This Complicated Messy Life

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”

Psalm 139:13 ESV

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say.

Life is complicated and messy. I find myself wondering if I will ever be able to think straight again, 100% straight. I was recently asked, “Do you know what…?” It was meant in a very general way, yet it struck me so profoundly. My response was, “I know many things and yet I know nothing at all.” It seems the longer I travel this journey of life, the more truth there is for me in that sentence.

I am not uneducated, nor am I lacking mental prowess, yet there is very little that I truly KNOW.

When I was first widowed, I knew I had to write about my journey. I knew it would help me grieve. I didn’t know that season might come to an end or that God would ask me to write about things other than grief.

When I was first widowed, I believed I would never consider remarrying. The thought of dating repulsed me. I didn’t know that would all change with one random text and one strong man who made me feel alive again. I didn’t see that coming and I certainly didn’t see it ending, but it did. I’m still not sure I know what really happened, maybe I  was just not ready to date yet and went way too far too fast. I don’t know; life is complicated and messy and dating at this age is a “whole nother level” of COMPLICATED AND MESSY.

When I was first widowed, I thought I would never be whole again, never mend. I was broken into a million pieces, like an icicle shattering on concrete, and I had no desire to go on; none. I didn’t KNOW the God, who formed me and shaped me in my mothers womb, would gather my shattered, broken, wounded spirit and hold me so closely all I could do was breathe Him in until He helped me learn to breathe on my own again.

When I was first widowed, I considered death and grief to be all I was facing. I didn’t know death and grief have companions; loneliness, doubt, secondary loss, anger, guilt, unworthiness, fear, financial strain, lack of identity, incompleteness, and abandonment, just to name a few.

When I was first widowed…… was almost five years ago.

So now what? What of today and tomorrow?

Now I know it’s time to write about all kinds of things. It’s time for my journey into articles, blogs and books to cover many topics and audiences. It’s time for my writing to morph into what God has next for me in this crazy life.

Now I believe it is not only time to try dating again, but to become part of a forever family. A family God has pressed me to pray for almost every single day for the last fourteen months. I now know I am made to be a wife. It is one of my hearts desires. I don’t want a replacement husband. I want a man who knows I was loved well, but I still have a lot more love to offer, and who wants to become part of that forever story with me. A man who will walk side-by-side and talk through the complicated and messy parts, because the other parts make it worth it.

Now I think God knew all along exactly how I would react to my brokenness. He knew I would lean into Him and not run away from His love. He knew me better than I knew myself, because He knit me together. He knew widow would be one of the many labels of my life, yet I would not want to wear it as a sash and crown. I want it to be part of who I am and not all that I am defined by.  

Now I consider it all joy to have walked this journey, and all of its losses, because of all the people I have been able to minister to and with over the past five years.

Now it’s time for a new season of life, a new adventure, with more twists and turns. I don’t know how it will turn out, but I’m excited to explore all the possibilities. Along the way, I’ll be praying for you and your journey too.

Father, I pray that You will bless all who read this with a reminder of how big you are and how much You love them.  In Jesus name, Amen.


Dr. Teri Cox is an international education consultant, speaker and author. Teri is the Production Director for A Widow’s Might. She joined the team in October of 2012 after losing her best friend, Daryl, in March of 2012. She looks forward to a life of music, missions, and ministry with God in control. Teri counts it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to share the Gospel message through word and song. Her desire is to make God’s name more famous and allow His mosaic of her life to become a more beautiful picture than she could ever have imagined.

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Posts similar to this one by other authors: Consider that Terrible Struggle Joy?  & Breathing in Hope

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The Lady At The Store

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards’ of God’s grace in its various forms.”

1 Peter 4:10

“Our dad is in heaven, his gun shot himself.”

One of our tougher moments in the early days of this grief journey was in line at a store.  My twin boys were just four years old.  They knew their daddy was in heaven, and they knew the simplest version of what happened.

