Tuesday, July 31, 2007

You're not from around here, are you?

Typically, that's not a phrase I like to hear. I am a southern belle of sorts,and my accent is more pronounced around other southerners. And mine is not a nice Scarlett O'Hara voice, dripping with so much charm you can almost smell the magnolias. No, mine is more of the Jeff Foxworthy redneck type. (I am a little bit redneck, so don't anybody get offended!) So when I hear, "You're not from around here, are you?" I am usually in a different state (though here I will refrain from using the term "Yankee"!) and I take it almost as an insult.

So as we were driving to the beach to begin our vacation, we stopped in a Columbia, SC McDonald's for lunch. After a very long wait and terrible service, I should have been quite frustrated. I was staring at the fountain drink dispenser, looking in vain for the button that squirts only water. NOW I began to get annoyed, because my 3 year old son only wanted water, and I feared that a public meltdown was imminent if I didn't come up with some H2O.

The janitor asked me what was I looking for, and I told him. He directed me to ask the drive-thru girl to get it for me. (Huh?) I don't know what kind of expression I had on my face, but I know what I felt like inside. I was ready to scream! And then he said it.

The phrase.

"You're not from around here, are you?"

But before I could get even angrier, he said this: "That's not a bad thing. You just don't carry yourself like you're from around here."

My anger instantly subsided. I'm in a McDonald's in the capital of the state. Big town. I would not instantly presume that anyone was an out-of-towner simply because they were in McDonald's. And, like I said, I was a southerner in South Carolina. My accent blended in just fine, y'all.

So what was it about me that he identified as "foreign?"

I believe that it was the Holy Spirit, that's what. I think that God's presence in me was evident on my face outwardly, even if I didn't feel it inwardly at that very moment. Maybe that janitor just needed a friendly face right then. A bright spot in his day. So God showed him one without me even knowing it!

And I (with God's presence) stood out. In a good way. So, as the title of this blog says, I'm on a quest for relevance. An alien in a twisted world, trying to figure out how to survive, contribute and reach that world without becoming a "victim" of it.

No, Mr. Janitor. I'm not from around here. One day I'll be back home with my Father.

God can use us in any circumstance, whether we are feeling Spirit-filled or not! But wouldn't it have been great if my countenance really had been a cheerful, patient one like that janitor thought I had?

Oh Father, empty me of myself, and refill me with Your Spirit. Let me be dimished, and You be magnified. Let Your presence be all that others see in me...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Prayer Request

My little Pinnacle Church is a plant, and our mother church, Biltmore Baptist, is absolutely amazing. So, I was saddened this morning to learn that the senior pastor of Biltmore has resigned. He is becoming the CEO of the Haggai (sp?) Institute, an evangelistic group that reaches world leaders in high places. It's a great move for Pastor Walker but I know the members of the church must be devastated. My own heart broke a little when I heard the news this morning. The church has grown, multiplied, and just has done so many incredible things for God's glory under Pastor Walker's leadership, and in obedience to God's leading.

Please pray for:
1. Pastor Walker: he thought he would remain at Biltmore forever. His emotions I'm sure are a mess.
2. Pastor Walker's young family (wife, teens and younger children)
3. Congregation of Biltmore Baptist as they deal with the news, and begin the search for a new pastor
4. A suitable "replacement" for Pastor Walker: he has left huge shoes to fill. Pray that God leads the perfect pastor to this role, and that God's choice will be abundantly clear.
5. Pinnacle Curch: I'm not sure what role Biltmore plays in our actual operation, but I pray for a smooth transition nonetheless. The new pastor will hopefully also have a heart for church plants and outreach.

Thank you in advance for lifting up your brothers and sisters in Christ!!

Just a Reminder...

Free learn-to-knit (and crochet) kits giveaway is almost over! Comment by August 1st why you would like the kits. I'll announce the winners this week!!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tag - You're It!

Mary E. DeMuth at relevantblog tagged me for this fun exercise. In return, I tag YOU who are reading this.

