Millennial Mel…..

This is an imagined exchange between myself and a millennial I know. Most of the events following are completely fictitious and should be understood as such.

I come back to my office yesterday to find two of my employees eating lunch (the office has the microwave so I allow them some latitude) and one of the two, who will be referred to as Millennial Mel or Mel for short from this point forward, watching a YouTube video of some fellow railing on about numerology, cosmic intervention, name it claim it, god within you, diatribe while they finish their meal. The following is what I imagine as to how the conversation would have gone had I chosen to comment openly on what they were watching.

Me: What in the world are you watching on YouTube?

Mel: Bishop Whatsamattau. Talking about how the universe is organized and how there are specific numbers that if they didn’t exist the entire universe would dissolve. He is big on how you speak into existence the reality of your life. You do that. No one else. You should look at the jars of rice they spoke to. The one that molded slowest only had positive things said to it. This guy speaks a lot of truth about God.

Me: Seriously? You know, you can have a better understanding of God by studying His word on your own. I wouldn’t try to get my theology from YouTube. Auto repair? Sure. Theology? Not so much.

Mel: I’m in the word. I find stuff all the time that pastor’s say is this and I find it is that. You can’t hate on Bishop Whatsamattau. He’s legit.

Me: So how much time and effort are you putting into your personal study? Half hour, hour,more?

Mel: I try to spend some time each day. It’s not about the amount of time. It’s about what you read and what you do with it.

Me: You’re right. What you read is very important and if you aren’t doing anything with what you read then that is pretty much wasted effort. However, you have to put in the work. It’s easy and it isn’t easy. It really is something you have to work at.

Mel: I work at it.

Me: Nah, you don’t.

Mel: Sure I do.

Me: Nah, you want it handed to ya.

Mel: That’s messed up. How can you sit there and say that?

Me: It’s true. I’m not intending to be judgmental here. It’s just what I see from my perspective. I see a generation that wants everything handed to them in a nice neat little package. Most folks in your age group do. You’re used to life that way. Technology and social advancement have made you what you are. I’m not saying you’re lazy or stupid. You’ve been handed life in the palm of your hand. You have everything on a cell phone. If you want it, there’s an app for that. If you have a question, you say “Hey Google” or “Hey Siri”. You get your reality from reality TV and YouTube. If it’s on there you take it as gospel. You want the world to hand you health care, a job, nice place to live and a nice car all wrapped up in an easy to use format. Life has to come to you, where you are, at the moment you want it, wrapped up in a bio-degradable, no BPA, pre-packaged clam shell, ready for use, batteries included.

Mel: Man, you don’t know me. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

Me: You’re probably right. I don’t know much of anything. I’ve only lived through 50+ years of actual life experience. Fathered two children, worked, as in had a job, every day of my life since I was 14. Been married, twice. Divorced once. Known the love of a woman so deep it makes me weep to think on it. Seen my friends die tragically and peacefully, Traveled all over the U.S. and lived, actually on the ground for more than a week at a resort, in other cultures that are completely different from the American way of living. I’ve been flush with money and I’ve been within 24 hours of the bank auctioning my home on the county court steps. I’ve been the big man in the board room and the little man in the crew digging the ditch. Yeah, your right. I don’t know much, but I do know this. The decisions I made were my own. I got to revel in the good ones and I had to walk through the consequences of the bad ones and I’m still paying for some even now.

Mel: Whatever….

Me: I know one more thing Mel. I know that I don’t know God as well as I want to, but to get there, I gotta walk. Walk to Him, walk with Him, and walk for Him. Walking isn’t as easy as the world wants it to seem. No Segways, hover boards, or roller skates in the faith department. God loves you deeply. All the magic numbers and positive affirmation you can manage won’t enhance that or change it one iota. He just does, and He does it completely with nothing left out. So you go ahead and listen to Bishop Whatsamattau or who ever else you want to. It’s a free country and I can only make a suggestion. Don’t get your theology from the internet, and that includes blog posts to boot.

Now, let’s go load the truck.

Shake Down…..

7 Weeks+ Until Departure:

Time to do a shake down on lots of things.  I got a new pack I’m intending to use on the section hike. Gossamer Gear Mariposa 60 Lightweight Backpack.

