Mother’s Day Fantasy

“Can I just check myself into the nursery and sit in the corner with a sippy cup full of wine for an hour or two—or six?”

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The alarm goes off—it’s Sunday, Mother’s day.

You informed everyone the night before that they will all be going to church tomorrow lest there be any doubt. It’s Mother’s day and you are going to have a nice day with your family. You are going to church— let everyone see what a wonderful family you have, that you are the godly parent providing for their spiritual nourishment.

After church your family is taking you to a nice sit down restaurant and you are going to pretend that you are not stressing over how much this is taking out of your budget for the month.

So, the alarm goes off—way too early, you are the first one up and you were the last one in bed because you had to finish the laundry. You jump into the shower, throw on your robe and go wake up the kids. They are all in a state of suspended animation so this takes several attempts over a 25 minute period making you more frustrated and leaving you less time to do something with your still wet hair.

Finally they are all sprawled across the furniture out in the living room, hugging their blankets and making unpleasant mumbling sounds. A few moments later from the bathroom you know they are finally waking up because they are now starting to snarl at each other until one of them screams; “Mom, Johnny called me a poopy head!” You scream back; “Go brush your teeth and find something to eat!”

Your husband shouts above the sound of clanging pans, “I’m making oatmeal!’ Your youngest replies, “I want sketios.” Husband; “You can’t have Sketios for breakfast, you’re eating oatmeal, that’s what’s for breakfast.” The chorus continues as you close the bathroom door to focus on getting ready.

20 minutes later you emerge from the bathroom to make sure the kids are finding the right clothes to wear. Your youngest is wearing her oatmeal—as is the stove top. Johnny is just sitting at the table staring at his bowl determined to outlast his Dad who told him he is not moving until he eats and your teenage daughter is informing you that you are ruining her life by not allowing her to wear the outfit she came home from the mall with last week and she has already texted fifteen of her friends and posted three selfies on Facebook of her new tongue piercing, which is now swollen, possibly infected, and makes her lisp like Gopher on Winnie the Pooh.

You would laugh but you are convinced that she will probably die from the infection and you are already trying to figure out how you are going to get her into a doctor on a Sunday afternoon. But first, ‘we are having Mother’s Day!’ Fifteen more minutes magically disappeartime flies when your frantic—“Everyone in the car, where going to be late!”

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Where’s your youngest? She’s in her room cutting the hair on her My Little Pony. She has already taken off her new dress and replaced it with her Toys R Us  Princess Anna dress, ‘Ughhh!” no time to change, you grab her and a pair of her shoes and head out the door only to find out half way to church that you grabbed the Minnie Mouse shoes and she wanted her Dory shoes and you are going to hear about it the rest of the way there. She won’t keep them on anyway so what does it matter?

Your husband and oldest daughter aren’t on speaking terms right now because of the piercing thing, but at least they’re quiet.

You walk into church half way through worship, send the kids in all the right directions, plop down in a chair way to close to the front because that is what’s left and pretend you are able to focus even for one minute on worship. You hear a phone ring and it about sets you off—“Who could be so inconsiderate!” Then you realize it is yours, you forgot to put it on silence.

‘Can I just check myself into the nursery and sit in the corner with a sippy cup full of wine for an hour or two—or six?’

And that’s just Sunday morning.

Happy Mother’s Day!? I am a miserable mother and I’ll be lucky if my children don’t grow up to be ax murderers.

It Is Enough

I bet if I could took a poll every mother reading this would say they feel or have felt this way. And you can bet your own mother’s often felt this way as well. You are tasked with raising little human beings with all the complexities of emotion and thought that anyone else has, each with a different and unique personality and way of thinking.

Yet, when you get them, they have absolutely no idea how to deal with any of those things. They have all the potential and none of the tempering experience, and you, probably have little or no experience being a mother. and training these needy helpless complex creatures on how to be a functional person in a world that few really understand in the first place now seems way beyond your pay grade.

You went into this with an idea in your head of how it would or should be. ‘Sweet little darlings to nurture and love, entertain and delight with crafts to do, cookies to bake together and eat, board games and activities with other wonderful kids from the neighborhood.’

