Saturday, December 27, 2014

December Newsletter

Due to technical difficulties with the server I usually use to send out our newsletters, this month's update is being hosted on the blog.

Welcome to Katie and David's December/2014 Wrap-Up Newsletter!

It's been a really good year. Challenging, stretching, occasionally chaotic, sure. But we have been shown so much goodness and love throughout this year. I have learned so much - about being flexible, being patient, handling anxiety, choosing to live with peace in my heart, and being thankful for the small things. I specifically remember a week in which we had been living on granola bars for a few too many days, and some friends invited us over for a home-cooked meal. I melted with gratitude. We have been wrapped up with the love of others this year, and I'm really thankful.

This year we have moved out of our apartment and spend most of the year living in a popup camper and with friends in order to cut down on living expenses. We celebrated our second wedding anniversary. I visited our partners in Kenya. We left our paid jobs to focus on working for Under the Same Tree, and were able to work with friends to put on some really incredible fundraisers and events. The support base of UTST has grown, and in our first year of active fundraising, we have been able to raise nearly $10,000 for communities in East Africa. I'm really amazed!

Here's a brief summary on where we have been and where we are going - 

About a year and a half ago, I had the opportunity to collaborate with some wonderful friends in East Africa to start an organization that is focused on partnering with locally-led initiatives, and works to connect them with the resources that they need to thrive. (I know I've said this a thousand times, but for the sake of new newsletter subscribers, bear with me ;). ) Several years ago I was able to spend some time volunteering in East Africa. I found it to be a place absolutely bursting with passionate people and vibrant churches who wanted to make a difference in the lives of their communities who struggled with poverty, disease, and illiteracy. And what has lingered in my heart for so long is this - local people and local organizations in East Africa are brimming with potential to bring about transformation in their communities. They understand the problems, and they know what the solutions are.  All that they are lacking is a few resources. So we worked together to found Under the Same Tree, and began to partner with African led community-based organizations that work in association with local churches.

Our first partnership is based in the vast urban slums of Nairobi, Kenya. We are working alongside a church and community-based organization there to implement a microfinance program to help families step out of the cycle of extreme poverty. Parents are trained in small business skills, and provided with start-up capital to start or expand a small business. This often looks like small food stands, running stalls in local marketplaces, or small barbershops. While the parents are working towards self-sufficiency, we try to find people to sponsor their children's health and nutrition expenses. In the end, we transfer responsibility for the family's needs back to the parents, bringing the program full circle. We are also working in Nairobi to implement new food sources through community-led urban gardening. I was able to spend some time with our partners in Nairobi this past May, and help begin to get this process started. Now we get to see it grow!

We also have a relatively new opportunity to get to know a rural Ugandan community in collaboration with a local community based organization that focuses on the provision of health services and care for orphans. The organization currently cares for 30 orphans who are being hosted in the homes of families, and they are seeking to build a boarding school where the children can reside permanently.

In 2015, David and I will be spending the months of January, February, and March with our partners in Kenya, and will be making a couple of field-visits to Uganda. We will be helping with the administration of programs there, but equally as important, we will be getting to know the local communities on a personal level. We will be gathering with groups and listening to their vision for their community and how they see that playing out, and working with them to identify and build on local resources. We will be working with our church partnerships in their weekly activities. We will be gathering as much information and stories as possible to help connect people in the US with people there - so that we can learn from each other and grow together.

Then, when we return to the US this Spring, we get to work hard to engage individuals, student groups, churches, local businesses and more with the stories and ongoing work in East Africa. We are planning on spending some time later in 2015 visiting friends and family in various parts of the US, and working to expand UTST's support base to several more states.

We depart on January 5th for East Africa, which is soon. We are depending on support from individuals and churches who love us to make this work financially possible for us. If you have considered supporting us before, now is a really great time to start :)  -!staff-support/ch7s

We are looking forward to another good year in 2015. Thank you for walking alongside us.

Monday, December 22, 2014

We are not cool.

