Thursday, May 28, 2020

Lesser Lessons in Processing the Grief of Loss and Transition

Every time we cross, yet another bridge into a new-normal, there are growing pains, uncomfortable learning curves, and (I'll say it again) mourning...

Four years after we returned from Kenya, we drove our oldest to Phoenix, AZ and dropped her off for college.

I thought I was prepared for this.

I'd shed many a tear over our graduating dorm sons throughout our years at Rift Valley Academy.

I'd dearly loved those boys and would miss them...

But, NOTHING prepares you for sending your first-born off to University.

The school she'd chosen (our alma mater) felt like home to her, and we had family living in the area were she to have any needs arise;

...BUT, for goodness sake, it was an 8 1/2-hour drive away from us.

There would be no weekend runs home to do laundry.

There would be no quick holiday visits.

Cell phones weren't "a thing" back then...when we spoke to her, it was from a "community" phone in the dorm, and one could not have a deep conversation, not by any means.

There was no such thing as FaceTime, FaceBook, Skype, Zoom, or whatever platform is your current favorite...

From the moment we arrived on campus, and began the admissions preparation and welcoming events, I rebuked myself over and over for not forcing her to do college-via-video (no, online wasn't even a thought in anyone's imagination)...

Couldn't we have just duct-taped her to a wall and kept her home a bit longer?

(Disclaimer: not a real photo - this was on the internet from some fund-raising event...seriously, don't try this at home with your children...)

The weekend flew past in a whirlwind of stuff...

All of a sudden, it was Sunday morning...

We'd go to church together, eat lunch together, then say our good-byes in the parking lot, and head home to Colorado.

That morning, the pastor (our former pastor) preached a message "for the incoming freshmen."

Of course, it was for the parents, as well.

Our pastor spoke on Genesis 12:1-4a:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So Abram went, as the Lord had told him...

That was a good word for all of us.

I don't remember all of our pastor's points, but this was the main premise:

Leaving, losing, and letting go are a natural part of the rhythm of life. We, the parents, had raised our daughter to the best of our ability, for this moment... We had taught her what it looked like to "adult," and the Lord was assuring us that He would continue to lead her to the "where," and He was asking, once more, as He'd done throughout her life, to TRUST HIM. 

This part of the story of Abraham's life has a lot of reminders for those of us in new-beginnings, new-normals, in process of "becoming green" (read the previous post) even amidst the HARD, but this is the main one I want to highlight:


By letting her leave, I was allowing her to receive all God had planned for her from the beginning of time.

Getting into our car to travel home that Sunday afternoon was one of the hardest things I've ever done.

She stood on the sidewalk sobbing.

I got in the car sobbing.

It was quiet for miles and miles, turning into hours.

We stopped for fuel.

I picked up a Resse's peanut-butter cup (my go-to anti-depressant in a chocolate bar)...and some more tissues to wipe away the tears...

As we headed out,  we stuck in a CD with a message someone had given us, Christian comedian/preacher/singer/song-writer, Ken Davis, preaching a message titled, "Super Sheep."

The message was great...BUT...the laughter it brought out in both my husband and I was far greater.

With emotions so raw, I literally laughed crying...

...and, the healing began!

By the time we returned home, placed a call to our girl, she was all settled in, laughing with her new roommates, enjoying dorm life, and was perfectly content...

My mama's heart felt RELIEF!

But, the relief came throughout the trip in a number of stages; and, of course, God wastes nothing...

Years and years later I found myself as a Dean of Women on a Christian college campus, speaking to the parents of incoming freshmen in a workshop we titled, "Issues and Tissues," sharing this story (along with the issues that come with not "letting go" - the repercussions on college students, if, instead of letting them leave and receive, you become helicopter parents, karaoke-parents, dry-cleaner parents, commando parents...along with other parent-types, which you can google).

I always made certain to give each parent a "Letting Go Care Kit."

So, #4 Tip for dealing with the Grief of Loss and Transition is that we all need a:


I wish I could make one for you (but you'll have to make one for yourself)...
Each kit needs these items:

1) Tissues --- for the grieving. In order to "heal," we must first "feel"....

