You’re Impossible!

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost B
Preached at Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI.

2 Kings 4:42-44
Psalm 145:10-18
Ephesians 3:14-21
John 6:1-21

Last week, on Tuesday, seven of us from Faith Lutheran Church loaded up in two cars and drove two and a half hours down to Appleton, WI, to participate in a packing event for the organization Feed My Starving Children.

It was a bit of a long ride, but after stops for gas, lunch, and general milling about, we arrived at the north site of First English Lutheran Church. The semi-truck trailer was there waiting, and there were chalk instructions directing us to the door we needed to go through (a clever idea, by the way). We walked in, registered our attendance, and were given hair nets to wear while we worked.

Throughout the day, there would be different groups coming together for an hour and a half packing session, then leaving so the next group could come in. The goal of the day was to pack 200,000 meals in that truck outside. As I sat down with the other seven people in our group (an eighth met us there), I looked around the sanctuary where we were gathered. It was a huge place, but counting the number of people waiting to start our session, well… the place wasn’t even half full. I began to have a Phillip and Andrew moment.

What I mean by that is, I looked around and thought, “I know this isn’t the only group coming today, but, how the heck are we going to pack 200,000 meals today? There’s no way there’s going to be enough people. This is impossible.”

I was even more dismayed after our orientation, when we entered the church’s gymnasium and picked out a packing table. I think there were eight, maybe ten table setups, enough for up to twenty small groups of about our size to work. And we had an hour and a half.

At this point, I was really having my doubts. No way. I don’t care how many of these sessions there are today, there is no way we are going to pack 200,000 meals. Not happening. It’s impossible.

When we finally got started with the actual packing, you should have seen us fumble. I started as one of the two who would open these plastic bags and slip them over the funnels so other helpers could dump the ingredients in, and let me tell you, those bags did not want to open. Then we had to make sure the ingredients were going in in the right order, that everything weighed the proper weight, that the bag was sealed correctly, and finally, that it all got packed properly in the box. Our first box was… a learning experience.

But, as we continued to pack, something amazing happened. First and foremost, the true miracle, was that we got our acts together and our operation started to go quite smoothly! But also, we started to have fun. We were rocking out to the tunes blasting over the gym speakers,  yelling for “More soy!” and “Box 10 done!”, and we were having a ball.

All of a sudden, an hour and a half passed and we were told to stop packing our last box. Stunned, we finished our box and set down our equipment, heading back out into the area where pallets of boxes, including ours, were waiting to be loaded onto the truck. Then we did some math.

Between the two spurs of our table, us and another small group, we packed 31 boxes of food. There are 36 bags of food in a box. That means we, our table alone, packed 1116 of these little bags of food. Further, because it’s mostly rice, there are 6 servings of food in each bag, meaning we, our table, packed 6696 meals. The total for our session came out to over 33,000 meals packed in an hour and a half.

Let that sink in for a minute. In 90 minutes, a group that numbered about 120 people packed 33,000 meals for starving children around the world. After packing them and getting them on pallets, we prayed over the food before it was loaded onto the truck, ready to be taken to distribution and delivery. As we headed for our cars and the drive home, I couldn’t believe how much food we’d packed; it felt impossible, and there were more groups coming in after us to continue the work.

I can’t say I blame Phillip and Andrew when Jesus asks them, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” They looked out over the crowd and couldn’t fathom being able to feed them all. Remember, in Mark’s version of this story, it takes place right in between that break we had last week. Yes, I know our story this week is from John’s Gospel, and believe me, we’ll be spending a lot of time in John’s Gospel over the next five weeks, so hear me out.

In Mark, Jesus had just sent his disciples out two-by-two into the towns and villages to spread the Good News, to heal the sick, and to cast out demons. They return after all that work, and Jesus tells them that he’s going to take them out by themselves to rest, as they need to recuperate. But when they get to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, they are met by the crowd that has guessed where they would land and gone on ahead to meet them. Jesus, having compassion, even in his exhaustion, teaches them, heals them, and feeds them.

It’s the feeding that shocks the disciples the most, I think. I mean, imagine if you were sitting there, completely unprepared, and Jesus turned to you and said, “So, how much money you got? Let’s buy this crowd some dinner.”

