Monday, May 21, 2012

The Reality of my Unbelief

Sitting on the floor, gathered around this loved one, I asked God to grant her healing. Then I sobbed. I knew the emotions were likely to present themselves in an ugly way. Deep in my heart, however, I knew/know that my feelings did and do not determine who God is.

I was invited to join a group of women to pray for my friend’s sister who lives in chronic pain. We believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God who heals our diseases. However, as the evening approached, I felt apprehension fill my heart. Would my struggles with unanswered prayer (more accurately: a big fat no to my request) hinder any power in this evening of prayer because of my anxiety towards the situation?

I truly do believe in an all-powerful, all-loving God who gives good things. It’s just that reality causes me to wrestle with some unbelief in my heart. When my dad died in February of 2008, I was faced with a choice. Would I blame God? (If He truly is all-powerful, He could have healed my dad from cancer like I requested.) Or would I run into His arms? (If He really is all-loving, His love for me remains even in my disbelief). Did His apparent lack of response to my pleading change the very truth I had always been taught? Do my feelings get to define the Truth?

I can’t help but think of my own parenting when I consider my disappointment with God. There are many times my children make a request that I am quite capable of granting. And while I love my children, I still say “no” a lot of the time to their begging and pleading. Blessed with more knowledge and wisdom then my kids, I know that not everything they ask for is beneficial. My children are quick to express their disappointment with the situation. It will not change the truth of my love from them. As a matter of fact, it may just be that in denying them their demands, love is better expressed than if I would grant their every wish. In their frustration, my girls may not be able to comprehend my love. This does not change my love.

How does this come into play when my Heavenly Father apparently ignores my appeals? Honestly, I still wish that my dad was here on this earth. There are many moments where I feel his absence and desire to have him share this life with us. However, the growth I have experienced in my relationship with God due to the loss of my earthly father is something I would like to believe my dad would have died willingly for. What greater desire is there for a Christ-follower than to know their children are walking in the truth? (3 John 1:4)

As I sat on the floor at the feet of this woman loved by the God who has the power to heal her, I shared my heart. Among these women-of-faith, I was faced again with my disappointment that God did not heal my dad in the way I had believed He would. What did this mean for the woman sitting there in pain? Did I believe God could heal her? Did I believe He would heal her? The well of emotions I thought had been dealt with sprung up fresh and in abundance. “Lord, I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:14-29) As my heart poured into prayer that evening, I didn’t know if God would choose to heal the woman our prayers were centered around. And yet, simply by praying, I was reminded that the power of prayer is not in our requests or the even the faith of those who are lifting them to God. The power is in the One we pray to. Just by asking, I am trusting and saying I believe He is who He says He is.

While I struggle with unbelief, I fill my soul with Truth and know that one day I will understand more fully. Until that day, I will continue to trust that in my immaturity, I cannot possibly understand my Father’s unconditional love. And yet, His love still remains. My feelings do not get to determine God’s love. For he is the very definition of love. (1 John 4:8)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Children Drive Me To...

The topic for May’s Hearts at Home Blog Hop is “How has being a mom changed you? For good? For bad?”

I never felt equipped to hold the title of “Mom”. When I first found out I was pregnant, I cried. We had been married for a few years, but the responsibility of raising a child was overwhelming. How was I going to prepare another human being to live in this world? It was hard enough to face each day on my own.

With my oldest now entering the preteen years, I still feel unqualified to raise my children. I’m caught up in the comparison game and berate myself constantly for the mistakes I make. When I tell my husband that I’m worried we are messing our kids up, he assures me that we are. “It’s all about damage control. We’re going to mess them up. It’s just a matter of how bad it will be.” God, I pray you will cover my mistakes in the same way you’ve covered all my sins.

Being a mom has completely changed my relationship with my God. Children have a way of driving moms to the arms of Jesus. The moment I held my firstborn in my arms, I understood a little more deeply the love God has for me. When my children run to me with their every problem, I think about the last time I ran to my Heavenly Father for help. As I wrestle with my desire to fulfill their every request in light of our financial situation as well as what is best for them, I think about the way our God desires to pour out blessings on our lives that much more. Even as I watch my children’s behavior, disappointed at the choices they are making, I find myself running to God with a desire to change myself. I had no idea that becoming a mom would make me so ever-dependent upon my Savior.  This is the facet of motherhood I am so grateful for.

