Baldheads, Bears, and The Bible

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Yep, that up there was in my devotions this morning!  While I have read about the young man falling asleep and to his death during a long winded sermon of Paul’s, I have somehow missed the first one..

Frankly, I am not sure how I have overlooked this…umm, how do I put it??? Interesting story in the life of Elisha:

It is 2 Kings 22:23-25.  In case you don’t want to drop what you are doing and look it up yourself:

 Another time, Elisha was on his way to Bethel and some little kids came out from the town and taunted him, “What’s up, old baldhead!  Out of our way, skinhead!”

Now, this portion of scripture is kind of funny on it’s own, but if you read on it gets a little more serious:

Elisha turned, took one look at them, and cursed them in the name of God.  Two bears charged out of the underbrush and knocked them about, ripping them limb from limb—forty-two children in all. 

So, yeah…

Ummmm,

I don’t know what to say about this one!

That version up there is from The Message; you can look it up in different versions (as I did) hoping I was missing something in translation, but nope!  It’s pretty much the same any way you read it.  Other versions are more specific about the fact that it was female bears who did the ripping of the limbs.  And, it seems the children stuck with the specific taunt of “baldhead” instead of adding the variety of “skinhead” that The Message uses.

Imagine having to tell this little ditty instead of Noah’s Ark or Moses parting the Red Sea in Sunday school and VBS!

This is going to be my theme of the summer!  Every time a fight breaks out, a complaint is made about the food in the pantry, and of course; whenever a name is called or a someone gets teased, I am going to use this as my go to!

“Stop teasing your brother; don’t make me call the bears!”

“Aren’t you glad you were born now, instead of when bears ate you for being a little jerk?!!”

  

I am going to choose happy this week and probably for the rest of the summer because this passage while quite confusing and very violent shows to me two things:

1).  I will never fully understand scripture.

2).  I’m pretty sure this is how Big Foot got his start…think about it; a man in an old, dirty cloak calling bears out of the bushes to take care of a band children who taunted bald men! It just evolved over the centuries; I am sure of it.

HAPPY SUMMER!

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Feed, Bathe, Sleep, Repeat

imageSchool is almost done! This means I have an almost Sophomore, eighth grader, and seventh grader.  This makes me sad.  TIME PLEASE SLOW DOWN!  But, it also means that summer is here.  With this comes no more lunch packing, early morning fights, or homework.  It also means later morning and all day fighting.  Then again, it’s pool days, sunshine, and tons of unscheduled time; which I love…FYI.

I am amazed how each school year goes faster and faster.  You’d think I would see it coming…but, I don’t.  EVER.  And, I find myself pining away for the days when I couldn’t sit down, and I had to help everyone with everything all the time every minute of everyday.  Did I tell you how much I love unscheduled time?  This bi-polar rear-view mirror method of time reflection is not lost on me…

We are moving into a new phase as a family.

A phase with more independence and less hands on stuff. The phase that as a new parent you look ahead to and covet. You want it so bad you almost wish you could fast forward the nights (I mean you aren’t sleeping anyway) to get to the days where you can sit in quiet and eat a real lunch; not one that consists of stolen bites of mac and cheese when no one is looking. This new phase has a lot more car pooling, but the play dates actually require you to leave and have some time to yourself. Like, time you don’t have to pay someone for and it’s just really, REALLY, weird…

In this new phase there are days like yesterday.

My oldest stayed home from school sick, and instead of this meaning puke clean-up and having another human attached to my body while I worry about laundry piling up and how in the world am I gonna make dinner?! It meant I stayed home and read a book on the deck while he basically took care of himself.  I mean he needed me to get him medicine and tell him what to eat, but for the most part it was like a really wonderful and almost lazy day.  When did this change?  And, why in the world does it make me sad instead of making me jump for joy?

The other day, I was talking to my husband (yeah, we get to do that now too), and I realized we have no clue what we are doing!  When they were babies, you fed them, did what you could to keep them on a schedule, bathed them, and put them to bed.  Wake up and repeat.  With three babies in 3 1/2 years, we felt like an experts.

Feed, bathe, sleep, repeat.  Feed, bathe, sleep, repeat.

