Monday, September 18, 2017

That's Not Who I Am or Is It?

A BIG welcome to those of you joining me from Encouragement Café! It's a joy to have you here! In my devotional today, I share a bit of my heart about giving God the glory that He deserves. If you want to read "It Wasn't Me," click HERE. I also encourage you to read on because if we want to give God glory, we must be who He called us to be.

Nearly 10 years ago, I had a poem published in the Hearts at Home magazine. At the time, there was only a handful of people who knew I did some writing. It wasn't something I shared and didn't fit who everyone knew me to be - the quiet, shy, insecure farmer's wife who kept thoughts to myself.

So when my husband shared the magazine with two of my friends, I wasn't surprised with their reaction. After reading the poem, Andrea seriously said, "She spells her name just like you!" She continued on to read the short bio and with a bit of confusion said, "Wait, this is you."

I hadn't thought about this for quite sometime until the other night when I drove home from Bible study. I have to admit internally it was a bit awkward leading women I look up to and respect through a study with my name on it. And it was different gathering in the church to learn about the Bible with  girls I'd coached to play basketball in the gym.

It seems a bit crazy. The insecure side of me struggles and I think of reasons why many other people could be doing what I'm doing. The fearful part of me worries about what others will think. The one who's at times been afraid of failing, doubts and grows anxious about letting others down.

Satan loves when this happens and is more than willing to throw fuel on the fire. He tempts me to compare and think about all the reasons I don't measure up. He feeds me lies that can quench my hunger for God's Word. He is a roaring lion and he is on the prowl. All he wants to do is steal, kill and destroy and friend, he does that when we question who we are.

Thankfully, you and I have a heavenly Father who loves us as we are (John 3:16), sees us as His masterpiece and created us for a purpose. (Ephesians 2:10) He has prepared good works for us all to do. Will they be what others expect? Maybe not. Often they aren't even what we expect, but they are what He calls us to do.

It's pretty likely I will forever be a farmer's wife who prefers blue jeans and a baseball cap, but that didn't stop God from dressing me up a bit and putting my picture on the back of a book. Chances are speaking up and out will always bring some nervousness, but God's already given me courage to do things I never thought I would.

What about you? Who are you? Do you focus on what others expect you to do or do you strive to be who God created you to be? Are you content to be who you've always been? Do you know God's chosen you and called you?

I encourage you to slow down and think about these questions. The answers will give some insight into who you are and what you do; while also revealing if you're living the life God created you for.

If stepping out and doing something others don't expect scares you a bit, cling to the promise we find in 2 Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." When we give God a willing and available heart, He can and will work.

One final piece of encouragement as you wrestle to be and do what God calls you to...if you ever feel alone, remember you're not. I for one just shared my story, but there's a better one than that! Read these words from Isaiah 53:2-3 -

"For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Isaiah 53:2-3

Friend, Jesus wasn't the one others expected or even noticed. Worse yet, he was despised. But the reality of this rejection didn't prevent Him from walking out God's plan. He laid down His life for you and for me. He did the unexpected and God did what He promised.

We aren't going to bring salvation or offer the hope of heaven, but perhaps us doing the unexpected will point others to Christ and give glory to God. Are you up for it? I hope so! God has you, and me, where we are for a reason. He can touch others through our words, our actions and our stories, but we must speak up, step out and do the unexpected!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your living and active Word. I'm grateful you speak to me through it and transform me with it. Increase my hunger for it. And Lord, help me live up to your expectations...keep making me who you created me to be. You are the potter and I am the clay. Have your way with me. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

How fruit grows...

Have you ever done much with seeds? I’m not much of a gardener, but I am a farmer’s wife. We plant acres of corn, beans and oats. We don’t purchase packets of seeds, but buy them in bulk. We put a lot of seeds in the ground and trust God to grow them.


