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February 2004 Archives

Printable Issue 231  Today is Monday, February 2nd, 2004; Karen's Korner #231

Can't recall where I got this writing or from whom:

 

Carl's Garden

Carl was a quiet man. He didn't talk much. He would always greet you  with a  big smile and a firm handshake. Even after living in our neighborhood  for over 50 years, no one could really say they knew him very well.

Before his retirement, he took the bus to work each morning. The lone sight of him walking down the street often worried us. He had a slight limp  from a bullet wound received in WWII. Watching him, we worried that although he had survived WWII, he may not make it through our changing uptown neighborhood with its ever-increasing random violence, gangs, and drug activity.

 

When he saw the flyer at our local church asking for volunteers for caring  for the gardens behind the minister's residence, he responded in his characteristically unassuming manner. Without fanfare, he just signed  up.

 

He was well into his 87th year when the very thing we had always  feared finally happened. He was just finishing his watering for the day when three gang members  approached him.  Ignoring their attempt to intimidate him, he simply  asked, "Would you like a drink from the hose?"

The tallest and toughest-looking of the three said, "Yeah, sure", with a malevolent little smile. As Carl offered the hose to him, the other two  grabbed Carl's arm, throwing him down. As the hose snaked crazily over  the ground, dousing everything in its way, Carl's assailants stole his retirement watch and his wallet, and then fled. Carl tried to get himself up, but he had  been thrown down on his bad leg.  He lay there trying to gather himself as the minister came running to help him. Although the minister had witnessed the attack from his window, he couldn't get there fast enough to stop it.

 

"Carl, are you okay? Are you hurt?" the minister kept asking as he helped Carl to his feet.  Carl just passed a hand over his brow and sighed, shaking his head.

 

"Just some punk kids. I hope they'll wise-up someday." His wet clothes clung to his slight frame as he bent to pick up the hose. He adjusted the nozzle again and started to water.

Confused and a little concerned, the minister asked, "Carl, what are you doing?"

 

"I've got to finish my watering. It's been very dry lately", came the calm reply. Satisfying himself that Carl really was all right, the minister could  only marvel. Carl was a man from a different time and place.

A few weeks later the three returned. Just as before their threat was unchallenged. Carl again offered them a drink from his hose. This time they didn't rob him. They wrenched the hose from his hand and  drenched him head to foot in the icy water. 

 

When they had finished their humiliation of him, they sauntered off down the street, throwing catcalls and curses, falling over one another laughing at the hilarity of what they had just done. Carl just watched them. Then he turned toward the warmth giving sun, picked  up his hose, and went on with his watering.

 

The summer was quickly fading into fall. Carl was doing some tilling when he was startled by the sudden approach of someone behind him. He stumbled and fell into some evergreen branches. As he struggled to regain his footing, he turned to see the tall leader of his summer tormentors reaching down for him.  He braced himself for the expected attack. "Don't worry old man, I'm not gonna hurt you this time." The young man spoke softly, still offering the  tattooed and scarred hand to Carl.

 

As he helped Carl get up, the man pulled a crumpled bag from his pocket  and handed it to Carl.  "What's this?" Carl asked.

 

"It's your stuff," the man explained. "It's your stuff back. Even the money  in your wallet."

 

"I don't understand," Carl said. "Why would you help me now?"

 

The man shifted his feet, seeming embarrassed and ill at ease. "I  learned something from you", he said. "I ran with that gang and hurt people like you.  We picked you because you were old and we knew we could do it. But every time we came and did something to you, instead of yelling and fighting  back, you tried to give us a drink. You didn't hate us for hating you. You kept showing love against our hate." He stopped for a moment.  "I couldn't sleep after we stole your stuff, so here it is back." He paused for another awkward moment, not knowing what more there was to say. "That bag's my way of saying thanks for straightening me out, I guess." And  with that, he walked off down the street.

 

Carl looked down at the sack in his hands and gingerly opened it. He  took out his retirement watch and put it back on his wrist. Opening his  wallet, e checked for his wedding photo. He gazed for a moment at the young bride  that still smiled back at him from all those years ago. 

