Tuesday, July 29, 2008

E-mailing with Joshua

For at least a year, Joshua had been asking us if he could have an email account. I kept putting him off, telling him he didn't need it and coming up with any excuse I could to avoid the subject. Don't know why I was against it - except that I'm a little slow, remember?
Anyway, a friend of ours told us about an email account especially for kids called Zoobuh. We looked into it, liked it, tried it, and are happily using it now. There are all kinds of safety controls with Zoobuh - my favorite being that Brian gets a copy of every single email Joshua sends or receives.
So we got him all set up and, in spite of my reluctance in the beginning, I absolutely love that Joshua has email. For one, he loves to correspond with my grandma via email. (Yes, my 90-year-old grandmother is a savvy internet user.) She sends him jokes and cute attachments almost every day and he just loves it. He also has fun sending and receiving email with his grandma Hossink.
One day recently, I was remembering that I used to write letters to my grandpa when I was a little girl and I loved getting mail from him. I thought, Gee, wouldn't it be fun if my kids did that with their grandparents? And then I realized that correspondence is happening. A la 2008!

But the thing I love most about Joshua having email is the messages he and I send to each other. Like this one I wrote after we'd had a rough nighttime.

Hi Joshua,

I know you like to get email, so I am hoping you will be willing to read these words carefully.

I told you today it isn’t easy being a mom. I want to be wise and make right decisions in how I am raising you. Sometimes I will make mistakes. I know I won’t always get it right. But I want you to know I will always do my best.
Every decision I make for you, every time I discipline you for something, please know I am trying to do what is best for you. It is NOT my goal to ruin your life or to waste your time by talking to you about your behavior or attitude. I love you, Joshua, and I always want the very best for you.


And this was his reply.
OK, he needs to work on punctuation, but I can see his heart even without periods and commas.
The thing is, in the heat of the moment it usually isn't a good time to say the things I really want to say. But when I send an email - since he loves to receive email - he is happy to read what's on my heart. It's a good thing. *grin*
Joshua frequently asks me to send him an email, so I have been typing out lots of memory verses or short testimonies of how God is showing Himself to me. Yes, I am seeing this "modern mode" of communication can be a really good thing. Some may say it's cold and impersonal. I disagree. (Joshua usually takes time to personalize his emails to me in pretty colors!) Besides, it works. We're in the computer age and that's how my son likes to "talk." So I'm going to meet him where he's at.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

My Job Description

OK, I freely admit I am not always, er, often, er, ever the quickest to catch on to things. It usually takes me a while to get into what's "new" - to the extent that I tend to get into what's "been around." All that to say, I finally got myself onto Facebook last week.
I must say, it's been fun getting in touch with some friends from high school. (Hard to believe my 20th class reunion will take place next summer!) But the most fun for me was in writing my job description. What do you think?

On duty 24/7; limited breaks, two days vacation per year guaranteed.
Must be willing to love short people who will insult you (or compliment you, depending on how you look at it...) by calling you "mean."
Cooking, cleaning, laundering, helping with homework, moderating, board-game playing, and occasional tree climbing are required activities.
KEY RESPONSIBILITY IS TRAINING OF THE NEXT GENERATION. You would do well to realize early on that you are incapable of successfully executing this requirement. Fall fully into the arms of God, knowing His grace is sufficient and trusting Him to lead you.
So there you have it! I'm a mom. That's what I "do."

And soon, I will tell you about a great way I have "gotten with the times" in communicating with my son. Fun stuff!

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

HE Comforts

This morning as I was getting dressed, I put my hand in my pocket and found a verse which I had left there the last time I wore these shorts. As it always is, God's timing was perfect. I read these words and knew God was speaking to my heart today - just as He did the day I choose to carry this verse the first time.