Not long ago it was time to harvest the oats; we had to cut them down so they were in windrows. There were places they piled up, so my daughter and I went up and down the rows to level them out. As we did our work, God spoke to my heart. He had things to say about separating wheat from the chaff, a plentiful harvest and working for His glory, but today I want to focus on a specific verse that came to mind.
John 12:24 says, “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”
As I thought about this verse in light of my time in the field, I had some questions and thankfully my husband had some answers.
"How many seeds do we plant?" I asked. We plant 3 bushels per acre and this year we harvested 90 bushels per acre. Next I needed to know how many seeds were in a bushel. I learned there are 15,000 oat seeds per pound and 32 pounds per bushel. So I did the math and found out we had planted 1,440,000 seeds and harvested 43,200,000. Those are some big numbers, so I simplified things a bit and it breaks down to one planted seed produced 30 seeds at harvest. 
On the farm we are grateful for the multiplication effect that happens, but have you thought about this in a spiritual sense? 
When Jesus says these words in John 12, he's talking about more than farming. This illustration gave the disciples a picture and it should provide us with one as well. He goes on to say, "Whoever serves me, must follow me; and where I am, my servant will also be." As I read this verse, Galatians 2:20 comes to mind. Here we read Paul saying, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
I have again been studying surrender and the more I study the more I realize I need to surrender. In simple terms, surrender means to die to self. We let go of our desires, our plans, our wants and our ways. We put down our fears and anxieties, our selfishness and pride. Necessary, yes; easy, no. Does surrender come with a cost? Yes, but the results are priceless. 

Here on the Beran farm life is busy...we're transitioning back to school (my first year homeschooling all 5), we're enjoying cheering on our football playing son and cross country running girl, and prepping for the harvest that lies ahead. My husband is teaching Sunday School and I'm leading a women's Bible study. 

In my last post, I invited you to an online study of ReNEWal Road: The Journey of Becoming More Like Jesus. I had plans to post weekly, but I'm feeling that was more my plans than God's or perhaps He's telling me to wait. Regardless of the reason, I'm surrendering. 

Rather than focusing on the study not happening, I find myself thinking about that seed dying. I'm not sure what will grow from it, but I trust God will do more with a seed that dies than one I try to make grow.

So friend, if you were planning on joining I encourage to get the book and invite a friend to walk the road with you. And stay tuned...this farmer's wife knows sometimes it takes awhile to harvest the fruit that only God can grow!

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for speaking to our hearts and using your Word to guide us in your ways. Keep our eyes set on you and our hearts tender to your leading. Help us die to self so that can you can live. Thank you for the reminder that seeds that die produce fruit. Open my eyes to see the fruit you are growing in my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Little Reflection and Big Invitation


Hello Friends, it's a joy to join you here today! I'd love to invite you to join me for a journey - the journey of becoming more like Jesus! This fall I'm hosting a study here on my blog and at my church...together we will be walking through "ReNEWal Road"!

This is a journey that will be like any trip you've taken; there will be hills and valleys, good times and bad, but it will all be worthwhile. Time in God's Word is never wasted! Pause now and think about this question - "Do you need renewal?" 

If you answered "yes," I ask you to pray about joining us. Life can wear us out and worry can weigh us down, we need renewal and God will provide it. And as we seek Him in one area, He often will impact another. I know He's worked in and changed my heart as I studied, wrote and now continue to live out this message. I have no doubt He will do the same for you!

As the publication process unfolded for this study, I found myself reflecting. God has been renewing my mind and transforming me from the inside out. I don't recommend this book to you or invite you to the study because my name is on the cover, but because God's Word holds the power. I can say without a doubt the living and active Word has changed me, and friend, I believe it can and will do the same for you. 

A couple of weeks ago we held the 6th Renewed Life Women's Event and again God did more than we had asked for or could have imagined. I was encouraged by the things I saw and stories I heard. I was impacted by the messages others shared and appreciated the fellowship that took place. In the days that followed I experienced one of my friend's favorite sayings, "God blesses obedience." I echo her words. 