2) A laminated card with YouTube links that would bring a huge hefty dose of healing laughter, including the "Super-Sheep" message (and, if you've never listened to Tim Hawkins on YouTube, he is a must, so here's a link to his channel):

3) Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (a pharmacy of them, because chocolate is always a good idea! & I do have scientific theory as to why Reese's are the perfect "anti-depressant")...

4) A framed calligraphy piece with this GOOD WORD from the LORD (Genesis 12:1-4a) and these words:
"By letting them leave, I allow them to receive...."

For those of us in the letting go of COVID-19, or whatever is causing your transition and loss, this is better re-stated:

"In order to grow, I have to let go!"

So, go make yourself a "letting go care kit"...

... and, remember: every letting go leads to a promise and a blessing. 

Celebrate the good of what you are leaving behind...
Mourn the loss....
Embrace the now...
And, open your heart to all God has purposed for you in this new season of being green!!!!

And, P.S. By the time we saw our girl for the first time at Christmas after dropping her off, we met a new woman. She had grown more confident, deeper in her faith, and more in love with Jesus. Letting go was reaping it's promise...

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Grieving Loss and Transition...Becoming Green.

How not to lose hope.)





Those words resonate with all of us right now...

...and, I'm finding addressing the banality of it is meaningful.

1. It helps to know we aren't alone in feeling SAD about having the rug of expectation & common-everyday-occurrences pulled out from under our feet.

2. It does make a difference to know others have survived and I will, too.

3. It's a comfort to know our God stays the same amidst all changing circumstances. 

I've read a lot of metaphors trying to explain what it feels like for missionaries who transition from culture to culture; for the loss that comes with each new season of change; and, how to express the grief.

There's one I appreciate more than others, which I'll share in a moment.

But, right now, what we are experiencing in this new COVID-19-world will have all the "feels" attached that missionaries "feel" in the midst of their many transitions (find a missionary and ask, if you want some wisdom or just comforting words of hope...).

I'm reading, listening, and picking up on the fact that life will look very different post-COVID-19.

We may NEVER go back to "normal," as we know it.

It will have a reminiscence of life post-September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

A lot of things changed in how we do life today, and we learned to adapt to them, because we understood the need to never be caught off guard again...

But, this new enemy?

We have yet to see how this unseen, dangerous enemy will affect us in the long-run.

So, we must learn from others, some of the how-to's for adaptation.

Thus far, in two posts, I've pointed out my beginnings of grieving amidst loss and transition:
1) List the losses. It's so important to become aware of EVERYTHING that we miss...from the tangible to the intangible.

2) Lament the losses. Be a David. Be a Jeremiah. Be a number of Biblical men and women who write out their prayers, their songs, and paint pictures with words describing vividly how they feel... This is undoubtedly the most important part of the process: MOURN! MOURN WELL! It takes a great deal of FAITH to mourn well, because it says we are TRUSTING the Lord that He knows how to hold our hearts in the process of change.


Illustrating Life in Transition (using missionary-experiences):

Missionary Me: I grow up in a yellow country. I learn yellow language, yellow customs, yellow traditions, yellow holidays, and experience yellow eating habits, and yellow unspoken rules about how to do life well...

(this is all of us pre-CV-19)

Missionary Me: As an adult, well ingrained in my yellow ways, the Lord stoops down into the midst of my yellowness, and asks me to go to a blue country. Things look a lot different in this blue land: blue languages, blue customs, blue traditions, blue holidays, blue eating habits, blue ways of shopping, blue rules (unspoken, of course) about how to do life well...

I am yellow...and, I can never be blue, but I can learn to morph a fit in and adjust a little bit better, and I start to pick up some of those blue ways of doing life.

What happens when yellow and blue mix?

Green, of course!

I become green.

(this will be us as we learn to do life with new changes and ways of doing things)

Those who are too comfortable with their yellowness will fear "green."

But, green is awfully pretty.  I only have to look outside my window at my gorgeous green lawn to know how pretty it is...

The thing is that becoming green takes time....

Patience is a requirement.

Practicing self-care is a requirement (not selfish-care: not isolation, not overindulgence, over-working, or self-medication; but, going for walks outside, getting regular hours of sleep, eating healthy, reaching out to others in compassion...)


