On strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow


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One day this week one of our girls was observing a typical day in the life of mom and she asked me, “How does this not drive you crazy?”  And I told her it’s just what a mom does.  “Mom, I’ve been around other moms and they don’t have all of this going on.”  Again, I replied that it’s just what moms do. All of us have our own level of chaos. My husband was there as well and he said, “Jesus, honey.  Jesus is the reason your mom doesn’t go crazy.”  And isn’t that the truth.

It’s been hard lately, meeting the needs of each of our girls.  Our oldest has been walking through something extraordinarily difficult.  Our middlest has her evaluation for an education plan this week.  She very matter-of-factly told me yesterday, “Mom, I forgot to tell you-that woman has been observing me all week and I get my testing tomorrow.”  Well, this is huge.  I had no idea.  So last night’s bedtime was spent reassuring two of my sweethearts about things very different, but very big in each of their worlds.  Then our youngest, our sweet baby who just turned FIVE (which means she’s not technically a baby but I beg you to come at me with that because I’M NOT HAVING IT)… well, she has been feeling the strain of the week and has been tearful a few days in a row when it’s time to go to school.  One day I found myself feeling pressed in on every side-all of the needs of the girls, supporting my husband, caring for grandparents, and the Lord reminded me that… “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.” (2 Corinthians 4:7-11)

All of this- any of this- in my life is meant to reveal the life of Jesus to those around me.  It’s a daily practice, leaning into God’s faithfulness, trusting Him for the grace for each and every moment.  That word-practice-it’s important.  Because I’m not in the playoffs here, I’m still in the practice of it.  Each day is like running skills and drills.  Though I may grow weary, and my muscles might ache, I don’t need to lose heart.  These momentary and light afflictions are producing an eternal weight of glory.  Or, as The Message paraphrases it, “So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

I’m reminding myself here, friends.  God has what we need for each day.  He loves us, He is for us, and He is always faithful.  We may not have this, but He surely does, and that is what gives me peace.  He’s going to give us strength for today and a bright hope for tomorrow, because GREAT is His faithfulness.



Faithful: My 2018 Word of the Year


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I asked God to give me a word for this year.  I’ve never done it before, but I felt like it would be good for me-help me to focus.  Of course, Jesus.  But even with Him, I need to filter things.  Following Jesus offers so many different opportunities and I need to sift through them all somehow. Pretty quickly, FAITHFUL rose to the surface.

FAITHFUL to Jesus… seeking Him out, spending time in His Word, listening for the Spirit.

FAITHFUL to my husband…loving him and pursuing him.  Faithful to forgive him and honor him with my words and my actions. Faithfully finding adventure and joy with him, for him, for us.

FAITHFUL to our children… speaking words of life over them, to them, about them.  Faithfully training, loving, and forgiving.

Being faithful is hard.  Not all of these things come easily for me, particularly speaking life.  Commiserating with other moms feels SO good sometimes, but I have to be careful! The only way any of this is possible is because of our faithful God.  If He were not walking faithfully with me, faithfully loving and training and forgiving, faithfully speaking life and faithfully listening, all of my darling ideas would be abysmal failures.  He is faithful to offer grace-when I know I need it and even when I don’t.

Being faithful doesn’t often grab attention. It’s when someone who HAS been faithful ceases to be faithful that it’s noticed.  If I didn’t faithfully wash my children’s clothing, they would notice.  They are grateful for the clean,  folded laundry (or at least the clean laundry they can pull out of the basket), but they really do expect it to be there.  I have failed to be faithful in this at times, when I’ve been ill or caregiving for Grandma and Grandpa has had to be more of a priority.  Someone has to pick up the slack for me, usually my husband and sometimes our oldest.  So in this year of faithful, I will fail.  It’s what humans do.  We sing that there is no shadow of turning with Thee, but oh! are there shadows of turning with me. My own lack always points to the faithfulness of the Father and the sufficiency of His Son.

He is FAITHFUL to bring the stars out each night… FAITHFUL to heal a wounded heart and offer wisdom to the exhausted mother.  He is FAITHFUL… with strength for today and hope for tomorrow.  He is FAITHFUL… when the heads of state and governments change and fail and act unjustly… He is unchanging and always just and never failing. He is FAITHFUL to be present.  He will never leave me – or you.

So this is my year for FAITHFUL.  I want to continue with what I’ve begun.  I don’t know that I can add any more to my plate, to be honest.  I’ll be facilitating a class Sunday mornings at church.  I’ll be continuing as a caregiver for the grandparents. I’ll love my husband and our family and try my hardest to be healthy.  I want to keep writing.

Where He has placed me, I want to be FAITHFUL.

