Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thai Iced Tea!

You have all been asking about my Thai Iced Tea whenever I post a picture or little tid-bit about it, so I figured I would share all the details here, just for you. Plus, as usual, I added a few words of encouragement to top it off.

For starters, head on over to Amazon and buy this handy bag of loose leaf tea. It's a great price and if you use Amazon's Subscribe and Save for other items, you can get an extra 15% off!

Next, follow the directions on the bag! So easy. Here are some pictures of my process...

Fresh tea leaves! They smell amazing.

Put 4 Tablespoons (yep, that much) into 1 Cup of boiling water. I use the water straight from my insta-hot. Let it steep 4-6 minutes. (more on this pitcher below)

While the tea is steeping, I put 1 Tablespoon of sugar into my 2 Cup Pyrex liquid measuring cup. I have a major sweet-tooth, so if you do not, put less in :)

I also put a random amount of ice into a drinking glass. I ended up adding two more cubes, as this was not quite enough.

After the steeping time, I simply drain out the liquid from my handy tea pitcher, like so. My dear hubby got me this as a gift back when I discovered my intestines did not like a consistent diet of coffee. It gets used almost every day, and it's still working fabulously, three years later. Well worth the money!

Once I've stirred the tea with my sugar, making sure it all gets dissolved, I pour it over the ice.

After all this, I add a bunch of Half 'n Half. Just pour a Tablespoon or more in, see if you like it, and adjust from there.

Lastly, enjoy! This has become a pretty regular afternoon treat for me. After my trip to Thailand several years ago, I discovered these really are pretty authentic tasting. I can close my eyes and transport myself right back to that amazing, muggy, paradise.

Drinking my tea is not only a little treat, but also a great reminder to pray over the people I know there, to pray for the spiritual cloud of bondage to be dissipated in that country, and pray with great heart-ache for the people enslaved by others and by Satan there. I hope to go to Thailand again someday, but for now, I make it a point to contribute how I am able. Being a stay at home mom often feels less than ambitious, and I'm sure I don't have to explain to you the ways it can make you feel powerless. Our society encourages action, demanding that we prove our worth, and that can be hard to come up against while making a pleasant home for your family. Well, if "good vibes" and "happy thoughts" count as being worthwhile, our prayers are indefinitely more valuable. 

When you enjoy something special this week, take some time to thank the Lord and offer up a prayer for someone in need. It could be an individual you know, a country you love, or a scary situation you have heard about. Focus on God's knowledge of the problem, His ability and willingness to restore, and ask for the wisdom He desires to give. Don't feel discouraged by your inability to be as active as you desire, or as available as you were before children, but be blessed to participate in prayer, knowing you ARE a part of His redeeming plans.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Instilling Virtue, Not Rules.

I remember feeling devastated. Filled with an incredible amount of frustration and tangled emotions, sitting in the middle of my floor, crying quietly. My mom came in and tried to console me. I will never forget what she said: "I'm sorry, Sweety. You have always wanted to do the right thing, to follow the rules, but not everyone else feels that way or acts that way."

It was a sweet moment for us and a moment of revelation for me. I had never known this about myself. Even now, as I find myself disappointed with others, I come back to what my mom said, trying my best to let compassion guide me in understanding the motivations of other people.

As I talked about in one of my recent posts, I am also pretty critical of others by nature. If I'm not careful, this causes me to separate and distance myself from people I spend too much time criticizing. It also puts craziness inside my head and I start my overly detailed lists of should's and should-not's. Sometimes, it's really good to learn from other people, to see their mistakes and try to avoid them. But, life doesn't work this way all the time. We cannot live by a gigantic set of rules in the hopes of everything turning out the way we want.

Life is not a recipe. You cannot create a formula where you add in good stuff, take out bad, and know for a fact that your circumstances will turn out the way you want. We are deceived to think we have this kind of control.

Our love of control is not a topic I want to deal with today. Instead, I want to address the idea of being ruled by rules vs. being ruled by something bigger.

I've used this verse before, and I will probably bring it up over and over again, because it really is that good.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8

While this verse gives us wonderful ways to direct our minds toward goodness, unless we let these things direct our hearts to God, they will fail us.