You see, writing this study was an act of obedience. Standing on stage and sharing my testimony was the same. Being transparent and speaking in front of a group don't come naturally for me, but God led me to do it and I did. He equipped me, provided for me and used my words. 

The day following the event, I stood in church and let the tears fall as we sang, "Blessed Be Your Name." In the wake of such a good day, you might think that would be an easy song to sing. It was, but it was emotional as well. You see those words are ones I asked our pastor to sing 9 years ago, the day after we had a miscarriage. 

There were tears then as well...tears of pain, loss and grief. Like Job, I had experienced God taking away. At the time, I was only 8 years into my walk with Christ and this was the first real painful loss I'd experienced. The memories of those days still bring tears and remind me of how lonely a miscarriage can be. At the same time, I'm reminded of how powerful God's presence truly is. 

I had experienced God's provision and peace, but this took everything to a new level. His comfort, His Word and His people were seen in a whole new way as I walked through pain I couldn't even describe. My flicker of faith became a flame as Jesus accompanied me through the shadow of death. A desire to share my faith was born as I grieved the little one who had died. 

Nine years have passed since that Sunday and God has done much. Psalm 37:4 says, "Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Through that trial and time of suffering God drew me to Himself, renewed my hope and strengthened my faith. In the years that have followed, He's drawn me into His Word, transformed my mind and given me the desires of my heart. 

Friend, I still can't put it all in words, but I know Hebrews 4:12 is true - "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." I've also experienced 2 Timothy 3:16-17, which says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." 

As I wrap up this up let me encourage you, nine years ago I never expected to write a Bible study. If you find yourself in a place of pain, deep grief or unending trial, keep seeking the Lord. Ask Him to give you a hunger for His Word. He hears your prayer and will speak to you through the Scriptures. He is our good Father and great God...walk with Him and run to Him. He is faithful and worthy of our worship when He gives and when He takes away. May we always remember Romans 8:28 - "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." 

Friend, if you find yourself needing renewal or looking for a tool to get you into God's Word I again invite you to join us for a study as we walk "ReNEWal Road" and learn from one another. My plans are to share a blog post every Wednesday as we work through the study. I'd love to hear from you and learn alongside you! 

If you need a copy of the book, you can order one directly from me by clicking HERE or order one on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Monday, August 21, 2017

"It Wasn't Me"

My local friends and regular readers might be surprised to know we've added a new child to our home this summer. We simply call this individual, "The Naughty Kid." Anytime nobody knows who left the door open, the milk out or water running we say, "It must have been the 'Naughty Kid.'"

The older kids laugh and understand exactly what we are talking about, while at times it still confuses our little guys. But because of this invisible, little individual, we're talking about owning our actions and learning someone is to blame.

This past weekend I found myself sometimes speaking and often thinking a phrase that can be common in our home with 5 children - "It wasn't me!" Only I wasn't trying to disown the blame, I was attempting to refuse the credit.

On Saturday, we enjoyed the 6th annual Renewed Life Women's Event in our small town. God again did amazing things. We enjoyed powerful messages from Luann Prater and listened to impactful testimonies from local speakers. The worship team ushered us into the presence of God and fellowship with sisters uplifted our soul.

Personally, this year was a bit different...on top of helping organize the day and introduce our speaker, I too gave a message from the stage. For the girl who 14 years ago struggled to voice her name at a MOPS meeting, this is quite the step. I was also the one others approached to sign a book that contained my name on the cover.

Honestly, as I sit her in the wee morning hours it all still seems crazy and I want to echo my kids' words - "It wasn't me!" I prayed and shared these thoughts with my heavenly Father and realized this time the phrase is true. I'm not saying this to blame "the Naughty Kid", but give credit to our Great God!

Psalm 126:3 says, "The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad." The NIV states, "and we are filled with joy." No words could better express my thoughts about the Renewed Life Women's Event and my Bible study, Renewal Road. But these words from Scripture describe my feelings about even more - the transformational work God has done in my life.