I think most of us would stutter if we were told to buy dinner for just the crowd in this room. Can you imagine how much that would cost? How much food that would be? I don’t blame Phillip and Andrew one bit. Phillip says, “Six months of work wouldn’t pay for food for these people, just how the heck am I supposed to do this?” Andrew brings up a little boy with 5 loaves of bread and two fish and says, “Well, I guess there’s this, but… good luck! It’s impossible.”

And yet… and yet Jesus takes that little bit of food, what no one regarded as very much, and feeds the crowd. He feeds the crowd with so much food that not only does everyone get as much food as they want (which is undoubtedly more than they need), but there’s food leftover that gets collected. It’s no wonder that the crowd is so astonished by what’s happened to them that they are willing to dedicate to Jesus even more of their livelihood than they already are by making him king (which Jesus quickly avoids).

Combined with Jesus walking on the water, coming to his disciples in the midst of their terror, this says a lot about who Jesus is.

First, it tells me that Jesus comes to people in the midst of their need. Jesus knew that the crowd was hungry. Jesus knew that the disciples were terrified. And still he comes.

But it also tells me that Jesus recognizes and is not afraid to do what we would consider impossible. Phillip and Andrew knew that they couldn’t feed so many people. Yet Jesus insisted that they do so—and lo and behold, there was enough for everyone.

I’m finding out that Jesus is in the business of working the impossible. Yes, sometimes, it’s things that really are by definition impossible. Walking on water with your bare feet when it’s not frozen is pretty much impossible. Raising someone back from the dead past a certain point, like Lazarus, is impossible. Curing disease and removing disability with a mere touch is impossible. All of these things Jesus did.

But it’s more than that. I’m finding that Jesus has a tendency to not only do the impossible, but to confront the very idea that some things are impossible. Phillip and Andrew thought it was impossible that they could feed so many people. But they were wrong. It wasn’t impossible, even if it was miraculous.

It all depends on how you look at it. Phillip looked at how much money it would take and said, “It is impossible for us to feed all of these people.” Andrew looked at the food in his hands and said, “It is impossible for us to feed all of these people.”

But Jesus looked at the crowd and said, “They are hungry. And so we will feed them, even though it’s, as you say, impossible.”

Jesus doesn’t seem to be at all concerned with what his disciples think they can do. If he did, he would come to the same conclusion they did: that it’s impossible. But that’s not Jesus’s concern. He’s not concerned with the logistics of getting it done. He doesn’t sit and plan out how many resources it will take, he doesn’t calculate cost vs. benefit ratios. He doesn’t care how big the crowd or how big the need. He cares that the people are in need. He and his disciples are going to help them, no matter what it takes. And much to their surprise, the disciples find that they were more than capable after all.

Yes, the people would be hungry again—something Jesus addresses later on—but for that moment, the compassion shown by Jesus and his disciples was enough to satisfy their need and show them that, yes, it was possible that their constant need, their constant hunger, could be satisfied. Where Jesus’s disciples, human beings, saw only an overwhelming desperation, Jesus saw a need that was to be filled. And fill it he did, bringing his disciples along for the ride in all of their doubt and fear. He showed them what was possible, that where they thought there was no chance, there was more than they ever hoped.

Last week, the group of us that volunteered with Feed My Starving Children experienced just such a phenomenon. There are, according to the World Food Programme of the United Nations, 795 million people in the world that don’t have enough food to lead a healthy life. That’s 1 in 9 people on the planet. 795 million people. We were going to work for an hour and a half packing rice into bags, and that was supposed to make a difference? Nope. Not gonna happen. It’s impossible, I thought.

And yet, in an hour and half, our table alone packed nearly 7000 meals, and our entire group packed 33,000. Suddenly, the impossible seemed not so impossible after all.

If you think that’s impressive, last week I mentioned that we were worshiping at the same time as the ELCA National Youth Gathering was having their final closing worship. Over 30,000 high school kids were finishing out their four day experience in Detroit MI. I want to show you a short video showing you some of what they experienced.

Here are some important numbers from the Youth Gathering—they are still counting some of these things a week later.

The Youth Gathering raised $402,000 for the ELCA Walk 4 Water, a program to provide clean water to communities around the world. High school kids raised $402,000.