We cannot give our children a simple list of ways not to live, or even incredibly specific ways to live, and leave it at that. We cannot tell them to get an education, treat others well, buy a house, attend a good church (though that is now scratched off the list by the majority), get married (again, not necessarily), have kids, and your life will be worth living. We cannot tell them not to do drugs, not to rape women, not to have sex (well, only what seems like a decent amount of partners), not to cheat, not to be abusive, and expect them to live a fulfilling life. There are not enough rules on the planet to keep everyone in line, well fed, and content. Take a look at the history of humanity if you need further evidence.

A few years ago, after yet another school shooting, I read an article about the behaviors preceding most of these shootings. Surprisingly, there was almost always quite a bit of evidence in the shooter's life to prove they willfully intended to harm others. Gory descriptions of killing people in homework assignments, weird tales told to friends, plans in their journals, or disturbing conversations online: all right under the noses of their parents, or even evident to teachers at school. Immediately, I thought we should make some laws regarding when teachers have to report this kind of behavior in students. Admittedly, it might be a good idea, but God also convicted my heart about my response. We cannot fix the world by making more laws the same way we cannot fix our hearts by making new rules.

So what is the fix? How do we help make things better? I cannot give you an answer that does not revolve around following Christ, as His is the only truly unique historical response. He fixed the problem of sin by conquering death, by taking an undeserved punishment upon himself to give the undeserved an eternal blessing.

But still, how do we use what we know to put ourselves on the right path? How do we teach our children in a way that guides them toward true goodness? We instill virtue. Although, this gets complicated when the entire globe has varied levels of morality. You can't simply choose your own idea of what is virtuous or decide for yourself what counts as good and noble. You need some tool for discerning good from evil, a tool that is not motivated by culture, upbringing, or vague ideas of decency. The only way to come to the root of all goodness is to find the one who established it.

If you believe we come from monkeys, lizards, or some method of hit-or-miss genetic mutations, you cannot find a solid base of morality. You can choose according to your ever-changing culture, your family heritage, or the desires of your heart, but you will not be able to logically impose your standards of decency on others. However, if you believe we were made in the image of an eternal presence, the God of creation, the only Holy being in existence, you have His word as the only guide for moral living.

I'm not going to touch on biblical interpretations, or cultural relevance, but if you want to get to the root of solving evil in our world, and in your life, you'll need to get to the root of where evil comes from and how to stop it. We instill virtue in our children by instilling the only true goodness there is and weighing the rest of the world against it. We don't shelter them from knowing about the atrocities in the world, but always bring them back to weighing them against God's standard, the same impossible standard we can never meet. This is where we see our need for Christ and we taste the freedom available to us.

There's no way around it, the world needs Jesus. Rules can help us maintain peace, order and safety in the midst of a world that rejects Christ, but they cannot change hearts, as the apostle Paul thoroughly expresses all throughout Romans. No matter what schooling-method you embrace, your children will have to decide for themselves whether they will live according to their own rules, follow someone else's rules, or if they will follow Jesus. It's all or nothing, and you have the opportunity each day to steer your children toward following Jesus, or following something else.

By God's grace I have steered my children His direction without much thought at times, but we need to make this distinction in our minds and be intentional in our family leadership. Attending church and living a moral life are not enough to equip our children with the skills needed to survive this catastrophic place. Let Jesus fight evil for you, and enlighten your children to that process. Allow your children to wrestle with understanding how seemingly good people can do bad things, and teach them about how the bible addresses our sin and repentance.

This is what they really need. Not more playdates, not more math, not more musical exposure. Go deep with your children. This means you must plunge the depths of your sin (which is frightening and awful), but when you come back up and side with Christ, you always come out victorious. Then go again, and again, and again with your children. This is the greatest experience you can give them, allowing them to see your sin and your willingness to fight it. This is how they will see what virtue really is, and they will know exactly Who gives it. They will see you fight to receive it and have the confidence and courage to fight as well. What better gift is there?

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Liebster Award! Q&A and A New Friends.

