2 Priorities for 2023

2023 is a week away, and I’m already thinking about personal challenges and goals for next year.

At the beginning of every year, many people make what we call “resolutions” that usually involve getting healthier or making more time for important things like family time or projects around the house. Many make spiritual goals as well, such as reading the Bible or fasting more. Of course, all of these goals are great, but we often get distracted by mid-year and abandon those resolutions. The older I get, the more I simplify my life. I’ve got a few small things I’d like to work on in 2023, but the two largest priorities I have and that I believe are essential for us to make every year are 1) spiritual growth and 2) financial security.

Let’s face it – the Christmas season is stressful mostly because many of us have maxed out credit cards or overspent our paychecks trying to buy presents for friends and family. And there are often other expenses that come due this time of year that add to the stress. Money seems to be on the brain more than the reason why we celebrate Christmas. Stressing over our finances takes the joy of Christmas away when instead of seeing the joy on your loved one’s face when they open their gift, all you see are dollar signs.

And it’s also true that when we’re busy with life, we can often neglect our spiritual health and relationship with God.

I made one major goal for myself in 2022 and that was to study the Word more in-depth and get closer to God, and having done so throughout this year has reminded me of the importance of properly ordering your priorities. It all comes down to stewardship. How well am I managing what God has given me? Am I saving money? Am I investing in the Kingdom both financially and spiritually? We should be able to look back over our life at the end of each year and see how God has drawn us closer to Him over the past several months. And we should be able to look to our future every year knowing that the present choices we’re making are to ensure future financial security.

Yes, God will always provide for our needs, but He wants us to be wise with our money – it all belongs to Him, after all. We have the responsibility to invest financially in our future for our own sakes and for our family’s.

“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

1 Timothy 5:8 KJV

In order for us to be able to provide for our families and be able to give to the Kingdom, we have to start making wise financial decisions now. If you’re young, that might look like going to trade school or college and pursuing a stable career. If you’re a bit older, it might look like investing in your kids’ future needs over yours or their present wants. For all of us, making wise financial decisions involves having a good work ethic so we can earn raises and promotions, saying “no” to our flesh when we want to buy something completely unnecessary and ridiculously expensive, saving money consistently, avoiding charging everything to credit cards, and cutting out little unnecessary expenses that add up over the year (like weekly Starbucks runs or fast food for lunch every day). Regardless of where you’re at in life, it is never too late or early to start saving, spending wisely, investing in your future, and investing in the Kingdom.

If you take care of your relationship with God each year and make wise financial decisions, He will take care of you. Rest assured, your future will be secure, and everything else (where you’ll live, who you’ll marry, when you’ll get married, where you’ll be in five years, etc.) will fall into place according to God’s timing and perfect will.

In 2023, let’s focus on God and wise investments and see how He continues to pour out His blessings upon His people as we pursue Him more and spread this Gospel to the people around us. May the Light of Jesus shine so bright in us that it snuffs out the darkness and ignites our communities and families with the Holy Ghost!

*****

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my Breathe Pray Repeat readers! I pray these posts have blessed and encouraged you this year. This will be the last BPR post until February as I’ll be taking a break in January to focus on some themes and direction for this blog in 2023.

See y’all in the new year! God Bless!

~Caitlin

Waiting for a Greater Miracle

The waiting room is an anxious place to be.

You’re wondering when something might come, if it even will, or what that something may turn out to be. And it isn’t easy to be there for a long time. Most of us know at least a little of what that’s like, and the longer you’re in the waiting room, the more it seems that the something you’re waiting for will never happen. You watch the clock, your mind on the deadline, but your miracle and answered prayer doesn’t appear to be any closer to becoming reality.

But our God is the God of the eleventh hour. He is the God of the midnight hour.

I know a little bit about waiting.

I waited and waited and waited for a full-time job for over a year. I desperately applied at countless places. When I finally snagged an interview for my dream job, I believed the deal was sealed, and my miracle was in the bag. After all, it was what I’d been praying for and what I was hoping would happen for months.