The 3rd GUIDELINE for healthy GRIEVING:

Becoming green means you'll learn some very new ways of doing things...

Your new life will look DIFFERENT, but different isn't's just DIFFERENT.

Take "different" on as a challenge for your soul.

Learn what you can about GREEN...

Be observant...what are "green people doing?" are they "doing things now?" ....what can I contribute to the process of green-ness?

Step back.

See where you can use your giftedness.

Start looking for ways you can be helpful in this new green way.

(remember in Scripture forget doesn't mean "forget" means, do not let the thoughts of the past live consistently in your head; create new paths of thinking...)

Acknowledge that life may never be yellow, or blue again, but there will be a lot of bright new crayons added to the box.

The picture of this new way of life will be colored vastly different from how it looked, but the tapestry created is AWE-MAZING.

Look for the new colors... and, be GRATEFUL!

Listen for the new language...and, learn to love the sounds, and the rhythms, the cadence and the songs...

Learn about the newness and find joy in the midst of becoming green.

Learn to love the new...and be grateful...

AFTER ALL...Gratitude is one of the pathways to joy!

P.S.  The enemy of our souls would love for us to stay in mourning...but, get up, wash off the ash, change out of sack-cloth, and go to "school" in your new green world. Don't let him dance over you in delight as he takes you captive in grief! 

(Are you hearing what I'm saying? I'm not saying to just go back to stuffing the grief, but amidst the grief, and in the process, keep looking, keep listening, keep learning...and eventually, you will find yourself a very beautiful shade of GREEN!)

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Grieving Loss and Transition - The "Quicksand of the Soul"

I've sat through session after session, in retreat following retreat, and listened to the first words spoken in Grief of Loss and Transition workshops.

I've written them down.

It started so I would remember them.

At this point, I quote them often to myself.

My soul needs to hear them regularly.

When spoken out loud, they seem to quiet my anxious heart in the midst of loss, transitions, the in-between-new-normals.

The words speak to a simple matter of fact; but, they give my heart permission to grieve.

And, when we are feeling "lost in the middle" of life, there isn't much more needed than permission.

We live in a world of "sanitized" Christianity.

"How are you doing," we are asked...

And, we know, the one doing the asking doesn't want the real answer, not really.

The real answer is messy.

The real answer takes our time to listen; time away from the next thing on our to-do-list.

We all understand this dilemma....

Yet, we all long for permission to unload...and we all WANT TO BE HEARD!

The words I tell myself aren't profound.

The permission given isn't going to be earth-shaking.

Yet, for those dealing with grief, loss, and transition, these words breathe LIFE!

Here they are:

We (this is an inclusive: ALL) experience grief over our losses - tangible and intangible.  Some of the most difficult losses can be intangible - changes in life circumstances, relationships, cultures, mores, norms, etc. 

With that said:  permission granted.

If we don't feel the permission to grieve, no matter what the loss - be it large or small in the eyes of the world - we will experience chronic grief.

What do I mean by chronic grief?


Chronic grief is getting STUCK in the process of moving forward amidst change. It means, we will continue to live in the whirling cyclone of sorrow, and never move forward to what can be.  

Obviously, this takes time. And, we need to be gracious to give ourselves that needed time.

It's also not a linear process...

But, when our bodies live, move, and breathe, but our souls feel trapped (the effect being a place of emotional and spiritual "stuck-ness"), we need to hear that it's OK to work the process...

Just as shame has been described as "the swampland of the soul;" grief over loss might look more like  "the quicksand of our spirits."

And, the only way to advance is to walk through it, holding onto a rope, a lifeline of hope - and, sometimes, it will look AND FEEL as if we're being dragged forward as we cling tightly to that rope.

The next few posts detail my own journey...

I can't speak for others; and, this is not a sure-fire-guarantee; but, I walked the course, and came out on the other side...

So, for what it is worth, this is my pilgrimage.

As we headed for Africa, and the few years we were privileged to serve there, I knew I would be saying good-bye to MUCH on this side of the globe.

I knew not to expect life to look the same.

In many ways, I prepared my heart for those things that would be different.

It wasn't easy to hug our family and church-friends as we boarded the plane in Durango; but, we knew that was coming...

