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It's A Girl!

Ansley René Burnham was born on Thursday, April 30, 2009 at 2:00 pm. She was 9 lbs. 5 oz. and 22 1/2 inches long!

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DR's Town Hall for Hope

Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope bannerLast Thursday our church hosted the nationwide simulcast of Dave Ramsey's Town Hall for Hope. I jotted down a few notes, some things I found funny or interesting, and some things I couldn't clearly read later. Anyway, thought I'd pass them along...

  • Even a turkey can fly in a tornado.
  • When the tide goes out, you can tell who's been skinny dipping!
  • Fear is not a fruit of the spirit.
  • Keynesian economics vs Friedman economics
  • You can be sincere and still be stupid.
  • "Our economy rests on a three-legged stool—political freedom, economic freedom, and moral restraint.” —Michael Novak
  • If there's no chance of failing, what's pushing you to [work harder / do your best].
  • Failure is good when it pushes us to excellence because it chases us there.
  • You shot it, Tarzan. Now, shut up and eat it.
  • Work like it all depends on you. Pray like it all depends on God.
  • 60% of foreclosures in 2008 were from 5 states.
  • 52% of single moms live [at or below] the poverty level. You want to help somebody, there's somebody to help.
  • Instead of "Receptionist", he calls her the "Director of First Impressions."
  • If you're concerned about inflation, invest in products whose value will go up with inflation: diversified gross mutual funds, real-estate...
  • If you can buy real-estate, buy it. But buy it. Pay for it. Don't get over you head.
  • Gold is the Snuggie of investments: It's sold on late night tv, and if you buy it, it'll make you look stupid.
  • I read the book The Tortoise and the Hare, and every time I read it the tortoise wins.
  • The most powerful wealth building tool is to get out of debt.
  • Research has shown a person's income will be within 10% of their 10 closest friends income. (Hmmm... so have rich friends?!?)
He ended with recommending three things to do:
  1. Do something and get moving! (I thought of a phrase I'd heard recently: a bias toward action.)
  2. Don't participate in loser talk. (Be careful of your news input, and be a learner.)
  3. Learn to give again. (Worship service and customer service might be kinda the same thing... Keep producing.)
For more, check out www.daveramsey.com.

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Reality Imitates Fiction

So, um... I just saw this news headline: Cult Leader Child Rapist Escapes Island Jail on Helicopter. I'm not in any way making light of the content of this news article, but this seriously sounds like something that would happen in a Nicholas Cage or Jean-Claude Van Damme movie.

Sometimes reality is crazier than fiction...

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A Quote for Friday

"Efficiency, which is doing things right, is irrelevant until you work on the right things."

Peter Drucker

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PreK Spirit Week pt.2

Today was Crazy Hair Day... and I had a change of heart from my first thoughts on all of this.

So the boy went legit w/ a full on mohawk!

PreK Spirit Week PreK Spirit Week

Go big or go home, son!

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Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say

I had an awkward social situation ordering a cup of coffee this morning that was just too good and too bad not to pass on real quick.

I went to order a cup of coffee before sitting down with some friends. Now this is a hometown coffee shop, and the same girl is working there every time I'm in there; real nice, real friendly. Anyway, at this coffee shop they have several different daily house flavors, two of which seemed interesting... "Graham Slam Crunch" and "Sinful Pleasures." Neither of these names were obvious as to their taste.

So, genuinely curious about the coffee and without much thought, I politely ask, "Can you tell me about your Sinful Pleasures?"

(awkward pause)

My buddies behind me were giggling like a couple of middle school girls. I stuttered something about that being a little more personal than I meant for it to be. She just smiled and told me something about what was in the coffee, but I honestly don't even remember.

I just ordered the Graham Slam Crunch and sat down.

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NYWC Notes

This post is part of a series from notes taken during YS’s NYWC.

Seminar : Youth Group Spaces : Marv Penner

God seems to recognize the value of well-crafted space. Throughout history the church has always taken seriously the responsibility to create space in keeping with intended purposes. Educational research indicates that when care is given to designing good space, learning increases.

If you want to know who a kid is, all you need to do is take a look at their room - their identity is usually obvious.

Q: What does your youth room tell kids who visit about who you are trying to be?

Good youth space does not equal big, does not equal expensive, does not equal effective youth ministry.

Well designed youth ministry space…
…expresses “Welcome! We’re glad you’re here.” (teens are not spiritually responsive until they’re socially comfortable)
…we understand adolescent development & youth culture
…gives ownership & belonging. “this is our space”
…communicates value placed on kids
…creates context for outcomes

What are some practical space implications…
…to reach large group with no church connection?
…to develop strong sense of community?
…for use with multiple age groups?

