Friday, February 28, 2014


"I wonder if you would consider teaching a course on leadership for French women in ministry."

The woman on the phone was a total stranger to me, but she had heard about me from the president of our denomination in France.

She went on to describe her ministry and her vision for training and equipping Christian women for kingdom work. I enjoyed our conversation and I have tremendous respect for her project.

I told her I would pray about it.

She had heard about me...

A few years back, I would have jumped at the opportunity--even though my French was not at a level that could have supported such an endeavor.

A few years back I would have been been wild with excitement--even though my philosophy of leadership was undefined and only partially proven.

A few years back I would have been fantastically flattered--even though such a request has very little to do with me and everything to do with God.

But the main feeling that I had when I hung up the phone was indifference.

Indifference. It used to be a bad word to me, something akin to apathy, nonchalance, or aloofness. But I have been studying St. Ignatius and his teaching on indifference and now I have a whole new appreciation for the word and the concept.

Indifference, as Ignatius explains, is freedom from any inordinate attachments, including my desire to do certain things, to gain certain things, or even to be known for certain things. Instead, I am indifferent to all things save one--the person of Jesus Christ. His desires become mine, his will becomes mine.
Therefore, we must make ourselves indifferent to all created things, as far as we are allowed free choice and are not under any prohibition. Consequently, as far as we are concerned,we should not prefer health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to dishonor, a long life to a short life. The same holds for all other things. --Ignatius
These ideas are firmly rooted in scripture. Job said, "shall we accept good from God, but not trouble?" Asaph wrote a Psalm that declares, " My flesh and  heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." John the Baptist insisted, "He must become greater; I must become less." And even Jesus prayed, "Not my will, but yours be done."

As long as I cling to an agenda of my own, my service of the Lord is handicapped and self-serving. Until I can truly sing, "I surrender all" and mean it, I am a wayward disciple, looking back from the plow. Even though I have been sincere and well meaning, I have spent years in ministry expecting God to bless my honest efforts. It wasn't so much that I wasn't seeking the Lord's guidance. I was. But I was also cherishing my own desires. I wanted to do things a certain way, using certain gifts, and receiving certain recognition. I cringe to confess these truths!

Moving to a foreign country and having to restart at ground zero revealed many of my inordinate attachments. As each one surfaced, I had a decision to make. Would I cling to it or release it? In releasing my attachments I began to learn about indifference.

Indifference does not mean that I don't care about anything, it means that I care so deeply about the desires of God that I am indifferent to all else by comparison. It means, for example,  that I am not going to fret about the financial strain of our most recent flood. In indifference I welcome unexpected financial loss as freely as I would welcome unexpected financial gain, trusting God to do his work in either circumstance. Easier said than done; yet, powerful when achieved!

If I believe that God is good and that he is sovereign (which I do) I can freely  honor his desires as I learn to be indifferent to all else. I have a long way to go towards indifference, but I am beginning to grasp it. To glimpse it. And to sometimes experience it.

That was the case with this ministry opportunity. I love encouraging leaders. But I no longer have to encourage leaders. I don't need the teaching position to feel important. I don't seek another accomplishment to write on my resume. Neither do I need to say "no" to assert my indifference, for it's possible that God may desire for me to say, "yes." If I do it, it's for God's glory. If I don't, it's for God's glory.

I'm learning that anytime I feel driven, anytime I feel needy, anytime I feel slighted or overlooked, I am most likely dealing with an inordinate attachment in my life. This is how I discover the places where God may be calling me to indifference. It goes against my flesh, which screams for attention, comfort, and validation.

But when I grasp the depths of the father's love for me, the riches of the Gospel, and the call of the kingdom, I can happily take or leave anything this world has to offer. All my life I've sung a hymn that proclaims the indifference that I am only just beginning to see worked into the reality of my life:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace!

May we learn to live this truth!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Special Offer!

I try to shop the deals--I like to buy what's on sale. And usually, I can build a nice menu around the grocery store's weekly specials. Usually. Sometimes I run into some snags. 

Like last week, when there was bargain on pig's feet. Nope, haven't pinned anything on Pinterest that could help me with that one. Moving on...