650 of them donated at least 8 inches or hair or more.
They painted 1847 murals.
They worked in 600 neighborhoods.
They boarded up 319 vacant homes.
Cleared 3200 vacant lots.
Distributed 1426 backpacks.
Installed 36 urban gardens.
Built 99 picnic tables.
Filled 26 dumpsters.
Donated 78.9 gallons, or 607 pints of blood.
And collected 1,000,000 diapers. (source)

You want to see the church being God’s Work with Our Hands, look no further. I’m not at all surprised that in both the 2 Kings and Gospel story this morning, when the adults say, “That’s impossible,” it’s the kids who step up and say, “Just watch. Just watch what we can do with your impossible.”

We, disciples of Jesus, who follow in his footsteps, are in the business of the impossible. We are the impossibly flawed who are impossibly saved sent out into the world to do the impossible. Our FMSC group couldn’t imagine that what we did that day was possible. Detroit couldn’t imagine that what this giant mob of kids could do was possible. But this is who we are.

We are the church. We are Lutheran. We are the church together, and we are church for the sake of the world. We know our God is impossible. And yet, defying all expectations, we encounter God in the most impossible places. We are impossible.

God’s Hands

Eighth Sunday after Pentecost B
Preached at Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI.

Jeremiah 23:1-6
Psalm 23
Ephesians 2:11-22
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56

There was a time when I used to keep a big long task list on a piece of paper that listed everything, big or small, that I had to do. I had it categorized into two columns: needs immediate attention, and long-term. The needs immediate attention column was for those things that I needed to do right now, within the next day or two. The long-term column was for things that could wait a few days.

It took all of about four days before I ran out of room on the sheet, even though I crossed things off. Every day there were more and more things added to the list. It got to the point where I’d be sitting at home at the end of the day, when I should be winding down, and instead of relaxing, I was fretting about all the things on the needs immediate attention list that I didn’t get to that day: emails that needed to be sent, phone calls that needed to be made, articles that needed to be written, sermon work that needed to be done.

It seemed no matter how many items I crossed off the list, there was never a time when there would be nothing on it. There was always something more to do.

It seems that there is very little time to rest these days. It doesn’t help that we live in a culture that says downtime is wasted time—if we aren’t doing something, then we’re being lazy. Think about it: how many commercials do we see advertising that this product will free up all sorts of time in our day so we can relax and do fun things with our families? What do we do when we get them? We use the free time to do MORE things, because having free time is a no-no. There is always more to do.

Unfortunately, that sounds so bad because it is true. No matter how much we get done in a day, there is always more do to. There are always more needs to be met; some greater than others, but needs nonetheless. How can we rest when there are so many things to do?

This is exactly the problem that Jesus and his disciples face in our story this morning. Think about all of the things they’ve recently gone through: in just this chapter alone, Jesus has preached in and been thrown out of his hometown. He then sends out his disciples, who get out in the villages and towns, cure the sick, and cast out demons. Then we hear about King Herod beheading John the Baptizer, Jesus’s cousin, an event that surely demoralizes and breaks Jesus’s and his disciples’ hearts. A lot has happened in just this slice of the story. I can understand why the disciples are tired, and why Jesus offers to take them somewhere quiet, where they can rest and eat—that’s right, they haven’t even had time to eat.

But things never go according to plan. They may have finished their work among the villages and towns and earned some rest, but they aren’t going to get it. Even as they leave to go somewhere else, they are watched and followed, so that when they arrive, they find the crowd waiting for them.

If it were me, I’d probably be a little frustrated. As Jesus says later, “You always have the poor with you,” which in this instance, could be applied to the crowd. They come to him seeking healing, and there will always be people who need healing. What difference will it make if they rest for a day? It’s not just that the disciples and Jesus have earned a day to rest and eat; they need a day if they are to keep going.

Jesus instead takes a different path. Forgoing his own need for rest and the disciples’ need to get away, he sees the people out there, “like sheep without a shepherd”, and has such compassion for them that he not only heals them, he feeds them: that break between the two parts of our Gospel reading? That’s the feeding of the five thousand.

