Entitlement run amok

I am all fired up this weekend over this article about USA Discounters and how they are fleecing military members.

Apparently, military members are automatically approved for credit to purchase all sorts of items in the store. If and when the service member defaults, USA Discounter sues them in the state of Virginia per their contract.

Military members are crying foul because USA Discounters has found a loophole in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) that says plaintiffs can sue, but SCRA doesn’t state a location for the legal action to take place. Consequently, USA Discounters is suing military members in the company’s home state, even if the service member is out of state. And to add insult to injury, they are winning judgments.

Here’s the part where I won’t make many friends:

Too stinking bad.

If you are old enough and wise enough to sign a contract to put your life on the line in the military then I am thinking you can navigate a rent-to-own or loan contract.

And let’s just say, for giggles, the legalese is more than you can handle, then you have 2 FREE services available to you on a military installation. You have JAG (for the civilians reading this is the Judge Advocate General…the lawyers) or Fianancial Readiness. Either one of those FREE establishments is more than happy to help you navigate the wording.

The Financial Readiness office will even do one better. They will sit you down and go over your budget and the pros and cons to what you intend to do. (I can’t speak to what JAG does short of reading the contract because I am not affiliated.

The above referenced article is about the indignation of a SPC and his wife who are being sued by USA Discounter. Apparently they went in to purchase a washer and dryer, but left with a computer, a TV, a ring, and the washer and dryer.

Seriously? What the heck? A ring?? Who NEEDS a ring? For that matter, who NEEDS a TV or a washer and dryer?? I know, what an inconvenience to go to the laundry mat, huh?

The thing that gets me the most is the sense of entitlement of anyone, not just our service members, who feels they don’t need to pay their debt. Businesses have NEVER been about philanthropy. They are trying to make money.

And when you take a company’s product you are expected to pay for it. I get there are extenuating circumstances to lots of different scenarios, but I am speaking to this one. Military members have FREE services on their installations (I think I might have mentioned this already) so there really is no excuse to claim ignorance.

I’m siding with USA Discounters on this one.

Color-blindness and complacency

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Like the rest of America I was surprised by the Zimmerman verdict last Saturday. I was not shocked however. To me the verdict had to turn out this way because our justice system is a game of semantics, even when a young man has died. I don’t have a lot of faith in our justice system all the time, but that is a commentary for another post.

I am not going to debate the race card, but I will tell you I went through a myriad of different emotions regarding race since Saturday night.

I am a white American. My heritage includes Italian and Irish ancestry. There may be others, but quite frankly I don’t care. I am an American first and foremost.

You conjured up a picture of what I look like just by the my ancestry, didn’t you? Maybe you even snuck a look at my picture just to verify the “facts” I presented. It happens. We can’t help it.

In America, we work in stereotypes, good, bad, or indifferent.

I can’t help that I am white anymore than a black person can help their skin color.

I can, however, help how I treat others. That brings me to my point.

I have wronged people of color. Not in the Paula Deen sense, but in my complacency.

I am color-blind and assume others are too. I teach my children that skin color doesn’t matter.

We live in the deep South which is rich in civil rights history and I educate them on the atrocities of our American heritage. They are justifiably horrified.  They know it is never right to treat any human being in that fashion EVER.

Clearly not everyone is color-blind. Color, and the subsequent racism because of color, affects people of color EVERYDAY. I have been ignorant of that fact.

Let me say, for the record…I am sorry. I am truly and deeply sorry for not acknowledging that.

Once upon a time in a land far away from where the white girl (now woman) currently lives there was a meeting of 2 young girls. One was white and one was black.

“Hi! My name’s Melissa!” said the black girl with her pony tails and bright smile.

“Hi! I’m Jennifer!” replied the white girl.

The beginnings of a beautiful friendship ensued. Unbeknownst to the white girl, though, the black girl had struggles. Her family struggled with the friendship. Her school friends struggled, too.

They persevered in their friendship though.

Years later, the white girl named her first born after her best friend. The black girl was the white girl’s maid of honor.

As they became adults the struggles started to take their toll on the black girl. She lashed out at the ignorance of the white girl who adored her. She was convinced that the white girl was prejudice in some fashion. What she didn’t understand was that the white girl didn’t know how to be anything but white. She could sympathize and be there for the black girl, but there was no way to bridge the gap.

