Sometimes, life leaves us wondering, Jesus? Where are you?
Sometimes trials last year after year, and we don’t see how God works good things through those hard places.
So often, we need a reminder of who Jesus is and what He’s done and what He’s still doing for His loved ones.
The book of Hebrews begins by telling us that God speaks through Jesus to the world.
Previously, God spoke to the prophets, the Old Testament writers. He revealed Himself to them, with divinely inspired revelation, but that revelation was incomplete. He also spoke to people through angels. The original audience for this book, the Jews, had highest regard for the ministry of angels.
But now, God wants us to know, He has spoken in a far superior way.
God has spoken to the world through the person of Jesus Christ, His Son, who is greater than prophets and angels. More.
Our summer was jam-packed with events, responsibilities, conferences, and a move. It felt like we had little room to breathe and not much time to enjoy the slowness of summer.
But, who am I kidding? Those of us in the Midwest don’t sip in summer, we lap it up with an unsatiated thirst—birthed in the bowels of winter. The cold months leave our souls hungry for lake days and firefly nights.
Last week, as the weather prematurely cooled—with school days on the horizon—I sat on my bed, in our half-unpacked bedroom, feeling stressed.
I was on the phone with my life coach, Darlene, and she asked me about my plan for each of the roles that I play in this stage of life—wife, mom, keeper of the home, and writer.
I quickly unveiled my writing plan, proud of the boundaries I had set—at least in theory—and the way I was going to finagle our schedule to find pockets of time to write.
Then Darlene made an observation. “I hear you talking about your writing plan. But what about the plan for your other roles?”
I had made my writing more important than the living, breathing loved ones that fill the places ‘round my table and fill my days to the brim.
Darlene addressed the house first as we hashed out a plan. The sobs came quickly as I confessed, “It’s just too much.”
Within fifteen minutes she helped me outline a plan to tackle each cluttered area of our partially unpacked house. I was reminded of the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
How do you stop feeling overwhelmed? Just take the next step in front of you and then take the next one after that.
It sounds simple yet it isn’t for this creative brain of mine. I start something and am distracted by something else and pretty soon I just have a big mess and nothing is finished.
Just take the next step
Running a half marathon is on my Bucket List and doing it before I turn forty seems like a good idea. So I signed up for a race, in November, with my sis-in-law (yes, it could be really cold).
As I ran last week, putting one foot in front of the other, I tried not to get overwhelmed by the fact that the race will require thirteen miles out of these feet. I’ve only ran a 10K before, and if you do the math you’ll soon realize that this half marathon is more than double that mileage.
The elephant and the house plan came to mind as I tried to focus on the next step.
One bite at a time. One box at a time. One step at a time.
Instead of being known as that wife, mom, homemaker and writer who is often overwhelmed by her roles and responsibilities, I long to be known as a woman who is overwhelmed by Jesus’ love for me.
I want to live from a place of assurance that He is able to be a Rock when my resolve feels shaky.
Do you get overwhelmed by the pace and pressures of life?
Are you allowing the light of His Word to illuminate the next step?
Do you need to take a deep breath and regroup?
Are you dehydrated spiritually because you aren’t coming up for air?
As summer gives way to fall let’s take our weary hearts to the greatest Life Coach there is, the One who has poured out wisdom and longs for us to lap it up as we thirst for righteousness and hunger for His Presence.
That’s where I want to find myself this autumn, at the feet of the One who loves this try-hard woman and longs to give her rest.
I want to take refuge on the Rock that is steady and secure and able to help me face the frenzy.
I want to run this race victoriously, not at a breakneck speeds, but faithfully—one foot in front of the other.
Psalm 61:2 “From the ends of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
I am praying that God will show you the next step.
Your next step might be to sit down, it might be to speed up, it might be to rest, it might be to stand.
Whatever the Holy Spirit reveals may you be strengthened and encouraged that He has a plan. God is more than able to uphold you as you go forth.
May His love overwhelm you more than your circumstances.
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Photo Credit: Adopting Nations
Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, four children and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com
What if Jesus was ready to redefine the way you endure hardships?
Would you listen?
What if – rather than trying to run from that tsunami of terror,
you were to find some peace as you head into it?
For me, it sounds kind of crazy, because normally when I see trials on the horizon I ball up like a hundred and one rubber bands balled up and ready to break at the same time. My tension is high, my anticipation is big and my worries run fast.