While my relationship with God has been enriched through this role in my life, anxiety has increased. I never considered myself prone to worry. It just didn’t seem like a productive emotion. Ten years later, I find myself consumed with worry about the big things (like what school my children will attend and whether or not they will marry a man that will remain faithful) to little things (like the stomach flu and whether or not I remembered to pack everything they needed for the day). My need to control is not something I am proud of. The lack of trust I exhibit in the God of the Universe is disheartening. Still, even in my worry, I am forced to get real with my Lord.

Motherhood seems to highlight the worst in me more often than not. It is easy to beat myself up about it and allow guilt to overwhelm me. I may not feel equipped to be a mom but God entrusted me with three little girls that I have the privilege to raise for Him. What I feel does not define truth. When I find myself lost in a world of self-pity for not being the mom who has it all together, I simply need to find God’s Truth and allow it to transform my thoughts and actions.

Sometimes my children do drive me crazy. There are phrases out there that our children can drive us to do worse things. Our children should always drive us to the feet of Jesus. It’s the best place we all can be.

"But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image." (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Positive but not Pretending (in our marriages)

The words felt like someone punched me in the stomach. I was shocked. Really, should I be though? It seems to happen more often than not these days. My mouth hung open as my friend told me about another friend whose marriage has crumbled.

My thoughts spun as the tears flowed when I finally was able to process the information. While I haven’t talked to my friend all too recently, it doesn’t feel all that far in the past that our last conversation occurred. Did I fail her by not being there during the season that led up to this outcome? What could have been done to prevent it? Is there some way I can reach out now to let her know how saddened I am by this news? My heart hurts for her, her husband, her children... and honestly, for me. How is it that I never see these things coming? And if it continues to happen to so many people that I hold dear to my heart, does that mean my marriage can break, too?

I just read a post this morning about our part in helping not the unions of those around us. Author Sheila Wray Gregoire's second point about watching the way we talk about our husbands really struck a chord with me. Most likely because it is the area I feel I need to most work. As I’ve been thinking about her article and my friend’s situation, I can’t help but wonder if there is some sort of middle ground here.

Thinking back on this friendship, I cannot recall any moments where my friend spoke negatively about her spouse. She may have in the recent season where I became rather absent in her life... but it just doesn’t seem to me like she would have. Assuming she didn’t talk negatively about her spouse, how do you get from a point of no complaining to a shattered family? Is there some middle ground between speaking positively about our spouse and still being authentic about our life’s circumstances?

Do you assume that many around you have good marriages? Does it appear that those couples who greet you with a smile at church on Sunday have it all together? What about the people who display their affection publicly and often? I hardly ever question the status of marriages where couples share similar hobbies and get out often. Yet, they are all still at risk… including yours and mine.

I’m discouraged. How do we move from pretending we all have it together to getting real with one another? Where are we able to go to talk about the difficulties we have in our marriages and still be encouraged to stick them out? I’ve found it in my community. We’re pursuing marriages that honor God together and yet we are still real that we struggle. There are times where we’ve lost that loving feeling but we know there are covenants involved. We take that seriously and encourage each other to persevere. Do you have people you can surround yourself with who will be authentic?

Nobody has a perfect marriage. If we can just understand this foundational truth, I think we can be honest about our marriage struggles with trustworthy people. Once we are honest, others will open up as well. Where we can find authenticity and safety, we can find encouragement and growth.

So as we encourage one another to speak positively about our husbands, let's also be real. Tossing the complaining aside doesn't mean we need to pretend we have it all together. It simply means we need to honor God with our conversations. With the right community, we can share our heartaches and be encouraged to make marriages last all at the same time.
"Who may worship in your sanctuary, Lord? Who may enter your presence on your holy hill? Those who lead blameless lives and do what is right, speaking the truth from sincere hearts. Those who refuse to gossip or harm their neighbors or speak evil of their friends. Those who despise flagrant sinners, and honor the faithful followers of the Lord, and keep their promises even when it hurts. Those who lend money without charging interest, and who cannot be bribed to lie about the innocent. Such people will stand firm forever." (Psalm 15 NLT)

Great verse

"When I am overwhelmed,
you alone know the way I should turn."

- Psalm 142:3a

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

This year for Mother's Day, we chose to go to Blackberry Farms in Aurora. While the drive was much longer than I remember, it was a relaxing time together alone as our family. It is a goal of ours this year to implement more activities where we form memories with just the five of us together. Blackberry Farms was a great atmosphere for this!

The girls at the log cabin.

