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An Offering

Here I am Lord

Messy

Oh, so messy

Here I stand Lord

      Fearful

Unwilling to take a step lest I fail

Miserably

Here You meet me, Lord

Bathing me

In Your Spirit; in Your Peace

Assuring me

That I matter to you

Here I cry to You Lord

“Take me as I am!

Erase my sin and wash me again!”

And You answer

“I do, I will and I have.”

Here I start again, Lord

Refreshed and renewed

Ready to do Your will

Ready to obey Your voice

Still messy

But Yours

 

Be Blessed

Barb

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Walking Over Rocks

I am so very blessed to live in the most beautiful area. The foothills of the Rocky Mountains. All around me is majestic beauty as well as many businesses that begin with “Front Range,” “Foothills,” or some form of the actual elevation.

We live on a school campus, and the campus includes a track. Last year, I was up to almost 2 miles per day, then the bad weather hit. So, I’m working my way back up.

The track is rough. Lots of rocks, sticks and pebbles. I should wear closed shoes, but today I went for what was closest to the door.  I set off on my trek of 4 circuits at a good pace. This is my time to soak in the views and praise the Lord. I usually have wonderful prayer time. This morning was a little different.

Several times I needed to stop and shake tiny (and dang sharp!) stones from my shoes. That brought my thoughts to the last walk Jesus took through Jerusalem. Most likely barefoot; certainly bloodied.

Did You feel the sharp stones cutting into Your feet? You couldn’t stop to clear them off. You probably had nothing on.

When You fell, did those stones and pebbles imbed into Your palms? Cut open Your elbows a d knees? No one cleaned those wounds

Abject suffering. For my redemption.

He chose that final walk for me.

Amazing love. Unmerited favor.

He chose that walk for you, too. Have you spoken to Him today? This week? Ever? If not, why not? He’s there. He will listen. He walked over stones, and more, for you.

Be blessed. Dream big.

Till next time, Barb

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Pauline Adventures or Studies From Acts

We’re coming to the close of my Community Bible Study class, and we’ve been in the book of Acts the past 29 weeks. It’s been an amazing adventure that starts out with the Holy Spirit and ends with Paul obeying the Holy Spirit while imprisoned in Rome.

The past week we had an occasion to “write a paragraph” describing Paul’s shipwreck in chapter 27. Well, writers usually are a bit more wordy, and I thought perhaps you’d enjoy what I shared with my class. I wrote in the guise of a Roman male prisoner aboard the ship carrying Paul.

Shipwrecked
4/9/2014
CBS, Study of Acts
Lesson 29, Acts Chap 27

We were going to die.

I knew the others felt the same. How could we not? Chained together, being tossed back and forth in the bottom of a smelly boat, with no hope.

The Jew over there kept talking about his God, and how an angel was sent to him to assure him that no one would die. Bah! Angels and gods, we have them too, and they are powerless. Silly pieces of stone and wood…they afford no comfort when you are face to face with death.

I had to find out more about this Paul. A prisoner, but not as the others, for he was chained to his own private guard. I asked whet he had done…killed? Cheated? Raped? The answer came back that he was a religious prisoner, on trial because he followed a dead Nazarene, proclaiming him risen from the dead! There were not many among us who knew of this man. It sparked my curiosity.

At the height of the storm, Paul told us of a time when this Nazarene was also caught in a storm; He and his followers were out on the Galillee sea. Paul said he rebuked the storm, which was as bad as this and it calmed. How can this be?

Again, the dead Nazarene’s followers were on their boat—fisherman, they were—when caught up in a sudden storm. One, a big man Paul called Cephas, looked out from the boat and saw this man, Jesus, walking to them!

From that night, I listened to Paul, despite my doubts. When I was alone, as alone as I could be being chained together, I could think of nothing else but this man Jesus and the tales Paul told of Him. Was He really the Son of the God Paul worshipped? Was He the one who sent the angel to Paul?

The final night of our journey,  Paul assured us we would survive., and that we should eat something. I was certain Paul was crazy, but I bowed my head when he prayed to his God, thanking Him for providing. There were almost 300 of us, and we all were able to eat. After, we were loosened to help lighten the ship’s load by tossing the remaining wheat into the sea.

