Give up the ghost

I watch him, he’s learned to walk and he has no fear. No fear, I know. I see the brave in him when he lets go of mama’s hand and walks, almost runs on his own. I see brave as he climbs stairs and he climbs chairs and he would climb down them alone if mama would let him. I watch him and I wonder how to get back there, to Eden. He has no fear and he’s there, in Eden. He’s innocent and brave but he looks back at mama while he does these things, like my presence makes him this way. Like it’s okay for brave so long as mama’s with him. And he laughs from the pit of him and it’s pure and sweet  and what is it about a baby’s laugh that does something inside of us?  It changes us for a moment. We don’t think about worry for a moment. For a moment we’re innocent, too. It’s Eden. 

And there’s a ghost that’s been chasing me or maybe I’ve been chasing it. And it’s midnight and He wakes me and He asks me to give it up. I pretend I don’t know what He’s talking about but He knows, I know. Because I’ve eaten the whole apple and I’ve known more than He’s wanted me to and it’s been chasing me, I’ve been chasing it. So many times I’ve closed my eyes and the liar is there. The liar shows me what he said would be forgotten and he lied. It’s there. And there’s plans I’ve been making without Him and I’ve been chasing them until my legs grow weak. He asks if He can come but I know what that means – give up the ghost. And can I? Hand over this box with all of my things? Hand over these plans in my mind for an unknown thing? Can I relearn this life-thing and get back to Eden? Before the apple fell into my lap? The Eden where he is, my trusting boy who’s brave comes from knowing his mama isn’t far behind. Can I find his brave in knowing that He isn’t far behind?

So I’ve invited Him deeper but really He’s probably invited me. He sits with me at the table of my soul and He knows everything I’m about to say. He breaks bread and He offers me some. He knows I don’t find the good in the clouds covering the sun. In the car that finds trouble in the rain. He knows I clench teeth when bank account runs dry and He asks, “Where is your brave?” And He asks, “Where is your trust?” And He asks, “Where is your hope?” And He knows, hope is in the ghost I’ve been chasing. In the plans I’ve been making. The ones I forgot to invite Him to. So He pours wine and He asks me to drink. He asks if I remember the house in the country and Him meeting me there. He asks if I remember slamming the door and telling Him to leave. If I remember the cool mornings on screened in porch where we met over coffee. All He wanted was to lift the heavy from my chest that had been there for years. He asks if I remember and I do. Because He did. It was painful because of the enemy but He was not the enemy. He was cool breeze in the early morning and He never left even when I slammed the door. And I remember. I take a sip and I see dark room and apple juice and I see nails and cross and I’m free. It’s been years, and I’m free. It seems so easy. The Answer. He asks and I remember. 

I open The Book and it’s Eden. It’s my brave child and I’m brave, too. Papa lingers behind me as we walk through the field and I feel brave, for the first time in a long time. And He speaks of thankfulness rolling off tongue but that’s a foreign language to me. It’s all over these pages and I’ve read them before but seeing them now as we walk hand in hand it’s like the first time. Thankful in all of this. Thankful for where we are. Thankful that that door didn’t open and thankful for wisdom to close the next with our own hands, even if it aches me. Thankful for dirt under toes and thankful for little hands to hold. And I can be tired and I can be broken and I question – but its been in these pages all along, waiting for me to give up my ghosts, waiting for me to invite Him in or maybe accept His invitation. For thankful. For His road. For His hand to hold. 

And I’m running in the field and there’s a wild in my soul flamed with a fire from Heaven, and He’s trailing behind fueling my brave. 

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Preparing a Place

It’s been a while. A year ago a few spiritual leaders had given me almost the same word, at different times, in different states. That I am strong. I have a voice. I shouldn’t be afraid to say the words in my heart. But I had hurt in my heart from the unfulfilled. Maybe I had been walking that out. Maybe I had been trying to release the things I thought should be mine in my time and maybe I’d been trying to do it in my own power. 

I don’t know what changed in my heart. I don’t know if it was the pastor in the old church that asked me to trust Jesus, just for a year, or the never ending forgiveness and love in my husbands eyes. I don’t know if it was a mix of it all. But somewhere in between, I learned to exhale the dirt and inhale His promise. Hang on to things that matter and let go of things that don’t. Things that we worry too much about and things that we neglect. So I’ve been throwing things away. Clutter, clothes, useless feelings, things I’ve let make home in my mind for too long. I’ve been reading Ecclesiastes. I’ve been breathing in fresh air and exhaling all of the smoke. Been saying words out loud instead of stuffing them deep into a journal. 

