Bricks Without Dang Straw

Husband and I were talking the other night about how hard this adoption thing is.  So.many.decisions.  We are so limited right now, are we even supposed to do this?  Where from?  What agency?  What program?  Boy or girl?  How to pay for it?  If a boy, then we have to move.  How in the world is that even an option?  So much work.  Ugh.  Ugh.  Ugh

Whine.  Whine.  Whine.  We thought we would just get pregnant and have a baby the old-fashioned way.  (Still super glad I’m not pregnant, but for real, would have made this third child thing pretty easy.)

Whine.  Whine.  Whine.  Why in the world do we feel like we’re supposed to have 3 kids if we didn’t get pregnant?  Why have I always wanted to adopt if it’s going to be IMPOSSIBLE?

Whine.  Whine.  Whine.  I can hardly handle the 2 kids we already have.  Am I crazy for thinking someone will give me another one?

Whine.  Whine.  Whine.  Too much work.  Too hard.  Forget it.  We’re not adopting.  Decision made.

Then I read my stupid (I mean, awesome) YouVersion plan.  Exodus.  Lame.  It’s like being in Redemption Group all over again.

Bricks without straw.  Are you kidding me?  How in the world can we make bricks without straw?  Um, well, we sure didn’t make a baby the easy way, so it looks like we’re gonna go the without straw route.  What the hay (haha pun intended) am I talking about?  Well you see, back in the olden days of Exodus, Israel was stuck in Egypt as slaves.  Pharaoh said they had to make bricks for him.  Then he got mad because Moses and Aaron (well, God really) asked him to let the Israelites go.  So he said, make bricks, same as before, but get your own dang straw.  Oh and hell no you’re not leaving.  (loosely paraphrased by me)  How in the world could they be expected to make the same amount of bricks as when Pharaoh was supplying the straw if they had to get their own straw??  (If you’d like to read the actual version, Exodus 5 is where its found.  And I’d recommend reading it…I may have left some stuff out).  And what did Moses and the Israelites do?  Whine. Whine. Whine.

So, yeah, on the very night that Husband and I are like, no way are we doing this adoption business.  Too much work.  Too much money.  Too much time.  Too much hassle.  No fair.  We want the easy route.  Funny that I think pregnancy would be the “easy” route…seeing as it would have been the most painful thing I would have ever had to do.  Crazy how easy it is to convince ourselves that the other side of the grass is greener.

Well anyways, I read Exodus 5 that night and realized that maybe, just maybe, God is asking us to make bricks without straw.  Seems impossible.  And we’re not real happy about it.

A couple days later I had another grand revelation.  Here it is with the setup first, because that’s how I roll and this is my blog.  We have been looking at our finances.  We’ve been looking at how will we move if God wants us to adopt a little boy.  And looking at the two of those, there is no way in the next like 10 years that we can adopt.  Impossible.  Literally.  The money just isn’t there.  We cannot afford to move, especially since we have a 2nd mortgage to pay off, a different car to buy (3 carseats just won’t fit in a Jetta), a truck we can’t sell, a down payment on a new house to save, and an adoption to pay for.  We’ve been thinking about it anyways hoping we can find the steal of a lifetime and so we went driving around looking at houses and land.  It was a nice drive, except in the back of our minds we are getting more and more depressed because we realize that it just isn’t an option.  There is literally no way we could make it all work.  And then the revelation came.

Only when things seem impossible is there room for God to do really big God-sized things.  If there is any human way to work it, then we get the glory.  When things seem impossible He gets the glory.  This is where faith grows.  Only when the rubber meets the road are we able to see if we really believe what we say we believe.

Bricks without straw.  A third child without a third pregnancy.

No idea how the story ends.  Faith that the story God writes for my life is better than the story I would write for myself (per Steve Mizel, Trailhead Church).

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We Fight Hard

Fight Club.  It’s this crazy little thing that we do at Trailhead.  Men do it.  And we wanted in on the action.

I absolutely love my fight club.  I think that fight clubs can seriously help change lives.  Only Jesus changes hearts, lets be clear about that.  It takes a little community, a kick in the pants occasionally, a freaking ton of encouragement, a beer or two, some ice cream and sugar, a lot of life, and a lot of talk to help the heart changed by Jesus make its way to the outside and stick.

