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Welcome to my almost weekly list of good reads found around the Web.

This Dying Young Woman Has a Message for Us, HT to Challies. “Brooklyn may face dark moments, but they are never so dark that the light of Christ does not breakthrough. Along with telling her story, she wants to speak directly to us, and even when she wants to tell us hard truths, her sense of humor steps in to help us swallow the medicine. ‘I’m sick. Soon to die. But so are you. I’m just doing it faster.'” Brooklyn did pass away March 1.

Truth in Small Bites Is Truth Nonetheless. “When life takes a turn, most of us tend to push Bible reading aside until our circumstances return to normal. If you’re not able to sit down at your kitchen table for a quiet hour of in-depth study, you don’t even crack open God’s Word. Somewhere along the way, you’ve told yourself that if you’re not able to feast, you shouldn’t eat at all, not realizing that a handful of almonds in the middle of the night is far better than allowing your soul to starve.

Sexual Sin Is Not Inevitable, HT to Challies. “God never commands us to do anything without providing the resources to obey by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Death, Miracles, and Tears from a missionary in Cameroon, HT to Challies. “About three years ago I took a girl in our village named Mami to get an ultrasound. At the clinic I met her boyfriend named Koo who was visibly concerned about her pregnancy. So much so that he made a deal with God: if his baby survived, he would dedicate his life to the Lord.”

The Friend Who Sharpens Me, HT to Challies. “While it’s great to have friends we agree with theologically and mentors who can teach us more about the historical faith we hold to, I’m learning that it’s important to make friends with those I disagree with. It’s important to learn from those with a different viewpoint than me.”

Tell Me a Story? “There are many nights when both Dan and I draw a complete blank. Four sets of eyes stare at us longingly as we frantically rake our minds for something to say, only to come up as empty as one of Pooh’s honey jars. Over the years we have developed a strategy for handling situations like this. It’s easy to implement, and it has never failed.”

This is a good reason to get those dust bunnies when they’re small and few. 🙂

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

A collection of good reading online

Welcome to my latest list of good online reads:

Every Need Is Not a Call. “As we try to discern the often blurry lines between good, better, and best, we should prayerfully consider our passions, priorities, and providential circumstances. When we walk in dependence upon Christ, we can learn to respond to needs faithfully rather than frantically.”

Losses of a Prayerless Christian, HT to Challies. “Though God is sovereign over all things, He ordains the means of prayer. There are some things He will not do unless we pray, though He always does all He purposes (Psalm 135:6). The mystery does not change this truth: You do not have because you do not ask (James 4:2).”

Never Underestimate the Value of Ordinary, Brief, Christian Conversations, HT to Challies. It’s so true that we minister to each other in small, brief conversations and not just in official sermons or lessons. I can still remember comments made in passing decades ago that directed my thinking in certain areas. it’s so important to be in God’s Word and filled with His Spirit so He can use us in those ways.

Is There Such a Thing as Bad Missions? HT to Challies. “Good motives do not overcome bad methodology. Make sure your missionaries know what they are speaking into before they speak.”

Defending Without Becoming Defensive, HT to Challies. “There is a difference between winning an argument and winning a person. Of course, it’s easy to forget this in the middle of a tense conversation. Emotions are powerful when the stakes are high.”

A Little Poetry Improves Life: How Verse Awakens Wonder, HT to The Story Warren. “I ask the class, ‘How do you know that God intends for you to understand and enjoy poetry?’ . . . It is gratifying to see how quickly someone comes up with the correct answer. That answer is that approximately one-third of the Bible comes to us in poetic form.” Leland Ryken dispels misconceptions and shares tips for getting more out of poetry, especially Biblical poetry.

‘Redeeming Love’ Irredeemably Exploits Actors and Viewers. HT to Challies. “Debates among Christians about the presence of nudity and sex in media are certainly not new. But it’s an important topic to continually reengage and thoughtfully consider—especially as the boundaries of sexual content on screen continue to be pushed. The release of a ‘sexy’ faith-based film like Redeeming Love offers a chance to revisit this discussion, albeit from a new vantage point.”

