I Need Your Perspective

Gentlemen, once you’ve read this post, I believe you’ll better understand the women in your life. And ladies, young to mature, please realize that you’re not alone.  You have many sisters – some who want to encourage you.  As your sister, I encourage you to welcome the next version of yourself and enjoy the next season of your life.

 

My age has never bothered me.  I’ve usually felt really positive about turning another year older, but this birthday was looking very different.  Life has been thumping and slamming me and sometimes I’m not feeling very zesty.  As I approached 55, I also began noticing some physiological changes that weren’t thrilling me.  I definitely wasn’t feeling positive about crossing over into my latter 50s.

 

Thankfully, this isn’t where my story ends.  I began to examine my life.  More importantly, I examined my attitudes about my life.  I was on my evening bike ride and an interesting thought entered my mind.  “Pray for a new perspective.”  Alright, yes – a new perspective.  I began to ask God for this.  The next morning, the same thought entered my mind.  Yes – “Lord, I need a new perspective – I need Your perspective.”  Here’s what I’m seeing.

 

>I’d never believed that I was a noticeable woman, or that I added value to the lives of others.   God began to show me a more complete image of myself.   He used new situations and a clearer understanding of previous occurrences, to help me see myself differently.  He has shown me that I do have value in this world, but that I cannot depend solely on humans for this – I must depend on Him.  I’ve learned that when those closest to me, don’t seem to value me, my value still remains, because God is always the same.

>I’ve realized that I’ve been focusing on things that I don’t like about myself, instead of appreciating the things that I could like.  Most women do this.  I decided to take my new perspective on a trial run.  I selected the gutsiest item of clothing that I could find – a silky, red, form-fitting, lowcut jumpsuit.  I tried it on, and instead of using my critical eye, I purposely looked for things that I liked.  When I chose to focus on my good attributes, I was BaBam! pleased with how I looked.  I didn’t purchase the jumpsuit, but I did take photos.  When I look at those photos, I easily slip into critical mode, finding the tiniest flaw – applying the new perspective is a process.

>I’ve stopped feeling guilty about taking the time to care for my physical needs.  Proper nutrition, hydration, exercise, rest and beauty routines – it all goes a long way toward making me feel better about the woman that I’m becoming, and this helps me to have the energy and confidence necessary for reaching out to others.

> And I’ve saved the best for last.  My MVP (most valuable perspective) is all about inner changes – I’ve been at work with God, and I’ve grown to desire obedience to Him like never before.  I’m no longer afraid to ask God to search me for sin, because I desire more than anything else, to be in close fellowship with Him, and to be representative of His goodness.  This used to be scary – I knew it would be hard-work, and that sometimes I’d have to give up what I want.  God says “that serves no purpose in your life – time to grab My hand and trust Me, rely completely on Me – time to let go of that”.  He enables me to make courageous decisions.  His ways are always best.  His timing is always perfect.  And I respond with “thank you Lord, for what You are making me into – I’m Your workmanship and I praise You for it”.

 

Let’s keep trying to convince the women in our lives that they’re beautiful – inside and out.  It might take some persistence – the self-critical voice in a woman’s mind is loud.  Two last thoughts.  Ladies, we’re not in competition with each other – lift other women up.  Men, there’s nothing wrong you complimenting a woman, as long as you’re a gentleman, your motives are pure, and you’re respectful of your wife’s feelings.  Is she funny?  Is she wise?  Does she welcome others into her life?   Does she look put together?  Does she smile a lot?  Is she a caretaker of others?  Is she thoughtful and kind?  Does she have a fantastic figure or pretty features?  Chances are, she needs to hear this – tell her.

 

I think that turning 55 isn’t going to be so bad after all – I’m excited to meet the next gen of myself and live life abundantly in this next season.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post.  I absolutely love to see your feedback – I review every reaction, share and comment.  You are such an encouragement to me!

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Looking for Life in Dead Places

Approaching Easter weekend, we see an array of new life – pretty flowers, darling children in colorful pastels, fuzzy bunnies and little chicks. We also see important reminders of the true meaning of Easter – the resurrection of Jesus.  I have a few things to say on this subject, but I won’t be attempting to dazzle you with impressive theology, or burdening you with heavy religious-holiday guilt.  Instead, this will be a simplistic approach, aimed to hit your greatest longing and most significant need.