Have you asked God for a word for your year or does this seem totally weird to you?  If you asked Him, what has He shown you?  Praying each of us can seek Him more this year, and know that we will indeed find Him FAITHFUL.

On things that help me grow


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With the new year coming up, I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite things, things that draw me a little nearer to God and help to mature me in my walk.  I used to be really anti-resolution but then I realized that it’s never a bad idea to better yourself.  So, whether you make a resolution in January or June, I say go for it.  Here are some things that have helped me along the way.  If I knew how to post fancy links with photos I would, but I’m just gonna do my best here.

She Reads Truth…Because having a beautiful study book and emails that remind me to read up has been HUGE.  I also have the app.  You can do a study right in the app and it’s less expensive, but for a sensory fool like me the big and gorgeous book is the way to go.  The creative team for SRT is spot on.

https://read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B0078FA8HU&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_YcapAbFTM4X7R“>Love Does, by Bob Goff…This book came along when I was burnt out and weary from just doing all of the right things.  I think for anyone who’s been in the faith for awhile, you know what I mean.  This breathed fresh life into me.  It also really informed the way we choose to parent, intentionally involving our kids in fun capers and creating opportunity for adventure.  From the book…“Living a life fully engaged and full of whimsy and the kind of things that love does is something most people plan to do, but along the way they just kind of forget. Their dreams become one of those ‘we’ll go there next time’ deferrals. The sad thing is, for many there is no ‘next time’ because passing on the chance to cross over is an overall attitude toward life rather than a single decision.”

https://read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B010R0KPFC&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_9kapAbVVQMTRP“>Adopted for Life, by Russell Moore… I read this book as we were entering into the process of adoption research.  This book, and it’s explanation of the theology of adoption along with the author’s own story of adopting two sons from Russia, is what the Lord used to shift us from infant adoption to foster care.  I continue to listen to Dr. Moore’s voice as an even and measured tone in these inflammatory times.  From the book…“When we adopt—and when we encourage a culture of adoption in our churches and communities—we’re picturing something that’s true about our God. We, like Jesus, see what our Father is doing and do likewise (John 5:19). And what our Father is doing, it turns out, is fighting for orphans, making them sons and daughters.”

https://read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B001E2NXDO&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_gqapAbPT6WG93“>The Ragamuffin Gospel:Good News for the Bedraggled, Beat-Up, and Burnt Out, by Brennan Manning… This book was the first “Christian” non-fiction book I had ever read.  And it stunned me.  I understood that no amount of performance would qualify me and that all of the mess that I was, was not too much for Jesus. I began reading this and I felt at home.  This was good news for me.  From the book… “We should be astonished at the goodness of God, stunned that He should bother to call us by name, our mouths wide open at His love, bewildered that at this very moment we are standing on holy ground.”

https://read.amazon.com/kp/card?asin=B00PCJVW06&preview=inline&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_fzapAb5Q0SHZY“>Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging, also by Brennan Manning… While Ragamuffin Gospel told me I belonged, I learned just how much I was still hiding when I read this one.  The words I read touched deep woundings and were so used by God to draw me into a more honest and vulnerable relationship with Him.  From the book… “In a futile attempt to erase our past, we deprive the community of our healing gift. If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”

Now, just because I loved these books doesn’t mean I endorse every word that has ever been written or spoke by the authors.  The longer I am in this race, the more important I find it to learn from voices that are all over the spectrum.

What about you?  What books or study tools have been helpful for you?  I would love to hear from you!


On the day after Christmas


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Well, here we are.  The wrapping has been destroyed, the figgy pudding has been consumed, and the family memories have been made.  I’m writing this the week before Christmas, so let me share with you the idyllic memories I believe we will have made…

We have Christmas celebrations scheduled for Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday (Custer, Hess, Custer, Zimmerman…and another Zimmerman one to come).  At each of these celebrations, our daughters will eat carrots and turn their noses up at the array of desserts.  They will share freely with their cousins the new toys they receive, and they will gaze lovingly upon each other at every turn.  I, of course, will eat a Paleo diet through the whole week and only drink water.  My skin will glow and my denim will be loose.

Orrrrrrrrr not.

Anyway, I’ve come to realize that I’m going to be one of those weepy moms that cries about her kids growing up. I honestly love being a mom. And seeing how much each girl grows and changes from Christmas to Christmas has me feeling a little verklempt. After bedtimes recently I have even suggested homeschooling all three of them. We did it once with our oldest. And my husband barely looks away from football or Seinfeld and says, “Why would we do that?” Then I remember the immense relief I feel most Monday mornings and relent.