It seems like this crazy secret non-equation kind of thing.  A little on the ethereal side.  And in a way it kind of is.  It’s mostly just Jesus changing hearts.  The Holy Spirit counseling us.  And God orchestrating people into a fight club that has the right connection.

I’m gonna let you in on how we roll.  This is how me and my girls work.  This is how we fight.

There are three of us.  (Three is ideal, four could work.)

Our husbands are also in a fight club together.  This works well so that husbands and wives can’t leave things out.  We integrate life and fight club (meals together, events together, and general life together).

Nothing is off limits.  Seriously, nothing.  We can ask any question of each other and discuss any topic.

Sometime we just hang out.  We once took a road trip (and by road trip, I mean 30 minutes) to Victoria’s Secret and bought lingerie.  We take fighting for our marriages very seriously.

We like to meet every other week.  Weekly, every other week, or monthly could work…depending on your group.  Some seasons are easier than others to be consistent, but we do make fight club a priority.  Logistics vary depending on the week.

We serve each other.  Keep each others kids.  Work on each others cars.  Sew for each other.  Etc, etc. etc.

Everybody talks at every meeting.  We dive right in.  Don’t start with the lightweight stuff.  Go straight to your biggest sin or biggest hurt.

No giving advice.  The goal is to ask heart questions that go to the root sin.  Ask questions about God’s character, about what is true, about what God’s word says, about the lies that we’re believing, or any question that Holy Spirit leads you to.

No pushing Scripture.  Yep, you read that right.  The goal is not behavior modification and if you start pushing Scripture as a way to force me to change I’m going to want to throw the Bible at your face.  Please do not use the Word of God as a method for changing my behavior or proving me wrong.

(Getting out box.  Climbing on box.  Soap box declaration, loud and clear:   There is a surefire way to instantly anger me and that is using Bible verses as a means to an end.  A lot of legalistic old school churches use this methodology and I have a serious sore spot for it.  Please for the love of God (literally) DO NOT give me a Bible verse and send me on my way to shame me into “memorizing this verse and change my behavior”.  If I could change my own heart and behavior by memorizing something I WOULD HAVE ALREADY DONE IT, folks!  Only Jesus changes hearts.  ONLY JESUS CHANGES HEARTS!  He can and absolutely will use his Holy word to do it.  But you preaching and forcing memorization and unrelated verses on people will not change hearts.  Possible soap box end.)

Use Scripture.  There is a fine balance in using Scripture that the Holy Spirit leads you to and pushing Bible verses on someone.  (Soap box again: Please remember that just because God uses a certain verse for you in a given situation does NOT mean that he will use the same verse for someone else in an apparent similar situation.)  I do believe that His truth will set us free and if he is leading you to a passage of Scripture for someone then by all means share it and pray that God will open their heart to his true words.  We absolutely point each other to Scripture and to truth.

Once a quarter or every 6 months (if your group is husbands/wives) we meet altogether.  This gives me an opportunity to say, hey guys, is Husband bringing “_________” issue to you?  It’s sort of a check-and-balance among the group.

Jesus changed heart.  That’s what we love.  That’s why we fight.

It’s hard freaking work.  We are broken.  We cry.  A LOT.  Every time in fact.  We are new.  We are being made new.  Fight clubs help us to sort through things in the loving caring supporting trusting fighting truth-giving grace-showing bounds of a tight community.

Seriously, Jesus changes hearts.  Hearts that I wasn’t sure could be changed…like my own heart.  Fight clubs are seriously painful and amazing and healing.  You should get one.

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What 2 people come to your mind?  Are you scared to death to ask them?  Sweating, nervous, cringing?  Probably means you should ask them to fight with you.  (You might want to send this this link so they don’t accidentally take you to a dark basement and punch you in the face though.)

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On the Edge of Crazy

You know I had a counselor once that said a very wise thing.  It’s something that I have gone back to on multiple occasions.  It doesn’t change my circumstances, it doesn’t fix anything, but it does make me feel a little less crazy.  Are you ready for it?