I don’t know much about sheep. I know that they aren’t the smartest of animals. I know that they are stubborn, and can easily grate the nerves of the shepherd. But I also know that they’re somewhat of a helpless animal—they can’t really protect themselves or truly take care of their own needs in a productive way. In this, they are totally reliant on the care of others, their shepherds. They simply can’t live without that care, unless they want to risk it out in the wilderness, where they will certainly be a tasty meal for a predator.

This is what Jesus sees when he sees the crowd gathered around him: he sees sheep in need of someone to care for them. He sees people who cannot heal themselves, who cannot cast out their own demons, who cannot feed themselves, people who, frankly are not living in the life God intended for them. And in seeing them like this, he is moved by compassion for them; and though he and his disciples are weary and tired, he gets right to work healing them, feeding them, and teaching them.

There’s an important distinction to be made here that needs to be addressed. When Jesus sees the crowds, he is moved by compassion, not pity. He’d certainly be justified  in pitying them—they are in desperate need, and he can help them. That’s what pity is: seeing someone suffering, and doing something to help them. It’s what happens when we see an ASPCA commercial and sign up to help support animal shelters. It’s what happens when we hold our fish fries in the spring and fall, raising money for charity. These are all good things—I have repeatedly told people that I have been keeping a list of all the different ways in which we, as a community of faith, step up together to give aid and help to those who are in pain, and who are in need. It’s an impressive list. Taking pity, acting to relieve suffering, is truly a great thing.

Jesus doesn’t take pity on the crowd, though. He shows them compassion.

It may not seem like there’s not much of a difference. But for Jesus, pitying the people isn’t enough. It’s not what he came to do. Anyone could pity them and help them. Instead, Jesus came to give entirely of himself. He’s tired—exhausted, even. By all rights, he should be able to get away and rest, to pray, to recharge. But when he sees these people, these people who need him—and they do, truly need him—he gathers up his strength and gets to work.

And he doesn’t do it from afar, no. Jesus is right there, in the very midst of the crowd, touching them, healing them, because no one else will. So moved is he by their condition, by whatever makes them suffer, that he shares in their sufferings, so that he can bring them healing and wholeness.

Truthfully, this Jesus worries me. I know I’m not the best at taking care of myself, and I suspect many of us are the same way. Jesus isn’t doing a good job of modeling self-care. Instead of taking the rest he needs, he throws himself right back into the action. I’m not sure this is a model we should necessarily emulate. We get worn out—we burn out. It is a good thing, a very good thing, to rest.

Instead, I see in this story of Jesus hounded by those in need and having compassion on them a glimpse into the mind of God, and a glimpse into the human condition.

We all have needs. Very often we confuse them with our wants, but I invite you to consider those things you truly need. For some, our needs may be like the crowds that followed Jesus. We need food. We need healing. Some may need adequate shelter, or the mending of broken families. Some may need to be loved.

As a community of faith, part of what we do is look after people’s needs. We get down in the mud, where people are at their lowest, and in compassion, we get ourselves dirty right alongside them, accompanying them, until their needs are met. We don’t do it from afar, but hand in hand.

This week, at this very moment, 33,000 high school kids are gathered for worship, the closing worship of the ELCA National Youth Gathering in Detroit, MI. Each of them has participated in a day of service. They’ve cleaned up neighborhoods, they’ve helped pack food, they’ve boarded up homes. When I went to the youth gathering in 2012, I was part of a group that was deconstructing houses so the materials could be used in other houses. The difference that they are making in Detroit, getting right in there with their hands and with their feet, down in the dirt and the mud, is astonishing. But even they can’t heal the whole city.

At the end of the day, we can only do so much. I take great comfort in knowing that God’s compassion is greater, and more far-reaching, than mine. That God can does go places I’ve never even heard of, to people so down in the mud that they don’t even register as people. That God looks down at humanity, sees that our shepherds have abandoned their duty, and God steps in saying, “Then I shall be their shepherd. I will feed them, and protect them, and watch over them. I will take the thankless job of guarding them at night and herding them in the day.”

The rest? The rest is in God’s hands. And I’m totally okay with that.

Dangerous Allegiance

Seventh Sunday after Pentecost B
Preached at Faith Lutheran Church in Three Lakes, WI.

Amos 7:7-15
Psalm 85:8-13
Ephesians 1:3-14
Mark 6:14-29

It’s that season again.