This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately.,35083/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=LinkPreview:NA:InFocus

This is the concept of serving others just to draw attention to ourselves, or make ourselves look good. Of using service or missions as an excuse to travel the world... and worse, the notion that Westerners are the only ones who can solve the world's problems. The assumption that we are the only ones who can make a difference, or that our way of living is best for everyone else. The labeling of all who do not look like white America as "needy," or "the least of these." When we do that, we assume that we are not least.. that somehow we must be more?

It makes me really sad, and reluctant to share stories and photos the work that I have the opportunity to be a part of in East Africa because I am afraid of it being perceived this way.

I have had the opportunity to work with people from both sides of the world to start an organization (Under the Same Tree) whose mission is to partner with locally led initiatives and community based organizations in East Africa, and help to insure they have the resources that they need to thrive. This plays out on the ground level to provide poverty alleviation to families, wellness for children, and care for orphans. We are about highlighting strengths, sharing life together as a global community, breaking down false perceptions, and improving the quality of life for all that we work with. For Christians, this means truly becoming a global body, because there are actually more Christians in Africa than there are in the US!

And as for me, I'm trying not to let articles like these discourage me from sharing my photos and stories. But know this - I am not amazing. I do not believe that Westerners are the ones bearing the solutions to the world's problems. I do not believe that the people we work  with in East Africa are incapable and needy. No, they blow me away with their resourcefulness and ingenuity. We get to partner with this. I am continually blessed beyond measure by the love I receive from my friends in East Africa. They adopt me every time I'm around. I get to share that with you.

Know that our service in East Africa is not just a meet and greet and leave type of thing. We are, God willing, in this for the long term. We will get to see babies grow up and lives lived out. Side by side.

I know I can't change stereotypes. But I want to value very highly the lives that come alongside mine, no matter where or who they are. I want that to be what you see in pictures and stories as we head out to East Africa next month.

A few weeks ago, David asked me if we were cool, Are we the cool kids? I laughed a lot and said no. Maybe we are a little unconventional. We like running around outside. We like to laugh and have fun. We like to sing. We enjoy each other. We love Jesus and his creation. We enjoy our friends. We are happy. We are really loved. We are willing to live outside of the norm.

Here is what we are not - 

We are not cool, we are not hip or trendy... sorry about that, friends. We are not amazing. We are not idealistic, I used to be, but not anymore. Contrary to popular jokes, we are not hippies. We don't have it all together. We are not rich. We are not perfect. We do not live in the absence of fear, stress, or worry. We are learning to depend on others for our needs.

Those are my thoughts. Merry Christmas. :)

Monday, October 20, 2014

A piece of my love for Sub Saharan Africa.

I fell in love with Sub Saharan Africa when I read a book called 28.

It was 2007, at the height of the HIV epidemic, and I read a book that fed me stories of real people - personal, individual stories. Each came with the portrait of the individual whose story I was entering. The stories reflected their strengths, joys, hopes and fears. The stories connected modern lives with their historical context. That book changed my life and left me hungry for more, for actual hands to hold. I wanted to connect myself with those stories and walk into the future with them.

A year later, four little hands entered my life, entered my family. My family adopted two children who were likely orphaned due to HIV/AIDS. Africa became my family, and I was able to visit the place for the first time.

I wasn't captured by the hints of modernization I saw in the capital city of Addis Ababa, but by rural Southern Ethiopia. I was captivated by freedom from technology. I saw what I felt was the very essence of what it meant to be a human - connected with God, the Earth, and other people. I listened to the song "Redemption" by Jars of Clay and didn't feel heartbreak or pity but wonder and longing, for I craved what I found there for myself. I was 18, and I wondered if I was being selfish. But I looked around and saw redemption for all I was disillusioned with in Western society - convenience, obsession with technology, luxury, media, individualism, constant entertainment, disconnection and even destruction of nature, the ever- promised up&up. I saw poverty in these things. Not poverty that was defined by lack of material things, but a brokenness of relationships, self identity, and culture. It bothered me. I know there's a lot of valuable pieces of Western society, but this had been bothering me, as a teenager.

I began to wonder if, indeed, Africa could bring healing to the non-material poverty faced in America.