And the Lord had been preparing my heart all along for what’s here and what’s to come. 

We’ve been painting a crib and changing table that was given to us for our baby boy. I’m keen on making sure my love doesn’t miss any spots so it’s perfect for him. Preparing a perfect safe haven for when he arrives. 

He’s growing and forming and with each passing day his body becomes stronger. He has no idea of what’s to come in a few short months. That his peaceful life in his mama’s womb is just the beginning. It’s taken some time, but soon he will be ready to venture out into a bigger world. And the dark, safe place he knows right now will be incomparable to the vibrant colors and love and adventure awaiting him. I’ve been preparing a place. 


I’ve come to know the Father in these ways. The way He prepares us for new things ahead, makes us a little bit stronger day by day for what’s ahead. As we are living life, unaware of all the ways He is perfectly preparing our future for us. I’ve come to know the Father’s love deeper as I fall more in love with this little lamb whose face I have yet to see. When his kicks grow stronger and I’m filled with excitement, I imagine God’s same excitement when He watches us grow and overcome. Because we will be all the more ready for what is to come next. 

I told my husband at the end of 2015 I felt it in my spirit that the Lord was preparing us for change. For things to end so greater things could come to life. At first I became anxious and wanted it all to happen right then, but God needed to prepare us. Grow us and heal us to launch us into what’s to come. It’s not all unfolded yet but I see it coming to life. And I used to feel afraid to leave what’s safe and familiar but I’m not so scared anymore. He’s preparing a place in the distance and allowing us to grow stronger in the meantime. 

Dreams will come true. New life in all aspects will be born. Our faith will be stronger than it has been in the past. Day by day. It’s Heaven and it’s now. He’s preparing a place. 

When He Calls You Sweetness

In the golden hour I remember to trust You. The busy of the day retires. Families walk hand in hand to their homes. The beating sun sinks low. It reflects the hues of gold, and I know. Let go. Of heavy traffic that made me late. Irritation that rolled off of tongue. The trouble I seem to get myself into. The way I can’t seem to keep myself out. Of this world. The way this world tuned out who I am. And I Am. He reminds me, in the golden hour. Of who I am. Created to be. He calls me by name, Sweetness. Singing Love over me. Singing hope into me. The way my bones begin to breathe again. Because dust falls and gold reflects and grace is like a gift too expensive to accept. Gold lingers and there’s no roof to this mercy. There’s no roof so the rain pours in over me. Washes clean the skin that felt so dirty from the day. From the nights before. From every moment I’ve lost myself and forgotten who I am. Heaven touches earth and sky paints gold like honey. Then Jesus. I think of the cross and all that I have laid upon it. I think of His hands, how hard I have hit into them. I think of His eyes and I just can’t look into them. Not after this. Not again. And how much more can the Father take from me? How much more burden can the Father carry for me? He leads me to the garden of my heart and He sits with me at the table. Tells me the story about love that is strong enough. Mercy that is deep enough. Heaven that is sweet enough. He says, oh darling you are sweet enough. And for a moment I remember me. The real me. The one He sees. For a moment heart breaks and love fills and time stands still. And it’s almost too much to bear. Almost too much to believe that someone did this all for me.

In the golden hour you recognize who you are. The day begins to fade. Grace pours out and mercy flows in. And I’m standing in His love, more than overwhelmed, on the receiving end.
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Where Else Would I Go

I’ve been really tired lately. I haven’t been living out the best version of myself, probably been rolling my eyes more than usual. I’ve been letting the world get the best of me. In return I’ve been letting the world harden me.

Been too tired to ask God for help. Been too scared to ask God for help. Not too sure if I wanted His help. Not too sure if I wanted to walk this path anymore.

And it’s the middle of the night and the enemy creeps in. He says we’re friends but the fear and regret, the pit in my stomach and the separation he brings from Love says otherwise.

