White Space

By: Amy Dalke

I have stared at my computer screen for the last 3 hours. I’ve written paragraphs after paragraph, only to group them together under my cursor and delete-delete-delete.

There are at least 14 things I want to share with you, and not one of those things will come together succinctly. After asking God to please not leave me hanging with nothing to write, I’m reminded that the purpose of this blog is God’s purpose and not mine.

So may it never be that I write here for the sake of words.

Sometimes routine can blind us from our purpose. Our motions become mechanical. We’re good enough to get by on our own steam, so we lose sight of the reason we started in the first place.

I don’t know what that looks like for you. But with that in mind, I invite you to glance across your week for a minute. Picture your calendar full of morning routines, workday habits, after school snacks, and bed time patterns.

white space clouds

 

Have you left any room for God’s creativity to show up? Or is each time block nailed down so tightly that divine interference would be more of an irritation?

Wouldn’t life be a little more exciting if we lived beyond our box? Wouldn’t life be more carefree (less stressful) if we didn’t have to figure it all out on our own?

As you look at your schedule, your meetings, your plans, I challenge you to leave some white space.

white space sky

Be bold and let go of your own agenda for each hour…and see your life this week as an invitation for an adventure with God.

Amy

 

 

 

What Happens When 2 Grandmothers Chose Not To Compete

By: Ms. O

Grandmothers

I live my life trying to be thought of as the “generous” type. It is so much easier for me to give than to receive. As a matter of fact, being on the receiving end makes me somewhat uncomfortable. I don’t know why….I am sure some psychiatrist could spend some time analyzing me.

My daughter has fussed at me plenty at my inability to accept compliments. What is it about receiving a compliment that I immediately fall back into making excuses? Why can’t I simply say “thanks” and not have to qualify it?

If someone gives me a gift, my mind races to think of how I can return the favor. What can I do to measure up to a kindness extended? Most times it involves baking something…surely that says,

“I see your kindness….. and raise you a chocolate cake”.

Recently though, an act of kindness was extended to me that I don’t know how in the world I will ever be able to reciprocate….

I have found over the years that as a mom of a son, you learn to dance lightly. I don’t want to make waves…don’t want to intrude…overstep my “boundaries”.  When my son was growing up, I learned how to “hug” in public…show signs of affection without embarrassing him. I watched a young man grow into a man. I figured out how to move him into his college apartment, muster up the courage to say goodbye without breaking down in a mound of tears.

I was insistent when he got married that he would walk me down the aisle. I knew that would be the last time he would walk with me as a single man…this son of mine that I raised. After that he would do what he promised to do…what I prayed about for so many years…he would leave my side and take up the role as husband to a pretty amazing woman.

When I found out that I would soon be a grandmother, my heart went pitter patter. I could not contain my excitement as I dreamed of the day I would see my first grandchild. I also knew the dance would begin….again….of treading lightly.  It is quite normal (and expected) that my daughter-in-law would want her mother with her. This bond of motherhood is something you have to experience to understand.

I waited to know where I fit into the mix….and I fully expected to stand back and allow them to joyfully welcome another generation of life. That wasn’t a sad thing for me…in fact, I knew it should be that way, so I was fully prepared to…stand aside and wait.

What I did not expect was the gift of grace…..one that I cannot describe in words. The family….from both sides…were lead into the hospital room by my son (a very proud new dad)…and we all gathered around the bed to view the newest arrival who was snuggled in the arms of my daughter in law. Time stood still as we took in this sight…this miracle bundle named…Evelyn.

I had always known my son’s mother-in-law was kind. She is a gracious, loving woman. But that day, grace took on a deeper meaning. I expected her, as the mother of the “new mom” to have the honor of holding this precious baby girl first. I settled in to wait my turn…knowing I would cherish the moment when it came.

But then, grace was extended to me beyond my expectations.

When my daughter-in-law asked who wanted to hold Evelyn first, her mother paused….looked at our new granddaughter…turned to me…and said, “You need to hold her first.”

