Mom's Cry Too

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wednesday I got off work from the office early at noon. I was ecstatic to go home. I was exhausted. I had barely gotten any sleep all week { I dream a lot } and I just wanted to be with my babies. (And I wanted a nap!)

So I went home and cleaned up a bit and got a bunch of popcorn made { I'm a popcorn junkie } and told the littles they were going to play quietly while mommy watched a movie and rested. I had rented "The Fault in our Stars" and just wanted to relax.

The movie started. I just laid there and watched it. It was actually a lot better than I thought it was going to be. I'm not into sappy love stories { sometimes } and actually I try to avoid them right now. Without spoiling the movie for anyone there was a point in time where I lost it.

I had no sleep.

     I was emotionally charged because of my dreaming.

And these teenagers love.....intense. Real. Genuine.

I just started crying. My mind was whirling, "Here I am, 27, all I wanted was a family. A man. Who loved me for me. But again here I sit alone, holidays coming, children. Single mommy. Doing it by.myself."

I was having a little pity party honestly. But in reality I was really vulnerable in a moment of pain.

I started crying. And then I kept crying and it got really intense for me really fast. And I couldn't stop and my makeup was running and the next thing I knew Sophia was at my side. She asked, "Mommy, why are you crying?"

This was it. It was time to teach my children about being vulnerable. It was time to show them that I do cry and get upset. Something I rarely do. 

I responded, "Sophia, Mommies get sad too." Because we do. We do get sad, we get mad, we are selfish and we feel things. I don't know about other moms because I'm different but a lot of my feelings are held inside in front of my kids because I don't want them hurting. I don't want them seeing my vulnerable. I want them seeing me as something and someone strong. I realize however that true strength and beauty comes with exposure.

So I sat there, and she cried, and I cried, and I felt sad for my children. I felt responsible that their fathers are not as involved as I would want them to be.

And then walked in Joseph, my 16 month old son. He had a hand held towel. He walked right over to me and began wiping my face. He would babble into between, kiss my cheeks, and continue wiping. I had just written the blog post of the King who wiped the mud off the face of the dirty princess and literally felt like Jesus was confirming something in my heart through my son. Not just that but it was an example of my sons and any child's natural compassion towards the hurting. Joseph is going to be something really great one day.

He continued to wipe my face, which made me cry harder, for at least three or four minutes. And then he patted my hand and walked away. Such a bizarre and older like thing for a 16-month-old to do.

Everything is going to be ok mom. 


Thirty Before Thirty

Saturday, November 29, 2014

I like getting older. I was an awkward child. I always smiled but my teeth were all crooked and I was loud and obnoxious { some things don't change much I suppose }.

I am still young though. Even though I am the healthiest I've ever been, the prettiest I've ever been, I still have so much to do. So much to see. So I am making a 30 before 30 list and I'm going to accomplish every single one.

1. Visit a Starbucks in every state in the U.S.A

2. Go on a missions trip

3. Record a CD of lullabies for my children

4. Vacation in Europe

5. Learn spanish fluently { for real! }

6. Finish and finalize my degree

7. Run a half marathon

8. Run a full marathon

9. Go scuba diving

10. Go horse back riding at dusk

11. In the year I'm 29 - do an act of random kindness every day for the entire year

12. Go stargazing

13. Plant a tree

14. Write a book

15. Share my story in a large public setting

16. Learn to play the violin or cello.

17. Go on a random weekend trip; no plans, no reservations, just a bag and your car.

18. Star in a film or play

19. Jump off a waterfall

20. Do a warrior themed photo shoot

21. Visit an orphanage

22. Meet my father

23. Visit a volcano

24. Go on a cruise

25. Visit a castle

26. Read the Bible completely

27. Visit the Holy Land

28. Get out of debt

29.  Experience a real, pure, and Godly love from a man

30. Then marry that son of a gun and go on a romantic get-a-way that people only dream of ( ha ha)

Lets do this.

Open the Door

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Several weeks ago I was chatting with a friend at my home when I began to tell him the story of the princess and the pea. I don't remember why this story got brought up; or what relevance it had to what we were discussing I just know that it rocked my world. I want to share it. Piece by piece.

You see this story is important because it shows not just an earthly love a man should have for a woman, but also the love that Jesus has for us.

So there was a princess. She was on her way to an important event { this part I'm guessing } when her carriage broke down and they got into a carriage wreck.

Her driver went for help. But was gone for two days and she was starving, dirty, cold and wet. She knew she had to get out of the carriage and bravely make her way to find help. So she did. She got out and began to walk. 

Her walk was strenuous. Tiring. Very lonely. For much of the walk tears were shed and she wondered to herself if she would ever find help. She was merely surviving.

Soon she stumbled upon a castle. It was a beautifully decorated castle. She knew she was taking a risk knocking on the door because even though she was a princess she was muddy, and wet, And who would ever believe that she was, who she said she was. She knocked though. On that large castle door and hoped that someone would answer.

Photo Courtesy of Ruby Weddings
And someone did. The mother of a King seeking a Queen. This mother looked through the peep hole on the door and saw a girl standing there. A girl who was dirty. Who was unpleasant to the eyes. Her son came up behind her and asked who was there. The conversation went as follows:

"Mother, who is at the door?"
"A woman my son."
"Well open it! This might be my Queen!"
"No, this is not your Queen. This girl is dirty and unpleasant to the eyes. She's not for you."
"She may appear this way, but I have this stirring in my heart that she is it."

The King went on to argue with his mom for several moments. The princess on the outside, waited. Sometimes, we have to wait. Sometimes what we want is right inside that door. On the flip side what that King wanted and prayed for was right outside that door. He knew it. He knew despite this girls outwardly appearance that she would be the one for him.

Finally they agreed to let her in. When she was brought inside he immediately called for his servants. He asked them to bring a towel and then began to wipe her face, her arms. He tenderly dried her hair. Finally he had her taken to be cleaned up completely. He had the finest silk dress brought to her chambers and told her when she was done being cleaned up to come down for a royal feast. He was going to show this girl, who humbly stayed quiet and answered simple questions he asked, that she was of value.