But with teens?  It feels like the blind leading the blind.  There is no routine.  There is no expert advice because no one has actually survived intact.  They are all unpredictable, hormonal time-bombs!  They are just waiting to explode all over your seemingly perfect and routine day!  And, in order to clean up the mess they make, you must surrender your sanity and promise to never tell the true story of what happened.  This is so people will keep having babies.imageOh, and they eat at all kinds of weird times and strange things too.  And, they are the most confusing things to talk to; one minute everything is fine and sunshine, and the next it’s tears and thunderstorms.

I remember thinking toddlers were impossible to reason with!

Try a teenager; they are basically just someone who SHOULD know better, but doesn’t, and expects you to agree with their insane reasoning about everything because they know EVERYTHING.

So…yeah, basically giant toddlers.  Maybe, I CAN figure this out; it’s just feed, bathe, sleep, repeat on a grander and hormone infused scale!imageAnd, now I am looking at all this TIME.  All of this before.

Time that has passed.  Time that’s passing.  And, even the time that’s in front of us.  I am looking at it, knowing that I am going wish for these days again.

Just like the early baby days and the chaotic sleepless nights.  I am going to wish for a slammed door in a quiet house, and an empty pantry because they ate everything; even the weird, old can of peaches and that odd looking box of mystery pasta.  Just like wiping snotty noses, bath time, and searching for a lost-can’t-sleep-without-it stuffed Elmo at bedtime.  I am going miss the fights over short shorts and who’s turn it is to clean the bathroom.

I am going to wish for these days back too.

The moral of my retrospective rambling is this : I don’t want get so caught up in feed, bathe, sleep, repeat that I miss the stuff between the commas.

I am going to choose happy this week because by realizing that we can’t see the beauty of our before until we are in the after.

And, if this “after” is more confusing than the first, at least I have teenagers with me now; they know everything, so I’m pretty sure I’ll make it.

Tall, Dark, and Scary

My friend has a daughter who is always climbing trees.  Like way up in the sky, give her mama a heart attack, kind of climbing trees.  She climbs up in those branches, and sits to look at the beauty around her while everything on the ground becomes small.  Sometimes she climbs alone.  Other times she brings along her dad.  I’m pretty sure she inherited this love for high places from him…anyway, my friend gets to have a double portion of anxiety as she watches her loves ascend the branches of any tall tree they can find!

Awhile ago, she posted a pic of them together, high in the branches of a pine tree.img_2391-1I couldn’t help but wonder (after having a mild heart attack myself), when was the last time I climbed a tree?  When did these beautiful, tall, green, and solid plants become tall, dark, and scary plants?  FYI: a tree IS considered a plant; I googled it just to make sure…

I used to be the same way; climbing to the tops of trees and sitting in the branches.  I would get to the point where I would feel the wind moving me while I sat.  Then, I  would move one branch higher (just to see if I could), before slowly backing my way down.  I would feel for solid branches with my feet, and then have adrenaline race through my veins because I would slip on my way back to the ground.  It was always an adventure.

We had a tree in the front yard of one of the houses I grew up in.  It wasn’t a tall tree.  It wasn’t a huge tree.  But, it had a cluster of branches that was just perfect for a scrawny 9 year old girl to sit in.  I was up there all the time.  Watching birds.  Seeing little critters run around the yard.  It was heaven to feel the cool breeze make its way through the branches on hot summer days.  It was quiet and peaceful.  My 9 year old mind told me it was closer to God too; especially after my brother died.   It was my spot.  It was my calm.  Everything around me looked smaller and seemed more manageable up in that tree.

So, when did I stop climbing trees?

When did you?IMG_0754.JPGI know things change as we grow into adults; even more when we become parents.  They do.  You can’t stop it.  You just roll with it as responsibilities increase and gravity pulls your feet to the ground.  All of the sudden, we’re plodding through our days watching our kids live life with the abandon we once had (insert The Lion King “Circle of Life” chorus here).

I don’t think our wild and risk-taking attitude disappears.  I agree that it changes.  Honestly, with that change, I think it gets buried.

We have to work and pay bills.  We are in charge of raising kids and making sure they grow.  We have spouses, and school, and sports, and church, and groceries, and birthdays, and yard work, and laundry, and cars, and cleaning, and the list that never ends.  All of the sudden, life isn’t about climbing trees, or rolling down hills, or riding your bike as fast as you can down the steepest hill you can find.  Nope, it’s about making it through to the end of the week.  It’s about getting to the end of month.  Just.  Finishing.  The.  Year.