What Happens When a Believer Dies? HT to Challies. “Every person reading this article is dying. Perhaps you have reason to believe that death will come very soon. You may be troubled, feeling uncertain, or unready to leave. Make sure of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Be certain that you’re trusting Him alone to save you—not anyone or anything else, and certainly not any good works you’ve done. And then allow yourself to get excited about what’s on the other side of death’s door.”

I don’t often read The Babylon Bee and I don’t know any of these people, but the caption about one-line summaries of classic novels caught my eye. This woman’s father had multiple sclerosis, and in the last years of his life couldn’t do much but read. He set out to read as many classic novels as he could and then wrote these summaries of them. Some are pretty funny, like Dracula by Bram Stoker: “Vampire advantage—immortality; disadvantage—limited liquid diet.” Commenters try their hand at one-line summaries, too.

Happy Saturday!

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I’m waaaay behind on my blog reading. But I wanted to go ahead and share the ones concerning Christmas before it was all over.

We Need a Little Christmas! I love both meanings of this post by Lesley.

This Is Not How I Thought My Story Would Go, HT to Diane Heeney. Good applications drawn from Mary’s life.

We Wait in Darkness: Some Thoughts for Advent. “In Advent, we wait in the darkness. But we do not, I am convinced, wait hopelessly. For while we wait, we can tend the flame. The stories each of our homes are telling can be ones that lend flesh to truth, goodness, and beauty, so that the waiting we do can tend the flame of the Gospel flickering inside our hearts.”

Goodnight Till Then. Those of you who know Tim Challies know that his college-age son died suddenly and unexpectedly a few weeks ago. Also from Tim: When All Seems to Be Gain, Plan for Loss.

Do You Ever Wonder? Lessons Learned from Rebecca. Both Rebekah and Sarah manipulated events instead of trusting God’s promises. We all leave a string of failures in our wake, but thank God He redeems them.

Looking for Joy? Abide. “In addressing His disciples hours before His arrest, Jesus tells them over and over to abide, to remain, to dwell in Him. He knows that they’re worried about what life will look like without Him, so He gives them these instructions for a specific reason: “that [their] joy may be full” (John 15:11).”

On Benedictions, Part 1: He Who Is Able. “This passage doesn’t promise that we’ll never stumble into sin. But it does promise that God’s grace can enable us to persevere to the end—to stand before his throne still blameless, still washed by the blood of Christ, still cleansed from the sin in which we all too readily engaged.”

Assurance in an Age of Cancel Culture, HT to Challies. These days of being so easily “cancelled” when the culture at large doesn’t like what we say can make us fearful of speaking out. “This article is an outpouring of my inner war with ‘cancel culture’ and fear of man. These Biblical truths are weapons of warfare for me in the middle of my fight with ‘cancel culture.’”

Meatloaf Ministry. If you’ve ever been part of a church food ministry or any behind-the-scenes ministry, this will bless you.

Social Justice in Our Divided Age. Not everyone means the same thing by that term, which causes confusion and even hard feelings at times. I thought this was a good explanation.

Happy Saturday!

Laudable Linkage

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I found a lot of good reading this week, so I have a little longer list than usual. I hope you find something edifying here.

How to Fall . . . Again. HT to Challies. “You may have some obvious boundaries in place to keep you from the explicit routes back to your old sins. But there are some ways your new life might make you vulnerable to new sins. The devil is cunning and is perfectly willing to cut you in the left side while you protect your right. How might this happen? What are some ways you might fall again?”

What If the Worst Comes to Pass? Developing a What If Theology, HT to Challies.. Dealing with anxiety by facing the “what ifs” full on rather than hiding from them.

From Gay to Gospel: The Fascinating Story of Becket Cook, HT to Challies. Moving testimony.

6 Powerful Keys To Overcoming Anger, HT to Challies. “What is it that I want right now that I’m not getting? This question has changed my life. This question has helped me again and again to overcome the temptation to anger in my life. I try to ask myself this question when I’m tempted to be angry. What is it I want right now that I’m not getting?”

4 Ways to Grow in Self-Control, HT to Challies. “Self-control is one of the biggest indicators of Christian character. Without it, you’ll eventually ruin your life and legacy. With it, you can thrive and be a blessing to others around you. You’re probably convinced of the need for self-control. But how do you get it?”