I didn’t get the job.

When it seemed like I had no other options and all hope was lost, God granted me a midnight-hour miracle. And it was greater than what I had expected all because if I had gotten the other job, I may have thought that it was partly because of my “qualifications,” my “experience,” my “perfect” interview. God blessed me with a job I desperately needed, and He did so in a way that proved that it was only because of Him, not me.

Sometimes, we need to hang on to hope for a greater, midnight-hour miracle.

Lazarus was sick and dying, and Jesus could have healed him when he was just sick, but Jesus waited. And it was after Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days that Jesus arrived and raised Lazarus up (see John 11). Jesus performed an ever greater miracle.

When your miracle seems dead, He can resurrect the promise. He can bring back hope when it seems lost.

I love the line from the Elevation Worship song “Welcome Resurrection” (linked here) that goes, “He’s still the resurrection even when the tomb is sealed!”

This is why we can’t give up in the waiting room or even in the eleventh hour. And even as midnight passes, we must keep believing for a greater miracle than before. With greater miracles comes greater testimonies, greater praise, and greater faith. We are in need of a revival of greater miracles, but the good news is that our God is the God of greater. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think according to His power that works in us!

While you’re waiting, keep praying, keep living for God, keep fasting, keep giving, keep going to church, and keep giving Him your all.

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”

Ephesians 3:20 KJV

How to Be Thankful in Seasons of Loss, Pain, and Waiting

Being thankful isn’t always easy.

Most of us have lost loved ones or lost relationships once very valuable to us. Many have suffered financial hardship or emotional or physical pain. And there are those who are in a season of waiting for an answered prayer or who may be going through a spiritual valley. It’s hard to feel thankful sometimes when everything seems to be falling apart. When our thoughts and feelings dwell on our circumstances and on what seems impossible, we can lose a spirit of thankfulness. So, how do we maintain it or get it back?

Praise.

What is thanksgiving, after all? It is the expression of gratitude and showing appreciation. And what is praise? Showing admiration or great approval. When we offer praise to God, we tend to move into a spirit of thanksgiving. We praise Him for what He’s done. We praise Him for who He is. Praise and worship are the keys to maintaining a spirit of thanksgiving.

Job lost everything but still declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15a KJV). Job’s children were killed, and yet he could still bless the name of the Lord (see Job 1). In his season of loss, Job recognized the sovereignty of God.

When you focus on who God is instead of your circumstances, you will find that praise comes naturally. How can we not praise God for all He’s done, for who He is? Because no matter what we may go through, nothing changes that He is worthy, that He is faithful, that He loves us, and that He is good.

Our circumstances change; He does not. He remains.

There have been moments in my life in which I lost so much. Perhaps like many of you, I’ve lost loved ones and relationships. And I’ve dealt with anger, hurt, sadness, loneliness, and all the various emotions that accompany seasons of grief, depression, and waiting. The words “just be thankful for what you have” are not easy to hear or adapt to your life when you can hardly get out of bed in the morning and when grief muddles your thoughts and leaves you feeling sicker by the day. But as someone who’s gone through some of those seasons, I promise you that turning your focus from what you’re going through to who God is will bring some joy back into your life. It will allow you to feel more thankful because you’re no longer putting your focus on the natural but on the supernatural. You’re no longer putting your focus on the impossible but on the one who makes things possible.

And God is always a good God, no matter how trying times become. He’s never left me, and He never will.

I recently came across a song (linked here) that speaks so much to experiences I’ve had, and it demonstrates the faithfulness of God. Just look at the verses below:

“I have seen a lot of things, and I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve been through a lot of changes. One thing I can always say, You’ve been here every step of the way. I have heard a lot said and sometimes believed the wrong things. I’ve made choices I regret, and I’ve doubted Your mercy. One thing I can always say, You’ve been here every step of the way. After all these years, You’re still good to me.”