Jesus though, didn’t run from what threatened him, he threatened what tried to make him run. We may not think of Jesus as an aggravator or a reprimander, but hold tight, because in one way his strategy was just this.
Before we get into that, Jesus teaches us much about resetting our mindset when we are being set up to be torn down.
Here’s how his ways can restructure ours:
People hated Jesus for no reason. Jo. 15:25 He said they will hate us too.
God had the power to save him from suffering through prayer. Mt. 26:42 Prayer is the one door that never closes. When we walk through it we always find God.
His “kingdom did not belong on here.” Jo. 18:36 When we know our true home, we don’t get as concerned when our earthly one gets ransacked.
He had complete authority, always and at every minute. Jo. 19:11 When we know that Jesus is in complete control, suddenly we realize he holds the handle on all that wants to sweep us under.
“I have told you this to make you as completely happy as I am.” Jo. 15:11 If Jesus could find some happiness in the road leading to death, we can too.
Jesus knew he was under control of the one completely in control.
To walk Jesus’ walk, we have to walk, like him, doubtless and faith-full.
I get Jesus’ approach, because every time I let the doubts creep in, the faith creeps out.
The devil said,
“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
The devil challenged Christ’s ability, status and loyalty.
Do you ever feel challenged in doubts of what you can do, what God can do for you and how he will get you through?
Jesus, doesn’t stick around playing games with these kinds of words, these change agents of faith, instead he fights back by:
1. Using the word of God as his best weapon. “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Mt. 4:4
2. Telling what is bad, what is full of questions about God, to move aside. Away from me, Satan! Mt. 4:10
3. Knowing who is in control of all control that ever controlled and that will control. For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Mt. 4:10
When the devil started to show Jesus a way out of the trial, Jesus knew, sometimes the calling is through the fire. He wasn’t going to sit around while his strength was depleted.
Even when the man after God’s own heart, Peter, spoke doubts as he pulled Jesus aside, Jesus spoke: “Satan, get away from me! You are thinking like everyone else and not like God.” Mk. 8:33
If we think like God, God will help us think in a way where we endure, where we make it, where we aren’t burdened, but blessed by our trials.
He will get us through.
He will hold our hand.
He will fight on our behalf.
He will pave a way to eternity.
He will lead us in all truth.
He will hold us on the pillow of his love.
He will not leave our side.
Let’s fight back like Jesus.
When we do, we will see, like Jesus that:
God is for endurance and the devil is for discouragement. Doubts pull us away from our mission, yet faith commissions. The Word of God is the Word that helps. God’s control, brings our heart under control.
Fight trials like Jesus. Go in his faith. Know that God is with you.
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What precedes victory?
What sets up a strategy that wins?
What helps solidify an unsure direction?
You probably haven’t heard this explained this way before. Or, maybe you have and have written its power off because it seems too simple, too ordinary and too commonplace. But, activating our hearts in these small two steps, often activates our hearts in new hope.
Let’s look at King Jehoshaphat, named “Yahweh has judged.”
Sound like a scary name?
It would to me. I would probably hide from myself with a name like that.
But, you see, Yahweh had judged him in a good way.
And He not only judged, but also in many cases he also blessed – because Jehoshaphat removed idols, cleaned up the land, purified hearts in truth and focused hearts on the one true God. Sure, he made a mistake or two, but his heart was right.
Mistakes come and mistakes go, but a heart sold out for God, is one God blesses. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Mt. 5:6
Yet, despite his goodness, Jehoshaphat had enemy Moabite armies stacked up to his neck.
Notice, God doesn’t remove hardships from good people –
often, he confronts us with them to release us from them.
Jehoshaphat certainly wasn’t spared – and he wasn’t so scared he couldn’t move.
He pushed harder against the force that wanted to push him down. Did he realize he would grow stronger in faith by being faithful?
Like Jehoshaphat, our help isn’t found in our artillery, but it’s found in humility before our God.
Pushing into God pushes us into his plan.
Suddenly we see – God’s deliverance is always had – it is just a matter of when.
When we push into God, we get all we need to proceed.
So, what did “Yahweh has judged” do to push in when the forces of the Moabites stood against?
1. He prayed: Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. 2 Chron. 20:3-4
Notice that although he felt “alarmed,” he still “resolved.”