Oh look! Pig kidney! I could this what the Brit's use for Kidney Pie. I wonder. Maybe next time...

Here's a delicacy. Veal head. Boneless! Oh goodie, that makes it so much easier to prepare. Yeah, veal head, it's what's for dinner. Not!

Now word on the street is that this makes a great stew. It's cow's tongue. I plan to try it someday, when my stomach stops churning at the thought.

Well, there's always pig's heart. Look, a four pack--perfect for my family. Only I'm not sure if I should grill them or roast them. Maybe could give me some help.

Mostly I feel totally at home in France, and truly the food here is great. But every now and then I have a "Toto, we're not in Kansas anymore" moment. Which is exactly how I felt when eyeing last week's specials.


Friday, February 21, 2014

Why I Submit to My Husband

I'm still trying to figure out a lot of things about my role as a Christian woman leader, but one thing I know for sure. I know that I am called to submit to my husband.

The complementarians see the husband as the head of the household and believe that the wife is to submit to her husband as her authority in Christ.

The egalitarians believe that the husband and wife are called to shared authority, so they submit to one another as brother and sister in Christ.

So, you see, for married women, submission is part of the deal no matter how you slice it. God asks me to submit whether or not I believe my husband is called to do the same.

And I do submit to David. I've gotten rather good at it. I dare say I even like it. But it wasn't always so.

Early in our young marriage, I remember praying something like this, "Lord, if you want me to submit to David you are going to have to teach him how to lead."

Immediately, the Lord responded to my prayer. He said, "Jenn, David is leading just fine. You need to learn how to follow."

Truer words were never spoken.

The problem is that the leader streak in me runs really deep, and though I always knew I was meant to submit, leading just came easier. I didn't deliberately rebel against David's leadership, I just struggled to recognize it because it looks so different than mine.

I lead by direction. David leads by influence.
I lead with verbal cues. David leads by example.
I lead quickly. David leads slowly.
I lead intentionally. David leads intuitively.
I lead eagerly. David leads reluctantly.

It all became very clear to me when I was offered a full-time grant writing job and I was trying to decide if I should accept it or not. At the time I was working from home as a contracted grant-writer, which enabled me to be the primary caretaker for our young boys. But I was excited about getting a "real" job. The wages and benefits were great, I was capable to do the work, and I felt a bit proud of having been chosen for the position over several other candidates.

David did not tell me what to do. Instead, he gently lead me to make the right decision by asking me simple questions. "Who would care for the boys when school is out?" "How would you feel about not being able to volunteer as much at church?" "Do you think you would miss the autonomy that contract work provides?"

My husband never told me not to take the job. But as I listened to his questions, I realized that he did not think I should take the job. He didn't want me to take it because he knew I wouldn't thrive and that our boys might suffer. I was seeing dollar signs, but he was seeing a huge deficit for our family. Still, he never said, "No!"

The minute I realized what David wanted, I had the responsibility to submit. I could have refused, stubbornly insisting that I was not, in fact, rebelling because David never actually asked me not to take the job. But David was leading in his own way, and the only question left for me was this: Would I follow?

I not only chose to submit to my husband's careful leadership, I learned two very important lessons. First, I quickly realized that David had saved me from serious stress and disappointment. He was absolutely right in his assessment that I would have hated a full-time, nine to five job at that season of my life. I was blinded by the flattery of having been chosen, but I really did not want that job. David led me to make the decision that was best for me--not best for him!

Second, I became profoundly grateful for David's leadership style, aware that if he led me the way I thought I wanted to be led, I would hate it! His style is so deeply respectful of who I am and what I need that I am eager to follow him. In addition, if David tried to lead in the way that most leadership books and Christian marriage book propose, he would become a different person. By leading out of who he is, David blesses his family and glorifies God. I have greatly benefited by learning to follow a leader who leads differently than I do.

So I submit to my husband's wise leadership, and I believe that I am not only called to do so, I am blessed by it. But for the record, my husband, who is quite capable of being the head of our household, believes in the strength and beauty of mutual submission. He in no way shirks his responsibility to lead our family; however, he leads with such love and and respect for me, that we often find ourselves yielding to each other.