The final straw to their friendship was the first election cycle of Barack Obama. There was no way the white girl could be anything but a racist if she didn’t vote for Mr. Obama. There was no way the black girl could see this was not a race issue for the white girl.

The black girl called and railed against something the white girl posted on Facebook. The friendship ended. It had been limping along for years at this point and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The white girl was “unfriended.” She was devastated. This had been their 3rd argument as adults about race. This seemed so final. The white girl wanted to understand, but it is hard to truly “get it” without being that person.

It has been years since the white girl has heard from the black girl and the pain is still raw. She is crying as she types this because she misses her friend so much.

I am not a racist and never have been. I have just been blinded to color. As I wrote in a comment on a friend’s blog: “It is easy to be color blind when you are the color of the favorite Barbie doll.” Shame on me.

The week I held my breath

IMAG1794I rarely posted about The Man’s deployment over the last year for security reasons and because I didn’t feel strong enough to endure the backlash I would receive if I was perceived as whining. I am ready to discuss how we survived, thrived, hunkered down, cried, you name it.  Put your seatbelts on because this may be a bumpy ride. 

 

The last week The Man was in country was probably the worst week for me hands down. I didn’t sleep, plus I ate everything not nailed down.

I wasn’t nervous about his impending redeployment or the reintegration.

I was terrified that this would be “the week.”

I didn’t want the doorbell to ring and when it did I was nervous. I didn’t want to look out and see the Army uniforms waiting for me to open the door to an impending life change.

At night I would think through the process. Trust me this is never a good thing to do when you are all alone and it is dark.

Those of us who have lived through a deployment know what I am talking about here.  We have read the stories of soldiers making it to their last week and then getting killed. Ugh.

Unfortunately, I was witness to the aftermath of a devastated family who’s soldier went on a 2 week pre-deployment “trip” and never came home.

Anything can happen.

I slept with my cell phone on my nightstand. It was the first thing I grabbed in the morning to check for an email. All I cared about was the email that said, “Alive and well.”  Roger that.

And that last week is excruciating. I prayed every night and especially hard when I knew he was making the trek to the airport. I breathed easier once he was out the country.

And I have slept like a baby since he’s been home. I even got a nap in one day.

I know The Man can get die in a car wreck while he is home. I get that. There is just something about the possibility when he is away that seems daunting.

The ugly truth about reintegration

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It sucks at times. Yep, I said it. I know you all expected wine, roses, and laughter, but sorry not this time.

This is our 5th time reintegrating and I dread EVERY SINGLE second of it.

This time is different because of the ages of our kids.

And our dynamic as a couple is different because of what we both endured separately.

Our little guy is really struggling. He does NOT want to share Dad with anyone. My heart breaks for him. He struggled the whole deployment with separation anxiety. He was very nervous today that The Man would leave to run an errand without him. I, being the stellar mom that I am, had a “tone.” The Man asked me to not be annoyed sounding. That is difficult since I have lived with this for a year. Most of the time it breaks my heart, but sometimes it is just wearing. I have NEVER forgotten him anywhere and never would, just for the record.

The Man has been home 4 nights and the little guy has been in our bed 2 of them. He is not sleeping or eating well. Who knew?! I had a different expectation. I thought the little guy would be less stressed.

I feel myself being one of those annoying people who is always checking to see if everything is okay. I am always asking, “do you need anything?,” “can I help you with something?,” “is it too much?” Ugh! I hate feeling like the ground has shifted beneath us.

The Man likes to take care of me. He likes to put gas in the car. He wants to “do things,” but the reality is that it makes me feel incompetent, like I somehow failed.

Take the new dog. The Man mentioned over FaceTime, before he came home, that Max is out of control. My feelings were hurt because we had been taking the dog to dog obedience and I thought he had made great strides. Granted, he is still a tad hyper, but I can’t help that. It is his personality and he will grow out of it at some point and calm down. But I find myself worried sick that The Man will not like the dog and I burdened him with another animal for the next 13+ years.

We did so much better over the phone. Yep, I said that too.

I know in 6 months we will have a semblance of order and I will be praying for a TDY (means temporary duty assignment…a trip somewhere).  In the meantime, we have to get through the awkwardness.