After she cleaned up she came down to join the King and his mother for breakfast. She was a site to behold. The mother however, was still uncertain. The princess shared the story of her carriage being wrecked and how she was a princess. The mother annoyed and angry pulled her son aside. She said:

"Lets test her tonight. In her sleeping chambers put a pea under nine mattress. Any woman who claims to be a true princess, and is, would feel the pea under all the mattresses and would have a restless nights sleep."

The King obliged in hopes to show his mother the truth { and to shut her up }.

You see, ladies. This is such a good spiritual lesson. We are to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. There are times when our carriages will wreck, we will walk a long and lonely road, but this should never hinder what the Lord wants to do in us. That princess had to be sensitive to know to get out of the carriage and go. If she would have sat waiting for her driver than she would have never met this King and she would have missed out on her destiny. Don't wait.

That night the King kissed the forehead of the princess and told her that he was glad she knocked on his door. She responded, "I'm even more grateful you opened the door to me my King."

Ruth 2:10 says, "So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, "Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am foreigner!"

Same story. Just like Ruth in that moment couldn't understand why Boaz would take interest in her the princess couldn't imagine why the King would open the door for her. But he did. Jesus did. And He welcomes you completely with open arms. Cleans us up. Feeds us and dresses us.

Photo Courtesy of Ruby Weddings

I had to learn this lesson the hard way. I didn't realize how tenderly Jesus desired me. Not only that but how deeply Jesus desired for me to know an earthly man in this way. It's possible. Fairy tales are real; even if they don't happen exactly how the movies say it does. Because I live a fairy tale every day.

The King desired the princess. He saw her worth. He saw her spirit. We have to stop looking for earthly spouses in the natural. We have to see deeper, we have to look at them through the eyes of Jesus and find someone who's spirit is more beautiful than anything on the outside. 

"I am my beloved’s, And his desire is toward me." Song of Solomon‬ ‭7‬:‭10‬

So the princess, she goes to sleep that night. She tosses and turns all night getting barely an hour { man do I relate here } of rest. She wakes the next morning and joins the King and his mother for breakfast. She sat down and began to eat when the King said, "Princess, is everything ok? You look tired."

The princess responded, "No. I'm not ok. I did not sleep a wink last night. Something was under my mattress."

The King gleefully got up and immediately proposed to this beautiful princess. So often in life we miss out on God's greatest blessings; on the things we pray for, because it's outwardly packaging doesn't match up to what our human like thinking conjures up. If that King would have never answered the door he would have lost his queen.

Photo Courtesy of Ruby Weddings

This story says so much to so many. If you are on the outside, that princess, who feels dirty and alone. You aren't. Jesus will always open the door. He hears your knock. He is "El Roi" the God who sees you. He hears you.

If you are that King, open.the.door. Stop listening to the voices of the enemy. Stop listening to outside influences. You know what you've prayed. It's time to claim it.

I'm thankful for this lesson; this story that replays in my heart. I love Him. Jesus, my King. He opened that door for me when He should have left me outside in the rain.

Day of Giving

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The day of giving has come and gone. My 27th was by far one of the greatest birthdays I've ever had. You see every year I set myself up for failure and disappointment when it came time for my birthday. I had these expectations (mainly from my close friends and family) that they would shower me with love and time and that the day would be about me.

I wanted breakfast in bed. 

          I wanted coffee brought to me while I was working. 

I didn't want to have to cook and I wanted the day off. 

Every year the day turned into a lonely time. No one came and brought me breakfast. No one brought coffee. I got depressed.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Vivanco Photography
Then one day early in 2013 I realized just how selfish I was. Yes, it's great to have a day to ourselves. To get pampered and loved on. But if you didn't, would you still be filled and satisfied? So, starting with my 26th birthday I decided that no longer would I make the day about me. But that the most satisfying and fulfilling thing would be to make it about Him and to honor those around me and give back life. He gave me life, why shouldn't I share that with others?

This year I really felt inclined to work with a woman's home/kids home of some sort. When I found the Florence Crittenton Services Center online I knew instantly it would be the perfect fit. I connected immediately with the coordinator Narria and even volunteered weeks in advance before our big day.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Vivanco Photography
I knew I wanted to throw them a big party. I wanted these girls to know that they are not damaged goods. That even though they are at a different season in their life then say I was, that didn't make them any less than I. We are all sinners. We all need Him.

Weeks leading up to the event were stressful and in all honesty the night before I was a bit panicked on how this would all turn out.

Would my volunteers show up on time? Would the show up at all? Would we have enough time to do all that we want to do and will the flow be good?

Photo Courtesy of Matt Vivanco Photography
I knew that because I wanted to actively serve { and serve every where } that I needed to delegate tasks. So that is what I did. I had Christin { good 'ole bestie! } act as our event coordinator. Any issue, problem, or change went directly to her. I wanted the freedom to minister freely, to connect openly, and to serve wherever they needed me too.

I wanted these girls to feel normal for one day. Yes, they stay in a home, but you know what? They still deserve all that we deserve.

The day came. I was running off of 2 hours of sleep. I wanted my volunteers to know how much I loved and appreciated them so I purchased them breakfast and then eventually lunch. We got to the center bright and early at 7am. It was just me, Christin and my friend Cody to start. I got with Narria, figured out everything they needed, and we immediately go to work.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Vivanco Photography
Two of our biggest projects was to clean the kitchen, reorganize all of the pantries and to also turn their cafeteria into a winter wonderland for an event coming up. Cody and I immediately got started on the kitchen. As our volunteers trailed in they started in on the other projects.

We had a lot to do. We were also styling all of the women; doing hair, makeup, nails, and helping them to pick out clothes. Matt Vivanco, of Matt Vivanco Photography graciously offered his services and took portraits of the women and children as they wanted. He also took photographs of the event itself as it was going on. I will forever cherish these photographs.

Photo Courtesy of Matt Vivanco Photography
To say the event went flawless is an understatement. It did go flawless. It far exceeded my expectations! There was a moment when a young lady stopped me and she said, "Can I ask you a question?" I responded, "Sure!" She went on to ask me if it was really my birthday. When I told her it was she responded with, "I don't understand why you are here on your birthday doing these things for us. I wouldn't be. I would be making the day all about me. But I'm really happy you are here and I'm really glad you came."