When the sweet lady in front of us complimented their behavior I barely saw it coming. She told them they should be proud and go home and tell their daddy how well they had behaved.  That poor lady!  She never saw it coming either, but when it did, her face went from pale white to red flushed, as she watched me nod to confirm their words.  She choked back tears as she apologized for saying anything to them and then moved on rather quickly.

Early on that was the usual reaction.  No one really knew what to say.  There were many awkward moments when someone heard my husband was in heaven and then pressed to know how he died.  There was the cashier at the grocery store, who pressed me on my pretty necklace (Scott’s wedding ring I had made into a necklace).  And then couldn’t get me out of there fast enough. The waitress at the restaurant.  The dry cleaner cashier.

Once the word suicide is dropped, the tough awkward moments fly and many well meaning people want to flee!

The stigma of and circumstances surrounding suicide are hard enough for those intimately involved, for a stranger they are nearly impossible.

Yet, there were many who stood by us and were there for us from the very beginning.  Our families hunkered together the day Scott got heaven, as my church family formed a barrier outside of my house to keep strangers and the media out (Scott’s death was very public and made national news). The local businesses that showed up with tray after tray of food. (Our families have lived in the same small town for generations.) The many, some strangers even, who came to show their love towards us, and with compassionate hearts poured out their gifts of wisdom and comfort.

It’s funny how I realize now that before all this I would’ve been the judgmental fleeing kind.  I was “the lady at the store”.  I had my own critical thoughts and opinions on death, especially on suicide, and even grief.

I knew nothing!

Now, I want to say to the lady at that store and the cashier at the grocery store and the many others, “Don’t be afraid to go there.”  Compassion, sympathy and empathy can be so powerful to a hurting person.

And I want to say to the many others, “Thank you!”  Thank you for walking this unashamedly with us.  Thank you for your kindness, care and concern. Thank you for extending grace and showing us Scott’s life was much more than that one moment.

I want to say to each of you,  be ready and willing to go there with others.  You’ve got deep places now.  You get this!  Be ready to stand with the next grieving person.  It’s going to come.  We know that well.  It’s a gift to love others from your pain to theirs.

This grief walk is not wasted. Prepare yourself well, so you aren’t the lady in line with me. Take every opportunity to shine Christ and bless others with the gifts God has now given you.

Father God, thank you for giving me the gifts I have received through this journey.  Help me to see hurt and pain in others and shine You to them as I take the time to care.  Help me to never brush off a hurting person, or waste the lessons You’ve given me.  Prepare to minister to others from the deeper places You have given me.  In Your Matchless Name, Amen.

2013-11-09-03-40-34-4-223x300Erika Graham is Vice President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She resides in New Jersey with her daughter, twin boys, and her little fluffy puppy. She loves summers at the beach and all things chocolate. She lost her husband to suicide in June 2010. Erika has been called to share the victory she’s experiencing through Christ Jesus over the life God has ordained for her. 

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Articles with a similar theme: Fill My Days with Living! and THE STEWARDSHIP OF SUFFERING



How Long, Lord?

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Proverbs 3:5 (ESV)

A letter to God after years of single motherhood.

It’s been years, Lord.

My soul is tired.  

My arms and legs are tired.

My heart still yearns for what I lost.

I’m supposed to trust you, Lord.

And it’s not like I’ve never trusted You. When my kids were small, and I raised them alone, You took my hand, and led me through every turn.

But it’s been nine years of raising these children without Tom, Lord.

I try not to count, and when I pick up the count again, it means I’m tired, and  I fail to trust and I fail to understand.

I fail to understand why You guided me away from marrying for all these years when I so long for companionship.

I fail to understand why no simple financial solution has made up for the sacrifices I made to stay home and homeschool my children after Tom passed away.

I can thank You for my support network, the gifts and abilities You gave me, and the opportunities I’ve had to meet potential suitors.

