the medical equipment. This worked great...most of the time.

One Sunday morning during Mark's sermon, the pager tones went off calling out Atwood First Responders to a possible cardiac arrest. Anyone in the medical field knows that when a cardiac arrest call goes out that seconds count. Every minute that goes by, means a greater reduction in being able to resuscitate a person.

Here I am decked out in my Sunday best with high heels on and I head out the door leaving Mark at the pulpit doing his job as preacher. I am not sure where our other first responders were that day, but it was soon evident that for whatever reason,I was the only one in route to the call.

On the way to the address, I am reviewing in my mind what will need to be done to help this patient. I am even more nervous because I am by myself and may be having to perform one man rescuer CPR! I quickly pull into the driveway of this little house out in the country and a middle aged woman meets me at the porch and tells me, "I think he's gone." I ask her, "Is he breathing?" to which she responds, "I don't think so."

I just wish you could have been there to see me in a dress, pearl necklace, and high heels, lugging a jump bag, oxygen tank, radio, and AED into the house. I ran quickly to the back room clanging and banging down the hallway. I run into the room and briefly see a little withered old man lying on his back in the bed with his eyes closed. A man is standing next to the bed and I tell him that I may need him to help me get him on the floor. He looked at me with astonishment at the thought of placing the man on the floor. What he didn't understand is that you cannot do effective chest compressions with someone lying on a soft bed. I was getting prepared to do what I thought was needing to be done!

I dropped all my medical paraphanelia to the floor, grabbed hold of the blanket and briskly yanked it back revealing this tiny little frail man, naked, except for THE whitest little cotton briefs I had ever seen! I guess he felt the sudden rush of cold wind and suddenly his eyes were wide open with shock. I just sheepishly covered him back up with the blanket and patted him on the arm and told him, "I think you are going to be alright...the ambulance is on it's way..." I proceeded to check his blood pressure which was fine, and his pulse which was fine, and his respirations which were also fine. Why this family thought he was about gone...I will never know.

One thing I did learn as a First Responder was to be careful about accepting information from a bystander at the scene and to rely only on my assessment of the patient.

The lesson to be learned from this experience that applies to other areas of life as well? Be careful about believing or repeating what you hear until you have checked it out fully to know if it is even true.

And another lesson to be learned that holds true...make sure you are always wearing clean underwear.

Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Way It All Began

Yesterday, Mark and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary so I thought I would share with you all our cute love story about how it all began:

Our first encounter with each other was not necessarily pleasant, at least not for me. I grew up in a small country congregation called Tidwell Chapel Church of Christ and Mark grew up in another small country congregation called Hillcrest Church of Christ. As is common, our congregation had held a meeting and one particular night Mark visited with his family and like most kids, we played in the church yard after services. My mother says she remembers me running to her crying and saying Mark had pushed me down. Mark says he was just trying to get me to leave him alone...Whatever!

Time went by and one Sunday morning I remember a man announcing that a young preacher would be coming each second Sunday night of the month to preach. Our congregation was great about giving young men the opportunity to preach. That night, I remember a twelve year old boy stepping up to the pulpit wearing a navy blue suit with his black hair parted to the side. He could barely see over the pulpit and his sermon only lasted about five minutes. He was twelve and I was only ten. I learned quickly that in the summertime when Mark Howell came to preach, I would get to go home early from church and could ride my bike a while before it got dark.

That didn't last long...the older he got, the longer the sermons got and the better speaker he became. He also got taller and could see well over the pulpit. I would catch him looking at me sometimes at church and he would quickly turn his head. Finally, the summer before my senior year of high school he asked me out on a date to go to a Sunday afternoon singing at a nearby congregation. Since there were several small congregations holding meetings all summer long, we were with each other what seemed like nearly every night of the week that summer.

On Christmas Eve that year he proposed to me by asking, "Do you think we could love each other and help each other get to heaven someday?" He had picked out a ring all by himself and it was perfect. Of course I said yes and we were married a little less than a year later on October 18, 1984.