Astrid is a friend of mine and she recently nominated me for the Liebster Award, which is a virtual award recognizing and connecting bloggers. "Liebster" is German and means "sweetheart", "beloved", or "dearest". Astrid is also German ;) I met her a couple years ago through our local Classical Conversations group when two of our children were in the same class. I knew she was raised in Germany, but it wasn't until this summer that I discovered more details about her life overseas as a child. She grew up in East Germany, before the Wall came down, and talks about life back then on her blog One Million Words. We also go to a writer's group together now (thanks to her inviting me) and it's been fun to become closer friends with her, not just because of her interesting life or similar interests, but simple because she is neat and wonderful. Go check her out!

Here are the questions she has given me:

1. Why did you start blogging?

I have always loved talking about my thoughts and observations. After getting quite a few questions about homeschooling and education, I decided I should just start posting all that delectable info online. I really wanted to encourage moms to be brave, to learn new things, and not to be discouraged when life feels kinda boring.

2. Describe your writing voice using three hashtags.

#deeperthanaverage #honestbutearnest #exhortingtowardexcellence

3. Name 2-3 books you read in the last couple of years that you remember best.

I’ve been reading through the Anne of Green Gables series the last few months, which has been incredible. They are creative, down-to-earth, filled with every day adventures, and leave me longing to live in Anne’s era. I also finished listening to Lisa Bevere’s Girls with Swords, which has forever changed my perspective on so many spiritual things, like how I face discouragement or conflict. Last month I read A Light in the Wilderness, a historical fiction novel by Jane Kirkpatrick about a former slave who came to Oregon along the Oregon Trail. It was inspiring, and again, altered my perspective on marriage and how I face daily life.

4. Who inspires you to create?

Mostly God. His Spirit moving in me, His beautiful creation surrounding me, and the ways He interacts with me during every-day-life. A lot of conversations I have with my close friends make me want to jump on my computer and document all the inspiring and challenging thoughts swirling in my head.

5. What are three things you currently love?

Flowers, Thai Iced Tea, Warm Sunshine.

6. What’s one of your favorite posts you have written?

Hmm, that’s a tough one! I think Homeschooling When Service is Not Your Gift. Many people think homeschoolers are super excited to be serving, naturally full of patience, or abounding in love for little kids, but none of these things are true for me. Still, I believe it will be best for our family and wanted to encourage other moms like me. It’s true, you can serve well even if you are not naturally good at serving.

7. What feels the most stressful or overwhelming in this season in your life?

Just the constant interruption. My boys are old enough to do a lot for themselves, but aren’t very naturally independent. My daughter still needs a lot of help, and is quick to cry or fuss or complain. So all day, I feel like I am fielding questions about snack time, about plans for the day, about schoolwork, about going to the bathroom, about playing outside, or about whatever one child did to another. When my daughter cries less about everything my stress level is way lower… I’m trying to not wish the little days away, but I’m certainly looking forward to a little more quiet throughout the day.

8. What do you wish to be remembered for?

Being genuine, unafraid, and hopefully inspiring.

9. How long have you been writing?

Pretty much since grade school. I took breaks along the way, but even in High School I knew I wanted to write for the benefit of others. I started studying 1 Peter in the hopes of encouraging people toward pursuing God in everything… in fact, I’m slowly working on a book centered on the idea of Fruitfulness found in the first chapter of 1 Peter. I still have a lot of work to do on it, but the central idea and outline are getting clearer and more detailed each week. In college, I mostly studied Writing & Literature, but only attended for two years. I’ve had several blogs throughout my adult life, but no clear direction with all of it until the last year or so.

10. What writing topics resonate the most with your audience?

Encouragement, striving for excellence, and being ordinary. At least, this is what the numbers tell me, and the few responses I’ve received :)

11. What’s the hardest part about being a writer?

For me, it’s the constant wondering what other people think about my writing. I’ve never been very popular in general, and while I do get positive responses, I don’t get them super frequently. It’s a constant battle to not be discouraged about my perceived success, but to remember what my goal is - to glorify God and trust His plans for my writing, not basing my success on the praises or input of others.

I am supposed to nominate two people, but out of all my blogging friends have only found one who is bale to participate! One is better than none, so I am nominating my friend Gillian at A Bright Summer's Day.

I met Gillian when my friend Chelsi started bringing me to her local church during my second year of college. We attended church together, had babies opposite each other (but during the same set of years), and have an insane amount of mutual friends. She blogs about her life, her kids, her relationship with God and more. Right now they are in an immense amount of transition, so you'll get to see her faith in action as they navigate moving and dealing with drastically different living situations.