After everything I’ve been through, God is still with me. After the things we’ve all endured these past few years, God is still present with us. When we remind ourselves of how good He is every day, we can maintain a spirit of praise and thanksgiving even through hard times.

The circumstances in your life may seem to grow worse or more complicated year after year, but hold to the promises in His Word. He will never leave us, He will never fail, He works all things for our good, His promises are “yes” and “amen,” He will provide for all our needs, and His mercies are new every morning.

We have much to be thankful for.

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, And into his courts with praise: Be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; And his truth endureth to all generations.”

Psalms 100:4-5 KJV

A Tale of Four Teens: How Committed to Christ Are You?

The youth respond in an altar call at a youth rally at the Apostolic New Testament Church in Mount Vernon, MO. (Photo courtesy of the Apostolic New Testament Church Facebook page.)

How much do you want to live for the Lord, really?

There’s a group of 4 teens. We’ll call them Jane, Mary, Mark, and Joe.

Jane and Mary come into the church as young women. Jane goes all in. She studies the Word. She’s engaged in every church service, but Jane doesn’t just keep it to herself. She takes the Word with her and starts reaching her friends. She connects with the people at church, and the longer Jane attends, the more she seeks after God at home. Jane gives God her all, and she reaches her full potential in Christ, living for Him and making an impact on those around her to grow the Kingdom. Mary chooses to keep a door open to the influence of the world. She doesn’t close every door to her past. And because Mary keeps that door open, she doesn’t receive a full understanding of what it means to live for Jesus. After a few months, she leaves church altogether and goes back to the world.

Mark and Joe were both raised in church. As Mark grows up in church, he falls in love with the Word, developing a walk with God from a young age. He seeks after God every day. He dives deeper in Bible studying and fasting. He tells others about Christ. He gets involved in ministry. Because Mark stays connected to the body and grows closer to God as he grows older, he remains steadfast in the faith and in living for God. But Joe takes it all for granted. Sure, he goes to church every week, and sure, he seems to walk the walk and talk the talk, but he opens a door to worldly influences. It’s all in good fun, he thinks. Church becomes just a social club to Joe. He falls in love with the world rather than the Word. And soon, Joe leaves God and church behind, thinking he doesn’t need God anymore.

You might think this is a rather generic, simplified tale of four teens, but I’ve seen each of these scenarios play out with young people in the church. Too many young people or new people in Christ take living for God for granted. Too many take His mercy for granted.

Oh, God loves me anyway, they think, so I can just do whatever I want.

They seek instant gratification over self-sanctification. They seek worldliness over holiness.

But we must seek God while we can, especially when we are young, be it young in age or young in Christ. Don’t wait until you are older to take God seriously.

I wish I had read the Word more fervently when I was a teenager. I wish I had prayed more earnestly then.

Young person, study the Word every day. And I mean, study it. Don’t just read a few verses of Psalms at the beginning or end of the day, mark it off your Bible reading chart, and call it good. Invest your time in the Word. Read a chapter and then write down what it means. What is God saying to you through His Word? How can you apply it to your life? Likewise, don’t just say a few words of prayer and then be done with it for the day. Seek Him in the morning. Set time aside later in the day as well to spend more time with Him. Don’t rush through your prayer time. It takes time to develop a relationship with Him.

Get involved in your church. Use your social media page to promote church and living for God. Tell your friends about the Gospel. Vest yourself to the Kingdom of God. Make Jesus and the Kingdom your priority in life now while you are young.

I’ve seen too many teenagers come into church and leave the door open to past influences or get offended and return to the world. They go back to the world more devoted to sinful lifestyles than before. I’ve seen too many young people who were raised in church never really take it that seriously or become personally involved in a relationship with Christ and with the church, and at the first real struggle in life, they abandon God and the body of Christ. And they turn to the world, allowing drugs, bitterness, and impurity to consume them.

Don’t take living for God for granted. God didn’t put you on this planet to waste your life away on frivolous pursuits. God comes first. Reaching the lost should be your top priority. Getting closer to Him should be your daily focus.

