Web Site: http://www.judyscharfenberg.com
Bio: I was wife to Richard for over 42 years, mother of 6 and grandmother to 16 sweetie pies. I've been a high school dropout, teenage wife and mom, single working parent, stay at home mom, service rep for the phone company, children's librarian for 16 years, now retired and busy with speaking, teaching, mentoring and counseling. I have been published in four books, Rest Stops for Teachers, Rest Stops for Busy Moms and Grace Givers, Amazing Stories of Grace in Action. My full-length book, Secure Families in a Shaky World has recently been released and is available through www.redemptionpress.com, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I am a speaker for Stonecroft Ministries and for conferences, retreats and all other womens' events. You'll often find me training, speaking or mentoring. I absolutely love encouraging women. Oh, if you add to that playing with a grandkid and not having to cook dinner; it's a perfect day. You can hear two of my messages at www.ranchobaptistchurch.org, click on sermons and then May 19, 2007, Keys to a Joyful Heart and December 6, 2008, The Heart of Christmas.
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Aunt Polly and Meatballs
My Aunt Polly is 90 years old. She is spry, dresses in style, cleans her own house, shovels the snow from her driveway in winter, lives in a two-story house with a basement and travels those stairs several times a day. She is quite impressive and I want to be just like her.
I recently spent a week in her home. She spoiled me rotten. Aunt Polly is my mom’s sister and they look and act very much alike. I had a few speaking engagements while I was there and she worried about me until I got home, just like my mom used to. She had dinner waiting when I arrived. I felt like a little girl again and it was a wonderful treat. My mom’s been gone for over thirty years and I still miss that kind of treatment.
One day I was telling Aunt Polly how much my kids and my grandkids love my turkey meatballs. I’ve been making these for years. She immediately asked, “Judy, those sound delicious. Could you make them while you’re here?” Of course I agreed. I was so happy I could do something for her. Last time I visited I bought her a hair dryer and gave her a few tips on how to give her hair body and she was thrilled.
So we made a trip to the market, bought the ingredients and Sunday afternoon, after church, I whipped those babies up. I never tire of the delicious aroma. Aunt Polly made some wild rice, prepared some green beans and our meal was ready.
She LOVED them. I knew she would. There was enough left over and here’s where the cuteness comes in. She made about three more meals with the leftovers, put them in individual containers and told me she would enjoy these during the long, cold winter.
It’s the little things, people.
Changing Lives, Little by Little
Seasoned Turkey Meatballs
2 lbs. ground turkey
1 onion, grated
¾ c. seasoned bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
½ c. butter
3 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 c. milk
1 c. water
In large bowl, combine first four ingredients and 1 tsp. salt. Shape into one-inch meatballs. In skillet, over med-high heat, melt butter. Brown meatballs on all sides. Remove meatballs. Stir in flour, pepper and 1 tsp. salt using a whisk. Gradually stir in milk and water; heat to bubbling, stirring continuously to loosen bits from skillet. Return meatballs to skillet; heat to bubbling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer ten minutes stirring occasionally. Serve over white rice. Your favorite vegetable or green salad will finish this meal beautifully. If you want your gravy a little darker, use a splash of Kitchen Bouquet.
I was driving home today in bumper to bumper traffic. I looked down for a second and yeah, you guessed it. I tapped the guy in front of me. Now I know everyone says tap, but when I say tap, I mean tap. I didn’t have my foot on the accelerator, just on the brake, but you know how you can be rolling and you don’t even realize it? That’s what happened.
Thank you Lord for excellent brakes.
So this fellow, cool looking dude with sunglasses, slowly opens his door, gets out of his car, swaggers to the back, looks at his bumper, turns to me in disgust, shaking his head and gets back in his car. At the same time, I am out of the car crying, “I am soooo sorry.” I felt like a dirty rotten scoundrel with no way to make it right.
I got back in my car defending myself, you know how it goes. Trying to make a wrong situation a little bit “more right,” thinking how rude he was and hey, I didn’t mean to do it, I’m sure he thought I was texting and I wasn’t and there wasn’t any damage, etc., etc., etc.,
When it comes down to it, I was in the wrong!!! I wasn’t watching, I hit his car and I can thank God because it could have been a lot worse.