The sun is warm, the sky is blue. The lake water is refreshing, and there’s plenty of daylight to enjoy it in. Barbecues happen on a weekly basis, S’mores over the camp fire–and the race for the 2016 United States Presidential election is on.

Are you kidding me? The election isn’t for another sixteen months! It’s only June 2015! Every four years we go through this, and it’s atrocious. This year, the party started early—the first candidate to declare their candidacy did so back in March. Since then, as of today, 31 candidates have entered the race: 16 Republicans, 8 Democrats, 1 Green, 1 Libertarian, 1 Peace and Freedom, and 4 independents. More are expected to join until every party starts narrowing down the field. Until then, oh boy. Get ready for the onslaught of badly informed, flat-out lying TV ads.

I hate politics. I always have. I remember participating in a mandatory mock election in grade school back in third grade where we voted between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, and maybe Ross Perot. Ever met any third graders who were passionate about who their next president would be and even knew there was an election going on? No! Nobody cared.

Even though I was eligible, I didn’t vote in the 2004 election, because the entire spectacle that we put on every four years disgusted me, and I still had no interest in politics. I did vote in 2008 and 2012, but since I don’t believe in voting for the “lesser evil”, it wasn’t until 2012 that I voted for a party I actually liked.

It feels like politics exists in an entirely separate world than I do. I don’t identify with it at all. I know it’s necessary for society to function, but I don’t like the way it works, the way it sees itself, or the effects it has on community.

One of the things I despise most about politics is that it becomes a castle, a fortress, which must be protected at all costs. Any challenge must be dealt with before it disrupts the system too much.

Two prophets we heard about this morning knew what it was like to butt heads with the political system. One escaped with his life; the other did not.

Amos is a fascinating prophet in so many ways. Of the twelve minor prophets in the Old Testament, Amos is most likely the earliest. He lived about two hundred years after the united Kingdom of Israel had split into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Amos himself was not a professional prophet. He was a herdsman, a farmer, a rural working man.

He was also fascinating because he lived in the southern kingdom of Judah, but he preached just across the border in the northern Kingdom of Israel. Guy’s got guts. Further, he went to one of the two most important sanctuaries, or places of sacrifice, in Israel: Bethel, which is called the sanctuary of the King. And from there, he blasts the Israelite royalty and aristocracy for cheating the poor and oppressing them. Yes, the prophets in the Bible were most often concerned with how the people treated the poor—something we often forget today.

Obviously, Amos’s message isn’t well received. For one, he’s giving this message in the king’s sanctuary, the most prominent place of sacrifice in the kingdom of Israel. He’s causing a raucous, being an embarrassment. It doesn’t matter that his message is from God, and that he speaks truly when he speaks of the sins committed by the political powers in their treatment of the poor. He’s inconvenient, and so he is advised, for his own good, to leave Israel, the implication being that, instead of hearing his message, the powers that be will eliminate him. We don’t know what happens to Amos, but there’s no Biblical record of him being killed.

The same can not be said of John the Baptizer. The circumstances of his arrest, his preaching against the marriage of Herod and Herodias, are quite convoluted; the Herod family, in which it seemed every other person was named Herod, was the family that ruled parts of the area of Judea under the Roman Empire, and they were a messed up lot of people. Multiple marriages and divorces, trading wives, poison assassinations, this was a family that lived for political power at any cost. In any case, when Herod married Herodias, who had been the wife of his brother, John stood up and condemned it.

Herod’s response to John’s preaching is curious. He’s disturbed by John, but at the same time, he’s curious and fascinated. Terrified, yes, but we’re told that he “likes to listen to him preach”. If it weren’t for the political machinations that the Herodians were known for, John may have lived a much longer life.

It’s Herodias, who is annoyed and bothered by John’s condemnation of her marriage, who sets the plan in motion to have him killed. Using her daughter in what I can only assume was a highly inappropriate plan, she gets Herod to make a promise he has no choice to keep, a promise to give her daughter whatever she wants, a promise she manipulates to get what she wants: John’s head on a silver platter. Caught in his own political game, and needing desperately to save face and preserve his power a bit longer, Herod gives in and executes the prophet.

Both Amos and John confronted the political systems of their time. Both systems responded as you would expect; the prophets were threats to their power, and to they made the prophets go away. These two people spoke the words of God, called for justice for the poor and the oppressed and spoke out against immorality, and both were ignored.