But really, none of that fixes the hole that keeps reopening every time I think “nine years–how much longer, Lord?” 

And when that hole reopens, it’s like I’ve stepped out into the cold on purpose. And I just stand there, shivering with my lonely thoughts and my back towards You. 

But You’re still there.  Reaching out to me and handing me a coat.

And at times, I have to be honest, Lord, I simply won’t take it. I kid myself that I’d rather freeze than take help from You. 

I know what that’s about.

I’ve trusted you before, and You never fail me. It’s just that every time I choose to trust You, it means giving something up–actually giving everything up! Trusting You means letting all else go.

I remember a time four years ago when I almost stepped away from You.  The world told me I needed a husband. They told me You would bring me one. I thought I found one. The courtship was wonderful. I thought You had found a prince for me.

Until the engagement began, and suddenly I felt a frost come in. The one that was sweet and kind while we dated grew chilling as my children and I were presented with his stringent terms of a marriage in a joyless home.

You reached out with Your coat and told me to come on in. But trust You?  Give up my fiancé? The one that would provide a home and a new identity–away from widowhood? 

I was confused and scared–what would this unbelieving man do to the hearts and faith of my boys who were so focused on You?  I shivered at the thought. Shivered, but still stood there in the cold, considering a godless future over what You had to offer.

Why would I even consider it? Thank you, Father, for allowing that situation to get colder and bleaker, until I finally reached for whatever You had to offer!

I stepped out of the cold and into Your arms.

And it’s still hard. But it’s real. You are real.

And when I’m tired and my heart hurts because I’m still without a husband and my finances are strained, I think with gratitude that it was worth it because I chose to follow You and raise my children in You and serve the widows for You instead of following a wealthy man and serving myself.

But still I’m cold, meaning I’ve taken my focus off You again. 

Let’s be gut honest–I don’t always trust You, God.  Your Word says to, but there are times I grow so weary I forget to open Your Word. I’ll instead get caught up in reading Facebook or emails when I know where Your Truth is. It’s like I’m choosing to go back out in the cold.

What’s wrong with me? I know Your Word says to trust You, but do I reach for it? Like this morning as I write this, I’m spinning in circles trying to figure my own way out of my pain while Your Word  just sits there on the shelf.

And so I will end this prayer with this: I will stop spinning and grab hold of Your Word and trust.

It’s not like I feel like trusting You, but it isn’t always about me, is it, God?


And as I ended this prayer, I opened His Word to Proverbs 3:5.Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (ESV)

A new understanding is exactly what I need, I thought, just before the phone rang.

It was my grown stepdaughter. I told her about the chill in my heart. About my questions. Could I trust God? Why this long without a husband?

“Don’t you see?” She began, her words draping over my shoulder like God’s warm coat, bringing me in from the cold. “If you had married that wealthy, difficult man, you would never have gotten that ministry going. Those four boys would never be the kind hearts that they are today.  You would never have had the time or the heart to reunite my brother and me with our four little brothers, and you may never have had the time to show me how to walk with God. I love you.”

I love  you too, God.  Would you please put a coat on my widow sisters as well? Amen.


Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab.  She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.

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Weary From the Journey

I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.

Psalm 6:6 NIV

Do you ever have those days? I’ve been having a string of them. Close together. One after the other. I’m so tired. I’m tired of the journey. Just wiped out.

I had a moment the other day where I asked my Savior why I have to be the one who is strengthened through loss. Why do I have to be the one who glorifies Christ in my grief journey? I don’t want this. I didn’t think it would take this long. I don’t like the valley. I don’t like others seeing me in the valley. I’m tired.

What do I do with that? How do I walk out of that valley?