You are going to teach them how to sew and garden, cheer them on in sports and be the 4-H mom that is able to volunteer for everything. Your kids are going to sing in the church choir and everyone will envy you for having such wonderful children and they will grow up and give you grandchildren who can’t wait to come over and spend time at your knee listening to the stories of your wonderful life and memorize Bible verses.

You might think that because that’s what you hear from your neighbors, you saw it on that Christmas movie on the Hallmark Channel —or that’s what you remember from your own childhood. You just want to give your kids that perfect childhood.

There are no perfect childhoods—at least not by the impossible standards of our fantasy’s. But there are perfect memories. Not that things are remembered perfectly, but that in memory they become perfect.

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You think back and remember the good times you had as a kid, the things you learned, the adventures you had back when everything was new and exciting and you felt safe and loved because your Mom was always there and always cared. She probably remembers the chaos because while you were being covered in love she was being covered in bodily fluids. While you were learning about the wonders of the universe above she was being annoyed by your constant questions while she was trying to balance the check book and figure out how to pay the gas bill.

You get my point, all we can do is the best we can do and by God’s grace, if we indeed care, it is somehow enough, more than enough. You are not tasked with creating the perfect person, there is only one creator and he has already done the hard part and yet he never quits working on until the task is complete. What he is asking you to do is to help them build the foundation.

What you need to do is give your kids the foundation to build on, the corner stone, give them Jesus. How do you do that?—You do the best that you can and you keep caring. You build the foundation by caring, and you keep caring—always.

You keep standing on the rock, loving them, praying for them, being there for them, getting them here to church to hear about Jesus from a teacher who is devoted to teaching them God’s word and giving you the opportunity to be fed as well.

All the Lord asks of us as parents, just as he does in our relationship with him, is that we keep doing our best and never give up knowing that it is not entirely up to us.

You love them for Jesus, and keep knowing that you are loved as well, by him, by your kids and by us. And every day is a new day.

on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.

Cherish this day

If there is one piece of advice I can leave you with—mothers—is this; enjoy this day, cherish the chaos and noise because one day you’re going to miss it. Trust me, my wife will tell you the same thing; each and every day with your kids is a gift, and one day your kids will look back and say the same. Your kids would never trade you for another, you are their mom.

Keep standing on and loving from the rock—you are immovable, and that’s all your kids really want anyway.

. . .you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture,

“Behold, I lay in Zion
A chief cornerstone, elect, precious,
And the one who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.” 1 Peter 2:5,6

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Mom Forever

 

“…eternity isMoments meme a moment that never goes away until we choose to let it.”

You may have noticed that God keeps his own clock, much different from ours. The church of Peter’s day, anxious for the return of the Lord, thought ten years was for—ev—er! Try 2000 years! Still just a couple of days to the Lord, I mean, I’m still trying to figure out how he created a 13 billion year old universe in just 6 days, we can’t explain it but we keep trying don’t we, it’s what we do. We just have to shove eternity into our calendars.

With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. 2 Pet 2:8,9

I think kids actually have a much better concept of eternity, they haven’t been bitten in the butt by time near so many times as we adults so they just live in the moment. I think maybe that’s what eternity is, a moment that never goes away until we choose to let it.

That is why the Lord can take care of so many complex issues, be with everyone at—what seems to us like—the same time, and still be in the past and the future as well. He can take what is just a moment to us and make it last just as long as he needs to, until he is fully satisfied that whatever he is doing, creating or fixing is completely finished.

I imagine heaven being a place where I can sit on the front porch of my mountain cabin and visit with someone I love or find interesting for hours, even days, and still have time to visit with the myriad others I would like to spend time with and never miss anyone or anything because I spent too much time with someone else—I know I’m getting into the weeds here, welcome to my brain…

Anyway, what I was trying to get at, is that kids still think eternally, they are eternal souls learning to find their way in a temporal world so they think they do have time to just enjoy whomever or whatever is before them for as long as they wish and still never miss anything important. If you have kids you probably had that fight this morning when trying to get them out the door for school or church—you didn’t know you were fighting against eternity did you.