 

We’re all searching for something, aren’t we?  We feel a void, and we’re seeking to fill it up.  We’re on a quest to quench a great hunger and thirst.  We’re looking for life, but too often we’re looking for life in dead places.

 

Right at this moment, there’s a precious soul who’s attempting to fill that void with a human relationship, self-expression communicated through body art or mutilation, body or gender modification, possessions or vacations, a new way to love, self-liberation, or religion.  The possibilities are endless.  Life is short, so why not do everything possible to make ourselves happy – right?  And if these things are the pathway to happiness, why aren’t we happy for very long, or even happy at all?

 

Ironically, the problem is the solution.  Did you know that the void you’re attempting to fill, was created by your Creator?  He created you with a need to have an intimately abiding relationship with Him.  That hole that you’re feeling, is shaped exactly for that purpose, and nothing else will ever be able to fill it up. All other pursuits are mere fakes, that leave us feeling like we’re still in need of more.  Now, if this is true, and God created me to be fulfilled by this relationship with Him, why do I need to pursue it?  Why isn’t it automatic?

 

In Genesis 3, when sin entered the world, Adam and Eve hid from God in the garden.  Laughable isn’t it?  It isn’t possible to hide from omnipresent, all-knowing God, but this is exactly what humans have been attempting to do ever since.  The sobering news is that when Adam and Eve sinned, they broke their relationship with their Creator, and every human after them has inherited their sin problem, creating the wide impassable chasm of a broken relationship with God, who is perfectly righteous and also able to make us truly filled with contentment.   But God … with His great love and compassion for His creation, wants us back.  I’m overcome with gratitude, that glorious God desires a relationship with me.  Even if I was the only human that had ever sinned, He still would have made great provision to bring me back into fellowship with Him.  What is this great provision?

 

Jesus died and provided a bridge over this wide chasm, and then He resurrected, proving His power to save us.  My hope is that this Resurrection Day, you’ll simply walk over that bridge to be reunited with your perfect Creator.  Come to Him exactly as you are, but also with a humble and repentant heart.  I’m a sinner Jesus, and I need You to save me.  Thank You for paying the price for my sins.  Help me Lord, to fall deeply madly in love with You, and follow You all the remaining days of my life.  God, help me to understand and be transformed by Your Word.  Please align my desires with Your desires, making me perfectly contented.  Please make my path straight, giving me the quietness of Your perfect peace.

 

“Human history is the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God, which will make him happy.” – C.S. Lewis

“But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”   – Romans 5:8 of God’s Word

Forgiveness – Commonly Misunderstood, but Incredibly Powerful

You’ve loved, so you’ve been wounded.  You probably won’t forget, and you don’t have to excuse it.  The pain can be relentless, as your mind too easily dwells on the wrongs and hurts – the unfairness of it all.  Upon seeing or hearing of a certain person, some find themselves thinking vengeful bitter thoughts, feeling angry, speaking or writing nasty words.  If any of this is familiar, you or someone that you know, may be owned by the cruel master of unforgiveness.  There is a way to be released and free, and today I’d love to share with you, what God has been teaching me.

Have you heard about the Bible verse that tells us to bring our thoughts into captivity, to the obedience of Christ?  The words bring and obedience indicate action, and the word captivity indicates that with the action, those thoughts are no longer able to float freely, because now, they’re confined.  But now what?  Be quick to continue obedience, by filling the mind with godly thoughts, otherwise another problem thought will enter, and often will even convert into words and actions.  This is the put off and put on principle taught throughout Scripture, and it applies to so much more than unforgiveness, but today we’ll focus on the sweet fruit produced by the choice and action of forgiving.

Forgiveness is a choice that we willfully make.  It isn’t waiting for the memory to fade, or pretending that the offense was not committed.  It is a decision to no longer hold the offense against the offender, and a choice to not dwell on it.  It does not release your offender, but it absolutely releases you.  Please understand that forgiveness is possible without the offender ever taking responsibility and apologizing, but reconciliation requires both parties – repentance by the offender and forgiveness by the offended.  In some cases, both individuals have culpability, so the need to take responsibility, repent, apologize and forgive, goes both ways.

