A Cheerful Hear is Good Medicine

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“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

—Proverbs 17:22

Have you ever been so bummed, so conflicted, so dry of spirit that you felt it in your bones? Have there been moments when you thought you might never laugh, again?

Welcome to the club of being a human. I know that God will roll his eyes at this next statement. But as Bethenny Frankel told her fellow Housewife, the Countess Luann, this past week … life isn’t a caberet. She might have added a swear word, too.

Life is a big bowl of succotash. A mixture of highest of highs, lowest of lows … things going right and things going wrong .. the fabulously exciting and the mundane … babies being born and people dying.

When I was young, I thought life would be pretty easy. I did well in kindergarten. How hard could life be?

Well, I don’t have to tell you how life can get.

Messy.

And sometimes, we take ourselves so seriously, and carry so many of the world’s (or our children’s) burdens on our shoulders, that we forget to laugh.

Yes, God wants us to laugh. It is the music of angels, isn’t it? A good laugh is a God’s releas valve for us so we don’t implode or explode.

God loves us to laugh at ourselves. And it is much easier to laugh at ourselves when we let God carry our baggage … with or without wheels.

I know that if I try to solve things that I can’t solve, God wants to tap me on my thick head and say, “Yoo-hoo, Susan. Stop thinking that you can fix everything. Only I can do that. Relax, play, laugh … enjoy this life I gave you. Did you not check your bags at the check-in counter? Silly you. Let me carry those bags full of worry, fear, confusion and angst. I have the strength. You will just go around with stopped cloudless, and not enjoy this brief time you have on earth. I am always here for you and can lighten your earthly load. Enjoy me, instead of having to have all of the answers, which, you will never have. Laugh at your human folly and foibles … and spread laughter like whipped butter. Share laughter instead of angst. Laughter heals more than harsh words.”

Remember when your children were little and your heart filled with joy and lighteners when your children laughed? That is how God feels when we laugh.

When I hear people laughing when I am in a restaurant … it makes me smile. Sometimes, I hear a weird sounding laugh and that, in turn, makes me laugh. And don’t you feel joy when you make someone laugh?

As a human, I know that there are times when I forget that things such as laughter are gifts from God. Alone, life is tough and without direction, but walking with God, puts spring in our steps and allows us to do the Hallelujah Chorus in snorts … and crack-up ourselves and others.

I think I shall now snort the Hallelujah chorus. Please join me.

Susan

Open Minds … Open Spirits

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
—Jeremiah 29:11

I have a question for you. Do you have an open mind? Or is your mind set in its ways, thinks it knows everything it needs to know, therefore, you are unteachable?

The saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” might be fine for dogs, but it is not good for humans.

How wants us to be teachable, coach able, open to learning more and walking closer to Him. You can’t do that with a closed mind and heart.

The walk with God is like being reborn everyday, holding His hand like we used to hold our Parent’s hands. Because of the depth of what God has to offer, and the breadth of what He has to teach us, we must rid ourselves of some of the detritus, the detrimental and closed minded thoughts we have, in order to make room in our head and heart for Him.

That is not a burden. It is a relief, isn’t it? Make our hearts full of love, joy, hope and peace, instead of having them choke on fear, regret, ego, poopy-thinking.

The amazing thing is we don’t have to wait for a coupon, for God’s love to go on sale, or for another human to give it to us. It isn’t that we have to be elected Prom Queen to get the blessings bestowed on us. It is with us for the asking.

There was a time in my life when it was about others … what other people thought of me, what others said, how other people acted. I made too many things important, that just weren;t. I gave people power of me and what I thought.

To let other humans have that much affect on my mid, led to conflict, a search for peace that was illusive, and me, not being me.

When I learned that I had the ability to change my thoughts, to open my mind to a new way of thinking, right then, at that moment, it was powerful.

So just think what it is like to let God into your heart and mind and have Him rearrange the furniture. Goodbye anxiety! Adios negative thoughts. Sayonara trapped mind and heart.