In the morning, the vessel ran aground. I cursed Paul’s false claims; I heard the soldiers’ plans to kill us all as to save themselves. I would not go without a fight!

A centurion, sent along to guard Paul, thwarted their plot, in order that Paul would be delivered to his trail in front of Ceasar himself. This man, this small, balding, old man, was of such import that a Roman centurion risked his own life to save him. My view of Paul began to change, as did that of His God.

We were ordered to jump ship and swim to shore. I looked to Paul and he nodded, with a grin, and said, “Not one here will perish. I will see you on shore.” His confidence bolstered my own, and I dove into the cold waters with a renewed sense of survival…a hope that had faded long ago.

We all were saved. All of us. Paul went on to Rome. I heard Nero called for his head. I am sure that Paul went merrily to his demise, so strong was his faith in his Jesus. And I now understand, as I share that same faith and await my trial for my crimes. It may not be as strong as Paul’s, for I have not had the time or the teaching as he. But it is there, and I am certain that nothing ever again will come between me and the love that the God of the universe has for such as myself. A ragged, worn sinner. Thanks be to God for Paul’s witness of faith.

 

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Book Review: Pain Redeemed by Natasha Metzler

Before I begin, I must confess: Natasha sent me this book to review months ago. January 22, to be exact. Notice it’s now MAY. When I opened it up and I read the beginning about infertility, my first thought was, “This ain’t for me. I’ll get back to it.” Oh, how foolish I am. For GOD, the One who knows pain and how to heal it, knew what was coming. He knew that my weak little mind was not wrapping itself around the concept of healing. He knew that one day soon, I’d be unpacking a box that I hadn’t touched in 6 years, and that box would spill out a slew of emotion that I’ve been neatly carrying around in a sealed box. I sealed up my grief over losing my Mom, insisted to myself that I was handling it well, and moved on.

Natasha’s book, Pain Redeemed, is available on her website in PDF, ebook and paperback. I promptly went and bought the Kindle version which comes with a short study guide. I was ready to plunge fully into this marvelous healing that Natasha was talking about in her book.

Death isolates. It leaves people feeling empty, lost, and so very alone. Chapter 4.

Natasha chronicles her journey through pain. It isn’t the exact brand of pain I am feeling; I’ve never known the pain of infertility. Yet, it is still pain and it is searing and deep and taking my breath away. Natasha walked through it, and in her book she shares her most intimate struggles. Empty, lost, alone. We’ve all been there, but sometimes it’s harder for us to climb out of it. It becomes a slippery slimy inside of a barrel and we can’t make it to the top.

Why is the cross at the very center of our faith? Why does communion, baptism, being a servant, all of the Christian faith center on death? Because if you don’t look death in the face you’ll learn to overlook it. Chapter 6

A good reminder. We do overlook death, and by that, our sin that starts to pile up. She brings the reader to see that there are ways to handle the hurt without piling sin on top of it.

In Chapter 10, Natasha closes the book with an astounding confession: she has overcome, yet she still struggles. What? There’s no clear cut and clean way to step out of this? No, my dear friends. For in this world, we will have troubles. (John 16:33) It is in our troubles, in our most desperate moments that we turn to He who has overcome the world. (the rest of John 16:33) The reminder of what I have forgotten. I can look into the face of my struggle, knowing that HE has been there, and HE has overcome it. Yes, the hurt may still hurt. But, because of my hurt, I can minister to others in compassion. As she so succinctly reminds the reader, it’s not about me. It’s about Him. It’s always about Him.

So, as I work my way through the six study questions at the end, I’m so thankful that God gave me exactly what I needed, what He knew I would need, when Natasha sent me the book. It was a good, Biblically based look at grieving and it’s place in our lives. Thank you, Natasha, for opening yourself up and allowing His grace and mercy to pour out.

Natasha lives on a farm in Northern New York with her husband, Amos. She blogs regularly at http://natashametzler.com/ and is a contributing writer at http://ylcf.org/ and http://allume.com/.