Do you “resolve to inquire of the Lord” when alarm bells sound? Offering the resolve of your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength, will resolve them to God’s will.
2. He worshipped & trusted:You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you…‘If calamity comes upon us…we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’
2 Chron. 20:6, 9
Seeing God in his true place sets his true ways into place – in us.
Looking up helps the things around, not bring us down.
Remembering Jesus’ victory locks our heart into His victory too.
What might true and faithful worship, in the face of battle, do for you? In the face of finances? In the face of arguments? In the face of poor health? In the face of fear? In the face of wayward children?
Let’s see what it did for Jehoshaphat…
Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel…as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chron. 20:14-15
The Spirit showed up. God gave instructions on how to win and he also gave his presence that said, “I will be with you.”
When we seek God, we find him. When we find his face, he faces us with real truth. When we know where our help comes from, our help often comes.
What I love even more is how Jehoshaphat literally headed foot-by-foot into war.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”
As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 2 Chron. 20:21-22
What if our battlegrounds became praying and praising grounds?
What would go do in us, through us and for us?
This sounds like unstoppable, not easily defeated, winning faith.
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Here I am.
This is me, Lord.
I am waiting.
And just trying to dodge the arrows of life.
Will you run to my rescue and save the day?
I stand in a field of open vulnerability – arms wide open, head lifted, hoping. The darkness is thick and the opponents are many. I can cut the weight of circumstances with a knife and it seems they might cut me too.
Am I going to get hurt? Much like the good samaritan,
will I be left crying, on the side of the road?
They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. Lu. 10:30
Why do you leave good people, with bad problems God?
My beating chest is unsure,
but you say – what comes to beat me, you’ve already beaten.
What terrorizes to take me down,
was already taken down when you were lifted up.
What appears to be breaking will not only be fully molded and made, but also fully established.
And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Pet. 5:10
So, though my heart feels arms wide open to pain, my soul relishes in the idea that I am rescued from it.
I wrap my arms around the here, the now and say, if I don’t have faith, I don’t have anything – except fear.
Faith makes God my primary weapon.
It hushes “I can’t” and loudens “I can.”
It restores what life tries to steal: Peace in you, through you and for you.
It takes hold and makes you go.
So, I tell myself: God will do it.
He won’t abandon me to fear.
He’ll make a way for hope.
He won’t let peace go.
He will shield me from the arsenal of arrows. If they seem to hit me, he will seemingly restore me one day.
God is closer than the pain – if I really let him reign.
He flips bad circumstances so they never look the same.
What seemed down, gives us new meaning as we look up.
What looked dark, becomes light. What wanted to leave me for dead, leaves me with new life.
He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. Lu. 10: 34
As the good samaritan is rescued, so am I.
Do you see your rescue? Do you believe in it?
Like the good samaritan, left for dead, you are being brought back to life:
He was despised & forsaken. A man of sorrows & grief. One from whom men hide their face – despised. We did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken… But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. Is. 53:3-12
The more we hook up to this truth, the more we strengthen in the recharging power of amazing grace.
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Mommy, I am going to play doctor. This came as no surprise to me as we had just returned from the doctor’s office, but what came next totally hit me.
“Sit.” Mikey said in a high pitched doctor voice, “Here little honey, here’s a sticker for you, sweet thing. Choose out which one you like. I hope you like it. Now, I am going to stick you with this shot.”
Mikey slams the shot straight down into my leg.
Ouch! He hit the nail on the head (or the shot on the target) with this one. This is exactly what that doctor did, and sometimes, how I feel my God treats me too.
He seems to woo me with words of “I am with you. I won’t leave you. I will help you. You are my daughter, my precious, the one I want to give good things to,” only to stick me a minute later with pain.
He speaks, “Kelly, my darling, I love you so much. I am here for you.” only to slam me with a trial.
Sometimes it just hurts.
Do you really love me God? If so, why do you have to hurt me like that?
Surely, I know this verse: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away.” Job 1:21
I know it, but do I have to like it?
The second part often plagues me as too hard to do…
“May the name of the LORD be praised.” Job 1:21
How do you praise when you can’t lift your sore arms above your head?
When they are much more comfortable on your hips, where they can ponder his methods rather than his truth?
But, as our eyes stare off in the distance figuring out how we ended up where we are, we see the long road – the road to heaven – and the road of Calvary, that Jesus endured.