But moms of littles, while I know enjoying every moment is impossible, just know that while 5 years old and under can have some drawbacks, it is just the sweetest time. And 6-11 or so is just so fun. We’ve hit 12 with our oldest and it’s like there’s another adult at the game table or in the kitchen and I can hardly bear it. She’s told her sisters, “Don’t wish away your younger years, guys.” Go-lly.

Our youngest asked lots of pointed questions about Santa this year so I told her the truth. My husband hadn’t known this and he mentioned something about Santa only to have our 4 year old say, “Dad, Santa’s dead. Mom told me.” I got a little side-eye on that one. “Dad, there used to be a real Santa but he died and now the others all pretend so we remember him.” So I’m sorry if my daughter takes my retelling of good old Saint Nicholas and turns it into “Santa’s dead” for your kids.

I hope that, today, you are able to sit with a cup of coffee (or water or hot tea or hot cocoa) and take a few deep breaths.  Let the kids watch some t.v. or play on their new device for a little-because hopefully, they’ve had LOTS of face to face interaction over the last few days.  Give your whole tribe some grace, and receive some yourself.  We have one more celebration today, so tomorrow will be my day to sit and decompress.  My prayer for each family during this season is that you can appreciate the time you have with each other.

Just a few more days til New Year’s Eve! Maybe this year we will stay up til midnight like the wild and crazy party animals we are… only time will tell.



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I wrote in my last post about the very careful choices I’ve had to make this year, in order to come out from under depression.  And while those choices can sometimes be difficult to make every day, I am loving the rewards.  I’ve lost some weight, I’m seeing relationships come back around and be better than ever, but the best thing for me has been JOY.

I think it was when were were on our first family vacation this summer that I realized something had shifted.  The noise of the cabin (we were with my family) didn’t make me want to run.  I wasn’t sitting to the side feeling like I had nothing to contribute (which was never true, only now I had perspective).  I had an Aha! moment … I was actually enjoying myself, and enjoying our kids, and my siblings, and their spouses, and their kids.  Another family vacation found us spending lots of intentional one-on-one time with our girls…boardwalk bike rides, walks to Starbucks after dark, arcade games.  I had the energy and the desire to have fun and it was like seeing the world all over again.

It’s at the Christmas party where I can sing loud and be silly and not feel so dreadfully aware of what other people might be thinking of me.  It’s in the little moments each day where I feel the peace that comes right from Jesus course through me.  I am ALL HERE for the joy, friends.  And if you’re thinking, “Well, she’s a Christian and the joy of the Lord should be her strength even in the hard times,” I am here to tell you that depression is an odd bird and it’s not as simple as you think it is.

I am grateful for joy, you guys.  I am astonished by it each time I feel it.  We sing about it this season, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”  I think about the weary soul rejoicing this season and that’s mine, friends. That joy was preceded by the thrill of hope. But that thrill of hope was only thrilling because I had felt hopeless.  I think about how dark it gets before the dawn, how just when hope seems most elusive it can rise to the top.  I am not some flighty girl who finds amusement in simple things because I am simple… I am a woman who has walked through the wilderness and emerged with a fought-for joy.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays.  Praying the thrill of hope finds you where you are.

On reflection, changes, and choices


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One afternoon, almost a year ago, is when things began to change for me.  I suppose it had all been in motion for awhile, but it really came to a head that December afternoon in the very middle of a department store.  There were relationships in my life that were not healthy.  I had not been taking care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually.  None of my clothes fit me anymore. So I found myself in a fitting room under fluorescent lights, and a little worse for the wear.

It was a hard place to be.  I hung up a shirt I had tried on, a size or two bigger than what I wanted it to be, and I just felt sad.  All of the things just sort of hit me in that moment.  And I cried.  Have you ever been in that place?  Maybe not a fitting room, but a closet when your kids are going crazy, a bathroom when you just need one moment to yourself, in your office, in your car at school pickup, laying in bed at night?

I looked myself in the mirror and said, “You are not helpless.  Knock it off and change something.”  I would like to say that the initial motivation to be healthy was spiritual but honestly, it was mostly rooted in anger and insecurity.  After about a week I realized this time wouldn’t be different than any other time I tried and failed if I didn’t dig out the root of this junk and do the hard work.

So it’s been a year of hard work.  Healthy eating, exercise, devoted time hearing from God, intentional friendships, having more realistic expectations of myself and others, and taking an antidepressant.  I’ve had to learn who I am all over again.  I read that this happens to some of us in our mid to late thirties, when our kids are growing up and we come out of the exhausted baby phase.