Our last reintegration was even more difficult. The Man came home with a newfound appreciation of our Catholic faith. He had always been more faithful than his wife, but this was beyond what I could imagine.

And I couldn’t really complain to my friends that I hated the fact that my husband was religious because seriously how can that be bad, right? Well, it was excrutiating for me.

It took about a year for us (okay me) to come to terms with things and get it together.

Reintegration is hard and painful. The Man has to get use to the madness of 3 kids and 2 new dogs.  I have to remember that he is an introvert by nature.

Pray for us please.

Homeschooling through deployment

I had a girlfriend ask me how I managed to homeschool 3 kids while my husband was deployed. She seems to think I have magic powers or indulge in some good wine.

No to the magic powers and yes to the good wine.

Seriously, though, homeschooling is NOT always easy. Somedays it runs smoothly, others I long to push them toward the yellow bus at 6:50 a.m. and call it a day.

Everyone approaches homeschooling differently. It is whatever works for your family. I know that doesn’t help my girlfriend, but it is how it is.

The one thing I would say is get rid of the “school” mindset. If you seriously want to homeschool then you need to give thought as to why.  We like the flexibility of the schedule. We like being able to study what we want when we want. I like being able to move ahead with a child who would otherwise be bored in school.

I maintained a “school” schedule for a few years. I put together lesson plans and required the kids to cross off the work that was accomplished. They loved seeing what they finished. The backlash to that was that there were items on the lesson plan that didn’t get accomplished.  Stress set in all around.

I was upset because they didn’t finish all that I set before them. They were stressed because of my overzealous planning.

So we have taken a break from “planning.” That is not to say I don’t have a plan. I do. I just don’t share it obsessively with the kids.DSC06660

I am happy that we get religion, math, reading, and writing accomplished everyday.

And please don’t mistake that we don’t do social studies or science because we do. We just read and write about it. We write A LOT in our homeschool.

We even use computers and tv in our homeschool. Remember the days of movies in school? Yes, we were taught by tv at times. Why do we think tv or electronics are evil? They aren’t inherently evil unless you are just watching junk all day. We use YouTube videos to teach history, Netflix has amazing documentaries, and the kids know to search Google for the answers they are looking for. We even have our Catholic Mass daily readings on the internet, along with the Saints of the Day.

How do YOU manage more than one child’s needs at a time?

This is not easy, but I remind my children that there are 3 of them and one of me. I usually set the girls up with something they can accomplish on their own and work with the little guy. He can get through his work in about an hour and then I get to work with the girls one-on-one.

When the little guy was younger I didn’t put him to task. I believe in free play and imagination. That isn’t to say he didn’t learn his A-B-Cs or counting or how to write his name, but overall he played near us while the girls “did school.” When he felt like joining in then I engaged him, but 3 & 4 year olds need time to be 3 & 4, in my humble opinion.

Confession time here:  I give that advice in hindsight because quite frankly I was overwhelmed with how I was going to handle all three. The little guy was “playing” near us and learned so much more than I consciously taught him. I am still amazed at my “teaching abilities” hahahahaha

Which brings me to another point…you don’t need to beat concepts into a child’s head. Repetition is a good thing. Songs are a fabulous way to learn. I do believe in memorization.

How do YOU get anything accomplished?

Well, this is a sticking point for me. I struggle daily with reminding myself that homeschooling is now my J-O-B. It is a decision we made as a family. Unfortunately, I have not always been onboard with this decision. I WANT to do “my thing.”  Then I remember I have lots of time to do “my thing” later in the day when the kids are done with schoolwork.

The challenge has been homeschooling with a deployed husband. “My thing” didn’t happen sometimes until after 8 pm and it wasn’t always a good time.

To me life is short and I have to remind myself daily that this time in my kids’ lives is not going to last forever. I feel I am making a positive difference in their lives by homeschooling. And I like them.  Yeah, I love them, but I LIKE them. They are fun and interesting.

Do I worry about my age and what happens later?

All the freakin’ time, but I have met some amazing ladies who are reinventing themselves mid-life so I am even more encouraged.

Bloom where you are planted

There is a lot of hoopla from military spouses about the lack of career options available and what the Department of Defense (DOD) should do about it.

The latest article on this subject has me thinking.