 

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Book Review: Pain Redeemed by Natasha Metzler

Before I begin, I must confess: Natasha sent me this book to review months ago. January 22, to be exact. Notice it’s now MAY. When I opened it up and I read the beginning about infertility, my first thought was, “This ain’t for me. I’ll get back to it.” Oh, how foolish I am. For GOD, the One who knows pain and how to heal it, knew what was coming. He knew that my weak little mind was not wrapping itself around the concept of healing. He knew that one day soon, I’d be unpacking a box that I hadn’t touched in 6 years, and that box would spill out a slew of emotion that I’ve been neatly carrying around in a sealed box. I sealed up my grief over losing my Mom, insisted to myself that I was handling it well, and moved on.

Natasha’s book, Pain Redeemed, is available on her website in PDF, ebook and paperback. I promptly went and bought the Kindle version which comes with a short study guide. I was ready to plunge fully into this marvelous healing that Natasha was talking about in her book.

Death isolates. It leaves people feeling empty, lost, and so very alone. Chapter 4.

Natasha chronicles her journey through pain. It isn’t the exact brand of pain I am feeling; I’ve never known the pain of infertility. Yet, it is still pain and it is searing and deep and taking my breath away. Natasha walked through it, and in her book she shares her most intimate struggles. Empty, lost, alone. We’ve all been there, but sometimes it’s harder for us to climb out of it. It becomes a slippery slimy inside of a barrel and we can’t make it to the top.

Why is the cross at the very center of our faith? Why does communion, baptism, being a servant, all of the Christian faith center on death? Because if you don’t look death in the face you’ll learn to overlook it. Chapter 6

A good reminder. We do overlook death, and by that, our sin that starts to pile up. She brings the reader to see that there are ways to handle the hurt without piling sin on top of it.

In Chapter 10, Natasha closes the book with an astounding confession: she has overcome, yet she still struggles. What? There’s no clear cut and clean way to step out of this? No, my dear friends. For in this world, we will have troubles. (John 16:33) It is in our troubles, in our most desperate moments that we turn to He who has overcome the world. (the rest of John 16:33) The reminder of what I have forgotten. I can look into the face of my struggle, knowing that HE has been there, and HE has overcome it. Yes, the hurt may still hurt. But, because of my hurt, I can minister to others in compassion. As she so succinctly reminds the reader, it’s not about me. It’s about Him. It’s always about Him.

So, as I work my way through the six study questions at the end, I’m so thankful that God gave me exactly what I needed, what He knew I would need, when Natasha sent me the book. It was a good, Biblically based look at grieving and it’s place in our lives. Thank you, Natasha, for opening yourself up and allowing His grace and mercy to pour out.

Natasha lives on a farm in Northern New York with her husband, Amos. She blogs regularly at http://natashametzler.com/ and is a contributing writer at http://ylcf.org/ and http://allume.com/.

 

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Training, Endurance and The Bolder Boulder

If you’ve been following my sporadic postings, you know I want to do the Hot Chocolate 15K in December. Well, my friend from church decided I need to do the Bolder Boulder. Thanks Patti. Really.

This is really a GOOD thing, because I have been putting off starting my C25K training. I’ve been planning on getting this started, and getting the boys to run it with me. (side benefit: PE class) But, there’s always an excuse:

~ tired

~ illness (mine, the boys)

~ baby sitting (we watch GrandSon 4 evenings a week)

~ editing (I’d probably think more clearly if I’d get my butt up)

~ lazy

Several things have knocked MOST of the complacency from me the past few days. One was Patti insisting that I CAN do this. It’s good to have a friend who believes you can.

One is the things the Lord has been putting on my heart. I’ve been feeling so overwhelmed. I was just weeping the other day over things and I found this on RC Sproul Jr’s Facebook page

Ask RC: What Should I Do When I feel Totally Overwhelmed?

Ouch. But oh, so needed!