Aspire to Live Quietly, HT to Challies.. “Be honest, do you love the conflict? Do you love the argument? If so, be insignificant on social media and preserve your soul. For what use is it to you if you gain all the world’s likes but lose your soul?”

Prime Prayer Attitude. Has Amazon prime affected our praying? Do we expect the answer at our front door in two days or free returns if we don’t like what we get?

Friend, What’s Your Name? Learning how to make friends from a child’s example.

No Pang Shall Be Mine? HT to Challies. Being a Christian doesn’t necessarily make for an easy death. Death is still the final enemy.

Was Jesus a Person of Color? An Immigrant? A Palestinian? HT to Challies. “Jesus should not be a political pawn whose identity shifts to match whatever the political cause is of the day. It is better for us to orient our lives around him than him around our politics.”

A Sad Tale of a Wealthy Millennial’s Moral Confusion, HT to Challies. I am coming across this idea more and more that wealth is immoral. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a post about it, but this says almost everything I would want to.

The Deepfake Artists Must be Stopped, HT to Challies. This is disturbing. People have found ways to copy a person’s voice to make fake recordings of them saying and doing whatever the creator wants.

Creating a Bible Study Notebook. The ladies at Do Not Depart have been discussing this topic all month and share some free printables.

Downton Abbey Cast Reverses Roles, HT to Laura. Fun!

Finally, I stumbled across this and really enjoyed it. Some of you may remember Jim Varney’s Ernie or Ernest character. I had no idea that Varney was a trained classical actor. It was also interesting seeing how Ernest got started. I think this must have aired before some of his later movies, since it doesn’t reference them.

Laudable Linkage

Just a few good reads to share today:

Read Your Bible to Fight Unbelief, HT to Challies. “We stop reading it when, in our unbelief, we start living as if we were autonomous and knew well how to do this thing called life without any direction from the Holy Spirit.”

Why Paul’s Messy Churches Give Us Hope.

Walking Saints Home, HT to Challies, on “the calling to walk with men and women to the end of their earthly lives.”

Why You Shouldn’t Stop Blogging (or Why You Should Consider Starting)

And, finally, this was floating around Facebook a while back. It always cracks me up:

Happy Saturday!

Heaven is not a lesser answer

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Some years ago, our church was fervently praying for someone’s healing. When that person passed away, I was heartsore and disappointed. Someone mentioned that this person had received “the ultimate healing” in heaven. In my immaturity, I thought that sounded like rationalization, putting a positive spin on it.

In God Is Just Not Fair: Finding Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense, Jennifer Rothschild described a friend’s death during a cruel assault. When Jennifer lamented to her father that she couldn’t understand why God let her friend go through such a thing, he responded that she didn’t go through it, she went from it. He went on to explain:

God delivers us in different ways. Sometimes he protects us from awful things so we never have to endure them. Other times God delivers us by rescuing us or healing us. Sometimes God brings us through hard things —that’s also a form of God’s deliverance. But then there are the times that God, out of his great care for his children, delivers us out of the horror and into glory.

God compassionately took Regina out of her tragedy and into his presence. She was delivered from it —out of it —and into glory, where there are no tears, no crying, and no pain, and the only scars are the ones on the hands of Jesus.

Heaven is not a rationalization or a positive spin on unanswered prayer. Heaven is not a lesser answer to prayer than healing.

If we look at the death of Christians from God’s standpoint, He’s gathering His children to the home He has been preparing for them for millennia.

It’s fine to seek and pray for healing, and we rejoice and praise God when He allows someone to remain with us a little longer. Healings were a major testimony to the reality of the power of God and the validity of Jesus’ ministry in the Bible. God has implanted in us a strong will to live, but living “the American dream” of a nice house, good family, and 70+ years of excellent health is not the “ultimate.” The ultimate is being with Him in our new home in heaven some day.

Once I saw a video in which the speaker had a long rope that extended all the way across the stage and then past the curtain beyond sight. That rope, he said, represented eternity. The speaker held the end of the rope wrapped in a few inches of red tape which represented our time here on earth. Our few decades that we value so much are so short, and eternity is so long. How shortsighted we are that we put so much emphasis on the one to the neglect of the other.

