Friday, December 27, 2019

God's Gift: Paid in Full, Alexis A. Goring


God’s Gift: Paid in Full
A devotional by Alexis A. Goring


For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”Romans 6:23 (KJV)

“Jesus Paid It All” by Kristian Stanfill is a beautiful song that has been playing on repeat in my head all week!

As Christmas Day approached, I was reminded not just about the birth of Jesus Christ but of His sacrifice that saved our souls! Read about it in John 3:16-17 then read the entire Bible for complete context.

For the purposes of this devotional, I am going to focus on one key concept based on the title and lyrics to the song “Jesus Paid It All.”

As the song says (and I paraphrase): Jesus paid it all! Yes, the wages of sin is death but Jesus Christ (God’s Son) made a way for us to be saved and receive eternal life! We only have to accept God’s gift of salvation through His Son Jesus, believe in God and follow Jesus all the way to Heaven.

Earlier this month, I didn’t know how I was going to pay my overdue cell phone bill. Other bills took priority, including two unexpected expenses.

I called my phone service and asked if they could extend the overdue payment deadline. They said that the latest they could extend it to was Friday, December 20. But by Wednesday (two days before it was due), I still didn’t have the money that I needed to pay my phone bill. So I decided to pray to God about it and let it go, knowing that God would provide.

Later on that day, while I was in the kitchen washing the dishes, I heard my cell phone make the sound that let me know I had received a text message.

I walked over to the kitchen table and picked up my phone. The message read that my overdue cell phone bill was paid in full!

The receipt showed the last four digits of the card number that was used to pay my bill. I was happy but confused at the same time because the card number was not one of my own and I couldn’t think of anyone who had the information necessary to pay my bill for me. After all, I’d only told my dad a day before that it looked like my cell phone would be out of service until I figured out how to pay the overdue amount.

Five minutes later, my dad returned home, presented a receipt to me and said “Merry Christmas!”

I accepted the receipt and received my answer: The receipt showed the same last four digits of the card number that was in the text message on my phone. The overdue amount was highlighted and noted that it was paid in full. My dad had paid my debt!

I told him “Thanks, Dad!” then asked him why he’d given me this gift. He said that God led him to do that for me. I knew that was true because that’s never happened before, and I never wanted to ask him for money to pay my phone bill because my parents (Mom and Dad) already do so much for me.

But this week, the song “Jesus Paid It All” has been playing on repeat in my mind and now I know why: God wants to remind me that He has already paid the debt for my sins when He sent His Son Jesus Christ to this Earth to show humankind the way to our Heavenly Father (John 14:6). God allowed Jesus to live, die then be resurrected to serve as our High Priest in Heaven.

We are all sinners who can only be saved by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) in Jesus (our Savior). We ALL need a Savior! Gratefully, God knew that information from the beginning, so He made a way – His Name is Jesus (Christ).

If it were not for Christ’s sacrifice and God’s Love for us, we’d be doomed. We’d never make it to Heaven. We’d never be reunited with our Creator and we’d never experience the joys of what’s to come (eternal life forever in the presence of our Savior as we enjoy a truly perfect, sin-free, pain-free, death-free existence). The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:9 (ESV): But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.”

God has great things planned for all who believe in Him and accept His Son Jesus Christ as The Way, The Truth and The Life (John 14:6)!

Just like my Heavenly Father (God) inspired my earthly father (my Dad) to pay my cell phone bill in full so that weight would be lifted off of me and I could be free from having to pay that debt that I could not afford, God sent His Son Jesus Christ to save our life by paying a debt that none of us (no matter how wealthy or determined or perfect) could pay (because we’re all sinners in need of a Savior). All you and I have to do is to accept God’s gift to us that He paid in full.

We can say “Thank You” to our Heavenly Father for this generous gift, then accept His Son Jesus Christ into our hearts and follow Him all the way to Heaven!

Isn’t it beautiful when you receive a gift that has been paid in full?