The truth is, David and I both live in submission to the Father, and as we follow him, we rarely come to an impasse.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014


Perplexed, but not in despair.

This is how I feel about our third flood in eight years. Perplexed, but not in despair.

Its a hassle, a financial hardship, to be sure. The ground floor of our home has to be reconstructed while we are living halfway around the world! Our renters are displaced and there is nothing we can do to help them. I am not pleased with this situation, I do not like it a bit. I can't begin to understand what God plans to do in and through this mess. I am most certainly perplexed.

But not in despair.

It's not that I have some Pollyanna-ish, pie-in-the-sky, grin-and-bear-it faith. It's not just a matter of perspective (and believe me, I know there are much worse things than a flood!). It's not even due to the fact that I know my troubles are "light and momentary" in the grand scheme of things. No, I am not in despair because I know my Dad.

I have a Father that makes sure sparrows are fed, and then reminds me that he loves me more than he loves the birds. Because he loves me, I know that he will do the most loving thing. His wisdom is unsearchable, his actions can be inscrutable, but his character is unchanging. He is Faithful and True. His promises are sure.

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.

Fear not--a command.
     For I have redeemed you--it's already done!
          I have called you by name--it's personal.
               You are mine--it's relational.
                    When you pass through the waters--WHEN not IF.
                         I will be with you--he always shows up.

So I weep, and I pray, and I shake my head, and I say, "Dad, I just don't get it!"

And he gathers my tears in a bottle, smiles and says, "Trust me. I've got this." And then he shows up. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Leader Suffers

"There is a cost that leaders must pay if they are to lead in the way of Christ. Suffering and sacrifice are not an anomaly. They are not a sign of failure. They are not early tests which you outgrow and move past. Sacrifice and suffering are the warp and woof of Christian leadership." Brian Rice, Invitations.
Christian leaders necessarily suffer. But we don't like that, so we turn to preachers like Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer who drive their big cars and promise that God wants to bless us, too. As if blessing = freedom from hardship. And somewhere, deep down, we desperately want to believe that if we do this Christian life well, God will bless us. If we serve and give and pray and go to church, surely God will notice how good we are and toss us some heavenly cookies. We pray prayers of safety and protection, telling ourselves that God's good, pleasing, and perfect will could not possible include sorrow and suffering.

But what if God not only allows suffering in my life, what if he wills it? What if he wants to use it to shape who I am and how I lead?

"What kind of God would will for his children suffer?" I audaciously ask this question as if I am somehow more loving or kind than the God who voluntarily suffered for my sins. As if I would never be so cruel if I were God.

And yet, as a parent there were many times that I ordained suffering for my boys. The painful prick of a polio vaccine, the sting of a wooden spoon wielded by my own hand, the denial of a much wanted treasure that I had the means to provide, a transcontinental move during adolescence. I willed such suffering into their lives, and I dare say that I did so in love--in heart-wrenching, tear-spilling, hope-cherishing love. Yes, I am the kind of parent that willing allowed such suffering in the lives of my boys.

Some would prefer to attribute all suffering to Satan. And while I would agree that the enemy works overtime to bring harm to God's children, he cannot do anything to us that has not been approved by God. Consider Paul's thorn:
Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 
It appears that the suffering (or thorn) was inflicted by Satan, yet God allowed it to remain. And rather than grouse about it, Paul learned to delight in it, seeing the power of God's grace in the midst of his suffering.

As I lead in life and ministry, suffering is my promised companion. The question is, will I continually try to shirk it, resisting its work in my life, or will I learn to embrace it?

This week I was studying Paul's suffering as he describes it in 2 Corinthians when I got a text message from the renter of our house in Spangle. Due to the sudden thawing of massive amounts of snow, the ground floor of our house had a foot of standing water in it. This is our third flood in less than 8 years. Paul's words ran through my mind. In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul mentions:




sleepless nights...(I claim this as my own personal thorn, since I have sleepless nights even during the best of times!)

Suffering sucks. I guess you could say that I felt like I had paid my "natural disaster"dues. A third flood? Really? I can't like it. And here we are trying our best to serve the Lord in France! Could he not have held back the waters? I want my heavenly cookies!