A full Biblical study of heaven would take more space than we have here, but here are just a few aspects of heaven:

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. John 17:24

There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. Job 3:17

Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also…Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:1-3, 6

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. Revelation 21:3-4

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. Philippians 1:21-23

What should we be doing in relation to heaven before we get there? Here are a few things:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (KJV uses “comfort” in place of “encourage.)

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the patience of our Lord as salvation. 2 Peter 3:11-15a

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you. Colossians 3:1-5a (followed by a discussion about what earthly things he is talking about, like immorality, covetous, and lying, and what things to put on in their place).

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

In Frank Houghton’s biography, Amy Carmichael of Dohnavur, he tells of a time when one of the little ones at the Dohnavur compound died. Amy was comforted by the words of Samuel Rutherford written to a grieving mother over 200 years before Amy’s time:

You have lost a child. Nay, she is not lost to you who is found to Christ; she is not sent away but only sent before, like unto a star which going out of our sight doth not die and vanish, but shineth in another hemisphere: you see her not, yet she doth shine in another country.

If her glass was but a short hour, what she wanteth of time that hath she gotten in Eternity; and you have to rejoice that you have now some treasure laid up in heaven…Your daughter was a part of yourself, and you, being as it were cut and halved, will indeed be grieved; but you have to rejoice that when a part of you is on earth, a great part of you is glorified in heaven…There is less of you out of heaven that the child is there.

We grieve when someone we love leaves this life, and that’s perfectly normal. Even Jesus grieved. We’re sad whenever we have to be away from our loved ones for an extended time, especially without the ability to converse with them. But we remember that this life is short, that those who die in Christ are in His presence, fully healthy and without pain. We could not wish them back, and we know we’ll see them again. and in the meantime we live, as an old song used to say, “with eternity’s values in view.”

If you don’t have this sure hope of heaven, please read here for more information.

(Sharing with Literary Musing Monday, Tell His Story, Let’s Have Coffee, Porch Stories, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday, Faith on Fire, Grace and Truth)

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My round-up of exceptional online reads discovered this week:.

It’s OK to Choose Grace and Space. “There’s no Goals Police or Resolutions Monitor waiting to slap your hand if you don’t produce.”

Wherein an Anthropomorphic Tree Upends Me. HT to Story Warren. Beautiful.

What If Motherhood Was Meant to Be Hard? HT to Story Warren.

Letters to Taylor: On New Beginnings. HT to Story Warren.

Being Lazy Is Actually Good For You sometimes.

And, finally, I’ve always loved this quote:

Laudable Linkage

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I don’t usually post these two weeks in a row, but I came across several good reads this week, and some pertain to Easter.

Ten Things You Should Know About the Cross, HT to Challies.

What If Jesus Really DID Rise From the Dead?

Despite Loving Christian Parents, I Left the Faith, HT to Proclaim and Defend. Good tips for parents at the end.

When a Member of Your Church Is Dying, HT to Linda.

Should I Bring My Kids to a Funeral? HT to Story Warren.

The Blessing of a Good Example, HT to Challies.

9 Things That Quiet, Awkward Introvert Wishes You Knew, HT to Linda.

Are home renovations necessary?  HT to Linda. Nothing wrong with home renovations, but all the flip and fix shows popular now can make us discontent.

Laudable Linkage

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I found a lot of good reads the last week or so:

On Blind Faith and God.

Why You Desperately Need the Holy Spirit , HT to Challies.

The Power of De-Conversion Stories: How Jen Hatmaker is Trying to Change Minds About the Bible, HT to Challies.

Who Is the God of Mormonism?, HT to Challies.“One thing you’ll discover as you’re talking with your Mormon (LDS) friends is that though we use the same terms, we often mean very different things. Mormons have different definitions of Gospel, repentance, salvation, grace, Hell, and nearly every term you’ll be using in your conversation.”

5 Things That People Who Are Dying Want You to Know, by Kerry Egan, HT to Lisa.

How to Choose Worship Songs. Yes, to all the points mentioned here.

My Son, Withhold Judgment, HT to Challies.There are some times we need to act quickly; there are other times to realize we don’t know all the facts and need to wait.