The author writes that the DOD doesn’t want soldiers to have spouses who have hard charging careers. She even goes so far as to imply that the DOD is nefarious in their indifference to the working military spouse plight.

Me and my soldier

I am not sure about their literal intentions, but I am sure that having 2 hard charging careers is not an easy feat.

I say this from the perspective of “been there, tried that.”

Someone will always cede to the other.

If there are children or elderly parents involved it is usually the non-military member who picks up the slack in a family. The service member doesn’t usually have the option to “call in sick,” “take a personal day,” etc.

When you marry a servicemember you married someone who has dedicated their life to PUBLIC SERVICE. Yes, they receive a paycheck for that service, but their job is usually a “calling” as the author of the article states.

 

Blessings

 

I distinctly remember thinking that the American people are always blessed by the 2-for-1 of the presidency.

Think about it…the First Lady is not paid per se, but she is out there working on her “issue” or putting on a good face for the President’s sake.

And let’s be clear here, our First Ladies haven’t been slouches. They have been educated with their own careers. The men they married knew they had goals, dreams, and ambitions. That was probably one of the reasons they fell in love with these ladies in the first place. At some point, though, these ladies have said “okay, I’ll do it.”

And I am sure they were apprehensive about the situation also.

The spouses over at the State Department who follow their husbands or wives on assignment have the same issue with taking a backseat.

We aren’t anything special as military spouses in that regard then.

 

Being special is a state of mind

 

What does make us special is how we embrace the suck no matter where we are. We can be miserable and lament the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” or we can make lemonade.

What’s it going to be? 

I had this discussion with a girlfriend who is fighting this battle. I pointed out to her that maybe this is the place she is suppose to be. She has started a successful online business and met a ton of other talented military spouse bloggers. If she had a different life she wouldn’t have the experiences she has now.

So why are you struggling with embracing where you are now?

Why not MAKE something of the place you are instead of waiting for that next PCS or even retirement?

And here’s a thought let other military spouses know that you “get it” and they aren’t alone.

Whatever you do, though, don’t feed on the ugly or you will be stuck there and won’t be able to move forward.

My 2 cents on Ketchup-gate

IMAG1743I just had a conversation with a girlfriend this morning about Ketchup-gate. For those of you out of the loop Ketchup-gate started when a reporter from  The Washington Post wrote an article about closing commissaries to save money. He made reference to the “15 types of ketchup” on the shelves.

My girlfriend didn’t understand the angst I was having because I am financially-savvy (thanks for the compliment by the way) and this would seem like a way to sort of rein in expenses. The military has gotten a tad bloated with their programs…we both agree on that.

I don’t necessarily disagree with closing of the commissaries and getting a benefit from a local store (my girlfriend thinks this is a great option).

What I do take issue with is the portrayal of military life.

Specific things I take issue with:

  • The assumption that the military member isn’t a taxpayer
  • The misrepresentation of our lavish lifestyle
  • The fraud, waste, and abuse that is not reigned in
  • The bloated contracts of DoD contractors

My husband has federal taxes taken out of his pay every month unless he is deployed. We file a federal tax return EVERY year. In reality then, we, the military family, are also paying for our commissary benefit.

The statement in the article “The cost of ordering the goods, filling the shelves and checking out customers is all borne by the American taxpayer.” is inflammatory and misleading. Military members pay taxes just like every other American.

The lavish lifestyle we lead is such a farce. Do we get paid well? I can’t complain overall about my lifestyle (unless my husband is deployed), BUT that is because we have learned to live in the confines of the income that is provided.

Anyone can live on 1 income if they HAD to. Most of our population will protest this and that is because they can’t then buy all the “stuff” they want or feel entitled to. We make choices in life.

Furthermore, I would LOVE to meet the Captain in the military who is bringing home (net pay) more than $90,000.00 this year.  Oh, yeah, that’s right he is probably in a WAR ZONE. The author claims “most captains” will bring home this pay this year. That is UNTRUE.

Most captains will certainly not bring home this salary. An average captain with 6 years in the military has completed a bachelor’s degree and has been working her way up the ladder. That captain will gross $5362 in base pay, $242.60 in a food allowance, and will earn a housing allowance commiserate for the part of the country they live in. Do the math. That doesn’t equate to a net pay (after tax) of $90,000.00.