Author Bio (short): Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

This is our final Faithful Friday post of the year. Thank you so much, Alexis, for being so faithful in providing such wonderful, thought-provoking posts throughout the year.

Matter of fact, this is the last Whispers in Purple blog post of 2019. Many thanks to all who have followed this blog not only this year, but in years past.

In the remaining days before we ring in the New Year, I'll be doing some redesigning of the blog theme and some other stuff. I hope you will find them an improvement. 

BLESSINGS, AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!



Thursday, December 26, 2019

Writing from the Middle: Chris Manion,


Writing from the Middle:

The Inside Story of Writing My Memoir

by Chris Manion



Before I began writing my memoir, everything was going great. My marriage was happy; my children were healthy and strong in spirit and faith; my home-based business continued to outperform its previous year’s achievements. I had carved out time for Bible study as well as church choir and teaching Sunday school.

How My Memoir Got Started
Have you noticed how parenting children causes most people to fall on their knees for one reason or another? I found myself praying more than usual in the early years of being responsible for our two little ones. Somewhere in that Bible studying and prayer time, I noticed God wooing me like a suitor. I found my prayer time changing, deepening in response to what I only knew as an inner longing. God started to act like an impatient child attempting to get her mother’s attention as she spoke to someone else.

He got my attention all right with some breath-taking experiences, what Thomas Keating O.S.C.O. calls “divine intimacy.” I wrote an article about the first experience, hearing the voice of God. As He tapped me on the shoulder again and again in my early forties, I received the message He wanted me to write about the experience, to use one of the talents He gave me.

That’s how the memoir began. A persistent inner knowing.  I understood I had received a calling to share the experiences because I knew how to write and others needed the encouragement. Others needed to know it was Him tapping their shoulders. Too many of us treated Him like spam callers on our phones, resisting answering the call, unsure who was calling. Too many don’t recognize the Caller.

How My Memoir Got Finished
After I got the experiences written, it occurred to me I needed to fill in some background story since most readers didn’t know me. I had to figure out when I first noticed God asking me for a “date,” a little quiet time together. After that, I realized what I’d written consisted of the middle of the story. It needed a beginning and end.

I wish I’d known about James Scott Bell, author of “Writing from the Middle: A New Approach for Plotters, Pantsers and everyone inBetween” while I wrote mine. I discovered him after publication; nevertheless, it made me feel better knowing others used my seat-of-the-pants approach too. According to Bell, writing from the middle did not necessarily reflect a novice writer’s ignorance of the craft. Phew!

After I had everything in chronological order, another realization hit me. The hook in the memoir came far too late in the book. I needed to move it from page 150 to page 1. Making that move changed many chapters and confused me. What did the reader now know by moving two chapters forward that he didn’t know in the previous draft? To end my confusion, I re-outlined the 33 chapters. A laborious task, but the chapter shuffle made the book far more readable and probably contributed to earning its two CPAs (Catholic Press awards). The turmoil would continue in the process of publishing, but that’s another story.

The middle can be a great way to start a book or a sandwich. All that’s left is to choose a great roll, slice it, and fill it up with the perfect combo of condiments and characters.

Taste the first two chapters free at www/tinyurl.com/Godispatient. God’s Patient Pursuit of My Soul talks about divine experiences many people have no words for and therefore cannot talk about. Not talking to one another about “God-incidences” makes the devil happy. One goal of my book is to disturb his happiness and increase God’s delight in us.

Before I began writing my memoir, the devil didn’t bother me much. I understand spiritual warfare better now and I’m okay with getting that kind of attention. I’m happy to be one of God’s authors and delighted to be one of the whispers in purple.


Book Blurb
When high achiever, direct-selling superstar, Chris Manion encountered the idea that Jesus could be her best friend, she sat stunned. The possibility followed this inspirational leader and award-winning catechist on a winding path of spiritual discovery that would change her life.