Here is a service from my church, about endurance:

Click this link, then click “Endurance Training For The Long Run”

Feeling the 2×4 yet? I did. So, Monday, we start C25K’ing. I’m thinking we’ll go up to the homeschool co-op building and use their track. Good reminder to call and find out if that would be okay to do 😉

I’m also going to start my seasonal dropping the meat from my diet. I don’t know why, I seem to crave meat during the winter. Weird. I won’t go totally vegan, just mostly red meats. I’ll stick with my dairy, thanks.

Have a Blessed Easter!

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March 9: The Lion Refuses To Stop Roaring

In all honesty, I haven’t spent much time thinking about this since I posted. My hubby went for cataract surgery on the 7th, and it was a challenge just getting to that day staying relatively nice while he was very uptight. Not an excuse, in fact, I should have been MORE on spot with prayer. Lesson learned we shall move along.

Part of this problem is that I’ve become a “later” riser than I usually was. I don’t know why but my normal time to be up has shifted from 5:30-6AM to 7-7:30AM. Dude! I’m happy we homeschool, because the thought of getting up for someone else is daunting. It’s a rush to get up and ready on Sunday for church (8:45 start) but we manage. And I even smile 😉

So, I think my second goal needs to be:

~WAKE UP EARLY!

(yes, i need to yell at myself)

I’ve gotten into the very nice habit of making sure everything is set up for morning by 8:30 PM…coffee is set up, hubby’s clothes and breakfast is out. If he has lunch in the fridge, I write him a note so he doesn’t forget it. No, I’m not one of those “wonder wives” who gets up with him. Never have been, and he has never expected me to. Works very well for us. Don’t get all up in my grill over it. (I cannot believe I just typed that, AND left it!) The boys’ have also shifted a bit, and they wake up any time between 6:45-9AM, depending on if we are sitting the previous night. I COULD have almost 90 mins of time to get my reading, prayer, exercise, shower and coffee done.

Let’s recap.

Goal 1: Make my FIRST moments of the day moments with Him.

Goal 2: Start my day early.

Prayer:

Lord Jesus, You know what a lazy lump I can be. Help me this week to rise earlier to have that special time with You alone. This is what I need. I ask that those who are following along can make their time, whenever that may be, a special time with You, be it early afternoon, or after the kids are in bed. Whatever time we deem to carve out of our day and dedicate to You, I pray protection over that time. No matter what, the enemy will try to mess that up. But GREATER is He that is IN ME than he that is in the world! Thank you Jesus! In Your Name I pray, Amen.

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March 1: Being a Lion, Becoming A Lamb

Oh my goodness, racing season is NOT a good time for this! Or, it is the perfect time 😉 My inner lion REALLY roars while watching the race.

In reading through the few posts from 2006, I can see I am still right there. Too many excuses, even though I do want to be more Christ like in my ways, it takes TIME, ENERGY and TIME. And energy.

I started the 3650 Challenge in January. That also takes time. It’s always, ALWAYS good time. Can time in The Word be anything less? But, if I start off the day online, sucked into whatever, be it Facebook, HK, the writing board…whatever…that takes time from HIM. Who/what is more/most important? So, herein lies my first “goal.” It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Yet, how many of us start off the day with coffee, a shower, breakfast, etc. before we kneel and say, “Lord, here I am. Thank you for this day in which I can serve You. Guide my heart.”

~ Jeopardy music as you either contemplate that or click off my page~

Goal 1: Make my FIRST moments of the day moments with Him.

I decided when I started the 3650 that Wednesdays and Sundays would be my off days. Wednesday I have Bible study and Sunday is Sunday. But, to be more Lamb-like, I need to start every day with Him. It doesn’t have to be hours and hours. It needs to be quality, where nothing else is seeping into my brain (like plot lines for new or existing books). I need to focus immediately on Him. It’s like when I put my glasses on first thing. Everything becomes clear.

 

Prayer to start off the Challenge:

Lord, I confess to you my inner lion is in control. My desire is to be more like You. Even though You are The Lion of Judah, I want to be the Lamb. I want to be calm, peaceful and not carry on. I want to respond, not react, when challenges come my way. I want to die to self. Help me to be able to let go, and let YOU. I lay the first goal before You; give me the time first thing to be in Your way and Your will before my feet hit the floor (or shortly thereafter). Thank You for all You have done for me. In Your name I pray, Amen

 

Some verses to meditate on (ESV):

Matt 11:30

“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

1 Peter 5:7

Casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.