Baby Evey

My heart climbed into my throat….so full of love and gratitude…in response to such unselfish kindness. I was humbled….so caught up in this moment of…God…that I still tear up just remembering the feeling of that moment.

Later as I went to sleep that night…I savored the moment, and thought of Paul (my go-to guy) and his words to the church in Ephesus.

“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is THE gift of God – not by works that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:6-9

I have had times in my life that I have experienced that grace…the pure outpouring of love from God. I have also had several times in my life that I have experienced His grace through the actions of others. The moment I held Evelyn for the first time….grace was so palpable…I could smell it…taste it…feel it..in every pore of my soul.

How can I ever “repay” this gift? I don’t think there is a cake, cookie, or dessert that I could make…that would ever compare. Instead, I will strive to extend the same love that was given to me.

I thought I was ready for that moment…but God has a way of catching me off guard…again and again. You are good, God…so much better than I ever imagined. I pray I never lose that awe. With gratitude I say….amen.

Back to School Anxiety: 30 Days of Fear-Fighting Prayer

By: Amy Dalke

30 Verses for Fear-Fighting Prayer

During my school age years, I was ecstatic for every first day of school. Which probably comes as no surprise to you.

This thrill was based on a love for new clothes, a fresh box of crayons/markers/pens, and a fashionable TrapperKeeper. (And not much has changed, except the TrapperKeeper.)

When I became a mother, I assumed my child would automatically share this excitement for school. But no. Not at all.

Therefore you can understand my chagrin when school supply shopping fails to conjure up any sort of happy feelings in Luke. In fact, he would rather clean toilets than shop for anything (also puzzling to me); and the very mention of the first day of school brings a wave of anxiety.

This annual event is officially #74 on my list of Things I Assumed About Motherhood That Are Actually Just the Opposite. So when Luke’s first day of Kindergarten rolled around, his fear was absolutely foreign to me. I had NO CLUE how to handle his mega-anxiety about school.

Technically, his very first day of Kindergarten was great. We took his picture in front of our house, posted it on Facebook per the usual, and eagerly walked into the classroom to greet his teacher and find his seat. (The only tears shed that day were mine because that’s how I roll sometimes.)

The second day all fear broke loose, and by the third day, my sweet 5 year old had to be peeled from my arms by a teacher’s aide. I distinctly remember his heart-wrenching, terror-filled cries as she carried him away from me, “Mommy, please. Please don’t leave me! Please…!!!

#ihatekindergarten

Needless to say, I sobbed all the way to my office for five straight days which was just awesome. And thus, the first day of school officially became my least favorite day of the year.

Frankly, it was more like the first weeks of school that I came to dread because they represented a string of of sad mornings filled with Luke’s pleas for home school (What-huh?) and red, tear-streaked faces for both of us.

And so it went through 1st and 2nd grade. Days and days of Luke’s fretful, anxious tears, coupled with my own emotions that boomeranged from sadness and defeat to frustrated anger. It was basically insanity all over the place, and that’s an understatement.

Then last year, Luke sheepishly (and tearlessly!) accepted the start of 3rd grade; and he only had a couple of random anxiety-ridden mornings all year long. (Thank you, Lord.)

Today…he heads off to 4th grade. And y’all, he’s excited. For the first time ever, he has confidently talked about the upcoming year. He’s even fixed his hair the last five days in preparation. (Which is a whole new thing in itself.) (Don’t ask, because I don’t know.)

So what changed? And why am I telling you?

Well I wish I could share a formula that spells out all the things Larry and I did right in parenting to overcome Luke’s anxiety. But that would just be a joke.

Instead, I can offer you real life proof that prayer really does change things. Every positive parenting effect I’ve had has come from the time spent in conversation with God. Not because I’m some super-holy prayer warrior, but because parenting literally drives me to my knees.

Over the last four years, I have prayed daily for Luke to overcome fear and anxiety, and I’ve begun to see the fruit of courage ripen in him little by little. (Thank you, Jesus.) I am flat powerless to fix Luke’s fears myself, but God is all-powerful to do that very thing.