I love the thought that God wants us to have an open mind and has a huge carrying case of wonderment. God also comes with complete with forgiveness, so we can ditch guilt and use that mind-space for better things, like being stewards of God. Walk with joy. Talk with kindness. Feel lighter with hope. Feel freer with forgiveness.

I live as a faulty human, but I aspire to be blessing. With God, that is achievable to all.

Susan

Faith and a Good Putter

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You are my lamp, O Lord; the Lord turns my darkness into light. With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.

—2 Samuel 22:29–30

Just when I think I think that I have life in a place that I can handle, and my walk with God something that I thing I have the hang of, I trip, stumble and fall.

And it hurts.

Just when I get the notion that I have faith and peace and joy and God, within me on a pretty unshakable basis, I find that that notion can be as fallible as one making a couple of good shots in golf, and believing they are a great golfer.

Bogey.

Yesterday, I bogeyed.

Life issues swirled and the shadows of darkness and, of course, me not being in control or able to let go, crept over me like kudzu.

It was a collision of heartache, frustration, sadness and uncertainty. You know those human situations with someone you love? Ever have them? Honk if you know what I am talking about.

As it was happening, I tried to to let God come and speak for me because I was at the point where words, talking and listening, didn’t resolve anything.

I was left feeling alone. Even with God. My earthly, human flailing self, felt alone and thoughts of solution and resolution were no where to be found.

So, I got very, very quiet, and wondered if I was up to this challenge, a challenge that plays out somewhat regularly in my life.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I am at Dunkin. Last day before heading home.

The feelings weren’t good. I had God in my heart, but He was jockeying for space with angst, a feeling of failure and a sense of despair with this situation.

Trials. God says that we will get up every morning in HIs light, but we will face challenges, (a better word than problems). We will have to choose the roads our body, mind and mouth take throughout the day.

Let’s just say that my day was as bumpy as Deer Park’s roads.

By day’s end, I looked as though I was a deer in a Kleig light.

God is at Dunkin

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Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” 
—John 15:13–15

Tis a grey and drizzly morning here at Dunkin Donuts, my traveling sanctuary.  

It is much different than my screened porch, where I listen to birds and bits of silence, and commune with 
God. 

But yes, God here at Dunkin. He is having to speak a bit louder because rock music is playing at a pitch that the beat drums in my head, the whirring motors are loud, beeps of cash registers and the shhhh of steam fills the air. So concentrating is as easy as vacuuming, flipping an egg over on the stove and changing a lightbulb, all at the same time. 

But here we are. We have to be able to drown out the outside to hear the inside …God’s whispers. I think God just ordered a bagel with bacon and egg. 

Have you ever tried to impress God? Seriously. Have you said a lofty prayer that was a bit stilted, a bit too much of something’s but wasn’t really you? 

I have. 

I have tried to sound like a preacher, preaching my prayer to God, so that I might sound more faithful than I have been? You know, times when you are meeting new people and you want to sound smart and with it?

I have done that. Best foot forward, to guise who I really am. 

Guess what. God doesn’t desire that. He wants us o be our real selves. We don’t fool Him. He knows. 

And what He wants from us, is for us to be real with Him … we aren’t auditioning for apart in His universe. 

We are to see God as our friend, one we can be ourselves with. Do you think He cares if we have on diamond earrings or a jewel encrusted crown? Does God think more highly of that person than the poor, soiled clothed homeless man? 

Our outsides aren’t what God is interested in. That is society. 

God cares about your insides, your heart, spirit and your connection to Him.

I see God as my friend. A friend with the benefit of Amazing Grace, divine power and a plan for my life that I find out on an as-needed basis. 

If I project my future, my life, what I will do, or when it will end, God will goose me. Friends do that. They give you that tender tug or word when you are going a bit tilted. 

My mind has a tendency to thing God mostly sees my flaws. I know that I see them. But the cool thing is, God also sees our goodness, talents, things that we have done that please Him. He is our friend, when we are our own enemy. 

If we keep God center of our lives, He will lift us up to our greatest heights, and be there when if we stumble and fall. 