How Do I Fight Pride When Competing in School, Business, and Sports? HT to True Woman.  “If we are better in some subject than someone else, God made us better. And his reasons for doing so are not pride and boasting and elitism. His reason for doing so is that we might use our competencies for the good of others.”

If God Doesn’t Heal You, HT to True Woman. “Although God can heal us, we must never presume that he must.”

The Why of Encouragement.

Why Do I Believe in Credobaptism, HT to Challies.

Why Young Christians Need Old Books, HT to True Woman.

In Defense of Evangelicals Who Support Trump, HT to Proclaim and Defend. Interesting, whichever side you’re on. Not written by an evangelical but by a Jew who acknowledges that “It is usually easier for an outsider to defend a person or a group that is attacked than for the person or group.” As he also says, “Character is a complex issue.” I’m not willing to say it’s not a factor at all – far from it, and I don’t think he’s saying that, either – but it’s true that some people with awful personal lives can be good leaders. But if we acknowledge that on one side of the ballot, we need to concede it for the other as well.

Growing Old Graciously, HT to Challies.”I don’t know everything, but what I do know, I can share.”

The Benefits of Listening to the Elderly, HT to Challies. “Why might the Lord, in his grace, cause the aged to repeat themselves as they do? What is the Lord showing us through it? Rather than rolling our eyes or thinking ‘Here goes Grandma again,’ what can be gained from these times?”

When I Give a Book.

On Writing Books and Getting Published, HT to Challies.

The Incredible “Mehness” Of Social Media, HT to Challies. An aspect we don’t often think of. Even if much of what we do there is harmless or even interesting, how does that impact our everyday lives and responsibilities? Do those things impact those with whom we have to do or take our attention away from them?

Ideas For Things to Do On a Snow Day, HT to Story Warren.

And in the “Seriously?” category: There’s a Reason using a Period In a Text Makes You Sound Angry, HT to Lisa. I never knew this was an issue – and it shouldn’t be. A period is just the end of a sentence, not the end of a conversation or an indicator of anger, disinterest, or insincerity.

Hope you have a fine Saturday!

(Links do not imply 100% endorsement.)

Watching angels

When one of my sons was a baby and was intently staring at the ceiling, as babies are wont to do, my mother-in-law remarked that she thought when babies did that, they were looking at their guardian angels. We smiled – I think we even chuckled. I think she got a little embarrassed, but insisted, “No, really, I think they do see them!” We always kept that as a sweet memory of a sweet thought, and often when we saw a baby staring at the ceiling, we’d observe, “There they go looking at their guardian angels again” with a smile.

When we brought my mother-in-law home from the nursing home four years ago, we thought we were bring her home to die. She was down to 90 lbs., very fuzzy-minded, and not very responsive. But one-on-one care, especially in relation to feeding, and getting her off the narcotic drug we had not even known she was on until we brought her home, all improved her general condition dramatically. She’s 89, though, and one can’t stop the ravages of time. After maybe her first year or so at home, she began to decline more and more, moving less, sleeping more. Over the last year or so, she has become less interactive. She stopped speaking about a year ago, but we could tell by her eyes that she recognized us and followed what we were saying. She’d smile, nod, or shake her head. Though sometimes she still does, more and more lately there’s no light in her eyes when she looks at us, no response.

As we got her ready for bed last night, I noticed her staring intently at the ceiling, and that old sweet thought came back: maybe she’s watching her guardian angel.

Who knows what little babies and elderly people actually see when they fixedly stare at some point like that. I don’t know if each person is assigned a guardian angel, but the Bible does say that God sends angels to help us in various ways. Our pastor saw angels before he passed away, and I’ve heard similar things from others.

There is a sense in which all who know the Lord are getting closer to heaven every day, but the older and more frail one gets, the more imminent it seems. “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:2, ESV). Some day she’ll cast off this silent, crumpled frame and see, not just angels, but the One she has loved and faithfully served for decades, the One who loved her, died for her, redeemed her, and made it possible that she and the family she so loved and prayed for could be with Him.

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
    O death, where is your sting?”

 

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:53-57, ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5, ESV

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(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Glimpses, Literary Musing Monday, Wise Woman, Tell His Story, Coffee for Your Heart, Porch Stories, Woman to Woman Word-filled Wednesday)