You and I can follow methods and practice various therapeutic exercises with our kids to help them deal with anxiety, but there’s a point where our control (?) of a situation comes to a dead end. So we might as well hand over “control” to the only One who has it in the first place. Because this is exactly where God works wonders.

If your child struggles with anxiety, please know you aren’t alone. I want to give you a big hug and share some of the verses I’ve prayed over Luke specifically about Overcoming Fear. So I created a printable image that gives you one fear-fighting verse a day to pray over your child for 30 whole days. (Don’t miss that link below.)

My prayers are mostly scripture-based, and I’ve given you 3 examples of how I pray these scriptures, with hopes that you’ll print them out and pray them back to God in your own words.

Praying with you,

Amy


Scripture-based Prayers for Overcoming Fear

God, I know you have given  _(child’s name)_ a spirit of power and love, and you’ve given him a sound mind. Cause him to lean into you when he’s afraid so that he won’t be overpowered by fear and anxiety. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Lord, you are with _(child’s name)_ everywhere he goes…so I pray that you would fill him with courage and strength. When he faces scary situations, let his heart well up with your holy bravery. May _(child’s name)_ never let fear or discouragement get the best of him. (Joshua 1:9)

Father, may your perfect love cast out every ounce of anxiety in _(child’s name)_ heart. Cause him to be so rooted and grounded in the love of Christ that he lives fearlessly by faith. (1 John 4:18, Ephesians 3:17)

Click here for the printable (pdf) document of 30 Days of Fear-Fighting Prayer

30 days of fear-fighting prayer

How To Win When You Feel Defeated

By: Amy Dalke

As long as we live, there will be hard stuff.

We will easily get knocked down by the hard stuff if we try to tackle all of it on our own; and staring into all this hard from our earthly lens will leave us hopeless, helpless, and defeated.

For the last month, I’ve wailed my arms at a Hard Thing. I’ve spent every ounce of strength to beat it down, only to have it pop back up in my face. My heart has been overwhelmed with fear and an unrelenting ache of sorrow, and I’ve spent all my energy begging God for relief.

This morning it occurred to me that despite my sincere prayer, I had forgotten to remember that God is sovereign.

Scripture leaves no room for question that God is sovereign. To be sovereign means that God has no limitations. He answers to no one or no thing. He is under no rule or authority outside of himself. My prayers have been continually lifted in a heavenly direction, yet my focus remained earthbound. The circumstances look utterly impossible from my human perspective, and I just plain forgot that nothing is impossible for God.

So instead of pleading with God to fix this thing, I spent the morning pouring over specific scriptures that declare God’s sovereignty. Verse by verse, my hopelessness was overturned. Because in the face of God’s Sovereignty, there is no room for despair.

If you’re crawling through your own Hard Thing, and everything around you looks bleak and insurmountable, open up your Bible and soak in these verses. Read every word, and I promise you won’t walk away with your head hanging.

How To Win When You Feel Defeated

Let’s stop rehearsing the impossibility of the circumstances, and celebrate the power of a God who does what He pleases!

Here’s a list of the verses I set my mind into this morning. If you don’t have a Bible right in front of you, go to www.biblegateway.com or www.biblehub.com, and look these up in your favorite translation.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. 12 Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)

1 Chronicles 29:11-12

Daniel 4:35

Daniel 5:21

Psalm 115:3

Psalm 86:10

John 3:27

Proverbs 16:4

Romans 9:17

John 6:37

John 19:11

Job 42:2

Amen.

What if you could have a life-long VACATION?

By: Vivian Wilson

Life Long vacation

I’m beginning to feel the excitement that comes when something I am looking forward to isn’t so far in the future.  As the day draws nearer, (15 days, but who’s counting?), the dream of my vacation will become a reality.  I can hardly wait.

But it’s “deja vus all over again” as Yogi would say.  Last year I thought I was going to Reddington Beach, Florida with friends.  I ended up going alone.  This year I am going to Panama City Beach, Florida with a friend, I think.  But I could be going alone.  This year for sure, positively, without a doubt, I will have a balcony.  (I know this because I double-checked–every room has a balcony).

