Posted by: An American Expat | February 19, 2011

Upbringing (and my bad taste of legalism)

Disclaimer:  Obviously a lot is left out of this post. There were several Godly people who touched my life when I was younger.  And for that I am thankful.   I have a purpose in sharing the effect legalism had on my life and how God is bringing me out of that, so the post is focused on this.  I also want to point out that each person, including myself, is responsible for their behavior and how they view God.   God has given us his word and his spirit.

I didn’t grow up learning much about God, but my family went to church most every Sunday morning and sent me to a small christian school.   Sound ironic?  That’s because it is.

Now, I would have to say, that my perception could be altered a lot.  I was young and have a very bad memory, which limits my childhood memories.  So, I could have missed a lot, but here is what I remember.

I remember being taught almost all of the “Bible Heroes”.  How David defeated Goliath.  Daniel survived the Lions Den.  Noah built the ark….the list could go on.  What I don’t ever remember learning was that it wasn’t them that did all that work.  It was their God. I was told “be like Daniel”, “be like David”, not “let me tell you who the God is that they served.”

I remember that we were rightly told that God created the world.  And that He loved us enough to die for us.  However, after we come to faith in him, it just seamed that it was all up to us.  I felt as if I need to pay back God with my life.  Not because I realized who He was and how he loved me so-and with this creating a natural desire to give God my life.    Now I do realize that I struggle with being bent towards such legalism.  I still struggle with it today, so I could have heard things differently then how they were meant to be heard. Yet, the lack of joy and love in some of the people that I grew up with still rings true in my ears today.

However there are very distinct memories that would support me being taught legalism.  Such as, when a well respected man asked me what my (current) boyfriend was doing for his devotions.  When I respond “Psalms”,  he replied that I should “tell him to get into some meat.” -meaning the psalms weren’t as good as some of the other books in the bible. Or, there was the time that several college aged friends and I were having a discussion about “contemporary christian music” (whether wrong or right)  When I asked “isn’t it important what your heart is thinking when listening to music?”,  the accepted response was “No, it doesn’t matter what you heart is thinking, because you are doing the “right” thing”.

Honestly, I was pretty good at living this way.  I liked rules and having someone tell me what to do was comfortable for me.  I was a classic “good student”, well liked by my teachers.  But soon I fell apart.

Naturally I had become tired of trying so hard to keep all the rules.  I began making unwise choices because I figured if I was going to ‘fail’ I might as well not try at all.  Yet, due to God’s grace that lifestyle became miserable fast. So I went to  a local pastor’s wife for counseling. During one of our meetings I told her I didn’t find time to read the book she had asked me to read.  I told her that I had only had time to read my bible.  She told me “If you only have time for one, read the book.  When I am reading this book, I don’t always read my bible, because the book quotes a lot of scripture.”  That was the biggest red flag, yet I didn’t know what to do with it.  I had already tried to ‘give up’ but found no joy. However I felt as if I was drowning trying to get things right.  Everywhere I turned I felt as if I was looking at  hypocrisy.  No love, no joy, no forgiveness-but they kept the rules well.

I was tired of my own mask as well.

to be continued………..

Posted by: An American Expat | February 10, 2011


I have been thinking about heaven a lot lately.

What will it be like?  Well we rest in God’s loving arms?  Dance with David?  Worship with Abraham?   Sit at Jesus feet with Mary?  Sing with Paul?

A former co-worker died this week.  She was thirty years old; Young, beautiful,  a person of real character.  The faith of her and her husband convicted and encouraged me.   When they found out she had terminal cancer just two short months ago, it was clear that they sought to honor God. Praise him.  Give him glory.  And they did.

Sometimes, heaven doesn’t seem very real.  I can’t comprehend what it is like.  It doesn’t fit into any box I have here on earth.  It almost seems like a fairytale.   Other times it seems real enough to take my breath away. Like the times I think about the fact that I will see my saviors face.  See it.  Not read about it.  See with my own eyes.

There is so much about God that I don’t know.  Some because I have failed to study his word.  Other things, because possibly God hasn’t revealed it to me right now. Yet, there are some things that I just can’t fully understand.  He is God.  His very breath created the world.  He has no ending or beginning. His love sent the perfect sacrifice of His Son, to die for my sin.