He's taken an insecure woman who's often felt unworthy and changed me from the inside out. He's used a girl who thought her voice didn't matter and encouraged the hearts of others. He's done more than I could ever ask or imagine and that makes me glad.

Friend, I encourage you to stop for a moment today and think about what our good and great God has done for you! Thank Him and receive His work and His words. If He's reminding you of blessings, praise Him. If He's convicting of you sin, don't blame "the Naughty Kid" - ask for forgiveness, repent and join Him for the journey towards holiness.

Regardless of what the great things are, remember our response - to be filled with joy! Share that joy with others so that they too see our mighty God for who He is...the giver of ALL good things! Let's thank Him today...I'd love for you to comment about one of the great things God has done for you so we can praise Him together!

Dear Heavenly Father, you are so, so good. You do things we never think we could. You use us, You bless us, You change us. May we continually humble ourselves before You. I pray we always remember it is You who are good and may we never forget You are working in us to make us godly. Help us join You in the process and be grateful for the journey. Thank You Lord for who You are and all You do. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Reflecting on my mess...{And a GIVE-AWAY}

Unloading hay…it’s a job that has to happen on the farm. My kids claim I have the easy role; which when it comes to manual labor, they are right. I drive the skid-loader while they stack bales, so clearly they do more work, but my role creates some stress. Because of the bale rope, I have to gauge my speed and time my power so the bales don’t spin and hit the barn.

I’ve done this job before, but last week was a bit rough. Due to some weak twine and my lack of timely acceleration, a group of bales hit the frame of the door and 4 of them fell to the ground. It was a broken mess of loose hay.
My husband simply reiterated his instructions and a few kids offered smirks through the haymow window. Eventually, my little boys grabbed forks and started to clean up the mess. I felt bad and became more determined to do better the next time. 
As I sat waiting for Job to reset the bale fork, I felt the arrows of shame. Words from Satan intended to leave me defeated. Ones that would tempt me to think wrongly, which lead to wrong actions as well.

Satan, the great deceiver, who exists to steal, kill and destroy, was messing with my mind and I’m so thankful I realized he was attacking. In years past, I haven’t been so quick to recognize his ways. I’ve often let the lies overwhelm me and leave me feeling like a failure. I’ve let the evil one shame me and listened to his words of condemnation. 
Thankfully, that didn’t happen this time. So instead of sitting in the skid-loader with tears of pain and regret, I was able to praise God for the transformational work He has done.

Now a week later, I have a better understanding of how He’s done it. I was listening to Christian radio and Jeremy Camp's song, "Word of Life" caught my attention. I strongly encourage you to listen to it and think about the truth behind the words.
I'll share a few lines - "Word of truth, Illuminate all these lies, The enemy speaks inside, In freedom I will rise, 'Cause You called me out from the grave, So I can live like I’ve been changed, There is a new song in my soul, And it begins when I breathe in, Your word of life."
Friends, God's Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). This Word of Truth has transforming power, but we must tap into it.
Reading God's Word is good, but studying it, meditating on it and memorizing it are even better. If we want God's Word to get into us we need to get into it. 
And as we do just that we must live out 1 Thessalonians 2:12-13. Here Paul says, "And we also thank God continually because when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe."  
Did you notice the last key phrase in this passage? Who experiences the work of the Word? The one who believes! Do you believe? 
Friend, I challenge you to dig into God's Word and I pray that He gives you a desire to understand it. As we study it, we don't just learn what it means, we get a better understanding of who God is and are able to better believe what He says. And as that happens, the living, active Word works in us to change us and make us more like Him. 
I've known this for years, but I've experienced it mightily this past year. With the release of my new Bible study, ReNEWal Road, I've found myself reflecting. God transforming my response to broken hay bales is just the beginning of the work He's done in the past 12 months. 
As I believe the Word of God, I experience the work of God. And friend, you can do the same! Open your Bible and ask God to speak to your heart. Study a topic and see how scripture supports scripture. Cross reference your favorite verses and understand them even more. Visit biblehub.com and read the interlinear translation to get a better understanding of the verse in its original language. Take part in a Bible study that really gets you into the Word.
If you're looking to do a Bible study, leave a comment and you just might win a copy of ReNEWal Road! It's a study that God truly used to transform me and I pray you will experience the same! So a few questions to consider as you comment...
How has believing the Word of God helped you experience the work of God?
Have you had any messes lately that you've responded to differently because of the work God is doing in your life? 
If time is short, just leave a comment saying, "Count me in!" and I will! Stop back on Monday when I'll announce the winner!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word of life. Give us a hunger for it. Fill us with Your Spirit so that we can better understand it. Remind us of our role and help us read it, study it, memorize it and meditate on it. Lord, we believe, but ask You to help our unbelief. Sanctify us with Your Truth Father. And transform our thinking as well. God, we thank You for the work You've already done and praise You in advance for what You will do. In Jesus' mighty name, Amen.