So for the next two weeks I have the opportunity to adjust my attitude, to prepare my mind and my heart to be open to the work of the Holy Spirit as He prepares my for the long anticipated week of rest on the beach.

Hopefully, I learned something from last year’s experience.  From the day I left home on Friday to travel to Florida I was not happy.  My plans weren’t working out the way I had wanted.  By Sunday, I had begun to surrender my will to God’s will and by Friday, I was keenly aware of the blessings God had poured out on me throughout the week and His never-ending intimate presence.

This year, I want to begin my journey aware of His presence, expecting to see His grace and mercy every moment as He draws me closer.  I want to focus my heart and mind on Him and not on myself.  I want to hear His voice, obey, and be changed.  Isn’t this the attitude I should have every day of my life and not just when I am on vacation?

Of course it is!  So why isn’t it?

When I am at the beach, or any place away from home, I am away from the distractions that are an integral part of everyday life.  Some of these distractions are responsibilities that scream for my attention.  Some are expectations that others place on me or I place on myself.  Other distractions are my needs, both real and perceived.  Relationships can be a distraction.  There are many things common to man that vie for priority in our heart, mind, and soul.  But that place of prominence belongs to only One, and it was bought at a high price.

While it may be a little easier to keep my eyes on God when I am away from home and its distraction, I am not excused from having that same attitude when I am in the daily grind of life.  And just because I am not on a beach somewhere, but living life where God has put me, I don’t have to let distractions take my eyes off of my Savior.  I can begin each day in a quiet place.  For me, I shut the door of life when I sit in my “blue chair” and read His Word.  We meet and I know I am in His presence.  It is a precious time.

Unfortunately, many days when I open up the door of life again and begin my day, I allow those pesky, persistent, distractions to drift in and take control, forgetting Who is really in control.

What if I lived every day as if I were on vacation?  The word “vacation” stems from the latin word “vacatio”, which means freedom from something.  What if I could be free from the stress and worries that invade my mind causing me to think from an earthly perspective instead of a heavenly one robbing me of joy and peace?

Praise God, I can!  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.  I can choose who sits on the throne of my heart.  I can choose to rest in Him.

I’m on vacation.  Right here.  Right now as I am at work in Katy, Texas.  This can be a life-long vacation where ever I am.  I am always in His presence.  He will never leave me.  He will give me rest and peace when I remain in Him.

I’m still looking forward to my trip to Florida.  I can’t wait to find out what God has planned for me on the balcony.

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things above, and not on earthly things.

Philippians 4:8,13 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 22:37,38 Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.

A work in progress,

Vivian

The Box

By: Ms. O

I have been in a “cleaning out” mode lately….not really sure why. It could be that I am “nesting” for my daughter in law who is expecting any day now….or that I have been gone all summer and I feel that need to re-establish some semblance of order to my closets…or that I have watched too many episodes of Hoarders and I fear that I will become “that person”.

Whatever the reason…it really doesn’t matter….as I pulled out boxes from under bed…I came upon it. My box of purple heart moments in raising children. It took me a minute to realize what was in the box….the collection of scrap papers…some little…some thick…some with “for eyes only”…as if it was a threat to national security….all addressed to…mom.

After reading the opening lines of the first one…it all came rushing back to me…the pain and struggle of raising a child in a “yes” world….when my answer was for the most part…no. I felt battle worn as my kids grew up…constantly trying to stay one step ahead…realizing that I was losing some battles along the way…but I was intent on “winning the war.” I was told by many seasoned veterans to “pick my hill to die on”….so I was selective in what I would “let slide”…and what I would stand firm on. It did not make me a “popular member” of the household…but I knew I had to be the parent…I had to do what I knew was right…even if they could not see it at the moment.

Anyone who knows me, knows I am a softie….as in I hate confrontation…and I hated to be the enforcer…but when I “signed on” to be a parent…discipline came along with it.

The notes in the box were the “I’m sorry” notes. The ones I would find tucked into my medicine cabinet….in my purse…on my dresser…where they knew I would find it.  The “I am sorry I made you cry”….”I am sorry I did not listen to you”….”I will try harder I promise”…always made me cry..wondering if I would make it through this. Parenthood is not for wimps….or the weak…because it is trial by fire…that is especially brutal during those teen age years.