God’s Patient Pursuit of My Soul addresses spiritual matters common to many of us that we don't talk about publicly; sacred matters we have no vocabulary for; the importance of sharing moments of divine intimacy. This vulnerable story of one woman's response to God compels readers not only through the pages of this book, but their own inner discoveries in their lives and careers as well.



Chris Manion received her BA in Communication Arts with honors from the University of Dayton. With her honky laugh, and love for God and chocolate, Chris delights crowds with faith-filled stories grounded in authenticity and vulnerability. Known as a leadership expert and mentor, Chris uses the skills she developed in building her $20 million sales organization to teach how God calls us. Chris’s writing and speaking focus on her mission to nurture the tender relationship between God and all souls. Chris lives with her husband of forty-plus years in Florida ‘s panhandle where she kayaks and photographs the Gulf coast’s natural beauty. She is a grandmother of five little angels, an award-winning catechist from Chicago, a stringer and blogger for Northwest Florida Daily News and her website ChrisManion.com.

It makes her happy to serve and foster the development of Christian writers. She feels close to the apostles in their early years of discipleship. Like them, she joins writers who’ve been given a heavenly mission to go out and use their talents and the art of storytelling/writing. She works and prays about how to do that, how to please our Lord. It is a holy quest.


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Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Deck the Soul with Boughs of Forgiveness, MaryAnn Diorio, Giveaway




"Deck the Soul with Boughs of Forgiveness"

by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio

CHRISTMAS!  The word evokes many feelings, depending on our experiences. For some, Christmas is a happy time, filled with beautiful memories and joyful expectations. For others, Christmas is a depressing time, a season one wants “to get over with” as quickly as possible because of bad memories associated with this time of year.

Having ministered to people for many years, I have come to the conclusion that depressing memories at Christmas time are most often related to problems of unforgiveness. Hurts from the past become more pronounced during the Christmas season, but the reason those hurts still affect us is that we have not let go of the bitterness associated with them. In short, we have not forgiven the people who have hurt us.

Why do most people have such a difficult time forgiving? I believe the main reason is that they do not understand what forgiveness really means. If you are one of those people, what follows may help you:

LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT:
__Forgiveness is NOT letting someone off the hook.
__Forgiveness is NOT condoning evil.
__Forgiven is NOT being a doormat.
__Forgiveness is NOT having to trust again the person who hurt you.
__Forgiveness is NOT a feeling.
__Forgiveness is NOT an option.

NOW LET’S LOOK AT WHAT FORGIVENESS IS:
__Forgiveness IS taking the person who hurt you off of your hook and placing him on God’s hook, then praying that God will have mercy on him.
__Forgiveness IS acknowledging that evil was done but choosing to bear the consequences of that evil without retaliation.
__Forgiveness IS taking charge of your emotions.
__Forgiveness IS setting boundaries with the person who hurt you, even refusing temporary or permanent interaction with that person, if necessary. An example would be a wife who is being beaten by her husband.
__Forgiveness IS a decision.
__Forgiveness IS obedience to God’s commandment to forgive.

No matter how badly you have been hurt, choose to forgive. It’s the best thing you can do for your own well-being. Unforgiveness chains you emotionally to the person who hurt you. Forgiveness breaks that chain and sets you free.


What better time is there than the Christmas season to forgive those who have hurt us? The very essence of Christmas is the truth that God forgave humanity through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Who are we not to forgive others when God has forgiven us?

So this Christmas, forgive! But don’t just forgive. Ask to be forgiven. As the Word of God tells us, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NKJV). All of us need not only to forgive but also to be forgiven.  And as long as we are on this earth, it is never too late to forgive or to be forgiven.

______________________________________________________________________
Copyright 2012-2019 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA.  All Rights Reserved. This article may not be reproduced without the written permission of Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. You may reach her at maryann@maryanndiorio.com.