It turns out I'm much better at discussing suffering theoretically. I detest it practically. Apparently God does not consider book-knowledge on the subject to be sufficient. So he's taking me on a field trip. I had a completely human response to this third invasion of my home. Shock. Then denial. I sent my parents an email, and the subject line said, "Our house flooded again." The body read, "I don't want to talk about it."

That was the state I was in when I headed out the door yesterday to do my weekly grocery shopping. Weird things happen to your thinking in crises like these. I found myself wondering if we could afford "extras" like popcorn when we have no way of paying our mortgage next month. As I was debating whether or not canned peaches (for a Valentine's dessert) could make the budgetary cut, a woman from our community choir stopped to say, "Hello."

I don't even know this woman's name, to tell you the truth, but as she asked all of the perfunctory questions, such as "How are you?" I felt compelled to mention the flooding of our house in the States--a sure sign that I was coming out of my state of denial. After hearing my sad tale, she asked, "Why does God allow suffering?" She is a self-admitted skeptic who knows that I work at the Protestant church in town, but her question seemed sincere. So there between the jellies and canned fruits, I shared the Gospel. She teared up at one point, but quickly pulled it together. Questions loomed in her eyes.

"Would you like to get together to read the Bible sometime?" I offered. She said she would think about it, and I believe she really will.

We don't always see the reasons for our suffering. Like the prick of a vaccine on a baby's chubby thigh, we feel the pain but have no understanding of it's purpose. Yet every now and then God gives us a glimpse of where he's working, weaving beauty from ashes. If my suffering means that someone will hear the Gospel for the first time, might I more gladly bear the burden? How many floods would I willing endure if they led to her salvation?

My friend at the grocery store saw my hurt and disappointment, but she also heard the reason for the hope that I have. God called me out of the darkness of denial to bring his light into a different darkness--one with eternal consequences. My suffering was no longer a personal matter--and this is key--because leaders rarely have the privilege of private pain.

As suffering does its work in my life, it changes how I lead. The temptation is to let suffering turn me inward, but Christian leaders are called out in their suffering. God wants my pain to become a conduit for his grace to pour into a lost and desperate world. If I let it, suffering teaches patience, compassion, and faith. It fertilizes my prayer life, refines my theology, and creates a space for greater intimacy with the Lord.

And when I lead out of that kind of brokenness, I lead humbly, I lead gently, I lead like Jesus.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

French Test

I'm in the midst of a French Test. I'm trying to get an honest assessment of my current level so that I can be more intentional about continuing to progress.

Yesterday I took the Oral Expression part of the test, today I took the Written Expression part. I still have to do Oral and Written Comprehension. Some days I think that I am never going to get this language down.

The funny thing is, many mono-ligual American would consider us to be bilingual at this point. We are not. Chandler is the closest, and even he thinks he has a long way to go.

Language learning has its benefits, though. It helps me to stay humble. It helps me to stay dependent on others. It helps me not to take myself too seriously. It helps me to think before I speak, and it definitely keeps me from rambling on. I don't waste words in French, I only say what is absolutely necessary!

Yesterday I was on a three hour conference call with three French men. I barely uttered a peep. At the end, one of the guys said, "Hey, we didn't hear much from you." Another guy said, "That's because we kept cutting her off!" Which was true. But in English, I'm pretty sure I would've made myself heard. I'd have pushed harder. I'd have spoken louder. In French, I'm much better at shutting up. 

The funny thing is, there was one point where I thought something really needed to be said, so I kept trying to get a word in edgewise. I tried and tried to express one pertinent thought, and I couldn't get a break. After 15 minutes of this, one of the guys finally said the very thing that I had been trying to say. I sat back satisfied. It turns out that I really didn't care who got credit for idea, I just knew the idea would be helpful and I wanted it to get shared. Which makes me wonder if I might even be a nicer person in French than I am in English.

So no matter what results I get on this French Test, I'll still keep working on it. But I hope that as my skills progress, I'll be able to keep what my ineptness has taught me.

There really is beauty in weakness. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

What about Junia?