A few months ago, I wrote about the women with the issue of blood and the risk she took when she waited just a second longer.  She could have been buried in all of the chaos and people following Jesus, but instead that step out of the crowd gave her freedom.  Her surrender resurrected her and brought life back to that wild and risk-taking attitude.

Day to day “stuff” is so heavy.  That list up there tethers us to the ground.  The checked off “to-do’s” bury us to the point where we feel like just taking a breath is an accomplishment.  That list we think of as solid ground…in reality, it’s quicksand.  Waiting to bury us and keep us from the adventure God has for us.  It wants to drown us and hardens our hearts to beauty around us.  What we see as solid ground makes the life He has envisioned for us seem scary, not worth the risk, and definitely out of our reach.

I challenge you today to reach up, grab those tree branches, and start climbing.

Climb higher into the love and grace He extends to us and watch every care get smaller and further away from our feet.

Sit in the branches of His safety and embrace the warmth that softens our hearts because we keep getting closer and closer to the Son.

Step off the well traveled road and confront the glorified busyness of life and work that distracts us from our real purpose.  Slow down and talk each other, instead of letting your heart get buried or hardened in this business that we have started calling “marriage.”

Stop to listen. Slow down and watch. But, never stop climbing.

We need to show our kids how to climb.  It’s ours to teach them how to leave the ground and embrace the life high in the branches of the tallest tree.  The place that from the ground seems scary and unstable.  But, in reality is safe in the arms of The One who would never let them fall.3943592bc96f0d10d100afe2708f3c5cI am going to choose happy on this seemingly routine Thursday, because even though I am just beginning to climb trees again, I am excited to see the view God has for me and mine.

Only Me

I made the mistake of uttering the words, out loud for all to hear; “I cannot remember the last time I was sick.  I mean really, really sick!  Like can’t get out of bed, no energy sick!  My immune system is like a tank!”

That was just dumb.  Like really, unbelievably stupid. IMG_2379.JPGAnd, now here I am almost 12days later still feeling unwell and tired, thinking I just cannot do this any longer!  Not to manufacture sympathy for myself, but the other day on the way to school, my youngest (bless her little heart) asked my husband if I was going to die?! Now, she does have a flair for the dramatic, but it does go to show you just how out of the routine my home has been in for the past two weeks.  That, and I sound like I am trying to expel one, or both of my lungs from my body…please pray with me that no one else catches this plague from me!

I just don’t think we would survive!  Now, who has the dramatic flair?!

Anyway, I thought I would share how I was once again reminded of a story that I have heard many times before, but never really paid it the attention it deserves (this seems to be my theme this year).

And, it isn’t the one you are thinking of; with the waving palm branches and crowds shouting “Hosanna.”

The one I remember, comes from Mark chapter 4.  Jesus has just shared the parable of the scattered seed, and He, along with the disciples, get in a boat to make their way to the other side of the lake.

Now, I know I am going to see this a little different than you probably read it; but, try to stay with me…

Jesus has just preached and healed.

He has given so much instruction to His disciples.

And, He is tired.

I see an exhausted man.  Going below deck to sleep, I picture him quite humanly, collapsing into the cot and immediately being lulled to sleep by the waves.  But instead of having peace, He is immediately woken up by the sound of the disciples completely freaking out!  Words like “you don’t care if we drown” and “is it nothing to you that we are going down” are being shouted to Him from above deck.

Really?!  Had these men learned NOTHING from what He had shown them, spoke to them, and lived before them these past few months?  

In my minds eye, I picture a very calm, irritated, and fully human Jesus come up on the deck.  With a whisper, He says, in the voice I use with my children (the one that is deceivingly quiet, but very attention getting), “Quiet, be still.”  Then, turns to the men, and in the same quiet and eery calm questions their faith.

The story goes on and they get to the other side, only to come upon a crazy man who lives in a cemetery.  He is so out of his mind that the people in his community don’t know what to do with him. They put him in a place where he can’t hurt anyone else because the inhabitants are dead.

