Peeling Back The Layers

Peeling Back The Layers

When preparing some of my favorite dishes I find that I often use onions quite a bit in my entrees. For those of you that know me, you know cooking is not something I do often. However, on those rare occasions that I do, I love the taste and flavor that onions add to certain dishes. The aroma when cooking, the taste…ah, appetizing!

As I peel back the layers of the onions I find tears start to flow from my eyes. (I know this doesn’t happen to everyone as some have mastered peeling onions but it does for me) Knowing the finished dish is well worth the tears, I continue to peel, and tears continue to flow until I’m finished with the onion. And I take those peeled, chopped, and/or diced pieces and add them to my dish. Voila! I have a masterpiece when done.

In life, as God is peeling back layers, don’t you find that there are many times we find ourselves crying, sobbing, weeping? Each layer, although we know in the end will be beneficial to our maturation, peels off some unwanted issues and some we’ve dealt with for years, and causes tears to flow.

Imagine that God is ridding you of toxic relationships, helping you to become a better steward over the resources He’s given you, teaching you how to really love yourself (something you never knew how to do), eliminating your people-pleasing lifestyle, ridding you of long-held addictions…He peels away one layer at a time and often it takes years of peeling to get us where He wants us.

Now, think on the fact that just maybe you’ve lived with these for many years and actually thought you were on the right track. Oh the pain of eliminating the old and embracing the new. “Can’t You peel away all the layers at one time Lord? This hurts so much!”  Keep in mind it’s oftentimes taken years for you to develop these issues.  Just like it’s taken years to learn the old, it often takes years to unlearn and re-learn the new. (I know, I know, we see the light and we want all these layers to drop off now. Not gonna happen.) It’s a process.

It’s amazing to me how we go about life thinking that our way of doing things is the right way only to realize later that we were wrong on so many levels. After all, we are a product of our environment and unfortunately some of the things we learned were not the right things. No disrespect to parents and others as I know that all did the best they could and taught as best as they could.

It did not surprise nor does it surprise God but it sure does surprise the heck out of some of us.

Well, I have a word for you; though it hurts (and Oh my God it will), go through the process knowing that in the end it is all working together for your good. And once you’ve learned or gone through the peeling process, go back and teach someone else. Hopefully they’ll listen and learn. “When you learn, teach, when you get, give.” Dr. Maya Angelou

Luke 22:31-33 KJV

31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:

32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

33 And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

“Whew! Today I have to get dressed. What will I wear? Will it be the red dress or the black one? And what shoes and accessories will I wear? What about my handbag? So many decisions…just too many doggone decisions.”  Does this sound like you in the morning? Or perhaps you prepare your outfits for work, school, or that special event the day before or even days beforehand. This is really a chore sometimes and if you’re a lady you know what I’m talking about. But let’s keep first things first to ensure each day we are properly dressed and prepared for the days journey. You might ask: What do you mean? I’ve laid out all of my clothing so what else is left to do? Glad you asked. Allow me to tell you.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

As you are preparing for each new day that God gifts you with, make sure you are properly dressed for the day. Not just the outfit and accessories but make sure you’re covered to prepare and protect yourselves against the wiles or attacks of the enemy. Yeah, the clothing…that’s nice and all but the main way to ensure we are appropriately dressed for the day is through ensuring we’ve read or listened to our word, meditated on the word, offered up praise and thanksgiving to God and then and only then are we appropriately dressed to deal with the issues of the day.

Get dressed and make the best of today TODAY!

 

I have a little exercise for you to do. Sit back, relax, close your eyes and take a trip down memory lane. Think back to when you were a child– carefree, optimistic and believing that you could do anything you want and be anything you wanted to be. Can you see it? Can you see yourself as that child full of hope? You were happy and felt you could conquer the world. It was yours for the taking.