If their beautiful strength of dependence on community and group identity could touch the deep isolation, loneliness, and self-reliance I saw back at home. If the wide open land and skies and the vital, tangible connection with the produce of the earth could shine light on our addictions to artificial food and entertainment, and neglect of creation. And if the vibrant, growing, African Church could share their wisdom and experiences with the Christians in America, as their brothers and sisters.

When I went to Africa for the first time, I expected to find desolation and heartbreak. And I saw material poverty, sure, but I found a people who didn't find a need for the excess that Westerners often consider to be "not enough." I found innovation and simplicity, deep human connections, natural wonder, simplicity, wisdom and rich history. I wanted to make my life more like that. I started making so many friends from East Africa, and I have learned so much from them. They have spoken into my life. They have prayed with me and for me, and for you (since if you're reading, you're probably my friend). Africa has brought so much healing to my life.

I talk a lot about how as Under the Same Tree we partner with and support communities in East Africa. But the truth is that I want the same for the communities I am connected with here in the US. We work to tell stories of how communities in Africa are building on their strengths and maximizing their potential, because I really want you to know them, because I love them. But also because I believe it can transform you, because I care about you too, and I want the same for you :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014


I can't remember a time when I didn't know how to swim.

Still to this day, when others might go to the beach or the pool to lay in the sun or walk around on the sand, I'm running wild into the water. It submerges me and I am weightless, like flying.

I love water.

Many times in poetry and metaphor and even scripture, water is associated with danger, threat, and the unknown. Water can sweep you away, can suck you under and keep the air from your lungs. It is clear that water is not safe.

But the thing about water is that you can learn how to move with it. It can come so naturally, just like walking. Even with the water is raging, you can learn to dance in it. And not be afraid.

My very favorite place to be in water is the ocean. It is my favorite thing to do in the whole wide world. When I am in Missouri, I ache for it every day. My favorite beaches are on the Pacific West Coast.. I'm from California, and I love it. I also like beaches on the Gulf where the water is calm and warm, it's nice.. But on the Pacific Coast, the water is cold and the waves can be huge. There can be dangerous rip tides daily. There are often submerged reefs and rocks that can rip holes in your skin, leaving scars on your ankles and knees. I love shores that aren't tame.

When you come to shores like these, you can sit in the sand and watch their beauty, and that's really nice. I like that. But what I love is swimming out into the big waves. If you don't accept the rhythm and dance of the waves, it's easy to get pushed back to shore and exhausted.. or swept under, spun around, injured, even drowned. But when you stop looking at the waves like an opponent bent on pushing you back to shore, and learn to move with their rhythm and dance, you can go further and deeper. You can learn to ride the waves.

This is what I know about the ocean. The vast, dangerous ocean that is my best friend.

For a long time, I've ridden the waves in ways that came easily and naturally to me, by body surfing and body boarding. I had never attempted standing up on the waves, because I thought it would be really hard, and beyond what I was comfortable with. But for the past 2 summers I've been trying to change that.

I think I started learning to surf at a really poignant time in my life. You can't just run out there and do it (unless you have a 10 ft longboard), it takes time. Surfing is all about trusting the water, and your ability to move in the water. Surfing is all about gathering the courage to stand. I used to say that surfing is easier than riding skateboards (which I do with my brothers and David a lot) because when you fall, you hit water rather than pavement. But the truth is that gathering the courage to stand up when you're riding a wave is hard. It's a lot easier to just give up and let it sweep you under. I have more scars from surfing than from skating, now.

I say that it was a really poignant time in life because the past few years I've been learning what it means to "walk on water" in a spiritual sense, and it's been a lot like learning to surf. Let me explain.

Over the past 2 years, David and I have been pursuing a call to ministry in East Africa. That means willingly stepping into situations that are absolutely overwhelming. Choosing to have the faith to step off of the comfortable shore into the cold and choppy water. Remembering how much I love the water, even though it's not always comfortable.

We often don't know how our own basic needs are going to be met.. basic needs like food and shelter. We get tired. It can feel like drowning. Sometimes we want God to lift us up out of the water and set us back on the sunny shore. But instead He just keeps teaching us how to swim, and challenging us to come deeper.