Copy the list below. Bold the books you’ve read.* Italicize the ones you want to read.* Leave in normal text the ones that don’t interest you.* Put in ALL CAPS those you haven’t heard of.* Put a couple of asterisks by the ones you recommend.

1. The DaVinci Code (Dan Brown)
2. Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee) **

4. Gone With The Wind (Margaret Mitchell)********
5. The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (Tolkien)
6. The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien)
7. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers (Tolkien)
8. Anne of Green Gables (L.M. Montgomery)
9. OUTLANDER (Diana Gabaldon)
10. A FINE BALANCE (Rohinton Mistry)
11. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Rowling)
12. Angels and Demons (Dan Brown)
13. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Rowling)
15. Memoirs of a Geisha (Arthur Golden)
16. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Rowling)
17. FALL ON YOUR KNEES (Ann-Marie MacDonald)
18. The Stand (Stephen King)
19. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Rowling)
20. Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
21. The Hobbit (Tolkien)
22. The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger)
23. Little Women (Louisa May Alcott)
24. THE LOVELY BONES (Alice Sebold)
25. LIFE OF PI (Yann Martel)
26. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
27. Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte)
28. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (C. S. Lewis)
29. East of Eden (John Steinbeck)
30. Tuesdays with Morrie (Mitch Albom)
31. DUNE (Frank Herbert)
32. The Notebook (Nicholas Sparks)***
34. 1984 (Orwell)
35.The Mists of Avalon (Marion Zimmer Bradley)
37. THE POWER OF ONE (Bryce Courtenay)
38. I Know This Much Is True (Wally Lamb)
39. THE RED TENT (Anita Diamant)
40. The Alchemist (Paulo Coelho)
41. The Clan of the Cave Bear (Jean M. Auel)
42. THE KITE RUNNER (Khaled Hosseini)
43. Confessions of a Shopahaulic (Sophie Kinsella)
44. The Five People You Meet In Heaven (Mitch Albom)
45. The Bible **
46. Anna Karenina (Tolstoy)
47. The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)
48. Angela’s Ashes (Frank McCourt)
49. The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck)
50. She's Come Undone (Wally Lamb)
51. The Poisonwood Bible (Barbara Kingsolver)
52. A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens)
53. Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card)
54. Great Expectations (Dickens) **
55. The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald)**
56. THE STONE ANGEL (Margaret Laurence)
57. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Rowling)
58. The Thorn Birds (Colleen McCullough)
59. The Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood)
60. The Time Traveller’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
61. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
62. The Fountainhead (Ayn Rand)
63. War and Peace (Tolstoy)
64. Interview With The Vampire (Anne Rice)
65. FIFTH BUSINESS (Robertson Davies)
66. ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
67. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Ann Brashares)
68. Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
69. Les Miserables (Victor Hugo)
70. The Little Prince (Antoine de Saint-Exupery)
71. Bridget Jones's Diary (Helen Fielding)
72. LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
73. Shogun (James Clavell)
74. The English Patient (Michael Ondaatje)
75. The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson)
76. THE SUMMER TREE (Guy Gavriel Kay)
77. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
78. The World According to Garp (John Irving)
79. The Diviners (Margaret Laurence)
80. Charlotte’s Web (E.B. White)**
81. NOT WANTED ON THE VOYAGE (Timothy Findley)
82. Of Mice And Men (Steinbeck)
83. REBECCA (Daphne DuMaurier)
84. WIZARD'S FIRST RULE (Terry Goodkind)
85. Emma (Jane Austen)
86. Watership Down (Richard Adams)
87. Brave New World (Aldous Huxley)
88. The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields)
89. BLINDNESS (Jose Saramago)
90. KANE AND ABEL (Jeffrey Archer)
91. IN THE SKIN OF A LION (Michael Ondaatje)
92. Lord of the Flies (William Golding)
93. The Good Earth (Pearl S. Buck)
94. The Secret Life of Bees (Sue Monk Kidd)
95. The Bourne Identity (Robert Ludlum)
96. The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton)
97. White Oleander (Janet Fitch)
98. A Woman of Substance (Barbara Taylor Bradford)
100. Ulysses (James Joyce)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Just Call me "Grace"