Important Considerations in Youth Ministry Facility Planning
- Existing Space or New Space
- Exclusive Use or Shared Space
- Multiple Purpose Potential
- Separate Access
- Durability (idea: plywood behind drywall)
- Expandability
- Storage
- Office Access
- Food Services
- Seating (collapsible camp chairs, XL t-shirts sewn & stuffed for pillows)
- Electrical, Lighting, Projection, Sound (switching options - not just one switch)
- Delivery Doors (size, location)
- Restrooms, Showers
…and most importantly…
Compatibility with stated purposes, mission, & vision.

- fun
- connected to ministry space?
- safe (open to others, not in compromising situation)

Decorating Ideas
- Kids have hand in room (ownership)
- Chair rail with pictures (boards w/ plexi-glass cover)
- Black ceiling
- Ceiling tiles wrapped in event t-shirts.
- Games (foosball, pool, ping-pong, video, air hockey)
- “Create-A-Stage” (pipe legs, flange to bottom of boards)
- Table Painted with chalkboard paint
- Screen-Goo (paint on screen)

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Gooder Talkin' Ideas

If the Communicating for a Change and SHARP thoughts were helpful, here are a few other random ideas for improving your next public speaking opportunity:

  • Change Physical Dynamics: Step out from behind that podium. Have a stool to sit on. Calmly and casually walk to use the width of stage and use proximity to audience to your advantage. This makes you more visually interesting.
  • Using Props: Is there a visual aid that would help drive home the point? Would an object help people understand your example a little more clearly? Don't go all Carrot Top on nobody, but be interesting.
  • Point of Confluence: You know what you're talking about. But it's not about the speaker. It's about the listener. And if you can find something the audience already knows about, already understands, already has experience with, and is already passionate about, then what a great jumping off point. Build your logic path from where they are to where you want to lead them with the knowledge you're sharing.
  • Conversational Tone Disarms Audience: Some people do this naturally, and other people seem to become a whole 'nother person when they step in front of an audience. If somebody sounds like they're giving a speech, people will listen like they're listening to a speech. But if somebody sounds like they're sitting around chatting over a cup of coffee, people will be less likely to put up defensive walls and more likely to engage with what the speaker is saying.

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PreK Spirit Week

So, this week is some kind of "Spring Spirit" week at the preschool. It's kinda like a preK version of homecoming week for high school kids. To be honest, at first I kinda thought it was a dumb idea. It's risky enough having me get him ready in the mornings and now I've got to follow themes for each day? But then I started to realize some of the days actually make it easier to get him ready.

Today was tacky day. Shannon just told me to get him ready, so I let Noah help pick out what he wanted to wear. I guess between a loser dad and a two-year-old, you're bound to be appropriately dressed for tacky day.

Noah posing for tacky day.

Later in the week is "Pajama day" and "Crazy Hair day." The way I figure it, I don't even have to get him dressed on pj day, and I don't have to fight with him to comb his hair on crazy hair day - what's crazier than two-year-old bed-head?!? This spirit week thing may not be so bad after all.

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Time Abuse

The rush of the clock.Rush, rush. Go, go. Hurry, hurry, hurry. I see it often with the teens I work with and even see it with parents of young kids. They're always off to the next thing; the next practice, the next club, the next whatever. And that's on top of school work, time to be with family, and having time to just being a kid.

David Herndon had some insight on the busyness that so many parents push on their children. Here's a clip of what he had to say:

We have laws against child abuse - laws against mental abuse, physical abuse, nutrition abuse, and sexual abuse. These are good and necessary laws that protect children from having more stress put on them than a child should have. After spending a few Saturdays on the sidelines, I’d like to recommend a law against a new kind of child abuse: Time Abuse. To demand that your child be involved in everything is not only an unnecessary source of anxiety for your child, but it also sets him up to think that quality of life and self-worth is only measured through busyness. It robs our children of values like family and personal creativity and passion.

If you love kids (or have kids) or know a parent, it's worth your time to take a minute and read this. I know I want to be the type of parent who encourages my kids to have a variety of interests and experiences, but also understand what it means to live life with a sustainable pace.

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A Quote for Friday

"Don't worry about what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and do that. Because what the world needs are people who have come alive."

Howard Thurman

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What Drives You?

There are two emotions that are great motivators; anger and fear.

Anger causes us to do the wrong things. We react in negative ways. We act on impulse. We move before considering consequences. It's a driving hunt for revenge or retaliation. Or it's a sudden intense rage that clouds any rational thinking.

Fear cause us to not do the right things. We escape, avoid, run and hide. We're paralyzed, afraid to take a step, wondering, "Is this right? Is this wrong? What if this doesn't work? What if I make a mistake? What will others think?"

In Exodus 2, Moses, having been given up by his Hebrew mother, has been raised as an Egyptian in the house of Pharaoh as one of the king's family members. He sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and in a moment of anger he kills the Egyptian. Soon after that, he runs up on two Hebrews who are arguing, tries to mediate the disagreement, and is confronted, "Who put you in control? What if we don't stop? Are you going to kill one of us like you did that Egyptian?" Suddenly, Moses is afraid and runs away to another country.

It's not until some time later that Moses is called by God to a mission and purpose bigger than himself. Moses, despite doubts, obstacles, and frustrations, gives the rest of his life for the work to which God had called him and for the people to whom God had sent him.

And that's the greater motivator: Love.

Love causes us to do the right things no matter the cost. When love is the motivator, we're thinking of more than just ourselves or our own selfish desires. We relentlessly pursue that which we're passionate about. We'd run through walls and overcome enormous obstacles for what we love. Think of a parent with their child. Think of a man with his wife. Think of God with his people. There's nothing that's needed that can't or won't be done.

Maybe all of this is a little of what Paul was trying to explain to Timothy when he wrote, "God's Spirit doesn't make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control."

When we realize that any "power" we have is actually God's power at work in us, we're able to live not in fear, but with a confidence in God's presence and activity in our life. When we yield ourselves to God's authority, we're able not to react in anger, but to act under self-control. When we receive the love God offers, really recognize and accept it, we're able to live with a consuming passion for God and an unconditional love for all people.

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Youth Ministry Summer Calendar 2009

We just got our youth ministry summer calendar posters back from the printer, and they look pretty sweet. They're basically legal-size posters and the artwork credit goes to the incredibly talented Mr. Justin Peay. It's gonna be a fun summer and hopefully a time of growth for our youth ministry.

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NYWC Notes

This post is part of a series from notes taken during YS’s NYWC.

Seminar : The Rise of the Ministry Creatives : Mark Miller

Recommended Books:
- The Cultural Creatives
- The Rise of the Creative Class
- Scribbling in the Sand by Michael Card
- Holy Wow by Group Publishing
- Jump Start Your Brain by Doug Hall

Some quotes and memorable phrases:
Change is constant.
God is omnificient
Permission to fail? (As in, “It’s ok to fail sometimes. It shows you’re trying some things on a growing edge. Don’t always play it safe. Give yourself permission to risk failing.”)

Logic Brain vs. Artistic Brain
(Neat, linear, categorical) vs. (inventor, child-brain, draws upside-down, write w/ non-dominant hand)

Creative Process
1. What is problem?
What needs to be solved? What is objective?

2. Why? Why? Why?
Probe it, gather info, ask questions and research.

3. Search for the idea
Grab stimuli (see, taste, touch, smell, hear, feel)
Ideas: brain dump writing, keep a “cool” file, give it space, think about different people, garner inspiration from greeting cards, magazines, tabloids, etc…, mix up the routine.

4. When you get the idea, wait.
Sit with it a little while. Let it marinate; let it grow.

5. Put it in action.
Give self a deadline – this is where art meets discipline.

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How to Give a SHARP Presentation

Here are a few more quick tips to help you seriously improve your next public speaking opportunity by having a "SHARP" presentation...

  • S - stories: Let's face it; people love a good story. There's something about a well told story that hooks us and causes us to lean in just a little bit to find out what's gonna happen. It's why people watch TV sitcoms and why "The Young and The Restless" is followed by so many people. (Note: I am NOT one of those people.) Think of how often Jesus used parables to communicate his point.

  • H - humor: Leaving this out is why kids never like math class. (Well, not the only reason, but I'm sure it doesn't help.) Find your own voice of humor and bring that into your message. It helps people reengage from mental vacations and hang with the speaker a little longer. Be aware that some humor doesn't play well in certain contexts, so be cautious of sarcasm and publicly mocking that home-schooled kid in the third row.

  • A - analogies: A good analogy is like that spoon full of sugar that helps the medicine go down. It reframes information in a way that helps the listener really wrap their mind around a subject. Try using subjects the audience is familiar with, or it'll only create confusion and won't really help.

  • R - references: What have you heard in the news that relates? Is there a quote or a statistic that drives a point home? A short little memorable YouTube video? (or Vimeo or whatever...) Outside references like this can all help to lend credibility and/or emotion to your presentation.