Well, sweet sisters, this is what the journey looks like. We’ve got sweet sisters ahead of us that are beckoning to us to catch up. We’ve got sisters on the mountaintops that are smiling and looking down at us in the valley saying, “You can do this! You’ve got it!” and pointing to the trail up the mountainside. And there are those that are right beside me. As I look up from my own hands and lap with tears streaming down my face, I see their faces smudged with tears looking back. There are sisters calling to us from behind, asking about the terrain of the path we are all on. All of these Saints put in different places along the journey by the Savior.

Intentional introductions orchestrated by the Creator of the Universe – my personal Savior.

So, as I take a moment from my own groaning and weeping, I see that God loves me – He intentionally loves me in a very intimate, specific way, that only a personal Savior can.

If I look at scripture:
-God writes to me of His great plans (Jeremiah 29:11);
-God reminds me to put my trust in Him (Psalm 7:1a);
-God tells me stories of great men and women who have come before and, by trusting in God, were blessed beyond measure (Abraham, Sarah, Esther, Ruth, Moses, Job, Joseph)

I am reminded in scripture that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5, KJV)

I lean on the Lord’s promises. They are throughout scripture. They are true and you can rest in them. The Lord that led His people to the promised land, will lead me to my promised land and there will be joy.

For me, I have to give Him my plans, my fears, my wants, my dreams, my frustrations, all of it. I can’t hold on to anything or I won’t be in a place where my hands are open to receive what God has for me. In me giving up everything, I am empty of me and He fills that emptiness.

And, all of the stuff I’ve been holding onto – fear, doubt, my “it’s not fair” attitude, plans, dreams, wants, condemnation – I no longer have to carry. It all goes into the Father’s Hands for Him to deal with. And His conversation with me in love is, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”“No one, sir.” “Then neither do I condemn you, Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:10-11 (NIV)

I share all this with you so that you know that no matter where you are on this journey, your personal Savior has intentional introductions for you. He wants to walk this with you and has sent Saints to accompany you along the way. I’ve just finished resting for a moment. I changed my shoes and I’m ready to get up and walk some more. God’s not finished with me yet and He’s not finished with you either. So, get up and walk with me!

Dear Lord, I thank You for letting me rest in You! I thank You for being big enough to take my questions and disappointments and for still holding me close. I thank You for the intentional introductions you have orchestrated along the way. At just the perfect moment, You have provided a wonderful Saint to encourage me, carry me, pray with or for me. I do trust You and I do believe that my best is yet to come in You. Thank You, Lord!

Sherry LookSherry Rickard is a writer/speaker with A Widow’s Might/aNew Season Ministries, Inc.  Sherry lives in the Washington DC area of Virginia.  She works in the professional community management industry and is active in her local church.  She has one daughter who is 19 years old and has just started her second year of college.  She also has a dog, Sophie, and a cat, Brandon.  Sherry lost her husband on February 14, 2011 to cancer after a bone marrow transplant did not engraft.  God has called her to this ministry to share the Hope that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  It is Sherry’s hope that Christ can shine through her and that Christ can minister to those who have a similar journey.  She is still here, so God has a wonderful purpose to fulfill with her life. 

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If you liked this article, you might like: What’s in Your Eye? By Teri Cox


Kaleidoscope Vision

Do you still not see or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

                                                                                Mark 8:17-18 NIV

Harsh words!

Jesus rebuked the disciples because they failed to understand the meaning of His presence with them. They saw things from a human perspective, just what things looked like on the surface. They missed the bigger picture, the kingdom perspective.

How often do we do the same?

A couple of weeks ago I was out doing some last minute Christmas shopping. It was taking longer than expected, due to some road construction. Traffic was backed up for quite a while, but I was patient. The next day I had to do my grocery shopping. I didn’t worry about road construction since it was in a different direction than I had traveled the day before. SURPRISE, now they were working in that direction as well. I maintained my cool, but wondered – who plans to start multiple road construction projects in the same area, right before the holidays?

Finally, I was done with my errands and my Christmas shopping. The next day was Sunday and I planned a nice quiet day at home after church. I headed out at my usual time and yep, you guessed it, I encountered yet another new construction project. As I sat in the backed up traffic, I prided myself on the fact that I wasn’t demonstrating outright road rage at this point, because I HATE getting to church late.