Paraphrased: You guys are in the hardest season on your lives.  You’re parents of young children, at the bottom of your pay scale (hopefully), running your own business, and away from your family.  You are doing more work now than any other season and more work than most people.  (Her words not mine.)

I mean seriously, anybody else get super tired of waking up thinking, well, once I get out of this bed there will be no stopping.  I will literally have something that needs to be done (and then some) every waking moment that I have.  I will never get caught up.  I will go to bed with the same stuff on my list as the night before and then some.

As I type I look at my disaster of a kitchen and 2 loads of laundry on the bed (unfolded of course), the dryer just dinged, and the washing machine is still running.  Does it ever end?  I’m afraid not.  I’m pretty sure it’s the curse of the earth.  Everything fights against us, including those “sweet” little beings that we birth.  It’s a good thing kids are cute.

I’m a task-oriented extroverted person so maybe this is harder for me than it is for some of you.  Maybe this is me being forced to continue learning the never-ending lesson that people and experiences are more important than perfect, clean, and completion.  In fact, maybe I’ll start retraining my mind (insert sarcasm), “Self, look at it this way, with all the added things to do you get to create more check-lists, you get to check more off, there is more opportunity for organization” (end sarcasm).

I know.  I know.  “Treasure these years.”  “They grow up so fast.”  “They’ll be gone before you know it.”  Blah blah blah.  One painstaking day at a time and it sure doesn’t feel fast.  It feels slower than molasses.

Yes yes I know.  This could be the depression or the hormones talking.  Tomorrow I could quite possibly wake up and regret writing this.  But, truth be told, this represents more than just today.  Now, I don’t always feel so miserable or resent it as much.  And mostly I’m happy to be where I am.  I’m not jumping off a cliff or anything (so family, don’t lose any sleep over this).  But I do get tired.  And I’m guessing this is normal??

Another opportunity to preach the gospel to my own heart.  What in the world does that look like?  Heck if I know.  In my head it sounds like these questions.  Am I putting others’ interests before my own?  Is this bricks with no straw (more on that in a later post or read Redemption).  Has God given me the tools that I need?  Am I alone?  Is God’s story for my life better than the story that I would write for my life?  Also, I spend a lot of time praying what I’m actually feeling and thinking instead of pretending to God that I’m enjoying everything that I have to do or pretending that this is easy.

Practically speaking, I really am trying to retrain my mind.  Which usually sounds like this, “Self, are you going to want to do this later?  Um, no, idiot, I’m not.  Well then, do it now and get it over with.  (little kid mimicking voice) You do it now and get it over with.”  Or it sounds like this, “C’mon, just do it.  Just finish folding this basket.  Just finish one more thing.  Just look at this 12 inches.  Now, just look at this 12 inches.”  Or “OTIO.  Only.Touch.It.Once.  C’mon don’t move it, put it away.  OTIO.”  Also you should know that in my head it sounds like Oh-Teeeee-Oh.

End rant.  Sorry everyone.  That’s what today felt like.  Thank goodness my momma is coming in the morning!

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Any other moms of young kids feel crazy like me?

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The Facebook Effect

We had a snow day yesterday.  And today.  We did and made some really fun things yesterday and I have high hopes for today as well.  The problem is the facebook effect.  I feel like I need to get my phone and snap a pic and update facebook every time I do something great.  Facebook makes it totally okay for me to brag.  I mean seriously, if we had real conversations the way we do facebook conversations we would probably have a lot less conversations because no one could tolerate us.

I think facebook has tainted the way I interact with my girls and Husband.  I do things for the sake of the picture and the status.  I think I have lost some of my ability to just enjoy the experience and be grateful for the opportunity because in the back of my mind I’m busy planning the facebook status and picture album.

My 30 day facebook fast is over, but it still has a pretty profound effect on me.  I rarely check facebook.  I unfollowed a lot people so even when I do check facebook it takes me a whole lot less time.  And I actually like it this way.  Sometimes I think about checking facebook and honestly, I just don’t want to.  Can you even believe that??  I literally don’t want to check facebook.  ha  I really thought “those people” were crazy.  I mean, c’mon, people without facebook accounts.  Losers.  That was surely the only explanation.