Friday, July 28, 2017

Celebrating 16 and a Give-Away!

Sixteen years...I've been Mrs. James O. Beran for 16 years, which is hard to believe. It doesn't seem like that long ago we were planning our wedding and thinking about our future. At the time I'm pretty sure Job had no idea he was saying, "I do," to such an indecisive and insecure gal. He wasn't aware of all the doubts I wrestled with and the depression I sometimes slipped into.

But He made a vow to me, and more importantly to God, and today we celebrate. Not just our anniversary, but progress, growth and joy. Early on we committed to seeking God and reading the Bible together. God heard our cries and answered our prayers. He's humbled our hearts and changed them too.

I've heard people talk about the patience of Job and I know they are referring to the man we read about in Scripture, but the virtue is evident in my man as well. Thankfully, we haven't experienced the trials that Job did, but thru the years we've walked up hills and thru valleys.

Only 2 years separate Job and me according to our birth certificates, but spiritually he has 20+ years on me. Early on, Job was patient and understanding of my "rookie" status. He's been a great spiritual leader for me and now our 5 children. His prayers, discernment and example have played a vital part in my spiritual growth.

Now, before you go comparing the good things you just read about my husband to the challenging things you live with in your husband, let me assure you - I am human and so is Job. He'd be the first to admit he has struggles and sins just like the rest of us. We are far from perfect, but God is perfecting both of us. Marriage makes us happy...most of the time, but God is also using it to make us holy and we are grateful.

Sixteen years ago on a hot summer day one of the verses our pastor shared was Colossians 3:12 -
"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." I'm pretty sure I thought the idea sounded good, but I had no idea what it truly meant. Time in God's Word and life with a farmer who doesn't just wear chore clothes, but these spiritual ones as well, has increased my understanding and given me the desire to wear the same wardrobe. 


Looking back I'm amazed at who I am now compared to who I was then. God has done much and He continues to work. He's changed us and drawn us closer. He's helped us overcome old struggles and revealed new ones. He constantly gives us opportunities to live out the verse I call our marriage mission statement - "Glorify the Lord with me, let us exalt His name together!" (Psalm 34:3)

Daily we try to do this in our home with the words we say and things we do. Our 5 children provide a constant audience and our prayer is they see us doing what God created us to do. We've also served together as Sunday School leaders and organizers of a couple's Bible study. Job's been an elder and I've served in woman's ministry and though those are individual roles, in a way we do them together as we pray, talk and study.

We can do none of this in our strength...believe me we've tried and failed. When we stay in God's Word, unite our hearts in prayer and walk in faith, we are equipped to do what God leads us to do. We get tired, sometimes we're afraid and others we question, so renewal is always needed.

Which leads me to the give-away...in celebration of our 16th anniversary I'm going to give away a copy of my new Bible study - ReNEWal Road: The Journey of Becoming More Like Jesus. My name is on the cover, but without Job it would have never happened! He believed in me long before I believed in myself! So before you can even purchase a copy, you can win one here. Just leave a comment with your thoughts on one of the following questions -

What are you celebrating in your marriage today?