Kids see life through the “a day is like a thousand years” part of the eternity equation that Peter lays out here. When we are kids a day is like a thousand years; that last week of school just before vacation took forever, ‘I can’t wait!’ And then school is out and it seems like we were able to do such much just in one day, (maybe because when you are a kid your energy level puts you into hyper speed mode and you really can do much more in a day.)

Then we get older and the other side of that equation becomes our reality, ‘I only have one week to get this done, oh my gosh, it’s Thursday already, AHH!’ Our busy weeks go screaming by and then the weekend’s here and what really sounds good is a nap. We are now living in the one thousand years is like a day mode. I can see us all saying that at the end of the millennial reign of Christ; ‘Wow, that thousand years went by quick!’ (I’m already stressing about the end of the millennium and it hasn’t even started yet.)

Maybe that’s the difference, kids don’t stress about the end, the future, they enjoy the present.

Time to Mother?

But, I suppose we ought to get to the subject of mothers, which is really where I am going with all of this, while you are busy trying to get something productive accomplished, like wash your hair or do the laundry, when you really would rather take a nap, your kids are bouncing around in hyper speed, (maybe the theory of relativity comes into play here, they are moving so fast that they really are slowing down time), anyway, they just want to do stuff—“Mom, can we do this, why can’t we do that? Let’s go there, help me build this, take me to the pool, can I have a sleepover, “I’m bored!” this is the worst day ever, this is the best day ever, and all this just in a couple of hours.

And you are exasperated, all your dreams of being the perfect mom, having happy well balanced kids who never argue with each other, or you, who sit politely at the table waiting for you to flit in with your apron on, your hair and makeup done, and a tray full of fresh oatmeal cookies made from organic oats that you grew and rolled yourself, while their father is packing the minivan for a dream trip to Disney land—all those dreams now seem so far away; “Just give me the strength to make it till the end of the day without losing it and emotionally scarring my little monsters—I mean darlings— for life!”

Again, that’s your perspective. Maybe you thought you had the idyllic childhood and your mom made your life so wonderful, or maybe it was the mother of one of your friends, or a TV fantasy mom like June Cleaver or Mrs. Brady who made it all seem so easy and wonderful, but in reality, at least for the real life moms, they were also going through their days thinking; “Lord, give me the strength to not kill one of these kids before I can deposit them in their beds tonight.”Rockwell Mother

You thought it was all wonderful and perfect when you were a kid because that is the part you remember, you remember because you lived fully in the moment, you weren’t worrying about the future and your weren’t pining for, or trying to live up to, a past that can never be recreated, a past that now lives only in your mind.

Or maybe your childhood was full of turmoil and drama and you have vowed that things would never be that way for your own kids, but here you are, fighting off drama using your crabby Mom powers leaving you to beat yourself up at the end of the day, thinking you are failing miserably, letting the regrets of the day or even the regrets of a decade ago, keep you awake at night.

There are no regrets in eternity, only the moment.

Eternity begins today, eternity begins right now. So learn how to live in, make the most of, and treasure the moment.

I heard an interesting and kind of disturbing bit of trivia a while ago. Norman Rockwell, the famous artist who illustrated the cover of The Saturday Evening Post for many years, with what everyone thought of as classic Americana, once told a reporter that he discovered early in his career that he couldn’t sell reality near as well as he could sell the reality people longed for.

People look at Rockwell’s version of a perfect world and believe that somewhere, at some time, this was the way things really were. We all want to live in Mayberry.

I believe, because I have experienced them, that those moments do exist, they are just not as constant or as perfect as we dream of, but they are there, moments worth treasuring, we need to learn to recognize and appreciate them more, they make the rest of this crazy life much more palatable. And the more we grab a hold of and ponder those moments, the more there will be, not because they will magically happen but because we just learn to appreciate things more—less stress, more gratitude for today.