Although I believe that God desires full reconciliation and peace, it doesn’t always happen.  So how do you move on with your own life, fully released from the bondage of unforgiveness and bitterness?  You employ the strength training of your mind with the put off and put on principle.  I’d like to offer you what I employ, but I also encourage you to search God’s word and look for additional verses that apply to your own situation.

In Philippians 4, we are told to fix our thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. We’re to think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. If we do this, we’re promised that the peace of God will be with us.  Since we know that our minds are stubborn and difficult to retrain, I suggest formulating a list, and commit it to memory, if possible.  List anyone who has hurt you so significantly, that you’re having difficulty getting past it.  Ask God to help you to forgive them, and no longer dwell on the offenses.  Now write some Philippians 4 good things about that person next to their name.  If this is difficult for you, you’ve been believing lies or focusing only on the hurt – go back and remember who they were to you.  When an unforgiving thought begins, give it to the Lord, ask Him to help you to forgive again, and quickly fix your thoughts on the good things list.  You can even incorporate prayer for that individual.  Simply begin by asking God to bless them in the way that He chooses.  Put this to moment–by–moment use.  It will be amazing as God blesses you with the peace that surpasses human understanding.

Throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception.  Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 

Ephesians 4:22-23

 

As always, thank you for taking time to read these writings.   Do you think you’ll employ these?  Are you already doing something similar?  I sincerely hope that this helps you, and I’d love to see your reactions, comments and shares.

Better or Worse?

Marriage – a blessing and a challenge!  Marriage is the relationship that creates the circumstances, that create the opportunities, to live out the gospel – and all in the comfort and convenience of your own home.  But since the gospel is the good news that Christ died to pay the penalty for my sins – how do I apply the gospel to my marriage?

 

Especially in marriage, there’s a need for undeserved favor – grace.  Then there’s mercy, as we overlook offenses.  And to round things out nicely, there’s truth and peace.  A successful marriage requires that each person consistently extend the gospel to their spouse, applying each ingredient in the correct amount.  All truth with no grace and mercy, or all grace and mercy with no truth, are imbalanced distortions of the gospel.  With either of these imbalances, the relationship will not be as peaceful as it could be, and unfortunately, it will also negatively impact the lives that it touches.

 

The gospel in marriage, also includes the principles of Proverbs 27:17 – iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.  A spouse plays a positive role, when they help their beloved to see their own ungodly attitudes or behaviors.  When a husband or wife lovingly point out ugly attitudes, actions or words, they effectively nudge their loved one along a better path.  Nagging, preaching or attacking won’t help here.  A well-mannered nudge requires gentleness, bravery and patience, and it might even sound like silence, or look like a simple refusal to join in on the shenanigans.  It will never look like encouraging ugliness toward others – never.

 

Is my husband a better man because he’s married to me, and am I a better woman because I’m married to him?  Do we sharpen each other’s iron, and help each other to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel, or is it more like a case of bad company corrupting good morals?  The proper recipe contains the right measure of grace and mercy, mixed with truth.  The desired result is peace.  Peace between each other and peace in your home.  This peace reaches out and touches others with blessing.

My New Year’s Wish

God says “I have loved you with an everlasting love” – Jeremiah 31:3. Do we believe this? Can our human minds really grasp the great depth of God’s love for us?

I’m fascinated that God uses the imagery of the sheep and the shepherd to paint a picture of our relationship with Him. People are actually a lot like sheep. Sheep are stubborn, unwise and sometimes stupid. They don’t understand the dangers that surround them. Some sheep are prone to wander. If left to themselves, with no one to watch, they’d be destroyed by wolves or other predators. They get themselves stuck in thorny situations and bleat until their shepherd comes to rescue them. There is one really amazing thing about sheep – they respond only to the unique voice of their own shepherd. Speaking of the shepherd – he watches his own sheep and he sleeps in the opening of the fold, keeping them in and the predators out. When a sheep is prone to wander, the shepherd breaks its legs and carries the sheep around his neck, until it heals. This sheep will now no longer wander away from the safety of their shepherd.