I almost lost it. It is for these moments that I live. It's those Christ like moments that really fulfill me. My birthday is truly not about me. 

We also had four woman share their stories. We had a woman talk about being more than just a single mom, not letting that just become your story. We had one share about anger and motherhood and dealing with difficult and strong willed children. We had another talk about caring for yourself and I shared the story of the princess and the pea { I will blog that later }. These woman were not only being pampered but they were being loved on. We prayed several times throughout the day both over them and in private and used our time with them to really try and leave a footprint on their hearts.

When the day finally wrapped up some of the girls hearts were being opened. Tears where shed and lives where changed. Most importantly everyone assumed my goal was for us to touch them; but in reality I knew if these people came and served their lives would be changed. My life has been a constant change over the last three years of service to God and my community. I wanted that same life changing experience for them.

So, from the bottom of my heart. From my soul; thank you. Thank you to every single person that came out, both men and women. You made the start of my 27th year the most incredible start I've ever had. God is gracious and good and kind; and He's got a plan for all of you. For me. Thank you.

Until next years event!

Photo Courtesy of Matt Vivanco Photography


Monday, November 24, 2014

2015, it's coming. I'm ready! Are you? It's good to be ready. Especially when something big is coming, and you see, I know something big is coming in 2015. It's already getting ready to birth full force. The labor, is tough, it's painful; but the baby is coming and the reward will be great.

Every year, before the new year, God gives me a song and words to lean on. Today it gave me my song. I have heard this song a thousand times but today the Holy Spirit came over me and I knew that this was it.

Lets take a listen....

You see. 2015 is going to be different. I'm going to be different. I am already different. It's time to go to new heights and live life relentlessly for Him { one of my words of 2015! Relentless! }.

You see the word relentless is a serious pursuant word. When you're relentless about something, you mean business. You're not stopping until you get what you want, and you're not taking "no" for an answer. People might try to steer you from your goal, but you have eyes only for the prize and they're just going to have to get out of your way.

I'm fixed. My eyes { getting into the song here } are on Him and this thing that's coming. I don't know what it is, but I feel it in my spirit, my soul. It's coming!

This song and my main word, Relentless seem to go hand in hand. So. I'm going to live this chorus out like a promise and goal for the year.

Love like I'm not scared. 

Sometimes I am. I'm a deep lover. A passionate lover. I go all in, whatever I do. And sometimes people don't do that back and it hurts. But I should love regardless. And love like I'm not scared that they will hurt me.

Give when it's not fair. 

Someone mentioned to me several weeks ago that they try and give, love, gift to people without expecting nothing in return. Truly giving because you want to and not out of feeling like you have to. Giving when it's not fair.

Live life for another, take time for a brother.

Self explanatory. I'm going to live for Jesus. Others. Not myself.

Fight for the weak ones, speak out for freedom. 

Too often we don't do this. Sometimes we need to speak up for the weak and the ones who have no voice. We need to speak out for freedom and truth! We cannot stand by when we can do something.

Find faith in the battle, stand tall. 

Yes. I'm going to stand tall and find faith in my current battle, and in every battle after this.

In the last part of the second verse they say "It takes a solider who knows his orders to walk the walk I'm supposed to walk." YES. I'm a solider. I've seen clearly my orders and even though it may be difficult because I may be the only one going this direction, that's OK. My orders are clear and I'm going to keep forward.

My other words are patience and hope. He has given me these two words for this current season. Who knows how long it will last. It may be a while or it may be for a few months.

2015 will be here before you know it. I'm gearing up; I'm preparing myself for the birth of something new. How are you getting ready?

Goodbye 26. Hello 27.

Friday, November 21, 2014

My birthday is tomorrow. Yippee. The year I was 26 was not very kind to me, quite honestly. I'm ready to kiss it goodbye, help pack it's bags, and tell it to go.

But 26. Necessary.

You see, Joseph, the dreamer, had to spend 12 years in prison. He was also innocent. But it was necessary and apart of God's plan.

No. 26 was not prison for me. However the same concept, growth, was necessary for me to move on to 27. You see I experienced a lot of new things in the year I was 26-years-old; my son had surgery, I got several new tattoos, I did a ton of charity work, and met so many new people I cannot list them all.

I also experienced a lot of pain. Pain so deep that only God could reach it. But that pain also caused extreme growth. I lost a marriage. I lost friends. I experienced a lot of loss actually. Some of it that took me longer to realize I had to let go, out of obedience. But the gain from it, the wisdom, the new season; it's worth it.

You see God shared several promises for me for my future, some that might come true when I'm living out 27, and I know others will take patience and time. But I'm standing firm. One thing I learned in the year I was 26 was to be fully content and confident in God who then in turn would create in me a confident and beautiful woman. I let go of a lot of insecurities in the year I was 26. I met people who impacted my destiny forever; and literally I sit in tears to encourage you.

Where you are at,  you cannot stay forever. Whether that is moving you into a more difficult season of growth or a period of rest. God's timing is always perfect because I love how He brought me through some of my most difficult moments at the end of 26. It's now like 27 is a brand new fresh start for me.


If I had to pick one pivotal moment of the year I was 26 though I would have to admit it was the breaking of the bond to the gentlemen I had held on to for so long. { You can read this in another blog post found here. } The freedom from breaking this bondage is just, WOW.

I'm not sure of all God has planned for my future. But I'm young. If Noah could wait 800 years to see the rain, why can't I?

Goodbye 26. Hello 27.

Lord, I'm tired.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I'm { e x h a u s t e d }.

I know that you have a purpose for this tiredness. John 4:6 says, "Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour." Jesus was even wearied physically at times. It's a good reminder of remaining humble, that we need His Spirit to sustain us, and that it is by Him alone that we are able to stay the course.

It is crucial, you see, that every Christian understands that he/she is in a spiritual battle. There is no way to get out of it. Awareness of the spiritual battle around us is very important. Not only awareness, but vigilance, preparedness, courage and the right weaponry are crucial elements of engaging in spiritual warfare.