Waiting for the train. (Even though we weren't able to ride this time, there weren't very many people around. We were able to take the train two other times for a peaceful ride around the pond.)

I got to cuddle with these two cute girls on the train ride.
(Andelise rode with daddy.)

At the one room schoolhouse, the girls were able to enjoy drawing on slates with chalk.

We enjoyed the museums of a more peaceful time. I often wonder what life would have been like living in those days. Sure, it would have been harder in so many ways. Sometimes I question whether we are really better off with all the improvements that have come into our lives.

While Andelise was able to enjoy riding on the little tractor, her sisters were too big.

Jaycie and Ande both got to have a couple of pony rides while Nikelle watched with us. Unfortunately, Nike has just gotten too big for pony rides. Thankfully, she kept a good attitude and understood.

The girls were able to enjoy many rides on the merry-go-round.

I am so thankful for a day where I could truly enjoy being a mom. It was so nice to spend the day with my husband and girls making memories.

"This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

My Mom, My Mentor

My mom always taught me to be aware of the people around me. If there were girls who were new at church, my mom was there encouraging me to be the one to make them feel welcome. When it appeared someone was left out of the group at school, it was her voice in my head telling me to include them. It’s no wonder that I embraced the instructions of 1 Timothy 4:12 at a young age.

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” While I knew some people might look at me and brush me off as being “just a kid”, God said I could be an example to others. My mom gave me the confidence to embrace these words of Paul as my calling.

It shouldn’t be any wonder then as to why I went into shock at my friend’s insignificant comment the other day. Enjoying breakfast with some girlfriends, I was intrigued about a recent blog post another friend wrote. Courtney had just returned from a week’s vacation at a beach house commemorating her dear friend’s birthday. After a bit of inquiry as to how this came about, I expressed my delight in that type of festivity. “What an awesome way to celebrate a 40th birthday!” I exclaimed. “We should totally plan that type of thing for our 40th birthdays!” At this statement, one of my other dear friends turned to me, placed her hand on my shoulder and said, “Well, start planning. You’ll be 40 first.”

I stood there in disbelief, my mind began looking at each face present, mentally calculating my friends' ages in our present group. Was I honestly the oldest? When did I become the elder among my friends? As I tried to play it off with laughter, sarcasm, and some added drama, the comment nagged at my heartstrings. What was bothering me? I’m not even 35 yet. It’s not like I’m that old.

As I thought about my current stage of life, it hit me. It’s never really been a problem to know younger women were looking at me to be the example. I embrace that. However, I have always been on the lookout for a woman that I could ask to be my mentor. “Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.” (Titus 2:3-5) Who was the woman that would teach me?

Concerned that she had really rocked my world, my dear friend-for-this-life-and-the-life-to-come, who made the random comment, attempted to console me. I explained to her that my search for a mentor in my circles has been fruitless. Oh sure, there are older women in my world who have been examples and taught me. But I longed for the intentional type of relationship she is currently experiencing where the older woman instructs the younger.

That’s when I realized there is no need for me to search for a mentor. I have always had her in my life. However, recently, I’ve felt her absence. In caring for my elderly grandparents, my mom is not as easily accessible as she once was. In this season of life, I can’t selfishly dial her number on the phone knowing she will sit and counsel me for hours. When I need instruction concerning the difficulties of life, her ever-present wisdom is no longer readily accessible. Yet her life is still teaching me. Her actions are obeying God’s word as an example to others. “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. Do you have the gift of speaking? Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you. Do you have the gift of helping others? Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies. Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.” (1 Peter 4:9-11)

My mom has always been my greatest mentor. She has been my example since birth. Her wise words have always come with instruction, encouragement, and when necessary, gentle correction. Currently, I may not have ready access to her advice and guidance, but I am still watching her example. Even in this current season, her life points me to Jesus.

Thank you, mom, for always doing what God calls us to. It can’t be easy to become the caregiver to your parents. Yet you do it with God’s grace and teach your children through your example. I am truly blessed to have you as my mom, my friend, and my mentor. And I thank God that my girls have you as their example as well. I love you.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Encouragement from my Husband on Mother's Day

Deep in my heart, I know that things do not bring happiness. Still, I can’t help but experience some happiness as my fingers glide across the keyboard of my day-early Mother’s Day gift. This apparatus that allows me the freedom to type and save my heart has done something for my soul. While the thought of a laptop to call my own is a place I’ve often let my mind wander, it’s quickly been dismissed due to finances and practicality. It just seemed so unnecessary. We have a desktop in the family room that I have priority access to. How would one justify a laptop with those circumstances? I couldn’t help but feel selfish.