There were other things I'd been prepared for - I couldn't make a phone call at a minute's whim; I couldn't run to a store any time I needed something; eating out at restaurants would be few and far between (and there would definitely be no McDonald's or Burger King); shopping at a mall? well, what mall?

What I wasn't prepared for were all the changes in coming "back home." 

I expected to step back into life as it once was...

I expected friends to still be friends...

I expected people to care about where we'd been, what we'd been doing, what life was like...

I expected shopping in malls and grocery stores and eating out in restaurants to be enjoyable...

But, things had changed over the years; life on US soil had moved forward without me...and, I was definitely grieving the loss the change brought, but feeling foolish and guilty, for feeling that way.

So, what's the answer when you're a good missionary, a follower of Jesus, and one who trusts the Lord in all things, knowing that He uses all things for GOOD in the life of His children?

You bottle it all up! Of course, you do!

But, no one warns you, that when you keep pretending everything is all OK, implosion happens.

So, add up all the changes I'd experienced in overseas living, to all the changes I was experiencing back in the US, along with other losses, and trauma (the violent death of a friend), and one good-bye-followed-by-another and what you get is a good case of depression --- emotional quicksand.

I'm grateful that mission organizations have really stepped up their game when it comes to Member Care.

I'm particularly thankful for organizations who travel and speak to missionaries, realistically and practically giving biblical answers for the deep soul-wounds many carry.  I'm overly thankful to be a part of some of them.

Those weren't available during those days...or at least I wasn't aware of them.

My journey was slow, steady, and progressive...but, it was a bit like wandering in desert-wasteland...

(Southern District Israel)

One of the first, and most helpful stops as I began asking the Lord to show me the way "out," was in the Psalms.

I started reading David's prayers.

I loved his honesty.

I admired how he talked to the Lord about all the things that he struggled with...he listed them...he lamented his losses!

Reading through the psalms gave me permission to offer up prayers of lament to my God.

I recognized through David's writings that it was safe to talk to God about EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING.

God was not only big enough to handle it; He wanted to hear my heart.

If David could whine and not be struck down, or chastised for it, and still come out of his messy-mess being called a "man after God's heart," then maybe I could do the same.

I looked at David's formula...

1) He brought his situation before God...

2) He told the Lord what He'd like for Him to do about it...

3) But, in the end, David declared his trust...rehearsed God's character to himself...and spoke truth to his soul.

Psalm 13 was one of my favorites during this time (see excerpts below):

I’m hurting, Lord—will you forget me forever?
How much longer, Lord?
Will you look the other way when I’m in need?
How much longer must I cling to this constant grief?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and every day have sorrow in my heart?

I’ve endured this shaking of my soul.
So how much longer will my enemy have the upper hand? 
(right now, COVID-19 is a real enemy, leaving us enduring many losses...but so is depression, chronic grief and anxiety) 
It’s been long enough!
Take a good look at me, God, and answer me!
Breathe your life into my spirit.
Bring light to my eyes in this pitch-black darkness...

Lord, I have always trusted in your kindness, so answer me.
I will yet celebrate with passion and joy
when your salvation lifts me up.
I will sing my song of joy to you, the Most High,
for in all of this you will strengthen my soul.

Let me encourage you to start with authentic Prayers of Lament. We do have a place to go with our pain, and our sorrow, over change and loss...  We can pray it all out before a God, who is a "man of sorrows," who understands better than anyone what you are experiencing. If you can't find your words, find them in the Psalms, or in Jeremiah's words written in Lamentations, even in Habakkuk. Make them your words.

Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, a God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty...
-Ann Voskamp-

Those who dare lament to the Lord with a heart of faith will start to find their way forward... He's just waiting to take your hand and heal your heart!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

The Grief That Comes with Loss and Transition

What does life look like for you right now?

Recently, mine's been measured by Zoom calls, audio podcasting, blog writing, and video-taped retreat sessions...long walks, once a week grocery store visits, and working in the garden. 

Day-to-day doesn't look much different than normal, except that normally I'd have several speaking events in the queue with travel arrangements matching the locations of each event.

My calendar shows a lot of cancellations, until one event come August (and, even that is "iffy")...

For me, these feel like big losses...

There were several retreats and conferences I was looking forward to, and had been for over a year.