 

He died one cold day after Christmas that winter. Many people attended  his funeral in spite of the weather. In particular the minister noticed a tall young man that he didn't know sitting quietly in a distant corner of the church. The minister spoke of Carl's garden as a lesson in life.  In a voice made thick with unshed tears, he said, "Do your best and make your  garden as beautiful as you can. We will never forget Carl and his garden."

 

The following spring another flyer went up. It read: "Person needed to  care for Carl's garden." The flyer went unnoticed by the busy parishioners until one day when a knock was heard at the minister's office door. Opening the door, the minister saw a pair of scarred and tattooed hands holding the flyer.  "I believe this is my job, if you'll have me," the young man said.

 

The minister recognized him as the same young man who had returned the stolen watch and wallet to Carl. He knew that Carl's kindness had turned this man's life around. As the minister handed him the keys to the garden shed,  he said, "Yes, go take care of Carl's garden and honor him."

The man went to work and, over the next several years, he tended the flowers and vegetables just as Carl had done. In that time, he went to college, got married, and became a prominent member of the community. But  he never forgot his promise to Carl's memory and kept the garden as beautiful as he thought Carl would have kept it.

One day he approached the new minister and told him that he couldn't care for the garden any longer. He explained with a shy and happy smile, "My wife
just had a baby boy last night, and she's bringing him home on Saturday."

"Well, congratulations!" said the minister, as he was handed the garden shed keys. "That's wonderful! What's the baby's name?"


 "Carl," he replied.

Printable Issue 232  Today is Tuesday, February 3rd, 2004; Karen's Korner #232

Written by me, several days ago:

 

 

Dear Lord,

 

Today I took several piles of items out of our storeroom and put everything on our burn pile. Next I loaded a bag of garbage on top of that.

 

When I tried to start the fire, the papers were nice and flat. The edges of some envelopes were on top of the papers. I attempted to get them burning, but the items would begin to burn and then go out.

 

I had no choice but take some of the items and wade them up. More edges; more places to burn. It didn’t take long until I had a blazing bonfire.

 

I wondered about my life, Lord, as I watched. Do I like it best when everything is going smoothly. But when you attempt to light a fire in my spirit, do I smolter around the edges and then go out because of a lack of interest or focus?

 

When situations or circumstances come into my life that causes me to be crinkled, do I have more surfaces to be ignited by Your fire? And when I am squished next to a few friends and acquaintances who are also crinkled, do we catch a bigger blaze of You and Your Love than we would have had, if life's situations hadn’t waded us up and scrunched us together?

 

Help me, Lord, not to pray for only smooth sailing and flat circumstances. Help me to look at, and for, you and for your spirit and fire. Help me to know that when things come into my life that gives me more edges than I would choose, the light of You will spark a blaze in me and with all of the people with whom we come in contact. Together we can add Light, Love and Fire into each of our lives and the lives of others.

Your Name Who sets us ablaze with Your Love and Life like nothing else we can imagine.

Amen

Printable Issue 233  Today is Wednesday, February 4th, 2004; Karen's Korner #233

This is an email which I received from Pat Holtapp and have seen passed along by several others:

 

The Silent Sermon

 

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, suddenly stopped coming to church.  After a few weeks, the Pastor decided to visit. 

 

The Pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire.  Guessing the reason for his Pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace and waited.  The pastor made himself at home but said nothing.  In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs.

After some minutes, the Pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone.

 

Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.  The host watched all this in quiet contemplation.  As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more.  Soon it was cold and lifeless.

The Pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave, he slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire.  Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

 

As the Pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon.  I shall be back in church next Sunday."

 

We live in a world today which tries to say too much with too little. Consequently, few listen.  Sometimes the best sermons are the ones left unspoken.  What silent message would God have you share with someone today?

 

"Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven."  -- Matthew 5:16

 

A man may go to heaven......
without health, without wealth; without fame, without a great name; without learning, without earnings; without culture, without beauty; without friends and without ten thousand other things.....
But he can NEVER go to Heaven without Christ

 

Printable Issue 234  Today is Thursday, February 5th, 2004; Karen's Korner #234

Today is the birthday of our first grandchild, Luke Frederick Champion. Born just before 2 this morning.........more details later, if you want them!