Or not. Within the first ten minutes of arriving at Whirlin' Waters this morning, I'm going down the kiddie slides with my 3-year-old. Trying to "break him in" by going in with him. We hit the water (all two feet deep of it), I pitch forward, manage to keep our heads above water, but injure myself in the process. All of my weight and Elijah's went directly onto my right knee, which was jammed mercilessly into the bottom of the pool. I will only use one word to describe it and save you all gory details: raw.

Fortunately, the rest of the vacation is MUCH better...

More later...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Finally - A Vacation!

We are in the midst of packing and cleaning and getting ready to leave for the beach. FINALLY! Seems like forever since we've gotten away. So, I am still undecided about taking my laptop with me or not. I'm leaning towards "yes," as we need directions to Gaillord (sp?) Theater in Charleston, and I have a publisher waiting on the rest of my book.

Anyway, we're about to be off so, have a good week if you don't hear from me again, and I'll keep you posted if decide to stay "connected."


Friday, July 20, 2007

Pinnacle Focus: Josh Fowler

I am going to try a little something on my blog. Periodically, I am going to focus a post on someone from my church. I will tell you a little about them, and likely have a prayer request for them as well. So, let's get it started!

First, I am asking for prayer for our creative arts pastor, Josh Fowler. He had shoulder surgery yesterday, which went very well. I ask for complete healing, quick recovery, and no complications. And prayer for his lovely wife Susan who will put up with , oh , I mean, take care of him. :-) (Well, he is a boy!)

CMT is starting an American Idol-type show called "Big Break" and they filmed the pilot here in Asheville a few months ago. Josh, our 22 year old worship leader at Pinnacle Church, was one of the finalists! They're starting to plug the show and have it on www.cmt.com. I had the link to his page last night, but was having technical difficulties and couldn't get it right in my draft. This morning, CMT says that page has been moved. The show link is there, but the bios of the contestants are gone. But, his picture is still in there in the photo gallery. As you look at the 11 of them, his name is at the bottom of the window. Josh will personally tell you that it is the worst picture ever. A better preview of Josh is on the Pinnacle Church "Meet the Staff" page.

He is a godly young man with a humble heart. Check him out!! And say a prayer for him, too!!

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Let me introduce my family...

OK, now that I know how to post pics, you are all in trouble. Today you will meet my precious family. We'll start with one you know. Wide-eyed baby from the last post? He's the sleepy one holding his blankie.

Below him is big brother who starts kindergarten in August.

And then there's the handsome teenager, who has a birthday this week, who starts high school in August. He took all these photos.

Gorgeous, huh? They get their looks from their mom, of course! (But they really are happier than they look here. I just need to transfer the newer pics from my camera.)

Don't ask me how I have three blond-haired boys. My hair is not, and has only briefly been artificially, blond. My husband is brunette, too. Go figure. God just blessed me with beautiful children!

I'm time pressed right now. This week has been crazy, and right now I've got to get to my Beth Moore study. But I'll actually write soon, I promise!!

Monday, July 16, 2007

My first photo!!

I'm learning to post photos, so bear with me. I thought I'd start with something fun. This is my baby (who is now 3). I just love this picture!


Satan is at it again!

It happened again. It just amazes me how sneaky Satan is when he tries disrupt the good we do. In a way, I felt like this blog would be a ministry. A way to reach out, share a nugget of truth from God's word, and in the words of Lysa TerKeurst, "let people meet my Jesus" because they saw Him in me, through my words and the life I live.

So I got excited. This will be great! So I registered with a couple of blog-type services. I'm new and have no idea what I'm doing, so I signed up to monitor statistics, and to ping stuff, and to subscribe quickly, and most of it I have no idea what I just did. I started out thinking it's just a good idea, or even just fun trivia, to see how many people actually read what I posted.