It has been a wonderful life. Always easy...not necessarily, but worth every struggle. When we married, I was 18 and he was 20 so we have grown up with each other and made mistakes and learned together, but not for a thousand lifetimes would I change a thing. We have had almost a dream life together. We have two wonderful children, Daniel and Rachel who have made us so proud. They wisely chose christian spouses for themselves and we have welcomed Martha and Brandon into our family. In May, we will reach a new milestone in our journey as a couple together...Daniel and Martha will bless us with our first grandchild.

I would have to say life as a preacher's wife has been a very good thing. Little did I know when I saw that little 12 year old boy stepping up to the pulpit, that I was seeing my future husband. I thank God everyday for Mark and the wonderful husband and father he has been. He truly is my very best friend and made me a far better person than I would have been without him in my life. I hope I make him as proud of me as I am of him.

Here's to another 26 years as a preacher's wife and all the wonderful twists and turns that life will take us on! I love you Mark!


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

If Only I Had Known Then, What I Know Now

You know that old saying "hindsight is 20/20" is so true. There are many things that I wish I could go back and do differently based on the knowledge that I have now. I guess that is very much human nature, and normal as we look back and evaluate how we have responded to different situations in our past. Sometimes we can be pretty hard on ourselves by not taking into account that we didn't have the experience or maturity that we do now.

Now, I have my share of wishing I had done things differently with my kids. Maybe if I had been more patient or maybe if I had let some things go so that I could have spent more time with them. The list is endless, and again I think it is normal to think about the past and ponder and have a few regrets. I am like most people, I think I did the best I could with the knowledge and understanding that I had at that time in my life.Well meaning people in their forties and fifties would say, "You better enjoy them while they are little because they'll be grown before you know it!" I knew that was true...they would indeed someday would grow up and leave home, but at that time in life, my mind just could not grasp that concept!

Oh, do I so understand now! I am now one of those forty somethings quoting that familiar phrase "they'll be grown before you know it" that I heard a million times in my twenties when I had babies. Sometimes I really stop to wonder, "Where did the time go and how did I get here at this time in my life with two married children and a grandbaby on the way!"

In spite of Mark and I being very young parents, (He was 21 and I was 19) we seemed to have caused little damage to our children. I often joke that we all four grew up together. Daniel and Rachel have married wonderful Christian spouses, are faithful and actively involved with the Church, and have occupations that are honorable. I could not ask for any finer children.

My lack of experience and regret as a young parent and preacher's wife came back to haunt me though, one day not too long ago...

I'll have to set the scene for you by explaining events that took place almost fifteen years prior.

We were your typical parents of school age children and like a lot of children at that age, Daniel and Rachel played baseball and softball. It was the passion in that particular town and Mark being the wonderful dad that he is, volunteered to be a coach.

The coach usually ended up also being the chauffeur to some of the children were on the team. We've all seen these poor kids...they are the ones who never have a parent show up for a game or school event. We would pick them up and drop them off after each game and practice. As a result of doing this, they would always be invited to attend church with us and we would offer to pick them up.

One little boy with tousled hair, freckles and a stained uniform and ball cap took us up on the offer.

Now, as the preacher's/ coach's wife, it usually fell my lot to pick up the children for church services. Mark was usually over at the building preparing for the worship service, I was at home with the kids so it just made the most sense at that time. I was your typical frazzled mother who would try to roll my daughter's hair, scrounge up breakfast, find church shoes that had gone missing, etc. and try to get myself ready for church. We had to do all this earlier in the morning so we could get out the door to make a pretty good little drive to pick this little boy up for church. I was not the most organized mother in the world.

You may be asking, "Couldn't you have gotten a member at church to pick him up?" The answer is "Yes, I could have." For some reason I hated to bother others to pick up a little child for church even though it would have been giving them an opportunity to serve and help as well. I thought I had to be the one to do it. (Another lesson I've learned over the years...give people a chance to serve.) I'm sure I was trying to keep others from being "inconvenienced."

