What’s In a Promise, part 2

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

The promises of God have purposes far beyond just getting what we want.

Scripture of the Day:

2 Peter 1:4

“By which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

The Purpose of Promises

Ever wonder why we have promises? Why do we need them? What is their purpose? Why couldn’t we just have all that we need?

When my children were little and really excited about something they could hardly wait for, they would sometimes look at me with their innocent, big eyes and ask, “promise?”. My kids knew that I would not say or promise something if I did not mean it. I wanted them to know that they could count on my being trustworthy in an uncertain world. They just wanted affirmation that it was going to happen.

Our Father is the same – only He has the means to fulfill all His promises where circumstances can throw our promises into a tailspin of delay.

The promises of man are often self-focused and materialistic in the pursuit of comfort. It is not evil to desire some comfort, but it can become a stumbling block if that is our desire above God’s purposes.

Faithfulness. God gives us His promises with a motivation much different than ours. He desires for us to be people of hope, living worthy lives yearning after His promises. When we look toward the fulfillment of His plan, we are not sitting idle, but become a faithful people. If every promise we ever had was already fulfilled, we would have nothing to look forward to and grow complacent.

Eternal Salvation. His goal is the pursuit of our souls with His promises. Drawing us near, He uses His promises for an eternal means. In trusting in His promises we do not waste time investing in temporary promises. Promises of the world are often formed in sin, but the promises of God are redeeming with purposes far beyond just getting what we want. His promises lead to the salvation of our souls.

Relationship. God wants us to trust in Him and to rely on Him, not ourselves. This is relationship. King Hezekiah demonstrates this relationship of trusting in God’s promises so well. The Bible says that there was none like him in his trust of God (2 Kings 18:5). Threatened by the king of Assyria who defeated everyone else, it would seem easy to fear and hard to trust, but Hezekiah staunchly placed his trust in God and the LORD was with Him. Even so, Hezekiah also had his moments of asking God to affirm His promises just like my children did (2 Kings 20). He was sick and going to die. Trusting God’s promise for healing was a real test in the face of such pain. So he asked for a sign. He did not ask with unbelief, but needed reassurance – God wants to give us His reassurance, too, as we wait eagerly on Him and walk in relationship with Him.

Sometimes a deep yearning of our hearts is never realized while other times promises are fulfilled that we never dreamed would happen. In both instances, we learn to trust our God is wise in all of His promises and the timing of the fulfillment of them.

It hurts while we wait and we can wonder what the purpose is of such pain. This is where faith comes in. Looking beyond the promises we hope for, we look to the One Who made them and His character –  then we understand. A God Who would leave the comforts of Heaven and choose suffering would ask us to do the same – set aside our purposes for His.

That God chose to patiently live a life on earth to achieve His purposes does not mean that God is not compassionate for our suffering and longing. He is growing our character and us into being a people after His own heart Who live worthy lives on purpose for His glory.

Lord, thank You for Your promises and for being a faithful God. Help us to be a people characterized by trust that is a witness to this world.

Our Chief Purpose in the New Year

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Who do you want to BE in 2017?

Scripture of the Day:

Ecclesiastes 12:13

“Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion: Fear God and keep his commandments, because this is the whole duty of man.”

On the cusp of a new year, what are your hopes and dreams? What do you hope to accomplish? More importantly, who do you want to BE in 2017?

If we were made to enjoy His presence and to love and worship Him, do we have plans for that occupation in the new year?

Simply put, our whole purpose is to know God, make Him known, to fear Him and keep His commandments. That word fear is not a popular word these days  – or ever, for that matter.

But this fear is not like the the feat that evil brings. It is a Holy reverence at Who God is and an awareness that He sees and knows us completely. How then, ought we to live?

Like David, my prayer is that God would, “Examine me, and probe my thoughts! Test me, and know my concerns! See if there is any idolatrous tendency in me, and lead me in the reliable ancient path!” (Psalm 139:23-24).

This is my prayer for 2017, that we would not be deceived, but would see our great need of our Holy, awesome God – and live FULLY for Him.

Happy New Year, friends. Live well and completely for His glory. There is no other path that can bring us the joy of the LORD.

Oh God, thank You for revealing our need of You. Help us to draw nearer to You in this coming year and to make You famous! May we faithfully share Your love and not be distracted by civilian affairs or attacks of the enemy. Protect Your people and help us to stay focused on what matters – knowing and loving You and one another!

 

Is Your Plan from God?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

When God inspires, He guides and provides a purpose beyond ourselves.

Scripture of the Day:

Acts 5: 38-39

“‘So in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originates with people, it will come to nothing, 39 but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.’ He convinced them.”