I’ve written this multiple times, in more detail or with different angles shown, but I feel like now is the time to share these words in this way.  Maybe it’s because resolution time is coming.  Maybe it’s because someone else is feeling the same way and just needs to know it really can be ok again.  I don’t know.  But here’s what I say to the tired, lonely, hurting moms…

You need to take care of yourself.  No one is going to give you a gold star for having the cleanest house, most neatly folded laundry, or matchy-matchy kids.  Christ-following ladies?  Jesus Himself stepped out of the fray and spent time with the Father. You are not better than Jesus and you need to rest too.  I look at you with compassion and love and wish I could come to your house with coffee for you and melatonin for your children.  But I can’t.  You can get yourself some good coffee, though.  And you can do some research on melatonin.  Make time for yourself.  Make time for God.  You and I cannot do this life on our own.  There are days when we look at our kids and think that surely there is a better mother out there for them, but can I tell you something?  God didn’t think so because He gave those kids to YOU.  Make a doctor’s appointment if you think you are depressed.  I did, and I am so glad.  Everyone around me is, too.

There were days and weeks when I slipped up, when exercise didn’t happen or I ate crap food or I didn’t communicate well with people around me.  I will need to actively choose health for as long as I’m here and I won’t always do things right.  I am so grateful for the grace of God in my life-that He knows I will fall and is there to pick me up.  He’s wherever we fall.  He’s the one who causes the rising, and the one who keeps us up.  He’s been faithful to me, and I know He can be for you, too.

I was in that same store just a few days ago.  I walked past the dressing room that saw my tears, and I thanked God for not giving up on me.  He’s good to us, friends.  He hasn’t given up on you, either.

On royals and happy distractions


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The other day I saw the a headline that read something to the effect of “Prince Harry and Meghan to spend Christmas with the Queen at her country estate.”  I loved that.  It had zero to do with politics, zero to do with the chaos that is this world.  And listen-I know the whole taxation without representation thing but honestly?  Sometimes I wish we still had the royal family.

Speaking of the royal family, I have been debating watching The Crown on Netflix.  Has anyone watched this? I didn’t do Downton Abbey but I did love Call the Midwife. Is there any laughter in this show or is it all high royal drama?  I have a pretty strict rule about my entertainment these days.  I basically want no Armageddon/defending your district/end of the world/terrorist movies or shows.  I live in that, thank you very much, and prefer a distraction.  Give me your recommendations.

The other day I got a call from the school, “Hi Mrs. Zimmerman!  Please don’t worry.  We just wanted to let you know that (our middle daughter) had a bit of a mishap at recess.  Her coat got caught in a swing and ripped open and all of the feathers flew everywhere.  So, she’s coming home from school with her coat in a bag.”  First of all, that child jumping from a swing in a cloud of white feathers is pretty much her dream come true.  Secondly, it was a gorgeous Gap white puffy coat but since I only paid about $5 for it at a thrift store, it was not a huge deal to me.  We went to get her a new coat and she was sadly dismayed by the lack of white puffy coats and while the pink and blue chevron wasn’t her first pick, she’ll just have to make due.  I love this child.  She brings the whimsy and Lord knows I need help with the whimsy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… if you are feeling a nudge to share a kind word with someone, please do.  I’ve gotten a message or two this past week that have profoundly impacted me.  I listened to a recent message from Matt Chandler (pastor of The Village Church in Texas) and one thing he said that has really stayed with me is this: being joyful is going to be one of the most important apologetics for Christ-followers in this season.  I have to agree, and am grateful that the Spirit helps me when I cannot choose it on my own.

We are closing in on Christmas, friends!  How are your plans coming?  Did you just vomit at the thought or are we still good?  I think that’s about it this time around.  I hope someone offers you kindness today, and I hope you have some to give away.

On community


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There are times when our small community feels too close to me.  The school and church crowds overlap, there is family around every corner, and at times it feels like it’s all pressing in.

I sat at our kitchen table the other day with a friend who finds herself in a similar situation, caring for children AND caring for parents who have recently moved in.  She’s a go-getter, this woman…a world-changer and an inspiration to me.  We’ve known each other for a long time, lived in the same church family, and are now able to put our heads together and dream about what supporting the sandwich generation in our own community needs to look like.  She came with a cup of coffee and we swapped stories and brainstormed, and it was life-giving.

Church attendance for me has been iffy in this season.  My husband is a pastor, so I’m by myself on a Sunday morning.  Getting three kids out the door, getting Grandpa up and ready, AND breakfast for the whole crew is a task. Plus, we can’t leave Grandma and Grandpa alone for any extended amounts of time, so this puts me in a tough spot on Sundays.  One week I just went to pick the kids up at the end of the morning, my in-laws having taken them to church for me. I walked in the lobby and saw everyone conversing and felt a loss. The next Sunday I was able to get in for the second service of the morning.  Just having the chance to sit in the service and sing and be taught by our dear friend was enough to get me all misty. Our families are close-our kids play together, go to school together. Hearing him share his heart-his hard-fought battles, and from God’s word, was such a gift. This is community.