Psalm 55:22

Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you;
He will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Phil 2:14-15

Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,

If you haven’t, start reading Psalm 51. I have it printed out and in my school binder. I should will make a few more copies and keep them with me.

 

Blessings!

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March is Coming; Time For Spring Cleaning!

Lion to Lamb Challenge, 2012

March! You never know what to wear, if it will rain or snow or be 80*F…and the end of the month is my birthday 😉  I’m a perfect March person…completely unpredictable!

I had an inspiration while reading old blog posts: The Lion to Lamb Challenge! I invite all of you who have been pricked in your heart by the Holy Spirit to join in the Challenge with me. (This is my revision of that post, from March, 2006.)

My thoughts on the matter have not changed much since the original post…those of us who have anger issues have an “inner lion”. We get all our hairs on the back of our necks raised when something isn’t going right, the kids aren’t being perfect, the kids need us while we are blogging, etc…and the “lion-ish” nature kicks in and we roar away the disturbance to get back to our interests. The only thing is that our “roars” scar the hearts of those we roar at. There’s a great article on yelling at Christian Homeschool Fellowship that you can read, by Barbara Smith. (new link posted here at Third Floor Publishing) It was a major conviction for me then, and it is now. Psalm 51 speaks to restoring the heart, please read it over and over and over again!

When those “lion-ish” qualities start to rise, what can we do to become more “lamb-like” in response instead of “lion-ish”?

Firstly, we need to RESPOND and not REACT. Reacting is an impulse, we don’t think, just act. To respond, you need to stop…then THINK before we reply. If this seems elementary to you, see what happens today as you go through your normal routine. How many things are “responses” and how many are “reactions”? You may be surprised!

This also dovetails nicely into my Sunday School class. “Fireproofing Your Marriage.” ~gulp~

Starting March 1, I’ll be posting a few times weekly with verses and updates on what the Lord is doing for me in this area. I may reserve the right to be testy on Race days 😉 Okay, only if Kyle doesn’t win, is that better?

Please comment here, and subsequent weekly “Lion to Lamb Challenge” posts how the Holy Spirit is turning YOU into a Lamb. Please post scriptures that have spoken to your heart!I have a smaller version of the graphic if you’d like to link to the challenge, just email me for it. (Not that I’m expecting anything super profound to pop out…)

I look forward to having victory in this area and seeing victory in others also!

Blessed day!

*Beautiful graphic found on Turn Back To God. Thank You!

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My Journey

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about my weird food journey, and since I joined the Facebook group my friend Sammycakes started, I mentioned I’d share, so boom, here I am (actually, I’m nursing a thrown back, see posts here and here for more details on my clumsy side)

(that sentence is entirely too long, sorry)

Food. Who doesn’t LOVE food?

Lots of people, that’s who. I always find it very, very odd that someone says “Oh, I forgot to eat.” *insert shocked visage* WHAT? How can you forget to eat?

Growing up Italian has its little quirks. I’m technically German, Irish and Italian, but my Mom tended to the Italian side (plus, that’s the fun side of the family) so you know we had some wonderful meals. Mom was a great cook. One thing I never heard growing up was “Put that away, it’s almost dinner time.”

In my teens, I walked everywhere. I mean everywhere. I even walked across the George Washington Bridge a few times. Not for any reason other than I could. Okay, maybe some strange substances were involved a few times, but still…And I always had this lingering fascination with becoming a vegetarian, even way back then. But, then we’d go out to the local diner and get a big, greasy burger and those thoughts got tucked way, way back into my head (and if you grew up in NJ, you’d see the sanity in that statement).

Cooking school went by the wayside due to tuition, or lack thereof. I cannot IMAGINE what size I would have been had I gone. I do love to cook. Always have. When other kids went home and watched cartoons, I was watching Graham Kerr and Julia.