The most famous mother of all had this figured out:

 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Luke 2:19

Relax and treasure the moments that matter, take mental snapshots and ponder them later—the moment your child gives you that smile that just melts your heart. The moment your child spontaneously says: “I love you Mom.” The moment your little girl hands you a bouquet of wildflowers she just picked with her pudgy little hands, when your child falls asleep snuggled into your lap like it is the safest place the world.

These are the moments to treasure, these are the moments that matter, moments you actively helped create, even if they didn’t go exactly, or even close to, the way you planned, and the moments you create by just being in the right place at the right time.

Every moment spent being a mom, being a parent to your child, is  a moment spent in the right place at the right time. You are building eternity, moment by moment —and that is what makes you the world’s greatest Mom.

 

The Stories We Can’t Tell

 

…anyone who has had someone you love get hurt—you are a victim also.

“You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar. …
Dreamscapes #8Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.”  Psalm 139:1-2,6

There has been something that has been on my mind a lot lately, something that happened in my spirit though it took me a while to realize and began to understand what it was, and the reason it happened was purely the grace of God. And, I believe, a result of just doing my best to be obedient and do what I believed the Holy Spirit was leading me to do; ministering to you, tackling things that I wasn’t really comfortable tackling— as I talked about some last week.

You ever have God do something in you, you know it was really good but you’re not exactly sure what it was or why it was significant— and harder yet—trying to put it into words? For me it kind of boiled down to this:

You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.


These words have been in my heart lately and that’s why I started with this psalm. As I write this I am still struggling with trying to understand what happened and the significance, so, as I have said so many times before to my church, when the Lord is trying to teach me something that is often what I teach on— because then I know it has to come from the Lord and that’s it’s fresh, even if it’s only half baked.

As you may know; I love to tell stories and I love to write. Stories help me to get my point across in a way that people remember and even enjoy, while writing helps me to sort things out in my own mind, it’s therapeutic. Writing and telling the stories of my life helps me to bring order to my life, helps me to deal with things that may have bothered me and— like I have told you in the last few weeks— telling our stories helps us to redeem our past.

It’s taking something that haunts us, that was meant to harm us and turning it into a weapon for good; that story becomes our testimony; the Gospel of Jesus Christ come crashing into our lives, the Holy Spirit eclipsing the flesh, the good chasing away the evil, the Kingdom of God overshadowing the power the evil of this world once held over us— that’s the redemption of our stories, that’s the God of eternity, the God of history becoming the God of our present, and altering our future regardless of our past.

That’s why we can say as in Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Untold stories

But what about the stories that we can’t tell?

A few weeks ago in the church I pastor, at the end of what was the culmination of my series on overcoming the hurts and pains of the past, breaking away from the dead who would drag us back and keep us bound up in fear, doubt, condemnation and guilt—much of it aimed at overcoming the pain of past sexual abuses— I had, like I said, something happen in my Spirit that I didn’t recognize at first, at least not for what it was.

I got done preaching the message “See Her” About the woman that people had labeled as a sinful woman, yet Jesus had seen beyond that hard and false exterior that had been forced upon her and saw the person deep inside that she wanted to be, saw the healing that needed to take place and ministered to it, forgiving her and setting her free.

Jesus had ‘searched her heart and he knew her’— just as the psalm says—and loved her into wholeness. I finished the message and turned things over to the worship team as I normally do and took my seat to join in the worship and, in the midst of the worship, I was overcome with emotion and just started to weep, and I wasn’t sure why. I knew something was happening in my heart, that the Lord was doing something, I wasn’t sure what, but it felt like the Spirit was just washing over me and taking care of something.

Next thing I knew worship was over and the worship leader is looking at me like; ‘okay, your turn.’ So I went up with tears still streaming down my face, normally at this point I give one last thought and then close in prayer; I looked at the faces looking back at me and all I could do was say— let’s just pray—close my eyes and bowed my head. I have no recollection of what I prayed but I think the Lord was in it.