Featured Book: A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING: A Novella published by Pelican Book Group


BLURB:  Seven Christmases have passed since Sonia Pettit last heard from her daughter Jody. Since Jody's departure, Sonia's world has been turned upside down. Her husband has died of a broken heart, and her son, bitter over his sister's destructive actions, has become rebellious. Her greatest desire is to have her family together at Christmas, but after what Jody has put them all through, can Sonia truly forgive her daughter? Jody Pettit O'Dair ran away to experience a life of adventure and excitement, but since her departure, her world has been turned upside down. She's been abandoned by the man she met and married, lost her job, and is unable to care for her two children. With nowhere else to turn, this prodigal daughter begins the long journey home and prays she will be welcomed after walking away so long ago. Will Jody find forgiveness in the arms of her family as easily as she received it from God?



BIO: Dr. MaryAnn Diorio is an award-winning author of fiction and non-fiction for both children and adults. She is the author of the well-received trilogy, THE ITALIAN CHRONICLES. Her latest novel, IN BLACK AND WHITE, deals with the issue of racism. MaryAnn has been married to Dom, a retired ER physician, for 50 years. They are the blessed parents of two wonderful adult daughters, a very smart son-in-law, and six rambunctious grandchildren. In her spare time, MaryAnn loves to read, paint, and make up silly songs with her grandchildren. You may learn more about MaryAnn and her writing at www.maryanndiorio.com.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:


Giveaway offered:  One copy of A CHRISTMAS HOMECOMING in e-book format.  It is available from the publisher only in e-book format. Leave your name and contact information below to be entered in the drawing. Giveaway ends one week from today, January 1,
2020 at Midnight O'Clock Central time and will be notified via email.




Tuesday, December 24, 2019

O Little Town of Bethlehem, Lucy Adams, Hymn Story

Bethlehem -courtesy pixabay.com

                                                   
 O Little Town of Bethlehem
a hymn story from Lucy Neeley Adams

The thoughts going through the mind of Rev. Phillips Brooks were filled with awe as he visited Jerusalem many years ago.  It was Christmas and he was sure that it was a Holy Land. His visit there was a never to be forgotten experience. Hearing about Bethlehem was not the same as being a part of it. Reading about the birth of Jesus was not the same as worshipping in the Church of the Nativity on Christmas Eve.  

His thoughts became heart-warming memories when he returned to Philadelphia and his pastorate at Holy Trinity church.  When he needed a new song of Christmas the following year, he reached back for inspiration to that Holy Land visit.  The poem he wrote painted in words, the sights and sounds of the wonderful little town he had visited years earlier.  

What came from his pen was a Christmas carol that has lived to become a world-wide favorite, "O Little Town of Bethlehem." The first words identified that glorious visit to the place of holiness he had visited.

" O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie.
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by."

 When he finished the carol, he asked the church organist and Sunday school superintendent, Lewis Redner, to compose a simple melody for the children to sing on Christmas Eve.  Mr. Redner began work to find just the right tune to carry the descriptive words.

But nothing seemed quite perfect, and already it was the eve of Christmas Eve.  But during a fretful sleep, he heard music.  He immediately got out of bed and wrote down the melody just as we sing it today. “I think it was a gift from heaven", Mr. Redner joyfully admitted.

Composer, Phillips Brooks was born in Boston, Mass., in 1825 and educated at Harvard.  He was a beloved and respected evangelist.

After serving as a minister in Episcopal churches in Philadelphia and Boston, he was appointed bishop of that area.

This giant of a man, who stood 6 ft. 6 inches, also had a big heart that endeared him to old and young alike.  There were toys in his office for the many children who visited him.  It was a familiar sight to see the beloved bishop sitting with a group of children on the floor as they played a game.

He never married but other people's children became family to him. When he died unexpectedly in 1893, at the age of 58, his extended family was overwhelmed with grief.

It was a child who put his death in perspective.  When told by her mother that Bishop Brooks had gone to heaven, she replied with a loving smile, "Oh Mama, how happy the angels will be."