I am always looking for a teachable moment, a takeaway. It wasn’t until I got home, told the story a couple of times to my family and then relived it in a quiet moment. Here’s what I came up with.
Don’t look down. One moment of inattention causes most accidents on the road. (True, read the stats.)
Be gracious and understanding. (Colossians 3:12, Philippians 2:3) What if I had been the one who was hit? I know I would have been irritated. And who knows what kind of day this fellow had. He might have been at the end of his rope.
Pray. (Colossians 4:2) Isn’t this a golden opportunity to pray for someone? My grandmother was the only Christian who knew me when I was born. She prayed for me for 31 years and one day I heard about Jesus and asked Him to come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. We will never know until we get to heaven, just how much our prayers have meant.
Do not let situations like this define you. ( Ephesians 4:24, 1 Peter 2:9, John 1:12) Yes, I did something wrong and I am not going to look down in bumper to bumper traffic, I will pay attention, but I am not a bad person. My heart is in the right place. Jesus sees me a lot differently than this fellow does. This is where my worth comes from.
Changing You, Little by Little
Photo Shooting in the 60’s
My oldest daughter and I walk every morning and we’ve never run out of anything to talk about. This morning she asked me, “Mom, do you remember when you took David and me to the San Diego Mission de Alcala and out to the bay for pictures when we were little? You wanted pictures for our Christmas cards one year.”
The memory came back as if it was yesterday. Yes, I remember. It was November, 1969 and I think we went out at least two different times. We had to go on a Sunday because I was a single parent. I worked full time and Saturday was house cleaning day. So one Sunday I dressed them in green and we went to the bay and another Sunday it was a blue dress for Melissa (matched her beautiful blue eyes) and a white shirt and red tie for David and we went to the mission.
Melissa told me, “Mom, you were photo shooting before you even knew what that meant.” I guess I was. At the time I know I was determined to make a memory.
You know, the older I get the more regrets I have. Especially when I see what moms are doing today with their children; home schooling, (unheard of in my circle of friends and impossible for a working mom), play groups, soccer and tennis meets, swim club, home groups, MOPS and the list goes on and on.
I dug through a big box of pictures last night and found them. Thanks Melissa for encouraging me this morning. It did my heart good.
Changing You, Little by Little
I’m Not Giving You My Key
My best friend was telling me about her new condo and she was excited. She’d been rooming with a co-worker and this new place was all hers and now she would have privacy, not to mention the pool, the clubhouse, the two bedrooms and two baths. I was excited for her and said excitedly, “Now I can come and visit you.”
She said, “Yeah, but I’m not giving you a key!” Her statement was funny at the time. I assured her I would never visit unannounced and only when invited.
My daughter and I took a walk later that morning and as I was telling her about it we began to play a little game. As we passed people on our walk we asked each other, “Would they give us their key?” depending on their friendliness. It’s surprising how many we shook our heads at and said, “Nah, I don’t think they’d give us their key.”
Later I began to give the idea some serious thought. Would I have said that? I don’t think so. I would like to think that I would say, “Here’s my key. Come over any time you want.” I love to have people over, for dinner, for the night, for game night or just for coffee and dessert.
I have a good friend who came home from work one day and her husband was lying on the floor, dead from a heart attack. Naturally, her life was shattered. She was a recluse for quite some time and it’s taken a long time for her to get back to the living. Another friend talked her into volunteering at her local hospital. She went, reluctantly. You should see her now. She reads to patients, writes letters for them, sometimes she just listens to them, gives them a word of encouragement; she’s a real funny gal and most of the time she can bring a smile to their faces. Wanda is smiling too. You can’t give without smiling. She’s a happy woman again and she feels like her life has meaning and purpose. It’s really true; when we give ourselves to others we will feel better. I think Wanda would give me her key.