This is a pack I’ve had my eye on for about a year now. Nothing at all wrong with the ULA Circuit that I have. I did the last section hike with it and the pack was near perfect. The Circuit has been my go to pack for all trips whether car camp, group hang or solo. I even pack it and use it for vacation trips with the family. Everything in one spot and easy to carry.

I wanted to try the Mariposa for a couple reasons. One, for the additional pockets. There is a fold over flap pocket that I think will serve me well for quick access items like the FAK (First Aid Kit), wallet, maybe snacks or other bits and bobs. The set up of the side pockets is different from the ULA so the spare water, the cook kit and tarp all get carried differently in this set up as opposed to the ULA. The large back mesh pocket is a little different so I should be able to carry items differently there too.  Second, she is technically a good bit lighter than my ULA. 29.6 ounces for the Mariposa, 40.1 for the ULA. There are about an average of 5 ounces on each pack that are things which will be removed as they are added weight of items I don’t use in my normal set up. With that the difference is still about 10+/- ounces between the two. Ounces make pounds and I’m working to keep the pounds to a minimum.

All of this is very different and new compared to what I have been used to for the past two years of hiking with the ULA. I need to see how I want to load the pack, playing with placement of food, shelter and additional clothing. Whether I will use the aluminium curved stay or let the contents set the body of the pack. What can I reasonable use in the hip belt pockets, etc? All of this may seem to be no big deal to the average person and in truth may be of no consequence to the average hiker, but to me they are crucial. I’m all about economy of movement and time when I hike. I want to be able to see all I can see and go as far as my body and time will allow me. That being said, I’m in no crazy speed mode either. However, when I want to do something, eat lunch, get a snack, check the map or compass, set up camp, I want to be efficient in the process. Where things are placed, ease of access and economy of the task is of great importance to me. I’m trying to keep the overall weight, all in food and water, shelter, and equipment at or under 20 pounds for about 50 miles and four days of hiking. This is not what many would consider ultra light but a darn sight better than most average hikers for the same length of time and distance where I see pack weights in the 40 to 50 pound range. That hurts me just thinking about it. Going as light as I am means everything has to work, work every time and work efficiently.

So it’s time for a shake down hike. I’ll go to the Sipsey Wilderness in upper Alabama in a couple weeks and get a chance to wear the pack, play with the set up and get in some no joke elevation change hiking to see how she rides and what I need to tweak in the set up and use areas.

Once this is done, I can have a decision on which pack I will use and which one my son will use and how each of them will be set up.

7 weeks out and I’m already thinking about packing and transport of the backpacks on the airlines and getting through the airports as efficiently and completely as possible. Terrorism sucks on many levels.

If all this works out the way we hope, where will we go next? Well, 2017 may hold yet another section hike on the AT and possibly, dare I say it, a hike and hang in Peru on the Amazon or to Central Asia to the steps of the Caucus Mountains or perhaps a trip to British Columbia.  Not sure where God will direct us in 2017 but looking very forward to joining my passion for Jesus Christ with my passion for travel and hiking.

Time for a shake down….and then some shaking up.


Or so says the guy at the beginning of those UFC main event fights. No, not time to fight. Just time to get back to my beloved AT and the mountains of that Tennessee area.  I’ve probably stated this before, but if not, I’ll do so once more. There is no place I have experienced on the planet that puts me into full tilt relaxed, can’t even spell stress, blissful calm and peace, like the mountains of Tennessee. I’ve traveled there, honeymooned there four times all with the same woman, hiked there and known it as my happy place for the better part of three decades now.

I was fortunate enough to do a section hike on the AT (Appalachian Trail) back in 2014. A solo trip from the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center) up to Fontana Dam.  Some 30+ miles on the trail over the course of four days. A tremendous adventure for a fella looking for some mental R and R, as well as some physical limit testing.  Funny part was the physical turned out to be not that big of a deal but the mental was the game changer for me. It was intended to be a kind of shake down hike to see if I had the right stuff to do a through hike from Springer all the way to Katahdin. A hike, as the trail stands today of about 2,190 miles. What I discovered then and decided at the end was, no through hike for me.