Once again, I found myself pondering how anyone could do such poor planning regarding road construction projects. All I could “see” was the inconvenience to me. As I sat there, I watched the crew repeatedly pouring the hot tar and smoothing it out. Oh and the awful smell of that tar, I couldn’t imagine having to do a job that smelled so awful.

Eventually, my thoughts began to shift and I started to see things from a totally different perspective. It was like I had been looking through a kaleidoscope and the pieces had suddenly shifted into a beautiful new pattern. I began to see that the workers were not an annoyance, but they were servants who were serving. They were serving the community and serving me by performing a job that I couldn’t do, and wouldn’t want to do on my best day.

My heart started to fill with gratitude. I began thanking God for the workers and for providing them to serve. Thanking Him for being sovereign over everything – even the schedule of road construction projects. Thanking Him for living in me and bringing me back to a place of peace and gratitude. I was grateful for being reminded we often get trapped in seeing things from a human perspective, and it is a tremendous blessing when we see, hear, and remember the bigger picture, the kingdom perspective. He not only provides for our immediate needs, He brings us peace and Eternal Life. That is what He wanted His disciples to see then and it is what He wants His followers to see today! I pray that as we enter this holiday season our vision will shift to a kingdom perspective and our hearts will be overflowing with gratitude.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We praise you and worship you! Thank you for You! Let Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven! We thank you for the gift of Your Son that we may have peace and Eternal Life! Help us to see, hear, and remember You. 

In Your Son’s Holy and Precious Name! Amen.

SherylPeppletbSheryl Pepple is President, and an author and speaker for aNew Season/A Widow’s Might Ministries. She lives in Texas with her two daughters, her son-in-law, and her grandchildren. She is a seasoned traveler and loves to visit great snorkeling and diving areas. Her husband was killed by a drunk driver in September 2011 and she lost her brother, the victim of an unsolved murder, years ago. Sheryl feels blessed to be able to share how evident God’s grace and faithfulness is in her life.

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Want to read another article by this author? Where Does My Help Come From?

Want to read other  articles about gratitude? Thankful Hearts &  That Day


My Plans

Today we welcome our guest Evelyn Willis.



“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 (NIV)


I’m a planner –a list-maker.   That is one of the things that attracted me to Rick. He was a planner. He was able to clearly articulate his goals for the upcoming year, fives years, and even ten years out.  We had plans. So when Rick died suddenly at fifty-eight years of age, I was lost.  I didn’t know what to do.  It was not supposed to happen like this.  This wasn’t part of my plan.

Rick and I met through a mutual friend in December of 1982. We began dating in January of 1983, he proposed in March, and we married five months later.  It was a whirlwind!  I knew he was “the one” because I had a list of things I was prayerfully looking for in a husband and Rick quickly checked off most the things I was looking for.  So we began to plan our lives together.  We planned where we would live so that our children could go to the best schools possible.  We planned family vacations.  We planned quarterly get-a-ways to keep our marriage fresh.  We planned for college for our children.  We made plans financially so that we would be set in our retirement.

We had plans!

We planned to travel.  We had planned to grow old together.

What I hadn’t planned on was being a widow at fifty-two.  I hadn’t planned on kissing my husband as I left for work only to get a call before lunch that he had collapsed, never to regain consciousness.  I hadn’t planned on burying my husband five months after our thirtieth anniversary.  I hadn’t planned on being a single mother.

This is not what I’d planned, Lord!

I was lost!  I cried out to God in my anguish.  What was I supposed to do without Rick– my love, my best friend, my covering?  What now, Lord?  We had plans!  Then the Ultimate Planner, the One who knows the number of my days, who knew me in my mother’s womb, spoke to me so clearly.  He reminded me that His plans for me did not die when Rick died.  He still had a plan and a purpose for my life.  That word spoken quietly to my heart did not solve all my problems or alleviate all my pains and questions, but it did give me a reason to hope.  Enough hope to keep moving forward.