Fraud, waste, and abuse has been rampant in the military, along with the bloated contracts of DoD contractors.  I will give you a few examples here just from the Iraq war.

  • Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq – $9 billion of US taxpayers’ money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.
  • Lost and Reported Stolen – $6.6 billion of U.S. taxpayers’ money earmarked for Iraq reconstruction, reported on June 14, 2011 by Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen who called it “the largest theft of funds in national history.” (Source – CBS News) Last known holder of the $6.6 billion lost: the U.S. government.
  • Missing – $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)

Want more? Here is the link to the article.

Again, I am not opposed to cost-cutting measures.

Disparaging the soldier, sailor, airman, or marine who has been serving their country with a lot of sacrifices is a travesty.

I believe there are many more areas that can and should be scrutinized. What say you Rajiv Chandrasekaran?

Just A Mom

Slide1I just finished watching the season finale of Amazing Race with the Littles. Yeah, we are a tad behind, but in my defense it was 2 hours long and Friday night is the only night where I let the littlest Little stay up that late.

We were so psyched that Bates and Anthony won, but then the Roller Derby moms spoke. Ugh!

“We are so much more than moms.”  “We got our lives back.”

Hmmmmmm…..

I had to pause the DVR at the first quote to tell the littles that being a mom is a great and admirable job.

I paused again at the next quote, 3 secs later, to tell them they will encounter this attitude throughout their lifetimes.

One minute women are screaming to have children and the next they are lamenting the fact that children change their lives.

Really, girlfriends?  Aren’t there enough books out there in this day in age telling you that tidbit?  How did you miss the news??

And why the heck is being “just a mom” such a bad choice?  Don’t we want “the right to choose?”

Well, I choose this path so I would appreciate it if you would stop demeaning my choice. I don’t demean your choice.

And before you get your pretty panties in an uproar, let me remind you that I was the mom with a career for quite a few years. I get it. I wanted to set the world on fire too. Every hill was a battle to win or die on. I hear you roar. I really do.

Here’s the thing though, I have CHOSEN a different path…one that works for my family. I have CHOSEN to have more children and I feel I owe them the best of me. And the best of me isn’t working 50-60 hours per week chasing a buck. The best of me is not trying to beat the clock.

When did we decide that motherhood is such a miserable life choice?

Did you CHOOSE to have children?  CHOOSE to adopt?  Then why is it so bad to be known as their mother?

The Roller Derby moms on the Amazing Race spent the whole race telling us how they wanted their kids to be proud of them…until the end. Then they essentially flipped them their middle fingers and said “yeah, I don’t want to be remembered as a mom.”

Why not?

What does it mean to “get your life back?” Isn’t this the life you chose when you decided to create a family?  I am confused.

Even if you didn’t plan your pregnancy down to a science you still CHOSE to bring life into this world. Good on you. Now step up and let your kids know that you are happy to be “just their mom.”

I’m curious how many of you MOMs who “want their lives back” or don’t want to be “just a mom” would feel if your husbands said “I don’t want to be just so-and-so’s husband” or “I can’t wait to get my life back.” I don’t know about you but I would be hurt and upset. Think about the message you send to your kids every time you express those feelings. I know you probably don’t really mean those things and you would lay down your life for your kids, but why hurt them with your words.

I challenge you to revel in your motherhood today.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Maximizing Time

TimeMy husband will be home on R&R soon. He may even be here while you are reading this.

The kids are so excited. They haven’t seen their dad in 9 months. Chew on that for a while.

I am filled with excitement, nervousness, and dread.

Dread? you ask.

Yep. Dread.

I dread the “expectation” of R&R.  The “expectation” of the fun-filled time we should be having.

Unless you have lived this lifestyle you will not understand so I will do my best to explain it to you.

I will use a recent post from my Facebook page as an example.

I posted that I purchased new light fixtures for my master bath and couldn’t wait for my husband to come home and install them before the painters arrived.

A very well-meaning girlfriend posted that I could install them myself. Why wait? Besides, we should be having FUN while he is home.

Now, I KNOW I can install the lights myself. After all I have done many amazing things while my husband is gone, but I am not interested in doing this.

This friend didn’t mean to stir up a hornet’s nest of emotion inside me, but she did nonetheless.