God is our champion! And He wants us to be His. Not necessarily with megaphones, but in quiet communion, or at a wooden booth in a noisy Dunkin Donuts. 

There are quite a few people around me now. One is stirring coffee oe is reading his phone. There is a man getting the. Subway shop ready to open in a while. 

Not one of them would know that I am tapping my toes and in good cheer because I am thinking about and thanking God. He is like having Harvey, the invisible bunny with me. 

How can I feel alone when I have God with me? That is the word God has wanted me to tell you for a long time. I have used my writing to help you not feel so alone. But the thing is, it isn’t my words that alleviate loneliness … it is God’s word. Find Him. Hug Him. And listen to Him. 

You are loved. Peace is yours. Your spirit can be filled. 

Susan

Sent from my iPad

Vitamin L … A jumbo dose of Laughter

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A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

—Proverbs 17:22

Thank God, God has a sense of humor. And he wants us to have one, too. Nope, I am not going to tell God jokes. I can’t remember a jokes. And I am not sure if God meant to make jokes about him. I will have give him a ring or send him a text. I am sure he has a smart phone.

But I believe that God wants us to laugh and have joy. He does’t want us to carry all of the world’ problems on our shoulders. I tend to carry more on left shoulder than on my right, because my left shoulder hangs lower.

Oh, that’s my purse that I hang on my left shoulder.

I can tell you this. I used to carry the world’s burdens on my shoulder. I thought it was my duty. I was in charge of world problems. In that frame of mind, I also mean other people’s problems that they told me about. I put them in my problem satchel and toted them with me.

No wonder I got heavy.

Well, I am still heavy, but not with burdens. Yes, I have my share of what shall I call, concerns, but my heart is much lighter. My head is more sorted.

I take my trash to the dump. I now take and gladly give my concerns/problems, to God. He has a very large carrying case.

In doing so, I can be, in spirit, much lighter. I can laugh at myself, my weirdo thoughts, my self-important moments, with abandon.

As difficult as life can be, my sense of humor has gotten me through. It can be a guttural snort parade of laughs, or a chuckle I give to myself … what an elixir that is.

When out and about, especially in little restaurants, I love to hear people laugh. It makes me laugh. When I hear good laughter, I think to myself, wow, that person is taking a good dose of God’s medicine.

I am not talking about evil or mean laughter. Hurtful words that are said as jokes. Have you ever had someone say something hurtful to you, and then when you tell them they hurt your feelings, they say, “I was JUST kidding.”

Nope, they probably weren’t. Some comments just aren’t funny or kind and calling them a joke does not make it so.

God knows the difference between good laughter and humans being mean-spirited.

Yesterday morning, before we left for Ohio, I wrote a post for my Susan Hipkins DeBow page that updated people on why I was putting my time into writing this page. I thought it was pretty good. It said good things, or at least I thought it did. I saved it toward the end. I did a select all and copy. I usually email it to myself so that if I lose it on FB, I can have another copy.

But yesterday, I went to a different page to copy the Bible verse, and when I went back to FB, my post was gone … bye-bye … hasta la vista. But I wasn’t to see it later.

I wanted to swear, but since I was writing about spirituality and how studying for this writing, it has helped me, I thought swearing was probably not the best response. I skulked for a nano second and told Nick that I had lost my post. He said I could rewrite it in the car.

But I couldn’t. Sometimes, I can almost do it. But yesterday’s was not one of those. I had to turn to what I have learned and say, well, let it go. God must not have thought it was that swell. And I laughed and let it go.

That, my friends, is big. And you know what? It felt so good. It wasn’t meant to be.

And I laughed. I laughed at thinking I had gotten to the point that I would not make such an error. I laughed at myself the day before yesterday when I came out of Walmart and looked at the cars and thought, oh no … where did I park, and I ended up using my key to unlock the car door and then lock it so I could hear the horn beep. I did that about three times, when like a hound dogs with the scent of liver, I sniffed out my car.

I could have gotten irked with myself, but I laughed. I am a human nutjob.