Disclaimer: The more I research what the Bible has to say about the issue of women in ministry, the more I realize that the answers are not as simple as I was once led to believe. Following my posts on Phoebe and Priscilla, some have written to "set me straight." And I appreciate their genuine concern. Ironically, the complementarians seem to think that I have taken an egalitarian stance and the egalitarians seem to think that I have taken a complementarian stance. Neither seemed to entertain the possibility that I was moving somewhere towards the middle, which is, in fact, where my research is leading me. So those of you who have your minds made up on the subject, I beg your patience as I try to sort it all out for myself. While I welcome feedback, please understand that I have been studying this issue for two years and I am very familiar with the basic party lines of both sides! Many choose not to dig deeper into this issue because their current understanding is satisfactory for their present experience and calling. I was in that boat for much of my life. But today my calling demands a more thorough investigation. Rather than depending on others' conclusions, I am seeking to faithfully investigate the scriptures for myself in a hermeneutically sound fashion, seeking guidance and wisdom from the Lord along the way. I am not yet sure of where I will land on this, therefore, I am certainly not trying to convince anyone of anything. I am merely seeking (with as much integrity as I can muster) to take an honest look at the issue. If you've already landed at your destination, I remind you that I am still voyaging. On to Junia....

"Would you want to teach a session on the subject of women in ministry at a French leadership conference?"

It wasn't a formal invitation. At this point, it was just an idea being casually kicked around among friends.

"You could talk about women in leadership."


The response going through my head was something like, "Not for all the chocolate in the universe."

Once again I found myself being invited to lead others into territory that is uncomfortable and somewhat unexplored for me. God keeps pushing me into these places, demanding a response. I know he made me a woman and a leader. I've been both since the day I was born. But after 42 years, I still don't always know how to reconcile those two qualities in Christian contexts.

Perhaps that is why I am so intrigued by the mention of a person named Junia at the end of Paul's letter to the Romans:
Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.
So much interesting information in this tiny little verse!

First, who are Andronicus and Junia? This is the only times that their names appear in scripture, but they are clearly loved by Paul. Andronicus is a male name and Junia is a female name. However, in a 1927 translation of the Greek New Testament, a translator named Nestle added a masculine ending to the name--making it Junias. All other Greek translations, including the well respected one by Erasmus in the Reformation era, contained a clearly feminine name. In fact the male version, Junias, is a made-up name that is non-existent in writings and historical documents from the time (it would be like trying to turn a name like Karen or Susan into a boy's name). Meanwhile, the female version, Junia, was a rather common name among women. Finally, in 1998, the Jubilee Edition of the Nestle-Aland Greek translation, reverted back to the feminine form of Junia, which is widely accepted as accurate by most Biblical scholars.

(Just for fun, check out the verse in your Bible. If you have a translation that was published between 1927 and 1998, Romans 16:7 will probably read Andronicus and Junias, but a translation from before 1927 OR after 1998 will most likely read Andronicus and Junia. Oh the power and responsibility of Bible translators!)

While we can be fairly certain that Junia was a woman, it is unknown whether Andronicus was her husband or her brother. The mention of their names together indicates some sort of familial relationship and some historians believe that they were relatives of Paul's. In any case, they became Christians before Paul and they had suffered for their faith alongside of him--these two facts are the only undisputed details in this verse! Given those points, I already have a great deal of respect for Junia. She was a faithful follower of Christ who went to prison because of her dedication to him.

The most debated issue from Romans 16:7 is whether or not Junia was an apostle. It seems that the tiny little Greek preposition "en" holds all the cards. You see, there are two possible ways to translate "en."

Either: Andronicus and Junia are highly respected among the apostles.

Or: Andronicus and Junia are highly respected by the apostles

One little word--so much controversy.

According to Danker and Bauer in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition, "The uses of this preposition are so many and various and often so easily confused that a strictly systematic treatment is impossible. It must suffice to list the main categories which will help to establish the usage in individual cases. The earliest auditor/readers, not being inconvenienced by grammatical and lexical debates, would readily absorb the context and experience little difficulty." The same book lists twelve main categories of usage for the Greek word "en."