This man was uncontrollable.  He hurts those he comes in contact with and he hurts himself.  But, when he sees Jesus heading his way he falls and worships.  The demon is cast out, then into the pigs, and again the crowds are amazed at Jesus power.  But, still afraid of Jesus and this power, they ask Him to leave.

And Jesus gets back in the boat and heads across the lake;  AGAIN.

As I said, I have read this story many times.  I have been shocked that disciples would be so faithless and the townspeople so afraid.  But, this time what stood out to me was that fact that Jesus faced the storm basically alone and crossed the lake only to save the madman.  He did nothing else in that town.  He went the lowliest outcast and made him whole.

Wow!  Just. Wow!  All of that headache and heartache for one man.

It makes me think of the times that I have been in the storm.  Where I have seen things in my life as overwhelming, and I just kind of sit and wait for it to pass.  Feeling just like those disciples and getting panicky that Jesus is indifferent to the fact that I may drown or go down with the boat.  That He is once again flabbergasted at my lack of faith or perspective.

The thing is…He isn’t.  

He is with me in the storm.

It makes me think of the times I am standing among the tombstones.  Where I have become so consumed with my hurt that I don’t care who gets hurt with me.  That the only safe place for me is in isolation.  Away from all I know and love, in some kind of self made protection.  That He is just too overwhelmed with me.  And, that I am just too much for Him.

The thing is…I’m not.

He is with me in the pain.

He is taking me to the other side of the lake through the waves and wind, to show me how He would cross a million stormy oceans just to be with me.  That it’s His voice the storms obey.

He is taking me from the tombstones.  Out of isolation, He shows me that His voice and His hands are what make me complete.  Only He can make me whole.

I am going to choose happy this week because every single place Jesus visited and was rejected, every single life He touched, every single frustration, pain, drop of blood and sweat, every table He turned in the temple, and every humiliation He suffered; He would do it all again.  Even if it was just for me, who is standing among the tombstones on the other side of the stormy lake.

 

His Girl Friday

It’s Friday!

Again!

My attitude toward Friday is like our little dog, Molly, who no matter what gets super excited to see the kids whenever they get home.  Everyday.  They come home every single day at the exact same time and she still acts like she has never been happier than when they walk through that door.  It’s one of those things that make you happy when you see it, no matter what kind of day you’ve had!

This day comes every week and still I am somehow surprised when it gets here.  Sometimes, it feels like it takes forever.  Sometimes, it seems like it just happened.  But, no matter how the week shapes up, I am still in awe at the excitement I feel when I wake up and realize it’s Friday!

It’s a time to break out of the routine of the week.  A time to be just a little bit more relaxed, and an excuse to put things off until Monday; not really, but really…IMG_2281The more I think about it, the more I think that God wants us to treat Him like we treat Fridays and look forward to the rest we have when we spend time with Him.  And, we don’t even have to wait until Friday!

We can find rest in Him every single day.

We are able to go before Him at any hour of any day and lay our problems at His feet.  We are able to praise and thank Him anytime we think of it!  Whenever we need a listening heart, He is available; it doesn’t matter what day of the week it is.  He is always waiting for us, wanting us, and loving when we come before Him.  Loving the opportunity to give us respite; to be our weekend.

I am going to choose happy this week (this Friday) because even though it happens every 7 days, Friday is always something to get excited about.  So, is the heart of our Creator.  His heart is available to us 24/7/365 (or 366 depending on the year).

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Is It Worth the Risk?

What is this bright and shiny thing in the sky?

It’s the sun!

The sun is shining!

So, join in me in a collective sigh of relief and shout for joy as we are able to get just a taste of the Vitamin D we all so desperately need.  Without it, we may resort to violence.  That would be bad…in case you need a reminder!  IMG_2265-1

Our small group was challenged to read the Bible cover to cover this year.  It has been really great to be go through the pages of this Book with everyone.  We are mostly all in the same place and we get to discuss things that we’ve never noticed before in stories.  We talk about things we find that we have usually just grazed over and the great impact there is when you slow down and pay attention.

For me, it was the story of the women with the issue of blood.

I have read this story more times than I can count.  Heard messages preached on it, and even sung about it.