Those "new normal" virtual-ministry-events just aren't met with the same enthusiasm and passion as being with a group of women in person, sharing stories, commonalities, and chatting over coffee.

(my Zoom office)

Corona virus, not only ushered in a season of isolation and quarantine, it brought with it a great deal of loss and deep grief.

I was reminded of this last Thursday, on a Zoom conference with a group of global workers, most of them now back in the US for a variety of reasons.

One of the gals came home prior to the pandemic to plan and prepare for her wedding.

This highly anticipated event came crashing down, landing in smithereens, at the feet of the bride and groom back in March.

They'd hoped by May 23rd, things would be back to normal, but now they are scrambling to figure out what to do.

The families live in other states.

They all had airline tickets, but the airlines cancelled the flights.

The venue is no longer available...and, even if it were, you can't put 200 people inside within a 6'-social-distancing-required-guideline.

This little bride is GRIEVING (yes, with capital letters).

They hadn't anticipated a PLAN, they are having to put one together at the last minute.

It's not the dream-wedding this young woman expected.

Everyone of us has experienced loss.

Some of us are grieving those losses harder than others.

(recent Ipad, virtual wedding)

Bay and I were a part of a virtual college signing day last Friday, as the seniors at our daughter's high school (she's a principal in Casa Grande, AZ), logged in, listened to speeches and well wishes from administration, faculty, my husband, the Mayor, and then were personally introduced, highlighted and gave presentations of their very tenuous fall plans.

Seniors have missed these rites of passage, including prom and graduation...

The expected norm's been cancelled...just like everything on my calendar.

As well, folks have lost jobs; kids have missed out on end of school activities and saying good-bye to teachers and friends; favorite restaurants have closed; and churches can't meet on Sundays...

We're afraid to anticipate what's next, because we don't want to be disappointed...

On the same day I met on the conference call with these dear global workers, I'd been in town and gone for a walk along the river. I bumped into my niece, who said, "I'm starting to worry more about the effects on mental health, than the possible physical effects of the virus."

Many are.

Those of us who have worked and lived overseas have struggled through the grief that comes with loss and transition.

From early on in my missionary career, I realized that "good-bye" highlighted the life of a missionary.

When only about three months into my first year on the field, after several immediate good-byes, I wrote in my journal describing how it was affecting me. I saw myself "roller-coastering" between one of three responses to all these good-byes:

1) I decided I wouldn't form close friendships, and just keep people at arms length, because then it wouldn't hurt so much to say good-bye in the future. (NOT a good option - to others this looks cold and calloused.)

2) I could see myself getting clingy with the close friends I did have (also NOT a good option - "clingy" tends to suffocate relationships).

3) I could stay open to what God had for me in the current season, and trust Him with the pain of loss that would be sure to come (but, what did that look like practically - that was the question????).

Global workers know exactly what it feels like to live in the repercussions of grief, loss, and transition.

It's something we all deal with regularly.

And, the good-byes, and losses, aren't just relational...I had to learn to say "good-bye" to a lot of things: a good, juicy hamburger; cherry pie; the births of nieces and nephews; four-seasons; fully stocked grocery stores; Walmart; Hobby Lobby; cultural norms; well-kept roads; upright law enforcement; an electric dishwasher, clothes dryer, phone calls to family, and, a dependable vehicle, to name a few.

But, it dawned on me, in the midst of my conference call, that it is rare Americans have to deal with loss to the extent that missionaries do on a regular, daily basis.

It doesn't mean that missionaries have it all figured out ---- they don't.

One of the best attended workshops at retreats for women who serve overseas is the workshop we offer on Grief, Loss, and Transition.


But, all of a sudden, with the present-and-post-Corona-Virus-world, in which we are now living, how to deal with these very real heart-hurts is more critical than ever (not just to a group of people living in a foreign land, but all of us who are breathing, and experiencing new losses regularly).

With this introduction, I want to dig in and re-visit how to handle loss, transition, and grief biblically in a healthy fashion.

So, let's begin, as I began, so many years ago:

Make a list of all the things that you are experiencing the loss/death of....

From friends to

Cherry Pie...

All things tangible, and even intangible (those intangible things are sometimes the HARDEST to deal with)...