The enemy creeps in and offers me nothing new. He offers old things, stale things, what I’ve already lived through, what God already replaced with life. And somehow he makes it sound good for a moment. Somehow he takes my old things and dresses it with a bow. Somehow in the night memory is blurry and old things seem right. And worship and lifting of hands and that song that broke my heart on Sunday seem so distant. Seems so… not for me anymore. Walking through those old church doors dragging my feet.

I haven’t been myself and the enemy calls me prey. He sees me wounded and now is his chance. He lures me into separation and anxiety and no more lifting of hands. No more praises in heart. And am I the only one? Have you ever felt so alone in a room full of people?

Maybe I was bitter that first love slipped away.

Maybe I’m bitter that I gave my only child away.

Maybe I’m bitter that a father’s love just can’t stay.

So I’ve been told that harboring bitterness separates,

me from Him,
and maybe that’s true,

But in thorns of bitterness I still feel Him, hear Him. A voice in the distance that sounds familiar, speaks closer with each acknowledgement. Fog grows thicker but the voice grows desperate. For the one who hasn’t been herself, feeling lost in fog. In old wounds that have already healed. The enemy points out scars as reminders.

What amazes me, despite it all, God remains. His love. His presence. We make bad decisions but he sits with us through trial. Holding our hand tight like only a mother deep in love with her child might do. Knowing that we are guilty but remembering deep inside the day we were created. What we were created for. Remembering the look in our face in the only moment we were innocent. Before the world invited us in. The deep root of love penetrates through holding of hands. Through nail-scarred hands.

And there is wholeness in that. Restoration in that. A better life in that. In nail-scarred hands. They keep me coming back. I could walk away from Jesus for the life I once had, for everything the enemy has offered me, but I’ve tasted both sides and His well is sweeter. He offers new life. New experience. His love is stronger. His promises are better. He gives strength again for lifting of hands. He refills the soul for all the more praise. And when He asks if I’m going to leave I respond,

Where else would I go?

Nothing is better,
Nothing is sweeter,
Nothing compares
To the love of Christ.
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The Long Way Home

For 13 months we lived in a beautiful home in the country. There was a garden in the back with a rose bush that had overgrown. As I began to weed the garden, I would find roots sprouting from one end, that lead me back to this big rose bush. It had grown so strong for so long, without anyone tending to it, that the roots had overtaken this garden. Isn’t that quite like life?

A painful event would happen to me and I would run from it. I would not face it, but let it root deeper. And time would pass and things would pile on my resume of things I majorly failed at, things I did not want to face. The roots were too deep. And my arms were too weak to begin pulling. So I kept running, finding anything to fill the space between me and those roots. Even now right before bed or a random place in time I can get a flashback of some long forgotten stupid night and cringe. Even now I can still fall back into the lie of the enemy that because of my past I am no good. But I am strong enough now to recognize his lie.

I don’t believe that God is angry with me for not choosing life. I believe He was deeply, deeply saddened that I didn’t know His Truth well enough to know that this was life. I believe He heavily wept over the fact that I was deceived into darkness. I believed in the lie – this was not life. The lie that I would feel relief, and this was something I would soon move on from as if it never happened. But this was my wildly unkept rosebush, overtaking the beautiful garden within me. I believe God felt sorrow towards me when I felt so alone. I believe God my Father deeply mourned for my loss, when I hardened my heart to avoid feeling anything. But greatest of all, I believe He welcomed my baby Home and that I will see my baby face to face in Heaven.

And that is just it: we’ve become so numb to what we don’t want to come to terms with. With what we would rather avoid. We want the easiest route and the easiest way out. But I’ve learned going the distance produces perseverance. I want to take the long way Home to Heaven, I want to stop at every detour. Walk up every steep mountain. To walk through pain and remember what it felt like. I want to take my time, to be completely raw in truth. I’ve grown to desperately love truth. To love on everyone lost. Everyone going through affliction. I choose the long way home. Facing our roots and pulling them out from within the deep produces an inner strength we never thought possible. Our past has no control over us unless we choose to let it. Because past things are passed things. Our past cannot harm us any longer if we choose to use it for good – in the helping of others.