Everyone loves to give at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We’re listening to those beautiful carols about peace on earth and good will towards men. Christmas is almost upon us and we’re going to get busy and bake our cookies and pumpkin bread and visit the convalescent hospitals. It’s what we do. We tell ourselves, “This is great. I’m going to do this more often.” But the holidays pass, we’re back into our routine and somehow we just can’t fit it all in. (Did you know there are more visitors at convalescent hospitals in the month of December than at any other time of year?) We need to “fit it in” the rest of the year also. This is an excellent thing for families to do together. Teach your children about giving out keys.
There’s a postal clerk named Mike who has worked on the campus of Penn State University for over 30 years. He says he’s determined to make people feel good. They must really like him because the customers line up and wait for a long time so Mike can serve them. He says, “If you can’t say something nice about someone, you’re not looking hard enough.” One of his customers said, “I love coming in here. Mike is pure heart. He makes your day so much better.” Mike is a gentle, kind looking man. I would want to wait in his line too. Mike would give us his key.
I love to encourage people, but after hearing about Mike, I decided to really look for more ways to do that. I didn’t feel like cooking one night, so I ended up at Baja Fresh for a salad for me and at Five Guys for a hamburger for my husband. I watched the woman who took our order, as she waited on customers and I noticed something. When she smiled her whole face changed; it was radiant. When I paid for my salad, I told her, “You have the most beautiful smile. Your whole face lights up.” She was still beaming when I left. Then I went to Five Guys and ordered my husband’s burger. There was a tall young man who was putting the burgers together, stuffing them in a sack and then he’d announce in a booming voice, “Order nuuummmmber 42 is ready.” His voice was deep and it projected clear across the room. I picked up my burger and asked him, “Have you ever thought of radio or TV announcing? You have a terrific voice for that.” Big smile on his face. I just love it. Do you think those two went home that night thinking about those compliments? I know they did. They might start giving people their key.
Let me tell you about another kind of key. This is a key that is always available, it never rusts and it always works. It’s the key to heaven and that key is Jesus. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Jesus invites you to ask Him into your life and heart. He’ll change your live, all you have to do is ask Him. If you would like to know more about that, contact me. I’ll give you the key.
Changing You, Little by Little
A Man on a Bike
I almost missed an opportunity to encourage someone yesterday. Thanks to my daughter Melissa, it didn’t get away from us. You’re going to love this.
Melissa and I walk every morning; it’s about a three-mile walk through our neighborhood and then around a lovely lake. We pass a lot of people every day and a lot of times we stop and chat for a minute. Today we saw a man on a bike; it wasn’t the first time. We’ve seen him before and we’ve noticed how determined he is, head bent over the handlebars, forging ahead.
We were almost home when he rode by yesterday. Melissa impulsively yelled, “You are losing weight!” The man on the bike came to a halt, put one foot on the street and turned around to look at us. His mouth dropped open and he was speechless. Melissa said, “You don’t have to stop, we just wanted to tell you we can see you’re losing weight. You look great!”
The man exclaimed, “No, I have to stop because this is amazing, simply amazing. I have been losing weight for several weeks. I’ve lost inches on my waistline.” (He put his two hands up to show us how much) “I’ve had to punch more holes in my belts and do you know not one single member of my family or the people I work with have said anything to me about it. And now you two tell me I look thinner. If I wasn’t married I’d kiss you.” He rode off, shaking his head and mumbling, “This is amazing!”
Wow. We could have walked on by and just talked about it to ourselves. But we didn’t. And now a man rides on home with even more determination. Who knows when he was encouraged the last time?
Melissa and I were encouraged as well. What did that take? Five minutes? And a man on a bike goes home with a smile on his face. His pace has picked up a bit and he’s more determined than ever.
You are going to see people like this man on a bike who need a good word. Keep your eyes open. They’re easy to spot.
“……encouraging one another; and all the more as you
see the day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25)
Changing You, Little by Little.
Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a land far, far away there was a small and poor country called Sackcloth. Although the people in this country were impoverished, they all found ways of getting involved in their one great love; baseball. Baseball was the national pastime and it was played everywhere. Everyone, young and old alike, played in one of the many leagues that had formed. There was a toddler league, a children’s league, high school league, an over-the-hill league and even a left-hander’s league. This was all well and fine, but they all agreed and put their money on a superior league called The Saulville Saints. Boys went to bed at night dreaming of making the first cut for the Saints. The Saints had won the Universe Series twelve years in a row. Last year they had beat the Dogwood Demons in four games straight!