Yessirreebob, life throws problems in our way, situations that give us the opportunity to learn or see what we are made of, but life is also about living with joy, laughing, making others laugh and not carrying around them around our necks as if they were yokes and we were oxen. That is a good yoke.

And so, before I accidentally lose this post, I am going to select all, cope and share.

And I hope we all get to share some laughs today. It is the best vitamin there is.

Susan

Comparisons, Judgments and Forgiveness

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“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

—Luke 6:37

Oh, goodness, we can be a judgmental lot. We judge everyone from politicians to our friends. Yet, we would prefer not to be judged.

I know that I can be judgmental. It isn’t one of my better traits.

In my mind, I can get confused about the concept and context of judgement. I can also justify my judgment. Humans love to justify their actions to edge the sin away.

Another action that I have read that God says is not good is comparing yourself with others. I think that for me, that began early, when I tried to determine if I was ‘normal’. I would notice that I was taller than most, or that I was not as pretty as, or smart as or not as nice as … you know the drill … especially girls.

There was judgment in those thoughts, those comparisons. Better than. Less than. Where did I fit into the categories that I thought I had to fit into. Those weren’t Godly thoughts … they were the thoughts of humans, youth, and a society where judgement was how we made people feel worse and made ourselves feel better.

I guess that comparison is a form of judgment, isn’t it? It separates us from each other at the cost of our spirit. Do we have to think less of someone to make ourselves feel better?

God does not judge us by human or societal standards. We do that to ourselves.

We do a lot of things to ourselves that God must shake his head at and get a bit sad about.

It is though I have spent much of my life trying to live in the human world, the one with countries, states, societies, wares, judgments and fallen spirits, when I could have been enjoying life more by, as the country song says, letting Jesus take the wheel.

What is in my mind and heart this morning is the last line of the verse, above. “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

In my life, I have been the last person that I have forgiven. I can etch my mistakes/misdeeds/bad decisions,in my head and heart. And I can say that I have forgiven others, but have I?

What is real forgiveness?

Is it whisking away the behavior, totally forgetting about it? Is it loving the person in spite of the transgression? Or is true forgiveness involve ridding ourselves of our judgmental thoughts and behavior and letting God be our judge and the judge of others?

If we rid ourselves of comparison and judgment, except, perhaps, when we are buying a washing machine, wouldn’t we feel better about others, and ourselves? Wouldn’t that be a great gift to us, and a tribute to God?

For the next few moments, I am going to think and turn more of my heart and thoughts over to God.

God lessons our burden bundles through forgiveness. I don’t know why I have fought that concept for so long.

That actual thought makes me feel lighter, blessed and forgiven. What a great way to start the day.

Peace, love,forgiveness, and Amazing Grace.

Our Father … What does that mean?

I don’t recall what age I was when I learned the Lord’s Prayer. I believe that I was quite young. I do know that I knew the song, “Jesus Loves Me,” first.

You know how some of us have a go=to outfit, a go-to meal we prepare for company, or a go-to drink that we love, I think many of us have a go-to prayer … The Lord’s Prayer.

I have been thinking of prayer, a lot, or at least, more than normal. I am still struck by what I wrote, yesterday, how Muslims pray five times a day.

I like that.

I can say that God is with me all of the time, which I believe is true, but the bigger question is … am I with God all of the time, or do purposely or inadvertently ditch Him when I do something that is more my will than his?

I do know I have made bargains with God. I did so more in my youth. But I think he knows my tricks of taking two steps forward and three steps backwards. There are times when the human in me gets bossy and tells God to turn his eye while I I put my will before His.

I have dispensed with that, mostly, because I know God is what we would call, a know-it-all. But beyond that, He sees it all, too.

Holy smokes.

As I have confessed, there are times when I have fallen asleep saying the Lord’s Prayer. I have forgotten where I was, misplaced the words in my head. And that makes me think I am going daft.

I try as best I can, not to say the prayer in rote, but to make it have meaning.

So, I have on occasion, broken the lines down to try to understand what they mea.

Our Father who are in Heaven …
For me, this Father is the father of humankind, not just Christians, but everyone and everything. He might be called by other names, but in my mind, there is one God.