I picture a woman all hunched over with her face hidden behind a cape (kind of like the old women who gives the rose to the prince at the beginning of Beauty and the Beast).  She is trying to slip unnoticed through the crowd just to get a glimpse of the back of Jesus.

She has heard of His healing, of His unprecedented inclusion of those no one wants, and she has to see if it’s true.  Maybe if she could just slip through the crowd and touch him; unnoticed.   She would then go back to her isolation, but at least she will have seen Him for herself.  She wouldn’t only hear the stories this time.  She was going to experience Jesus.

She only wanted to see his back, to feel the crowd around her and touch His robe.  She has a feeling that if she can just touch Him things will change.  She isn’t sure why, but she knows it in her heart.

And, she does!  She makes it to him.  And, with head bowed low, she reaches out her hand and just skims the edge of His robe.  But, as she reaches out her hand, touches him and prepares go back, He speaks to her!  He could feel her.  He knew she was there.

And, he HEALS her.  

The Bible says she was well from that moment on.

The healing power of Jesus is amazing.  It was radiating off of him, even oozing off of clothes.  How cool would it have been to experience THAT in person?!  And, He felt her, even in the crowd when she was trying to hide.  Even when she was just wishing for a touch of His hem.  It’s incredible.

The difference this time when I read the story, is that instead of just seeing the miracle and the faith, all I can see is His love.

He could have let her go.  He didn’t have to draw any attention to her in the crowd.  He could have let His healing touch be enough and let her sneak back home.  But He didn’t.   He stopped her, turned around, and looked her in eyes.  Letting her see His heart while He looked at hers.

It was just as much His love as her faith that healed her.

He knew she wouldn’t be whole if she was left her sneak back to her isolation.  Jesus wanted complete healing of her body and her heart.  She was willing to settle for just physical healing and He wouldn’t let her leave without healing her soul too.

She could have left.  She was hidden in the crowd.  We know this because with the disease she had she was required to make her presence known; especially, around a multitude of people.  But, he called to her.  And, instead of turning away and leaving, she risked just one more second in His presence.  It was then that she felt her heart stop bleeding too.

How many times have we come to Jesus just wanting a glimpse?  Just wanting one moment with Him?  Just to touch His hem.  I’m not saying that a touch is not enough; but what if He wants to give us more and we are so concerned with getting back to our isolation and safety, that we miss out?  Instead of turning towards His voice after we get our healing, we turn back and hide in the crowd?

We are all hemorrhaging.  We all have situations in our lives that cut us deeply and make us feel like the bleeding will never stop.  We think if Jesus will just stop the bleeding we can handle the rest on our own.

He wants so much more for us.  He wants to give a completeness that is only found in Him.  A wholeness that takes us out of our safe place and puts us in the middle of a beautiful, risk-taking life filled with His goodness and unfailing love.

I am choosing happy today because Jesus’ love for me is complete.  He didn’t let this woman slip quietly away and handle the rest of her healing alone; He called to her and she risked another second to look at Him.  He showed her that His healing and love are always complete.  He does the same for us; we only need to be willing to stay a second longer.

New Years, Christmas and Everything in the Middle

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It was here and now it’s gone!  Well, almost gone.  I am talking about 2015.

I mean it’s only December 31st, and for procrastinators like me, that is plenty of time!  Time to evaluate the past year, finish up on resolutions (it’s completely possible to finish those books I resolved to read in the next 10hrs), and work on goals for the next year.  I have plenty of time.  In fact, I think I am going to finish the laundry and write on my blog, before I check these things off my list!  Like I said, I have plenty of time

Let the cycle of procrastination begin!

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The older I get, the more conscience I am of the slippage of time.  I am sure everyone feels this way and I’m just late to the party, but I can’t help but feel this was the fastest year I have lived through.  And even though it’s exactly the same amount of time as the last year, it still seems faster than the year before.  Does this make me less of a procrastinator?  NO.  Does this make me feel like a sentimental, weepy fool?  YES.  One hundred times; YES!

I have written to death the fact that my kiddos are now pretty much teenagers, and about how much I miss them being babies/toddlers.   Really, I miss anything but teenagers (people say that someday I will miss this stage too…but, My Lord in Heaven, I KNOW it will not be anytime soon).