I lost most of the baby weight from Child Number One. I was pretty happy at about 125 pounds. I never did learn about curbing my appetite, was never interested in dieting or exercise more than a passing interest in an aerobics class, and that proved to be too sweaty. Same problem I had in gym class. Too much sweat.

When I came to the Lord and started going to church, it still didn’t really click that indulging in food COULD be a spiritual struggle. I mean, gluttons were HUGE people, right? Not me (as I stuffed my 3rd cannolli in my mouth at Bible study) And let’s not forget, Bible study people are just one notch below Italians when it comes to “a nice little nosh” before study time. Oh.My.Word.

So, along comes baby Number Three within 23 months of Baby Number Two and I was quite round. Size 16. I am only five foot one. (My husband contests that) Weight Watchers worked for 2 months until I got tired of driving to the meetings and scarfing a hero after. You all know that trick: starve before weigh in. Okay, I’m beginning to wonder now if I have an “issue” or it’s all in my mind. (Chips Ahoys and milk are great to contemplate with)

Along came this program at our church. I’m going to say RIGHT UP FRONT that I do not endorse it now due to major theological issues with the founder. It is a very “law” based program, and that’s all I will go into now. But, I joined Weigh Down at our church and the Lord really took hold of my mania with food. I had to confess then, I and still confess now, I am obsessed. I love food. I love EATING food. Preparing food. Talking food. That comes in at a tie with talking about writing. The only thing I love more than a good food debate is a good theology debate.

So, into Weigh Down I went and I lost 40 pounds in one year. I remember so clearly one day when I had lost about 20 of that, and we were in church talking (and not eating, LOL!) A friend (who was in the WD class with me, that I had recently become a leader of) asked me how much I had lost.

“So, Barbara, what have you lost so far? About 50 pounds?” *insert shocked face again*

I sputtered a kind response, and seethed the rest of the day. HOW FAT DID I LOOK???????

I got over it. Probably.

A bad thing started to happen. I was maintaining the 40 pound loss, leading 2 WD classes, and was very, VERY full of myself. I mean, I was the cherry on top of the ice cream that I did NOT have to eat if I was not hungry. An incident occurred that shook me out of that real fast.Soon after, Weigh Down started to Melt Down with the appearance of the founder on Larry King and she showed her very strange theological views. It shook many of us out of complacency, unfortunately.

Fast forward to Baby Number Four. That took me out of WD. Then we moved away, and Baby Number Five arrived. Things got busy, and that’s when I discovered Atkins. I lost 12-ish pounds very quick. Aye, but all that meat! It was making me sick. So, that went by the wayside, as did a few other plans that I lost the first five on real fast then it became work. because I was not applying spiritual principles to it.

Somewhere along this time frame in the Pocono Mountains I found Thin Within, Setting Captives Free and In His Image. ALL based on spiritual principles. I was happy. I didn’t lose, but I didn’t gain. And it put the focus back on what it needed to be on. My walk in the Lord.

All of that to say, FOR ME, my obsession with food is just that. Obsession. I can allow it (and too often, I do) to be My All In All, when only Jesus should be that. I use it to comfort, when I should be running to His Arms. I use it as celebration when I should be Giving Glory To God In The Highest.

There is NOTHING wrong with comfort and celebrations involving food. It’s the priority it has in your heart. THAT is where the problem lies. Food is an Idol I nee d to knock off the altar of my heart frequently.

Now that I am “over 40,” I know that not only do I need to curb my flesh, I also need to MOVE it. Back to my dillemna of not enjoying sweat. But…as it turns out, it’s not so bad. It actually feels pretty darn good to be working, moving, and knowing that under the fluff, muscles are being tightened, and my system is getting healthier for it. I sorta like it.

My goal for the year is to run a 5K. maybe even the 15K part, if I can get myself up from all these weird injuries. (refer to past blog posts linked above) I have a dear friend at church who ran her first marathon last year. She’s going to do the Hot Chocolate with me. So, as I nurse my sore back today, I will start reading Hal Higdon’s Smart Running. And pray that I can Glorify Jesus in all I do. After all, that’s all that really matters 😀

Blessings to you!