Alpha Omega was the manager and his word was law. He remembers one spring training when a young man named Wavering, a little unsure in the blush of youth, showed great promise when he came on the scene. Wavering was fleet of foot, quick of eye and nimble as a cat. He had a deep love for the game of baseball, but had not yet refined his raw ability. Alpha saw past his immaturity and envisioned his potential. This young man was going to go places. With his skill and Alpha’s coaching, the sky was the limit. Alpha began to personally tutor him.
All through spring training you could watch this rookie begin to hit the ball with authority, steal bases with ease and make diving catches in the outfield. Wavering blossomed under Alpha’s instruction.
Then came the BIG DAY; the final pre-season game to determine who would make THE TEAM.
The entire village of Sackcloth was in the stands that day, earnestly watching their heroes perform. The lead changed back and forth as the teams battled each other.
The score was tied seven to seven in the bottom of the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs when Wavering came to bat. In the dugout Alpha gave the sign for a suicide squeeze bunt. Wavering couldn’t believe his eyes. He knew that he could blast the ball to kingdom come. Alpha knew it too. Nevertheless the sign held. Ignoring the signal Wavering proceeded to hit the first pitch over the fence for a grand slam home run, winning the game and sending 50,000 delirious fans home, raving about THE HIT that won the game.
Now the stands are empty. The locker room is strewn with uniforms, showing signs of a recent celebration. Happy players are drifting out of the stadium excitedly talking about the upcoming season. But back in the corner of the dugout Alpha speaks softly to Wavering. “I’m sorry son. You won’t be playing with the Saints. You’re a terrific athlete and you had a brilliant future, but what I really need is someone to follow the rules without question. Yes, we won today and you will be called a hero, but you will never know the plans I had for you.
He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is
who loves Me and he who loves Me shall be loved by my
Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.
Changing You, Little by Little.
More Precious Than Jewels
“Who can find a capable wife? She is far more precious than jewels.” (Proverbs 31:10)
Beth’s recent email is proof of the wise young woman she is. I wish more young women solved their problems like she does. Here’s what she wrote:
“Claudia, I don’t know what I do that encourages the distance between Mark and me. Our anniversary is next week, and I only see grounds to observe it, not celebrate it. My marriage isn’t bad; it’s just not good right now. My needs and desires almost consume me, and I feel cheated. In the beginning, I had such high hopes. I always dreamed of a knight in shining armor whisking me away – don’t we all?
Mark is preoccupied and busy. He goes to work, comes home, eats, watches television, mumbles a word or two and then goes to bed. I feel like I’m not even there. And I’m no better. Really. I know I need to focus on the worthy things in Mark, but my heart tells me other things are more important to him, and it hurts. Then I remember the list of his good qualities I wrote in my journal just a few weeks ago. He’s a believer, he attends church, he brings his paycheck home, he is intelligent, he’s healthy, he’s faithful to our marriage and last weekend he installed five ceiling fans in the house.
And then I remind myself of what God would have to say about this. As I honor and respect Mark, I know my heart will change in time and I believe Mark’s will too. ‘An excellent wife is the crown of her husband.’ ” That’s my comfort and my strength.
Your husband comes to you with years of training, conditioning, beliefs, hopes and dreams. Sometimes he’s wounded and that wounded boy lives on into adulthood. Treat him respectfully. Look beyond your needs and be gracious and grateful. Look for something for which you can praise him. It may seem little to you, but to him it’ll be big. He needs your approval, your support and your encouragement. He needs you on his team, not on his back. The Lord is pleased with a gentle and giving spirit. God will give you the strength and it’s just ironic. You treat your guy like a king and he’s going to treat you like a queen. Everyone wins.
Further reading: 1 Peter 3: 1-6 and 2 Peter 1:3-11
Contact me for an additional resource – $10 includes S/H
30 Days of Encouraging Your Husband Journal
Changing You, Little by Little.
Words I spoke at my brother’s memorial in North Olmsted, Ohio.