We all want to succeed, all want to accomplish something that lives beyond ourselves. This cry for eternity is deep within our souls, so, we, like our Creator, set about creating and striving toward plans formed in our mind and soul.

We hope that our plans that will make a difference for someone, perhaps change someone’s life – even our own, for the better. And sometimes those plans fail. Sometimes we are successful and perhaps wish we never concocted the plan. Sometimes we pause and wonder what it is within us that urges us on to complete the work we are motivated to do in the first place.

I’ve had some pretty crazy ideas in my time, can’t say I regret any of them because God has used them all to change me for His glory. I live outside my comfort zone constantly, and it probably drives my family nuts – because they are often a part of my plans. (Insert sinister laugh here and envision me rubbing my hands together, hubby rolling his eyes).

But a plan is insignificant and temporary if it originates in the flesh. When God inspires, He guides and provides a purpose beyond ourselves. This might sound grandiose, but truly everything we do originates in the flesh or the spirit and has a purpose that will accomplish temporary gain or impact souls for eternity.

Reading in the book of Acts, we see a passion that the disciples had in their plan to reach people with the Gospel that intimidated the religious rulers of their day. When we seek to honor God and make a difference, we will face people who are against us and wrongly judge our motives. We will likely not get support from those “closest” to us, doubt ourselves and wonder if it is worth continuing to try at all. So why plan at all, in the face of persecution and perhaps even hardship?

As hard as it is to stick ourselves out there to try to achieve something grand, this is what it means to live and not just exist. Seeking to grow and be used by God sometimes leaves us weary and worn, but inwardly there is a delight when we are fueled by God’s strength and vision.

As we plan for the new year, may our plans be formed in the Word of God, covered in prayer and done for His glory alone. May our plans have Kingdom purposes, stand firm and may we resist the enemy in the pursuit of our goals.

Every deed and thought is laid bare before the One we are accountable to. He completely knows our hearts, though we cannot even fully know our own hearts. We often do not recognize fleshly motivations and are easily deceived, but the Bible, Holy Spirit and prayer are our compass that lead us to eternal motivations.

Lord, You know us completely. Give us a heart and a passion singularly focused on glorifying You and may we be sensitive to the leading of Your Holy Spirit. Give us Your plans for 2017 and grant success that impacts souls for You – be glorified in us.

Day 31: 31 Days of Reinvented Hope …How Was It?

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Hope Reinvented survives in the harshest of environments and is an anchor, sure and steady.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 6:19

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain…”

1 Peter 3:15

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Zechariah 9:12

“Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”

Psalm 119:114

“You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.”

You made it! (Or, if you just found out about the 31 days of Hope Reinvented, welcome!) Sifting through our hopes and dreams, fulfilled, broken or unrealized, has taken us on a voyage to discover a hope we never thought was possible.

Hope Reinvented survives in the harshest of environments and is an anchor, sure and steady. It reminds us of our core purpose in this life – to glorify God and live a worthy life filled with His eternal hope – and beckons us back to our Creator and His vision for this precious life He has given.

As you have assessed where your hope lies, have you had a change of perspective in hope? Was it all you “hoped it would be”? (Sorry, my corny sense of humor had to chime in there).

If you are in a place of brokenness, hope is not easily seen. How have you navigated through such times?

This knowledge of the hope God has for us cannot be kept a secret. People need to know this life was never meant to be lived for the here and now alone. There is hope when life is not hopeful, but it is not in things or positions or earthly temporary success. Hope Reinvented is found in His precious Word alone as we are in a relationship with the God of this universe, our Abba Father.

Thank you for taking this time to come with me and explore what Hope Reinvented looks like.In case you missed it, below is a table of contents for all 31 days. God makes all things new and His hope for you is sure.

Oh God, You are our portion, our delight! Thank You that You have not left us without hope. We worship You, our Eternal Hope!