Up until recently I would pray for God to break me away from my past. To let me forget. The memories. The pain. The embarrassment I still feel. But God did not. So finally I thanked Him for not allowing me to forget, because if I forget how can I be there for anyone else with similar roots? How can I help someone avoid growing these same roots? If I forget then there will never be a lesson learned. If I forget I will once again have taken the easy route out. Instead I’ve chosen to walk through it, root by root, room by room, with God holding my hand. Facing things I’ve been avoiding. Facing things I’ve been praying would just disappear. Decisions I have made. Forgiveness I have been withholding. Guilt I have bagged away. And it’s only then have I realized that the burden seems to grow lighter. I imagine my heart with these rooms full of filth, and God walking with me hand in hand, power washing the walls clean with each one we face.

So what roots have you been avoiding? What shortcuts have you been taking? If you’re wondering if the burden will ever get lighter the answer is yes. If you have been trying to work up the courage to face the painful fear of the past I challenge you to pull that first root. Take that first small detour. Walking through pain is not easy, but it is worth the Light. It is worth the freedom. Your face shines all the more beautiful in the freedom. I know you yearn for the freedom. And in your wild heart of hearts you were created to run in the freedom of the day. Choose today.

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Where Shore Meets the Sea

I hold on to things. I’m by no means a hoarder, but I definitely still have “Babs”, the stuffed-dog I got when I was two. (And I definitely still sleep with her, my husband has accepted this.) I hold on to memories and love and pain all the same. Like stepping away from relationships. All of those years I held knuckle-white tight. And learning to be independent and who I am as this person God created. If we let them, people will shape us into a shadow of ourselves, and when they leave we can’t recognize our own reflections. Sometimes we have moments where we have to choose whether to remain stuck in the waiting for change to hopefully come or we have to take the leap to reach change now.

I get lost in my own mind sometimes and relive moments with my grandma, I still have her number saved in my phone as if I could call her whenever I want to. I get lost in her memory and her goodness and her love for Jesus. I wish she could see me loving Him, too, the way she always prayed I would. I remember the night she made her way to Heaven and I wasn’t sure how any of us would continue to live. How would we make it without her? But tomorrow came and we had to choose to move with it. I’m so thankful I finally chose to move with it.

We walked down the beach tonight and there was a young boy with his mother, and I think of my child. I think of the way his memory used to be shut away, too painful, always taunting by the enemy. And I think of the way God has redeemed it, so beautiful, so thankful I can talk about it. He would be big enough to run alone and play in the ocean and laugh and talk with me about who knows what. It hurts for a moment but I think of Heaven immediately and the setting sun behind us. And I smile. I’m full of joy in heart at the thought. How much greater is it all on his side of Heaven?

And a year ago I couldn’t face this. The pain of growth and releasing of hands and moving forward. But sometimes God works in our time, when it comes to matters of the heart. He doesn’t rush our wounds to heal and He doesn’t push us when we aren’t ready. Because He knows it’s not easy being us. He came down on earth as one of us. He knows life can be ugly and burdens can be heavy and this bed seems far too safe compared to the world outside of our window. He knows people die and fathers leave and relationships end. He knows results come back a devastatingly positive and the rain seems never-ending. And so he doesn’t push us, but encourages us, that yes, the pain in your heart may be overwhelming some days but there is a sunset over the ocean painted just for you that he doesn’t want you to miss. Just a sunset over the ocean that can help our feet to move forward, even if it’s just one small step at a time.

And what’s on the other side of moving forward has been so worth getting out of bed. So worth the releasing of hands. So worth all-in trusting Jesus. So I will leave my pains right here, where the shore meets the sea. I will let it wash away with each wave. Because although there is pain, God is still good, the sunset is still so beautiful, and Heaven is surely worth it all.

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It’s Okay to Stay

I thought by now maybe we’d be somewhere new. Somewhere broke down on the side of the road in the motor home we bought three years ago that’s now probably been sold a time or two since we sold it last fall. I’ve spent time wondering maybe if I didn’t miss some turns then maybe we’d be somewhere far from here by now. But we’re still here, in our hometown.