The closing verse of "O Little Town of Bethlehem" expresses Phillips Brooks' greatest desire which was to share God's love:

"O holy Child of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray.
Cast out our sin and enter in, Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell.
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Emmanuel."




Lucy Neeley Adams
December  2019

Peg here: As I usually try to do when Lucy is my guest, I look for an appropriate video to share. As Lucy knows, and by now many of you are aware, too. The Gaither Vocal Band is my "go-to" resource for wonderful gospel music. So, please take a few moments and sit back and enjoy O Little Town of Bethlehem. Vocalists are (L-R): Todd Suttles, Reggie Smith, Wes Hampton, Adam Crabb, and Bill Gaither.


Friday, December 20, 2019

Making Room for God, Alexis A. Goring

Image from Pixabay.com/ "Room for God!

Please welcome Alexis A. Goring again this week with another of her Faithful Friday devotional offerings. 

Thank you, Alexis! I always look forward to these.

Making Room for God

A devotional by Alexis A. Goring


“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”
– Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)


Now do you have time for me?”

It was that still, small voice that I felt in my spirit and heard in my soul.

Almost like a whisper from God that was only faint because I’d become so busy with the new job that I believed He gave me and the ministry-related work that I religiously dove into immediately after returning home from work, that I’d neglected my quiet time with Him.

I am reminded of the Bible story about Mary and Martha. When Jesus came to visit their house, Martha scurried about, staying busy with the hospitality aspects of keeping company while her sister Mary drew close to Jesus, sat at His feet and listened to Him speak.

Feeling like Mary wasn’t helping her serve their guest (and growing increasingly upset), Martha complained to Jesus, telling Him to command Mary to help Martha serve Him. But like the kind-hearted and gentle Teacher Jesus always was, He took that teachable moment to show Martha that there is a difference between being busy serving God and actually taking time to get to know Him.

What a lesson, not just for Martha but for me!

How often do I become so busy with work, church and ministry-related aspects of my life that by the time I rush through my day and plow through my night serving others and taking care of business, that the next thing I know, I’m asleep, only to wake up the next morning and repeat my life of busyness? The answer for me is too often. And God had to let me know that.

My job let me go and once again, I found that now I had much more free time and one of the first things I did was to return to spending more time with Him. What a refreshing experience! As I spent more time with God, I felt closer to Him. As I delved deeper into His Word (The Holy Bible), I became better acquainted with Him. Quiet time with God reaps so many benefits! It helps you to hear Him and receive strength to make it through your day and gives you the wisdom to handle anything that you may face.

There is great value to silencing the world and tuning into God. In Psalm 46:10 (NIV), God speaks to us. He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Creator of the Universe (God) wants to spend time with you. He’s busy running the galaxies but yet He wants to hear from you! God wants you to draw near to Him (James 4:8). Turn off the TV. Silence your cell phone. Take the earphones off your ears and turn your attention from the busyness of your own little world to the Creator of the entire world and all that exists!

I’m speaking to myself too! Because I’ve been guilty of not making room for God. But I am so grateful that we serve a God who is faithful! He is kind, patient and His love for us endures forever! But that’s not a reason to take Him for granted. God does so much for us. Can we not make room for Him?

The Bible says in Matthew 6:33 (KJV), “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

When we put God first in our life, we make room for Him to move in our life! When we make room for God, miracles happen. When we make room for God, He gives His Peace (Isaiah 26:3) as we learn how to trust Him. Making room for God is essential to your everyday life and soul salvation!

The song “Make Room” by Jonathan McReynolds, a gospel music singer, is on the forefront of my mind as I write this devotional. It’s a powerful song that will remind you why it’s important to spend time alone with God every day.
Peg note: The video is long (10 minutes.) Check your speaker volume to be able to enjoy it all.