I've never been so heavily aware of what is going on around me, us, in the spiritual realm. I keep my eyes focused on Jesus and it's sustaining me but there are times like today, when I wake up, and I'm tired.

I realize that Jesus even grew weary and tired at times and needed sustaining from His father.

                    Mark 1:35 "Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed." 

What a refreshing lesson. If Jesus, the savior of this world, grew weary in His humanness how much more will we? And does that negate our responsibility to the spiritual war going on?

             Absolutely N O T. 

Just because my physical body is tired, doesn't always mean my spirit is. In fact, it's just the opposite. My spiritual life has never been so great. My walk with the Lord never so fulfilling. But my physical body is taking a toll. I'm emotional. || Sleepy || I feel alone. There are times when I know people cannot physically or mentally understand what I'm facing or going through.

But, what I am facing is not fleshly. We are not fighting a physical battle, friends, nor a human battle. It is on a spiritual level – its enemies, its prerogatives, its fortresses and its weapons are all spiritual. If we attempt to fight the spiritual with human weapons, we will fail and the enemy will be victorious.

God reminds me on a daily that I need to pick up my spiritual weapons. To fight with them. If we use human weaponry to fight against the enemy’s fortresses, we will sustain failures and disappointment, and even our victories will be unsure. Conversely, the victories of God are full of hope.

Hebrews 6:23 "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful."

God is faithful. He equips us with the tools we need to spiritually overcome our enemy. Of course our greatest weapon, spiritually, is the sword of the Spirit. This sword gives us many freedoms as soldiers in this spiritual battle. We have freedom from fear, knowing that God is fighting for us, and that we are not going alone. We have freedom from guilt, knowing that we are not responsible for the souls of those who reject God’s message after we have proclaimed it to them. We have freedom from despair, knowing that if we are persecuted and hated, He was persecuted and hated first and that our battle wounds will be richly and lovingly tended to in Heaven.

Be encouraged today those who are weary. You don't have to be. I'm exposed in the sense that my physical body is being broken and trained; but that my spirit is strong and steady. Isaiah 40:29 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

God will strengthen you through His word and His relationship and intimacy with you. (Psalm 119:28). Take full advantage today of His promises, fight with the sword of the Spirit and rest in Him and His scripture. Know full well that God, even when we are weary, is fighting with us and not against us. Take these moments of tired and turn them into lessons and sources of great strength.

Training, my friend, is never easy. But it is necessary.

Positioned to Lift

Saturday, November 15, 2014

These past few weeks have been tremendously challenging. The studies, the words, the songs; nothing has been said that hasn't spoken directly to my spirit. God's used people and things to clarify a lot of things in my life and today He used the movie, Avatar. He used it to show me that I am positioned to lift.

What a humbling moment. You see my friends; I always knew that I was a natural born leader. I know that God has tremendous plans for my life. What is so incredible to know now is that in this very season God positioned me to lift those who are called before me. We all have a role; some of us walk ahead at times, while others follow closely behind. In this season I know God is calling me to lift.

It's beautiful to be a lifter. I get to see people around me step into the anointing and calling God has for them all while remaining in my own calling. Being positioned to lift doesn't mean you aren't a leader either. It just means that you are a different kind of leader. It takes being humble and self-sacrificing to lift others to higher positions around you; because that's whats necessary at times. To know and remember that it's not all about you. 

So back to Avatar; what an incredible movie first off. Kuddos to James for his incredible art. This movie is extremely spiritual in a lot of really good and God ways. I watched this movie today after an extremely intense night (of no sleep).

I realized while watching it that Jake Sully (the main avatar) was created to be a leader. He was called. You may be called. He was called to help and lead the people to freedom from their captives. He also was a native, so not only was he inexperienced and uneducated, he was probably the least likely to be thought the one that would lead them away.

Then enters Neytiri. Neytiri is the daughter of the king basically. She's set to be betrothed to another man and runs into Jake while out in the forest. She is strong in the culture because she is a native.

She realizes though that there is something extremely unique about Jake. Before she gets the chance to kill him (her plans originally) the god they serve stops her. Jake just wanted one thing his entire life. He says, "All I ever wanted was just one thing worth fighting for." As he began to learn this culture and their people he realized how worthy they were worth fighting for. But he couldn't do it alone.

This is where his relationship with Neytiri is crucial. You see when he first met Neytiri she as of a higher position. She walked before him. She taught him the peoples ways, she encouraged his will to learn and encouraged his position. Said best in Jake's own words, "Sometimes your entire life boils down to one insane move," and oh my friends was he getting ready to move. Neytiri taught him everything he needed to know to be successful.

Once he had learned the basics and became one of them the real action happened. Neytiri began to step back. You can see by her behavior and language towards him. While she as once strong hearted and tough on him she became more tender. She had to let him start walking in front.

Neytiri falls in love with Jake. She has his back at all costs. But then devastation hits and she feels as though Jake has betrayed her. In her fear and in her emotion she pushes him away. (Gosh what a beautiful love story!). Jake though, Jake comes back.

When he finally rides back in on the toughest dragon in the sky he walks boldly into the crowd of her people and stands before her. He whispers, "I see you." And she whispers, "I see you." You see, they saw more than just the physical nature of one another. They were utterly aware of each others spirits. They could see past the flesh and into the potential.

Neytiri admits, "I've been so afraid and fearful Jake. But I'm not afraid anymore." And he says to her, "We fight."

Sometimes, friends, we are put into a season of lifting. These seasons, truly, come and go. There will be Jake Sully's that are just meant to go ahead and lead the way. But then there are Neytiri's who are lifting the Jake's. Both are crucial and important. Jake would never have realized his value and true strength if he had not been taught by Neytiri.

I need someone to hear today that it's OK to be positioned to lift. What an incredibly humbling experience to know that someone was growing and being seasoned because God was using you? Yes, they will surpass you, yes, they will be above you, but God will move you when that time is right.