Every so often, we all need to do a heart alignment check. What am I focusing on most? How often am I spending time with God? Have I been applying His Word to my life? Have I been invested in every service or distracted? Am I vested to the cause of Christ?

Being vested means to have a right of ownership that is not conditional. We must not be just invested in living for God and reaching the lost, but we must take ownership of our part in His Kingdom. We must fully commit to and take responsibility for the role we have, living wholeheartedly for Jesus and giving up ourselves to bring more souls to salvation.

There’s a song by Gas Street Music (linked here) that goes, “Every idol, hit the ground/Cause there’s only space for Jesus/When He clears the temple out/So turn the tables upside down/This is my surrender/Only one King to be crowned.” Make God the center of your daily life.

How much do you want to live for the Lord, really?

Jesus is calling you to a closer, deeper walk with Him. Will you answer?

“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

Revelation 3:20 KJV

On Anger and Forgiveness

They hurt you.

Maybe they meant to. But it’s hard to move on and forgive when they seem to forget all about you. Or maybe they didn’t mean to, but it doesn’t matter. You can’t forget. And so you remember, and you seethe, and you stew, hoping someday they’ll get what’s coming to them. And the years pass on your anger, but nothing seems to change. Their life moves on, and you find yours does, too. And all that’s left is the semblance of anger turned to indifference.

Yes, they hurt you, but who cares about them, anyway? They’ll pay. Indifference turns to pride, pride to arrogance, arrogance to vengeance.

But vengeance only belongs to the Lord.

I’ve learned a lot over the past few years about forgiveness.

When I was going through a struggle and believed someone had wronged me, I wanted vengeance. I wanted to see them crumble. My circumstance made me believe they were my enemy, and how could I hope that anything good could happen for them? How could I want them to be successful? How could I want anything but destruction for them?

Well, I was wrong.

Let go and let God. It’s a cliché these days, but it’s exactly what you need to do when you believe someone has wronged you. Maybe they did. Maybe they really hurt you, but for your sake, you have to forgive and let God take care of it. It isn’t a matter of, “well, what if they don’t get punished?” If a wrong has truly been committed, rest assured, God will take care of it either now or on judgment day. But you should hope that that person gets right and is forgiven for what they’ve done because you shouldn’t want anyone to have to suffer for eternity.

They’re only human, after all. Like you. How many mistakes have you made in your life? And how many times have you asked God to forgive you? And yet you want to hold a mistake over another’s head?

Forgive them.

Jesus taught Peter what forgiveness really is about in Matthew 18.

“Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

Matthew 18:21-22 KJV

Of course, Jesus did not mean for Peter or anyone to literally count up to 490 until they could stop forgiving a person for wrongdoing. It’s not about the numbers or keeping track. It’s about always having a spirit of forgiveness.

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:”

Ephesians 4:26 KJV

Anger is not sinful in itself, and it is okay to be upset when someone wrongs you, but holding onto hurt and anger leads to bitterness.

I had a conversation once with someone about an offence that was believed to have taken place. This person told me they had begun to pray for the one who had allegedly committed the offence and that they had told another confidant about it. They relayed to me that the confidant had allegedly asked them, “Why would you pray for them to be blessed? They’re your enemy.”

Whether this was truly said or not, it was the wrong sentiment about such a situation. You shouldn’t want anyone to have to suffer or possibly spend eternity in hell. When someone hurts you, pray for them. If they’ve truly done wrong, pray that God changes them and that they receive His forgiveness for what they’ve done.

“But I say unto you which I hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.”

Luke 6:27-28 KJV

This passage in Luke 6 and the subsequent verses are a great study on the spirit of forgiveness. It takes strength to truly forgive someone who has hurt you, but the more you do it, the more Christlike you will become. The more you forgive, the more your love for people will grow. You’ll begin to understand people better. You’ll begin to truly care about people more. We are to be merciful as He is merciful (see Luke 6:36). When someone hurts you, give yourself time to sort through your anger maturely and privately, and then forgive.