Now I want you to remember what it was you dreamed of and why it was so important to you.  Remember the excitement you felt. When asked by your parents or elementary school teacher what is it you want to be and do when you grow up; you excitedly raised your hand and responded “I want to _____________________ (you fill in the blanks)”.  And then someone, although well-meaning, told you to be more realistic. You were told that due to your family background, your race, your level of  (their perceived) intelligence or learning disability, that you should set your sights on something more suitable for you. That person shattered your hopes and dreams and put doubt into your mind as to your capabilities. And then, you decided instead of pursuing your vision and dreams you would settle for something safer, something more suitable for you as defined by them. And the magic was lost. The excitement gone.  You were a child and easily impressionable by the loving, caring parents and teachers. After all, they had your best interest at heart. They didn’t want you to set yourself up for failure. Although well-meaning they unknowingly did just that when they placed the doubt in your mind and gave you all of the reasons why you could not achieve your dream of becoming a doctor, a lawyer, a successful entrepreneur, a judge, whatever.

You grow up and become an adult and your entire life has been shaped by those words you heard early on. Unknowingly you have fed yourself those lines year after year after year to the point to where this has become your truth. You’ve replayed the scene(s) over and over again and when you dared to step outside of the box and actually pursue an old dream, you find yourself returning to the voices from long ago and retreating to what is familiar, to what is safe. And you live life based on your perceived limitations.

Today I have some good news for you and it is this–It Is Time for You To S.O.A.R.!  It is time for you to reconnect to the child within and start to believe as you did when you were younger–that you CAN pursue your purpose with passion and succeed in being and doing whatever it is you desire to do. S.O.A.R. is an acronym that I use in my book, Pursuing Your Purpose With Passion, which stands for Seeing Over Average Results. In Shawn Anderson’s book, SOAR to the Top, SOAR stands for Seeing, Organizing, Acting and Rejecting. Shawn encourages the readers to rise above the crowd and fly away to your dream. In my book, I encourage readers to identify their purpose and once done, apply the “PPP’s”–praying, planning, preparing, partnering, patience and obtain the promise or manifestation of whatever it is they pursue. In essence, although different wording was used, we both encourage you to FLY!

I saw a post that stated FLY is First Love Yourself. Awesome isn’t it? First Love Yourself by becoming and being the best you that you can be and SOARing!

You were not created to be mediocre. You were placed here to fully utilize your gifts for such a time as this. You are gifted, talented, anointed, and appointed. You have what it takes inside of you to make it happen. You can do it!

Greatness is the destiny for many BUT it only comes when one starts to believe, to really believe, in God first and in themselves. One of my favorite scriptures is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. I can and so can you.

I encourage you to do the exercise, seriously reconnect with your inner child, think about what you are passionate about, what you believe to be your calling or assignment and once done, go for it. Refuse to listen to that voice that tells you you’re not good enough. Tell that voice that tells you you’re not smart enough to shut up. When the voices from the past (and possibly some you’ve heard more recently that seems to reinforce the earlier voices) try to tell you what you’re not, tell it that you will no longer listen to the lies. Stick your chest out, study like you’ve never studied before and do what you’ve only dreamt of and watch your life take you on levels you’ve only dreamed of in the past. Watch as you begin to SOAR. Watch how God moves mightily and rewards your efforts. I dare you to do it!

One final word–In AA and Al-Anon and other support groups, they tell a person in order to make whatever changes lasting ones, you need to change playmates and playgrounds. You cannot hang out with the same people and expect to achieve or pursue your purpose. Get with like-minded people. Stay in the company of like-minded people. Remove yourself from the naysayers. Run as fast as you can from the drainers. You know who they are. Sometimes you just have to lose some weight. It may hurt…it will hurt but the benefits will outweigh the hurts and if done in the right spirit, you may have an opportunity to circle back and pick them up…later. This is about YOU! This is about YOUR being the person that God wants you to be. This is not about being selfish but rather putting things in proper perspective.

Take the challenge. Again, I dare you to. Guess what will happen? You’ll be happier and lead a more rewarding and fulfilling life. You will most likely be able to bless many others by your obedience. You will be successful. You will succeed!

 

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I Timothy 1:7 For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

I Corinthians 7:7 For I would that all men were even as myself. But every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that.