Afterwards I was totally wiped. I thought, okay Lord, this has been a very emotional morning, this last few weeks has been very emotional for a lot of us as, things have been being acknowledged and ministered to that have been swept under the rug for far too long, so yeah, it’s going to be draining as you allow the Lord to use you to bless people. But I quickly realized that this went way beyond that.

The reason I was feeling the way I felt, the reason I had lost it at the end of that series and why I felt so totally emptied—drained— yet freshly empowered to begin a new thing at the same time; was because the Lord had healed me as well, he had ministered to my heart as well; the minster was being ministered to.

The reason I didn’t recognize it was because I was redeeming the stories I can’t tell.  And I didn’t recognize that this was possible.

You see, the amazing thing about our God? He knows us better than we know ourselves and if we trust him, if we follow him into even what seems to be the scary places— ‘the last thing I want to do, the last thing I want to face’ -places— we find redemption and grace.

I had told my church that I didn’t have the stories of sexual abuse so whatever ministry was to be born of this was going to have to be theirs. I never considered myself a victim of sexual abuse but the Lord knew better. The Lord revealed to me that I was a victim, not directly, but I, like so many, was also a victim— anyone who has had someone you love get hurt—you are a victim also.

You think you are carrying someone else’s pain you think you are feeling someone else’s hurt, you pray for them, you protect them and you wish that you could have done something to have prevented it, and you hate yourself for not being able to prevent it, you just wish you could make it go away—but you don’t recognize what it is doing to your own heart.

When you get the worst news you can possibly get as a parent—twice— and when you learn that your childhood home was far more dysfunctional than you ever imagined and that things were not as safe for all your siblings as you thought they were, when you love people like they are your family and know the secret pain they carry from things that are taunting them from their pasts—when you carry these things but you cannot share them, you cannot tell the stories because they are not your stories and above all you must protect those you love, those are the things that eat you up; the hurt is yours as well.

So, what I learned is, those are the things the Lord knows about and wants to heal as well. Those are the things the Lord cares about. In my obedience to minister to and tackle an issue that nobody wants to talk about, that I certainly didn’t want to talk about, I was ministered to as well, by the Holy Spirit himself.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. 27 And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  —Romans 8

The Lord searched my heart, and really, I am just left standing in awe of our God.

“Lord you searched me and you know me… Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain!”  I do not know how to pray as I ought, I do not know what all the enemy has planted in my heart, I do not know  why I have such grief, why I have such fears, why does this bother me, why can I not express my frustrations, what is it that eats away at me like a cancer and I can’t explain it let alone counter it —but Lord, you know, you understand, you know exactly what is in my heart, you know exactly what I need— Holy Spirit intercede for me and the very will of God will be done.

And his will is that his children are whole and that they have a “peace that passes all understanding”.

 

 

Heart Treasures

 

-Making Memories- Hyellowstone-national-parkere’s a word for you parents with young children; don’t get so hung up on the challenges and frustrations of trying to shape young irrational, stubborn and impatient minds and souls that you miss out on the potential significance of want is happening right now. Don’t stress because your plans and fantasy of perfect children being raised by perfect parents in a home full of fun and educational crafts, fresh baked cookies, butterfly catching and smiling singing children who take naps on que and wake up ready for their piano lessons haven’t come to fruition.

Watch Mary Poppins, the Sound of Music, laugh hysterically, and then go treasure the fact that you have real children who have a strong will, a desire to get really dirty and want to rule the world starting with your house, because God has entrusted you to shape them into a force that will affect their world and advance the kingdom of God and you have no idea how you just being there with them every day— challenging them, correcting them, wiping their noses and just keeping them from killing one another—is going to affect their lives for eternity.

They won’t remember the times you didn’t flit into the dining wearing your apron and high heels carrying a pan full of made from scratch oatmeal cookies as they were practicing their spelling. But they will remember that you were there and you allowed them to be kids without allowing them to play in the street, jump off the roof with a garbage bag for a parachute, get a tattoo of the Ninja turtles when they were twelve or pierce their little sister’s ears for her with an ice pick and a potato.