When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.
Psalm 94:19
I don't know about you, but I am quite familiar with anxiety. No need for me to study that word any further.
But consolation? When I hear that word, I think consolation prize - loser. And I began to wonder how being a loser applies to this verse, so I grabbed my handy Webster's Dictionary and looked up "consolation." This is what it said: the act or an instance of consoling: the state of being consoled: COMFORT.
And I put the definition into the verse. What do you think about this?
When anxiety was great within me, your act of comforting me brought joy to my soul.
I read this verse and am reminded that our concerns matter to God. When we are anxious about something, God doesn't turn His head away and expect us to figure out a solution. According to this verse, He comforts us.
What do you suppose He might say? Imagine with me.

My precious child, I know you are concerned about this situation. I know you have been waiting for an answer. I know it doesn't seem like I'm moving, and sometimes you wonder if I have forgotten you. Beloved, I have not forgotten. And I am moving. Dear one, though My timing does not make sense to you right now, though you are having a hard time waiting because you cannot see the end - as I can, though you doubt if you are going to make it through this trial, I am asking you to trust Me. Be anxious for nothing, child, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to Me. (Phil. 4:6) I am listening. I love you. And in My perfect time, I will bring an end to your waiting. Just trust Me, darling. Trust My love for you.

Are you needing this comfort today? I have several friends who are in waiting patterns right now. One friend has a daughter with a blood disease - which they thought would be healed by now. Another friend is waiting to adopt her daughter and is facing one obstacle after another. There is a family at my church whose son is suffering from a brain illness and they have been watching inch-worm-slow progress over the past year, waiting for this boy's full recovery. Some of you may be familiar with Leslie's story. (If you aren't, click over there are pray for her!)
I pray for each of these families regularly. Yes, I pray for healing and the resolution of their situations. But today I am reminded God will comfort them in the middle of their waiting - their anxiety - and I know He will work good from the waiting through which they must go, as He comforts them and brings joy to their souls.

And you, my friend? Are you waiting for something today? Is anxiety great within you? Please receive the comfort God is offering to you. He loves you so much, and I know He will bring the waiting to an end. In His perfect time.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Today I'm a Guest Writer!

My friend, Angela, has set up a website for the women at her church. One of the features of the site is a weekly devotion, and Angela asked me if I would like to be a guest writer for them. I think it was the very next day when God gave me an idea for my first devotion for Gateway Girlfriends Unlimited. And it's been posted. Go on over and take a look!

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Back to Reality - Refreshed!

Women of Faith was super. I'm home now. Back to reality. Today's laundry is almost finished. (I should be folding rather than blogging, but I have confidence the clothes will still be waiting for me when I'm finished here.) Been to the grocery store. Need to return a phone call. Hold on!

OK. That's done.

Yes - I'm back to reality. For fifty-seven hours I did not have to answer to anyone else or be concerned with anything other than finding my way to the hotel, the arena, and my seat. And it was wonderful. I am refreshed.

*satisfied sigh*

I laughed a lot over the weekend. I heard godly wisdom coming from the mouths of wonderful speakers. And the music? Was fabulous!
But more than the fine presentations and catchy songs, I was taken by the women who stood upon that platform. Specifically, I was drawn to God who has done amazing things in the lives of these women.
First, there was Pasty Clairmont: a hilariously funny woman who speaks God's Truth clearly and effectively, and with authority - even though she was a high school drop-out, she doesn't have any seminary degrees, and she is a recovering agoraphobic who knows what it means to be paralyzed by fear. In spite of her "lack of credentials" and her past fear of open spaces, this child of God takes the stage and proclaims His Word. Patsy's testimony of what God has done in her intensifies the godly things that come out of her mouth.
Second, there was Nicole C. Mullen. I had heard her music on the radio before, and liked it. And music is very big with me. But forget the music for just a moment. I love Nicole C. Mullen's heart! She has a mentoring program in which she reaches out to kids. She's teaching them to dance and sing. She's teaching them the Word of God and is helping these kids grow in love and knowledge of the Lord. Six of them were with her at the conference this weekend and I simply loved seeing these kids dancing and singing their hearts out for God.
Then there was Ayiesha Woods. Again - I've heard her music before. I've liked it. Yes, I enjoyed hearing it this weekend and singing along. But what struck me about Ayiesha wasn't the music. It was the relationship I could see between her and her "little brother." (That's what she called him, though he was not smaller.) Just by watching them sing and dance and worship God together, it was clear Donald and Ayiesha love the Lord and love each other.