 

 

For fun, this is something to predict who we are and what we do, based on the numbers of the day, month, year each of us was born. Jack Burt emailed it to me several months ago. Today is an appropriate day to share it!

 

I am a #1; Luke would be a 4. What are you?

 

 

Your birth date describes who we are, what we are good at and what
our inborn abilities are. It also points to what we have to learn and
the challenges we are facing.

To figure out your Birth Number, add all the numbers in the birth
date together like in the example until there is only one digit.

A Birth Number does not prevent you from being anything you want to
be, it will just color your choice differently and give you a little
insight. :-)

Once you have discovered your Birth Number, forward this email to the
rest of your friends, including the one who sent this to you. Have
fun!

Example: March 20, 1950

3 + 20 + 1950 = 1973 = 1 + 9 + 7+ 3 = 20 = 2 + 0 = 2

2 is the Birth Number to read for the birth date in the example.

Your number is _______.

#1 THE ORIGINATOR
#2 THE PEACEMAKER
#3 THE LIFE OF THE PARTY
#4 THE CONSERVATIVE
#5 THE NONCONFORMIST
#6 THE ROMANTIC
#7 THE INTELLECTUAL
#8 THE BIG SHOT
#9 THE PERFORMER

# 1 - THE ORIGINATOR: 1's are originals. Coming up with new ideas and
executing them is natural. Having things their own way is another
trait that gets them as being stubborn and arrogant. 1's are
extremely honest and do well to learn some diplomacy skills. They
like to take the initiative and are often leaders or bosses, as they
like to be the best. Being self-employed is definitely helpful for
them. Lesson to learn: Others' ideas might be just as good or better
and to stay open minded.

Famous 1's: Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Hulk Hogan, Carol Burnett,
Wynonna Judd, Nancy Reagan, and Raquel Welch.

# 2 - THE PEACEMAKER: 2's are the born diplomats. They are aware of
others' needs and moods and often think of others before themselves.
Naturally analytical and very
intuitive they don't like to be alone. Friendship and companionship
is very important and can lead them to be successful in life, but on
the other hand they'd rather be alone than in an uncomfortable
relationship. Being naturally shy they should learn to boost their
self-esteem and express themselves freely and seize the moment and
not put things off.

Famous 2's: President Bill Clinton, Madonna, Whoopee Goldberg, Thomas
Edison, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

# 3 - THE LIFE OF THE PARTY: 3's are idealists. They are very
creative, social, charming, romantic, and easygoing. They start many
things, but don't always see them through. They like others to be
happy and go to great lengths to achieve it. They are very
popular and idealistic. They should learn to see the world from a
more realistic point of view.



Famous 3's: Alan Alda, Ann Landers, Bill Cosby, Melanie Griffith,
Salvador Dali, and Jodi Foster.

# 4 - THE CONSERVATIVE: 4's are sensible and traditional. They like
order and routine. They only act when they fully understand what they
are expected to do. They like getting
their hands dirty and working hard. They are attracted to the
outdoors and feel an affinity with nature. They are prepared to wait
and can be stubborn and persistent. They should learn to be more
flexible and to be nice to themselves.

Famous 4's: Neil Diamond, Margaret Thatcher, Arnold Schwarzenegger,
Tina Turner, Paul Hogan, Oprah Winfrey

# 5 - THE NONCONFORMIST: 5's are the explorers. Their natural
curiosity, risk taking, and enthusiasm often land them in hot water.
They need diversity, and don't like to be
stuck in a rut. The whole world is their school and they see a
learning possibility in every situation. The questions never stop.
They are well advised to look before they take action and make sure
they have all the facts before jumping to conclusions.

Famous 5's: Abraham Lincoln, Charlotte Bronte, Jessica Walter,
Vincent Van Gogh, Bette Midler, Helen Keller and Mark Hamil.

# 6 - THE ROMANTIC: 6's are idealistic and need to feel useful to be
happy. A strong family connection is important to them. Their
emotions influence their decisions. They have a strong urge to take
care of others and to help. They are very loyal and make great
teachers. They like art or music. They make loyal friends who take
the friendship seriously. 6's should learn to differentiate between
what they can change and what they cannot.