Some people are teen whisperers.  Teenagers are their jam!  They love this stage.  They are able to somehow communicate intelligently with these little hormonal monsters!  It’s like their soul purpose was to parent teenagers.  I am not this person!  I know I don’t have a choice in the matter because all babies turn into teenagers, but I feel like I am fumbling my way through these years.  Left wishing for the years when I felt like somewhat of an expert to be back.

The other day, my oldest was in the depths of despair because he was the only one without a specific XBOX game.  Now, please recall that Christmas was only a week ago and he received, what can only be described as a “crap load” of gifts!  Ranging from clothes, shoes, a portable speaker and a variety of many other things; he did all right when it came to receiving end of Christmas.

But, he didn’t get this particular game.

Now, I knew he was going to get it.  We had spoken to the grandparents and conveyed to them how much he wanted it.  He was getting the game.  He just had to wait until we were able to see them.

I could see the way this little disappointment was working it’s way through his teenage mind.  He really is s a good kid, so he was more than grateful for everything he had gotten. But, it was still in the back of his mind that he hadn’t gotten what he really wanted.  It was very interesting to watch this play out in his mind and actions.

It started with lots of thank-yous.  Then it went to wishfulness (you know, “thank you but I wish I would have gotten this game too” kinda thing).  Then maybe someone had gotten it for him and he just hadn’t received it yet.  It moved on to that maybe he could do some chores around the house to earn the money to buy the game.  Then there was regret for spending his last paycheck on something other than the game.  Then would I buy it for him and he would work it off.  Then it was, you know “I really deserved to get this game but, I didn’t and I got a lot of other things I like, so I guess it’s okay.”

Then, the ugly teenager hormones began to rear their ugly head and took over my sweet child’s mind and heart

He deserved the game.  Everyone else had it, he shouldn’t have to wait and see if he got it.  We should just buy it for him.  He would work it off; better yet, we should just buy it for him because he was a good kid.  Finally (the best one yet), IT WASN’T FAIR!  He was being left out and didn’t have the game.  Of course, I was in complete control of fixing this for him and making him happy and I wasn’t doing anything about it!!!

OH

MY

I swear to you sometimes you see yourself in your kids and it is so humbling you just want to run away and hide!  You just want to cry, pray, and plead with God that they don’t have to learn the same hard lessons you are still trying to learn…that they will be spared the same regrettable heartache you could have avoided if you would have just been still and silent…

You see, I have been dealing with this exact same scenario in my own life.

There is something I want.  Something I want really bad.  It’s a good thing.  It’s not a selfish thing.  And, it is entirely out of my control.  And, I want it so bad I can hardly stand it anymore.

And, I have watched myself go through that same thought process that he went through.

I have said the same things to God for what seems like forever.  I have tried to be thankful.  I have tried to bargain/earn it.  I have even allowed myself to follow that ugly little cycle all the way to self-entitlement; and I am not a teenager anymore…

I found myself on the stairs looking into my son’s blue eyes saying the words I am sure God has been trying to get me to understand for the at least 8 years now.

“Sometimes, you just have to trust that I have your best interest at heart.  Sometimes, it’s not the best thing for you to get exactly what you want the minute you think of it.  Sometimes, I know that waiting is the best thing you can do.”  

As, I  spoke those words to him I almost had an out of body experience.

You see, I knew he was getting the game, and I knew when he was getting it.  It was so silly for him to waste all of his time scheming ways to get it.  It was a waste of his emotional energy to dwell on all the reasons he deserved it, and to try to control how he got it.

And, all of the sudden I felt God’s heart when He sees mine.

I wish that was the end of it.  That he listened to me and moved on.  It wasn’t and he didn’t.

But, he settled down, did other things and, stopped whining about it.  Yesterday, he got his hearts desire (insert sarcasm here): Star Wars Battlefront.

I am going to choose happy on my way into this New Year because of what can only be described as the Lord’s divine patience with me.  God has a way of showing me my own teenage heart in what is usually gentle and patient way.  A way that I could do well to learn as I navigate through this pretty messy stage where I have no idea what I am doing and tend to lose my cool once in awhile (yeah, right).

Now, where did I put that list of resolutions…oh, look it’s snowing; I should definitely shovel the driveway first!  I have plenty of time 🙂