The Romans who received this letter from Paul obviously knew Andronicus and Junia because Paul asks the Roman church to greet them. The Romans weren't the least bit confused by the word "en." Its meaning would have been obvious to them. I wish it were clearer for us.

I have read commentary after commentary arguing for one translation or the other. Some seem certain that Paul is identifying Junia as an apostle. Others concede that while this is the best grammatical translation, it cannot be the accurate translation because there are no female apostles in the Bible. Um, wait a minute, does anyone else see the problem with that argument? It seems like most traditionalists scholars would prefer to wallow in ambiguity than explore the possibility that a female apostle was named in the Bible.

After intensive research, I believe that it's likely that Paul identifies Junia --a woman-- as an apostle.

So let's play "what if...", understanding that from this point on, we are working in the realm of intelligent speculation, not proven fact.

What if there is a female apostle named in the Bible? What if she was outstanding among the apostles? What would that do to established leadership structures in the church? How would that influence our understanding of other Pauline texts on the subject? What would that do to your theology about women leaders?

The truth is, the existence of a female apostle would change a lot of things. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Making Disciples

I'm currently reading a book by Alan Hirsch called The Forgotten Ways, which is basically about how the western church has gotten away from the original Biblical model of church. The author writes a lot about history and how various social trends and religious revolutions have affected they way that we do church. He then proposes things that we can do to move back towards God's heart and vision for his people.

To summarize (and probably over-simplify), one of Hirsch's assertions is that by moving to an attractional model of church--where much of church life revolves around a weekly service in a single location, we have raised the bar on how church is done (i.e. we produce high quality, consumer friendly services). At the same time, we have lowered the bar on how we make disciples. He goes on to contend that by doing this we make church too complex and discipleship too easy.

In the early church, the gatherings were simple; often in homes, over meals. There were no "professional" Christians, rather, responsibilities were shared among believers according to gifting and availability. It was easily reproducible, inexpensive, and unpretentious.

Discipleship, on the other hand, was considered a serious engagement. In fact, many would-be disciples were turned away because they were found unworthy. A disciple was expected to be prepared to die for the cause of Christ--this was one of the minimum requirements!

Indeed, we don't do discipleship like that anymore. We're delighted if someone will agree to an hour-long weekly meeting. We hedge and apologize about the idea of tithing, much less sacrificial giving, because we don't want to appear meddlesome. We turn a blind eye to blatant sins, like gluttony, greed, and gossip, because we no longer appreciate the difference between a call to repentance and a judgmental attitude.

The question this book has raised for me is this: Have we reduced discipleship to an optional pursuit for western Christians? Are we content for people to sit in our churches, be encouraged by our worship, and soak in our sermons, believing that their presence in a weekly service qualifies them as a disciple? Are we in decline as a church because we have succeeded in producing successful services but failed in making disciples?

As I am reading this book, my husband David is preparing to launch a disciple-making project in France. Many French churches have identified lack of true discipleship as a major hindrance to church growth, church-planting, and evangelization. The problem is, there are very few resources available on what it means to create a disciple-based church environment and how to do it. When one does a Google search of "disciples France" on the Internet, the top results include a great chef who has quite a following, something about a skateboarding park, and eventually some books on Christian workers in the 1600s. Finally, a few Canadian and American mission organizations appear. But outside of formal theological education in France, there are no French resources, no conferences, no books, nothing.

Our hope is to change all of that. A big part of the disciple making project will be a website that is dedicated to developing, translating, and distributing discipleship resources. Another feature of the project will be regional conferences that will train and equip church leaders to build discipleship communities within their congregations. The project will also help to build networks for sharing best practices and lessons learned.

Please pray for David and this exciting new project. He is in the process of building a team, communicating the vision, and constructing the website. The need is huge and there is already a great deal of interest in the project.

Of course, providing resources is not the answer. In the States there is an abundance of resources, and yet a notable lack of genuine disciples. So please pray for a Spirit-led revolution, where those who are called to be followers of Jesus would give themselves fully to him. Pray for genuine transformation of lives that results in increased investment in mission and kingdom living. And while you're at it, why not take a minute to reflect on your own life. Are you church and Bible Study attender or a sold-out disciple?