We come to the place on the shore where the big waves are breaking. They're crashing down, dangerously. But I know if I fight them, they'll push me under and keep me down. I know if I move with them... even dance with them, I will remember how much I love them and be filled with joy. We face setbacks sometimes. We face really hard challenges. I used to let them make me panic, but during the past month or so, I started finding myself laughing in the face of unexpected challenges. That's not me. I started remembering how discontented I always was with a comfortable life. Why God's given me a love of running up against challenging things, then learning that I can never overcome them by fighting them on my own. Like the wave, they will just push me under and keep me down. Only when I surrender and dance in the face of challenges does He pull me to the surface of a crashing wave.

I love to swim, and I feel like God has always been teaching me to be a good swimmer in the metaphorical water we've chosen to follow Him into. But I'm just now learning to ride the waves. To stand up on the raging water. Just like surfing, standing up takes courage and faith.

 I know I will fall off of that surfboard. It's inevitable . I know I might cut my leg on that submerged reef, and a shark might smell my blood and come eat me. For real, that might happen. The board might bash me in the head and knock me unconscious. My faith has to be stronger than that. It doesn't happen right away, I think that it's a learning process.

There's a song that's become popular in contemporary worship music recently, and honestly, I love it. I find myself singing it when I am nervous or feeling panicked. It reminds me God has called me out upon the water, even though it is dangerous. It reminds me that I'm not really afraid of water - that I actually really love it. Here are the words:

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I recently read an article called "Stop Singing Oceans." ( I've always had a bit of a struggle about Christians singing songs that proclaim things such as "I will give everything to follow You" but not living the words, especially when I found myself being one of them. I love that this author identifies that this is a song about huge sacrifice. About laying down all of your reservations and securities, possibly giving up everything, and possibly stepping out into what scares you the most. I love this song because of the huge challenge that it presents, even though the words terrify me. I love that it's about water. I hope I can sing it honestly.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why I love Disneyland

Today is Disneyland's 59th birthday :) (Yes, I actually have this date marked on my calendar). (Yes, I know a lot of people roll their eyes at me).

I love Disneyland. Really. I love it.

(Not Disney California Adventure, not Disneyworld Florida. Disneyland, the original, in Anaheim CA).

I love how when I go there now, I can go straight back to being a little girl growing up in Orange County. Because while so much in that area has changed, Disneyland is the one place from back then that is preserved. That I know I can always come back to, and it will be the same.

I love how the teacups are still there, and the Dumbo ride is still there, and the train is still there. The pirates are still there. New Orleans Square and Main Street and the Jungle Cruise are still there. I love how the music still sounds the same. I love how it doesn't change. (Except that they took out the Country Bears Jamboree. I'm slightly irked about that.) (But replaced it with Winnie the Pooh, and I do love Pooh Bear. A lot).

I know there are so many arguments to be made about corporate profit, the way management has been transferred, long lines, crowded parks, expensive food... Yeah I know. But they don't love Disneyland with the heart of a six year old girl. Yeah that's me.

I love Walt. I love that he looked around at a world weary from world wars, that was hungry for something joyful, and he wanted to build a miniature land where people could come and be filled with wonder and imagination. And he did it. He wanted to make worn out people like me be able to come and feel like their six year old selves. And he did it.

When Disneyland first opened, my Grandfather was the train conductor. I love telling this story because it makes me proud. Walt Disney would ride the train around after hours and make character sketches that he would give my grandfather. I love Disneyland.

It was the first thing that made me want to explore the world. It made me want to have big dreams. So happy birthday to you.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

and so with the sunshine and with the great bursts of leaves

My June newsletter will be late. This weekend we moved out of our apartment and I had all four of my wisdom teeth extracted. Which has meant a whole lot of puffy-faced disoriented-ness, and not knowing where in the world I packed my box of underwear. But this is all very exciting.

I felt like this quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald.. brilliant author of The Great Gatsby.. really sums up how I feel right now. I like it when I can let others do the talking for me.

Monday, May 26, 2014

This Incredible Gift

I blog retroactively. I came back from Kenya two weeks ago and hit the ground running. So much planning and collaboration and face to face sharing. I haven't been able to nab a few minutes to recount things on here. (That plus the fact that we don't have internet...).