As humans, we are not infallible, however, we have a High Priest that will pick us up each and every time we fall. We’ve made the mistake of abdicating our responsibilities for our salvation, our families, our children, our finances, our relationships, and our visions and dreams to do all God has placed in us, to others. It is time to stir up the gifts God has placed inside each of us becoming responsible for our own destiny.

Do “it” fearless. Do “it” with faith all the way. Do “it” one day at a time. Just do it…whatever “it” may be in your life and in this season. You do know the “its” are subject to change as seasons change so just go ahead and do “it”.

Although seasons change, your gifts remain the same. And as you change from glory to glory, as God stirs up and places His anointing and greater desires within you to utilize the gifts, be bold and courageous and JUST DO IT!

Sometimes we feel like we’re ill-fitted, not qualified to do it. Not so. Whatever God has placed inside you, He has equipped and prepared you to do the job. If He’s given it to you, you are well able to accomplish it.

For all intents and purposes, we are the eyes, hands, ears, feet and mouthpiece for God. He gave these to us to use for His glory–for kingdom building. Use them!

Your gift may be different than that of another. Don’t hate on someone for the gift they have. Use yours! Every man has his proper gift of God. There’s no room for competition, envy, jealousy…this is about collaboration and completion…for His glory!

As an example, you manage a business that consists of you, the manager, a secretary and two sales people. You have clients/customers that take advantage of the services you offer.  You own the business so you hire a cleaning crew to keep it nice and tidy. Who’s the most important person in the company? You might think the manager or perhaps it’s the customer but in all honesty each of them are equally important as they each use their individual gifts to help the company run smoothly. One cannot operate efficiently without the other. That should keep us humble knowing that we are all a part of a big puzzle with each person’s gift creating the completion of the puzzle.

Remember the word says, your gift will make room for you and bring you before great men. Your gifts are for you, but more importantly, operating in and using the gifts God has given you will touch and benefit the lives of many others. Your gifts and talents are not just for you. Don’t allow your passivity, procrastination or fear to cause not only you to miss out on great blessings from God but also delays the blessings of others.

Be courageous! God has not given us a spirit of fear. Let go of anything holding you back. Stir it up, stir it up!

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Have you found yourself indecisive as to which road to take? Are you at a crossroad in life now, knowing that what has been no longer works, and maybe you’re a bit afraid of the future? Do you have visions and dreams inside you just screaming, begging, pleading,  trying to get out, yet you continue to hold onto that that is familiar?  After all, it’s safe, right? Frustrated daily because you just know in your heart you should be walking in your vision.  The delay in your goals, visions, and dreams manifesting could be due to the Di-vision within you and possibly the people you’ve brought into your vision;  the fear of leaving the familiar and stepping into the new.

“What if I make a decision and find that I was wrong? What if I step out and it doesn’t work? What if I fail? What if I make a decision that negatively impacts my family and myself as I pursue the unfamiliar?” Well, let me ask you just one more “what if”. “What if you’re successful beyond your wildest dreams by stepping out and pursuing the dreams God has placed inside you?”

The bible clearly tells us to write the vision and make it plain.  In doing this we also have to work the vision. Faith without works is dead and we cannot hold two opinions or have division within if we are ever to accomplish our God-given visions/assignments. These visions are usually a blessing to not only us but so many others. The fear of letting go of what was…the fear of moving into the unfamiliar…the desire to KNOW that it’s all going to work out…all of these keep us from moving into the manifestations of our visions. We want to KNOW! The truth is, we will never know. It is a faith walk.

I personally have been challenged as I know what I desire to do, and believe from the bottom of my heart that I am well able to do, however, yes there’s that however, I often wish I had a crystal ball and could see into the future and know that it will all work out. Can I share something with you, even though I consider myself a person of great faith and have done many things that others would not even attempt; in order to go to the next level I have a huge decision to make. And yes, I admit it, there is some fear or apprehension regarding this decision. And yes, I know God has not given us a spirit of fear and it’s time to trust and launch out into the deep.