That was 2014. Here we are in 2016. Things change. What changed? Well, a few things. First, I had a surgery. Nothing major, just a pesky hernia matter that needed to be resolved, and yes, I know what you are thinking, and I did do the hike in 2014 with that hernia albeit a somewhat lesser degree than when I had the surgery. Face it men, we’re not as bright as we might like to think we are at certain moments in our lives. That being said, there was zero hikes of significant lengths done in 2015. So with that particular physical issue resolved, the itch to get out for a longer trip and longer miles was in dire need of a scratch. Second, I lost about 20 pounds. Out of sheer embarrassment from a simple vacation trip with the family and being told by the sweetest little ride operator on the planet that I was over the weight limit to ride thus not only keeping me off the ride but precluding my son from doing it also. Granted the weight limit was 229 and I was 230 that day. One pound was enough to make me take stock and rethink not only my eating habits but other lifestyle changes needing to be made.  Lastly, the boy. He wanted to go.

I mentioned to my son that I wanted to get back to the AT and take another stab at this thing in 2016. He said he thought he would like to go. My reply? “How about you lay down for a bit and think about that. Then you get back to me with what you think about that.”  So he did. About a week later. “I think I’d like to do that hike with you.” Okay then. Let’s get this figured out.

So here we are in March with an eye toward late May and a new section hike on the AT. This will we a lot of firsts for us both. First time for the boy to fly….ever. First time for he and I to do a multiple day trip….just him and me. Alone. For days.  First time for him to really carry his own pack for multiple day. His own food, his own water, his own shelter set up. The whole kit and caboodle. First time for me to be long distance hiking with anyone other than me, myself or I. Fine fellas I assure you, but, well, a new companion is a new companion.

I’m excited to for many things in this small adventure. Excited to loose, hopefully, another 10 or so pounds. Excited to experience the adventure of it all through the eyes of my son. Excited to be on the AT once again and all that entails. Excited to document the planning, experimentation, decision making and the subsequent adventure itself.

I will admit, I have my eye and hopes toward one more bit of a daydream. Should my son enjoy this adventure enough to wish to do it again. The hope and the plan would be for us to do a longer trip when he graduates high school some three years from now. I would gather together all the vacation time I would have and we would spend three glorious weeks on the AT. Start at Springer Mountain and hike for roughly a week, then maybe skip up to about a week shy of Harper’s Ferry and hike into to that important and historic spot, then bounce once more to a few days shy of Katahdin and make the summit before coming home. A taste of the beginning, the middle and the end of a through hike. A rite of passage, here’s your man card, go and find your own adventure and know that I will miss you more than anything, that I love you more than anything and will be there to walk with you through anything should you need me.

Yes, indeed, it is time. Time to think, play with, plan, and embark on another great adventure. I think I am quite ready. Yes, ready indeed.

The Girl…..and a father’s love

The girl.  My girl. Daddy’s girl for sure. I’ve stated it before in reference to my son and it still holds true, every age is my favorite age with my kids. It’s always an adventure.

A friend of mine and his wife who already has a son, just had a girl.  He catches me the other day and says, “Hey, you have both.” “That’s the dirty rumor.”, I reply. He asks sincerely and expectantly, “What’s the difference?”  His question is more to the point of differences in how you raise and interact with a girl child as opposed to a boy child. Far less to do with plumbing which is obvious. Truth is, we could talk for hours on the differences and still never begin to scratch the surface of the differences.

Boys are boys, but, boy howdy, girls are GIRLS, and my girl is all girl. My sweet lady and I wanted a little girl first. I even went so far as to, when we discovered we were having a boy first, mope for two weeks solid lamenting the fact of a boy first. I’m glad we had the boy first because it makes me appreciate the differences all the more.

She was perfect when we brought her home. All pink and pretty and deeply rooted into that special place reserved for daddy’s girl from the moment she breathed air. The fact that she was our second and ultimately destined to be our last made us less fussy over the little things. She shared the same place as the boy in only getting quiet and going to sleep for daddy instead of mommy. For the first couple years the wife swore she was out to exclude her from the family by hook or crook. She’d ignore my wife both willfully, purposefully and blatantly at every opportunity. Daddy’s voice and attention was all she would listen to.