There is so much about East Africa that I love. In some areas, I love the limitless wide-openness of it, like the tumbling grassland could stretch on forever and never end. I love rural villages, intrinsically connected to the good earth and free of all the unnecessary technological clutter we tend to tangle ourselves in. I love the song and dance, I love how big the sky seems. I love the cities, the dizzying ix of traditional and modern, the collision of the corporate and informal business networks, the historic struggle between foreign influence and maintaining a distinctively East African identity. I love the innovation and resilience of people, and the joy that I have encountered nowhere else in the world.

I spent a very quick week in the city of Nairobi - Kenya's capitol. I spent the week with a ministry partner, Grace Covenant Church Community Based Organization. GCC-CBO is located at the intersection of some of Nairobi's major slum areas. UTST is working with them to provide holistic ministry to individuals and families trapped in extreme poverty in these areas. Our first goal together is to set up a microlending system that will essentially enable families to build their income generating activities and small businesses, and access a sustainable source of income with which to provide their children with improved nutrition and education. This means taht families will be less vulnerable to challenges such as illiteracy, medical emergencies, and will be less likely to fall into traps of exploitation. Future areas of ministry through GCC-CBO include a rehabilitation ministry for street children and community home based care for those living with HIV/AIDS.

I spent a quick week in Nairobi doing nothing but building connections and friendships. We also spend time collaborating with leaders, casting vision and planning, but the vast majority of the time was spent going from one tiny home to the next, visiting, sharing and laughing with many of the people this ministry will serve. I can truthfully say that I was brought into a community during the short week I spent there - where my needs became theirs and their needs became mine. Where we made jokes and gave each other nick-names, and shared countless cups of chai tea.

I came back to the US because I want very badly to invite you into this community as well. (Yes, you. Even if you're a friend I haven't seen in years, or if I haven't ever met you at all. I came back, yes, to raise support and find sponsors like mad, but also because each time I am in East Africa I find myself wrapped up in this incredible gift, and I want to bring you into it.

I made this video to introduce you to my community in Nairobi. The community I hope to be journeying with for a long time, and I hope you will choose to as well. If you really want to make it official, go to the "Get Involved" portion of our website and sign up for Community Connections or become a sponsor.!get-involved/c1scw

 Step into this incredible gift, my friends.

PS... Thanks to my epic friend, Sarah Julian (note that I never, ever use the word "epic," so I really mean it here) for travelling with me, making sure I stayed nourished, diving deep into relationships, making sure important questions were asked, helping keep records, late night brainstorming, and keeping us laughing 24/7. You're amazing.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Leaving for Kenya Tomorrow...

In the midst of endless to-do lists, fundraising, planning, etc etc etc, it just occurred to me that many of you may not even know that I am leaving for Kenya tomorrow. Oops.

It's important that you know, because it's an important trip, and we need lots of prayers.

I tend to dig in and try to get things done without asking for a lot of help. That's a weakness. And it's probably why I haven't broadcasted far and wide that I'm going to Kenya tomorrow. I need to be continually reminding myself how important it is to be surrounded by the support and accountability of my community (that means you).

So yeah, tomorrow I'm leaving for Nairobi, Kenya with my lifelong friend and adventure buddy, Sarah Julian. We're going to spend a week networking and planning with local church leaders in Nairobi, Kenya to launch Under the Same Tree's programs there. We're also going to be able to enter into Nairobi's vast slums and meet the families we will be working with in the future. Our future community, our future family.

It's an important trip because it is paving the way for everything that will be happening throughout the end of this year and into next year (and beyond). We'll be gathering the stories we need for fundraising, building the profiles we need for sponsorship, and building a plan with our leadership partners, all in one short week.

We need your prayers. Don't let me forget how important that is.
Pray for Sarah and I's safety and health, but more importantly pray that a strong foundation is built, important connections are made, and that a way is made to lead into the fundraising work we'll be doing throughout the rest of the year. Pray for the families in Nairobi. Soon, you will be able to know them by name.

