a quiet life

1 Thessalonians 4:11 make it your ambition to lead a quiet life…

I just finished listening to The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer. I can not recommend it enough. It was so, so good and I am still trying to unpack it. I will probably buy it as a physical copy because while listening to books is great and I can do it while I work or clean or drive, sometimes you need to underline and take notes so that you can remember things and I need to do that with this book. It is one of those books that when you finish reading it, you feel like you need to go back to the beginning and read it again. It goes against every single thing we do in our daily lives. If you did all the things he said, you wouldn’t know who you were. You would not have a tv, read 100 books a year, barely touch your phone, walk slowly, spend time in silence, observe a weekly sabbath day, take long vacations, take deep breaths. You would learn to live like Jesus, listen for his Spirit, slow down and find peace for your soul. You would lead a quiet life.

Sound good? Yes. Unattainable? Sort of. I feel like it was an applicable time to read this book right as Lent is about to begin. Tomorrow I start reading 40 Days of Decrease by Alicia Britt Chole, another of my favorites. I read it every year. I have not yet determined what I will give up for lent, but I am convicted now, after reading J.M.’s book that I need it to be something that slows me down.

This is a short post, and I don’t have anything of great importance to tell you. Just… write back. What do you think about living a quiet life? What, if anything, are you giving up for Lent? Have you read The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry? Let’s start a conversation about slowing down, breathing deep, being quiet.

don’t miss the magic


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I’m again reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. And going through Advent books by Ann Voskamp and Hannah Brencher. I know. Those don’t really relate to each other or go together but bear with me. Today in the Advent reading, Hannah was talking about not missing things in the mundane.

“Our God is a God who orchestrates redemption stories. He is constantly up to something. Where we see random days, he sees so much purpose. Where we see lines in a story, he reads between those lines and fills our days with all kinds of serendipity.” Hannah Brencher

We have to be present. We have to look up from our phones. We have to be watching. If we don’t want to miss it. How much are we missing by crashing on the couch and watching tv? This season has been hard and it has been so easy to just be numb and ignore everything. To veg out in front of the television, ignore the news, ignore the pandemic, and escape into another world for a few hours. Obviously there is nothing wrong with this. I fully support binge watching shows. Especially funny ones that make you laugh.

But now I am pondering… what am I missing out on?

Elizabeth Gilbert says; “ The courage to go on that hunt in the first place – that’s what separates a mundane existence from a more enchanted one. The often surprising results of the hunt – that’s what I call Big Magic.” I know. she isn’t writing from a Christian perspective. I’m not in any way saying that. But if you haven’t read Big Magic I do highly recommend it. From a creative/writing perspective it is an inspirational book that makes me want to wildly pursue my dreams and never look back.

Separate the mundane from the enchanted. Separate normal every day life from what God sees in between the lines. Fill our days with serendipity. Isn’t that what we are longing for? To see the world as God see it? To see the magic?

Mary Oliver, whom I have recently come to love, asks the question “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your. one wild and precious life?”

Covid has made this hard. I know. Pursuing dreams seems inaccessible. Out of reach. It feels like we have had to press pause on our entire lives. Did you think it would last this long? Did you think, oh we will have a few weeks of this, maybe a month and then we will be back to normal life? And I refuse to call this life our “new normal” because that is what they called our lives after the bombing and it is a huge trigger for me. My life after the bombing was my new normal. A leg that doesn’t work, pain, trauma, ptsd. That is my new normal. I won’t go back to how I was before the bomb. Covid will go away. There are many vaccines. In a year or two we won’t be thinking about it much. That is not a new normal. That is a temporary (terrible) trial that we are enduring, walking through to the other side.

When lockdown started it was sort of nice right? We don’t have to go anywhere. We can curl up on the couch and binge watch shows and eat whatever we have delivered to the house. And it was kind of like a terrible vacation where you didn’t know when you would go back to work or if you would, but if you forgot all of those things… It was sort of this break from the world. Right? And now we are 10 months into this pandemic and we are heading into a new year and people keep saying I can’t wait for 2021. (As if covid will disappear as soon as the clock strikes 12). Which it won’t.