And then it happened. I found myself checking my stats several times a day. Wondering why I had 14 hits last night and none all day today. And it suddenly stopped being a ministry, and became a numbers game. A popularity contest. It stopped being about God, and started being about me.

Thankfully, it did not take me six months to come to this realizaton like it did with my knitting ministry. I hope that means that I actually did learn a lesson in that experience, and will not repeat the same mistakes.

So, I am not going to check my stats constantly. I'm not signing up to ping anything else, or boost my search engine ranking, or anything else that is remotely about me.

I will only check my stats either once a day or once a week. I'm waiting to hear from my God about that. And when I do check them, I don't want to say, "What's wrong with MY numbers? Look how MY blog is doing." I want to say, "Wow! Look at that! God used my little blog to reach someone 2,000 miles away from me today. Look what God is doing."

I want that new perspective. And my Jesus will give it me...

Saturday, July 14, 2007

An unexpected surprise!

I met with a publisher at the She Speaks conference this year to pitch my "tween" Christian book. I ran the idea past a publisher at She PSeaks two years ago when it was just that: an idea. I han't written a word. The publisher liked the idea and gave me permission to submit it when I actually had a story on paper.

Fast forward to this year: I met with a different representative of the same company, and this time I brought about 20 pages worth for her to look over. She graciously accepted all the pitches from our group session, and said that she hoped to review them within the next six months. I am completely still a novice in the publishing world, but I knew from my past experience was a realistic number. That was June 23rd.

Today, while my husband was sorting through the mail, he asked me who this publisher on the return address is. I turned to see him holding in his hand the standard, SASE with my upside-down triangle stamp from the conference. I knew not only from stamp, but that this is the only publisher I've submitted it to so far. And usually those SASE's contain rejection letters.

Needless to say I was disappointed, but I opened it anyway. Maybe there was some advice or comments to aid in improving it for the next publisher prospect.

Much to my surprise, it was a simple letter inviting me to submit my full manuscript! I was excited, but not really surprised. I know how arrogant that sounds, but hear me out.

The only way that I can explain this is that I believe completely that God wants me to write this book. It's just something I know. And I'm trying to be obedient to that call, although it has taken make quite a while. When God gives you an assignment, He will carry it through to completion. Phillipians 1:6 says "that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."

I have no doubt that some day this book will be published. Even if I don't get picked up by a big publishing house and have to do it myself. This book will be published.

So, for know, I will finish writing the book,and see where God takes it....

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Free stuff - just tell me why you want it by August 1st

I finally had to clean up my side of the closet. I am a fanatic knitter. (Yes, Marybeth. I was the one at She Speaks who yelled "Whoo-hoo"' about knitting blogs.) Maybe it would be more accurate to say that I am a fanatic yarn collector. I didn't count how many balls, hanks and skeins of yarn I had. I've got soft yarn, scratchy yarn, fat yarn, skinny yarn, fuzzy yarn, cheap yarn, expensive yarn, ribbon yarn, and lots of other yarn. I don't know how many naked sheep are grazing somewhere because I have their wool, but it's a lot. Really.

I guess I'll just say that I am immeasurably blessed. Instead of shoes or handbags (Micca), I love yarn. And then I make purses out of it! Sometimes, anyway. I love making kids stuff. Baby hats and toys the most. Or tiny clothes. Maybe I'll try posting pictures of them. I can't finish big projects. I get bored and have to put them away before I even remotely finish them.

Anyway, I discovered two "learn to knit" kits and one "learn to crochet" kit buried in my closet. I used to have a knitting ministry in the neonatal intensive care unit that my last son spent 11 days in. I tried to teach the moms with babies there to knit, but I couldn't get any help teaching and I let my human-ness burn me out, wear me down, and talk me into quitting. I took my focus off of God and what He wanted do accomplish through me, and instead turned the focus on myself and what I could, or couldn't, do. I know now that was a mistake to give up. But I'm letting God handle it this time. He'll let me know if I should try it again.