So this past Sunday, I was up by 6:30 to get the whole process started so I could get myself and our girls out the door by 9.  We did it.  I came home to check on the grandparents during the morning and went back to church again.  Why?  Because being in the midst of this community became very dear to me when it became very difficult to make it happen.  Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that…

Being part of any community is filled with the good stuff and the bad stuff.  There is awkwardness, there are hurts, there are difficult people (I can be one of them, ahem)… But there are people who know you, who help you raise your kids and help you grow your faith.

I’m glad I belong somewhere.  I’m glad that I can see a friendly face at the school program, the grocery store, the gas pump, church… I’m grateful for the hugs and how-are-you-really and even just the knowing glances.  And my mom is grateful for this too, because she can only imagine how much more I would blow up her phone if I didn’t have anyone else. Lord have mercy.


On the non-precious moments


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There are plenty of precious motherhood moments, and then there are the non-precious ones.  You know what I mean?  Look, the joy I find in motherhood is a fought-for thing. It’s not easy.

We have three wonderful, verbal, leadership-gifted, emotionally aware, justice loving girls.  I am an introvert.  You guys, there are so many words in our house all day long that some days my word bank cannot receive any more words.  No more deposits, please.  Mom needs to hide in the bathroom.  Also, I think this might be why I blog.  I need to spend some of the words.

Two of these children share a room.  One is a packrat, one is a minimalist.  This is lively.  I keep telling myself that the world will thank me some day for this, as they will be able to room with opposites in college, in marriage, etc.  If the world could thank me ahead of time, I think that would be great too.

My hope is that their conflict resolution skills as adults will be stellar.  They will be corporate mediators.  They will be trial lawyers who win the big cases.  They will be working at the UN and will solve the nuclear crisis because there are some days that feel like the nuclear crisis around here.  They’ll have had practice.

I actually uttered these words the other day to one of my children… “Child, you cannot just say ‘boom-shaka-laka’ to your sister and walk away from her.  This hurts her feelings. ”  Other words I have uttered include, “If there is any more fighting over _____, I will take it and you will owe me the money we spent on it.”

I am happy to say that wading through all of the moments above has led us to some pretty cool places.  In amongst the weeds, we have found some beauty.  We are seeing girls playing games without fighting, giving up their turn with the cookie dough bowl to a sister, scraping pumpkins to get the seeds for the sister who really wanted them, helping each other clean their rooms… Those moments are gold.

We’re learning to find humor in the non-precious moments around here, too, because if we can’t laugh, we might just go crazy.  Hoping you can find the ability to laugh at times, too, mommas.



Weekend roundup


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I don’t know how this has been working out, but our weekends have been pretty peaceful.  After we got back from Florida in November I felt like I had fallen behind-Thanksgiving came and here comes Christmas and I was prepared to feel behind all season long.  But somehow, it’s not been like that.  I can only say it’s got to be Jesus, because we have had Grandpa come home from rehab and be significantly weaker, we have had sports, we have had ministry stuff, we have had family commitments, but in some ways I feel like God has been stretching our time.  Our weekends have been fairly peaceful.  The oldest took a nap this afternoon and upon waking up said, “Mom, I just realized that weekends are for resting!  Like, our whole week is busy and so we need this time to rest.  Weekends are awesome.”  Love it.

We’ve been baking and playing games and enjoying each other.  I think one of the reasons I feel so relaxed is that this year we decided on doing more experience gifts than little odds and ends.  Our girls are so blessed to have so many extended family members bless them with gifts that we decided to try something different on our end.  The result has been beautiful.  Stress free momma and daddy and a whole lot less wrapping.  I am so stress free that, one night, the kiddos got to eat dinner in the living room and watch their own shows on their Kindles.  (They had to earn those Kindles by creating an atmosphere of kindness in the house-which does not mean they are always kind but that they are trying harder at it.  Also, Cyber Monday deal. If anyone is interested I can post about the way they had to earn them in another post.) We never eat in the living room, and they hadn’t had any screen time all day. It was like Disney up in here.  I was LOVED and APPRECIATED and my children rose up and called me blessed.

We have had stress, but it’s like I was sharing with a friend, I feel like the orange has to get squeezed if you want the juice, you know what I mean?  Hope your weekend had some goodness in it, too.  Happy Monday!