I’d like to tell you a little bit about my brother Dave. We actually began our lives here in Ohio. In 1953 we moved to California when our Dad was transferred by the Navy. And years later, in 1971 Dave moved his family back to Ohio. Although he loved San Diego and the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful beaches, (one of his favorite things to do was body surf) he also loved Ohio with its older homes, quieter neighborhoods, trees, fishing on Lake Erie and especially having the four seasons. We had many visits over the years, but they were never often enough or long enough.
Dave was my only sibling for a long time. We have a dear brother, Jonny, but he’s 30 years younger than us and we didn’t get to know him well until he was an adult. Brothers and sisters have a unique relationship; for many years it was Dave and me and we told each other everything. When we were kids I never let him forget that I was thirteen months older and he had to do everything I said. That worked for awhile until he grew up. Then he told me a thing or two.
I was so proud of the things he accomplished. Mom and I were beaming the day he graduated from high school; he went to college for awhile; I bragged to everyone when he joined the Army and became a paratrooper with the elite 101st airborne; my son David and I were two of the first to visit him when he returned from the Vietnam War on a stretcher with critical injuries. Three days before he was due to come home the truck he was riding in was involved in a mine explosion. Dave lost his left leg and right foot. His recovery was long, but he worked hard. I was so grateful and proud when he got a good position at United Airlines and worked there for many years. The birth of his five children were monumental events in his life; Dave made a mean meat loaf and he loved cats and dogs.
But what do you think he might say to you if he were standing here? I know he’d be uncomfortable. He’d shift his weight and look at the floor and probably start with, “Geez oh man.” But then maybe he’d get up some courage and he’d tell his children, David, Joe, Glenn, Michelle and Danielle, that there wasn’t a day that you weren’t on his heart and mind. He didn’t know how to express this. He felt overwhelming love for you in his heart, but it embarrassed him to say that; even frightened him. Dave and I had never received many loving words when we were young; they didn’t come naturally. But when we talked on the phone several times a week, he always mentioned his concern for his family.
In November of 2003 Dave came to California for a visit. He was struggling and he was seeking some answers. One of the things we did was go to church on Sunday. It was the week after we’d had terrible fires in San Diego County. Two families in our church had lost everything they owned. Our pastor, Ray DuVal, talked about family and love and compassion. Dave had always resisted what he called “my preaching.” We didn’t see eye to eye on some things. But he said this time was the first time he realized it wasn’t about religion, it was about people and relationships. Later that day, in my living room, Dave bowed his head, closed his eyes and with tears, he prayed and asked the Lord Jesus to come into his life and into his heart. In the days before he went home, he told me over and over, “I’ve had a heart change. I’ve really been transformed.” (I didn’t even know he knew that word.) He said, “I can hardly wait to tell my family what a jerk I’ve been and ask them to forgive me.” Those were his words not mine.
Just about a month ago Dave went to a little church here called Grace Church of North Olmsted. I had done some research and told him about it. “You oughta check it out.” Well he did and he called that afternoon and said he liked it, thought he might go back and he did go the following Sunday. I know he felt like a duck out of water, he never did like to go into a new situation alone, but I sure give him credit for getting out of his comfort zone. That took courage.
He said the pastor talked about Matthew and Mark and Peter and he figured he’d better start reading his Bible to figure out who these guys were and what they did. Dave didn’t enjoy reading, but he told me he was reading his Bible and learning things he didn’t know. What I began to see was love and joy and a heart wanting to obey the word of God.
The family chose the perfect verse for the holy card that will be used tomorrow at his funeral. 2 Timothy 4:7-8 says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; and now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of His return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to His glorious return.” This is a true and perfect culmination of Dave’s life. He was fighting the good fight, he finished his course, and he kept the faith. He did the best he knew how to do.
There’s something else Dave wants his family to know. He didn’t get a chance to tell you, but he told me. He wants you to know that God so loved the world, that means each and every one of you, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but will have eternal life. Dave wants you to know that “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” You see Dave wants you to have what he has. You are dear to him and he wants your future to be secure. He wants to see you again.