I’m reminded of an old hymn.

“Heaven is a wonderful place,

Filled with Glory and Grace,

I want to see my Savior’s face

Heaven is a wonderful place.”

The more I know about God, the more I realize that Heaven isn’t great because of the gates made our of pearls or the streets of gold.  No, my God dwells there.  I will see him, touch him, speak with him.  Is it possible to long for a place but not want to go, yet?  Part of me, I shamefully admit, is even afraid of leaving.  I want to see God, but I don’t want to leave the people I love here.  I love my husband, kids, family and friends.  At the same time, I long to see God.  I want to see the scars in the hands of Christ.  Hear his voice.  I want to be held in his loving arms. What beauty there is in that thought! Being with the one who gave his life for me.  There is joy in the presence of my God!

Psalm 84: 1-4

1 How lovely is your dwelling place,
LORD Almighty!
2 My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
3 Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
4 Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.

What peace to know that we can see our loved ones who have trusted Christ once again. May God be praised in all the earth!

Posted by: An American Expat | February 3, 2011

Overwhelmed (aka: life with kids)

Overwhelm-  to overpower in thought or feeling.


Do you want to know what my week has been like?

This week I decided to be very intentional about teaching N(my oldest).  After all, I have plans of homeschooling this coming year.  However, after this week, I am seriously wondering…..

We have been doing some phonics lessons for a while now.  We have skipped a day here and there, and when the holidays came…..well, we took a seriously long break.  For the most part it has been going really well.  N is super good at memorizing and loves the idea of learning to read.

I had rearranged my schedule this week to add in more schooling time for N.  I had also finally determined that I must start getting up earlier.  And because I have been longing to do it for months, I also decided that I need to get up the never to make homemade yogurt and soak my oats for baked oatmeal.  I also had a lot of other things that I committed to amongst all the other normal “mommy” things.  Honesty though, even as I think about what I need to get done, I think, “Surely I can do this”.  It isn’t that much…..but then again I did title this post “overwhelmed”.

Things haven’t gone so well this week.

Monday:  N took 2 hours to do a thirty minute lesson.

Tuesday:  Between N and E, they tested out EVERY boundary possible when we went grocery shopping. I mean it. every. last. one.

Wednesday: N wakes up early with me, again.

Thursday:  I raised the white flag.

So far, I feel like it’s a vicious cycle.  I get up early to get things done before the kids get up.  Noah’s sixth sense of knowing that I’m up, gets him up.  Because neither of us are used to getting up early, we are cranky.   Nothing gets done well, because I feel exhausted while I’m doing it.

I think part of the problem is I put too much on my plate this week.  And next week is filling up fast.  I feel like if we could just get past this week maybe next week will be better.  Maybe my body will get used to the new sleep schedule.  And then maybe I will be more prepared for the adventures of each day; the whining, the fighting, the messes.  All the things that  happen in the life of every mom.

Right now it just overwhelms me to think of trying to home school.  Yet, that is what I really want to do.  That is what I feel led to do.  So the question is:  what gives?  What do I need to get rid of so that it doesn’t overwhelm me to do the things I feel are important?


By the way, even as I wrote this, I was happy that I could hear that the boys weren’t fighting.  What I didn’t know is that E was dumping an almost full container of raw oatmeal (the big tubs of it), all over the living room, kitchen and stairs.  He even managed to get some in the fridge.  Yeah.  It has been that kind of week.

I don’t know how homeschooling mom’s do it, or any mom for that matter.  Seriously.  Do you all have some sorta magic wand or something? If so, where do I get one?  🙂

Posted by: An American Expat | January 4, 2011

Resolutions (part two)

Resolution:  the act of determining

I shared yesterday the goals that I had set for 2010 and how they effected my year. Today I want to share some of the goals I have for 2011.

A friend at church had said “keep your eyes toward heaven in 2011.”  I love that!  And in all these goals I want my first priority to be keeping my eyes on my savior.  With that in mind here are some of my goals for this year:

House goals:

1.  Beautify the yard. Create an edible and flower garden.   If you been to my house you can see the odd placing of plants (and mostly dead bushes) around my house.  This spring, I want to really work hard on making the yard a fun place to be!  This includes making a haven for birds (I just love waking up to chirping!), and building a play set for the boys!