Love people even when it’s hard. Let God change their heart and yours. Let God handle the offence. And let the matter go.

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice. And be ye kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Ephesians 4:31-32 KJV

3 Characteristics of Depression in the Bible

I saw someone share a post on social media the other day that countered the saying, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” It explained that, sometimes, we are given more than we can handle because it is in those moments that we are to lean on God for strength to get through our circumstances.

There are many circumstances that are crippling, suffocating, and paralyzing, that render us incapable of making it through on our own. What happens when these situations come into our lives? How can we get through these seasons of overwhelming fear, doubt, and depression? Perhaps you already know the stories of Job, Naomi, David, and Elijah, but I hope today’s post and exploration of depression in the Bible is a reminder to you that you are never alone in your struggles.

Without further ado, we’ll dive into three aspects of depression as addressed in the Bible and explore how we can recognize, understand, and find helpful solutions in seasons of depression.

1) A Bitter Feeling, A Miserable Existence

“I’m nothing. I don’t matter.”

Maybe you’ve said these words to yourself at some point in your life – lies that the enemy of our soul tries to make us believe when we’re vulnerable. Both of these statements and every iteration are complete lies straight from the devil, but it’s easy to convince yourself of them.

“I’m nothing,” I once thought, but then God reminded me I’m not.

Did I die for nothing?

No, He didn’t. He died for me. He died for you, and He cares for you more than you could ever fathom. You are not “nothing.” But sometimes, the feeling of depression and misery is overwhelming, temporarily keeping you from believing the truth.

We may even come to hate ourselves and hate our lives. Job’s monologues implied that he suffered from such misery:

“My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul.”
Job 10:1 KJV

Naomi, after losing her husband and her sons, asked to be called “Mara,” which means “bitter” (see Ruth 1:20). We know that David experienced much emotional imbalance stemming from the traumas he faced and mistakes he made in his life:

“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel…But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.”
Psalms 22:1-3, 6 KJV

David constantly went from lamenting his situation to praising the Lord to feeling abandoned by God to declaring his trust in Him. Many who suffer from depression struggle with this kind of emotional imbalance. They seem to be up and down. Fine one day and at rock bottom the next. Living life on an emotional roller coaster breeds more misery and exhaustion. When we rely on our feelings to determine what judgments to make about our lives and ourselves, we’ll be prone to emotional instability and dissatisfaction with life.

2) Isolation and Silence

“I just want to be alone, to go somewhere no one knows me, and live alone with my thoughts.”

Maybe you’ve had this thought before. There are certainly benefits to having alone time, and when we go through difficult times, we need moments to sort out our thoughts and be with God. But too much isolation and silence can also prevent us from processing grief or difficult situations in a healthy way and keep up from moving forward. Nevertheless, we see isolation and silence as symptoms depression or grief in the Bible as well. When Jezebel threatened Elijah’s life, he left his servant at Beer-Sheba and traveled alone into the wilderness (see 1 Kings 19:1-4). Job went silent for seven days after losing his family:

“So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great.”
Job 2:13 KJV

Being unable to speak is a sign of deep emotional stress, and isolating yourself with your thoughts in this time can be even more dangerous. If we don’t allow ourselves to seek after God in these moments, then we may become lost in thoughts of hopelessness and, even worse, suicide.

3) Wishing for Death

“God, I can’t do this anymore. Just take me.”

Maybe this thought has crossed your mind as well. To many, death seems like the only way to no longer feel the pain of loss or the emotional stress of financial struggles, family turmoil, or physical illness. I’ll admit I had this thought once when I was sick with undiagnosed Type 1 diabetes and felt purely miserable, like I was dying. And I had this thought again when faced with the possibility of having no income and no medical insurance. The stress and fear were overwhelming. In a moment of emotional and mental exhaustion, I just didn’t want to feel like that anymore. For me, the thought of asking God to take my life and get it over with was a fleeting one, but for many, this thought is a constant mindset as depression weighs heavily on their souls.