Famous 6's: Albert Einstein, Jane Seymour, John Denver, Meryl Streep,
Christopher Columbus, and Goldie Hawn.

# 7 - THE INTELLECTUAL: 7's are the searchers. Always probing for
hidden information, they find it difficult to accept things at face
value. Emotions don't sway their decisions. Questioning everything in
life, they don't like to be questioned themselves. They're never off
to a fast start, and their motto is slow and steady wins the race.
They come across as philosophers and being very knowledgeable, and
sometimes as loners. They are technically inclined and make great
researchers uncovering information. They like secrets. They live in
their own world and should learn what is acceptable and what not in
the world at large.

Famous 7's: William Shakespeare, Lucille Ball, Michael Jackson, Joan
Baez, and Princess Diana.

# 8 - THE BIG SHOT: 8's are the problem solvers. They are
professional, blunt and to the point, have good judgment and are
decisive. They have grand plans and like to live the good life. They
take charge of people. They view people objectively. They let you
know in no uncertain terms that they are the boss. They should learn
to exude their decisions on their own needs rather than on what
others want.

Famous 8's: Edgar Cayce, Barbara Streisand, George Harrison, Jane
Fonda, Pablo Picasso, Aretha Franklin, Nostradamus.

#9 - THE PERFORMER: 9's are natural entertainers. They are very
caring and generous, giving away their last dollar to help. With
their charm, they have no problem making friends and nobody is a
stranger to them. They have so many different personalities that
people around them have a hard time understanding them. They are like
chameleons, ever changing and blending in. They have tremendous luck,
but also can suffer from extremes in fortune and mood. To be
successful, they need to build a loving foundation.

Famous 9's: Albert Schweitzer, Shirley MacLaine, Harrison Ford, Jimmy
Carter, and Elvis Presley
Printable Issue 235  Today is Friday, February 6th, 2004; Karen's Korner #235

I heard a speaker say the other day that God has given us 7,474 promises which are written in the Bible. Don't know if that is accurate or not, because I haven't counted them!

 

Sometimes the Bible reads like today's newspaper, because it is that personal to us as individuals. And it is better than the news, always.....instead of focusing on bad news and negative happenings........God focuses on good news and positive things, which are happening right now, and way, way off into the future.......

 

Right now I am trudging through reading the book Psalms; not looking for anything special.....just reading some verses and chapters now and again. Here is yesterday's.....remember Luke was born yesterday; making Jamie a mom; and Jim and I grandma and grandpa:

 

PSALMS 113 (in part):  "Hallelujah! O servants of Jehovah, praise His Name. Blessed is His Name forever and forever. Praise Him from sunrise to sunset!....He stoops to look and lifts the poor from the dirt, and the hungry from the garbage dump, and sets them among princes! He gives children to the childless wife, so that she becomes a happy mother......."

 

In the margin of my Bible, I wrote on May 17, 1978, "God gives us what we don't have!" 

 

Same is true in February 2004........

Printable Issue 236  Today is Monday, February 9th, 2004; Karen's Korner #236

As we approach Valentine's Day, I have a couple of valentine-type stories I'd like to share. This one is from a Chicken Soup for the Soul email:

 

Larry and Jo Ann were an ordinary couple. They lived in an ordinary house on an ordinary street. Like any other ordinary couple, they struggled to make ends meet and to do the right things for their children.

They were ordinary in yet another way — they had their squabbles. Much of their conversation concerned what was wrong in their marriage and who was to blame.

Until one day when a most extraordinary event took place.

"You know, Jo Ann, I've got a magic chest of drawers. Every time I open them, they're full of socks and underwear," Larry said. "I want to thank you for filling them all these years."

Jo Ann stared at her husband over the top of her glasses. "What do you want, Larry?"

"Nothing. I just want you to know I appreciate those magic drawers."

This wasn't the first time Larry had done something odd, so Jo Ann pushed the incident out of her mind until a few days later.

"Jo Ann, thank you for recording so many correct check numbers in the ledger this month. You put down the right numbers 15 out of 16 times. That's a record."