I’m sorry Dave’s life was cut short. I’m selfish; I wish we’d had more time with him. And I may have tears in my eyes, but I am a happy, happy woman. You see because of Dave’s prayer and commitment to the Lord, when he closed his eyes on earth last week; he opened them in heaven and saw His Savior waiting for him. I can only imagine what it must look like. My brother is now whole and complete, he’s walking perfectly and he will meet his mom and dad on that beautiful shore by the crystal sea. Death is not pretty, but heaven is a beautiful place and that’s where Dave is now. Who can be unhappy about that?
Changing You, Little by Little
God Will Make a Way
Several years ago, I was at choir practice at church. One thing I liked about our rehearsals was that we often spent time in prayer for each other. One evening when we were sharing requests, I was burdened for one of my daughters. She was about to make a decision that was really bad. It was literally breaking my heart and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t share the specifics of the situation, but when we prayed for all of those unspoken requests I was in tears. Some of the other choir members saw my tears, came over and put their arms around me and prayed for me. Then our choir director began singing softly and soon we all joined in.
“God will make a way, where there seems to be no way.
He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me.
He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side.
With love and strength for each new day,
He will make a way, He will make a way.”
I can’t explain it. I didn’t have any answers, but I was comforted and encouraged. I went home that night with more hope than I’d had in a long time.
It was two months later, in the middle of the night, my daughter was on the phone about to make this bad decision I had worried about and it was right then that my husband had a massive stroke. Frantic, I ran to the kitchen and said, “Honey, get off the phone. Something’s wrong with dad. I need to call 911.” Of course she got off of the phone, the ambulance came and we rushed to the hospital.
A few weeks later my daughter and I were talking. My husband did survive and we were about to move into a whole different way of living; me as a caregiver and my husband in a wheelchair. My daughter and I were having a really serious talk, about the significance of the stroke and the timing and the phone call. By the way, she had thought twice about the mistake she almost made. She was making much better choices.
She asked me, “Mom, why do you think God let that happen? Dad is a good man, he’s worked hard for his family; why does God do stuff like this?” And I told her, “Honey, did God cause the stroke? Well, I know nothing happens without Him knowing about it. Could he have stopped it? Yes, I believe that. But, He’s allowed this to happen and I am confident of one thing. Would your Dad give his life for you, so yours can be better? You bet he would. My dear daughter, he just did that.”
We cried that night. It was a poignant, soul-searching, sin-cleansing, eye-opening moment with God for both of us. Oh that we would be in tune with Him for more moments like these. I don’t mean strokes, but what comes after, complete surrender, obedience and trust in every situation.
And this is important….If you had told me 14 years ago that I would be telling you that I have joy in caring for my husband in a wheelchair, I would have said, “You’re crazy. I can’t live like this for the rest of my life.” But let me tell you, God took a bad, bad situation and He turned it into a good one.
Now, do I get mad at Richard? Yes. Does he get upset with me? Sometimes. We have our ups and downs just like everyone. Do I wish we could go to the beach and take walks like we used to? Yes. Sometimes I’m tired of being the able-bodied person in our home. I don’t want to be the one who is always driving; there are days I wish I didn’t have to lift that wheelchair one more time.
But I can sincerely tell you, those thoughts are fleeting. Whenever I feel sorry for myself and want wallow in self-pity, I thank God He’s given me the opportunity to care for Richard; where would he be without me? I thank God for the things that have happened as a result of this stroke. Because you see God has turned me into a giver instead of a taker. I am content and I have peace. How does that happen? By the power of God. He has our best interests at heart. Oh and by the way……He knows what He’s doing.
Changing You, Little by Little
My granddaughter, Madelynne, was excited about her solo in her school’s talent show.
She’d been anticipating this night for weeks. She looked absolutely darling
in her shiny top, black leggings, and sparkling pink flip-flops.
As she fidgeted from one foot to the next, in true stagehand style, I applied her
blush and glittering eye shadow. Then I whispered in her ear, “You look like a rock star!”
Madelynne gave me a big, confident smile, tossed her hair back and said, “Grandma,
when I’m famous I’m going to give you a backstage pass.”
I can hardly wait.
Grandchildren are the crown of old (women)
Changing You, Little by Little.