I say this in a moment where I'm sleep deprived and emotionally charged. God is breaking me lately, like a boot camp instructor would break his marine. We have to step into our proper positions in order for God's will to become life. We have to recharge, regroup, understand. God will never put you in a position of authority if you first cannot learn to lift. If you cannot be genuinely and joyfully happy that someone has grown; you have no place in authority. Growth is not easy and so while you are lifting, pray. You will be filled while you are lifting.

He Bought What He Owned

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I am always in constant awe of God's surrendering grace. This past week He's been guiding my heart to stories of intense power and redemption. Hosea, is a great place to start with this.

So, the book of Hosea is a prophetic accounting of God’s relentless love for His children. Since the beginning of time God’s ungrateful and undeserving creation { us the created} has been accepting God’s love, grace, and mercy while still unable to refrain from its wickedness and sin. We are a selfish people, undeserving of anything Jesus has given or offers us.

God created everything. He owns everything. I think this is the first key to understanding where I'm going with this. You did not just end up here, without purpose. God created you for exactly the opposite. He created you for a specific purpose.

So, God being the most constant thing we've ever and will ever experience needed to give us a physical example of His love. So He instructed the prophet Hosea to go and marry a wife of harlotry.

Hosea 1:2 
              "When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry, And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord.” 

I can only imagine Hosea's thoughts and feelings. Marry a woman who is almost guaranteed to cheat and be unfaithful. WHAAAT? But, he did it. 

vs. 3 "So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son." 

I also try and think from Gomar's perspective. Can you imagine a prophet, an extremely beautiful man of God, showing up at your front door asking for your hand in marriage? Being real, it's hard for me to imagine. Two marriages under my belt, four children; I relate Gomar { well outside of being a prostitute }. This was truly a strange couple - one person pointed others to God; the other illustrated the depths of sin. Through this marriage, though, God was planning to paint a picture of His relationship with Israel and ultimately all of us as His created beings. {You following?} 

Hosea's marriage was hardly going to be a happily ever after to start. But what is so beautiful about this love story is that God, knowing that Hosea's heart would be broken through Gomar's unfaithfulness still told Hosea to pursue her and buy her back. 

This is what blows my mind. 

Hosea was married to Gomar. He was already one with her. So truthfully she was his already. Jesus commands him though, despite his heartache, to go again and love her. This is the same for our creator. We are His created. His creation. We began as His and lost ourselves to a world of sin. 

Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”  So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley.  And I said to her, “You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you.”

This love went far beyond mere sexual titillation or tingling feelings of excitement, true love is bold, and it lasts through pain and difficulty. It involves a passion, a pursuit and a commitment and never gives up. This is exactly how Jesus loves us and how we should love others {especially our spouses!}. Just as Hosea bought Gomer back and loved her, so God has bought us and loves us. He gave us His ONLY son Jesus. He bought us back with His sons blood.

In this same way, our love must be committed, bold, and trustworthy. Otherwise, it really is not love at all. So this is for those who are waiting on that earthly love; keep waiting. She, He, is waiting for you. Praying for you. And until he or she comes into your life run after Jesus. Don't walk, RUN. He will consume you with a fire that fills your bones and you will be satisfied consistently.   

For those who are already married; love your wife or husband just as passionately and with as much grace and forgiveness that Hosea loved Gomar. It's possible. We see his reflection of love and of God's love in the way that he loves Gomar unconditionally. 

Choose today to be bold in your love. It will be one of the best choices you've ever made. 

Love Encounter

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I've had a love encounter. A serious, on my face, I'm going to never be the same, love encounter. This comes with the season of letting this previous gentlemen go and realizing, "I don't have to have it all together," { I mean, if we are being really real this is coming from a girl who had three beers last night...}

I say all this to say, welcome to the new me. How often have we allowed other things to define who we are. Want to know what I want to define me? The gospel.

I'm tired of a culture that is comfortable with porn being blasted, homosexuality being blasted, and sin being blatantly produced, no, mass produced and celebrated. This love is bigger. My God is bigger and He doesn't want you to sit in it any longer.

For me, this does not mean that life is roses. I'm sorry, (no, not really} I naturally tend to see the war and battle side of life. It's something that I'm grateful for because it keeps my spirit sharp when it comes to spiritual warfare. We are in spiritual warfare. Having a love encounter doesn't instantly take sin and your issues away but it does give you a desire to be....different. You have to want Jesus.

So, meet the new Meg. I was so bold about other issues before but now I'm bold about one thing. JESUS. I don't want to watch others fall; I refuse to let my neighbor go to hell if I could have said something, introduced them to someone that could have prevented them. When you are with your lover, your significant other, and you bring them to a party you don't shove them in the corner and don't introduce them. You walk around, proud, hoping everyone gets to meet them. Why are you not doing the same for Christ?

Find your voice. Don't allow the temptation of being quiet to come in and hinder you. Being quiet on the gospel is the exact opposite of what Jesus is asking of us! How can we gain a passion for spreading this good news and winning others to Christ in these difficult days when there are so many who oppose our work every step of the way? It starts by having Jesus Christ front and center in our own lives. Indeed, our passion for winning souls will increase as our passion for Christ Himself and our walk with Him becomes stronger.

If you are questioning why you don't have the passion, the drive, to share, then re-examine your walk. Something is off. A lifeline is off because the Jesus I know fills me Gives me passion,

The most enthusiastic laborers I know are those who have a heart that is on fire for Christ, and this should actually be easy when we consider the magnitude of what our sinless Savior did for us at the cross {BOLD!}. His willing acceptance of death on our behalf cured us from our terminal disease (sin) and saved us from an unfathomable eternity in Hell. What could make us more passionate if not that?

The Jilted Groom

Monday, November 10, 2014

There are days when I'm just in the mood for a really intense love story. My love stories look a bit different from the typical Nicholas Sparks. I don't want just love, I want passion, emotion, I want the subjects to be raw in their pursuits for one another.

Then God brought me to Ezekiel 16. Oh my word, Jesus. Talk about serious, intimate, raw moments with the King. Lets take a look, particularly half way down starting at verse 5. .

Ezekiel 16:5-14 "No eye pitied you, to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you; but you were thrown out into the open field, when you yourself were loathed on the day you were born."