Disbelieving what she had heard, Jo Ann looked up from her mending. "Larry, you're always complaining about my recording the wrong check numbers. Why stop now?"

"No reason. I just wanted you to know I appreciate the effort you're making."

Jo Ann shook her head and went back to her mending. "What's got into him?" she mumbled to herself.

Nevertheless, the next day when Jo Ann wrote a check at the grocery store, she glanced at her checkbook to confirm that she had put down the right check number. "Why do I suddenly care about those dumb check numbers?" she asked herself.

She tried to disregard the incident, but Larry's strange behavior intensified.

"Jo Ann, that was a great dinner," he said one evening. "I appreciate all your effort. Why, in the past 15 years I'll bet you've fixed over 14,000 meals for me and the kids."

Then "Gee, Jo Ann, the house looks spiffy. You've really worked hard to get it looking so good." And even "Thanks, Jo Ann, for just being you. I really enjoy your company."

Jo Ann was growing worried. "Where's the sarcasm, the criticism?" she wondered.

Her fears that something peculiar was happening to her husband were confirmed by 16-year-old Shelly, who complained, "Dad's gone bonkers, Mom. He just told me I looked nice. With all this makeup and these sloppy clothes, he still said it. That's not Dad, Mom. What's wrong with him?"

Whatever was wrong, Larry didn't get over it. Day in and day out he continued focusing on the positive.

Over the weeks, Jo Ann grew more accustomed to her mate's unusual behavior and occasionally even gave him a grudging "Thank you." She prided herself on taking it all in stride, until one day something so peculiar happened, she became completely discombobulated:

"I want you to take a break," Larry said. "I am going to do the dishes. So please take your hands off that frying pan and leave the kitchen."

(Long, long pause.) "Thank you, Larry. Thank you very much!"

Jo Ann's step was now a little lighter, her self-confidence higher and once in a while she hummed. She didn't seem to have as many blue moods anymore. "I rather like Larry's new behavior," she thought.

That would be the end of the story except one day another most extraordinary event took place. This time it was Jo Ann who spoke.

"Larry," she said, "I want to thank you for going to work and providing for us all these years. I don't think I've ever told you how much I appreciate it."

Larry has never revealed the reason for his dramatic change of behavior no matter how hard Jo Ann has pushed for an answer, and so it will likely remain one of life's mysteries. But it's one I'm thankful to live with.

You see, I am Jo Ann.

Printable Issue 237  Today is Tuesday, February 10th, 2004; Karen's Korner #237

If you have hung around church or Sunday School very long or are familiar with only a few Bible verses, chances are pretty good that you have heard this one:

 

PSALMS 118:24 - "This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it."

 

Recall that one? Good verse.........when everything is going the way that we would have it go!

 

But what about the days when  we would choose something else? I can recall some of the days right after Merry was killed, running that verse through and through my mind........"this is the day You have made, God.........you want me to rejoice and be glad.....you have everything under control......."  

 

Rejoicing doesn't mean liking everything which happens to us. It means making a choice.........to rejoice or not to rejoice. That choice is ours! It doesn't have to be having BIG bad things happening to us. It can be stupid, silly things which drag us down.

 

So what happens when we choose to "rejoice"? Some of our confusion, frustration, depressing thoughts begin to lessen. God gives us mental, spiritual, and maybe even more physical health.........whether what is happening to us, agrees with our timetable and agenda or not.

 

But just the other day, I read the next verse. I am not familiar with this one:  PSALMS 118.25 - "O Lord, please help us. Save us. Give us success."

 

Very little are we capable of doing on our own.......are we thankful for each day? Chances are pretty good we don't rejoice as often as we should. Stuff will probably happen to us today for which we are going to need help. We are probably going to need Someone to save and rescue us today. If not from a situation, from ourselves and some of the silly thoughts we might have. And we certainly are going to need all of the help to be successful that is possible.

 

"Dear Lord,  thank you for creating us, loving us, helping us, saving us, and making us more successful than we could ever be on our own.......and thank you just for today. Amen." 