Here are my questions for Gillian:

1. Tell us about how and why you started blogging.
2. If you could go anywhere in the world with your family, where would it be and why?
3. Describe your daily life with 4 hastags.
4. If you were writing a world-famous book, what would it be about?
5. What has the biggest encouragement in your life been?
6. What do you think is the most monotonous part of your life right now? And how to you cope with it?
7. Name one lovely feature about each of your children.
8. What is your favorite topic to write about?
9. Name 3 things you currently love.
10. Tell us your favorite bible verse, and why.
11. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?

The Official Rules Of The LiebsterAward

If you have been nominated for The Liebster award AND YOU CHOOSE TO ACCEPT IT, write a blog post about theLiebster award in which you follow the rules below:

  • The Liebster award is intended to connect new bloggers with other bloggers. Someone nominates you, and when you accept the award, you have to answer 11 questions that were asked from the blogger that nominated you. Then you have to nominate other new bloggers and ask them 11 (new) questions. “Liebster” is German and means “sweetheart”, “beloved”, “dearest”.
  • Thank the person who nominated you, and post a link to their blog on your blog. If possible leave a comment underneath their blog post that you accept the award – so that it is visible for everybody.
  • Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”. (Note that the best way to do this is to save the image to your own computer and then upload it to your blog post. You will find plenty of Liebster award logos in the internet or if you feel like being creative you can just design your own Liebster award logo).
  • Answer 11 questions about yourself, which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  • If you like to give 11 random facts of you, you can but it’s not a must.
  • Create a new list of 11 questions for the blogger to answer (or keep some of the old ones if you really like them).
  • Copy the rules and display them on your blog that your nominees know what they have to do.
  • You can nominate between two and eleven new bloggers that you like and recommend and who have less than 1000 followers. (Note that you can always ask the blog owner this since not all blogs display a widget that lets the readers know this information!)
  • List these rules in your post (You can copy and paste from here.) Once you have written and published it, you then have to:
  • Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post so that they can learn about it (they might not have ever heard of it!). It is highly recommended to ask the people before you nominate them if they even want to be part of it and don’t feel overwhelmed. Have fun!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

When You Are Scared of Being the Only One.

It can be really scary to stand out.

I have a burning desire (maybe rooted in pride) to be completely unique, to be known for something super incredible and amazing, to be courageous and cool. The only drawback is I really hate to be the only person doing something. It doesn't really matter what it is: clapping in church, crying at bible study, laughing at our CC group meeting, wearing shorts when everyone else is in pants. But being original and not standing-out do not go together so well. I'm realizing I have less guts than I thought, but knowing this is also encouraging me to work on bravery in many areas of life. 

Perhaps you have been there, in that halfway empty room, partially filled with new acquaintances or friends you're only a slightly familiar with. The person in charge gets up, makes a few announcements, and starts to lead your group in song. The volume through the speakers is fairly low, and the song is a little out of your range, so you try to sing quietly. So does everyone else. You are committed to not acknowledging the awkward feelings making you sweat. You don't make eye contact. You just keep singing quietly and try to ignore everything else until the song is done. It wasn't pleasant, and maybe you didn't feel incredibly connected to God, but you survived without anyone hearing your voice squeak or crack. Whew. 

Awesome, yes? Ha. 

Why do we think being quiet in those situations is helpful for anyone? Why do we insist on keeping our voices down, lest anyone actually hear us sing? Why are we so afraid to let our flaws be revealed?

Recently I was in a room where it would have been easy to let this happen, a room where this has happened. Only this time, the music was turned up just a little louder. That small difference gave me just another ounce of bravery. So I sang louder, and I witnessed other moms singing just a bit louder too, which made it even easier for all us of to cast aside our cares and praise God wholeheartedly. By setting aside my cares about my voice, concerns over my appearance, and obsession with the mysterious thoughts of others, I was able to see God more clearly, and feel His presence close beside me. What a difference! 

Then I realized, I have the chance to make that difference each week. No matter the volume of the songs, no matter how many other moms sing, I could just sing louder, allowing every other mom the freedom to sing louder without shame as well. 