They will remember that you cared enough to be there for them and have the struggles that allowed them to live to adulthood largely unscathed. And if you managed to instill some mental snapshots into their hearts of the good times you had as a family— then you have really excelled as a parent because these have become heart treasures, touchstones, that they will carry for eternity.

Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man. Luke 2:51

 

I didn’t write a blog last week because Donna and I had taken the weekend off to head to a place where we have created a full album in our hearts of mental snapshots— treasured memories; Yellowstone Park— just a short drive from where we live. Yellowstone is a place that indeed brings back many great memories and reminds me that life is an adventure worth living, a fight worth having.

So last Saturday Donna and I stopped at Canyon village in the Park for lunch. We waited for and got a seat at the very busy lunch counter in the café there.

Across the counter from us was a family of six. Parents with three young girls ages 8, 10 and 12 I’m guessing, and a little boy about 6. I don’t know where they were from but they weren’t speaking English, I couldn’t hear them well enough to even guess, they looked maybe the Mediterranean or even middle eastern.

What I could see though was that they had 4 beautiful children who were enjoying themselves playing with a bag of polished stones and other trinkets they had probably just bought in the gift shop next door as they waited for their lunch. This brought back many memories of taking our own daughters through the park, the fun times and all the challenges that go with that.

Suddenly the challenges presented themselves to this family as the little boy starting getting angry and causing a commotion. I saw the mother sitting next to him give her husband a “Do something with your son look.” Soon he was sitting next to the boy who was starting to throw a fit, pointing at his sisters and demanding something. His father tried to quietly diffuse the situation and apparently thought he had succeeded because he went back to his own stool leaving the little boy pouting with his arms crossed.

Suddenly he very resolutely announced something to his parents and quick as a wink he slid of the stool and stormed off under the divider and into the very busy store adjacent to the lunch counter. His mother looked at her husband for just a second with a mixed look of shock, anger and fear and took off running to fetch the boy on a mission, dragging him back screaming to the counter where he sat and pouted some more—but stayed put.

While all this was going on I was also watching the girls, I could tell because I know kids, that they were still having fun. They were in the park having the adventure of a lifetime and they knew their little brother would get over whatever was troubling him soon enough. Soon they all had their American cheese burgers and life went on.

Donna looked at me at the point where the mother was running after the boy into the crowd with a what is going on look and I said: I can’t understand what they’re saying but it seems as though the girls had something the little boy didn’t and he was bound and determined to go and get it—some things are universal.

All of this brought back memory after memory and I just wanted to go over to this shell shocked couple and say; “Cherish this day, this is a day your kids will remember for the rest of their lives and in years to come you will look back and say, wow, that was a special trip, I’m sure glad we did that.” And this stress of trying to herd little kids through a crowded tourist haven will be long forgotten. I was wishing I had one of my books— Hope For Families— on me to give them but they probably wouldn’t have been able to read it anyway. But I stayed put, and I didn’t talk to them, I try not to be a creeper and they didn’t need me—they were doing it, they were having an adventure and they were making heart treasures.

You see, it’s not being perfect, it’s not the money you spend or the grandeur of the adventure, it’s just being together. Taking the time, making the effort to be there, to make memories, to build monuments. Everyone in that family is going to remember something different from that trip but they are all going to remember it and I’ll bet someday they will bring their own kids there and then their hearts will be full when the memories come flooding back and they see their own kids making new memories of their own, adding to your treasures and the heart gets fuller and fuller just knowing that you are helping the next generation find their own heart treasures.

Don’t get so busy just trying to live that you neglect making memories. You will never have this day to live over again, you cannot redo your children’s childhood and you cannot add treasures to a heart that you don’t make time for.

You have to be intentional about finding your treasures, they don’t always just happen. It doesn’t have to be Yellowstone, it can be the city park, a favorite camping or picnic spot. An activity like fishing, bowling, riding, playing games, all of the above— you name it. The point is, be there, be intentional and treasure the times you have while always looking for opportunity to make more.

And realize that the kids in Mary Poppins and the Sound of Music had full time nannies raising them so they probably grew up to be spoiled neurotic adults who resented their parents for not raising them themselves—just a theory.