Woah. Stop here. Look at us, humans, tossed to the side like trash being thrown into open fields. In this text though God is directly talking to Jerusalem and showing them her abominations. She had scorned her lover. She had committed adultery by worshiping false Gods.

But then.

Verse 6-7.

"And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' Yes, I said to you in your blood, 'Live!' I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare. 

God walks by us, crippled in our own blood, in the most vulnerable of states. We are completely surrendered to Him because we were cast aside. We cannot hide our blood. I love how God repeats himself. LIVE! God doesn't repeat Himself for no reason, when He does, you need to take heed.

The Lord was making you new. He was healing you, maturing you. Is this your season of growth? But look at the end it says, "but you were still naked and bare..." He was not finished. He let you sit in that place of growth for a moment.

 “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the time of love; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord God.  “Then I washed you in water; yes, I thoroughly washed off your blood, and I anointed you with oil.

He walks by again. This scorned lover, hurt by the bride who had betrayed Him, still had enough love and compassion to come back. He always pursues us first. When He saw that the growth and the healing He had given was matured He knew it was the time for love so He spread His wings, His covering, over you.

Jesus, in His perfect timing, will bring you up and out of that blood state and bring you into a state of authority and covering. Power and mercy. Not just that but He goes on to say how He will wash you, thoroughly wash you. He is going to remove that blood, make you new, and then take you as His own.

This is powerful. That past you experienced, those choices you made....gone, by the power of God. You don't have to live with regret or shame. God is redeeming you but not just that He's adorning you.

 "I clothed you in embroidered cloth and gave you sandals of badger skin; I clothed you with fine linen and covered you with silk. 11 I adorned you with ornaments, put bracelets on your wrists, and a chain on your neck. 12 And I put a jewel in your nose, earrings in your ears, and a beautiful crown on your head. 13 Thus you were adorned with gold and silver, and your clothing was of fine linen, silk, and embroidered cloth. You ate pastry of fine flour, honey, and oil. You were exceedingly beautiful, and succeeded to royalty. 14 Your fame went out among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through My splendor which I had bestowed on you,” says the Lord God."

You've wallowed in your blood, you've suffered, you went through trials and pain but God has brought you up. He's ready to adorn you and that doesn't mean you are going to be perfect. What it means is that you have the strength to let Him lead you, break you, mold you.

You are beautiful because of the splendor of the Lord bestowed upon you. Not because of anything you've done. All you can do is walk in His righteousness.

God was a jilted groom reminding us of all He had done for us. It seems strange, I know, to think of God in this way but it shouldn't. How often do we reject Him to follow our own desires and impulses and than return later begging for forgiveness? We can find great comfort in the fact that our heavenly Father will wash us, over and over again.

Let Him wash you today.

Lord, I am sorry.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Denzel has done it again. When the trailer for his new movie Equalizer played I knew I needed to see it. I've been a Denzel fan for many years and think his acting is beyond incredible.

So I did. I went the first time and was shouting from my chair. This movie is jam packed full of spiritual goodness. It was so good that I had to go see it again. Because who in their right mind ever just watches a Denzel movie once?

The second time I watched it though; it was different. I was more aware of things on the screen. My heart was more open and receptive to what the Lord was trying to say. The day I went and saw it I was already extremely emotionally bent. God has been pricking my heart all day about different things and I just was emotionally ready to lose it.

There is a scene in this movie, where Denzel is talking to a Russian Mob Leader, Teddy, who comes and cleans up messes other mafia members make (whether it's from another country or not). This guy was relentlessly pursuing Denzel because he wanted him dead and was failing; bad.

Teddy was at dinner with another gentlemen that was supposed to be able to find him and kill him. Of course, Denzel takes him out and comes and sits with Teddy and begins to have a conversation. Denzel goes on to share a story of a Russian Boy who was adopted. The boy having had a rough life and going from foster care home to foster care home was taken in by a man and his family who genuinely loved him.

So what did this Russian boy do? He started trouble. He stole from the man. The man still loved him, forgave him. Kept him. What did the Russian boy do again? Stole again. Started fighting with others. Was making a big problem in the house. What did the father do? Again, he loved him. He kept him and forgave him.

I'm listening to this story and my heart is beating so fast that I feel like the people around me can hear it. God is speaking directly to me through this story.

You see. I'm not the strongest and bravest woman you think I am. I am genuinely joy filled but struggle a lot with trust and feeling like I have any worth. My relationship with Christ was being reflected in this story. By this time tears are streaming down my face.

The story continues with the man and his wife and family being murdered. It happened to be done by this little boy because even though things seemed so great he presumed that they weren't going to be in the end, that like everyone else in his life, these people where going to eventually hurt him. So he took them out before they could cause his life any more pain.

Oh Jesus. My sweet Jesus, I'm sorry. My entire life I've gotten close and then put up a wall to you because I was so afraid that you would be like most of the other men in my life and would eventually hurt me. Leave me. Even though He hasn't, I felt exactly like this boy. I had to stop the relationship from going any further so that I wouldn't be hurt anymore. I'm tired of being hurt.

The conviction from this movie was so strong I had a good cry and repentance moment. In the last five weeks I've gotten rid of idols, broken down strongholds, and now the Lord was beckoning me to break down that wall in front of Him so He and I could come closer. How often have we done this to Him? Put up a wall? How often have we put our trust in something else or denied trust to Him because we were afraid of being hurt?

Lord, I love you. It was never my desire to hinder our relationship. And I'm so thankful for your grace and mercy that is allowing me to push forward.

Is there a wall you are putting up today that needs to come down? Lets do it. Brick by brick. He's got this.

No More Idols Pt.2

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The out pour from my previous posts from woman after woman sharing their broken hearts has humbled me, greatly. It also has pissed me off. { This is a trend, eh? } The enemy has so quietly deceived our hearts as women into believing something that is a complete and utter lie.

When I wrote "No More Idols" I wrote it because I felt the Holy Spirit beckoning me to do it. And I'm trying to be super obedient { work in progress here}. What I didn't expect was a new burden for the hurting. Particularly with this topic.