He never said it was going to be easy. But, he said – for it – one day, we would be exceedingly blessed.
When we focus our eyes on his truth over our shots of pain, we start to remember verses like:
These things I have spoken to you, that in me you might have peace. In the world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. (Jo. 16:33)
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation works patience; Romans 5:3
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
But the God of all grace, who has called us to his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you. 1 Peter 5:10
Blessed is the man that endures temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to them that love him. James 1:12
What we see is that the pain, but what God sees the abundant produce he is growing.
Sure, we feel agony in the moment, but when our little bud pushes through the tough ground, we finally see what God was always working on – fruit – ample fruit.
Fruit that endures past this sliver of life called earth.
Fruit that makes it all worth it, that teaches us something far greater than the lessons learned on the easy road.
Do you see it starting to pop up?
Peace, a sight of eternity, patience, a knowledge God is working for us, a shift to perfection, establishment, strength and a settled heart.
As our fruit multiplies on earth, so it does in heaven as God sets his banqueting table that awaits us after we have run our race with perseverance.
Our trials are not for naught, they are for gain.
While it sometimes seems God delivers a shot of venom to knocks us off our feet, he is always in the process of shooting us with love, hope, a future and peace. That is his business and that is his game – always and forever.
Even more, his shots protect us from a world that wants to drag our heart away from spiritual health and reliance on God.
God has a plan. He always has and he always will.
Your pain and brokenness is just the beginning of God’s beautiful restructuring.
With God, our trials inject new hope. They reset our focus to eternity. They are the antibody to complacency.
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They start small until they climb on your back and squeeze the air of faith right out of you.
They have a way of making the stack of bills reign higher than the power of God.
The medical issues stand taller than God’s capacity to care.
The relational problems break you into tears rather than into submission to the One who knows.
They are called mounting issues. Personal. Medical. Relational. Financial. Mental.
They take you on a ride like this:
1. You start with faith, looking straight ahead at God.
2. You talk with people, think of the issue and dwell on the problem and get afraid.
3. Your eyes start to look left, and right and left and right.
4. Your worst nightmare starts to take form.
5. You become sure of it’s overwhelming power to take you down.
Then they make you feel like this:
I’m going down.
It will never work out.
God, where are you?
They will always hate me.
I will never recover.
I will never be left the same.
I can’t do it.
I am horrible.
Problems of today have a way, of making us fear the feelings of yesterday.
I remember the fortress of my school.
The incapability of one girl who was powerless to change anything.
Who was uncertain about the next pain that may come my way.
Who felt the result of people’s issues rather than a product of their love.
I remember the embarrassment.
That past mocks all my dreams. It reminds me that pain will repeat.
It reminds me I either need to fight or flight.
What does the past claim true about you – today?
The reality is – it’s gone, and fighting proves worthless because you can’t fight something that isn’t real; if it’s not truth it simply doesn’t exist.
But, hushing away feelings never works. The only way to go is to see the one who sees far more than the stalker of fear living in your mind. To see the one who waits, looking, hoping, believing that you will see him – the one who is always following you.
And, while you may think it is over, he doesn’t.
He knows it has only just begun.
Because he is ready to come close, to know, to stay with. He is ready and willing to aid and assist.
He is amazing that way.
He sees the inadequate, unable, and unsure one and says, “You can do it with me, because of me and for me. Stay right there with that truth. You will be okay.”
He spoke these same kind of words to Joshua -the second string, the rookie. He spoke belief into a man who had monumental issues in front of him: uncertainty, a sea that stood in his way and a towering fortress shining his incapabilities.
He said, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Josh 1:5
What if God was to show up and to say that to you?
“Hey (fill in name here),
I was with Moses,
so I will be with you (name),
I will never leave you or forsake you.”
Might these words make a difference?
Might you remember the bush, the manna, the Red Sea, the God, the hope,
the promises, God’s faithfulness to you?
Not if you just heard them, but if you really believed them.
Perhaps, then, you, like Joshua, might think,
“Wow, this God is really for me.”
Perhaps then you would have the courage to open your sea of despair to allow a new heart of courage to carry you to your promised hope. “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.” Josh. 3:5
Perhaps then, you might set your forehead-to-floor knowing one stands higher than all your perceptions. Then Joshua fell facedown to the ground in reverence, and asked him, “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” Josh. 5:14
You might even hear the way to go, the heart to have and the whispers of truth
rise above the status of your bank account, your health check-up or your kid’s report card.