In John chapter 10, Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd. If you have placed your trust in Him, you are one of His sheep. He says that “I am His and He is mine”. He knows His sheep and they know His voice. If you are prone to wander, He might have to “break” your legs but He will faithfully carry you while you heal. The Lord has broken my legs a few times. Even though He does this, it is crucial to understand that you can never out-sin the cross of Jesus. His love and forgiveness out-weighs any sin that you have committed or will ever commit. His love and His sacrifice on the cross covers every sin throughout time. His free gift is offered to every person. You can be a really good person and you still need Him and you can be a really bad person and you need Him. We all need the Savior.

Jesus fought the greatest spiritual battle of all time when He was crucified. He made the costliest transaction in history. He took on the punishment for all sins and He offers you salvation as a free gift. Did you know that when someone accepts this gift, God then sees them under the cover of His Son – Holy and blameless? This is amazing grace and it is for all kinds of people. Whether a good person, a hurting person, an addicted person or a religious self-righteous person, I hope that you will come to Him, just as you are. Come with the realization that you need Him and the salvation that only He can provide. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except by Me” John 14:6.

We all follow some kind of shepherd – philosophy, religion, career, relationships, stuff or substances. How about a new start this new year? My New Year’s wish? – That you follow the Good Shepherd, the One who loves you with an everlasting love, and let Him give you eternal life and abundant life which empowers you to live a life full of hope, love, joy and peace even amidst the difficult circumstances that you face.

Raw and Unedited

I wrote this today as the snow fell, and it is raw and unedited –

 

Everything I knew well and had become comfortable with, was no longer familiar.  The strong fortress, I’d built by being an attentive wife and vigilant mother, seemed to be crumbling down around me.  I was a woman that found herself in a place that she’d never asked to be.  Depression, overwhelm and heart-ache was my new normal.  He is so quiet, yet I know He’s with me.  I know His promises – He’ll never leave me, nor forsake me.

 

How does this happen?  I don’t take the easy way out.  I’m self-confrontational, loyal to others, dedicated to my callings, and most importantly, I’m growing closer to my Lord and becoming more obedient to Him, with each passing day.  But suddenly, I found myself in deep, dark, despair.  I’m shocked that I’m sharing this with you.  There are only a few that know how far I sank this year – others that know of me, see me smile and assume that a perfect life exists behind the smile.  I tend to smile a lot, so that’s a lot of perfect.

 

I couldn’t see God.  I couldn’t hear His voice, or sense His presence.  Where’d you go Lord?  Earlier this year, a prayer of mine was answered.  I clung to it.  I wrote it down on a little piece of paper and folded it up tightly, placing it in a beautiful teal colored glass on my dresser.  That glass is located right next to a stone that has the word believe painted on it.  After that, I’ve added many pieces of tightly folded paper that contain descriptions of the precious works of God.  That glass now runneth over.  It overflows with hope.  Not hope that is placed in what humans might do or not do, but hope in God and how He is changing me.  Recently, after an extremely difficult 48 hours, I entered my prayer closet and told God that I have no wisdom and don’t even want to think about my problems.  All I wanted, was to climb up into His lap and be with Him, and I was able to ask God to align my desires with His desires.  As I’ve thought about why I was finally able to pray in this way, He showed me that I was trusting Him on a new level.  No more platitudes – I was in the action phase of trusting and believing that He is a good Father.  My heart now yearned for His plan, because I know it’s better than anything I can cook up.

 

This past week, I’d begun to seriously consider quitting my writing.  You see, when I began writing, I noticed that life was becoming increasingly difficult.  I’d associated this for the entire last 3 ½ years, but recently I’ve become very weary and I’d like to exit the battle.  But yesterday, my pastor who was to be away from the pulpit for the day, was called back to preach, when his substitute became ill.  Unplanned, he taught about Esther.  This woman found herself in a position that she never asked for.  This woman was inserted into the most unlikely place, by God.  This woman took on the challenge instead of shrinking back from the challenge.  And to top it off, God is never mentioned in the entire book of Esther, making Him silent, yet we clearly see Him working all over the book.  I took this very personally – don’t shrink back from the challenge or try to run from the battle.  This is written and shared for you.  YOU, the person that I began writing for 3 1/2 years ago.