For now, that will have to be enough… And it is.

I can begin to plan again.

Father, thank You for the plans You have for our lives.  Help us to trust You as those plans unfold for our good.  In Your name,  Amen.

Evelyn Willis lost her husband Rick suddenly on January 8, 2014.  They had just celebrated their 30th anniversary.  They have 3 sons, a daughter, and 2 grandsons. Evelyn is an elementary school teacher who loves reading, singing, and walking her  two Shih Tzu doggies.

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god's plan god will make a way god in my grief

God will Make A Way

“My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you “

Psalm 42:6 ESV

Blind-sided. Once again. Suddenly, it happened. You know that moment, when something triggers ‘the button’. The button that explains the “why” I am sitting alone. The button that can release a flood of memories at any given moment. The one you do your best not to press. In the midst of the church pews, I became aware that I was surrounded by couples. Husband and wives coming together to worship. And as I observed these couples and saw them sitting there with hands entwined or the husband’s hand placed in the small of his wife’s back, my focus was rocked. My mind retreated to the numerous times I was able to worship God along side my husband. And at that moment, my mind slipped to memories passed.

I was attending a special Sunday night meeting of prayer and music at my church. The service was well attended by many in the community and I was truly enjoying the music and fellowship with other Christians. I was certainly not prepared for the triggered memory of worshipping along side my husband to be stirred so deeply.

For the next few minutes, I disengaged to that place of memories. I remembered the times I was able to sit beside my husband in a church pew. I thought of all the “acts of service” that we did side by side as working laymen for the church. Pictures flashed through my mind of the many activities we were part of in serving God through work at the church. And at that moment – I so badly wanted my husband beside me. I felt such a void. It occurred to me that “worshipping together” was truly one of the biggest things I missed.

And, as the congregation stood to sing, “God Will Make A Way”, I must confess to you, I could not stand. My body suddenly felt heavy, and I felt I did not have the strength to stand. So. I sat. And listened. My head was bowed and my eyes were closed. And I listened.

“God will make a way, when there seems to be no way.

 He works in ways we cannot see, He will make a way for me.

 He will be my guide, hold me closely to His side.

 With love and strength for each new day, He will make a way”  

My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember You.

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes. I remember You. I remember the many times You have consoled my grieving heart. I remember the times You have guided me through decisions that needed to be made. I remember how faithful You have been in providing for me and my girls. I remember You.

And as my blurred memories began to fade (not go away, mind you, but fade) and my focus cleared and shifted back to Him, I quietly stood and joined the singing congregation.

God will make a way for us when life’s events trigger “buttons” of despair.  He is the one who makes my heart worship again. And it is Him who gives me strength when I feel depleted.

Memories can be bittersweet. But, the memory of worshipping along side my husband is so very sweet in my heart. And as I choose to continue to serve and worship God, I give Him thanks for the special times I was able to share with my husband.

He will be my guide, hold me closely by His side. With love and strength for each new day. He will make a way.

Father, how blessed we are to have You hold us so closely by Your side. I pray each widow reading these words can feel Your love and strength to carry them through each day. Amen

Bonnie is a mother of two awesome daughters who bless her life every day. When she’s not enjoying long walks along the Florida coastline, she is flying through the skies as a flight attendant. Life took a radical change in the spring of 2009 when her husband was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. The walk through that journey was the hardest she had ever walked. How did she make it through? And how is she surviving? The answer is simple. Jesus. His love. His mercy. His grace. He carried her when she was at her lowest.  And Bonnie carried Him in her heart even when she did not understand. He has been faithful in His promises – “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) Bonnie has been called by God to share her story through writing and speaking.

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Read more about going through events without your husbands by Sheryl and Renee.