  • Am I a “bad” wife for wanting my husband’s help with this?
  • Should I let him have a full-on vacation and we get back to our daily lives when he is gone?
  • What about ME??!!

Part of me feels guilty now that I have a to-do list for him to help me through.

And now I feel like I should justify it by saying it is not remodeling the bathroom or a full on remodel of any room…we are in need of a raised garden bed, bunkbeds need bunking, and the yard needs more TLC.

The other part actually feels resentful that I feel guilty.

I’ve been busting my hump back on the home front by homeschooling our 3 littles, taking care of both cars and a motorhome, saying hello to a new dog and goodbye to an old one, plus getting us through a broken leg incident.

There is so much more to cover, but you get the picture.

So cry me a freakin’ river that I am not planning FUN 24/7.

Another one of my girlfriends reminded me that my husband actually wants to feel “needed.”  She brought me back to a neutral place, thankfully because I was spiraling with feelings.

My husband and I discussed this very thing awhile ago.  He sees his role as the protector and provider of our family. And the way he shows his love is through Acts of Service.

Here’s the other thing about R&R that EVERY military spouse thinks about:

What if he/she leaves and I never see them again??

Ugh, right? Well, it is what we think about so maximizing our time is even more stressful.

So I am going to kick the guilt to the curb and let The Man take care of us for a couple of weeks. In turn I will provide him all his favorite meals.  That and a few other things wink, wink will make him happy.

The Green-Eyed Monster

DSC06306I took my car to the dealership a while ago to have a couple of things looked at. The littles packed up their schoolwork and brought it along. We were unsure of how long we would be waiting.

While in the waiting room, 2 older ladies started chatting with me about the fact that I homeschool. One of the ladies indicated that she wishes her daughter would homeschool, but she can’t because she has to work.

I found myself apologizing for my good fortune. This happens a lot when someone with “less” makes reference to my abundance. I am annoyed at myself for apologizing and I am annoyed at the other person for making me feel this way.

Here’s the thing, I have had “less” in my life. I feel extremely blessed with my current lot in life.  It wasn’t a cakewalk getting here, make no mistake.

I made many sacrifices over the years to get where I am currently. I was a single mother without a college education. I didn’t accept welfare as an option, but chose to put my child in childcare for upwards of 50 hours a week. I decided I wanted a different life for her than what a welfare dependent life would give us. That’s not to say I didn’t accept WIC when I was in dire straits.

I didn’t vacation.

I didn’t have the latest and greatest car. My first “new” car was a 1988 Hyundai Accent that didn’t have a/c or power windows because that would have pushed my car payment over $200 per month.

We shared a bedroom for 6 months with one of my so-called friends before I could afford a 1 bedroom apartment of my own. My oldest got the bedroom in said apartment when she wasn’t visiting her father.

And no, marrying my husband wasn’t my ticket out of my situation. Truthfully, he could barely afford his car payment and credit card bill when he moved in. What changed my life was finally getting my college degree 15 years ago.

What my girlfriends have said

I had a friend who argued with me that my life is blessed because of my skin color. I was so offended by that. She dismissed the fact that I could possibly know anything about hardship because I was white. (I can’t apologize for that too…I am what I am) 

This friend grew up in a stable home with 2 parents who helped her whenever she needed it. She wasn’t married when she had her first child, but she lived at home. I didn’t have that luxury.

I had another girlfriend who told me, years ago, that she was tired of apologizing to people for her husband’s rank in the military. He worked hard for it and she shouldn’t be ashamed over it so she isn’t.

I want to be like that. I want to NOT be uncomfortable when I discuss my opportunity to stay home.

How I see it

Because that is what I equate this to, an amazing opportunity.

I don’t begrudge someone else their success. Truthfully, I get a tad envious that I am not doing more.  (Have you seen those blogs by homeschooling moms?! Holy Hannah! I am behind the power curve for sure!)

Any words of wisdom? Thoughts?

Sometime after I wrote this post I went off to church. I know I should have been really focused but for some reason a thought popped into my head. It wasn’t just MY hard work. Nope. It is by the grace of God that I am where I am today. He gave me the ability and the opportunity and I ran with it. I was remiss in not giving credit or thanks where credit and thanks are due.