My point is, it was ok during lock down to veg out and ignore reality and put a pause on your dreams. Because everything was crazy. Everything was so unknown. We had to focus so hard on just living. And NOW, it is still crazy and still unknown, but have your dreams been on pause for 10 months? Have you been waking up each day wishing it was time to go back to bed? And I am not minimizing the trial of this time. It has been HARD. But I know that I need to stop trudging along through each day just hoping to get through it. I hope we get through today, and tomorrow, and this season, and this pandemic. But when you look back on 2020 what did you do? What did I accomplish? Where was the magic? It is there if you try to see it. Make a list. Mine looks something like this…

  1. I got to really know my neighbors and develop relationships with them
  2. I spent more time with my family
  3. I got to spend months in Texas with my family there building relationships with them that have made us closer than ever
  4. I saved enough $ to buy a new car
  5. We had home church during lock down and that was such a sweet time. It was a blessing to grow close to a smaller group of people

I am trying to put things into place. I am trying to start seeing between the lines. I am trying to not miss the magic. Tell me. “What is it you will do with your one wild and precious life?” Lets go into 2021 seeing the magic. Seeing God’s hands at work. Let’s pursue our dreams as much as we can. Let’s walk into it with open hands. Pandemic or not! Let’s figure out what we are learning through this hard time and put it into words or art or music or a podcast or a blog or an encouraging conversation with a friend.

Start small. Start with a half hour a day. Open your eyes. Look around you at the grocery store. Notice other people. Look in their eyes and smile. (they can tell, even if you have a mask on I promise)

“This is a time that won’t come again. God will never duplicate it in this lifetime. And I believe he wants to show up and show off for us throughout this Advent season. [And this pandemic]” HB

So, show up. Look between the lines. Try to see what God is doing. Try to see the magic.

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean—
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

the lonely year

wow guys this year has just been… I don’t even know what to say about it.



Staying home, wearing masks, not traveling or seeing the people you love as much as you would like. Or at all… Working from home. Schooling from home.

COVID is affecting everyone. Obviously. But I have been thinking more and more about how our mental health is being scarred. How will we come out of this year and be able to go back into community and not be scared to be near people, or be comfortable in crowds? I was already. uncomfortable in crowds. and this has exponentially increased those fears. How have mental health concerns increased over this year? I did a little digging and here are some stats that I found.

There has been a 93% increase over the 2019 total number of anxiety screens and a 62% increase over the 2019 total number of depression screens. Over 8 in 10 people who took a depression screen have scored with symptoms of moderate to severe depression consistently since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. 37% of people reported having thoughts of suicide more than half or nearly every day in September 2020. 70% reported that one of the top three things contributing to their mental health concerns was loneliness or isolation.

 (Stats From Mental Health America: https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america)

This pandemic is 100% affecting our mental health. Look at that last statistic again. 70% say that one of the top three things contributing to their mental health concerns is loneliness/isolation. Of course we had loneliness and isolation before covid. But the mandated distance from others has severely increased these numbers. The affects of wearing a mask and not seeing people’s smiles or facial expressions can be very isolating. Add in staying 6 ft apart, not being able to hug people, not being able to go about our normal lives, hang out with friends, eat indoors at restaurants… We are not made for this.

But just knowing that doesn’t help. The weight of balancing would you rather get exposed to covid or would you rather preserve your mental health and be in community with others brings pressure and anxiety of its own! Everyone is struggling with the balance. How do I balance being wise, smart, respectful of others, while still maintaining my mental health and community? I do not want to expose myself or others to covid, but, I do not want to neglect my family and friends and church body. I do not want to feel alone nor let others feel alone when I can comfort them or provide rest or encouragement for them.

As the winter months are now upon us and a second stay at home order could be impending. (Who knows if it will come or not.) Finding ways to remain close to others while remaining distant is a constant challenge. One that desperately needs more of our attention. The winter will be hard. I want you to know you are not alone. If you need to spend time with someone reach out to me. I have a great front porch. I know its cold. Ee can bundle up with blankets and coffee. We can face time or talk on the phone. Don’t sit there feeling lonely. Reach out to someone else. Chances are they are feeling lonely too. Let’s make the rest of this pandemic a really sweet time to get (safely) closer to the people around us.

How can we break up the loneliness? How can we spread love and joy to others? How can we create community, and closeness, and “embrace” those who are feeling alone? What are some creative ways you have found to create community while remaining socially distant? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Day 28


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I sat outside for a while this morning. Just in silence. Thanking. Praying. Planning. Trying to let my mind go black. Trying to listen. In case I was missing something. But you know when you sit outside the silence isn’t really silent. My wind chime plays its own low ringing melody. The trees whisper in the breeze. The squirrels yell at each other. Presumably because they are hogging the good nuts. And the birds. The birds. They are SO loud today. Screeching and singing and calling to one another. Not a care in the world these birds. They are just so happy to be alive on this beautiful sunny day. And then that’s where my mind went. These birds don’t worry about anything. They aren’t worried about getting the Corona. They aren’t worried that their loved ones might get sick. They aren’t worried that they could be putting their lives in danger every time they go to the grocery store. They aren’t worried that they can’t give their friends a hug. Or that the people they love are so far away.