How are you renewed?

In what way would you like to become more like Jesus?

Thanks friends and be sure to stop by soon for more about ReNEWal Road! I'll post the winner on Wednesday.

Friday, July 14, 2017

When the weeds grow...


Summer in Iowa means many things, but on the farm it tends to mean work. And if we're teachable that work can create learning opportunities...not just for my children, but me as well. Today was one of those days.

I took my husband lunch while he was cultivating and instantly some lessons from the past came to mind. I've shared a few here before: Time to Cultivate, The Cultivator, and When Cultivating is Not Enough. These are important lessons to remember, but God had a new one for me as well.

Job's cultivated this field in the past and he's worked to control the weeds, but yet they still grow. Can you say the same about your heart? Have you removed sin only to have it grow back? Have you pulled out the root of bitterness only to have a new one grow?

Friend, those may not be fun questions to answer, but they are ones we must not avoid. As I waited for Job to come back across the field, I couldn't help but notice the contrast between the cultivated and non-cultivated rows of beans. The picture isn't real clear, but it's obvious change happens after the cultivator passes. As I looked at this, my morning Bible reading from earlier in the week came back to mind.

One of the passages we read was Matthew 13:1-23, commonly known as the Parable of the Soils. Jesus talks about 4 different types of soil, but I want to encourage you to think about the one mentioned in verse 7. Here we read - "Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants."

The seed in this soil starts to grow, but eventually the thorns cause it to die. My husband cultivates our crops for the same reason...the weeds not only make the field look bad, they also impact harvest.

As I started putting this post together, my oldest son was reading over my shoulder and my future farmer gave me some more insight as he said, "Mom, make sure they know this is an organic field; we're pretty much the only ones who still cultivate." I paused to think about that for a bit and wondered if it was information you really needed to know. After pondering, I think it adds another dimension to this little lesson.

Conventional farmers are able to spray their crops with chemicals, but organic producers don't have that option. We on the other hand, harrow the ground, rotary hoe, cultivate and pull weeds. God wants an "organic" relationship with each of us, nobody else can do the work of growing closer to Christ for us. It's also not a one time deal; we must daily walk with the Lord and abide in His Word. How we remove the sin from our heart today may look different than what we did yesterday.

So to wrap this up, I got to thinking - what are the thorns in the soil of our heart? Again, scripture gives us the answer. In verse 22 we read - "The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful."

Do you have worries? Are you fearful of the future? Are you anxious about something out of your control? Do you worry about what might never happen? I do. At times I can think these "worries" don't really matter, but they do. They don't just impact my day, my body and my mind, they choke out the seed God's planting in my heart from His Word. Friend, they do the same to you as well.

May we follow Paul's advice in Philippians 4:6 - "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

Just like my husband deals with more than one type of weed in the field, we have more than one "thorn" in the soil of our heart. We can't skip past the last part of this verse - the deceitfulness of wealth works against us as well. Friend, we must check our heart and always be mindful of what we are striving for. Are we working for worldly success or seeking first the kingdom of God?

Matthew 11:29 reminds us we will have to make sacrifices to follow Jesus. "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life."

I don't know what the soil condition of your heart is, but my time in the field has caused me to think about mine. And as I do, I'm reminded of another reality on the farm - weeds produce seeds too. If my husband is overwhelmed by the weeds or takes on the they're not that bad mentality, they will only be worse next year. Friend, I believe that happens in our heart as well. If God's opened your eyes to thorns you need to remove, do it now. Be diligent and do the work.

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your living and active Word. Thank you for your presence and continual teaching. Help me set my eyes on You and do what I need to do. Show me the weeds in my heart and help me uproot them. May the seeds you plant grow and produce fruit. Tender my heart, break up the unplowed ground and cultivate the soil. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen