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Listening at the Speed of Life

– by C. J. Wade –

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Thursday Love: Poetry – FOREVER ME

Hi, Family!

So, Sunday didn’t happen… and Wednesday didn’t either. I apologize for not keeping my posting promise. Unexpected goodness absorbed the week, but I got you today! In honor of National Poetry Month, I made a goal to share a poem or spoken word piece each week and well, we’re in here now. *lol*

I wrote this piece in the spirit of gratitude. Thanks in advance for reading it!

FOREVER ME

When it’s all said and done
I will be Forever Me
The purest form of myself before I got to know who she was
Quiet
Smiling
Curious and cautious
Caring
Relatively fearless
Foreseeing
Loving
The spirit God planted inside of this shell
The original.

I look down into my arms and see her smiling back at me
“You’re going to be just fine,” I say, rocking her slowly
Smooth as chocolate
Back and forth
Ebb and flow
Like the waves she will encounter
“Just keep growing,” I whisper, “… and don’t let this world turn you to stone…”
I bless her face and peer into the horizon of her future
Back, forth
Ebb, flow
Peace, storms, then peace again
“You’re going to be just fine.”

Then, I see her in the distance
Walking like a warrior over Earth’s edge
Tattered armor, strong legs
Bulging courage
Breathing deeply
Battle scars
Sword of Truth in her right hand
Testimonies in her left
Sharp mind
Focus, keen
She sees me
Through me
In me
And we share a breath
of hope recognized
Confirmation that we didn’t quit
We kept growing
Kept loving
Kept soaring, despite the dips and blows
Ebb and flows
Back and forth

I appreciate her.
So, I might as well get to know her now
Love her curves and all her edges
She is perfect imperfection
Legend
And I love Forever Me
Because when it’s all said and done
And the warrior stops walking
That is all that I will be.

Have you ever seen a vision of your future self? Mine is amazing. Tell me about yours?

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Each Other

Hi, Family!

We’ve been on the appreciation train and tonight we’re focusing on each other… but not quite how you think.

I was listening to a sermon on YouTube and the auto-playlist showed a clip about a celebrity divorce. I’m not into gossip, so I rolled past it. Then I went back to it and stared at the sensational title and description. I thought of how crippling it could be to have intimate details of your life dissected among the public and sprinkled with the hot sauce of opinion. I imagined it was me.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on Pexels.com

During my divorce process, my mother said one thing – “No one really knows what goes on in a marriage except the people in it.” It’s true. All of the highs and lows are stuck between you and your spouse. Even if children are involved, they host a non-marital point of view.

Mutual friends. Mutual places. Mutual memories. It all comes to a close.

You wonder if you’re still connected to the people you shared – What do they think of me? Are we not friends anymore? Will I get invited to the wedding, baby shower, birthday party…?

Eating at the same restaurant without them feels weird. There was flirting, dessert, a symphony of laughs… you’re used to being part of a pair. Events you both attended now feel like foreign soil, even if things ended on civil terms.

And the memories. No one prepares you for the flashbacks in your mind, body, and spirit. After all, you were one.

Some of those areas close abruptly while others commit to a slow (and sometimes awkward) burn. You’re open. Raw. And you’re still going to work, raising children, caring for a parent, and appearing “normal” while debriding parts of your life. Now, your name is changed (again), you have to learn a new morning routine, or you have to create a solid face each time you say “We’re no longer together.”

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

What if the intimate details of your life were on display for millions to watch and reply? Then those persons demanded to be updated about each step without regard for the crackling sound of your heart breaking seconds at a time.

What if they captured your tears on camera and replayed your exposed emotions on their hand-held screens? Then tell you that you’re required to filet your wounds because you’re a public figure.

Did I also mention that your body is constantly being dissected according to its best and worst parts? Yeah… because your photo is always up for the taking. And your hair and makeup better be perfect.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

I want you to sit with that amount of emotional exposure for a minute. No wonder some burn under the limelight and seek seclusion at any chance. The thought of people digging into the season of my divorce makes me shudder. Seriously. Though it was amicable, it was still a tender time in my life.

If we can respond to the invasion of Ukraine with a high level of compassion (prayers continued to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and visitors of the country), certainly we can spread it to others during sensitive times.

Be gentle with people going through divorces, especially public figures. Let’s grow from being messy school kids gossiping in the social media cafeteria. It’s depreciating and we can do better. There are delicate emotions involved that should be handled with care. Before you comment under that post or upload the meme, put your face in there. See your child’s face there. Imagine your parent’s name there. Now think of Jesus. Remember His compassion and our charge to treat each other with value. That’s the center of appreciation.

Courtesy of Youversion – The Bible App

I love the second definition of appreciation from Merriam-Webster – increase in value. Something increases in value when it is preserved over time and with distinct effort. It’s been protected, catalogued, and gently handled. It was valuable upon creation, but its value increases with consistent care. The more fingerprints, the less value. Family, don’t be the excess fingerprints that decrease a person’s sense of value. Be uplifting. Say encouraging words. Pray earnestly… and not out of what you want but out of what God says is healthy for their lives.

Love will forever be an action word. How can we say we Love God and not express Love to each other? How can we Love people we do not know and not the ones we do? We should handle each other carefully, with grace and Love. Every day. No matter what they look like or where they live. No one is required to update their status to soothe your itch for details. No price is high enough to demand answers when someone is restructuring their reality.

My prayer is that someone appreciates you in your current season. If things are going well, I pray they raise their arms with you in celebration. If things are not so great, I pray they elevate your heart with compassion and walk through the mud with you. And if you’re a celebrity/public figure reading this, my prayers are with you always. It takes a lot to be where you are, so I pray God reminds you that you are more valuable than your gift. I pray you feel the blanket of His Love every day, no matter the chatter at the lunch table.

Peace & Thanks for listening! Stay well out there!

Share this reminder!

Wednesday Wind Down: Appreciate Your Attributes

Hi, Family!

How are you? I hope you’re doing well out there.

I missed connecting with you while I was out. It feels good to be on an upswing and back on the page.

I thought about what I would say and the only thing that kept resurfacing was love, more specifically how to love yourself. Yes, Valentine’s Day is approaching, but that doesn’t mean that all of the love has to pour out and leave you behind. Plus, it sounds great, but sometimes you need night lights to lead you in the best direction.

Loving myself has been a journey with several moving pieces. I loved the parts that I loved, but it took work over the years to love the parts that were quirky, annoying, and confusing. When I was child, a constant question was “Lord, why did you make me like this?” I didn’t hate myself, but I disliked the parts that didn’t make sense to me. Being in what Jane Fonda calls the “second act” of life – between 30 and 60 years of age – has brought with it a deeper sense of self. A deeper understanding of what makes me an exceptional Creation of God. A sweeter Peace that passes all understanding.

In January, there’s natural talk about goals, developing new habits, healthy decisions, new career moves… things you will activate in the new year. I want you to consider a February resolution – to embrace every part of yourself.

My challenge is for every month of the year, I want you to locate and ask God to illuminate part of your design – your purposeful DNA, your spiritual architecture. If once a month is too daunting, just start with this month and see how it goes. You may even focus on the same attribute for a while. That’s OK. It’s not about quantity here; it’s about the quality of self you were designed to live with.

Courtesy of my YouVersion Bible App

In your stillness, ask “OK, what is it about me that you made that is meant to multiply? What is it about me that is meant to elevate this world before I leave?” Maybe it’s your ability to make others feel comfortable in your presence or your ability to navigate difficult situations. Maybe when you hug people, they feel comforted. It could be your expressive nature that empowers others to lift their hearts, their voices, and their actions. Whatever it is, it’s important. It’s vital to this life down here.

We are often asked to cherry-pick our attributes and sometimes they bleed into stressful situations. I believe there is more than one thing that is awesome about you and I’m asking for you to begin learning how to love all of them. All of you. Starting this month.

Notice your design. Notice your stellar nature. Notice how God carefully created you.

While I pray nothing bad happens to bring out your awesomeness, the truth is crap happens. And sometimes it happens in clusters, to good people, at inconvenient moments, etc. So, if you naturally give comic relief in sensitive moments, embrace that. The more you illuminate how God made you and recall how He sees you, it will strengthen you when feel like you don’t have purpose and that you aren’t fearfully and wonderfully made. Because you really are.

My prayer is that you see yourself as different pieces that make up a mosaic, a beautiful piece of art… and I say that intentionally because we’re all a piece that’s designed to work together (1 Corinthians 12). Instead of boxing yourself as being one-dimensional or ordinary, I would like for you to ask God to show you what He made.

I love y’all! Peace & Thanks for listening!

Wednesday Wind Down: I Love Me Some You!

Hi, Family!

While I do “love me some you,” I wrote that phrase as an example of how you should talk to yourself. Here’s a short stop for your week.

When was the last time you spoke kind words to yourself?

If it’s been a while, try these truths.

  1. I am a masterpiece.
  2. I am a blessing.
  3. My breath has meaning.

Tonight’s post is a quick reminder that being kind to yourself is vital to your health. Like a relaxing shower, speaking love over yourself is what you need after defending your worth in various arenas. It’s the medicine you can’t depend on anyone else to give you except God.

Maybe you’re wondering why I said “some.”

The colloquialism “I love me some you” is expressed when you can’t get enough of someone and you love to swim in their presence. The truth is most folks need a little time to love all of themselves. All of the ugly parts. The unfinished places. The scrapes and bruises. The dark corners. It takes the unmatched Love of God to love all of that and multiply that Love among others. Until that time comes, I encourage you to look in the mirror and say positive things. Start with one sentence if you have to – one word even. Say sweet words your soul can eat. It doesn’t have to be cheesy, but it needs to be real. A real step in forming a healthy habit.

Look at yourself and speak the Truth to you. That you were made by an incredible Love this universe can not contain but left undeniable proof in the form of your awesomeness.

Here’s to you smiling at you. Sooner than later.

Peace & Thanks for listening. I love you and stay well out there. Inside and out. 🙂

What’s a truth that you can or would like to speak to yourself?

Sunday Special: My Birthday Gift

Hi, Family!

I hope you had some goodness last week. I didn’t post last week, but I prayed for you. If things didn’t go well, just know that you were not forgotten and it just got better. 🙂

Let’s jump right in. My birthday was Friday and I had a simple plan to just be in it. Be present in my mind, body, and spirit and feel the essence of being in that space of time. I was reflective as usual. You know that about me by now. 🙂 One of the things that kept resurfacing during my meditation this weekend was the best birthday gift I could have ever asked for – knowing who I am and walking tall in it.

One of the things I planned for my birthday was to stroll through the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. The bamboo forest was beautiful. I had to snap a photo along the way.

I vividly remember when it wasn’t this way. So uncomfortable in my own skin. If the DeLorean had been available, I would have been a frequent flyer to skip all awkwardly frustrating moments. The conversations that my words never seemed to fit in. The weird encounters where I wanted to say something but was too afraid. The situations where I sincerely wanted to shoot my shot, but backed out because I thought I wasn’t good enough. The repetition of accepting less than what I was worth. Just beam me out of there!

Today, I had one of my intentional solo dining experiences. The kind where you pick a restaurant that is designed for two and utilize the space for you and you. *lol* I reflect on then and now and see how each moment made me pine for this one – the season of confidence that I unapologetically walk in. No, I didn’t get everything I wanted and some things haven’t come true, but the greatest gift on this birthday is that those weird moments are no longer normal.

Confusion and anger are not my bedmates.
I speak up when I need to and keep them guessing when necessary.
I love everyone and I understand where certain people fit in my life.
I am in the career lanes that I prayed for.
I love my chocolate skin and what it represents.
I appreciate my body and I listen to her.
My spirit is attuned to God’s Spirit and I pay attention when they speak.
I got Vibes.
I walk into a room and Peace walks with me.
I love intimately, sweetly, and consistently.
I leave when I need to without FOMO tugging at my shirt.
I don’t feel like I’m scratching my way through life trying to reach a pinnacle.
I don’t feel like I am merely surviving until the next day.

It’s beautiful here. It’s not perfect, but it is exquisitely warm. To be able to sit in this space and time and not feel compelled to satiate the appetite of others is a blessing. A blessing this former people-pleaser asked for decades ago.

So, this tree bark and my hair were twinning.

That’s my birthday wish for you, Family. If you’re not already there, I pray you receive and experience this level of Peace too. I pray that you walk in your divine purpose on this Earth so your loving spirit can multiply in others after you’re gone. I pray you are exceptionally well in your mind, body, and spirit and that you take nothing less for that alignment to occur in your everyday life. I pray that wherever your feet tread that you send seismic warning shots to any dark forces that may be lurking nearby. I pray your smile lights up your life first. I pray you exceed your own expectations. I pray you look in the mirror and nod in agreement to the Masterpiece looking at you.

I love you all and there’s nothing you can do about it. We’re family. We’re connected. I’m rooting for you.

Peace & Thanks for listening! *throws birthday confetti*

P.S. – I’ll post a few photos from my birthday-month fun on social media later this week. Here are my links –

Thursday Love: Purple People Pleaser

Hi, Family!

First things first – guess what? I intentionally went to bed before midnight last night. *gasp* I know! I’m surprised too! Usually I stay up to write you, but I was led to turn in early… then my dog decided he wanted to frolic up and down the street without returning home for about an hour.

When you know you messed up… #SammysWorld

I growled, retrieved him, and still managed to throttle down before midnight. I say that’s a win. Thanks for celebrating with me. lol

Before I went to sleep, I knew the contents of this post and I’m so excited to encourage you today. It’s a little meaty, but there’s good stuff and pictures, so let’s get into it!

I want to talk about Aaron, Moses’ right-hand man and priest to the Israelites. He’s one of my favorite Bible profiles to study because he had such an interesting life. Here’s some facts you may not know.

  • He was older than Moses by three years (Exodus 7:7).
  • He was commissioned to be Moses’ eloquent mouthpiece as he confronted Pharaoh (Exodus 3:14).
  • His staff turned into a serpent in front of Pharaoh and ate the other magician’s staff-serpents (Exodus 7:8-12).
  • He made the infamous golden calf that caused Moses to flip his lid and break the Ten Commandments (Exodus 32).

Yes, you read that right. Aaron made the golden calf. From the Israelites’ earrings. Ear-rings. Let that sink in.

Photo by Rafael Barros on Pexels.com

To put this in a present-day perspective, imagine you and your older brother (emphasis on older) built a company from the ground up and he sells it to the lowest bidder without telling you. So, you come to work one day, and the employees are having a fully blown party. Cake. Balloons. Alcohol. Dancing on desks. Everything. Then your brother says he didn’t know how the sale took place, that he just gave the people what they wanted. That would make you angry, yes? I know I would be furious.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Well, that’s a small equivalent of what happened between Moses and Aaron. Moses trusted Aaron to be his go-to. They confronted Pharaoh together. Traveled the wilderness together. Beheld the intricate assembly of the Tabernacle (their mobile place of worship) together. Saw God rain manna (small pancake-like food) from heaven together. While the Israelites were fighting the Amalekites, Aaron and Hur upheld Moses’ arms so they wouldn’t lose (Exodus 17:8-13). He was bestowed the responsibility of priesthood to lead alongside Moses. He was even outfitted with custom threads made to God’s specifications to represent his leadership calling (Exodus 28). So, you can imagine the disgust Moses wore on his face after he comes down from Mount Sinai with God’s Words in his arms, still beaming with glory from meeting the The Most High to find out that his older brother was the culprit of the calf and leader of the party. Then, to make matters worse, Aaron gives a lame excuse and says the calf just came out of the fire (Exodus 32:24). Really, dude? <— my real life response. See what I wrote next to the verse.

I write what I think as I read the Bible. Good ol’ reading comprehension skills happening over here.

Now, before we judge Aaron and his tomfoolery, let’s recall when we did something not-so-great under the pressure of others. Here he is, among the anger of thousands, wondering how much longer his brother was going to take in the mountains. “He’ll be back soon,” my imagination hears Aaron saying to himself. “Just be patient.” The grumbling grew to insurmountable degrees. The legal matters multiplied as he judged with his best intentions. Their piercing eyes alone would have made anyone nervous to come out of his tent. Then one day, he cracked and gave in to the people. This is where I wanted to bring you into the picture. The “you” that tends to say yes when you should say no. The “you” that accepts the invitation when you should respectfully decline. The “you” that foregoes your preferences for the comfort of others. That “you.” That’s who I want to bring to the table to meet Aaron. Meet the leader. Meet humanity. Sometimes we forget that as we read God’s Word that there were people in it. Blood, sweat, and tears. Skin. Fear. Love. Admiration. Ambition. People-pleasers. For a moment in time, Aaron set aside his divine directive to oversee the Israelites while Moses was gone and gave them what they wanted instead of what they needed. How often do we do the same? Setting aside our divine instructions for a temporary moment? Throwing up our hands instead of squaring our shoulders? The answer is probably more often than we think.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki on Pexels.com

My favorite part of the story is that God didn’t throw Aaron away. Not only was he outfitted in customized priestly garments, but so were his sons. In Exodus Chapter 39, we see the same attention to detail and craftmanship put into his attire as in Chapter 28… and this is after goldencalf-mageddon. He reminded Aaron of his identity. He reminded him of his purpose. It comes full circle when you research Aaron’s garments. Part of God’s instructions were to engrave the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on two onyx stones. Onyx has been known throughout the ages as representing protection and forward movement from the past. I believe Aaron the priest needed that prayer just as much as his people. His breastpiece included jewels that represented each of the 12 tribes and a linen pouch sown inside of it carrying the Urim and the Thummim, which were stone-like objects used for divine decision-making. He was to wear this breastpiece over his heart when he entered the Tabernacle as a reminder that he would carry judgment for all 12 tribes (Exodus 28:29-30). How befitting… that God would give him such responsibility before and after the decision to create the golden calf.

If you find yourself being a chronic people-pleaser, know that you’re not alone, that it is easy to fall down that wormhole, and that you can get out. My suggestive start is to say no to one thing a week that you usually say yes to and that you would probably feel guilty about later. Just one no once a week until you’re comfortable with that level. It doesn’t have to be a rude one and you don’t have to overexplain it. Just exhale it and let it breathe into the moment. Start there. Pray about where you should be so you don’t overbook and overwhelm your schedule. I do it all the time and it started years ago with a prayer and a stressed-out face looking at my calendar – “Lord, where do I need to be?” As a result, I haven’t been stressed about my schedule again.

Wherever you are on the spectrum of people-pleasing, I pray that you uproot insecurities and fear of rejection. I pray that Love wraps around you so warmly that you remember exactly who you were fashioned to be. People-pleasing is a dangerous trap that always leaves you as the victim. My prayer is that you remember that you are the survivor.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #28

Disclaimer: Have you ever heard of encouraging yourself? Well, this is an authentic letter from my spirit back into myself at a time (any given time) when I needed to do that. Thank you for listening.

Christina,

Girl. It’s OK.

It’s OK to not be OK. It’s OK to be frustrated. It’s OK to survive on the Word of God. It’s OK to drink pouches of positivity to stay alive. It’s OK to pour it out.

You’re doing the best you can. You do right by people. And as you type this part with your eyes closed, you are emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically aware of who you are and who you want to be.

I know there are parts of your life you have yet to obtain. Those unreached parts do not define a deficit in who you are. I know there are many experiences you are grateful to have in your memory bank. How beautiful, they are. How beautiful, you are. Remember that you are not your accomplishments and there is no race. Do your best and when you get there, you’ll be there. In the meantime, you’re here and don’t be angry at that. It’s downright egregious that you’ve had to fight for things that others received easily. You’re not envious of the person, but the frequency frustrates you.

Photo by mikoto.raw on Pexels.com

Queen, stand firm in knowing that God’s got you. You have to believe that enough to keep walking when the room is spinning. You have to breathe that in every chance you get. That’s your resuscitation when it feels like you’re suffocating under the bricks. Our God is great provider, healer, and the resurrection of life itself.

You have to be better at accepting His help through others though. You’re patient with others more than you are with yourself. You know how to give yourself grace, but you suck at letting the process continue when you don’t see the justice. You struggle with letting patience have her perfect work in certain situations. No, you’re not the only one with challenges beyond your control, but your experiences do matter to the Father and to those whose loving arms surround you.

Just breathe. Deeply. Inhaling all you know that is Truth and exhaling all you know that is heavy.

It’s OK.

It’s OK.

It’s going to be OK.

Photo by Matheus Natan on Pexels.com

You are a warrior. You are soft enough to be a princess and strong enough to be a queen. You have exceptional abilities and capabilities. You are one woman with a wide wingspan. Doubt is no match for you. Despair slinks away at the mention of your presence coming because you know to whom you belong. The same God that created the world and all that you see lives inside of you as a force to be reckoned with. So, after those tears comes a rising. After those shoulders rolled forward comes a head held high. Listen to your heartbeat and remember God put it there for a reason.

You got this.

He got you.

Just like He did the last time.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #24

Dear Future Self,

Girl, you did it.

You’re enjoying your life to absolute fullest, even more than you were before. Beach waves are rolling nearby and an organic smoothie is within arms reach. Your upcoming trip is booked and the next one is already planned. Did I say how good your hair looked today?

I am so proud of you. The birthing of your books continue to yield much fruit. While challenges still arise, you digest them with wisdom on your fork. Remember the financial pressures that came like tsunamis? I’m glad you didn’t drown. I’m glad you didn’t give up. I’m glad you gathered the shreds underneath your feet and walked right over them. Everything you experienced made you the force that you are now.

You shine. I can feel it from yesteryear.

Photo/Hair/Makeup by Desiree Danielle Beauty.
Assembly – my sisters Desiree, Ashlee, & Miyoka

Your “no” is still strong and your “yes” is still formidable. I’m smiling right now just thinking of how courageous you are. Nothing was able to hold you from fulfilling your purpose and I’m so grateful you didn’t quit. Sitting at that desk writing your heart out is exactly what you should be doing. Inspirational speaking is your jam. Loving is your armor. Massage therapy and wellness are still your advocacy vehicles and your practice is flourishing beautifully. I’m so proud of you for hiring others so they can be empowered as well. Those properties and those investments are going to serve you well.

Girl, keep shining. Keep doing what God tells you to do because it only gets better. They say to check on your strong friends, so just know that I’ve been praying for you for a long time. I don’t know if you’re married, but if you are, I know he’s dope. If you’re not, I know your solitary life is dope.

Can’t wait to see your awesomeness. No rush. I’ll meet you there, Queen.

Sincerely,

CJW

#bloglikecrazy: Open Letter #17

To my Homeless/Transient Brothers & Sisters:

I love you.

So many of you have stories that have never been told, let alone understood. As some of you told me — you were doing well before you got here. You moved down South to assist a family member get off drugs and lost your sustainability trying to help them. You lost your job and your home in the same year and couldn’t gather funds to recuperate. Instead of letting your whole family suffer the blow, you moved out so they could stay safe. You were a veteran who kept getting the runaround instead of a call back. You had a life… a whole life before being someone people ignore. You are someone’s son or daughter. You are important.

You aren’t lost causes, but your needs often get lost in a crowd of bureaucratic tomfoolery. I’m sorry about that. Instead of just throwing food to fix your hunger during the holidays, it would help if we talked with you about your skill sets and your health. Unfortunately, money makes things move, so that hinders you from getting what you truly need — a long-term solution.

When I see you, sometimes I stop to give you food or water, sometimes we pray together, and sometimes I pray for you as I drive by. One of the stereotypes is that you are mentally-ill drug addicts who are incompetent of taking care of yourself. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Your weathered skin wraps around your warm soul. You’re a survivor and I admire your grit.

As a sisterfriend schooled me once — most of you have a place you call home; it just doesn’t look like ours. So, keep taking care of yourself. Keep taking care of each other. Make sure you save the coins you get so you can eat and ride the bus. If you have a child with you or you’re staying in your car, hold tight to the Truth that your current situation is temporary… hence the phrase “transient community.” You are moving toward the next chapter; just keep taking the next step. Please… don’t give up.

I pray for your protection all the time, especially when the weather is cold, rainy, or both. If nothing else, remember that God definitely has you some angels out here.

Sincerely,

CJW

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