31 Days of Hope Reinvented

Day 1: Salvation is Here
Day 2: Not in Kansas Anymore
Day 3: Where Was God?
Day 4: The Grief Process: Finding Our Way & Thriving in the Desert
Day 5: Vision From the Pit: Purpose in Crisis
Day 6: Revelation in the Darkness -Who Was the Thief?
Day 7: Facing Depression
Day 8: Facing Disillusionment
Day 9: Facing Fear
Day 10:Facing Judgment
Day 11: Facing the Sin Within
Day 12: Facing Memories Through a Biblical Lens
Day 13: Facing the Enemy
Day 14: Facing and Embracing Reality – The New Normal
Day 15: Facing the Future
Day 16: Understanding Sin & The Sovereignty of God
Day 17: The Christian Culture
Day 18: Telling Ourselves the Truth – exposing Our Unbelief
Day 19: Fairy Tales Remixed
Day 20: Uncovering the Goodness of God When Life Hurts
Day 21: Hope’s Debtor: Gratitude & Humility
Day 22: Hope in Sorrows & Affliction
Day 23: Exploring Hope: Making Sense in a Fallen World
Day 24: Superficial Hope
Day 25: The Promise of Hope
Day 26: The Foundation of Hope
Day 27: The Formation of Hope
Day 28: The Fruition of Hope
Day 29: Hope Discovered
Day 30: Hope Reinvented
Day 31: 31 Days…How Was It?

Day 28: The Fruition of Hope

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

Having our hope transfixed on God causes us to seek to do His mission instead of our own.

Scriptures of the Day:

Colossians 1:27

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Romans 5:5

“And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Here we are – we have come so far. What began as a seemingly hopeless situation has been transformed into a Hope Reinvented and the fruit of this new hope we have found is sweet, indeed.

When life disrupts the plans we have, it is an opportunity to trust God and see what He accomplishes as we hope in Him.

With this new hope there is no more shame, no more cause to wonder if God is for us. We are confident of God’s purposes even when the situation is bleak. This is the fruit of a life invested in God’s hope for us instead of our own. Bearing within us God’s perfect peace and love, His hope brings our hearts in sync with God’s purposes as we look to Him as our hope.

When I sat in the back of a police station for the second time due to yet another court error, the pain of the nonsensical mess I was in wrecked my heart and hurt my faith. Why would God allow this? But the LORD used the painful mishaps of life and the relentless pursuit from others against me to cause me to desperately draw nearer to Him.

I longed for a simple life again, but realized that this hope would keep me in a state of comfort and complacency. It felt like walking on water as I stepped out the boat of my hopes and placed all my dreams in His Holy hands. This hew hope was unending and filled my heart with joy and laughter, even as my old hope faded away.

When a person has a living hope, the resulting fruit is a life lived for God’s glory instead of for vain hopes. Having our hope transfixed on God causes us to seek to do His mission instead of our own.

Thank You, LORD, for fixing our eyes on You – the Author and completer of our faith. Hope in You is always well placed and fulfills our life purpose.

 

Funny Friday: Faith Sometimes Looks Silly

Radical faith

Isaiah 20:2

“At that time the LORD announced through Isaiah son of Amoz: “Go, remove the sackcloth from your waist and take your sandals off your feet.” He did as instructed and walked around in undergarments and barefoot. 3 Later the LORD explained, “In the same way that my servant Isaiah has walked around in undergarments and barefoot for the past three years, as an object lesson and omen pertaining to Egypt and Cush, 4 so the king of Assyria will lead away the captives of Egypt and the exiles of Cush, both young and old. They will be in undergarments and barefoot, with the buttocks exposed; the Egyptians will be publicly humiliated.”

I don’t know about you, but walking around barefoot in underwear has not typically been what comes to mind when I think about what it means to be a prophet of the LORD.

But God goes through great lengths

to reach His people

and He often calls His followers to do the same.

But why?

Sometimes God calls us to do strange things or allows us to go through difficult times so we will have a passion and an understanding to live fully for Him and to communicate His heart and message to His people.

Noah had to build a boat amidst mockers in a dry land. Joshua had to march around a city and blow a trumpet.  Abraham was told to sacrifice his one heir, his precious son.  Moses was told to go back and demand from the king of the greatest land that their slaves be let go. Jeremiah bought a linen belt God told him to buy, hid it in a crevice then dug it up when it was ruined.   A prophet named Agabus came down from Judea and took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands to prophesy about what Paul would suffer. 

Sometimes we need object lessons to be warned or to wake us up to walk uprightly before God.  While it might seem futile for Jeremiah to bury a belt, the ruined article of clothing demonstrated how the people of God would be ruined if they did not repent and seek God.

While building a boat with no water or rain in sight was possibly embarrassing, it meant the salvation of Noah’s family and ultimately the continuation of the existence of mankind and all of the creatures God created.

Sometimes man can also come up with crazy radical ideologies that have nothing to do with God, but they claim it does, anyway.  The fruit of our behavior identifies where the calling originated from.  Does it bring life or death?

The words of the famous missionary, Jim Elliot, which were echoed by Twila Paris many years later, have been precious to me since I first came to know the LORD in 1988.  “He is no fool if he should choose to give the thing he cannot keep to gain what he can never lose. To see a treasure in one soul that far outshines the brightest gold; he is no fool.”