One thing hasn’t changed in regards to my facebook habits.  I still want the attention.  Lame, I know.  I still want to post things on facebook simply to get the affirmation and attention.  Those comments really drive me.  Yep, I need attention and affirmation.  On the inside, I’m pretty much a 5 year old saying, “Watch me!  Look at me me!  See what I can do!”.

So how do I answer my heart question.  My heart longs to be known and adored.  I think that we all have that same need.  And I’m pretty sure God put it there for a reason.  Am I good enough, cool enough, a good enough cook, a good enough crafter, a good enough picture taker, a good enough wife and mom even if no one else sees what I do?  Is it enough to have the experiences and the thanks of my girls and Husband?  Is it enough for me to be pleased with myself and to know that I’m doing what God asked me to do and created me to do?  Or do I still need facebook and outside affirmation?  Welllllllll, obviously, the right answer is that I should be completely satisfied in God and that my own satisfaction and the thanks (which c’mon is hit or miss) from the girls and Husband should be more than enough affirmation.  But sometimes the right answer isn’t the true answer.  Acknowledgement is the first step right??

How do I (and you) balance sharing our lives, via facebook, pinterest, blogs, etc, with not looking to the online world to fulfill our need for acceptance and affirmation?  Because the truth is that facebook will never satisfy any need I have.  And yet, some days I still wish it would.  It takes a whole lot less effort than actually having real relationship with God and the people in my life.  Relationships where I have to share the good and the bad and where I have to listen and not just talk and where I can’t just shut it down or log off when it’s not going my way.

And the irony is that I have set up my blog to automatically post to my facebook and chances are that I won’t change that.  So at the end of the day, I’m still using facebook.  But, hopefully it won’t be where I find my acceptance and affirmation.  That’s Jesus’ job.

PS – I still really want to share what all we did and made yesterday because it was super delicious and super fun.  But I won’t.  I’ll refrain.  But hopefully if I have a real relationship with you I’ll get a chance to share it.  It may be an awkward facebook moment of sharing, but hopefully you’ll have grace on me for it!

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Why do you use facebook?

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Solved the Mystery

Too much Huckle at my house…hence the title of today’s post.  Busytown Mysteries, anyone??  I may reference too many TV shows on here.  I may be giving you the idea that we watch a lot of TV.  And that’s because we do.  And I probably should have some guilt, but I don’t.  And it’s like I’m giving you a glimpse into our world every time I share a reference to a show.  And maybe you feel better about yourself because you don’t watch as much TV as we do.   And you’re welcome.  End rabbit trail.

I get asked fairly frequently who my little Bear looks like.  And to be fair, it’s pretty obvious that it’s not me or Husband.  Nor does she look like her big sister, so I certainly understand the question.  In fact, I kind of laugh because we get asked so often.

So, I’ve decided to post a picture to solve the mystery.

Here she is, the family member that Leah most resembles…drumroll please…my little sister.  She’s awesome and we love her.  We even love her more than Huckle and even more than all the TV shows combined.  She’s a pretty amazing aunt.

Also, my mom, the comedian, likes to tell people that she has grandchildren that look like both of her daughters…except I birthed them both.

My sister is so fabulous.  So fabulous, in fact, that I’m hoping she might not kill me for posting her picture without asking.  She is so cool.  And so fun.  And so smart (except she’s actually super smart…way smarter than me).  And super kind.  And super full of grace.  So much grace that she’s going to forgive me really quickly for this!

I love you, sseeeeeesssssttttttttteeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrr!  (Please don’t be mad at me!)

But for real, don’t they look alike???

Love these girls
Love these girls

Holding Tight at 4 & 2

Folks, you read that right.  For right now, we’re holding tight at 4 humans and 2 dogs.  Not sure if or when that will change.  It could change at any given moment.  And seeing as I’m the world’s worst secret keeper I’m sure I’ll let you know in about 10 seconds once it changes.

No freaking clue what we’re doing as far as adoption goes.  Maybe someday we will.  For now, we’re content with 2 little girls.  I may have even had a minor freak out moment the other day and told Chad in the utmost of seriousness that there is no way in this world we can possibly adopt a girl.  Basically because I refuse to raise any more children with double sex chromosomes.  Three daughters???  Not in this house.  We already have 4 double sex chromosome carriers here…Me, Banana, Bear, and as Bear will always point out, Lizzie (the dog).