The lyrics talk about how we make time for what we want in life and we make room for people who (and things that) we treasure. But Jesus Christ needs to be our first priority in this life. Nothing else should take His place.

The song is a call to action: Make room for God! Don’t just tell Jesus that He’s your number one, show Him! Put Him before Facebook. Check in with Him before you check your social media as you wake up in the morning. Put the phone down, pick up the Holy Bible, open it and allow Him to breathe His words of life into your soul as you spend time searching the Scriptures.

Some Christians like to literally prepare a table for two and talk to God as they sip their coffee and study their Bible. I think that’s a great idea if you feel that you need a more tangible way of drawing close to Him.

So dear friends, I admonish you and I admonish me to please, make room for God. Every day that you are in the “Land of the Living” means that He still has a plan and purpose for your life. It’s a plan and purpose that you’ll only know and be able to carry out if you get to know Him personally!

And how do you get to know God personally? You make room.


Author Bio (short): Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.


Thursday, December 19, 2019

An Unexpected Legacy, Amy Anguish, #Giveaway



HI THERE, IT'S TIMELESS THURSDAY
Where author guests have a chance to breathe new life into books from their backlist.
So please welcome author Amy Anguish!
There's a #giveaway, too. 

From Idea to Legacy
by Amy Anguish






In 2011, I sat down with a simple question running through my head. What if a guy and girl started dating, but then found out their parents had dated back in high school? How would that affect their relationship? I had no idea what had broken up their parents. I had no idea what the outcome would be (other than some sort of happily ever after – this is romance, after all). But I wanted to write it.

The opening scene was already in my head. A beautiful autumn afternoon in the Austin area of Texas. I could picture several other scenes, too. So, I took advantage of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November and hammered out over 50,000 words.

Halfway through the month, I realized I needed to also be telling her mom’s story as well as my main character’s. So, I interspersed scenes from the past throughout the current timeline. I didn’t realize I was writing a time-slip novel. I didn’t even know that term at the time. I’d never been published before and was still very much an amateur in my career.

Still, I ended up loving that novel, despite the fact that by the end, I was yelling at my characters to “quit angsting and just kiss already!”

I submitted it to a publisher who rejected it. But the lady who was their acquisitions editor at the time saw the potential in it. Several years later, she contacted me and took me under her wing to polish it up and publish it through her brand-new company.

We went through the frustration of her encouraging me to change the title—I had originally called it For the Love of Smoothies, but she pointed out that it had a bit of suspense in with the romance, too, and needed something edgier. We went through the agony of trying to find the perfect cover. And I love the final product.

It’s not what I thought I would get when I sat down to write November 1, 2011, but in 2017, An Unexpected Legacy was born. Since then, I’ve continued to learn and published a second book this last April and signed a contract to have a third come out next September. It’s been an amazing journey, but Legacy will always be my “first book baby.”

Several people have asked for a sequel. Well, I have never written a sequel, so it may not happen any time soon, but I did write a short Christmas story set a month after the book and posted it on my blog this week. Feel free to go check it out here


I’d love to know. If you found out your mom had dated your boyfriend’s dad in the past, what would you think? Would it freak you out a little? Would you wonder why they broke up?

About the Book:
When Chad Manning introduces himself to Jessica Garcia at her favorite smoothie shop, it's like he stepped out of one of her romance novels. But as she tentatively walks into a relationship with this man of her dreams, secrets from their past threaten to shatter their already fragile bond.  Chad and Jessica must struggle to figure out if their relationship has a chance or if there is nothing between them but a love of smoothies.





About Amy:
Amy R Anguish grew up a preacher's kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

About the Giveaway:
Amy is offering to give away an eBook copy of An Unexpected Legacy to one of my blog readers. Entering is easy . . . just leave your name and contact information (in case you win) in the comment section below. If you feel like answering Amy’s question above along with your comment, that would be great, but not required to be entered in the drawing. Giveaway ends one week from today on December 26 at MIDNIGHT O’clock.