You see the common theme from every women I spoke to had to deal with what we were seeking in a relationship, in a man, and the fear of not wanting to wait for the perfect person God has for us. Learn from me sisters. I urge you. I've allowed my willingness to love deep to cloud my judgment. And now I sit, two failed marriages under my belt, and part of me is so angry with myself I can barely write.

With that I have also heard the lies that some of these same men have told me. "No one will ever love you, want you, or your kids." Who wants a woman that has had two marriages fail?

Some of these woman have shared hurts so deep they see no hope for a future. Many of you believe that no man will ever want you. It's a lie. Draw your sword and cut the enemy deep. He wants you to live in a constant state of insecurity and fear and YOU don't have too.

The Lord has pressed it on my heart to share the things that I failed to look for in a spouse and I wanted to share them with you because many asked, "How do I even know if this person is it? How do I  NOT KNOW this person that I'm clinging on to isn't my one?"

I also want to speak to those woman (and men) who have stayed the course and remained pure and have waited for their spouse. It is easy to fall into the trap of falling for every person that comes your way, with hearts in your eyes, hoping they are your mate. It's OK to guard your heart deep. You must guard your heart.

Job 4:6 says, "Is not your reverence your confidence? And the integrity of your ways your hope?"

Your hope and your confidence comes from your integrity and the reverence you have given the Lord. He hears you and has not forgotten.


So what should we be praying for? What should we not be looking for? Here are just a few things I felt compelled to share.

1. They must put Jesus first, forever. 

The greatest thing you will ever find in any kind of spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend is someone who puts Jesus first and foremost above anything in their life. They must be consistently mediating on Him. Running after Him. If they do not have a solid relationship with the Lord they can never love you to the full extent possible.

Why? Because Jesus is love. And without Him we cannot love others. The most important relationship that any of us have is our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. That relationship comes before all others. If our vertical relationship with the Lord is as it should be, then our horizontal relationships will reflect that reality. Therefore, a potential husband should be a man who has his focus upon walking in obedience to God's Word and who seeks to live so that his life brings glory to God

2. He must respect you and hold the gift of purity (towards you in high regard). He will wait.

Putting it frankly, a man who desires for you to be his wife, and a man who really loves you will encourage you to wait to be an intimate with him sexually until your wedding day. Why?

God designed sex to be enjoyed within a committed marital relationship. To remove it from that context is to pervert its use and severely limit its enjoyment. Sexual contact involves a level of intimacy not experienced in any other human relationship. When God brought Adam and Eve together in marriage, He established the “one flesh” relationship. Genesis 2:24 tells us that a man will leave his family, join to his wife, and become “one flesh” with her.

I did not wait with either of my previous spouses to have sex. I regret it with every fiber of my being. God has placed such a strong protection of purity now in my heart. I want to protect everyone. I don't want to be a stumbling block. It's hard to remain pure, but nothing comes easy. And how much more glorified will the Lord be if you wait until the day you marry to be intimate?

Casual sex is rampant in our society. There is, in truth, no such thing as “casual” sex, because of the depth of intimacy involved in having sex. Think of it this way.

 If we take a sticky note and attach it to a piece of paper, it will adhere. If we remove it, it will leave behind a small amount of residue; the longer it remains, the more residue is left. If we take that note and stick it to several places repeatedly, it will leave residue everywhere we stick it, and it will eventually lose its ability to adhere to anything. This is much like what happens to us when we engage in “casual” sex. Each time we leave a sexual relationship, we leave a part of ourselves behind. The longer the relationship has gone on, the more we leave behind, and the more we lose of ourselves. As we go from partner to partner, we continue to lose a tiny bit of ourselves each time, and eventually we may lose our ability to form a lasting sexual relationship at all. The sexual relationship is so strong and so intimate that we cannot enter into it casually, no matter how easy it might seem.

If you have engaged or are engaging in premarital sex, stop. You also need to know that you can adhere again with the Lord's help and when the time is right. I'm an extremely physical human being. Physical touch is my greatest love language and the way I feel love in the greatest way. I guard myself because I don't want to be tempted and fall into the enemies trap.

3. Consistently seeks guidance, Godly counsel, and mentorship. 

Men need other men. BAD. It is important that your man is wise in realizing he can’t carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. When he is surrounded by men who are older than him who can offer advice, prayer and mentorship, he can be a better husband to you. “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” Proverbs 12:15

5. He is slow to anger; but has a righteous anger when necessary. 

There is peace in knowing your man holds an even temperament even when he is provoked. A man who allows his feelings, emotions and anger to determine his actions typically has tarnished relationships and is not a healthy place for you or a family. “A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Proverbs 15:18

Also remember though that there is a time and a place for a righteous anger. Jesus got angry in temple for a very GOOD purpose. Your future spouse will understand that there is a different between being sinful and angry and having a righteous anger.

6. He is honorable of your heart and emotional well-being. 

I hated when a guy I was dating exposed my embarrassing moments or the private matters of our relationship with his friends. Picking on you may seem cute and funny at first, but it will get old after a while. You should feel honored and safe knowing you can always trust your future spouse to cover and speak well of you.

There will be a time where you will need to seek guidance from close friends or mentors on a situation but in group settings is not the place or time. Discernment is essential to when to speak or when to remain quiet.

|| And lastly for now I leave you with this || 

7. He pursues and loves you passionately.

The man you marry should make you feel loved like you’ve never felt before. Safe, accepted, desired, nurtured, protected and comforted. Jesus loves us deeply, he loves us so fiercely, that he willingly gave up his life to save us.

Jacob loved Rachel so much that he worked for seven years to pay for Rachel. But his love, his heart was deeply rooted in the fact that THIS was going to be his wife, that it felt like just a few days. Your future spouse should love you so much that even if it takes eight years for you to get married, he'll wait. She'll wait. And when it finally comes to fruition it will have felt like a week. Patience is extremely hard, sometimes frustrating, but the taste of winning in patience is the sweetest taste you'll ever experience.

He should also be consistently romancing you and learning about you. Getting married or finding your soul mate doesn't end your seeking stage, it gives you more room to seek harder. Romance is essential in this.