2.  If God provides the money we want to finish some of our inside home projects as well.  This would include painting the bathroom (and finishing the guest bathroom), painting the kitchen, putting up a ceiling in the basement, and getting a new floor for the basement and kitchen.

Money Goals:

1.  We would like to continue with the Dave Ramsey plan.  Pay off our last student loan and build up our emergency fund. Once these things are done (probably not this year), we will start a plan to get rid of our house mortgage!


1.  Read more of the bible and make it a priority everyday.  Including a time of praying and listening during that time.

2. Start a bible study with women.  Something I believe God is prompting my heart to do, although I’m slightly nervous.

3. Read more Christians book to encourage my walk with Christ.


1.  I have a goal to have a regular workout routine of three times a week.  Jonathan and I are going to be doing some of this together!  I also want to limit sugar and continue on the “real” foods journey.  I also want to drink more water!  I really want to make that a priority beverage.  When the weather warms up I want to start running again, and maybe even do a marathon 🙂

Life (these are the harder ones!):

1. Learn to can and dehydrate food.

2. Set up a better bedtime for the boys. I say that I want to do this all the time.  We really need to get this one nailed down!

3.  Continue with school work for Noah.  We still haven’t decided if we will be homeschooling or not. I also want to o more craft time with both boys.  And a daily bible time- never to young to start that 🙂

4. Focus on teaching both my children about God, taking every opportunity.  I want to learn ways to point them to Christ.  Any ideas?

5. Wake up earlier!!!   I have had this goal forever!  It seems that I get better for a few weeks and then fall off the wagon for month.  I really want to accomplish this one because I feel like it can make so many of my other goals easier.

6.  Continue writing.  I love writing so this shouldn’t be hard.

7.  Limit computer time.  So long facebook! haha  I won’t be giving up facebook all together, but I’m not going to be a status queen (not that I ever was).   This will also include, email, on-line shopping (I don’t end up buying much anyways, so why wast my time?), and blog reading, GASP!.  It has to be done though.

Green: (economical purpose, I’m not planing on saving the earth.  Just looking to be thrifty with my resources, and a good steward) 🙂

1.  Conserve Water

2. Start recycling

3. Learn to and look for more ways to reuse.  But not let that stuff overtake my house- I don’t want people to come over and have to walk around cleaned out spaghetti jars, because I just know I can use them one day! haha 😉

And there you have it.  Looks like a lot, but not really.  Most can be torn down into small steps.  I think the hardest part for me will be the ones that take me planing and following a routine, like working out, and bedtime, and the dreadful waking up early.

Anyone have some tips on how to accoplish some of these?

What does 2011 hold for you?  Any new goals?


Posted by: An American Expat | January 3, 2011

Resolutions (part one)

I love bringing in the new year!  It is exciting to see what the new year has in store, to make goals, to dream, to start new projects.  Somehow on January 1st we can forget all the failures of the past year(if just for a little while)  and just look forward.

Believe it or not, I like making lists.  I make lists for all sorts of things.  The problem comes when I have to follow the list.  Sigh.  One day, one day.  I looked back on the past goals of 2010 and was a little surprised at how I had actually accomplished some of them.

1. I had set a goal to write.  Well, here is my blog, which even though I didn’t every day, or even every week, it is still here and going.

2. I had set the goal to read the entire old testament.  I consider this an accomplished goal even thought I didn’t actually fulfill the goal.  I had set out to read the old testament, but instead spent most of the year in the new.  However, my purpose was to get into the scripture more than the previous year.  By God’s grace, and his prompting (during some trials you have no where else to turn the to the Word of God), I am starting a sweet love and appreciation for being in the word daily.  I do better some days- or even weeks, than others, but I feel like I am growing in this area.

3.  Buy a house-  Praise God for his answer to prayer!  Only He could have fulfilled this goal for me and I’m so thankful he did 🙂

4.  Start school time with Noah.  This was a bigger struggle than I had thought.  Maybe because I am horrible about keeping a routine, or because I couldn’t decide (we all know how indecisive I can be) on what to do.  Thankfully, my wonderful(!) sister-in-law helped me so much by writing down lessons plans for us.  We went pretty strong for a few weeks, but fell off the wagon when the holidays came.  Time to start up again- today!