She’s tough as nails to boot. She puts on a different face to the world these days but daddy has always known the truth. One particular day I was picking her up from daycare. There she sat in the office in a chair, eyes swollen and red and snot everywhere. I ask the girl at the desk if there was a problem. She looks at me and coyly states, “We had a bit of a meltdown earlier. Nothing major.”  Turns out she was told no to this thing or that and boom. Vesuvius. I told the little girl not to fret. No is a common term in our household. I then advised the young lady to be on guard because, “she’s sneaky mean.” “That a terrible thing to say about your child!”, she replied but the truth was the truth. What is sneaky mean you may ask. Did you ever play football at a friends house with the neighborhood kids? There they are all in a pile wrestling over the ball. All arms and legs and hair and teeth. As the pile dissolves one kid as he or she as the case may be, gets up, they put their knee in someones thigh, or elbow in a throat, or a thumb in an ear, accidentally on purpose? That’s sneaky mean.  There’s a good three or so years between the boy and the girl in age. I can still see the boy playing quietly in the floor with toy X as the girl walks by him and unprovoked, whacks him in the back of the head and keeps toddling along as though nothing had every transpired. At no time did her hands leave the ends of her arms. Magic. Sneaky mean. It’s because of this that when other men, mostly non fathers of daughters, comment that I’ll be waiting, firearm in hand, for the boys as they come courting that I just shake my head and say I have no worries of that. She is fully capable of twisting any boy on the planet into a knot.  Whoa to any boy that hurts her physically or emotionally. When she gets done with him there won’t be much left to go to prison for.

She’s always has been and still is, daddy’s girl. We loved to play the game of I love you more. Back an forth until finally she would say, “You win.”  Of late, I tend to be the one who say you win first, much to her delight, but always knowing she is the real benefactor.

There is a lot more drama these days as well. As I said, she is all girl. All pretty and pink and flamboyant and expressive. Some days it will exhaust you in a nano second. Others, it is pure joy to watch. Never boring. Never. She has the most personality between the two kids by a country mile. She’s more of a walking sight gag or a spit take than a well crafted premise with a punchline that makes you think but she can make you laugh just as well.

She’s creeping up on womanhood. A fact her father is both lamenting and welcoming. I fear the trials she will face in middle and high school. Girls can be so brutal to each other. Sometimes it’s little better in adulthood. Men fight battles on a physical plane more so than the psychological warfare the female species are masters at. The mental and physical torture of becoming a woman is an alien world to men and so her mother will pull the bulk of the duty for that. My job will be to be, well, daddy. A safe haven, a gentle hand, an open ear if it comes to it. I welcome it though because she will be a beautiful woman both on the outside and more importantly on the inside. She has a kind heart. She loves God like no other child I’ve seen. A practical and genuine faith that causes her dad to swell with pride and be ashamed of his own lack of faith all in the same instant. She is graceful and clumsy, joyful and thoughtful, gabby and personable. She’s not yet a tween in years but getting there. She is my girl. The best girl. Wrapped up cozy and tight in daddy’s heart from the first minute she breathed air. She is one of the three best things in my life. I don’t deserve a girl this sweet, a boy this fine or a wife that loves me this much, but I have them and so I’m a man with much to be thankful for.  As she is about to be eleven I’m especially thankful for the girl. My Girl. I love you baby girl….I love you more….you win….(i win).

Christian World View….Hardship

I just finished a book. A decidedly none Christian, world view, self actualization related book.  First, before the outcry begins, let me say there is nothing inherently wrong with books of this ilk. It was an interesting read and one that I chose purposefully because of the subject matter. It involves a multi-millionaire, a navy SEAL and working out.  I’m pretty much broke, I’m not working to become a major Adonis but I am always interested in military men, their thoughts on life and their stories especially. Perhaps I’m wishing for something to have happened in my past that never did. I’ve been told I would have thrived in military arena and I regularly get thanked for my service or asked if I’m military or law enforcement. I’m always quick to clear up the confusion but still take a level of pride in being seen that way.

That being said, this particular book had some interesting quotes from the SEAL who was a main character in the story line which have had me thinking for many days and drawing correlations between these statements and my Christian world view. You should know first that I stink at being a Christian. I say that because I know myself very well, am extremely honest about my short comings and know that when others want to debate my standing as a Christian they will have plenty of evidence to both prove, and in their own minds, disprove my right to bear the moniker.  Truth is I’m not perfect, don’t pretend to be and a person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.

Still, I wanted to take a few of these statements made by the SEAL and draw some truth for the Christian viewpoint with them and at least show where my mind is at on such matters.