As I observed these women (and Donald!) I was reminded God can do amazing things. Our credentials don't matter. Pasty reminded me that God does extraordinary things through ordinary people. And this is a lesson with which I constantly need to be reminded. When I start thinking, Who am I to be speaking or writing? Who am I to think I have anything of worth to offer anyone? God assures me who I am doesn't matter. He is the only One who matters. And He is Enough.
Nicole reminded me how fun it is to dance. As I considered what a cool Mom she must be (She has several kids!) my commitment to loving my kids right where they are - and my desire to build into them - was renewed. God reminded me, though I am not perfect and not as "cool," He will use me to bless and train up my children.
And Ayiesha and Donald gave me hope for my own kids. They have me praying that God will grow Elizabeth, Joshua, and Matthew in their love for one another.

Yep. It was a great weekend. God was present and active - loving me, and every other woman in that arena.
And now? I'm ready to tackle the laundry. *grin*

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Friday, July 18, 2008

That Was Fun!

Did you hear it???

Last night I did my interview on We Love Girl Talk, and had a great time. I hope you were able to join us for the live broadcast but in case you missed it, here's the link you can use to download the interview or listen to it on your computer.

Now I'm off to the Women of Faith conference. Have a blessed day!

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Time to Get Away

In less than twenty-four hours, I am outta here!!! Yes, tomorrow at this time I will be in the middle of a four-hour car trip by.my.self. I will be on my way to heaven Cleveland, OH, where I am attending the Women of Faith conference.

Four years ago Brian was at a conference for work and was placed in a hotel room all by himself. *sniff, sniff* When he told me about it on the phone I could not understand the disappointment in his voice. I thought a couple nights in a hotel room alone sounded wonderful. My mind started working and I started searching the internet.
I discovered that in a few weeks Women of Faith was coming to Michigan. Though I had never been to Women of Faith I had heard good things about it, and I really needed to get away for a while. So I did some checking around for information and when Brian came home I had a proposal for him. I said, since he got to have a few days away and a hotel room all to himself, I thought I should get to go away, too. My husband is wonderful and he agreed. *grin*
I went to the conference and had such a great time that we decided it would be an annual "thing" for me. Once a year I get to go away - completely by myself - and I love it. Don't get me wrong. I love being with other people. But there is just something wonderful about going away by myself that really picks me up.
It may seem strange, but somehow I feel even closer to God when I'm alone. I talk with Him more. I am more aware of His presence. Since there is no one else "looking out" for me, I think I rely on Him more. It's like everywhere I go I am mindful of His arm around my shoulders - guiding me.

Is it time to go yet???

So, anyway, dinners for the next three nights are in the fridge, ready for Brian and the kids. I have printed out directions to the hotel and have my tickets. Still need to pack. Can't wait to go!

And, shortly after I get settled in my hotel room I'll be calling in to do my interview on WLGT. Remember to click the BlogTalkRadio button and join me Thursday night at 8:00. Even though I am going to be having my "alone time," I would love to talk with you on the show! (Just don't call me "Mom" or ask me if you can have a snack. *grin*)

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's Happening!

**If you live in New York, Massechusetts, Pennsylvania or New Jersey and you didn't see yesterday's post please take a moment to read it now. Thanks!**

I stayed up way too late last night. But it was for a good cause, and I just couldn't go to bed.
I met with my book designer this morning to give her my manuscript for Finding Joy, so she can work her magic and turn it into a book. Which means, last night I had to give it one more read-through. I wanted to make sure everything was just right before turning it over. And, as any mom knows, it's hard to concentrate with little people around, so I didn't get much work done until everyone was in bed.
But I got it done, and now Suzette is doing her thing.
And my cover designer expects to have two book covers for me to look at any day now. I can't wait to see what he's come up with!
I have two endorsement statements and am waiting on one more.
The ISBN and Library of Congress Control Number are secure.
And I already know which printer I'm going to use - the same one who did Confessions. So as soon as Suzette has the lay-out done and I know how many pages the book will be, I'll be in contact with the printer.