Matthew 6:26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Luke 12:24 …Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not Abe to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

Maybe it’s not profound. Maybe it won’t impact you as it has impacted me. But the world is crazy right now. It is scary. And a lot of us are all alone. We are separated from our communities, our loved ones, our friends… And in this aloneness, it is so easy to be scared. To over think. But go outside. Listen to the birds sing. They aren’t worried. And you…you are more valuable to God than a bird. He’s got this whole big crazy thing under control. Even if we can’t see it. He is working in this silence. Lean into the silence. Lean into the stillness. And listen.

Listen to the birds.

it’s the world gone crazy


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If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds. C. S. Lewis

Coronavirus has brought the world to a standstill. People are hiding in their homes.  Panic buying. The toilet paper is gone. Shelves are cleared in supermarkets. People are waiting hours in lines. Major League sports have cancelled or postponed their seasons. Around the world gatherings are being cancelled. Churches are putting services online. People are scared to go out of their houses. I have never washed my hands so much, used so much hand sanitizer, or wiped surfaces multiple times daily with disinfectant wipes.

I am really struggling with how to respond to all of this. I have never experienced a global pandemic. I have been in Texas with my aunt & uncle since the beginning of February. I am away far away from my home and my family. Things are so uncertain. Will I be able to get home to Asheville when it is time for me to go home? Will I even be able to cross state lines? Will I be stuck in Texas forever? (GASP THE HORROR) It feels so unsettling to not be at one’s home. Near one’s family, but, I know I am exactly where I am supposed to be. I know God put me here because my Aunt and Uncle are going to need my help, and I am happy to be where I am supposed to be.

But I am a little scared. I am a little worried. Where do you even turn during this. How do you survive a global pandemic? How do you keep two little kids home from school for weeks and entertain them and make sure they don’t spend 100% of their time playing video games? Will people that I love get sick? Will people that I love die?

It is my natural tendency to panic. Not outwardly panic. Google panic. I research everything. I have been checking news updates obsessively. I read one thing and think oh good it won’t be that bad, I read another and think omg we’re all going to die. I walk around the house with disinfectant wipes. I diffuse something random as if it is going to save us…

I read facts and statistics… Ebola killed 11,315 people, Spanish Flu 20-50 MILLION, The Black Death 75-200 MILLION…. surely it won’t be that bad. And the world survived those things… And they didn’t have modern medicine…

I know I need to fall on my knees and pray. PRAY. I know there is NOTHING else I can do. I know that no matter the spread of this virus, God is 100% in control. Take a deep breath Gina. God brought me through a terrorist attack. I thought I was going to die then. And I had such peace about it. What makes this any different? I had time to think about it and prepare for it and stock pile toilet paper (no I didn’t do that really)… But that doesn’t mean God is any less in control.

If corona is coming for us lets do more of these things. Let’s love more and do more good and make more memories. Let’s spend quality time (over FaceTime) Finish that project you’ve been putting off. Write that book you’ve been wanting to write (that’s for me too) Clean that closet you never look at… Read to your kids. Make some amazing memories. If corona is coming let us be THRIVING — “not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs.” [or coronavirus]

God’s got us. We are alive. Right now.

There’s still time for LOVE.

There’s still time for relationships.

There’s still time for HOPE.

Stay safe out there ❤

2019 Book List

I try to read as many books as my age each year. Here’s the list for 2019. I would love your suggestions for books I should read this year!

  1. Elinor Oliphant by Gail Honeyman
  2. The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  3. Tender At The Bone by Ruth Reichl
  4. One Day In December by Josie Silver
  5. Map of Days by Ransom Riggs
  6. The Clockmakers Daughter by Kate Morton
  7. The Care & Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
  8. Circe by Madeline Miller
  9. The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis
  10. Indestructible by Ally Fallon
  11. Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio
  12. All the Harry Potter Books by J. K. Rowling
  13. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeliene L’Engle
  14. Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maude Montgomery
  15. Talking as Fast as I can by Lauren Graham
  16. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  17. The Gurensey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows
  18. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
  19. Delay Don’t Deny by Gin
  20. I Found You by Lisa Jewell
  21. Delicious by Ruth Reichl
  22. My Family & Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
  23. Save Me The Plums by Ruth Reichl
  24. Trauma & Recovery by Judith Herman
  25. Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maude Montgomery
  26. Sanditon by Jane Austen
  27. Maybe You Should Talk To Someone by Lori Gottleib
  28. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  29. All Quiet On The Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque
  30. The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk
  31. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  32. The Princess by Lori Wick
  33. Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgraff & Georgia Hardstark
  34. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  35. The Fellowship of The Ring by JRR Tolkien
  36. The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
  37. Sense & Sensibility by Jane Austen
  38. The Magicians Nephew by C. S. Lewis