A Lady for Him

A lady is always a woman, but not every woman aspires to be a lady.  Most females shudder at the thought of the stuffy version of lady-like.   We grew up observing the uptight woman, and made an unconscious decision to be very different – unfortunately causing many of us to swing too far in the opposite direction.  But …  the modern lady is ageless, spirited, sweet and warm.  She encourages and has an ability to make others feel better.  She makes decisions, and lives her life by a set of personal standards, that she won’t violate, no matter what she is feeling at the moment.  Let’s look closer and see what this classy lady is like, and by doing this, we’ll also be able to see what she isn’t.

 

>She promotes others, making them the star of the moment.

>She is sensitive to others by concentrating on their words and body language.

>She encourages, uplifts and compliments, but always truthfully and sincerely.

>She is a student of others and thoughtfully makes them feel cherished.

>She doesn’t make a habit out of complaining.  She can make lemonade out of her lemons.

>She looks for glimmers of hope and is thankful for them.

>She lives out the philosophy of “there’s never any harm in showing kindness or concern”.

>She is a good and helpful influence, in the lives of women who are younger.

>She is respectful, sensitive and good company, to women who are older.

>She is a cheerleader to women who are her life-stage peers.

>She lives out a set of personal scruples that she won’t violate, even when others are unkind, or the pressure is on.

>She strives to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

>She is able to make tough decisions to do what is right, even when she must sacrifice to do so.

>She is respectful of other people’s time and resources, being on time and taking care of their property.

>She graciously accepts the individuality of others, and doesn’t force her ideas or methods on them.

>She’s courteous and polite, striving to think more highly of others than herself.

>She doesn’t speak or act out to hurt others, and she never encourages someone else to hurt others.

>She doesn’t tear or push others down.

>She is genuine and forgiving, never flippant and spiteful.

>She deals with conflict directly with the person, not complaining behind their back.

 

Wow – what a high calling!  When I was a young woman, my mother cast her vote of confidence, when she told me that I was a classy lady-like woman.  Since that day, my perspective on this has changed.  God has shown me that aspiring to be lady-like for my own image, has a short-lived impact, but being a lady for Him, has eternal impact.  Jesus died and resurrected to save me from my sins and give me abundant life – I’m completely honored to serve in this higher purpose of representing Him to others.  Although I’m far from the perfect lady, I can work toward leaving others better than I found them.   I can leave the calling card that a modern lady has been around.

 

Thank you, for taking your time to read, react and comment.

When the Ugly is Seen, Beauty Emerges

As we accumulate years, greater wisdom can come – but it isn’t automatic.  There’s going to have to be some long looks in the mirror – peering through the self-deception.  And finally, when the ugly is seen, the beauty begins to emerge.

Some of us are naturally introspective, and some of us could learn the skill and then benefit from implementing it.  I myself, can’t seem to avoid it – taking it too far at times.  This is something that I am working on, with the Lord.  But even though I now recognize that I have a weakness in this area, I won’t be throwing this baby out with the bathwater, because healthy self-examination keeps us moving forward.

In my own life, the awareness of patterns has become instrumental.  As I pressed into the work of self-examination, and began to recognize patterns, a familiarity alarm began to emerge.  It’s a built-in warning system that says “you’re getting ready to walk down that road again – stop! think! what are your motives?”, etc.  It’s my chance for a change of course – hopefully a correct one.  Maybe like me, you’re on the journey of determining why there are similarities in some of the more unpleasant occurrences in your life.  I’d like to offer you some questions to ask of yourself.  These have been helpful to me and others that are in my close sphere.

 

>Do I mentally or verbally express negative thoughts about myself, reinforcing a destructive belief?

>Do I trust too easily – giving information or my heart too early in a relationship?

>Do I become devastated when someone turns on me or rejects me?

>Do I have a history of becoming seriously disappointed by other people?

>Do I avoid voicing my needs in fear of losing the relationship?

>Do I long for the kind of fulfillment in my human relationships, that can only come from a right relationship with God?

>Do I have some kind of void that I’m trying to fill with a human relationship?

>Do I regularly allow myself to react to the foolishness of others?

>Does my self-image easily waver, based on the opinion of others, even if I know their opinion isn’t true?