And he pretty much ignored me because that’s what he does when I’m clearly being ridiculous.  Although to be fair, I don’t actually realize that I’m being ridiculous in that moment.  It’s not until later that I realize it may have been my double sex chromosomes talking and not so much logic, reason, or the love of Jesus.  (And, no, I can’t for the life of  me seem to figure out why my little Banana feels all her emotions so strongly.  Hmm, now where would she have gotten that from?  **finger tapping on head**)

So imagine my surprise when THE VERY NEXT DAY, yes you read that right, less than 24 hours later God decides to speak to me.  Not audibly, but c’mon, I usually know when its Jesus talking and not my ridiculousness.  He pretty much whispered to me, while I was filing papers and had a giant mess spread all over my bedroom floor (because it’s ok if it’s my mess), that I may have been thinking a little selfishly.  I mean, I may lose my temper occasionally, and not let the girls help when cooking as much as I ought (their mess just stresses me out, folks.  I mean, do you know how long it takes to clean up flour??), and I may not be perfect (hard to believe, I know), and I may not have a clue how to do this motherhood thing, but I am a mother and I do love my girls and surely I’m a better mom than no mom at all.  Could I really be so selfish and ridiculous to think that some little girl would rather stay in an orphanage with no mom or dad than to come live in an imperfect house with an imperfect mom, dad, and two sisters that would love her like crazy.  Love her like Jesus.

So I had to tell Husband the next night that maybe we could still adopt a little girl.  After all, I may been overreacting a tad and I might have been a tad on the ridiculous side.  He may have rolled his eyes at me.  This is why he’s Mr. Steady (or Steadfast as he says…I tell him he’s not Jesus so he can’t have the Steadfast title).  And I’m Mrs. Roller Coaster.  Raising a mini-roller coaster (or two).  Maybe I’ll adopt another mini-roller coaster.  All the ups and downs might make us puke, but who knows maybe we’ll be the funnest house on the block.  And we’ll be so much fun that we’ll say funnest even when we should say most fun.

Oh my goodness, it’s a good thing that when God adopted me it was for LIFE.  And that my ridiculousness won’t get me kicked off the ride.  It’s for life and beyond.  He is steadfast.

And until something changes, us 4 double sex chromosome girls are gonna stick together have us some fun (and drama and yells).

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Are all girls dramatic or is it just my house?

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Since U Been Gone

Ok, so that has nothing to do with this post.  But that song just keeps running through my head.  Pitch Perfect, anybody?  And now you’re singing it, aren’t you?  You’re welcome.

So, I got a job.  A very part-time job.  I set my own hours.  Accounting and office stuff.  And I sleep with the boss.  This is either going to be the best job ever or we’re going to hate each other.  Wish us luck.

We actually incorporated which is just business speak for more paperwork and more numbers and new accounts.  Just the reason to need more office work and more to do to keep the paper side of the business running smoothly.  Enter nerdy wife.  And I get a REAL paycheck!  I write it myself.  ha  Every woman’s dream, right?  Well, I do have to actually log my hours and answer to my husband so I’ll let you weigh out the pros and cons.  For right now I’m super excited.

I actually really love paperwork and accounting and bookkeeping and excel.  You know why?  None of those things can talk back to me or spit food on me or destroy my house or scream in my face.  However, they also don’t run up to me first thing in the morning and yell, “SURPRISE!  I LOVE YOU!”.  You know you gotta love the emotions of my 5-year old strong-willed child.  When she feels emotions they’re strong and when it’s love directed at you…it’s just the best feeling.  It is not so much the best feeling when she’s angry, yelling, and stomping her feet at you.  I’m telling you, she feels every emotion STRONGLY.  End rabbit trail.

I’m a working girl.  I realize that I’m a mom and I work and I’m productive every single day raising two small children, keeping 2 dogs alive, and keeping up with my husband’s insane schedule.  But I really do like being productive at something that I’m actually good at, something that I actually have a degree in, and something that makes me feel like I know just a little bit and that I might know what I’m doing.