When my husband shared the idea of purchasing a laptop as my gift, I brushed it off. All too easily, I get lost in the abyss of thought with the computer, why make it easier for me? It is because this man believes in me and knows the importance of encouragement.
In a season where I’ve struggled to keep my fantasies of writing alive, this gift has ignited my passion. It’s amazing how a little encouragement can kindle the flames of hope. My heart has really wrestled with my lack of education (I never went to college) and comparing myself with others. When I see the perceived genius others display, I can’t help but criticize myself and I’m left longing for their talents. With each comparison and criticism, my aspiration deflates.

Life gets in the way. Little by little, the dream seems to slip through my fingers; farther and farther away from the reach of my hands. And yet it remains: a flicker of hope; the longing that, someone somewhere thinks my passion in something worth striving for.
I’ve convinced myself that my blog began as medication for my weary, hurting heart. It doesn’t have to be read by many. There is no necessity for popularity. All it need be is a safe place where I can run to clear my mind and remember that even though I am in this season called motherhood, I still remain an individual. My individuality as a Child of the Almighty God of the Universe still remains intact... even in the mundane. I still have dreams, desires and aspirations that belong to me alone. My life can still honor and bring glory to my Creator in it all.

“Mother” is a title today that entwined with my calling in a material gift. Sure, it’s just a laptop that I can’t take with me in the end… but for a moment, it has revived my dreams. Even though I was aware the gift was coming, holding it in my hands has fanned into flames the gifts I have been given. Even in my roles as mother, daughter, wife, and friend, I remain a child of God. All these relationships flow into one another centered on the Author of the Universe. And while I am in the season of motherhood, there will be durations where writing comes to a halt. That does not diminish the flame. It just needs to be fanned a little.
Today reminded of the important role we play in the lives of one another. A little encouragement goes such a long way. We never know when a dream is dying away in someone’s heart. When the struggles of life have made them question if they have lost themself entirely, we have the opportunity to sharpen, strengthen and spur one another on to good deeds… with a simple act of encouragement.

If you are in a season of life where you are lost and hurting, I pray you have someone to cheer you on. I hope there is a person who comes alongside you to be “Jesus with skin on” and remind you of who you are. Even in the darkness, our core identity remains. What is your identity?
“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:23-25 NLT)

“Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet each other with Christian love.” (2 Corinthians 13:11-12 NLT)

Friday, May 11, 2012

Settling for Book Club

A few years ago, some friends of mine realized that we all enjoyed reading. Why not form a book club? My girlfriend has been faithful in hosting our group on a monthly basis and I have really enjoyed our time together. I've also been grateful for the way the club has stretched me. My tendency is to stay with safe "Christian" fiction and authors I know I enjoy. This group of friends have introduced me to new books, new favorite authors and history lessons I never would have experienced without them. Besides the enjoyment I experience just being with these friends, Book Club gives me a good excuse to put everything on hold in order to complete a novel. Overall, this is one of the best experiences I've been involved in.

I just finished our current read... and I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated because we just completed another "secular" book that twisted my heart. More than one work of fiction has left me needing to "overlook" a detailed sex scene, immorality or unnecessary foul language. While I've still been able to enjoy the novels, I express my aggravation over this very thing with the group.

This book, in and of itself, is not what leaves my heart unsettled. But I have felt convicted and it's brought with it some anxiety that, once again, I need to speak up with my friends. Even in a group where I know I will receive support on this issue, I feel like maybe I'm just being overly sensitive? But isn't that the point?
Is there the possibility that with each book I complete, my heart is a little more desensitized?
Even if just a little bit, am I left questioning that God's standards are a little out of date?
In stretching myself with the books I read, am I also stretching my standards?

Am I settling for less than God's best because... that's just our world these days?
Just this past week, I had a discussion with another friend about the current series grabbing the attention of women all over the world. Honestly, I know nothing about the books. Other than the tidbits I grab here and there through the media or passing conversation, I wouldn't even be aware the books existed. Since I like to read, she assumed this would be a book I'd embrace. If for no other reason than common curiosity?