A Christian friend of mine was sharing a conversation he had with a non believing friend. The friend has a moral viewpoint. Do well to others, harm no one, be good and moderate in all things. The golden rule if you wish to use that as a guide. The friend has just recently been diagnosed with a form of cancer and is at a loss for why, after he has been so morally good all his life, should something like this happen to him.

My heart breaks for the friend of my friend. That they are dealing with such heart break both personally and physically. Platitudes are of no redeeming value to persons in his circumstance. One can only love them and help where possible and allowed. As a Christian the power of pray is real to me so prayer will be offered as well.

It causes one to think how one views and deals with hardship from a Christian point of view. Scripture tells us that God causes the sun to shine and the rain to fall on the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). This is a statement of Gods grace and mercy to every man regardless of belief. That God cares for His creation regardless of their allegiance to Him or not. I find myself often being tempted to ask why me but I quickly remember, why NOT me. Just because I am a Christian does not exempt me from hardship just as being morally good would exempt my friends friend from having cancer. I am nothing special. I can’t do anything to earn something that can only be acquired as a gift.

The SEAL might make several statements: “If it doesn’t suck, we don’t do it.” OR. “Everyday is a challenge, otherwise it’s not a regular day.” OR “You can get through anything, because everything has an end.”

IF IT DOESN’T SUCK, WE DON’T DO IT: Hardship sucks. That’s a bit indelicate but so is life. It’s hard. We rub up against stuff in our daily life that is dirty, prickly, uncomfortable and just down right gross. Yes, there is beauty, and light and joy in many areas of our lives but we rarely notice them if there isn’t a polar opposite that makes sure these good things smack us in the face like a wet frying pan. Hardship sucks but it is part and parcel of living. We will experience death, injustice, confusion, slander, heartbreak, loneliness, bitterness and on and on and on in our lives on a regular schedule. Some days more bearable than others but as regular as the sun and moon. It just is. Therefore, EVERYDAY IS A CHALLENGE, OTHERWISE IT’S NOT A REGULAR DAY. As a Christian, I am taught through scripture that I will have hardship (1 Peter 1:6,7; James 1:2) It’s how I look at that hardship or more importantly how I will handle that hardship that is of great importance. I am an alien to this place. Not little green man from Mars or I’m from another planet alien but that this is not my original home. I am a spiritual being spending a set amount of time here to be sent back to a spiritual existence when my time here is done. I belong to God. I have accepted His free gift and placed my faith in His one and only son and rely on Him to provide for me both physically and spiritually while I am here and for eternity to boot. So, anything that I am facing here, broken down car, a broken relationship in my family, bad job, good job, rich or poor, physical specimen or cancer patient, is to be faced with Him at the helm, understanding that I have zero power to change anything and that regardless of the outcome He has a purpose for all of it. Therefore, YOU CAN GET THROUGH ANYTHING, BECAUSE EVERYTHING HAS AN END.  Cancer has an end. Either you are healed or you die. Broken relationships have an end. Either they are mended or they are not. Name the issue, the trial, the drama, the disease and regardless of what it is, it will end. Sooner or later, happy with it or sad about it, it will end. I just have to endure it. I had a work friend that was fond of saying all he ever had to do was be black and die. I’ve used the same phrase only changing my race to be white and die. Invariably, some wisenheimer with add, “and pay taxes”.  I remind them, no, they have to catch me to pay the taxes, the rest is without discussion. I can endure anything understanding that eventually it will end and most importantly, that God, in His infinite wisdom and will, is using that to bring glory to himself, or to train me in some way, or to use it as a way to minister to me or someone else, or any combination of the three He wants to put in play.

I’m grateful for my life. It is often messy and complicated. Uncomfortable and at times near unto unbearable. However, I know that He loves me more than I will ever be able to fathom on this plane. That He gave His only son to take my place and that He has a plan for me. I won’t understand everything. Hardship is hardship just like joy is joy and peace is peace. I just want to honor Him in the journey.

So this is Christmas…..

So this is Christmas, what have we done….

It’s been a long ago day when John Lennon sang those words. As I sit here on the morning of Christmas Eve in the silence of my pre-dawn home. The wife, the kids and even the dogs are all still studying the insides of their eyelids.