Hallowed be thy name …
The name/term God, should be honored and said with respect. I seriously dislike hearing people use the word, “God” as a response to everyday talk. It belittles God. I have done it, usually in a fit of anger, and I know it is a betrayal.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven …
I look at this line is that it is one day, we want to be in God’s kingdom, and we should act according to His commandments because they are God’s will for us.

Give us this day our daily bread …
Besides the physical sustenance, we ask for spiritual bread … to fill ourselves with a Holy Spirit. Open our hears so that God can fill them with an aresenal of love, faith, grace and forgiveness, to carry with us and use as a human.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors …
That is the line I was taught. Some faiths say, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
We ask God for forgiveness, yet, we, as humans, tend to hold grudges. If we are asking for forgiveness, should we forgive?
That is a tougher one.

Lead us not into temptation …
I don’t think God goes out of His way to lead us to a place where we can fail, but as humans, we can find ourselves in tempting situations. Our human traps are many … unkind words, selfish deeds, instant gratification, etc.

Deliver us from evil …
Yes, I believe there are evil people. I think we have to understand our own evil thoughts. They might not be murderous thoughts, but they are not benign.

For thine is the power and the glory forever …
A humans power will not last. God’s will. And to Him be the glory because He is with the world forever.

As individuals with various backgrounds, upbringings, studies and experiences … interpretations of the Lord’s Prayer will be many. What I gave you, was mine. I am not a theologian. I am a simple human.

It is really nice to take the time to think about the Lord’s Prayer and read how others interpret it.

I don’t have much to say, after that. I think it is time so be quiet and listen.

Peace, joy and Amazing Grace,

Susan

Whose God is it Anyway?

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In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.

—Psalm 5:3

As a human, I have felt alone, been lonely, even amongst other humans. It is a sad feeling.

But when I am alone with God, it is joyful.

People tend to make a lot of noise, surround themselves with noise, noise pollution, I call it. You go to many restaurants and there are televisions to distract, music blaring loud so that conversations are difficult, people answering cell phones … a cacophony of noise.

I love to bop into a carryout, but they are noisy. The bings and bongs of cash registers, the sounds of motors cooling things, and outside, at gas pumps, many places have music. We can’t hear ourselves think, much less listen to the lyrics fo God’s silence.

Yes, the lyrics of silence … the time when we slow down enough to hear and see something beyond the reality of modern society.

It can be illusive.

Having a relationship with God, I have found, is an act of participation. It is not a spectator sport, where we sit on the sidelines and watch.

I love user-friendly things in my life. I like my Apple computer because it is user friendly, machines that I can figure out without reading a 38 page instruction book written in 5 languages. I like to work with tools that function simply and I can count on.

God is user-friendly. He is my best and most steadfast tool. All day, all night … better than a convenience store open 24-7, except on Christmas. God is who I can talk to no matter what time it is, where I am, or what I am doing … I know God’s number. Unlike cellphones, God is never out of the service area.

There are times when I simply say, “Thank you God,” or “God, help me.”

Those are the simplest of prayers … not long, but that doesn’t matter.

This morning, I thought about the call to prayer, that are done in the Islam religion. I decided to look them up and see what they are about.

I don’t know much about many religions, Islam, being one of them. But I have heard the call to prayer, and that fascinates me.

Briefly, there are five pillars of the Islam faith. Prayer is one of them. Muslims are called to prayer five times a day, the times dependent on the placement of the sun.

The prayers have different names and intentions.

  • Fajr: This prayer starts off the day with the remembrance of God; it is performed before sunrise.
    
  • Dhuhr: After the day's work has begun, one breaks shortly after noon to again remember God and seek His guidance.
    
  • 'Asr: In the late afternoon, people take a few minutes to remember God and the greater meaning of their lives.
    
  • Maghrib: Just after the sun goes down, Muslims remember God again as the day begins to come to a close.
    
  • 'Isha: Before retiring for the night, Muslims again take the time to remember God's presence, guidance, mercy, and forgiveness
    

It is easy for Christians and people of any faith, to believe that they corner the market on God, that their way of praising, thanking, talking to, and hearing God, is above all other religions.