This little boy lived way down a country road. Now, I was raised way back in the country so this was all very familiar to me. It was so far back that the old hound dogs would lay in the roads because traffic was so slow. They knew you would just drive around them instead of running over them. The most they would do, is raise their heads just a little to look at you as you drove by. We would pull into the drive and the full length of the dirt drive was not lined by neatly cut grass or shrubs, but old rusted cars, bicycles, every kind of car part or machinery known to mankind was rusted and strewn out across the yard all the way up to the trailer door. The trailer door was always hanging open with another old hound dog laying with it's head partially hanging out the door. I would tap the horn a little and the little boy would come bounding out the door with hair sticking out all over his head, food still crusted around his mouth, and dirt from playing outside the night before still on his face and clothes. He never wore a pair of shoes. I'm not sure he would have worn shoes if you gave him a pair. His poor little feet were filthy and he almost always had big cuts on his toes and some I worried were infected. He would bound into the car and away we would go in a cloud of dust with dogs barking and running along behind us. I never in all the time we picked him up for ball practice or church, saw a single family member.

Church services could be a bit challenging. I had two small children of my own and their daddy was the preacher so that meant he didn't sit with us very much during the service. The little barefoot boy who lived such a carefree life without parental guidance liked to sit at the very front of the auditorium and would get very frustrated if I made him sit with me. This developed into a war of the wills and he was pretty strong willed. I didn't mind him sitting at the front of the auditorium per say, however when he got bored such as in the middle of Mark's sermons, he could provide a lot of entertainment for all those sitting behind him! He could be exhausting to keep an eye on while at church. I, for whatever reason, would not ask for help from other members.

Time went on, me being the frazzled young mother that I was, did not question or worry when my little barefoot boy slowly stopped coming to church after ball season was over. I guess, in my own selfish mind it was sort of a relief. All I had to focus on now was my own family.I didn't have to frantically get the kids ready for church early each Sunday morning to make the drive to pick him up.

I had talked to some of the teachers in our congregation who knew him and knew about his home life and they said Department of Human Resources had been contacted about him and his living conditions, but nothing was really ever done. Time just kept going by and occasionally I would see him at school and we would exchange a few laughs with each other and go on with our lives.Foolishly, I never said anything to him about coming to church.

Time passed by and our paths didn't cross until early one morning, about two years ago, I was working at the hospital and called a young woman back to preop to prepare her for surgery. When she came around the corner, she had her husband with her as well. This man who towered above me, smiled down at me with a freckled smile and wanted to know if I remembered him. It was my barefoot boy all grown up now, and he was wearing shoes! Upon talking with him I learned that he had graduated from high school, gone on to college and he and his wife both were about to graduate! His wife had just recently gave birth to a little boy and they had bought a house in a nearby town.

I was so thrilled and amazed to see the man he had become, but on the other hand, I was so disappointed with myself for not trying harder to keep him coming to church. Why did I selfishly just let him drift away? In spite of all odds, he had managed to complete high school, college, marry, have a baby and purchase a home to care for his family. The only thing he lacked that would have made it all perfect was being a Christian.

Now, I'm not going to think myself such a great person that I might have had enough influence to have kept him coming to church. I do wish I had tried a lot harder. I think I did like a lot of us in church do. I gave up because it was too hard and too much work to keep a little child coming to church. I just could not see the whole picture at that time in my life. I just saw him as a little child, and if truth be told, probably thought that as he got older, he would simply revert to the ways of his parents. I have never been so wrong.

Because of this lesson which was about fifteen years in the making, I have learned the following:

Never write someone off as unreachable or unchangeable due to the circumstances in which they were raised. It is true, most follow the example the were given by their parents, but some when given the chance, want better for their lives just like my little barefoot boy.

Barring some exceptions, a child will one day grow up and become a parent. Make the most of every interaction with them and influence them for the good. Help save their soul now, and you may save countless souls in the future. Jesus knew how important a little child was. (Mark 10:13-16) Could it be He wanted them to come to him so He personally could have a chance to influence their lives for good? Maybe those little children got to tell their own children how Jesus took them in His arms and sat them on his lap when they were little. Talk about a story to tell your grandchildren!