 

I sincerely thank you for sticking with me, because I realize that this is a tough topic.  Self-confrontation is ouchy, but blaming others will only prolong the difficulties that you’ve been experiencing.  You cannot fix others, so trying to control or change them is a pointless waste of your precious time and energy.  Why not work on yourself instead?

God is peeling away the layers of this onion, and He will continue to help me to discern what changes are needed, as I seek Him through prayer and the reading of His word.  This is a process that has no ending – at least this side of eternity.  More important than getting it all finished up, is that I desire change, and I’m willing to faithfully work toward it daily.  I’m sorry that I can’t offer you a flow chart on how this will work for you, but I’m glad to lay myself open.  If you decide to begin this type of work, I hope that this gives you a place to start, and that you’ll know greater peace and joy by allowing God to work out His desires for you, and His best for your life.

 

As always, thank you for taking time to read my writings, and I love to see your reactions, shares and comments – you are such an encouragement to me.

Yay Me!

I realized a few days ago, that at the end of every workout, I say “yay me!”. I actually calculated that I’m approaching my 2,000th workout since I began losing and keeping weight off 8 years ago. I don’t love exercise, unless it’s a hike or a bicycle ride, so keeping up with this personal regimen is a big deal to me. We each have something that’s hard for us – no judgement here. My hard differs from yours, and vice-versa. Go do something that’s hard for you, and be sure to congratulate yourself with a smile and a mental high-five. Comment and tell me about it – I’d love to hear about your victory!

Unravel My Heart

Throughout our lifetime, many amazing people will walk onto our stage.  A spouse, parents, grandparents, children, friends, bosses, teachers and mentors.  Each of them will play a part in our story.  Sometimes a big part, and sometimes a small part.  Sometimes long and sometimes short.  Sometimes the beginning, the middle or the ending.  With a special few, there will be a rare and impactful connection made between two human beings.

I hope that you’ll be blessed to have these special ones come into your life – those human beings that enter your life, and glide right into your heart.  They just kind of sneak in and quickly begin filling up the nooks and crannies with their uniquely beautiful silken thread design, and you can only hope that you’ve had a similar impact on them.  Sounds lovely, but what happens when that relationship ends due to a death, or other forces outside of your control?  It seems unfair that you can’t continue to enjoy this kindred spirit.  Is it possible to value and treasure the memory of this person, and still let them go?  If so, how do you move past the pain of missing their presence in your life?  How do you successfully move into the new relationships that God is bringing into your life?  Here’s what God has been teaching me along my journey.

 

>If we don’t want to have future regrets, we must learn from our past regrets, and then apply these lessons to other relationships.

>Love as completely as possible.  This means acceptance and appreciation of others, exactly how they are.  Yes, the closer you are to them, the harder this will be.

>Examine our own expectations, motivations, attitudes and actions for error.  Practice implementing the necessary changes.

>Resolve to live peaceably, even if that requires stepping away for a time – sometimes our presence or involvement stumbles others or brings out the worst in another person.

>Practice forgiveness and remember that forgiveness does not let others off the hook for their offense, but it does release you.  Whatever the reasons or cause, whether dead or alive, forgive all that are involved, and do it swiftly to prevent bitterness from taking root.  Forgive as often as necessary, because forgiveness is usually not a singular moment, but instead many moments of obedience.

>If you’ve been hurt, ask God to enable you to pray with pure motives, for those that are involved.  The sweet fruit of peace comes out of this type of prayer.

>Finally, during our waking hours, we must be disciplined with our thoughts, capturing negative or unkind thoughts, and giving them over to the Lord.

 

As you resolve to live and love correctly going forward, you will notice relief from the pain and grief.  God will be slowly and gently unknotting and unraveling the threads that tie this person to your heart.  As you let go, you will find your burden becoming lighter with each passing day, and there is a time coming when we’ll be able to remember without pain or tears, but instead with a smile.

Allow God to untangle and pull that unique design out of your heart.  Let Him give it to you as a gift, to be kept in a special place called “Love Where There is No Space and Time”.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this post – I genuinely hope that it has helped.  I love reviewing every reaction, comment and share – you are such an encouragement to me.