You might ask–“How can there be fear in this professed woman of God?” I’ll answer that, I stepped out before, left a stable job, and after some years of enduring hardships realized it wasn’t time. And no, I do not want to make the same mistake again. My family and I suffered tremendously! So yes, there is some uneasiness. I cannot lie.

The bible says so much about pursuing what God has placed within us like…he who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is not worthy of the kingdom of God…a double-minded man is unstable in all of his ways…how long will you waver between two opinions…can two walk together except they agree? (sometimes the two in agreement are you and God)…the list goes on and on.

The choice is yours to make. Will you choose faith (not foolishness) or fear? Have you prayed, studied, planned, partnered and prepared yourself for the journey ahead? Are you hungry for it? Then the only decision I can make as well as encourage you to do is to GO FOR IT! Do not allow the Di-Vision in your mind cause you to miss out on your Vision for your life.

Has a solid foundation been laid? Okay so there’s nothing to do but to move forward. One word of advice–as you move forward, associate with those that are just as hungry for it as you are. Otherwise you are carrying dead weight.  A house (business/ministry/etc.) divided against itself shall not stand. This is your vision! So get with ONLY those that are just as ready and hungry as you are.

Di-Vision derails and delays the Vision. Don’t allow it to not another day!

Take the risk!

 

 

Is It Time for A Prescription Refill?

When combating an illness or having an infection, one’s doctor usually prescribes some form of medication or antibiotic to take. The instructions usually state to take ALL and one is told to take them all even if they begin to feel better. What happens more often than not is a person will consistently take the prescribed dosage of medication until they begin to feel better and then discontinue it. Well, I cannot say more often than not: I can say this is how I’ve done it so many times.

In the past I’ve battled and dealt with a really bad cold. When the symptoms first began I started taking Vitamin C and cold medicines in addition to my regular doses of multi-vitamins and other vitamins. The minute I began to feel better I immediately discontinued the cold medicine. Guess what? It took longer than told me to fully clear up. Want to guess why? I’ll tell you. I did not take the medicine as prescribed for the duration required in order to clear it completely. Don’t be critical or judgmental of me. You can think of situations too where you’ve failed to take the prescribed dosage for as long as needed to clear up the issue or illness.

Let’s see. You go to a financial planner, sit down and come up with a great plan for becoming debt-free, purchasing your new home or whatever your financial goals may be. You start off doing some or part of what’s recommended, but then you slip. See yourself yet? Okay keep reading.

You have decided for the umpteenth time you are going to become physically fit– so you meet with a fitness expert: a diet and exercise plan is done specifically tailored for you. You start off running, excited and after a week or two you slip back into your old habits. Can you see yourself in this? Not yet. Keep reading.

So you have decided for the final time that regardless of what, you are going to get yourself together spiritually. The plan is already laid out for you in the Word as to how, but you decide you’ll deviate just a little bit from that plan and devise your own. Maybe you decide you’ll do a part of what you know you need to do. After all, a part is doing good, am I right about it? Well I think you know partial obedience is disobedience. So even when you set your plan in motion, it’s just not going to work.

In John 5:6-10, Jesus is having a conversation with a man who has been infirmed for 38 years. He questions him about his condition, asked him “Wilt thou be made whole?” and the man immediately begins to make excuses as to why he’s still in that condition after 38 years. Jesus told him to rise up, take up his bed and walk, and immediately the man was made whole.

Are you ready to be made whole? Get a prescription refill, follow the recommended dosage and you will be. Get a refill! It’s your time!

 

 

 

The Power of A Praying Family

 

A family that prays together stays together.  Think it’s just another cliché?  I beg to differ with you.  There is power in prayer and a family that comes together regularly in prayer seeking God’s direction for their lives, will even if living miles apart, stay together.

 

The bible tells us that a house divided against itself shall not stand. Mark 3:25.  We know this to be true so what is the glue that will hold the house or family together?  A very important, and I believe the most important piece of the puzzle, or the most important glue is regular prayer time among the family.  Why do I believe this?  For several reasons some of which are stated below.