Never be afraid to ask for help when it comes to preserving a soul's chance at eternity in heaven. I should have asked for help from others. If it was too much for me to pick him up for church, I should have asked someone else. I deprived others from being able to influence this child's life for the good. I deprived others of the chance to grow as a Christian.

Some lessons are learned in a few minutes, some a few hours or days. This lesson took a good fifteen years. I know that at age twenty-five I did not understand fully how the act of carrying a little boy to church could greatly impact his future. I just had not been on this earth long enough to follow a small child through it's life until it had grown and become a parent itself. I knew intellectually that they grow and that is what is supposed to happen, but until you actually experience the wonderment of trying to figure out how that little baby all of the sudden became an adult with children of their own you cannot fully appreciate just how quickly it takes place. At age forty-four, however, I have experienced seeing many little ones grow up and establish families of their own. I have learned through life experience to no longer see a little child as just a child, but a future adult, parent and leader in the Lord's church.

We have since moved away from the area where my little barefoot boy lived. I have mentioned him to members of the church that live in his little town. Maybe there is hope yet for he and his little family. Maybe just maybe, I did some good in what little time I spent with him...I know one thing for sure, he taught me a lesson that I will never forget as long as I live.

Oh! One important detail I saved for last! Guess what he told me was going to be when he graduated from college? He answered, "I'm going to be a social worker and work in Children's Services." Who better to understand the plight of a neglected child than my little barefoot boy with freckles?

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, October 7, 2010

But, What if I Make a Mistake?

Well, I finally did it. I have wanted to start a blog for quite a while, but was rather apprehensive about making the commitment. You might ask, "Why?" The truth is, I have always been something of a big chicken about sticking my neck out and doing new things. I tend to over-analyze and try to think of every worst case scenario that might happen. Thoughts go through my mind like, "What if I say something that offends someone?" or "What if someone takes what I say the wrong way?" Maybe it's self-esteem issues or lack of confidence or maybe being too overly critical of myself, but one thing is certain...over the years, the apprehension has cost me several opportunities and a lot of great ideas never got to see fruition.

My tendency to worry about making mistakes carries over into my work as a registered nurse too. Now, I'll be the first to tell you that one thing of which I am very proud, is that I am a very good nurse. I love nursing almost as much as being a preacher's wife and if you are my patient for a twelve hour shift, I am going to be your advocate and do everything I can to make sure your needs are met during my shift. I believe clinically, that I am a very strong member of our Surgical Intensive Care team. I am great at starting IVs, and lots of other procedures but there are certain situations that cause me apprehension and thankfully, I have a wonderful team of nurse coworkers that fall right in there to help if a difficult situation arises.

One situation that causes me the most stress, is if we have a cardiac arrest or code blue on our unit. Now, when Mark and I worked as First Responders in Atwood, Tennessee, it didn't stress me near as much to work a cardiac arrest in some one's home because our mission was simple...establish an airway and perform effective chest compressions until EMS could arrive. The portable defibrillators that we carried would literally walk you through a code and tell you what to do.In the unit however, it is an entirely different scenario. You have to analyze the rhythm on the monitor, choose whether to shock or not shock. A team has to be called to intubate the patient to establish an airway. Doctors have to quickly be notified so they can come to the code or give you further instructions. We, as nurses, have Advanced Cardiac Life Support certification so we have to recall our training so that we know when and how much to give of cardiac drugs like Epinephrine, Atropine, etc. During this whole event, the patient may be going in and out of  lethal rhythms on the monitor and we are constantly evaluating and treating according to how the patient is adjusting to our interventions. It's a very chaotic time with excellent help coming from all over the hospital. However, with strong help comes strong personalities. If I am that patient's nurse, I have to be willing to step in and advocate for that patient and protect them and make sure everything is being done appropriately and to their best interest and that their desires and wishes are respected.