Over the years it has come to light that God is my Father….in every sense of the Word…and I have been…sadly, still am from time to time….the rebellious youth. I find myself railing against “His rules”…what the Word has told me I should do…and sit in the same spot as my children…”sending” my note of apology…for “His eyes only”…to set right what I did wrong.

 “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.  Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.” 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Paul could not have put it any better. God gives us free will to chose what we will do….gives us enough rope…but that does not mean we will always make the best of choices. It seems that when we make our own decisions…with the “child like ME” mentality…that it does no good for anyone. God wants US to make the right choice…but like my own children…that is not something that I do.

raising kids

When I was raising my children, I was not raising “kids”…my vision was the future…I was raising adults…and I wanted their choices to be what would better not only them…but those that they would impact. Just as God works on me…wanting me to have “His impact” on those that I “do life” with.

I made the decision to get rid of that box. It does not define my kids…it was a reflection of what we went through…together…and made them who they are today. Both are responsible…kind…compassionate…caring…and truly exhibit who God created them to be. I sit in awe of my kids…their character…their very nature that speaks of God to all they encounter.  I did not need the reminder of the struggle it was for a parent to raise children in a world that says “yes”  way too much…and defies you to stand firm in your “no”.

My heart was a bit lighter when I rid myself of excess “stuff”…especially those “things” that did not benefit me. What I know is this…as I got rid of those “I’m sorry” letters….I felt as if God was saying… “Hey Linda…I don’t hang on to yours either…because I created you for better things…and we will continue to work this out. So let’s do life…together…..full steam ahead.”

Amen.

Stories Are Awesome. God Stories Are The Awesome-est.

The purpose of this blog is to create a space where others can be encouraged in their faith. Our aim is to tell stories of how God shows up in real life, so that you are inspired to believe Him for more than you can ask or imagine.

You’ve read my stories nearly every Monday for the past two years (you deserve a hug for that!). But we are a community of people who ALL have Real-Life-God-stories, and what a better place than this to share those stories! You may not be a writer, and that’s OKAY! (Because we’ve got a few writers hanging around who would love to help you with that.)

YOU matter to this community…to the Body of Christ. Your story matters. So let’s get to know each other. Let’s make this blog a community where our stories inspire and strengthen the faith of someone else! (Hang onto this thought, and at the end of this post you’ll find more details about how to share your story.)

I have the honor today of introducing you to one of your family members. Kelsea Lake and her family joined our community of Faith UMC earlier this summer. And this is part of her story…


By: Kelsea Lake

Ok, I am by no means a blogger, but when asked to share this story with others I was overwhelmed with joy. I hope that as you read it, you will find the beauty, grace, and awe that I feel every time I have the chance to tell it.

This story began months ago when my family and I started attending Faith, and we wanted to get to know others as we plugged the family into the church. Incidentally, my family looks like this: I’m married to Troy, and we are parents to Gavyn (9), Presley (8), and Carter (2).

I found the church blog online and loved reading the newest posts during my alone time before I woke the children for school. One morning, I read Mrs. O’s story of the Ebenezer stone (read that story here) and fell in love with it. I loved the idea of having a stone on my sink to remind me daily that the Lord has in fact brought me this far and he will surely lead me all the way home one day.

So I got a stone, and now it comforts me on the most trying days. My little stone of help and hope is a treasure to me.  

Thus Far The Lord Has helped Us

Fast forward a few months, and I was introduced to a new faith-based company called Mary & Martha. I fell in love with this company and was eager to become a consultant.  In order to be successful I would have to host parties which I knew would be challenging for me personally. I’m not the best speaker, and I knew this was something I would have to pray hard about.

In prayer, my mind kept going back to the story Mrs. O shared with us all about her Ebenezer stone. I wanted to bring scripture to my gatherings, and I decided that I would tell her story exactly the way she told it. I also began to share our church blog with others, and I have Ms. O’s post saved in my phone.