I thought a little while longer and realized, I have this opportunity in many other areas of life as well. 

Recently, a friend from church and I were chatting at a potluck and before parting ways she asked "What can I pray for you this week?". It caught me a little off guard, as we are not close friends, but I was immediately flattered, encouraged, and convicted. Praying for her had not been on my radar at all! But now here we were, talking about our hopes, desires, and needs, and committing to being on each other's side. 

My friend did what no one else was doing. She might have been nervous or afraid to step out, but her courage spurred my courage, and I have been trying to keep that courage going. Asking how I can pray for some of my friends each week is becoming easy. It comes up in conversation casually, but easily opens doors for vulnerability between friends. And we feel that much more connected as prayers are answered, like we are really fighting for victory together. 

My husband and I also do this with our kids. He prays with them at bedtime and I pray with them in the morning, usually before we get going with our schoolwork. Their requests are a small window into their souls. 

It is easy to look at areas in our life where we want things to be better. We see where other people could stand to speak up or get going, but rarely are we the first person to begin. Why not? It's hard! We are afraid of a million things, like failure, embarrassment, condemnation, puffing ourselves up, separating from the pack, commitment to an endeavor, or even displeasing friends who don't agree. We cannot let these things hold us back. We just need to start. We can trust God completely with the results. 

What have you been wishing for? A friend to bring you dessert? An invitation to a girl's night out? Someone to ask you about your week? Your pastor to notice your gifts? Instead of wishing, try starting. Take dessert to a friend, organize a girl's night out, ask someone about their week, and pray consistently for your pastor and the use of his gifts. Be the first to get started and you will see others rise up around you. Not only will you be glad to see you are not alone, you will be blessed by the responses around you. 

Don't let doubt or insecurity keep you from moving forward. God has been pushing my boundaries and I have been insisting on leaving them alone. When I do this, when any of us do this, we miss out on being more aware of God in our day-to-day lives. We miss out on growth, contentment, and witnessing God redeeming us. As we open up and start moving as God leads, regardless of who else is moving, we see everything more clearly. We see life less as a trial and more as a joy, work less as a strain and more as a goal, and difficulties less as problematic and more as ordained opportunities. So just start. Be what you want someone else to be for you. Do what you wish someone else was doing for you. Sing when you wish someone else was singing with you. Others will come along, and they will be your dearest friends, your comrades in arms, the people you will never want to be without. You will not regret it one bit.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Criticizing Criticism.

If it seems a little hypocritical to criticize someone for being critical of other people, you are right. I am a naturally critical person, judging when I am not asked to judge, and often unable (or unwilling?) to keep my opinion to myself.  Which is why I need to take all of my ideas expressed in this blog post and live them out too!

In High School choir, our director gave the seniors symbolic gifts at the end of the school year, and my senior year, Mr. Graber gave out tool-themed gifts. He gave me a measuring tape for my constant ability to analyze and gauge how we were doing, what we should be working on, and how much more effort we would need to invest in order for a piece to become "concert ready".

I remember feeling honored, thinking his gift showed a hidden talent I possessed for understanding goals and measuring success. This is true to an extent, but the older I get, the more clearly I see how my constant evaluation of every circumstance, event, or action is bringing me despair instead of joy. Especially when it concerns the lifestyle choices of other people.

My Facebook feed is filled with numerous opinions expressing discontentment, judgement, or critical evaluation of someone, some thing, or some event. I come across far too many blog-posts about the grumpy woman at Target, articles about the president's mode of transportation, and books about the terrible consequences of disciplining your children. All day long, I am bombarded with critical opinions from other people via social media. Even at the grocery store, at the gym, and sometimes even at church, we voice problems with our world, dissatisfaction and struggle, rather than seeing goodness, speaking kind words, or offering encouragement.

Aren't you tired of it? Don't we all just want to hear something lovely? Something uplifting?

I do. I'm sure you do. Which is why I am writing this. Yes, this is another blog-post falling into the same critical category as all of the things driving me crazy. But, I hope the end goal is much better.