Start Where You Are

“No one lives out an exciting calling without just plunging forward at some point, full of fear and uncertainty.” Shauna Niequist

I think New Year’s can be so anxiety laden. There’s so much pressure to make resolutions. To plan things out. To make the next year better than the last. To grow, to learn, to push yourself into something else. To lose weight, to finish a huge project, to finally meet that person you’re going to marry (as if you have any control over that)…

There’s just so much pressure we put on the new year. And in a few weeks the gyms will be empty again (Thank God) and people will have given up on their diets, and that project will be buried under the junk mail, and you will go on, much as you were going on in December.

Today I was going to be up by 7am and had grand plans of all the things that would be done by 9. My kitchen would be clean, I would have my coffee made, my room picked up, my devos done, 1/2 hour of yoga, and I would be writing by 8 am. But I didn’t sleep last night, so when my alarm went off at 7, I hit snooze, a lot of times. I didn’t get up until 8 and got out of bed already feeling SO behind.

I am reading Savor, by Shauna Niequest and today the title was Start Where You Are and it just hit me. You don’t have to have everything lined up. You don’t have to have a huge plan. You don’t have to dramatically change your life so that 2020 is SO different from 2019. You just have to start where you are. I am not a total failure because I slept in one hour and messed up my whole “plan”. I just started an hour later and I will still have time to get all those things done today. Just not by 9 am.

I have been writing down things I want to pursue and focus on for this next year. Trying to create a clear vision. So I can say yes to the things that are important and more easily say no to things that don’t fit into my goals. I never like saying no to people. I want to help everyone. I want to be there for everyone. Do all the things. But this year I want to try to be intentional. I want to cultivate deep and meaningful relationships. I want to pursue my dreams. I want to create a welcoming and cozy home where people feel comfortable dropping by. I want to excel in my job. I am taking classes at Oxford and I want to do well. These all seem like huge things. But I am just going to start where I am. I am going to say yes to things that push me closer to my goals. And I am going to start trying to say no to things that don’t take me in the right direction. Which I think mostly for me is watching too much tv when I could be using my time more productively.

It’s not about huge goals or resolutions. It’s about starting where you are. Its about baby steps in the right direction. Just doing the next right thing. You look at your goals and you take a step. It’s not I need to lose 50 lbs and when I haven’t accomplished that by the end of January I give up. It’s I need to be healthy so do I eat this cookie or that apple? And take the right step. It not I should have finished writing my whole book by this week, its did I spend time writing today. Did I spend time reading and filling myself up so that I had words to pour out of me onto the page? Start where you are. Do the next right thing. And if you mess up, start again, where you are.

Take a step in the right direction. Put some goals up on your bathroom mirror. I like to use a dry erase marker. That way every morning when you are getting ready you will see them and it will remind you of what you are striving for. Maybe put a sticky note on your tv. Did you read a book today? Before you spend 4 hours scrolling through Netflix? Put a note by your bed. Did you wash the dishes before bed? Or will they sit there until tomorrow? What are the things you want to get better at? And what do you want to be intentional about moving towards? I’d love to hear some of your goals for this new year.

Let’s all start where we are. And see what great things come in 2020.

“You don’t win a year at a time. You win a day and a week at a time. Win the day. Win the week. Repeat.”–Shane Bishop


Get off my bus

Imagine you are a bus driver. You have a beautiful new bus that you can design and decorate any way you want. You have spent time making it look so cozy and inviting. There are only two rules about your bus. 1. You have to follow your designated bus route. 2. You have to pick up everyone at the bus stop that wants to get on your bus. You can’t turn anyone away.

You start your first day of work so excited! Your bus looks great, its a sunny day and you are so excited to meet people and drive around your beautiful city. The first stop comes into view and there are three older woman laughing and talking waiting for you. They look like they are having the time of their lives! You are so happy to welcome them onto your bus. Their names are Joy, Hope, and Faith. They chat with you as they board and sit in comfy seats around you and continue their happy banter as you progress to the next stop.

As you approach the next stop you see a man standing there. He is the scariest looking man you have ever see. He looks ANGRY. You hesitate. You don’t want him coming onto your bus. But… rule #2. So you stop and open the door. He GLARES at you as he comes up the steps and sits in the very back right behind you, so every time you look in the rear view mirror you can see him staring angrily at you.