You might even have the heart to march around what stands against you to shout the truth of God over it, around it and before it to see God work through it. And to, even, maybe, see it all fall down (if that is what God has planned for you).
On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the army will go up, everyone straight in.” Josh 6:4-5
Imagine seeing the walls of pain and piles of grief standing before you crumble. They aren’t bigger than your God.
The truth is that in all cases he may not make them completely disappear, but God has the power to crumble circumstances authority over your feelings.He has the authority to set you on a new path, to forge a new way to bring you into the promised land of his peace.
Hear the words the Lord said to Joshua as he was preparing to be courageous and do not let them lightly pass over you (seize them as he seized the city): “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh 1:9)
Mounting issues, the past and our feelings are not our inheritance, God’s promises are – and we have already made it to the Promised Land, let’s lay claim to it much like the Israelites.
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2. RSVP for the #RaRalinkup breakfast at She Speaks. Exciting news, prizes and challenges will be shared at this event.
3. Visit next Monday. All of the bloggers who submitted guest posts will be featured on July 13. I couldn’t pick just one, this is not the spirit of the #RaRalinkup or this blog. All win, all are chosen, all are loved! Mark this day in your calendars. Support your sisters by retweeting and mentioning them on Twitter. 🙂
I remember when Valentine’s Day was a big deal. You either loved the question, What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? because you had ultra-romantic plans. Or you dreaded the question because you had no plans.
Now, Valentine’s Day is really more of an annoyance than anything else. Since neither Luke nor I possess gift giving as a love language we like to say every day is Valentine’s Day, thereby relieving each other of any and all romance-based sweets or surprises. It works for us.
Even so, the day still remains and lots of people spend lots of money to show their love.
Last year I started wondering, though.
Why is the heart this day’s cover girl?
Buy a girl a pack of M&Ms on V-Day and you’re likely to get a roll of the eyes, or worse, in return. But give a girl chocolate in a heart-shaped box and Voila! You made a smile. Kids cut out hearts or make them with macaroni noodles. Stuffed bears hold them. Little girls wear them.
Our baby girl, Leah, wears these pajamas with little hearts all about.
The boys love them because it reminds them of a cow. They’re super cute, but I’m looking at these hearts and thinking, Is that right? Does a heart really paint the picture of love?
This year, I think if I want to show my love I’ll fashion a picture of my life … laid down.
Because that’s what Jesus did. And that’s what He said.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV)
Or maybe I’ll draw a bunch of little brains.
Brains deciding to smile instead of scream.
Or teach instead of tear down.
Or offer mercy instead of judgement.
Or simply be quiet instead of spilling all of my opinions.
No way that image looks as cute as the cow-print hearts, but I think that’s more realistic.
Because isn’t real love a little gritty sometimes? Isn’t it practical more often than poetic?
But, somehow the real-life love is more romantic than the, “Katy, will you accept this rose?” kind.
Like that night …..
In a rental home in Jacksonville, Florida, Luke and I shared a small room with two big dogs, a newborn baby girl and a knee machine. Two months earlier Luke tore a ligament in his knee. Surgery fixed him. Rehab strengthened him. But rehab came with a machine – in the bed, all night – bending and straightening Luke’s knee. We figured we got the 1920’s version of said machine, since it squeaked and creaked with every extension.
Add the newborn to the mix and an occasional re-positioning of the giant dogs in the corner, and we weren’t sleeping much. Cherry on top: the boys got a stomach bug, and we found out about it in the middle of the night.
While Luke helped Jonah into the shower I scrubbed the carpet. The rest is a blur. Except for one moment.
The next day, after dogs and knee machines and newborns and throw-up, Luke came home from work. I expected him to fall into the nearest chair and snore, but he didn’t.
Instead, he found me. With a smile he bent over to kiss my forehead and said,
“There’s no one else in the world I’d rather clean up puke with at 3 a.m. than you. I love doing life with you.”
You’ll likely never find those words etched on a Hallmark card, but they are etched on my heart forever. Not because they came in a pretty package. Not because I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. But because real love met real life, and it bloomed.
That memory – that awful memory – makes me smile today. And, you know, I think Jesus might say the same.
“Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
Have you ever seen real love in real life? Will you share it with me here?Leave a Comment! Let’s celebrate when real love meets real life and blooms!
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