5. Lose 7 pounds.  I did lose most of the seven pounds (or maybe, even all of them), but I gained them all back!  Stink.  This year, I’m not setting a weight goal.  Rather I am setting some “health” goals.  Maybe I will accomplish both by taking this approach 🙂

Did anyone else have a goal they kept for the 2010 year?   I would love to hear them 🙂

……Resolutions part two to be continued tomorrow with some of my goals for 2011!


Posted by: An American Expat | December 24, 2010


As the year comes to a close, I have been thinking about all we have experienced in this 2010.  It has been a year of ups and downs, a roller coaster of events.  My heart grows soft and warm, as I think of the past events.

We started out this year discouraged. Last year we waited on Jonathan’s job for over a year.  He was  now employed, and we were in the middle of searching for a house.  It was supposed to be a quick find.  It wasn’t.  Once again we found ourselves waiting on God.  Looking back I can see how his gentle hand guided us.  How he led us to the perfect home for our family.  And how much we can appreciate the waiting now.

On mothers day we announced that we were expecting.  We were longing for a baby and excited for a new addition for our family.  I hadn’t been pregnant long when we found out that the pregnancy was in trouble.  We lost the baby, which sent me in a whirlwind of questions about myself and about God.  It was a painful, uncertain journey.  My thoughts went wild with doubt.  My faith felt attacked and everything was questioned.  God held me through that time.  He didn’t leave me alone with my fears.  His spirit led me to answers, which lead to the growing of my faith in Him.  Yes it was painful, but it was necessary, and I’m thankful for that time.

In addition to moving into the home that we just bought, we celebrated six years of marriage in July.  We have grown closer and I’m so blessed that God gave me a man with such a passion for himself.  That one thing is more precious to me than any other character of the man I love.  Hear me men, be a man of God!  It will give your wife security in the most uncertain times.

In October we lost another baby.  The fear and doubt crept back in.  God fought my fight and is still guiding me through that pain. I think I can finally see how it is possible for James 1:2 to be true.   “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. ”

October and November held several challenges.  Cars broke down.  The 14-year-old AC unit in our home finally gave out.  Jonathan had two lawnmowers break down.  Each time God provided.  We have  a beautiful new truck. And just purchased a new heating and air unit for the home.  My God is the King of all Kings and he is not limited in his resources.

Here we are in December.  A time for family and friends.  A time to reminisce over the year.   A time to remember how our Saviour humbly came into this world.  And most importantly; a time to remember why-  “For God so loved the world,that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For  God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.  Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.”  John 3:16-18.

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you can see how blessed you have been this year!

Posted by: An American Expat | December 20, 2010


My letter to Santa this year:

Dear Santa; Oh, wait,… Did you know they now call you Santa, St. Nicolas?  We are a fairly informal generation so don’t take it as criticism, it’s just how we roll.  I was wondering, are you rolling over in your grave yet?  Have you heard the things they say about you?  Well, in case you haven’t, let me tell you.  One, did you know you’re not dead?  Oh, no, in fact your immortal.  You don’t die, you don’t age, (anymore that is).  You are however, very old.  And fat.  Sorry but it’s true, every time I see you, you’re fat.  You also, can see all and know all.  You judge which ones of us are good enough for gifts and which ones aren’t.  Must be hard on you, being immortal, omnipresent, and judge of all man-kind (ringing a bell anyone???).  And you give really nice gifts.  In fact, way better that the fruit and nuts you used to give.  Those poor kids-nowadays we would probably throw the fruit out-not nearly as good as candy (enforced with vitamin c, of course).  Let’s see, you can also defy gravity, and time.  And then there are the people and animals you live with, you know, the elves and reindeer.  You’ve really become something haven’t you! Makes you sick, huh?  The lies out there about you.  The way they treat you like a god. I’m sorry, don’t know what to say, really.  Oh wait- I remember, “It’s fun”.   And “I did it as a child- and look how good I turned out”:) See, St. Nick -you don’t mind if I call, that do you?, it just a little white lie.