If God calls us to do something that is not popular or seems foolish to man, perhaps that makes it all the more reason to do it.  To live for Jesus, really live – is to seek to do His will in everything we do.  Sometimes it just won’t make sense.  But that’s ok.  He who chose to come and be born as a baby; King, Creator over all, humbling Himself to be at our level, conquered every heart with the most radical action of all.

Lord, help us to trust You when things don’t make sense.  Every trial we go through has a purpose – we can comfort others when we come out on the other side and bring You glory. May we be sensitive to Your calling and never doubt Your goodness.  Love You, Lord!

A SEASON OF THANKFULNESS: DAY 18 – OUR HUMBLE KING

Humility

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Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Philippians 2:5-8 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross

There is perhaps nothing more ironic than a King becoming a servant, saving the very ones who were His servants in the first place.

In Christ we find the perfect example of humility.  He alone could boast of all the good works He accomplished or of how great He is, yet He chose a crude birth and a lifestyle among commoners.

Materialism and comfort might have appealed to his flesh in that he was 100% man and 100% God, but He did not want those things.  They were distractions from the calling His Father had for Him.  Instead, He was single-minded in His humble approach, prizing the cost of a soul as superior by far to being praised by man.

Sober-minded and dependent upon God, Christ modeled the wisdom of humility.  He captivated the hearts of His enemies not by ruling over them, but by loving and serving them.

There will come a day when Christ returns in righteous judgment, but He first exhibited godly leadership that sacrificed and made Himself subject to the very ones He sought to save.

By laying down His own life, He made a way for the prideful, lost ones truly in a humble position to know their majestic King.

Lord, thank You for demonstrating what it means to not live for self, but to live for the glory of God, instead.  Thank you for choosing a humble life that we might know You!

A Season of Thankfulness: Day 5 – Nothing is Wasted

Ecclesiastes 1:8-10

8 All this monotony is tiresome; no one can bear to describe it: The eye is never satisfied with seeing, nor is the ear ever content with hearing. 9 What exists now is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing truly new on earth. 10 Is there anything about which someone can say, “Look at this! It is new!”? It was already done long ago, before our time.

If this world is all we have to live for, perhaps Solomon’s insight would ring true, but not so for the believer.

To a parent changing diapers and attending to screaming kids with snotty noses, seemingly mundane chores become a holy work, changing our character and molding us into His image.  Selfishness is washed away as we are absorbed in the well being of others.

To a farmer striving to yield a bountiful harvest yet confronted with the brutal realities of drought or a flood, reliance on self dissipates and a dependence on the God over all becomes paramount.

To the family head, struggling to make ends meet, waiting for the next paycheck or provision to come and overcome by bill collectors, faith begins to blossom in the midst of hardship.  Insight is formed, revealing that provision was not to be chased after in the first place.  God is our Provider.

To church leaders dealing with complaining sheep, their work becomes a holy endeavor as God changes their heart and perspective toward the people God calls them to minister to.  They discover that this calling is for God’s glory and not their own, not about them at all.  Offenses are dismissed and concern is raised for the offended one, instead.

To the sick who wonder if God cares at all, He shows the need for spiritual healing and uses the affliction to draw us nearer. He becomes our comfort in the midst of pain and humbles us to depend on Him.

To the wounded, broken heart, shattered by another’s sin – God sees you.  Even this is not wasted in His hands.  Instead of death, if we hope and wait on Him, He will turn our greatest sorrow into a thing of beauty.  Suddenly our eyes are opened to realize that a human being was never supposed to be our joy or our life.  Hoping in fallible humans is idolatry and temporary, but hoping in our living, loving God is eternal.

Everything is vanity apart from God, but everything done in Him has a purpose.  All of the wearisome repetitiveness and burdens of this life are working something great for those who will see more deeply. Thank God that we serve a God where nothing is meaningless and nothing is wasted.  He uses it all.

Solomon was the wisest man and yet he chose women who ultimately turned his heart from God and cursed the next generation.  Big consequences for someone who had allowed his blessings to become his snare.  Boredom replaced gratitude and awe over all that God had provided.

Mundanity has its purpose, after all.  Satisfaction was never meant to be fulfilled completely apart from Christ.  In the endless pursuit of meaning and happiness in a world that could never deliver that quest, we finally end up at His feet, where we were always meant to be.

Lord, all of the tasks, burdens, joys and sorrows are ultimately serving Your purpose in our lives and in this world.  Give us Your eyes and understanding and the wisdom to walk and chase after You, not the things of this world that always disappoint us.  Thank You for being our sovereign God who wastes nothing.