It all matters to the Lord.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Day 14...The Journey to #bebrave

If you didn't read Thursday's post, better stop and scroll down the page and do so now.

Today I pick up where I left off on Thursday...and were there a title, it would be:

Lessons on Courage Learned on a Zipline

The good news is that you don't have to travel all the way to Costa Rica to learn these lessons.  They are right here at your fingertips. HOWEVER, I highly recommend you visit Costa Rica, if ever possible, because it is lovely...

When I signed off on the last blogpost, I'd made it to the platform, trusted the harness, the hooks, the wires, and the people who connected me to it all, took a few deep breaths, and trusted the process...

Did my fear go away as soon as I stepped off into outer space right there above the Costa Rican Rain Forest? 


So, what helped???

Here's what I learned:
1) Someone had already gone before....

I watched half of my group go zipping along, getting to the platform on the other side.  They lived to tell the story, and I thought to myself, "Maybe I will, too... After all, these tour-guide-adventure-people can't afford to have someone die on their watch!" It is HUGE to see others do what you are scared to death to do...and it boosts courage just a bit!

2)  Someone, who was waiting on the other side, was cheering me on...

...and waiting for me with outstretched hands and a huge smile on her face! That person was Karla, one of the tour guides. No question that she knew who the biggest chicken in our group was! But, knowing she was there, and seeing her smile, warmed and relaxed my soul.  I just "fixed my eyes on Karla!" Seriously...


The whole way to the other side, only one thing filled my thoughts: a song! At the top of my lungs, not caring who heard, I sang "Great is Thy Faithfulness...." As I sang it, I was preaching the words to my soul. God was faithful...He would see me to the other side! There was NO REASON TO FEAR!
Find your word and preach it to yourself.  King David did - just read the Psalms. He did this A LOT!

4) Community

I had the BEST group of cheerleaders I could ever ask for at my side, cheering me on. They poured out their love in multiple ways (not to mention they made me laugh)... Remember that tram I posted a picture of in the last blog? When one of them wanted us to look at the creek below, another of our gals said (rocking the tram as she looked over the side), "There's a creep down there? What's a creep? I want to see a creep!" That popped in my head, as well, as I sped down the wire to the other side. Laughter is really good medicine! Besides that, my girls gave me some accountability - NO WAY would they have let me get out of this adventure, and they were there to "spur me on," even if it meant they had to give me the first push.

5) Doing the same thing over and over again (in other words, putting it all into practice)!

No one told me that there would be more than one zipline (cowards!). That's right, I didn't do just one, I did ten! With each zipline, we went further and faster....and, I might add, a little bit higher. The girls kept asking me, "What's your favorite?" My standard answer: "Ask me when we're done..."  By the time I got to #10, I yelled, "This one is my favorite!" Dear Karla laughed and asked, "Because it's the last one?" Well.................................maybe................................ But, by #10, I was in the rhythm. My deep breaths were shorter breaths; my jump-offs were quicker; I actually began to look around a whole lot more, and found myself in absolute AWE at the beauty around me. As we moved from zipline to zipline, I finally felt free to fly through the trees without any sense of panic....

The Lord does train His servants in righteousness...

More importantly:
6) There was a goal / purpose in front of me!

That morning, sailing through the tree tops was NOT my goal.  That morning, my goal was to acknowledge the fear and run straight toward it. That morning, my goal was to live life a little fuller, to experience something new, to take a step toward #bebrave. So, that is exactly what I did. Will I become a non-paranoid adventure-seeker? Probably not. But, for that one day, I found freedom in trusting the Lord through the process, and in the trust, that day I lived LIFE to the FULL!

Do you see the spiritual connections?  Of course you do!  

Jesus has gone before us...

He knows what's ahead and He's cheering us on...

He is waiting on the other side with outstretched arms, nail-pierced hands, and a smile on His face....

He's given us His GOOD WORD; 

and, a community we should never neglect - His church....

and, He's a God of laughter in the middle of our mess (if we just look for the humor, we'll find it)...

Not only that, He's patient with us, as we practice the steps in the midst of the hard...

And, He promises to give us LIFE, more than abundant, and overflowing!

So much so, that it spills over to others - and splashes a little JOY all over them!