Alright guys, silliness aside.  The Santa thing is getting way out of hand.  Did you know that kids really do get Santa and God confused!?!   That there are some out there that put God and Santa, together,  in the ‘fairytale’ category?  Don’t you see that the characteristics for Santa sound awfully familiar(?);  that is because they don’t belong to him– those are things only God can do!  Do we want to risk our children see theology in that way? We grow up as adults and wonder why so many around us treat God like Santa.  Using him to only get. Did you know that Kriss Kringle, another name for Santa, comes from Germany meaning “Christkind” or “Christ child”? ?  Don’t you see, the father of all lies put this one together, and we have played into his hand.

And what about the lie?  I know, it’s fun.  But truth is truth.   And a lie is a lie.  Have we forgotten Exodus 20:16  “Thou shalt not bear false wittiness (ie: LIE) against your neighbor.” Aren’t your kids the closest neighbors you have?!?  (Disclaimer:  I’m not trying to hold myself up as the picture of truth).  Why can’t we pretend-and let them pretend with us?  Kids are good at pretending.  They do it all the other 11 months out of the year just fine.

So, who’s with me?  Who wants to spread the truth, not only about Santa, but of our God also!?

Posted by: An American Expat | December 8, 2010


I’ve always been an indecisive person.  Its a curse really;  To never know weather you want paper or plastic  (of course now I know-reusable bags! – just kidding, kind-of).  I remember once, in my teen years, trying to decide what products I wanted to buy at Bath and Body Works.  They were having an awesome sale, and I had my hands full, trying to decide between too products.  Then I asked my self, Do I really need any of this stuff? After an hour spending time picking out products, I put them all back and walked out the store empty handed  (that’s ok, I make fun of myself for this one too).

Then there was the time Jonathan and I were “small group” leaders.  We were a bad combination.  Jonathan didn’t like silence so he would end up answering all the study guide questions.  I couldn’t decide on which outing we should do, so we didn’t do very many.  The day that another couple in the group took over, was one of the best things for all of us.  🙂

Most recently (by that I mean yesterday), I was at the farmers market staring at the milk.  There were only two choices for me to consider; raw milk, which I have read about being so wonderfully healthy, and Happy Cow milk, which is pasteurized but not homonogized, also being better for you than store bought conventional milk.  There I stood asking myself- Do I really want to buy raw milk?  Should I trust it?  What if we get something and die? (indecisive people are real thinkers, ya know).  After about five minutes of glaring at the milk case, a man asks “Can I help you?”  (Yes, please tell me which milk I should take. -Indecisive people do better following rules, than coming up with them).   “I’ve been hearing about raw milk, just trying to decided if I trust it or not?” I replied.  “Well,” he said, “we sell a lot of it, around here.”  “How much is it?”, I asked seeing that the price was not marked. (don’t you hate that?).  “Five-fifty.”  Not too bad I thought.   After just a few seconds of staring once again, I gulped, grabbed the raw milk, the two other produce items I had come for and make a straight dash toward the registrar, practically throwing my money at the woman.  I didn’t want to give myself a chance to re-think my purchase. (this is called rash decision making- something else that indecisive  people tend to do).

When I got home, I told my husband about my purchase.  His reply, “Why would you want to do that?  What do you mean raw milk?”  “Ya know, milk that comes straight from the cow.”  We both took a sip.  I somewhat expected to gag it all back up, seeing that I don’t even like milk.  But I was pleasantly surprised that there was no gagging involved and it really was creamier.  Jonathan took a sip; “Tastes like regular milk.”

And that is it my friends.  My first step towards buying what comes straight from the farm. I have many other plans for farm purchasing; eggs, chicken, butter, and cheese.  Now, if I could only deiced which farm to buy from. 🙂

Anyone in the upstate have any recomendations?

Posted by: An American Expat | December 2, 2010


There are a few singers that bring back memories from my teen life.  Of course, like every teen girl, I listen to the Backstreet boys at times.  I remember dancing on top of a car to one of their songs.  Matchbox twenty was my all time favorite.  And then there was Jewel.  Her “You were meant for me” song was simply too cute.