Friends, I don't think I'm a prude. I even read joined the Twilight Mania a little late in the game... but this is not a trend I will jump in on... with any amount of peer pressure. A blog that I've recently started following is called To Love Honor and Vacuum. Her post, Why Kindles can Wreck your Marriage, makes a lot of sense and she speaks what is on my heart.
I believe that we, as women, need to be careful with the reading materials that encourage our imagination. It has the potential of destroying our marriages and our lives. Do you think I'm just being a prude or do you agree that what we put into our minds effects the way we live? Let's encourage one another to guard our hearts and minds. (Proverbs 4 - Guard your Heart)
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thornbushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against that house, it stands firm because it is well built. But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.” (Luke 6:43-49 NLT)

Dear Friend,

When was the last time you asked for help?
(A question from (in) Real Life)

Dear Friend,
When life is hard, I want you to know that I am here to help. All you need to do is ask. Whether I am just a sounding board so you can work out your own thoughts or there is something tangible I can do to make life a little easier for you, please know you can ask for assistance. After all, that's what friends are for. You are not alone.

I like to give the appearance that I've got it all under control. You think I am strong and confident because that is what I want you to think. It is the image I work so hard to portray. My friends need to know that I am someone they can come to with their problems without worries of judgment. If we can't be real with our friends, who can we be ourselves with?
So, if friendship means we should be able to ask for help... And I give the appearance that I have it all together (at least that's what I like to think)... Are we experiencing real friendship? In not asking for assistance from you, my friend, I am not being real at all. Because girlfriend, I need help!

I need help. Deep inside, there are the same longings and insecurities in my heart that every woman experiences. I want to be wanted and cherished and needed. I want to know I am surrounded by a community of authentic friends. Don't you want that too?
Then... if you think I have no need for a support system, am I hurting you? I avoid asking for help because I don't want to be a burden in your already busy life... But if your call for help leaves me feeling exactly the opposite of burdened... If your request leaves me feeling needed, wanted and cherished... Can I assume that is how you would feel at my request as well?

Please forgive me for the false facade I've put on in front of you. The truth is that I need a friend at some point every day. At times, all I need is a listening ear or the acknowledgement that someone out there cares about my mundane day. Other times, I need your friendship to be "Jesus with skin on" because I simply cannot do it alone. Your help may be the only thing to bring a little sanity to my day... a reminder that I am not alone.
I desperately need your friendship. I want your friendship more than words can express. I cherish you with the love that Jesus calls us to. And I'm asking for help... because that what friends do.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I want more

I want more.

I've recently lost some weight. But I want the scale to show a greater loss.

I have family that loves me. Do they value me?

There are so many friends in my life that I struggle to get everyone on the calendar. Honestly, though, I want everyone to like me. It bugs me to think that there are people out there who truly despise me.

I'm back to running again. Still, I don't feel like I'm in shape. There's a nagging pain in my body. My clothes don't fit well either.

We're far from being in need. And yet, my mind jumps from one thing to the next that we could do... if only... we had a little more money.
My family is looking forward to a little trip to visit family where we'll surprise the kids with a stop at the Wisconsin Dells. But it's not Disney.

The house we own serves us well beyond our basic needs. That's right, we own it (well, shared with the bank anyway). And yet I dream of a 4-bedroom beauty with a library and an office all to myself (I suppose it would be nice if there was one for my husband as well). Oh, and I'd love it to be in the country...



Who doesn't want more?
Those who are without  their basic needs.

The grateful.
Those who have found contentment.

The few who know that none of this satisfies.
Those who have their eyes on Christ.

The only thing they want more of is Jesus.
To be in that place of satisfied contentment where all I want more of is Jesus... that is what I long for.

So in my wanting, I look to Jesus. When I find myself longing, I get real with a heart check on what I long for more. Through my discontentment, I seek God and His truth.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." (Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV)

"O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water... Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! ...You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night..." (Psalm 63 NLT)
"A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God. Since we entered the world penniless and will leave it penniless, if we have bread on the table and shoes on our feet, that's enough." (1 Timothy 6:6-8 MSG)

I was just reading Lysa Terkeurst's blog. Jump over there for a great read on Made to Crave for Young Women and The Boy Questions.

 Here's the verse she posted:

Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world — wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important — has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out — but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity. (1 John 2:15-17 MSG)
Fitting isn't it?

Monday, May 7, 2012

He Understands

I don't know where I got this from. Today, I found it written on an index card. I'd give credit to whoever wrote it if I knew.

"When you hurt, God hurts with you. When no one listens to you, God listens to you. When you wipe away tears of loneliness or frustration or anguish, in Heaven there's a pierced hand approaching a Heavenly face wiping away a tear."