  • P - pictures: I actually keep a folder on my computer of random little images I find. Some are interesting. Some are funny. Some just scream to be used to teach a point. Instead of just talking about David and Goliath, I showed a picture of a little kid stepping into the ring with a sumo wrestler. Then I showed a news photo of a little Israeli boy throwing a rock at a Palestinian tank. If a picture is worth a thousand words, save you and your audience some time and empty words and just show them that picture that will lock the principle in their minds.
Use these key elements appropriately, and you're sure to make a better connection with your audience.

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Easter Pictures

We had a happy Easter; time spent with family, had an Easter egg hunt, met some chickens, and had plenty of food. Here are a few photos from the day...

Family PictureEaster egg

Driving Miss DaisyBubbles

Chickens!Old Ford

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Happy Easter!

It's really is about so much more than Peeps and Cadbury Eggs...

Easter  (Peep & Cadbury Egg) by Dave LIfson on Flickr

...but they're really good, too.

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A Quote for Friday

"Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are."

Kurt Cobain

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UNLEASH09: Main Session #2

This post is part of a series from notes taken during NewSpring Church’s Unleash Conference.

Main Session #2 : Perry Noble

4 Questions for Ministry Leaders: How to Stay in the Game from Exodus33

Q: Who is with me?
  • vs12
  • You can't expect people to buy into you until you've bought into them.
  • Satan doesn't want to split your church. He wants to split your staff.
Q: Am I pleasing You?
  • vs13
  • "Speak to me, so I know you and can lead your people"
  • Cant expect Spirit of God to use us publicly if we're not yielded to Him privately.
  • Preach every service as it might be your last, because it might be.
  • If you knew next week would be the last chance you had to make an impact for the Kingdom, what would you do? Now, go do that, because it might be your last week. (feeling the sense of urgency and importance of the mission)
  • Some people need to get out of 'church work' to get back into ministry.
  • Do I understand ministry is received, not achieved (depending too much on our own ability, rather than the power of God)
  • Am I placing limits on me God hasn't placed on me?
  • 2Cor4:7, God often puts most powerful gifts in the weakest vessels.
Q: Will we see you?
  • vs14-17
  • Do we kiss toilet seats and then kiss God? (James3)
  • How passionately do we feel a desperate need for God?
  • Is the goal attendance or repentance?
  • Sometimes an enemy is best thing that can happen to a church. (I don't know about this, entirely, but I understand the thought. To quote a Derek Webb song: "Nothing unifies like a common enemy.")
Q: What's next?
  • It's not a monument or a museum. It's a movement!
  • There's nothing awesome about our church or your church except Jesus. Take Him away and we suck. And you do, too.

Think of playing rugby: I'm gonna get hit. And it's gonna hurt. But I want the ball. I want the win, to advance the ball down the field, to make some progress, and not just sit and criticize who IS trying. I want the ball. I want God's presence, God's blessing, and a ministry driven by a God given vision.

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Two Steps to Making You a Better Communicator

Some time ago I was doing some reading and thinking through speaking techniques and trying to improve my game when it comes to public speaking and teaching.

For one, I read Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley. I loved 7 Practices of Effective Ministry and Comm. for a Change was similar (not as good, but still very helpful). I would definitely recommend it for anybody looking to improve their approach to "up-front, speech giving" type of teaching in a ministry setting. Anyway... enough jibber-jabber. Here's the meat...

For me, there were two big take aways:
1. Teach one thing. Say it. Say it well. And quit when you're done.
2. In the book there's a suggested "formula" for speaking: Me-We-God-You-We. I'll put it this way: (discover point of connection between audience & speaker)-(define 'problem')-(introduce God's principle)-(explain how this principle affects 'problem')-(help envision the outcome of specific application steps)

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When It's Over, It's Not Over

One of the important pieces to planning and leading any ministry event is the evaluation after the event has been completed. When an event is over, it's not really over until you've taken the time to look back and thoughtfully consider how it went.

I've got a simple little formula I try to use. It's nothing scientific or comprehensive, but it gives a little structure to the process. It's a page that starts with a place for the event title and date at the top and then just six words:

  • Good: What was good? What parts would you hope to see repeated? What is worth celebrating?
  • Bad: What fell short? What needs to be avoided like the plague next time? Where do you need to do some follow-up or follow-through?
  • Tweak: What came close put didn't quite meet your hopes and expectations? What could be better if it was tweaked just a bit? What twist could you put on an idea to help it really take off?
  • Add: Now that you've walked through this experience and have seen how it all shook out, what do you wish you'd done differently? What'd you miss this time that you could put in there for next time? What's that idea you just didn't come up until you were in the middle of the whole deal?
  • Other Notes: Not everything that comes up in the followup conversation with your team fits into these above categories, so just put that stuff in here. What reminders would be helpful next time? What info would you want at your finger tips if there was another go at an event like this? What stuff do you need some little record of, just in case you're asked about it later?