The day finally came for my first Mary & Martha gathering, and of course I cried while sharing the story of “why” I started with Mary & Martha. It wasn’t pretty…I tried to hold the cry back and it turned into an ugly cry! Needless to say, after that I didn’t have the courage to even attempt my Ebenezer stone story in fear that I would have to retreat to a bathroom to pull myself together.

The stones I brought to give my guests sat in my lantern untouched but NOT forgotten.

The following week, I felt so uneasy that I didn’t share this Ebenezer story at my party, so I went straight back to prayer:

“Lord should a share this story?”

“If so, how should I tell it?”

“Will it be weird for others?”

“What if I tell it wrong?”

“Lord, should I even continue this?”

I had no idea that God was about to answer all of my questions in a way that has blessed me (and my son!) beyond words.

The following Sunday we arrived at church, and I was so excited that a friend of mine and her family had joined us. It was their first visit to Faith UMC, and I couldn’t wait to introduce them to friends and make them feel loved and wanted!

We stood up to sing, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! The song we sang was Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing! I had to stare at the ceiling to keep from weeping over the first song of our service in front of our guests. I simply didn’t have time to explain that God was confirming something I was personally struggling with.

I had not even shared this with my family yet at this point. As if this confirmation wasn’t obviously awesome enough, IT GETS BETTER! I briefly shared this story in “cliff notes version” to a friend while exiting the chapel and hurried to introduce her to my visiting friends. So at this point the new idea God had given me, and the answered prayer for confirmation was still very fresh.

We invited our friends to join us for lunch at the swinging door, and as we sat down at the table my 9 year old son, Gavyn, did something that he hasn’t done since Kindergarten. He passed me something under the table and said, “Here, Mom, I found this for you! Its in the shape of a heart.”

I looked down and couldn’t believe that I was holding a new Ebenezer stone that came straight for God. Fighting back tears, I quickly put it away and told him what a treasure this was, and that I would explain the significance of it further after lunch.

I later explained to him that God worked through him in the most beautiful of ways to answer my prayers. When he handed me this stone I could feel God telling me,

See how easy this is. Your young son is able to do it. See how precious this is to you? The stones you give out could be that precious to someone else one day. Tell MY story with Truth and Love.”

Wow! Every time I tell this story, I feel God all around me. What makes this story so precious to me is not only did God answer my prayers (which is always wonderful!), but this is the first time that I think my son grasped God’s amazing power. Gavyn was able to understand how God works through us without us even knowing it to answer the prayers of others, and to glorify himself. In that moment, God was completely revealing himself in an undeniable way to my son. I will forever hold this moment close to my heart.

OH, (in case you wondered), at my next party, I gave out my stones, and shared this very story with the ladies at my gathering. I’m not sure if they made it to their bathroom sink, but I can only hope someday one will.


Free Printable Image: we want you to have your own reminder that God has been with you thus far, and by grace, He is with you always. So click HERE to download the image from this post, print it out, and hang it anywhere you need this reminder!


your story matters

TELL YOUR STORY: You are an important part of this community. Which basically means you are really important to all of us. Yet you might roll your eyes at that since you don’t feel all that significant. Or because you hardly know anyone at church…you don’t necessarily hang out in the “in-crowds” (as if)…and you aren’t quite sure anyone knows your name.

Here’s the thing: we want to know you, because we’re convinced you’re a big deal. Regardless of whether we’ve met or not, you belong here. As believers in Christ, as Jesus-People, as members of the Body of Christ, we belong together.

And the way we get to know each other is to share stories. It may seem like a small thing to you…but it’s a BIG thing to us. To share your story, send an email to Amy Dalke at amykdalke@gmail.com. There are two options:

  1. Write your story and send it to me via email. If I haven’t confirmed receipt of your email within 48 hours, send it again. (Because sometimes I whimsically deletes emails, or the internet eats them before I ever receive them, or I just plain forget because that’s how I roll.)
  2. Send me a note to let me know you want to tell your story…but you might need some help with the writing part. Don’t let the “I can’t write” thing keep us from hearing your story!

You matter. You belong here. We are your community. (Amen!)