Sometimes you’re called away but sometimes you’re called to stay. Just stay. And when you’re gone from everything, all that you know, in a new town and new faces, new street signs and stop lights, it takes all that you have to be brave. Brave to step on the new sidewalk outside of your new house. Brave to re-memorize where the closest Tim Horton’s is on the corner (you pray to God there’s a Tim Horton’s). Brave to say hello to new faces. To start over again. And that’s always viewed as honorable. You’ve made it, right? Getting out of your hometown. But sometimes you’re asked to stay. Stay planted in the familiar. You don’t have to use that old GPS in the center counsel because you’ve drove down Michigan Avenue a million times or two since you were a kid. Seeing a familiar face every time you go to the store and it all feels like home. A different memory at every red light floods your mind as your car comes to a stop. When did it become such a bad thing to say you’ve lived here all your life? When did it get written in the rules that we have to leave in order to really have lived? Sometimes life’s missed when we’re so busy saving up for the next bus ticket out. 

Yes, it can be brave to leave, to start over where nobody knows your name, but it also takes courage when we are asked to stay. Invest love and life right where your roots are planted. In the familiar. In the faces who already know you. What you have done in your past and the mistakes you have made. It’s brave to to pick up and start again, right where you are. 

Sometimes we’re asked to pack up our things and invest in a new place. But sometimes we’re asked to just stay.

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Fear is a Liar

When was a time you felt most scared? What was it over? How much did you allow that fear to dictate your life? Did you triumph over it or are you still allowing fear to whisper lies to you in the dark?

Fear is a liar, and if we accept these lies we remain chained to it. I won’t forget the way these lies slowly crept into my mind. The fear of being honest about who I am and the path I have walked took over my life so much that I shut off and shut down. I believed that there was no way I could be honest about how I felt or that I could be my true self, because fear told me it was absolutely impossible. Fear told me that everything I’ve ever done in my past was too ugly, and too unforgivable, that no one would understand. Fear took away my self-worth. Fear took away my potential. Fear took away my voice. The enemy oppressed me with so much fear because he feared who I was created to be. His mission was to paralyze me in this fear, and I believed him when he said, “This is it. This is all God has for you.” A life of a shell of myself and that God could never use me because of my past. I believed fear when it said that I could not overcome. I believed fear when it said that healing is too hard, and that a life lived out for The Lord was not possible for me. I was listening to fears loud voice so much that it tuned out The Lords still, small voice telling me I am. I can. I will. Fear began to scream louder in my face the more God spoke gently to my heart. When fear told me I’m not worth fighting for, Yahweh said I’m worth dying for. When fear told me I can’t trust in God, El Roi said with Him I can move mountains. When fear told me I won’t overcome, El Shaddai said I will be victorious.

Fear is a liar and the enemy fights the worst fight to keep us there. When we are so captivated in fear then it’s hard for God to use us. When we eat the lies fear feeds us then everything God has for us is tainted. I challenge you right now, today, to take a fear in your life and call it out. Like a bully that’s been taunting you, stand up for yourself and push it back. You will see that it’s not as tough as it appears to be when you just take the first step. There is victory and light that comes from breaking the chain of fear and leaving it in the dark. God promises that we are, we can and we will.

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Handing Over the Keys to the Cellars of Our Souls

Every one of us walking on this earth have a few cobwebs in the corners of our souls. Maybe your mom once told you not to have any cookies before dinner but they were so enticing that you ate one anyway when she left the room. A cobweb forms. Maybe you told a “white lie” to your best friend because it feels easier than facing the truth. Another cobweb forms.

But maybe you have a cellar in the basement of your soul. It’s dead bolted and has a million and one locks just to ensure that no one gets in. Maybe it’s been there for so long that the cobwebs have become so thick. It’s even formed mildew so not even you want to touch it. The enemy guards that cellar with his strongest forces. He wants to make sure no light shines through. He wants that cellar in your soul to remain hopeless. Impossible to open. And he wants to continue to torment you with it.

He wants you to believe that if anyone knew what was locked inside then they would abandoned you. That they would disown you and be disgusted with you. He wants you to believe that you are the only one who has done what you’ve done or what has been done to you. That no one can relate, understand or help. Let me tell you that that is a lie from the deepest, fieriest pit of hell. Whatever has happened to you in this life, whatever is chained inside your cellar, there are over 7 billion people in this world, you are not the only one. It’s impossible. God says there is nothing new under the sun. Although it feels like it, you aren’t the first and you won’t be the last.