That's it. And if it would help, you can have a copy of mine, if you want.

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Blue White Game '09

Noah and "daddy" had a little father-son outing this afternoon to the GSU Blue White Game, the school's football spring game. We went with Luke and Andrew. By the way, Luke kindly reminded Andrew this was "his friend Noah" and not "Noah we read to you about in the Bible," just to avoid any confusion, I guess. Andrew seemed relieved. Andrew is five months old.

Noah had fun playing with his little football, running up and down the hill for a while, poking Andrew, and eating a snack, but he also actually seemed to enjoy watching the football game. I'm sure this had more to do with "Hey, look at all the big people run around," rather than "Hey, I wonder how often they'll run that formation next season" or "Hey, did you see that linebacker get pressure on the QB?"

As far as the football goes, the game ended 31-0 in favor of the Blue Team (mostly first team players). Running backs Leander Barney and Adam Urbano stood out in the back field and WR Tyler Sumner had a few pretty impressive catches. The expectation right now is for Lee Chapple, the Sophomore from Atlanta who had a decent Spring Game, to start at quarterback this fall. And there were some good high, long punts, and a few missed place kicks - and people know how the field goals have haunted GSU for the past few years. Awww.. I'm getting excited just talking about football.

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Tasty U2 Concertness

U2 Playing at Fordham UniversitySo, I'm pretty excited. In October some good friends and I are going to ATL for a U2 concert. While I love live music, I don't usually get all up for concerts. But I think this is gonna be a cool experience. I dig their music. Plus, they're one of those bands who've passed the test of time and reached a certain longevity as a band that puts them into 'that next level' category.

And it's more than the music. Whether you like or dislike Bono's publicity and outspokenness, he's definitely got a message he's serious about putting out there and does it pretty unashamedly.

Plus you've got to check out the stage design. Simple and "Wow!" all at the same time.

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A Quote for Friday

"You get the best out of others when you get the best out of yourself."

Harvey S. Firestone

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30HF Wrapup

This is a little followup to last weekend's big event. Basically, the 30 Hour Famine was a hit. Here's a few highlights:

  • Six local youth ministries from four denominations came together to see this happen. And the shared leadership and teamwork among each youth pastor was fantastic. We bounced well as a team.
  • The one downer of the weekend was that overall participation was a little down due to kids' busy spring schedules, school sports, etc. I'm not really all broke up about this, but I guess there's just always that piece of me that regrets teens missing out on great opportunities to grow in their faith.
  • The youth jumped all over the dang Kill-ball tournament (amped up dodgeball). I knew they'd have fun, but I just underestimated how much they'd get into it.
  • We'd collected some cardboard boxes and let the youth build houses and huts to sleep in outside FriPM. Because of the threat of serious rain storms, we chose to go with Plan B and move into the gym for the cardboard village. A ton of cardboard and several rolls of duck tape later, we had a very creative little village. Some had multiple rooms, one group had an actual working door, and one group even included a dog house (which, yes, a boy slept in).
  • On SatAM we spread out all over S'boro to show some love by serving in a variety of projects. Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity, Keep Bulloch Beautiful, etc...
  • While they had fun with the Kill-ball and building the cardboard houses, the whole weekend seemed to find a good balance between the fun/crazy stuff that gives some energy and enthusiasm to the event and the meaningful stuff that gives it a lasting purpose. In conversations during and following the weekend, several youth have told me the weekend really impacted them. For some it was experiencing the hunger pains. For others it was the uncomfortable night's sleep on the hard floor in a cardboard house that opened their eyes to the comfort they're so used to. For others it was seeing for the first time some of the needs of our local community through the service projects. For others it was bits and pieces they heard in the teaching times and Bible studies. And still for others, it was ending the fast by celebrating Communion.
  • Bottom line: I think God used this event to help some students (and adults) take some steps in faith and recognize some ways we can meet some of the needs of the world around us.
Also, here's a little highlight video:

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Just So You Know...

I survived the 30HF... It's the rest of this week that's getting me. It's like I'm wrestling a herd of monkeys. A big herd, with claws and fangs. And rotten bananas... Ugg. I hate rotten bananas.

Let me knock out a few of these monkeys, and I'll hit you up w/ some excitement tomorrow.

(Notice: No actual monkeys were harmed by Josh during the course of this week. But you let a monkey throw something at me, and I'll straight take him out!)

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