 

Coming together regularly in prayer, be it in person, by phone, Skype, or whatever mode is used means that the family is genuinely seeking God’s direction for their lives…in other words they are adhering to the scriptures by putting God first seeking His wisdom, knowledge, guidance, direction and understanding.  God honors any family or group of individuals that collectively come together seeking to do things His way.  It is all throughout the Word and there’s no disputing that.

 

I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us we are to pray without ceasing.  The bible lets us know that Jesus prayed with his disciples, with others and sometimes he went alone to pray.

 

There is much power in prayer.  I know you’ve heard—much prayer, much power, little prayer, little power, no prayer, no power.

 

Start a regular weekly prayer time with your family.  Now to further define family lest you think I am merely talking about those in your bloodline, family consists of not only those in your bloodline or home but those who are believers, those who are seekers, and so many others.  Your family can be your neighbors, your co-workers, as well as those within your church and other churches.  We actually when we look at family have an extremely large family.  For the sake of this writing though, let’s start with those in our own homes and then enlarge our territory to include and bring in other family members.

 

And when you pray, don’t forget to pray for our leaders, our government officials, our pastors, our bosses, our co-workers…bottom line don’t just pray for you.  If you invest time praying for not only your needs and the needs of those within your household, but for those of others, God will make sure your needs are always met and someone will keep you on their lips and in their heart before God.

 

We’re moving forward, identifying and tapping into the power that’s been within us the whole time; powers we have not used.  If we want to see changes take place we must use the power we’ve been given through going to our Father in prayer.  He’ll lead, guide and direct us into all truths and the way we should go.  Come on family, its praying time!

 

A Call to Repentance

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

Like the scripture shown above, I believe God is calling his people to repentance. This is not a cliché, it is truth–If there ever was a time to pray, that time is now. It is always praying time but God is calling us not just to pray but to seek him and turn from our wicked ways. Yes it’s in the word and the time is now!

Many of us go about daily with a Burger King mentality—having it our way. Or for some, it’s more as Frank Sinatra sang—“I did it my way.” Either way it goes God is calling ALL of his people to humble themselves, to repent, to seek him and to make a 180° turn…not 360 because that will land you right back to your starting point. 180 is the magical number and is a reversal!

As I reflect on my life, I can admit that there are some areas I need to get in order. I readily confess that I have not done all that I know I need to do. I humbly bow before the Lord asking him to help me to begin again. This is my confession and just maybe it’s yours as well.

What are the benefits of doing what the above scripture states we should do? They are endless!

Truth is–our country is in a mess. Our families are in a mess. Our homes and relationships are in a mess. Our finances are in a mess. Our health is in a mess. Do I need to go on? And if ours personally is not, I assure you that someone close to you is battling issues in these areas. Cover them!

The scripture states—then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. Don’t we need healing? That alone is reason enough to do as the scripture states—to do it God’s way. And, now is the time.

The bible tells us not to boast about tomorrow for we know not what a day will bring. Scripture also tells us that we do not know the day or the hour that the son of man cometh. We who profess to be Christians must really begin to be about God’s business. Too many lives depend on our doing what we know we need to do.

Delaying doing what we know we need to do delays the blessings for so many others. Someone’s healing, deliverance, salvation–all may be connected to your acts of obedience. What if your child’s healing only depended on your doing the right thing? Or your siblings financial deliverance depended on your walking the walk? Or perhaps your neighbor who is going through several issues–what if you hold the key? Just some food for thought.

Can I share something with you? Now is always the time to do the right thing as now is all we have for sure. Whenever you read this message be it 2014, 2015, etc., it will still be appropriate as when read it is your “now”.

This is a call to repentance to all who profess to be Christians. This is a clarion call from the Lord saying– return to me and put me first– pray, fast, study, fellowship, worship, praise, obey and watch me move SUDDENLY in healing the land. Notice it starts with…If my people… God is calling His people to repentance. Will you heed the call?

7 Tips for Aspiring Authors

I share with you in this article a few of the things I’ve learned on this journey of becoming an author. These are invaluable and hopefully will help you as you begin to pursue your passion of becoming a published author.