Everything is coming together, and I am getting so excited. Many people have likened publishing a book to having a baby, and I fully agree with the analogy. This baby is growing and I can't wait until it's born!
I'm even thinking about a fun "birth announcement" to share with you. Stay tuned! *grin*

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Can You Help a Child Next Month?

I just received an email from a representative of The Fresh Air Fund. This is an organization which provides free summer vacations to inner-city children, and they are desperately in need of host families for their August camps. A website has been set up here with all the details.
This sounds like such a great opportunity to make a difference in the life of a child. I was already going through August in my mind, wondering if we could host one of these children. Then I saw the camp locations and realized Michigan isn't an option. *sigh*
But, if you're in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, or New York, and you have room in your heart to love on a child in need next month, please visit this link and consider hosting a child.

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Friday, July 11, 2008

He Has an Answer

Perhaps you recall my delay in the Atlanta airport on Mother's Day. I told you about a man I met, named Mick. His son had been serving in Iraq, and had been missing for an entire year.
Laura gave me a link to a news article which has the report that Byron's body has been located. So now Mick has an answer. Surely not the one he was hoping for, but an answer nonetheless.
Please join me in praying that God would make His presence very real to Mick - and the rest of Byron's family - and that He would comfort all of them with His love.
Thank you.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What NOT To Do

If you are a mother prone to irritability, with tendencies pointing toward perfectionism; and if these conditions are intensified by 8 and 10 year-old boys who act like, um, 8 and 10 year-old boys, I have some very specific instructions for things you should not do.

If you are a mother like the one mentioned above, and your husband owns a personal training studio, and he has an idea that it would be a nice touch to have you and your boys come in and wash his clients' vehicles while they are doing their work-out, don't agree to it.
Your boys might be excited that their dad is going to pay them for washing these vehicles, but you really don't want to do it. Because what will likely happen is the boys will think the work is fun the first time around. In fact, they'll probably work at it really hard and do a great job, and make you think the day you spend washing cars is going to be great.
But chances are, they'll lose interest by the time you start the second car. They might start arguing with each other and complaining that their brother is not working hard enough. And when one brother accidentally gets some of the wash water on the other, the offended brother will likely throw an angry fit. He will throw the fit about his "wet-ness" in spite of the fact he purposely gets in the way of the water you spray out of the hose - even when you expressly tell him to get out of the way.

And when these things occur, you will question your state of mind at the time you agreed to this car-washing bit. So you probably just shouldn't do it.

Because later in the day these boys will likely need to use the restroom. And even if you allow them to enter the studio one at a time, so as not to disturb the clients who are trying to endure enjoy their personal training session, they will find a way to be disruptive (By hiding around the corner and shooting off their pretend gun, or something.) and make you regret letting them go in. Surely, one of the bushes out back would have worked just as well. So, don't let them go in.

And if you need to leave momentarily to drive the client's sparkling clean car to the front of the building, even if you tell the boys to sit on the stoop and behave, don't do it. Ask your husband to do the driving. Because, even if the boys say they'll behave, they'll probably grab the hose and start spraying the dumpster and whatever else catches their fancy. But if you're lucky there will be no additional cars parked nearby to receive the random sprays.
Of course, each boy will be eager to point out the misdeeds of the other and you will tire of hearing it. So just don't leave them alone. You'll regret it.

Finally, at the end of the day, when you're home and hurrying to get the finishing touches put on dinner so everyone can eat, when you've been reminding the boys they need to set the table, when you're tired of answering questions, tired of listening to bickering, and just plain tired, and your son says, "Mom?" by all means - Don't answer him abruptly and with a short temper. Because, chances are he just wants you to turn around so he can hug you and say, "I love you."

That was my day. How was yours???


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

HE Forgives

When I wrote HE Speaks, I was not intending to start a series. But my plans are not always His plans. (Oh, that could be another post ~ HE Decides!) I have found His plans are always better.

And last night God spoke to me about another post to write for you.

HE Forgives.

It was after 10 o'clock and I was trying to get the boys to bed. Joshua went rather willingly, but Matthew put up a fight. He complained that he wasn't tired and wouldn't be able to fall asleep. He said it wasn't fair for me to make him stay in bed. He got out of bed several times to protest.
We stood in the kitchen and Matthew was yelling at me. I interrupted him to make a statement and he yelled at me for interrupting. He said he had wasn't finished talking and I "had to listen." I informed my defiant little friend that I was finished listening to him, and nothing he was going to say would change his bed time. I reminded him clearly and firmly that his summer bed time is 10 o'clock, he must listen to me and obey, and if he got out of bed again there would be consequences to pay.
With that, Matthew turned to go to his room and on the way he yelled, "I am not going to listen to you tomorrow or the next day, either!"

And with that, I went to my room to get myself ready for bed.

Four or five minutes had passed since Matthew's proclamation and I was in my bathroom washing my face. Suddenly I noticed a visitor at my door.
I looked down, and there was Matthew. He wrapped his arms tightly around me and simply said, "I'm sorry." And as he spoke I could hear the tears in his voice. It was very obvious to me that the Holy Spirit had been operating on the heart of my defiant little friend for the past four or five minutes, and I felt my own tears coming as I savored his repentant heart.
I returned his embrace, rubbed his head and assured him, "I forgive you."
Five words exchanged. Not much of a conversation. But so much went between us in those moments. It was wonderful.

As I stood there with Matthew holding tightly to me - and he was holding tightly! - I couldn't help but recognize the picture God was painting for me of Himself.
Just as I didn't stop loving Matthew when he was fighting me on bedtime, God doesn't stop loving us when we are rebelling against Him. And just as I was willing to forgive his defiance and rebellion when Matthew approached me with a repentant heart, God freely forgives us, too.
The trembling in Matthew's voice as he apologized and the tension which left him when I said, "I forgive you," told me how sorry he was and how much he wanted reconciliation. In my mind I was thinking, Matthew, of course I will forgive you. You are my son and I love you. I will always forgive you, my child.

And I smiled as I realized my ability to forgive is so far superseded by God's. I can forgive an offense, but God? HE really forgives.

***I don't want to ruin the "mood" of this post, but I do want to give you a bit more information about the interview I am doing on WLGT Blog TalkRadio on July 17. You can click on the blog talkradio button in my sidebar at 8:00 pm EST (Better yet, make it 7:55 so you have time to get acquainted with their site!) to listen in. And you will notice a call in number...I hope lots of you will pick up your telephones and call in to participate in the interview. I think it would be so much fun to talk with you!!!

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

HE Knows What We Need

Recently my children have been saying things like, "You don't care about me!" when Brian or I are disciplining them. Sometimes they have been getting angry with us for not giving in to their ways.
On occasion I find myself considering whether I should just "let them be kids" and turn my eyes away from childish behavior, or stand firm and require them to respond obediently. I wonder if I am expecting too much, if I am being too rigid, if I just need to loosen up a bit. Then I read things like Proverbs 19:18.

Discipline your son, for in that there is hope;
do not be a willing party to his death.
And I know the loving thing to do is to train my children in the ways that are right. Sometimes it will be hard and they won't like the things I say or make them do, but I do not want to be a willing party to their death.

Well, this afternoon the "You don't care about me!" lines were flying around again. So I decided to take an opportunity we had this evening before going to church, and we had attempted to have a family discussion. I had my Bible opened up to Proverbs 19:18 and hoped to talk about it together with Brian and my children. With all my heart, I just wanted my kids to understand that the reason Brian and I discipline them is because we want to raise them well. We don't want to be a willing party to their death. (And I truly thought that particular illustration would help them understand.)
However, Joshua and Matthew couldn't stop looking at each other. And seeing each other made them laugh. They could not control their silliness. Brian and I took turns telling them to listen and stop looking at each other. Conveying this lesson was so important to me and I was getting very frustrated. I wanted to stop mid-sentence and send them to their rooms, but at the same time I wanted them to be there because the lesson was for them. Talk about being torn!
Many times I prayed that God would help me say the right thing, help the boys listen, help them stop being silly, just help!

We somewhat finished talking about the verse, and I knew we needed to pray. But I couldn't do it. I was too close to tears. So as we gathered in a circle, Brian prayed for Elizabeth, Joshua, and Matthew - as children, and the two of us - as parents.
And I? Stood there crying. Telling Jesus how much I love my children and how desperately I want to raise them well. I begged Him for wisdom and reminded Him one more time how much I love my children and how desperately I want to raise them well.

Then we went to church, and God showed me that He knows what we need.

Our pastor was preaching from Philippians 4:13.
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Right away he got us thinking about that situation in our lives which causes us to think, I can't! and confirmed the truth of our evaluation. That is, I can't.
On my own, I cannot do it - whatever it may be. (And for me, the "it" which was fresh on my mind was training my children.)
But I am not on my own. The Holy Spirit is living in me, and by His strength I can do everything.
I sat listening to my pastor's words, and I am sure God was speaking right to my heart - because He knows what I need. God very clearly reminded me of the fact He loves my children more than I do, and He will give me the strength and wisdom and endurance I need as a mother to raise these children He has entrusted to me.

I know for sure I cannot do this mothering thing alone. But that's okay. Because I am not alone. God is with me. And I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

How about you, my friend? Is there a situation in your life right now which has you saying, "I can't"?
Well, you're right.
You can't.
But God can, and He knows what you need. Will you trust Him?

**Updated to add**
Saturday night during "Family Prayer Time" we talked about Proverbs 19:18 again. The kids seemed to remember what we talked about earlier, and I do believe an understanding is coming. Whew!

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

HE Laughs

For several weeks now I have been saying I think I could "handle" running so much better if I had an ipod. Something about music makes painful things tolerable to me.
Well, my dear husband had an ipod at work and last night he brought it home. We sat on the couch and loaded some songs from my favorite CDs and a couple more from itunes, and this morning I found out how much music truly helps me run.
I got up, got my running gear on, figured out the ipod and was on my way. And Sandi Patty, Keith Green, and Barry Manilow came with me. We had a blast!
As I was running and listening to some of my favorite tunes, I was reminded God laughs. I had the ipod set to play the songs randomly and I am just sure God was picking the order of play. I imagine He was smiling as He watched me gliding along listening to Sandi Patty sing "You Set Me Free," and when I was laughing at Keith Green's silliness in "He'll Take Care of the Rest."
Then there was Barry Manilow singing "Chatanooga Choo Choo." I love this song and as I ran I sort of moved my arms like a kid pretending to be a train. I am such a dork! But it was early enough - I'm sure God was the only one watching. And HE laughs.
As I turned the corner to begin a long, straight stretch, Keith started singing, "Oh, you can run to the end of the highway and not find what you're looking for." I'm sure I heard Him laugh at that one, and simply said, "Thanks for the encouragement!"
But the best laugh came as I finished running up a fairly long hill. I had turned around to head home and literally as I began the downhill descent Keith's voice rang through my ears, "Thank You, Jesus!" I laughed out loud, and echoed Keith's words.

Many times God uses music to lift me up when I am down, to minister hope to me, or to speak His love. Today I am sure He was using it to laugh with me.

And I am sure of one other thing. Having an ipod is going to help me enjoy running!

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Mark Your Calendar!

I am so excited!

On July 17 I am doing a live interview on We Love Girl Talk, BlogTalkradio. (See the button in my sidebar to the right!) I will post a bit more information about it in the days to come, but I wanted to get it "on your screen" today. You'll be able to call in during the show and we can talk with each other.

It's going to be fun, and I hope you'll join me!

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