I don’t believe that. It doesn’t work for me. I happen to have been born into and raised in the Christian faith, and have chosen believe in Jesus Christ. I also understand why people believe in and follow many other religions.

Reading about the Islamic prayers made me think of how I might make a more concerted effort throughout the day to remember God. Have God become my touchstone even more than my bottle of San Pellegrino water. (Yes, that calms me)

If we open our hearts to learn about the ways other people interact with God, the chances are, we will learn something. Our minds and hearts will open wider and our life will be enriched.

I think God wants us to do that.

I have often prayed for God to give me strength, but I now believe that isn’t HIs purpose. He doesn’t want me to walk through my trials, alone, even strengthened. He wants to walk with me, always, to never feel alone. It is God who is strong, and when I have Him in my heart, and walking in with me, I am strong, too.

Open minds, open hearts, and Amazing Grace

Susan

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The Conflict of Spirit

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

—Galatians 5:22–23

This morning, a bird sang loudly, trying to get my attention. Instead of listening and then dismissing it, I decided it was chirping in such a way as to get my attention. So, I listened.

He flew off after I found a verse that gave me the joy of the birds calling. Because I think as I think, I believe it was Jesus calling.

If I were Muslim, it would have been Mohammad. I don’t know enough about other religions to go farther than that. It is just that the message, delivered in Galatians, is a message that I believe serves mankind.

It can get very hard, in this human world, to love, have joy in your heart, find peace, patience, offer kindness and goodness, be gentle, e faithful and use self control.

I see this as an inner conflict between our human, daily lives in this world that can sap our energy, sadden our soul, brutalize our thoughts, and make us weary of living.

Those things fight for space in our hearts, spirits and soul. They are much louder than God’s way, which is the part of us that wants peace, harmony, joy and love.

And so much of how we try to attain the peace, harmony, joy and love, is through human thingies. Yes, thingies. Material things. Human promises. Deceptive advertisers of if you do this, you will be happy … aka women’s magazines, false prophets and looking to others to bring us happiness … which in my mind, is a human word that is a bit contrived.

I have learned, in my 67 years, that conflict in my brain, heart and soul, create less than a stellar outcome. I begin grasping at things, thoughts, and paying more attention to what is going wrong, than what is going right.

I am slowly learning that life is so much more that about the steel, metal, noisy, hurried, competitive, power hungry, often greedy, world that man creates and operates in on a daily basis.

That world gives me the vapors. It unsettles my mind and lets in problems that I can’t solve. That life is a litterbug.

Yes, I know I have to exist in it and know how to rummage my way through, but I also know I can choose to not let it overtake me.

How?

By focusing on the Light of the world. God, which for me, comes in the form of nature. The mystical beauty of looking closely at a flower, listening to the variety of sounds that come from birds, marveling at the trees, having my heart feel the joy of looking at wind, an unseen thingy, that makes its presence known moving leaves, touching our skin, making a whirligig go round.

I am trying to let the space in my heart grow larger to hod mor of God’s plan than mans.

In the car, I used to listen to the radio of cds. Now, ninety-nine percent of the time, I have silence.

Instead of being an angry bird because the world is as it is, I try to be like the birds that chipper me up. And I try to chipper up the people I meet. Yes, God speaks at carryouts.

Oh, Lord, my human self can have a busy time of it … getting snarky, confused, and pointy-headed. But I am trying to check myself when that happens, and let things go. But, I still can dwell too long.

I am not sure that is is Godlike that I just shooed a squirrel away from the bird feeder.

I just did it, again. Bad squirrel. Bad.

Although God has walked with me all these years, I haven’t always walked with Him, or let’s say, that I sort of hogged the trail. And that doesn’t have to do with the sized my butt … but the space I allowed in my heart. It was full of worldly woes.

But I am reversing that, shifting spaces, thoughts … opening up more room for what God has to offer than what amazon.com does.

So, this long-winded post is coming to a close. The birds are telling me to wrap it up.