I know women who feel guilty or wrong for desiring romance in their relationship, as if they don’t deserve it. { LIES! You do deserve it! } But God desires for your heart to be romanced, just as He longs to romance us. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth— for your love is more delightful than wine.” Song of Solomon 1:2 “Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.” Song of Solomon 8:6.

All marriage is, is a friendship set on fire. The best marriages that I've ever encountered started with two people becoming best friends - spending time together, doing fun things together, learning about each other, supporting each other.

And lastly....he should be able to humble himself and admit when he's wrong. There is nothing worse than a petty conflict blowing out of porportion because your partner refuses to admit they were wrong. Taking responsibility for his actions and apologizing for his mistakes is the sign of a real man. (Proverbs 16:18) No person will be perfect and grace is a beautiful thing that makes relationships flourish.

Lets wait.

No More Idols

Monday, November 3, 2014

Let it go....let it go....God I am so sick of hearing that song. It plays every where and gets stuck in your head at the worst moment. No, I'm not letting it go. Well I'm letting this song go. But nothing else.

This has been my attitude for years. On one certain issue that I was hoarding. It was mine. No one could take it, steal it, make me give it up. No, not even the Lord.

I was "stuck" in a spell. I was emotionally attached to someone. It was unhealthy for me but I held on because this relationship was a hope for me regarding love and romance. I thought the picture that was painted (sadly by my own hands) was what true love and romance was. That if I let go of this connection (I am talking 15 years of emotional attachment) that I would never experience another connection like this. I mean, come on, who LOVES someone for 15 years without ever knowing if that person loves you back?


    I'm crazy. I love so deeply that it blinds me to reality. This connection was not even rooted in any kind of sexual or physical sense either. Why? We had never done anything sexual or physical. It was completely motivated by a chemistry and connection intellectually. Emotionally.

        It's not about sex for me. Sex is great in the right context { married people say "AMEN!" } but for me the foreplay of anything physical comes from a connection emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. { Is it ok that I'm being real here? Using words like foreplay and sex? }

I'm taking a risk and being bold but these subjects have to be talked about. I know I can't be the only one that hasn't let something "go."


Several times in those years I heard God say, "Let it go." { God created those lyrics you know....} But I couldn't. I would literally argue with Him.

"You don't understand Lord. YOU DON'T. He's never hurt me. He cares for me. He's always been there. Over the years we've always found our way back." Because all of the men in my life has hurt me, abused me, taken advantage, and this guy hadn't I wanted to hold on to the only perception of love in the natural that I could....But than it got serious.

In late September I joined a small group by a good friend of mine Danny. The VERY first meet, the meet and greet, the conviction of God came so strongly over me that I cried the entire way home. I couldn't shake this conviction. Every where I went God would confirm with me that it was time. That I needed to do it. // Now, He was being daddy. He spoke to me clearly and said that I had allowed this person to become an addiction.

An idol.

          He was a drug. Whenever life got lonely, bad, happy, whatever....I would inject thoughts of this relationship and it's possibilities or even memories into my mind and would get a "high" off of those thoughts.

Don't be confused....I really cared about this person. I even loved him. I love people a lot as it is but when I really love someone I give my entire being. It can be very overwhelming to some; especially those that don't understand that I don't just love to love. Those who I am vulnerable with are special. I don't get vulnerable often.

 The Lord told me that night, clearly, to cut off this relationship. Not just that, but He told me some other very specific things that I needed to change. He wanted to take me deeper, bring me closer, make me completely new. Life was about to get REAL ya'll.

So I did what any other addict would do. I ignored Him and kept His instruction to let go to myself. I went an ENTIRE week without mentioning His instructions to anyone.

Then the next meeting came. And I shared with the group (Aaron and Danny mainly) what God had asked of me. And Aaron, being Aaron, made mention of how I distrust the Lord. By not letting it go I was saying, "God, I don't trust that you have my best interest at heart." God knew I needed Aaron when I did because now the conviction { and accountability to being obedient } was even stronger.

But still. I held on to it. I didn't let it go. I didn't remove him from facebook or my phone. Even though we hadn't talked in a long time....I knew I had a constant way of contact if I needed it. It was comfortable.

But then God. God gave me a dream and I shared it with my two friends. And Aaron, again being Aaron, said...."..So apparently you are willing to do whatever it takes to save others but when it comes to you there are still idols...?"

 Yes. I hate seeing others hurt. I want to help. But my own life? I thought I knew what was best. I was so wrong and deceived and through a broken heart and weepy tears I let it go. Reading Aaron's words were super powerful because I felt completely exposed. I felt like Aaron could see my soul. It made me want to run.

You see I was using the idea of this relationship and of possibly loving this guy and him loving me as an idol to keep faith in love in general. But JESUS is love. He is the ONLY love I can learn from. The only love I can lean in.

Someone today needs to do what I do. You need to know that it's going to be ok. I'm not even a week in to letting it go and the excitement I feel for the new season ahead is beyond what I can describe. I have no idea why I did this now. After 15 years of saying no why now. What is so different now. I'm more mature, sure, but something came over me so strongly that first night....and never left me. I felt God saying, "Meg, you have to. The time cannot wait any longer."

It's time my friend. Whomever you are, whatever you are hoarding, it's time to let it go. God will never ask you to give up something just because. He always knows what's best for you, and will always provide for you. For me I needed to learn that what I thought was love wasn't even what it was. It was an unhealthy idea of love and now I can re-learn what love is by pressing into my true love and lover, Jesus.

I also want to encourage you that if you are letting go of a relationship or a person sometimes depending on the circumstances a conversation is not always necessary. If it's an unhealthy dating relationship just tell them, "Look, God is calling me away from this." If it's a situation like mine remove them from social media. Delete them from your phone.

If it's an addiction or a sin, find accountability. Join a support group. Surround yourself with people who will HELP you let it go. When you finally do, HAVE A PARTY. This is a big deal. This unhealthy soul tie I've carried for 15 years released me for something so great God hasn't even shared it with me yet. { God I can't wait to find out all the secrets }

Now that I've let it go. I'm waiting. I have no idea for what. But God has giving me two words for this new season: patience & hope. So I'm going to focus on those. Patience and hope.

What is God giving to you, asking you to take away? Let it go.