Printable Issue 238  Today is Wednesday, February 11th, 2004; Karen's Korner #238

Some short thoughts:

 

 

*     A bird does not sing because it has an answer. 
        It sings because it has a song.
              -- Chinese Proverb 

*     I don't ask for the meaning of the song of a bird or
         the rising of the sun on a misty morning.  There
         they are, and they are beautiful.
             -- Pete Hamill 


*       Whoever enjoys his life is doing the Creator's will.
              -- Jewish Proverb

 

 

*       Luck never gives; it only lends.
              -- Swedish Proverb 

*      Luck is a matter of preparation meeting opportunity.
              -- Oprah Winfrey

 

*     "God is not morally neutral".

            --  Francis Schaeffer 

        (shared by Tiffany Cramer, doing her home schooling writing assignment)

Printable Issue 239  Today is Thursday, February 12th, 2004; Karen's Korner #239

A Valentine story from Chicken Soup for the Soul:

 

A Valentine for Laura
By Don Caskey

Ann, a friend of mine, disliked Valentine's Day as a girl. She was plain – not ugly, but not beautiful. Valentine's Day is not kind to plain girls. It wasn't so bad in elementary school, when the obligatory thirty valentines arrived: one from each classmate. She overlooked the fact that her cards were not oversized like those of the popular girls, and did not contain the love notes like those of the pretty girls. But later, in middle school, the valentine exchange was no longer mandatory. Just when the yearning for romance budded, when the desire for admiration and flirtation became imperative, and a valentine was needed most, no card arrived. Not for Ann. Not for plain girls anywhere. Only for the pretty and the popular. At such a time, stories of ugly ducklings that will one day turn into beautiful swans do not assuage the hurt and rejection.

As fate would have it (and often does), in subsequent years Ann did become pretty and turned many a boy's head. As she received more attention and flirtations, she came to feel – and therefore to be – very beautiful. But even years later, grown and with a family of her own, she did not forget those long-ago days of rejection and dejection.

Today, Ann's family includes two boys in middle school. For a dollar, their Student Council will deliver a Valentine's Day carnation. Ann gives a dollar to each of her boys to buy flowers for their girlfriends. Then she adds another dollar apiece with the instruction: "Pick another girl, one who is nice but plain – someone who probably won't get a flower. Send her a flower anonymously. That way she will know that someone cares, and she will feel special."

Ann has done this for several years, spreading Valentine's Day a little beyond her own world.

One year, Laura, who was plain to behold but beautiful to know, received one of these gifts. Ann's son reported that Laura was so happy and surprised, she cried. All day long, she carried the flower on her books and chattered with the other girls about who her admirer could be. As Ann heard the account, she too had to dry her eyes - for she remembered.

Printable Issue 240  Today is Friday, February 13th, 2004; Karen's Korner #240

This is something which I have been given by my aunt, Helen, who is now 88 years old. She was one of my Sunday School teachers when I was a little girl, and is one of the people who influenced my life.

 

Read it three times:  one, time as you think about yourself; the second time as you think of some young person in your life (I am going to choose our new grandson, Luke!); and a third time, read it as you think of someone who you don't like, have nothing in common with, or who doesn't have much going for them:

 

I am Special

 

I'm special. In all the world there's nobody like me. Since the beginning of time, there has never been another person like me. Nobody has my smile, my eyes, my voice. I'm special.

 

No one can be found who has my handwriting. Nobody anywhere has my tastes--for food or music or art. No one sees things just as I do. In all of time, there's been no one who laughs like me, no one who cries like me. And what makes me laugh and cry will never provoke identical laughter and tears from anybody else, ever.

 

No one reacts to any situation just as I would react. I'm special. I'm the only one in all of creation who has my set of abilities. Oh, there will always be somebody who is better at one of the things I'm good at, but no one in the universe can reach the quality of my combination of talents, ideas, abilities, and feelings. Like a room full of musical instruments, some may excel alone, but none can match the symphony sound when all are played together. I'm a symphony.

 

I'm special. And I'm beginning to realize it's no accident that I'm special. I'm beginning to see that God made me special for a very special purpose. He must have a job for me that no one else can do as well as I. Out of the billions of applicants, only one is qualified, only one has the right combination of what it takes.

 

That one is me. Because.......I'm special!