Worshipful Wednesday: My Healer

Psalm 30:2

“O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.”

I am overcome today with praise for my Jehovah Rapha, the LORD Who heals me.  This morning when I awoke I realized I did not have the normal pain that has been my close companion for years. Actually, the pain has been dissipating the past couple of weeks and I wondered if God could be removing the physical burdens I bear daily.

Diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases, I have learned to live within the confines of the illnesses that hold me captive.  When I go outside of those boundaries, I hurt.  My sweet son sees when I am in pain and we have a routine where he tries to help me get going in the morning.  Daily living has been difficult, but I press on.  In moments when I have felt I could not bear the burden any longer, God’s strength carried me.

The LORD has healed me many times over the years and with each affliction I only drew nearer to my God.  While my flesh was beaten, my inner man clung to God and His promises.  Physical suffering is discouraging and greatly affects our ability to be effective.  Like walking in mud, progress seems insurmountable.  The lessons learned in each struggle, however, produce a treasure of a closer walk with God, even if they leave us with a lasting wound like Jacob when He wrestled with God.

I confess that I was afraid to even hope that He might be healing me.  I often did not see that He had already been healing me spiritually.  The thought of being delivered from the prison of pain I have lived through seemed to be too good to be true.  Surrendering my life to His hands, I rested in the truth that whatever God allowed into my life would serve to bring Him glory and fulfill His purposes through me.  Whether He wants to heal me for a day or for years, I thank Him and trust His decision.

It is a humbling experience to be physically afflicted and we can feel forgotten.  But if we had never experienced the pain, we would not have the gratitude for God’s deliverance.  We tend to take things for granted until what we assume is ours is taken away.  God in His wisdom knows what we need – both blessings and burdens.  Perhaps the most beautiful lesson learned through my health ordeals has been to be surrendered to whatever the LORD’s will is.  Whether sick or healthy, it is all about His glory in every circumstance.  Either way, He is our Healer – healing us inwardly or outwardly through it all.

Lord, I am overcome by Your faithfulness.  Who are we, that You should notice us at all?  And yet You want to heal us and draw us nearer to You to help others be healed, too.  Thank You, God!

Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing

Photo Credits: halepringle.com

Photo Credits:
halepringle.com

Exodus 13:9

It will be a sign for you on your hand and a memorial on your forehead, so that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth, for with a mighty hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 17 When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.”

Exodus 14:4

“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them. I will gain honor because of Pharaoh and because of all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.” So this is what they did.

Exodus 16:3-4

The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this desert to kill this whole assembly with hunger!” 4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people will go out and gather the amount for each day, so that I may test them. Will they walk in my law or not?

With a mighty hand God delivered His people, yet three days after many miracles, including parting a sea, granting favor to the Israelites so they plundered their enemies and prophesying and fulfilling 10 plagues, they doubted God.  They replaced the faith they had learned to have in God quickly with fear and doubted God’s goodness and character.

God’s people did not understand His purposes and looked at their circumstances of discomfort and misinterpreted them.  A good God would never have them wonder if God would faithfully provide, would he?  Why would He test them?  Because He knew their tendency was toward the superficial.  They wanted to be provided for, but did not expect that a relationship with God would mean they would have to go without to make them see their need of Him.

God knew them and their tendencies to go astray, but they were not acquainted with God’s nature.  We often displace our own character flaws on others, but God has none.  The LORD wanted them to know Him.  He wanted even their enemies, the Egyptians, to know Him.  He wanted them to learn to walk faithfully with Him.

The Israelites had forgotten their purpose.  The main thing for them became their happiness.  They became self-focused and disillusioned when trials came.  They began to think that the grass was greener on the other side, but forgot that the other side was slavery.  Suddenly the “feast” they used to eat while there was embellished to be something they missed.

We might think this happened only in Old Testament times, or with an unintelligent people who were ignorant of God’s plan, but we, too, are easily distracted and forget what we have been saved from.  We forget our purpose, our mission.

We become enchanted by the world or begin to be lulled into thinking this world system and the here and now are the most important.  Eternity hangs in the balance for all those around us, yet we are often preoccupied with worries of this world and distracted with trivial things.

The Israelites thought God’s deliverance was all about them.  They focused on their freedom or on the comforts they wanted. God’s purposes always run far deeper than ours.  He chose us and wants to use us for His glory.  He loves the world and does not want any to perish.  God help us to keep the main thing the main thing . . . knowing Jesus and making Him known.

Lord, help us to remember daily Your promises and to fulfill the mission You have called us to.  Help us to keep You at the center of our lives and your salvation as the main purpose of our lives.