There is a time and a place to be critical. For instance, while editing my blog posts. I need to judge the use of my words, the clarity of my sentences, and the continuity of the entire idea I aim to express. I need to be critical when choosing books for my children to read, or for my own personal reading. After all, I don't want to put random junk into my children's minds or spend my own precious time engrossed with ideas of little benefit. I should also be critical about the food I feed my family. I want to nourish them with food, not just grab something cheap and easy from a box or can.

Here's where we cross the line. Do I need to be critical about a stranger's blog post and leave a snarky response? Or should I just evaluate politely, maybe even privately? Should I speak up about my friend feeding her child fruit snacks, or should I only evaluate that decision for my own family? Is it wise to preach "organic or die" or should I simply make that choice for myself and influence others through action, speaking up when appropriate situations arise?

It will be helpful for each of us to draw these lines where we see fit. We don't need to hyper-analyze every circumstance we could possibly find ourselves in but what we desperately need is security in our own choices, and guidelines for appropriate behavior. Sounds a little too simple, right? It is definitely simple in concept, but living it out is another thing.

How can we apply this idea of being secure in our decisions, and act well in every circumstance? Is it better to have a detailed method of response to friends who feed their children fruit snacks, or should I simply have a general guideline for how and when I speak out against true atrocities? And mind you, I don't consider fruit snacks to be an atrocity. There are times when we will need to wade through complicated issues, and make important decisions on when to speak up and when to remain silent, but unless you are living in a literal war-zone, you probably don't need to hyper analyze everything you encounter every day.

I suggest we make a continued effort in being the people we want to be, rather than having a set of strict guidelines to keep ourselves constantly in check. This is the difference between following the law and following Jesus. It is better to keep your heart tender to the leading of the Holy Spirit than aiming to mold your life according to a single church policy. It is better to be respectful and kind toward all people than to set your guidelines for who deserves respect and analyze each person you meet. Your joy will be more profound when seeking to obey the Lord in Spirit than worrying about how to keep each rule every day.

It might be easy for you to be critical of this suggestion, citing that some may take advantage of their freedom from the law, but I think it's time we stop concerning ourselves so much about those skirting the law while chasing their flesh, and concern ourselves more with loving the people we encounter. God is able to convict their hearts, far more able than you are. A critical spirit will drive them from your presence, but an understanding heart will engage their mind and make them open to the Spirit's voice.

Like I said, there are times to be critical, but probably not nearly as often as we think. And when it comes to interacting with each other, our criticism is devastatingly contagious.

If you want to see a real-life demo of the spread of this disease, watch your family objectively for a day. This is when I am most discouraged with my failures. When I wake up critical, grumpy, and demanding, I see my eldest son being impatient, frustrated, and bothered by his siblings. I see my second son being discouraged by his own mistakes, and my little girl assuming we are all out to make her life miserable. All of this snowballing from a few small remarks I made, about how they clear their dishes, or how they put away a toy.

This should not be so! Once again, I look at my long-term goal for my family: to know God and make Him known. When I watch my children clear their own dishes, do they see God from what I say? When I wait for my slow-poke to put on shoes, does he feel a loving presence over him? When I am impatiently talking to the cashier at Target, do my kids see me loving a stranger, or does the stranger see God's patient kindness? Or are my constant evaluations of everyone else's behavior and performance fuel for anger and discouragement, creating a divide between myself and others?

I think you see what I am saying now. Our critical spirits cause separation. Our voiced opinions of performance spread discouragement. Our constant disappointment with other people's choices spread a fear of never living up to expectations.

Break the cycle, stop voicing your disappointment, and turn your criticisms into prayers. It's easy to see what we don't like in other people, and hard to admit what we don't like about ourselves. But the sooner we confess our failures and commit to living well despite them, the sooner we are back on the path God has for us.

It is freeing to put that measuring tape down, to simply enjoy the people in our lives without constantly checking to see if they are living the way we think they should. I'm always surprised by how much more my children accomplish when I set aside my critiques. They act better, love more easily, and live with confidence. This form of excellence is what I am after, for myself and my children. But it will never be found when criticism is the reigning spirit. Love of truth, honor, justice, purity, loveliness, and praiseworthy things are what will bring that joy of fellowship, with my family and with those I encounter every day. Let these things reign in your life more than methods, criticisms, or behavioral expectations. Trust me, you will see the difference and wonder what took you so long!