And you move on.

The bus is you. The people on the bus are your emotions, events happening in your life, bad days, good days, chronic pain, migraines, laughter, etc… The point? Who is driving your bus? YOU. You should be driving your bus. You shouldn’t let any of those other things/feelings/events drive your bus. It is YOUR BUS. This is a scenario I talked with my therapist about the other day. Who is driving your bus? The point is you can continue on your day, go through and fulfill all your responsibilities, hang out with friends, go to your job etc, with these things/feelings/events sitting on your bus. They are just passengers. You are still in charge of the bus’ route. But as soon as you let anger, or fear, or pain start driving the bus, you lose control of where the bus is going.

Today my pain is driving my bus. It has been a LONG day. A HARD day. A day filled with a lot of tears. I went to band practice, and then I stopped in at a party. I knew like 5 people and I felt so alone and out of place, so I left after 5 minutes. As I was driving home I looked in my rear view mirror and looked at my pain and said “ MAN I JUST WISH YOU WOULD GET OFF MY BUS!” I know it doesn’t work like that, but in that moment it felt good to yell at it. Tomorrow is a new day. Fresh with no mistakes. Fresh with me starting at the wheel. Hopefully pain will have a harder time taking over tomorrow.

Who’s driving your bus?

I hope it’s you.

Lent Day 1

Growing up I always thought Lent was a Catholic holiday. My grandparents were Catholic and Lent meant fish fries on Fridays and that’s about it. Grandma told me to give things up for lent. One year I think I gave up chewing gum. Another year I might have given up chocolate.

This year for some reason, I’ve been thinking about lent a lot, so I started doing some research. What does it means, what is it’s purpose, why do people observe it? It is observed in preparation for Easter. 40 days, to represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert being tempted by the devil, or also 40 days that Moses spent on Mt. Sinai. Ash Wednesday, which is today, is the beginning of Lent for Western Christian churches. It’s a day of penitence to clean the soul before the Lent fast. Lent ends on the Thursday before Good Friday.

The word “Lent” comes from the old English, “lencten,” which means “lengthen” or “spring.” It comes from when the days begin to lengthen as spring is approaching.

Lent is a period of abstinence preparatory to the Feast of Easter. Father J. Michael Sparough says that Lent is a way to “Renew our spirits by entering into this season of holy discipline to prepare for the joy of the resurrection.”


I ordered this book by C.S. Lewis to use as a devotional throughout Lent. I’m not sure what I’m going to give up. I think it will be television. This year has been hard and I want to make sure I am doing all the right things. Following the right path. Doing the things I need to do. I’ve been listening to Goliath Must Fall by Louie Giglio and I just love that he said that “We are not David in the story of David & Goliath. Jesus is David. Jesus is the giant killer. Jesus fights the battles for us. Jesus stares down the face of impossible odds. The giant falls because of the work of JESUS.” Louie Giglio (Goliath Must Fall) So maybe there aren’t too many things I need to be doing. But I do know that I need to work on my foundation. My relationship with Jesus.

With my neck and back problems there’s a lot of talk about your brain and your body not working together ad how you need to reprogram it and I see this reflected not just in my body and my mind, but also my spirit. My body and my mind think I have to DO things all the time. I have to keep working and keep trying and keep moving forward, trying to be better, trying to figure it out, but my spirit keeps telling me to be still. And to be honest, I am really crap at being still. Since the bombing especially, I haven’t had too many quiet moments. I either have music, an audio book, or the television on. At the beginning it was because I was scared. The hospital was loud. I did it as a coping mechanism to drown everything else out. I don’t know if that is still why I do it, or if it is just because I am so used to it now that silence seems like impending doom. But maybe that is what I will focus on this Lenten season.

Being still. Being ok with the quiet. Spending time listening. Just being. Without distraction. My phone says I pick it up 116 times a day. I get 714 notifications per day. I spend 30 hours a week on my phone. Yes my job requires me to be on my phone, so a lot of that is work, but that’s still insane. I’ve forgotten how to be still. How to be quiet. How to relax without checking my phone, or my computer. So, I guess for the next 40 days, I’m going to be learning how to be quiet. Are any of you doing something for lent? I’d love to hear about it.

Middle finger to the darkness


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Be loved. Be known. Love people and know people. Be so brave as to raise a hand for help when you need it. Make friends and make sure they know they matter. Be loyal to them and fight for them. Remind them what’s true and invite them to do the same when you forget. If you do some losing or you walk with someone else in their defeat, live with dignity and grace. 

It is a middle finger to the darkness.

Words by Jamie Tworkowski