In biblical times, certain accounts show people who also experienced these feelings or wishing for death. We read in Job that he wished he had not even been born:

“Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived…Why died I not from the womb? Why did I not give up the ghost when I came out of the belly?”
Job 3:3, 11 KJV
“Oh that I might have my request; and that God would grant me the thing that I long for! Even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off! Then should I yet have comfort; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow: let him not spare; for I have not concealed the words of the Holy One.”
Job 6:8-10 KJV

Elijah also wished God would take his life:

“But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a juniper tree: and he requested for himself that he might die; and said, It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.”
1 Kings 19:4 KJV

As Carlton Coon wrote in his book Light in a Dark Place: Encountering Depression, Elijah “was not having a blue day” (Coon 37). Wishing for death and isolating oneself are signs that someone is suffering from depression. This person doesn’t see a way out. They don’t see any value in their life anymore. They feel less than. They feel worthless.

But Jesus is the Path through dark times.

Each of these people – Job, Naomi, Elijah, and David – continued to live for God even when they experienced hardship and suffered from symptoms of depression. Though there were times when David felt alone, he continued to seek God. Though Job wished for death and lamented in his grief, he maintained reverence for God: “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter upon the earth” (Job 19:25 KJV). From reading about the emotional struggles of important biblical figures, we can understand that these mental battles are not unique to our time. If they could overcome and survive bouts of depression, so can we. It is the same merciful God who spoke to and comforted them who will speak to and comfort you and me today.

In every mental or emotional struggle you may face, don’t stop talking to God, and don’t stop listening for His voice.

No matter what, we cannot discount the importance of making prayer and Bible studying our daily lifestyle because it is in those dark times that we will need to rely on our walk with God all the more.

“Before You Curse the Rain” and Other Poems by Camrie Houck

Before You Curse the Rain

Before you curse the rain for daring to
visit,
The raindrop for plopping onto your head,
Remember,
Every drop that descends from the sky,
often to your dread,
Is a reminder of every promise of God.
Just like every raindrop waters the grass,
Bringing forth the springtime bud,
So is every promise.
A word of God descending, falling, and watering.
And in due time, it too will bring forth the new bud of
the old promise.

Closer to the Cross

With every stride, I want to be closer to the cross.

Life isn’t perfect, sometimes far from it.

I don’t want to be number one; I don’t want to be boss.

I’m not perfect, but I’m not about to quit.

 

Life isn’t perfect, sometimes far from it.

My spirit is willing, my flesh is carried off by every whim.

I’m not perfect, but I’m not about to quit.

Less of me, more of Him.

 

My spirit is willing, my flesh is carried off by every whim.

I’m disciplining myself with fierce focus.

Less of me, more of Him.

Fear and the devil have the world all hocus-pocus.

 

I’m disciplining myself with fierce focus.

Losing our version of fun, it’s no loss.

Fear and the devil have the world all hocus-pocus.

With every stride, I want to be closer to the cross.

The Best Decision I’ve Ever Made

Falling in love with Jesus, the best decision I’ve ever made.

Sunshine and rainbows, it’s not.

It’s a bright spot in this world through which we must wade

With sacrifice and blood, it was bought.

 

Sunshine and rainbows, it’s not.

It’s peace in the midst of a violent storm

With sacrifice and blood, it was bought,

Desiring to be close to him and in my proper form.

 

Its peace in the midst of a violent storm,

Crashing waves, rolling squall lines, still Jesus has not left my boat.

Desiring to be close to him and in my proper form,

Reading and Praying, this time not by rote.

 

Crashing waves, rolling squall lines, still Jesus has not left my boat.

I’m not doing this for some more achievement; it’s not for a grade.

Reading and Praying, this time not by rote.

Falling in love with Jesus, the best decision I’ve ever made.

*****

Today’s guest post was written by the wonderfully talented Camrie Houck. Be sure to check out her past guest post on BPR here! You can also follow along with her writing on her Instagram blog @camrie_writes!