I don’t really listen to those artist anymore (what, were not rocken’ to the backstreet boys at bedtime??), but I did hang on to a Jewel Christmas CD.  The girl can sing, and it’s just about one of my favorite Christmas CD’s.

It wouldn’t be a shocker to any of my friends that Jewel and I don’t agree theologically.  And the ending to one song, on her Christmas CD, is just one more example.  Track 10 is a melody of different songs and at some point during one of the  songs she says, “God is watching us, from a distance.” Oh, now I do believe that God sees us.  There are several verses in the bible that talk about how God knows all and sees all.  But it is the “from a distance” part I don’t agree with.  No, my God is here, standing right beside me hanging on to me.  There isn’t anything about Him that is distant from me, (and to any of those who have been washed by Christ’s blood).  If there is any distance between me and God it would be because I wondered off,  and even then, he still has me in the palm of his hand. God never changes; Forever and ever the same is my God.  And He is a personal God.

So Jewel,  I’ll keep your Christmas CD- after all you sing “Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer”, better that anyone else.  But don’t be surprised if I skip track 10.  🙂

Posted by: An American Expat | October 31, 2010


So, it has been a while since I have posted about my natural foods journey.  Here are the steps that I have taken in the last few weeks.

  • Stopped buying things with High fructose Corn Syrup (or any corn syrup for that matter) in it.
  • Stopped buying things with Hydrogenated oils in it.
  • Looked for things with fewer ingredients in products like cheese, sour cream, yogurt.  Also, trying to avoid artificial flavorings and dyes.
  • Buying meat with no added hormones or antibiotics-the hardest hit for the budget of all the different things we are doing.
  • Buying less convenience foods.  I still allow myself a frozen pizza (or the like) once a week.  I figure it helps us not eat out and therefore have more control over what we eat than we would in a restaurant.
  • Eat out less: I felt like this is one we will forever be working on!  I had a recent conversation with a cousin of mine and realized that I need to be more intentional about not eating fast food.  Not only is that SO NOT HEALTHY, but I also don’t want to support the way they affect the food industry in general. (Watch Food Inc.) The hardest thing about fast food for us is the fact that we are not planners.  If we feel like going to the store at 5:00, we simply load up the car and go.  We don’t typically take any note to the fact that we will be starved when we get out of the store and will most-likely grab something “cheap”.  I have been working on trying to do my errands with the kids earlier in the day so that we are not out at lunch.  We did much better this last week and didn’t get fast food for lunch once (but we had some pretty late lunches at home)!  I hope to keep getting better at this.
  • Make more stuff from scratch.  This is one of the best ways to be able to eat healthier on a budget.  I enjoy trying new recipes but sometimes am afraid if I’m not sure how it will turn out and that fear will sometimes keep me from trying new things.

Disclaimer: I do want to mention that every once in a while Jonathan will bring home something that doesn’t pass my test-mostly because he doesn’t read labels and sometimes because he figures that every once in a while is ok.  So if you come to my house and see the Little Debbie Cake snacks-you will know who bought them.  🙂 And unfortunately, if they are in the house, they get eaten.

The next step is to clear out the pantry and then refill it with better food.  In the book I’m reading, Stephanie gave a list of food ingredients (and reasons why) that she doesn’t allow in her home.  Out of a list of 11 things, we don’t do 6 of them at all.  There are couple things we do every once in a while-soda and hot dogs.  And a few that I haven’t tackled getting rid of yet.

She mentions Juice as a no-no because of all the sugar, and while I typically only buy 100% fruit juice, I  do let the kids drink it too often.  Also I occasionally buy soda, or lemonade, or sometimes make tea-all of which I will let the kids have (some, not as much) when I do (ekk!).  So in the weeks to come I will be focusing  on all of us drinking more water.

The other thing she mentions that I am dreading finding a substitute for is MSG.  There are two main reasons why I really don’t want to tackle this one; 1. I know it is in soup and other seasoning type packets that I rely on and don’t know how to make otherwise.  And 2. I know there are like 20 different names for MSG and I simply do not want to have to memorize them and look for them on every label of every item I pick up- Have you ever tried to read ingredient labels while grocery shopping with two kids?! NOT FUN.

So my next two steps for this next week are to find ways to cut out all MSG and to drink more water.  Wish me luck!

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