Performing chest compressions doesn't bother me, keeping an airway for the patient doesn't bother me. The physical parts of performing CPR are no stress at all to me. The part of a cardiac arrest that bothers me most is trying to remember all those cardiac drugs and making a decision on when to use them based on what I see on the patient's monitor. Now, I know we are all a team working together and what is one person's weakness is another person's strength, it still frustrates me to no end to have that "deer caught in the headlights" feeling when a code blue takes place. I wish I could tell you that I was a nurse who knew just exactly what to do every time.The other nurses always appear to know just exactly what to do. A voice in my head says, "What if I make a mistake?" or "What if I look stupid?"  and it paralyzes me and keeps me on the periphery of the code scene watching instead of just jumping in and doing the best I can. Please don't misunderstand, I do get involved with the code, but not to the level I would like. I want to be confident enough to be in the thick off it and calling the shots, not because I want the attention, but because I would really have the knowledge and expertise to run a code.Instead, I usually record the events of the code such as rhythms and medications given, or run to get supplies, care for the family, etc. Those things are all good too, but my fear of making a mistake, or being too slow, or appearing inept keeps me frozen in the same job.

The truth of the matter is, the only way I am going to getting more comfortable working a code blue is if I continue to place myself in the uncomfortable situation over and over until slowly, the fear dissipates somewhat. I also have to accept that mistakes may be made and sometimes I may receive unwarranted criticism, but what matters most is I did my best and stepped in to help at a time when someone needed help the most. The nurses that work the codes looking so experienced and cool probably don't know any more than me...they have just learned to get in there and just do what they can rather than nothing at all.

You know, this same idea that applies to helping save a person's physical life also applies to saving a spiritual life. Sometimes we are frozen in place with fear and doubts about our own personal soul winning capabilities and do nothing. We hear that voice in our head saying, "I don't know where to start!" or "How do I respond to that question?" or even, "What if they think I'm stupid for bringing up the subject?"

I have trouble in a code blue remembering dosages of cardiac drugs, what joules to charge the defibrillator at  for the first shock,or where the medications are located in the crash cart. Do you know what will change that? Me taking time to refresh myself often on these matters and forcing myself to take a more active part in a be okay with knowing I don't know everything at that very moment.To be willing to turn to others for help without feeling foolish or weak.

The same principle of studying and preparing to try to save a physical life, can also help me to try to save a spiritual life. Just like I need to get in the middle of a code blue to learn to feel more confident in my abilities, I have to put myself in a situation that may be uncomfortable by teaching what I have learned  to someone who needs to hear the Gospel. Just as I worry appearing inept while working a code,I have to take the risk of appearing to be a "religious nut" by asking someone for a Bible study. I have to accept that I probably won't answer all questions perfectly or as well as others might. I have to remember the question, "What if everyone else were like me...too afraid of making a mistake?"

2 Timothy 2:15, a verse very familiar to everyone says, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of God." Just like my taking more time to study my ACLS algorithms prepares me to respond to a code blue, taking more time for effective Bible study will increase my confidence in teaching others the plan of salvation. As a nurse, I have to have the knowledge to be prepared to administer the correct medication or action whenever I see the a lethal cardiac rhythm on the monitor. As a christian, 1 Peter 3:15 says,"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;"

Not every person we perform CPR on survives, in spite of near perfect execution of every ACLS guideline. We do the best we can, knowing that it is most certainly better than having done nothing at all.

Not every person to whom we teach the Gospel will respond...but some will. When a person fails to respond to CPR the effect is finite...nothing more can be done. The beauty of the Gospel is that it never returns void. A person may not respond at that moment, but as long as they are alive there is hope for the future.Isaiah 55:11 says, "So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return unto Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it."

Oddly enough, it is once again time for me to renew my Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) certification. We do this every two years by reviewing and learning any new changes or advancements that have been made in CPR, and once again, we recommit all those drugs and algorithms to memory. This time, I plan to study and learn more fervently than I ever so I can become a stronger nurse and eliminate the fear and stress of working a code blue.

Most importantly however, EVERDAY is an opportunity to study my Bible and renew my commitment to living a Christian life and teaching others how to do the same.

They say "Knowledge is power." I plan to put that saying to the test. Maybe it will give me just enough strength to squash that small voice in my head that says, "What if I make a mistake?" Maybe I'll be strong enough to answer back, "So what if you do? Doing something is better than doing nothing!"

Thanks for reading!