God didn’t create our bodies for cellars in our souls. We are not capable of keeping them there long enough without going crazy. Without forming some kind of destructive behavior. What is that one thing you’re holding on to that hinders you from reading your bible more? What is it that stops you from growing deeper in your faith? You may veer off course a little bit, and for some of us a lot a bit. You may have junk in your cellar that no one could have ever imagined. But God knows. No matter how well you believe you’ve fooled everyone else, God knows. He sees your cellar. Down to your deepest wound, and He mourns for you.

You may believe that nobody else in this world could ever know how you feel or how much your cellar has made you suffer, but God knows. And He wants to brush away the cobwebs. He wants you to hand over the lock and key and allow Him to free you. You might be thinking, “Well He’s God, why doesn’t He just take it from me and do it Himself?” He’s a gentle God. He’s a patient God. He’s a God who gave us free will to choose to remain under the weight of the enemy’s thumb or choose to bring it all to His feet and say, “Okay, Lord. I can’t carry this on my own anymore. I need a Savior. I need you to carry this for me.” And He will. And He already has when He had His only Son drink the cup of our sins and taste the bitterness of all the filth we have ever done. His son Jesus, the Savior of you and I, who carried it all and was nailed on the cross so we could be free to willingly choose to hand over the keys of our cellars to God, and let it all go.

Enough is enough, have you had enough? Are you ready to hand over the keys?

When you call on me, when you pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me you’ll find me. When you want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you home again, you can count on it.

Jeremiah 29

  

When Waking Up is Hard to Do.

Waking up isn’t easy when you don’t see a way out. There’s no way out of the hopelessness and depression you feel. Loneliness is just behind those covers and so you bury your face within them for just a few moments longer before the alarm clock goes off. You wonder what’s worth it. You wonder what’s worth standing out in the cold. What’s worth facing a world that continues to knock you down? Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and it’s still too hard to walk passed their picture hanging in the hallway. Maybe you’ve failed at something you’ve put so much effort into and you just can’t bare to try again. Maybe the bills are piling up and you don’t know what to do. Maybe there’s an addiction that keeps knocking at your door. Or someone has hurt you right down to the core and forgiveness seems so far away.

The snow falls and it gets hard to go out into the world. It gets hard when it looks dark out there. The snow falls hard but it melts away. The Earth doesn’t let the dark of the winter define it and so it makes beauty within the snowflakes. It always melts away and let’s new things bloom into life.

Whatever it may be that makes waking up hard to do, whatever burdens or failures that are pressing against you, they don’t define you. You can lay in bed until 3pm because it’s safe, because there you won’t fail. There you won’t walk passed that picture in the frame. There you won’t get hurt and you won’t feel the cold, brisk air burn your cheeks. But there you miss out on falling in love. You miss out on meeting someone new for the first time or helping someone who needs you. There, hiding in that bed, you are safe but you miss out. Put on your scarf and face the cold and make something of the day.

You can rejoice in the memories of your loved one and when the missing gets too heavy to carry you can lay it at Jesus’s feet. You can cry until snot drains from your nose but you can laugh hard until your belly aches and know that the world is still turning. A failed test doesn’t reflect a failed life. Just because you haven’t met “the one” doesn’t mean you have a terrible love life. Love is in helping an elderly woman find her dogs in the freezing, cold weather. Love is holding your newborn niece for the first time, staring at her in awe because you can’t believe God put this all together. Everything doesn’t always go as planned. Life isn’t always perfect. We can stay miserable or we can accept that we don’t always get the life we think we deserve. We aren’t perfect but we can accept that because He already has.

Waking up can be hard to do and things aren’t in our favor. We try our best and sometimes we fall down and it hurts. But sometimes we don’t. Sometimes it goes our way and we are waiting for something bad to happen because life just isn’t this good to us. Sometimes the stars align for us so we wait for a meteor to come crashing in but it never does. The stars align and our babies laugh and our cups overfloweth. We are just a week sober and that is enough to make us dance. We truly forgive and we forget why we were ever upset. We see someone in need so we give them all we have to offer and feel their overwhelming thankfulness in a hug. All because the chance of something good happening finally outweighed the bad that is keeping us in our safe beds. We faced the brisk, cold air on our cheeks for a chance that our stars might align, and eventually, without fail, they align. All because waking up was hard to do but we did it anyways. And for this, we rejoice.