So, in the meantime, I knit things and give them to charity. A scarf for a college student who is an orphan through the Red Scarf project at Orphan.org. Caps for kids in need everywhere. Teddy bears for traumatized children. Chemo caps for cancer patients. It's very rewarding...

Sorry, off on a tangent. So, I don't need these kits anymore, and they are up for grabs! Tell me why you want to learn, or who you will give it to, and I will announce the winners August 1 after my much-needed vacation. I thought they would be great for teen girls to introduce them to "giving back" to the community. Just a thought....

Be creative, and good luck!!

Monday, July 9, 2007

What I Learned Fishing

As you saw in my post from Saturday, I gave up my selfish desires and went along with my husband's plans for our family. Out of all his possibilities, we only went fishing. Thank goodness. It was quite hot, like I knew it would be. So, I felt quite disgusting when we were done, like I knew I would be.

We had a few minor meltdowns, but overall it was fun. We went to a stocked pond, and we all caught at least one fish. We brought home seven fat rainbow trout which we grilled for dinner.

So what did I learn?

1. I still like fishing in general.
2. I still don't like the actual fish, or worms.
3. I still don't like getting sweaty and stinky.
4. I am SO THANKFUL that I do not work at a trout pond and have to gut and clean fish. God bless all you women who can do this!! I guess I would have starved as a pioneer woman! It is SO worth 75 cents per fish to have someone clean them for you!!!

In closing, my plans may sound good, but it IS possible to have a good time when you go along with someone else's plans. Like maybe God's plans, when He asks you to something you don't want to do, or don't understand. His plans are ALWAYS better than anything we can dream up...

Happy Fishing!!

I Love My Daddies!

I read a post from Beth Moore's daughter Amanda on the Living Proof Ministries blog. It was a birthday tribute to her dad and Beth's husband, Keith. I couldn't resist posting a comment there, but I think it bears repeating here. Check out Amanda's entry: http://livingproofministries.blogspot.com

Here's what I wrote in response:

How this makes me think of my daddy! The one who let me ruin one recliner after another because I insisited on squeezing in it beside him every night, and loosened the arms right off. The one who affectionately called me "The Boss." The daddy some of my friends wished was their daddy. The one who fixed my swingset. The one who let me sit in his lap when he was an usher at church. The one who still drives around in the snow, looking to help someone who slid into a ditch, for free. The one who repairs cars for next to nothing. The one who, even at 79 years of age, cuts wood and gives it to those in need.

I always thought my dad was a real sweetie. But the older I get, the more I can see my Heavenly Father in my earthly father. All the things my dad does that makes him so beloved in the community are reflections of the presence of our God in him.

We can inherit many things from our fathers: high cholesterol, blue eyes, a love of coffee, and hard-headedness (all of which I got from MY dad) to name a few. I hope that I inherit enough of his good traits, and especially of my Savior's good traits, that my heritage will be easy for anyone to see...

Show all the Daddies (especially your Heavenly One!) in your life that you love them today!!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Not MY idea...

I swim daily in a sea of testosterone. I, along with my poor mother-in-law, live with my tall, dark and handsome husband and three blond haired, blue eyes boys. Every Saturday the testosterone peaks to an all-time high! I will be barely out of bed, halfway through my first cup of coffee when my honey Jeff is crying out, "Let's go!!" And he means RIGHT THEN. I am always still in my PJ's, no make-up, teeth unbrushed, hair a mess, and he's ready to leave. I hate to say, but this often starts my Saturday's off in a very grumpy mood.

I deal with this a lot, and even ran across a list of possible writing topics for devotions this morning. This was at the top: "Don't be a party pooper. Have fun with the kids." Like I said, I DEAL with this a lot. God has to gently remind me that it can actually be fun to do all those "boy" things, even if you are a bit of a girly-girl.

My ideal Saturday is more like this: my hot coffee and I get to read, or write uninterrupted for a while. I can nap if I wish. Or I can work in the yard. Or I can go shopping. Or clean house if I force myself.

Did you notice all the "I"'s in there? Oh.