These prophets challenged the prevailing political power of their times and called for attention to a different world, a different way of living. They offer a vision of world based in God’s rule, a rule for the poor and the outcast, a world of blessing and surpassing abundance. It is a vision that challenges the political world for the rich, the shameless, filled with intrigue and power plays.

It is part of our reality as Christians, that we live in both worlds. We live in a world and society dominated by the ugliness of politics, where our congressional job approval rating is about 15%–in 2013 it fell to about 5%–because we’re so fed up as a country with our politicians and their crap. And yet, so important is the political system to our lives that we fervently defend it and put our hope in it.

We also live in the kingdom of heaven, the reign of God, that is already present in the world but is yet to be fully present. We live in a world characterized by radical love, hospitality, forgiveness, and reconciliation. It is a world that is so important to create that God literally died to make it happen.

We live in both of these realities. To which do we owe our allegiance?

It seems like an easy question. What Christian wouldn’t want to give their allegiance to the kingdom of heaven? But, remember, allegiance to the kingdom of heaven can get you killed; it happened to John, it happened to the martyrs, it happened to Jesus Christ himself. If pledging our allegiance to the kingdom of heaven was as easy as pledging our allegiance to a piece of cloth, more people would do so, and gladly at that.

Allegiance to the kingdom of God means giving up a lot of things that we’ve taken for granted as necessities. We love to be winners, and the political, worldly kingdom certainly offers that. There are winners, and there are losers. There are those with power, and it is actually possible to go from having no power to having a ton of it. We trust people to wield power on our behalf, and thus to keep the world in order.

But none of it lasts forever. There are winners, yes, but the victory is short lived. Even in our presidential elections, the party in power has switched 24 times. And who remembers the Whig party or the Federalist party, both of which are defunct? One can only hold power for so long before inevitably losing it. And yet we crave that power, whether it’s through actual politics or the politics of everyday life that puts us in constant competition with one other to see which one of us is best on any particular day. It’s a mad, mad system where we scramble toward the top, taking out anyone else in our way, only to, inevitably, fall back down to our doom. It seems like our allegiance to the political, worldly realm may be misplaced.

On the other hand, there are dangers associated with allegiance to the kingdom of heaven. We’ve already heard how God’s message can be unpopular, unpopular enough to be killed for. It also means, as we try to live out radical love and hospitality, that we’re going to be taken advantage of. And we hate being taken advantage of. (At camp, during adult Bible study, a heated discussion began about those who milk the systems we set up to help the poor and the oppressed, and how we can keep them from doing so, and I finally raised my hand and my voice and said, “Living out the Christian life as God taught us to do means that we will get taken advantage of; not that we might, that we will. The sooner we can accept that, the sooner we can get back to actually doing the things we’re called to do.”)

Allegiance to the kingdom of heaven brings with it a certain vulnerability. Instead of relying on ourselves, which carries the possibility of victory, we have to rely on God, who has already won the victory. At the same time that we’re grateful to God for this, we also secretly wish it had been us instead. And by opening ourselves up to the radical nature of the kingdom of heaven, we risk losing part of our connection to the worldly kingdom that we have been convinced is our only hope.

With these two competing worlds, these two kingdoms before us with what can be considered fairly distasteful qualities, the choice of allegiance can be difficult. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of good choices here.

It feels like one is more imminently present in our lives. Think about it: we are no longer surprised when he hear about those in power committing horrible acts. Scandals are not so scandalous anymore. Corruption is the name of the game, and everybody plays. Violence is everywhere as people fight over the smallest scraps of power so they can carve out a life that they own.

When compared to that reality, what chance does the kingdom of heaven have? Amos was shut out of the sanctuary. John was beheaded. Jesus was crucified. If death is the result of our allegiance to God, is there any hope at all? Absolutely.

It is because of the evil we see in the world all around us, to which we have become numb, that the kingdom of heaven is necessary. And in fact, the victory has already been won. We are already dead. And we are already alive.

Featured Image: “Republican Elephant and Democratic Donkey – 3D Icons” by DonkeyHotey is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

An ELCA Pastor's reflections on life and the church


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 257 other followers

%d bloggers like this: