“Do you not fear your darkest hour because to fully realize God’s grace, you must know what he is sparing you from.”~TB
If I could give any advice to people— young and old— I would tell them to reject the teachings and ideas of the world. If you believe them, your perception and understanding of God’s will always be distorted. People tell each other the dumbest things, that have nothing to do with God, His grace, or even what His will is in your life. The world will sooner tell you it’s ok to become a unicorn rather than acknowledge God’s existence. The world and its ways are upside down. This is especially true when it comes to hard times and bad events
Dark Times produce the purest fruit, because whatever leaves wasn’t necessary and whatever remains is what will see you through. Your darkest hour will reveal how much you truly need the Lord and that all things work according to His plan. Humility and submission will open your eyes to what exactly is going on around you. In hard times, look to see the lessons. Remember that those tough moments didn’t break you. No, you survived! When you are spared from these crazy moments, you then realize that God’s Will is the only way. Surviving harsh times makes you grateful for salvation and everything in between. So the next time you’re being tested or going through a struggle, let God guide you through the moment.
Are you learning from your darkest hour or is bitterness setting in?
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Song of Solomon 7
1How beautiful are your sandaled feet, O queenly maiden. Your rounded thighs are like jewels, the work of a skilled craftsman.
2Your navel is perfectly formed like a goblet filled with mixed wine. Between your thighs lies a mound of wheat bordered with lilies.
3Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle.
4Your neck is as beautiful as an ivory tower. Your eyes are like the sparkling pools in Heshbon by the gate of Bath-rabbim. Your nose is as fine as the tower of Lebanon overlooking Damascus.
5Your head is as majestic as Mount Carmel, and the sheen of your hair radiates royalty. The king is held captive by its tresses.
6Oh, how beautiful you are! How pleasing, my love, how full of delights!
7You are slender like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters of fruit.
8I said, “I will climb the palm tree and take hold of its fruit.” May your breasts be like grape clusters, and the fragrance of your breath like apples.
9May your kisses be as exciting as the best wine— Young Woman Yes, wine that goes down smoothly for my lover, flowing gently over lips and teeth.
10I am my lover’s, and he claims me as his own.
11Come, my love, let us go out to the fields and spend the night among the wildflowers.
12Let us get up early and go to the vineyards to see if the grapevines have budded, if the blossoms have opened, and if the pomegranates have bloomed. There I will give you my love.
13There the mandrakes give off their fragrance, and the finest fruits are at our door, new delights as well as old, which I have saved for you, my lover.
“Stay close to God so that you do not get unplugged from His wisdom.”~TB
If you’re not careful, life has a way of getting you off track in your relationship with Christ. Whether it’s just life circumstances, poor decisions, or the opposition rocking your boat, taking your eyes off of the Truth is a recipe for disaster. When we stop looking to God for the answers, we begin to make up answers that generally leave us worse off than before. Friends, don’t lean on your human made solutions to the challenges in your life. When we struggle to find God in the midst of our situations, it’s a sign that we’re not going to the source material— the Bible— to know the Truth.
Recognize that there are patterns and cycles in life, and no matter what, our faith and reliance in God is the only key to success! The devil may poke and prod, making you feel uneasy and alone, but when you’re plugged into God, you know the difference. This is why reading the Bible daily is so important. It’s not just a task that you check off to get a pat on the head from God. No, it possesses the tools and weapons to prepare and protect you from the world and the opposition. Don’t fall for the smoke and mirrors of the evil one. Rest on the Truth of the Word to stay plugged in.
Are you plugged into Christ or plugged into chaos and uncertainty?
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Song of Solomon
1Where has your lover gone, O woman of rare beauty? Which way did he turn so we can help you find him?
2My lover has gone down to his garden, to his spice beds, to browse in the gardens and gather the lilies.
3I am my lover’s, and my lover is mine. He browses among the lilies.
4You are beautiful, my darling, like the lovely city of Tirzah. Yes, as beautiful as Jerusalem, as majestic as an army with billowing banners.
5Turn your eyes away, for they overpower me. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.
6Your teeth are as white as sheep that are freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin.
7Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates behind your veil.
8Even among sixty queens and eighty concubines and countless young women,
9I would still choose my dove, my perfect one— the favorite of her mother, dearly loved by the one who bore her. The young women see her and praise her; even queens and royal concubines sing her praises:
10“Who is this, arising like the dawn, as fair as the moon, as bright as the sun, as majestic as an army with billowing banners?”
11I went down to the grove of walnut trees and out to the valley to see the new spring growth, to see whether the grapevines had budded or the pomegranates were in bloom.
12Before I realized it, my strong desires had taken me to the chariot of a noble man.
13Return, return to us, O maid of Shulam. Come back, come back, that we may see you again. Young Man Why do you stare at this young woman of Shulam, as she moves so gracefully between two lines of dancers?
“Master your mind so that you know exactly whom you serve.”~TB
When you serve yourself, your ability to love is limited to the knowledge you possess, which isn’t much. Because humans are flawed, our way of thinking will always be imperfect, especially compared to the mind of Christ. Self serving behavior will always bring your problems because your intentions aren’t rooted in Christ’s standards. Your mind will trick you into believing you are mightier than you are and that the things of this world are worth desiring. If left unchecked, soon you will be serving too many false-gods, leaving you confused, and off task. Put your pride away and switch masters.
When you serve God, things like humility, compassion, love, and forgiveness are easier to give, because you’re focusing on the mind of Christ and not your own. Being flawed does not mean you are self-loathing or putting yourself down. No, it means you understand who has made you and why we must connect to Him to make up the difference. Your mind becomes disciplined and focused on the things of above, rejecting the things of the world. And through His love and only His love can we begin to receive the peace, joy, and understanding that comes from being His.
Where does your mind go when it wanders?
Song of Solomon 5
1I have entered my garden, my treasure, my bride! I gather myrrh with my spices and eat honeycomb with my honey. I drink wine with my milk. Young Women of Jerusalem Oh, lover and beloved, eat and drink! Yes, drink deeply of your love!
2I slept, but my heart was awake, when I heard my lover knocking and calling: “Open to me, my treasure, my darling, my dove, my perfect one. My head is drenched with dew, my hair with the dampness of the night.”
3But I responded, “I have taken off my robe. Should I get dressed again? I have washed my feet. Should I get them soiled?”
4My lover tried to unlatch the door, and my heart thrilled within me.
5I jumped up to open the door for my love, and my hands dripped with perfume. My fingers dripped with lovely myrrh as I pulled back the bolt.
6I opened to my lover, but he was gone! My heart sank. I searched for him but could not find him anywhere. I called to him, but there was no reply.
7The night watchmen found me as they made their rounds. They beat and bruised me and stripped off my veil, those watchmen on the walls.
8Make this promise, O women of Jerusalem— If you find my lover, tell him I am weak with love.
9Why is your lover better than all others, O woman of rare beauty? What makes your lover so special that we must promise this?
10My lover is dark and dazzling, better than ten thousand others!
11His head is finest gold, his wavy hair is black as a raven.
12His eyes sparkle like doves beside springs of water; they are set like jewels washed in milk.
13His cheeks are like gardens of spices giving off fragrance. His lips are like lilies, perfumed with myrrh.
14His arms are like rounded bars of gold, set with beryl. His body is like bright ivory, glowing with lapis lazuli.
15His legs are like marble pillars set in sockets of finest gold. His posture is stately, like the noble cedars of Lebanon.
16His mouth is sweetness itself; he is desirable in every way. Such, O women of Jerusalem, is my lover, my friend.
“In order to get your attention, God will allow uncomfortable situations to occur to shake you from your zombie-like state.”~TB
The next time you’re in public, like in a store, take a look and observe your surroundings. It’s not hard to see that we operate like zombies, mindlessly plugged into things, not fully present. Society is so numb with gadgets and the constant need for entertainment, it’s no wonder why people are struggling to feel something real. Everything is manufactured and designed for instant gratification! There are so many distractions, devices, and the like that keep us from truly knowing God. Friends, you have to get out of your mindless routines and seek the Lord with all of your attention and heart. If you desire an authentic relationship with God, don’t be surprised if certain things, behaviors or people are uprooted from your life in the process. It is called pruning for a reason.
Seasons of setbacks, discomfort, and loss aren’t always bad things or from the opposition. Comfort numbs us from thinking we need to change. Complacency is more dangerous than external forces, which is why God will shake things up for those who seek Him. In those moments, self-reflection is crucial for you to grow in Christ, because with the wrong set of eyes, you can mistake correction for persecution. It’s easy to become frustrated in your walk and wonder ‘why me’. However, if you can look past how you feel and look at your life with an honest heart, you will find that God is showing you something. Some of you are numb, getting by, forgoing your calling. Others are exploiting others’ work and not tilling their own soil. Wherever you are, if you’ve knocked on God’s door and He’s shaken you from your zombie life, rejoice! Look and listen carefully to learn what He is showing you.
Song of Solomon 4
1You are beautiful, my darling, beautiful beyond words. Your eyes are like doves behind your veil. Your hair falls in waves, like a flock of goats winding down the slopes of Gilead.
2Your teeth are as white as sheep, recently shorn and freshly washed. Your smile is flawless, each tooth matched with its twin.
3Your lips are like scarlet ribbon; your mouth is inviting. Your cheeks are like rosy pomegranates behind your veil.
4Your neck is as beautiful as the tower of David, jeweled with the shields of a thousand heroes.
5Your breasts are like two fawns, twin fawns of a gazelle grazing among the lilies.
6Before the dawn breezes blow and the night shadows flee, I will hurry to the mountain of myrrh and to the hill of frankincense.
7You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way.
8Come with me from Lebanon, my bride, come with me from Lebanon. Come down from Mount Amana, from the peaks of Senir and Hermon, where the lions have their dens and leopards live among the hills.
9You have captured my heart, my treasure, my bride. You hold it hostage with one glance of your eyes, with a single jewel of your necklace.
10Your love delights me, my treasure, my bride. Your love is better than wine, your perfume more fragrant than spices.
11Your lips are as sweet as nectar, my bride. Honey and milk are under your tongue. Your clothes are scented like the cedars of Lebanon.
12You are my private garden, my treasure, my bride, a secluded spring, a hidden fountain.
13Your thighs shelter a paradise of pomegranates with rare spices— henna with nard,
14nard and saffron, fragrant calamus and cinnamon, with all the trees of frankincense, myrrh, and aloes, and every other lovely spice.
15You are a garden fountain, a well of fresh water streaming down from Lebanon’s mountains.
16Awake, north wind! Rise up, south wind! Blow on my garden and spread its fragrance all around. Come into your garden, my love; taste its finest fruits.
“Though we believe without seeing, there is nothing blind about following Jesus.”~TB
When you don’t have a relationship with God it’s easy to think that those who do just blindly follow the teachings of Christ. As if Christians live some cherry pie existence, blissfully and ignorantly enjoying life without troubles. Oh, but if they only knew. Having a an authentic relationship with Christ requires you to ask questions, have doubts, air grievances, complain, moan, mumble, etc. No, to follow Christ isn’t blind, it requires you to keep your eyes and ears open to experience the wisdom that only comes from Him.
The Truth is, though we cannot see in the natural world, God guides us spiritually, helping us to see in other ways. Through Him, we are connected to each other. Through those relationships, we can see how God impacts each and everyone of us. Of course, you must see, hear, and ask these things of God so that you too can see the patterns of His love through us. It is so important to have honest communication with your brothers and sisters in Christ, so that the babes develop their sight and that the wise don’t go blind from bitterness in the trenches. It is the Truth of the Lord that removes the scales of the world to see what is really going on.
Are you blinded by the world?
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Song of Solomon 3
1One night as I lay in bed, I yearned for my lover. I yearned for him, but he did not come.
2So I said to myself, “I will get up and roam the city, searching in all its streets and squares. I will search for the one I love.” So I searched everywhere but did not find him.
3The watchmen stopped me as they made their rounds, and I asked, “Have you seen the one I love?”
4Then scarcely had I left them when I found my love! I caught and held him tightly, then I brought him to my mother’s house, into my mother’s bed, where I had been conceived.
5Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.
6Who is this sweeping in from the wilderness like a cloud of smoke? Who is it, fragrant with myrrh and frankincense and every kind of spice?
7Look, it is Solomon’s carriage, surrounded by sixty heroic men, the best of Israel’s soldiers.
8They are all skilled swordsmen, experienced warriors. Each wears a sword on his thigh, ready to defend the king against an attack in the night.
9King Solomon’s carriage is built of wood imported from Lebanon.
10Its posts are silver, its canopy gold; its cushions are purple. It was decorated with love by the young women of Jerusalem.
11Come out to see King Solomon, young women of Jerusalem. He wears the crown his mother gave him on his wedding day, his most joyous day
“Be conscious of the things you say as words have the power to build people up or tear them down.”
Everyone in this world, no matter how big or small has the ability to influence people with their words. Words like daggers can wound even the most thickest skin. Like a poisonous dart, harsh words pierce the soul, and it’s effects may still be seen for a long period of time. Friends, God doesn’t tear us down, so why tear each other?
Words of encouragement can inspire a person to achieve the impossible. The power of a kind word can be felt for years to come, lifting up the weary or acknowledging the oppressed. The words of life are like fuel to a fire, giving hope to those who need it. In all that you do, for yourself and others, speak life into it.
Are your words speaking life or sending people to the emotionally infirmary?
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Song of Solomon 2
1I am the spring crocus blooming on the Sharon Plain, the lily of the valley.
2Like a lily among thistles is my darling among young women.
3Like the finest apple tree in the orchard is my lover among other young men. I sit in his delightful shade and taste his delicious fruit.
4He escorts me to the banquet hall; it’s obvious how much he loves me.
5Strengthen me with raisin cakes, refresh me with apples, for I am weak with love.
6His left arm is under my head, and his right arm embraces me.
7Promise me, O women of Jerusalem, by the gazelles and wild deer, not to awaken love until the time is right.
8Ah, I hear my lover coming! He is leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills.
9My lover is like a swift gazelle or a young stag. Look, there he is behind the wall, looking through the window, peering into the room.
10My lover said to me, “Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!
11Look, the winter is past, and the rains are over and gone.
12The flowers are springing up, the season of singing birds has come, and the cooing of turtledoves fills the air.
13The fig trees are forming young fruit, and the fragrant grapevines are blossoming. Rise up, my darling! Come away with me, my fair one!”
14My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face; let me hear your voice. For your voice is pleasant, and your face is lovely.
15Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!
16My lover is mine, and I am his. He browses among the lilies.
17Before the dawn breezes blow and the night shadows flee, return to me, my love, like a gazelle or a young stag on the rugged mountains.
“In order to go somewhere new, you have to do something new.”~TB
If you’ve been trying to go to the next level in your faith, but feel stagnate, check your process. Examine your patterns of behavior. Grab ahold of your thought life. Old methods won’t yield new results. So throw off the old and embrace doing something new.
New places, people, and things are unfamiliar and probably feel uncomfortable. Truth is, growth will always be uncomfortable. So if God is placing you in a period of uncomfortable-ness, it’s not punishment, but rather the playing field for you to grow closer to Him. Choose to see the opportunities rather than the obstacles.
Are you ready to give up your old ways for something new?
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Song of Solomon 1
1This is Solomon’s song of songs, more wonderful than any other.
2Kiss me and kiss me again, for your love is sweeter than wine.
3How fragrant your cologne; your name is like its spreading fragrance. No wonder all the young women love you!
4Take me with you; come, let’s run! The king has brought me into his bedroom. Young Women of Jerusalem How happy we are for you, O king. We praise your love even more than wine. Young Woman How right they are to adore you.
5I am dark but beautiful, O women of Jerusalem— dark as the tents of Kedar, dark as the curtains of Solomon’s tents.
6Don’t stare at me because I am dark— the sun has darkened my skin. My brothers were angry with me; they forced me to care for their vineyards, so I couldn’t care for myself—my own vineyard.
7Tell me, my love, where are you leading your flock today? Where will you rest your sheep at noon? For why should I wander like a prostitute among your friends and their flocks?
8If you don’t know, O most beautiful woman, follow the trail of my flock, and graze your young goats by the shepherds’ tents.
9You are as exciting, my darling, as a mare among Pharaoh’s stallions.
10How lovely are your cheeks; your earrings set them afire! How lovely is your neck, enhanced by a string of jewels.
11We will make for you earrings of gold and beads of silver.
12The king is lying on his couch, enchanted by the fragrance of my perfume.
13My lover is like a sachet of myrrh lying between my breasts.
14He is like a bouquet of sweet henna blossoms from the vineyards of En-gedi.
15How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves.
16You are so handsome, my love, pleasing beyond words! The soft grass is our bed;
17fragrant cedar branches are the beams of our house, and pleasant smelling firs are the rafters.
“Don’t allow past moments to hinder your future.”~TB
Painful experiences can be used in two ways. It can either leave you feeling like you burned your hand on a stove, avoiding future situations. Or, you realize that the burn has healed and that not every similar moment or situation will provide the same experience. When you don’t allow God into your traumatic experiences, phantom pain resides along with visceral playbacks of the experience. Of course, the opposition wants you to remain there, but friends, you can move passed those hurtful moments.
When you let God into your hurtful situations, the level of healing you can receive will make you see how much you can handle. It’s not that your pain wasn’t real or that your experience doesn’t matter, but through God’s love you can’t help but bask in the Truth of salvation. Knowing how much God loves you is the key to healing and moving on. The lies of the world will keep you in bondage, but God can and will clean and bandage your pain, so that they heal. So let go of the visceral moments in your mind so that you can be who you are made to be.
What visceral moments are on replay in your mind?
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1Don’t let the excitement of youth cause you to forget your Creator. Honor him in your youth before you grow old and say, “Life is not pleasant anymore.”
2Remember him before the light of the sun, moon, and stars is dim to your old eyes, and rain clouds continually darken your sky.
3Remember him before your legs—the guards of your house—start to tremble; and before your shoulders—the strong men—stoop. Remember him before your teeth—your few remaining servants—stop grinding; and before your eyes—the women looking through the windows—see dimly.
4Remember him before the door to life’s opportunities is closed and the sound of work fades. Now you rise at the first chirping of the birds, but then all their sounds will grow faint.
5Remember him before you become fearful of falling and worry about danger in the streets; before your hair turns white like an almond tree in bloom, and you drag along without energy like a dying grasshopper, and the caperberry no longer inspires sexual desire. Remember him before you near the grave, your everlasting home, when the mourners will weep at your funeral.
6Yes, remember your Creator now while you are young, before the silver cord of life snaps and the golden bowl is broken. Don’t wait until the water jar is smashed at the spring and the pulley is broken at the well.
7For then the dust will return to the earth, and the spirit will return to God who gave it.
8“Everything is meaningless,” says the Teacher, “completely meaningless.”
9Keep this in mind: The Teacher was considered wise, and he taught the people everything he knew. He listened carefully to many proverbs, studying and classifying them.
10The Teacher sought to find just the right words to express truths clearly.
11The words of the wise are like cattle prods—painful but helpful. Their collected sayings are like a nail-studded stick with which a shepherd drives the sheep.
12But, my child, let me give you some further advice: Be careful, for writing books is endless, and much study wears you out.
13That’s the whole story. Here now is my final conclusion: Fear God and obey his commands, for this is everyone’s duty.
14God will judge us for everything we do, including every secret thing, whether good or bad.
“God is not some magical genie, standing by to grant your every wish.”~TB
I’ll be blunt, humans are dumb. Yes, all of us. We want what we want, when we want it, even foolishly believing with deserve it. Even those who claim to be wise fall into this trap from time to time. Just because you’re living right does not mean God owes you everything you ask for. No, he’s not a genie in a bottle, but rather, our Father in Heaven. Know the difference. It is a waste to only look at God as a gift giver and that mentality makes you miss out on the greatest relationship of all.
A Gift Given
A relationship built on wants and desires is a transactional one. If you believe that you can actually give something of value to God in exchange for your wishlist, you certainly need to reevaluate your mindset. Aside from the ultimate gift— salvation— God has given each of us the opportunity to draw close to Him. This relationship forms all others and through time, pruning, perseverance, He will teach you the true meaning of being one of His.
Are you looking for a Genie in a bottle or for your Father in Heaven?
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1Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you.
2But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lie ahead.
3When clouds are heavy, the rains come down. Whether a tree falls north or south, it stays where it falls.
4Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.
5Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things.
6Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.
7Light is sweet; how pleasant to see a new day dawning.
8When people live to be very old, let them rejoice in every day of life. But let them also remember there will be many dark days. Everything still to come is meaningless.
9Young people, it’s wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do.
10So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless.
“God will not let your tests overtake you. Conversely He will not bless you with more if you cannot maintain what is already in your possession.”~TB
Have you ever noticed a pattern where certain opportunities seemed block for one reason or another? Well, it’s not always an oppositional offense, but rather, unfinished business. If you are experiencing a cork in your situation, check your work. A wise employer will not overload you with new assignments if your old ones are withering away at your desk. So if you’re looking around for your next step in life, make sure you’ve done that God has asked you to do.
Get it Done
Whatever it is that you are tasked to do, do it and do it well. Holding onto one assignment and expecting another to follow before you’ve finished your work is a foolish practice. Don’t waste your time dreaming about the next thing, when today’s work is still unfinished. When your work is done, then you can reap the benefits of a job well-done. In order to do this, step aside from your pride, ask God what needs to be done, and get to it.
What unfinished business is bottlenecking your next assignment?
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1As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink, so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.
2A wise person chooses the right road; a fool takes the wrong one.
3You can identify fools just by the way they walk down the street!
4If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit! A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes.
5There is another evil I have seen under the sun. Kings and rulers make a grave mistake
6when they give great authority to foolish people and low positions to people of proven worth.
7I have even seen servants riding horseback like princes—and princes walking like servants!
8When you dig a well, you might fall in. When you demolish an old wall, you could be bitten by a snake.
9When you work in a quarry, stones might fall and crush you. When you chop wood, there is danger with each stroke of your ax.
10Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.
11If a snake bites before you charm it, what’s the use of being a snake charmer?
12Wise words bring approval, but fools are destroyed by their own words.
13Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions, so their conclusions will be wicked madness;
14they chatter on and on. No one really knows what is going to happen; no one can predict the future.
15Fools are so exhausted by a little work that they can’t even find their way home.
16What sorrow for the land ruled by a servant, the land whose leaders feast in the morning.
17Happy is the land whose king is a noble leader and whose leaders feast at the proper time to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk.
18Laziness leads to a sagging roof; idleness leads to a leaky house.
19A party gives laughter, wine gives happiness, and money gives everything!
20Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts. And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom. For a little bird might deliver your message and tell them what you said.