Well, it seems that I really should spend more time with my family. The work week is chaotic, so fun family time is really needed in my house on the weekends. I need to die, yet again, to my own selfish desires (which are really not going to happen anyway: writing uninterrupted? No way!) and focus on my family. And what my sweet heavenly Daddy is telling me to.

So today, I am about to do one or some combo of the following with all my boys:

1. Go fishing. I actually enjoy this, except for the worms and the actual fish. Yuk!
2. Golf driving range. Again, I enjoy, but it's 90 degrees out today. Can you say, "Heat Stroke?"
3. Linville Caverns. Cool, but almost 2 hours away. I am not spending 4 hours riding in a truck with 4 sweaty boys and a cooler of dead fish. Again, YUK!
4. Whatever else my husband said that I tuned out.

My ideal Saturday? No. But today, I think it is God's ideal Saturday for me...

Friday, July 6, 2007

Special Thanks!

Thanks go 0ut to Marybeth Whalen, whose class at She Speaks encouraged me to start my own blog. She also shared my story with Lysa TerKeurst, who wrote the book I mention in that story. And Lysa became the first person to leave me a comment! (Thanks Lysa!) I know that seems silly, but I find it quite exciting to know that someone besides me has read my blog! Not only was Lysa my first comment, she also wrote about all of this on her blog. You can check it out here:


The post is called "The Power of a Pause." She's just incredible, as is her ministry, Proverbs 31. Look in to that it as well at www.proverbs31.org.

Marybeth can be found in many places, but I find it easiest to go to www.marybethwhalen.com. She's a wonderful writer as well.

Happy reading!!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Divine Appointment in the Produce Section

I bought “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst at the She Speaks conference this year. I’m trying very hard to listen to God, to learn to hear Him better. And to do what He asks. I’ve realized recently that I get distracted by the good I try to do. The search for the next great ministry, for my “place” to serve became like an idol. My focus stopped being on God. I didn’t even realize it, since my quest was to find a way to serve God. I guess even good things can trip you up…

In Lysa’s book, she shares a prayer that she says before getting out of bed every morning, and I have adopted it as well. It goes like this: “Lord, today I want to see you. I want to hear you. I want to know you, and I want to follow hard after you.”

So yesterday, I had to go to the grocery store (which I hate). While in the produce section, I saw an older gentleman asking the high-school-age stocker where the 99-cent tomatoes were. As I looked at him, I noticed his physical condition. He was walking with a cane, and was using that same hand to push his cart. One arm was much shorter than the other, and didn’t seem to work very well. He was struggling just to get around. I knew I should help him. So I did.

I showed him the tomatoes. I found a produce bag for him, and held it open while he filled it. He asked, “About how much is that?” I replied, “I don’t know. How much do you want?” “Oh, about four pounds. I like tomatoes,” he smiled. So I weighed them for him. Only three pounds. He said that was good enough, and thanked me for my help.

I retrieved my shopping cart and went about my shopping. I felt like I should help him finish, and as each aisle passed I felt worse and worse because I hadn’t. Then we met once again. This time, I offered to assist him again, but he declined. I felt better at having at least tried. But I still felt a little bad for not staying with him from the beginning. I saw him several more times throughout the store, and he looked just pitiful. My heart ached for this poor soul, as I pictured him loading these groceries into a car, and trying to drive. I could visualize him in my mind unloading his groceries, carrying one bag at a time with his good hand, which also held his cane.

I didn’t want to seem pushy, so even though I wanted to do more for him, I didn’t ask. He had already turned me down.

I think my grocery store trip was really a divine appointment. I know that God urged me to help that old man. Did I succeed? I do believe I was obedient, but I just don’t know if I accomplished everything God wanted. I may never know the answer to that.

But God answered my morning prayer. I saw God in that grocery store. I heard Him tell me to help that perfect stranger. I knew what God’s will was – to help “the least of these.” And by doing so, I followed hard after Him. I believe that I took the first step to becoming a woman who says “yes” to God, and THAT is exciting…


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