1. Develop your story line. Invest the time in attending a writer’s workshop if necessary. Adilah Barnes does one in both the Atlanta and Los Angeles area. I believe when writing fiction this may be a great route to take.

2. Develop your target market–Age, gender, demographics, etc.

3. Before approaching a publisher or even self-publishing, have a marketing plan in place, i.e., your target market, how will you promote your book—social media, newspapers, radio, TV, book clubs, book signings, partner sites, etc. Be as specific as possible. Know your targeted audience as well as have a plan as to how YOU are going to promote your book. No one can promote you like you!

4. Count up the cost. Make contact with those you desire to promote your book with and find out the cost. Establish a budget. Counting up the cost includes the investment of your time as it relates to the writing and promoting of your book. When counting the cost as it relates to time, DO NOT sacrifice spending time with your family. It is not worth it. Count up the cost financially. Count up the cost and then add some extra time and money into your total. Believe me, it is a wise thing to do.

5. Join groups on social media sites—author’s, book clubs, book stores, etc. Read and learn from them of their plight in publishing, promoting and marketing their books. Read of the successes and failures and learn from them. Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter all afford one the opportunity to do so.

6. Start promoting your book at least 6 months in advance of its release date. Consistently keep something as it relates to your book out there during this period. Create a blog. Set up your Facebook page. Get your website up-and-running. Be sure to purchase your own domain name. That way YOU are the owner. Partner with others and promote your books on their sites. Spread the word by telling family and friends. Encourage pre-orders. First week’s sales are crucial for any new author. Get the word out! Don’t let your book be the best kept secret out there.

7. If using a mainstream publisher, know that no small publisher can assure one of a bestseller. Read through your contract to see what exactly the publisher is offering. See if your contract deals with or has anything in it as it relates to promoting and marketing your book. If it does, know what all is provided. If not, remember you can negotiate anything. Royalties vary from publisher to publisher. Check with several before making a decision. Know what you are getting before signing on the dotted line and if you don’t know, have an attorney or legal adviser go over it with you to get full understanding.

Keep in mind mainstream publishers do receive a percentage of all book sales, often a larger percentage than the author as they put up all money up-front. This is a business for you as well as them. Again, be informed—know what you’re getting.
Know that the best person to aggressively promote and market your product is YOU! Establish your brand.

You can make your dream a reality. It takes lots of work– staying focused, discipline, determination, sacrifice, tenacity, networking, patience– but it can be done.

Stay tuned for more tidbits on how to write, promote, and market your book. Cheering you on!

CRAZY QUILT PIECES

Growing up, I remember my grandmother, aunts, great-aunt and I would often quilt. We had quilting horses or frames, lots of material most often taken from clothing, some old, some new, needles and thread and we’d weave those pieces together until we had a beautiful finished product. Some were some really crazy quilt pieces.

We had so much fun gathered together doing this!

I remember one quilt in particular. This one had squares stitched together but all throughout there were stars in the quilt. These stars were actually sewn together and strategically placed at different places throughout the quilt. These were the focal points of the quilt.

The stars were actually often pieced together using scraps of old cloth. Crazy quilt pieces! But isn’t this the way life is? Let me explain.

In life we meet or know or possibly are one of many crazy quilt pieces. Family members—some saved, some unsaved, family nevertheless. And with the drama that often takes place–crazy quilt pieces.

Friends—diversity, opinionated, various beliefs–crazy quilt pieces.

In life, our stars often consist of friends, relatives, co-workers, and others that don’t actually fit the status quo. Our stars may be those that have made many mistakes in life or do not necessarily fit into the desired mold we envision but they are our stars–those doggone crazy quilt pieces.

I was reminded just the other day the importance of having those crazy quilt pieces in life. Often to accomplish anything we have to have those with different personalities, different strengths,different weaknesses and different looks than we’re accustomed to; but please, whatever you do, don’t overlook the value in those crazy quilt pieces. They may just be the ones God is using to take you and them to the next level. So when you encounter someone different from you, don’t run from them, stick around and find out what role you are to play in each others lives and then just do it. Yep, those crazy quilt pieces can be so valuable. Embrace them! They may be your stars.

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