And in case you just met me, like 5 seconds ago, because I don’t hide this at all,  I pretty much have no clue what I’m doing in this whole motherhood deal.  I have a lot of opinions, sure, but I have a lot of doubts and a lot of moments of winging it.  Yes, for a type A, excel, budget-loving girl, I wing it A LOT in motherhood.  A LOT.  Shocking for a planner like me.

Not sure at all how I ended up here.  Lots of little rabbits in this post.  It’s like a puzzle for you to figure out.  See, a gift.  I gave you a puzzle.

To sum up, I got a part-time job.  I am now officially employed by Stuehlmeyer Building & Renovation Company.  We sat down and decided that we would pick the business name with the most letters.  And I think we succeeded.  Enter rabbit: in case you didn’t know…my husband is amazing.  He can quite literally fix everything, build anything, and make the existing better.  He does great work.  He recycles almost every material that he can.  He’s trust-worthy.  If you need something fixed, built, or improved, he’s your guy.  We’re in the process of switching over our website and branding, but for now you can visit us at www.sr-stl.com .  End sales pitch.

And I don’t know what I’m doing in motherhood.

That pretty much sums it all up.

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What is your favorite color?  ha  That’s just a rabbit to see if you’re actually reading all these words.

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What to do?

What do you to when life is kicking your rear?

When your hormones and ovaries are still all good and jacked up?

When you and Husband own your own business and there are more things to do than hours in the day?  Difficult decisions, hard work, long hours, and responsibility that weighs more than you thought?

When you’re raising a strong-willed child and you’re at your wits end?  When you realize that parenting isn’t all its cracked up to be and all the wisdom you had before you actually had kids was a freaking joke?

When you are so tired you feel like a bus ran you over, not once, but like five times?

When you can’t catch your breath and wonder if the weight will crush you?

When there are relationships to be maintained and built?

Where there are more dreams and goals and hopes than it seems like one person should have?

When there are paths to be walked and forks to be decided on?

When you know all the “right” answers and verses?  When you know the “right” words to say and think?  When you know the “right” things to do?  When the “right” things don’t really seem to make a difference?  When the “right” things don’t seem to make the mundane any easier or clearer or manageable or doable?

I don’t actually know.  But here I am.

Hoping and praying that His mercies are new every morning.  I know the “right” answer.  I know they are.  Every. Morning. ??  I know I made it through today, had to have a nap, meds, and Husband grilled out for dinner.  But we did it.  I lost my temper and yelled.  I withdrew.  I repented and then apologized.  I have hope for other people.  I completed a big task that I was putting off.  God was there all along.  It sure didn’t feel like it.

Gonna sleep tonight hoping for new mercies in the morning.  I need them.  I need new mercies in the morning.  Not that my day or world will be easier, but I believe the mercies will be there.  And I believe that God will help me believe.  Thank goodness.  Because all I have the energy for is to take a nap.

I Did It

I stayed off facebook for 30 days and then some.  Although I will confess I had to log in one time to get an address from my messages.  But, I did not look at anything else…not even my notifications.  Sometimes my will power is quite superior.  Although most days it is not.  That’s why I had ice cream last night at 9:30 pm (but with the time change it was really only 8:30 pm, and either way I still don’t feel a bit bad about it).

I learned a few things.

I really don’t NEED facebook.  I was pretty happy without it.

I’m going to scale down my newsfeed list drastically.  Is it even still called that anymore?  Oh goodness, I may be so far behind I might not ever catch up.  Well, whatever it’s now called…if I don’t have an actual relationship with someone, or enough of one in the past, that I would actually call, text, or go to coffee with them then I don’t need them on my feed list.

I missed the invited and updates.

I LOVED not having facebook on my phone.  My phone became so much less important and I definitely paid more attention to the girls, or whoever I was with.

However, I’m still me and I did still find plenty of other distractions.  Whoops.

I don’t miss the drama and timesuck.

If facebook wasn’t such a big part of our culture and connecting with people and setting up meetings and events I would totally quit it forever.

However, I’m a type A extrovert and I CANNOT miss out on things.  That would be ridiculous and irresponsible of me.

So, I will be rejoining the facebook world on a reduced level.

Welcome back, facebook world!

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What would you most miss about facebook?

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