I just sent out David and I's first monthly newsletter. If you're not on the mailing list and you want to be, let me know! 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Start by Doing What is Necessary

"Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible." -Saint Francis of Assisi

I've loved this quote for a long time. It makes sense, I think. After all, what we regard as impossible all depends upon our perspectives about possibility. I love that this quote breaks it down into practical steps, because I'm a "practical steps" kind of person.

I think for quite a long, long time I've been working on doing what's necessary in life, and now I'm just barely barely, starting to be able to move into the realm of what is possible. I'm discovering that it's the months and  years of long, hard work on what is necessary that opens up new possibilities. Without the tedious, boring, agonizing hours of work on what is necessary, possibilities remain impossible. 

So if that's where you are right now - in a place where you feel like you are forced to do what is necessary, what is dreary and repetitive and tiresome, be encouraged. I know how it is to feel like you're spinning circles, wasting time, when you really want to be running hard into where you feel called, or what it is you dream of. The impossible.

Remember that it's only through sowing a seed in the ground - the necessary - caring for it though it is small and seems it will never grow -the possible- and waiting for years for the plant to develop do you get to hold that beautiful apple in your hand. The impossible.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


Tomorrow is my 24th birthday.

To be honest, this number has always kind of freaked me out. I was born on my mom's 24th birthday, 24 years ago. I really love a band from San Diego called Switchfoot, and they have this song called 24 that Jon said he wrote when he was 24 years old and broke his leg while skateboarding and trying to impress a girl. One time I went to their show in St. Louis and was talking to him after the show. I was driving to Kansas city the next day to see them play there too, and he asked what song we'd like to see them play at the show. We said 24. The next day they played it for us, really pretty, and with an accordion. I love accordions. I used to listen to that song, as a teenager, and think about how much time in life I still had. I always thought something really awesome should happen during this year of my life. Yikes.

So what is going on in my life this year?

A lot of things that are tedious. A lot of sitting in front of my computer. A lot of making calls to strangers. A lot of things that are calling me to face my fears. 

I'm in grad school; International Relations at Webster University. But that doesn't scare me.
I have a job, and that's fine.

I'm working to help launch a ministry in Sub Saharan Africa. In the slums of Nairobi Kenya. Am I afraid of going there? Not at all. I love being there.

Right now, though, I'm having to trust in God's provision more than I have ever experienced in my life. I am having to make phone calls to strangers and invite them into the mission and vision that has been entrusted to me. I am having to raise support. This is what is terrifying for me. In a lot of areas of life, I am crazy and afraid of nothing. When it comes to this, though, I am incredibly self conscious and full of anxiety. I hope this year is full of mountain climbing and ocean diving (literally), but this is what I'm facing most days. This year is about learning to trust and to do what I truly am afraid to do.

I was trying to have a fundraising dinner for my birthday, but I couldn't get a venue in time. Instead, I'm just going to give you this donation link for now - - -!donate/clg6

What exactly am I fundraising for? Well, we are working in the slums of Nairobi to provide holistic care for 10 families so far. We are beginning with a combination of food supplements and micro-loans. We are training parents to start their own small businesses so that they are able to earn a sustainable income to support their families. This is exactly where any money I raise right now is going. You can meet the families here.

And because it's my birthday, I don't feel bad about asking you to tell absolutely everyone you know about this. Get them to like our Facbook page. Get them to sign up for our email list. Ask them to get us in contact with their churches, their college groups, etc etc etc. Please, I really need to be connected with all of your social circles. Plus, it enables me to make some great new friends along the way, that that's always good anyways.

So... what else is happening this year?

Oh yeah, David and I are going to become homeless. Hopefully.

We live in a little apartment with no internet and almost no running water. We are trying to be frugal in the extreme. As soon as it warms up outside, we have decided we're just going to live out there. We're going to let our lease end, and live out of a tent at various Stl campgrounds. For how long? We don't know yet. We still have some time to keep planning, because it keeps snowing, and seems to never stop. We'll see what happens.

Here's a little look back on year 23:

By the way...
My mom was born on 2/12
Abraham Lincoln was born on 2/12
Construction began on the St. Louis arch on 2/12
The Atlantic Charter that would eventually end European colonialism was signed on 2/12
And Nelson Mandela walked out of prison the day before I was born.

Just some trivia that makes me feel special. ;)