I’m struck by the world I live in. On one hand the daily do of living with a wife, two kids, now two dogs, a mortgage, a job and all the other cacophony of “stuff” that invades and pervades this experience that I call a life.  On the other hand, the world at large. Terror, war, anger, racism, bigotry, perversion, deceit, and brokenness on so many strata that it defies the ability to number them.

So this is Christmas. Me safe in my own little world within a world. Watching over me and mine. Hoping more than praying that all will progress well. While the rest of the world tries diligently and consistently to destroy itself in every form imaginable. So this is Christmas.

What have we done? I’m going to resist the easy path of pointing fingers at the world and naming the litany of ways it has diverge from a path that could have held it together if not allowed it to be or at least seem more humane. That’s way too easy. No, I think I’ll just realize and state it, to my own shame, that for the world to be better, I must be better. For me to be better is to be more like Jesus Christ. You may remember that man. He has lent his name to the season we are currently celebrating.

So how do I do that? How do I be more like Christ? A profound question indeed. It will be different for me in many ways than for you reading this. Some ways will be the same. I need to read, understand and apply His word more and use my words less. I need to think as He has shown me to think more and lean on my own understanding less. I need to put away my own sense of self. My perceived rights to be honored, to have a station or position in this world. He must increase and I must decrease. I need to make more of him  and less of me. When I am slandered, or mistreated or tested severely; I need to remember that these trials will bring about endurance and perseverance and that these will in turn bring about a peace that this world will not understand.

I am here for only a little while. I am praying that God will, through the work of His Holy Spirit, produce in me not only a faith, but a walk, a lifestyle, that will not just make me better, but will make the world better. Not just from the outside, or for the now, but for all eternity.

So this is Christmas, what have you done……

Merry Christmas.  May you have a very happy New Year.

Old systems….systems to come

When we live by the system that is going instead of by the system that is coming, we take a risk.

This system, the system of man that we live in now is passing away. For the believer this is something that we give credence to, acknowledge, but, I fear, think very little about. There are rules in the current system and we know them. Don’t tug on Superman’s cape. Don’t spit in the wind. Don’t pull the mask off the ole Lone Ranger to quote a song. Don’t eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge or you die. We can follow, and do follow the known rules. Just when we think we have it figured out. We’re playing it safe. Turns out, we’re taking an awful risk after all.

What risk? Where are we missing it?

I believe I am missing the mark in two ways. First, overtly by playing the odds of sin. We all have our “pet” sins. The besetting sin. The one we can’t seem to muster the energy, the concern, the resolve to walk past. It may be a small thing. When I say a small thing, I mean by comparison to other sins, or other people’s sins, or what society is currently looking on with disdain or tolerance. I tell myself the lie. This is nothing major. It comes and goes. I can stop. Have stopped for a time. Sure I returned to it but I can stop again….for a time. We play the odds of God’s Grace and Forgiveness and bet we’ll be accepted and not rejected. Loved but not punished. Forgiven but not held accountable for our, in truth, bold defiance. I have children of my own. Would I allow that to happen with them? I am keenly aware that I am not God. His ways are not my ways and his thoughts are not my thoughts but that is not a disqualification for this line of thinking. Look at it from this point of view. If I did parent my own children in this manner; what type of product is most likely to be the outcome? A petulant, selfish, narcissistic, brat of a child. Sadly, sounds familiar. Sounds like me in relationship at times with my heavenly Father.

Secondly, is not remembering, with every breath I take, that there is another system that is coming. I will live in this system until I die. At least 50 years and the odds say up to 80 or maybe more. I will live in the system to come, for eternity. I need to be thinking like the new system, talking like the new system, loving like the new system, walking as though I am already in the new system. I’m not as good at that as I want to be. Not as good as I hope to be.

I see people, some very recently, that have no knowledge of the system to come. They speak like others are less because of their sex, their race, their societal strata or economic level. They don’t know any better. I do. I’m struggling  to live in this system and walk in the system to come. I don’t fear much. I do fear the risk I continue to take playing the odds of sin and forgetting that there is another system that I need to be practicing for.

Lord, by Your grace alone I have not crashed. I have never lived by the rules of this world, but I often play the probabilities. Show me where I have been testing You so that I may abandon it. Reveal to me what I am doing that is permissible but not beneficial. Amen.