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When People Pleasing was my Spiritual Gift

by Kasey Van Norman

For most of my life I have struggled with pleasing. So much so that I would have reckoned “people-pleasing” was a for real spiritual gift from the Bible. And if a real thing, then I had been “gifted” with an overdose of the “pleasing” ability and talent.

It started as early as I can think back. In fact there are very few moments I can remember prior to the age of 30 that I lived free of what others thought of or were thinking of me. From the way I acted at the grocery store to the car I drove, how I dressed, what technology I used, where I spent my free time, the house I owned, and even down to the lunch I ate–all of it was controlled by what another person thought of me. I was so enslaved to receiving the approval of others that I would actually spin the events of my life (stretch the truth, so to speak), because the real story seemed to lack enough interest and flavor to intrigue anyone long enough to listen.

At the age of 18 I went to church camp. While there, a well-meaning counselor diagnosed me as being a people-pleaser. She was right. But in the same diagnosis she offered me a dose of very bad medicine.

First, the counselor spoke this verse over me:

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ (Galatians 1:10).

Then, she told me that I needed to stop focusing on how to get the approval of man and start focusing on how to get the approval of God. She sent me on my way with a new Bible-reading plan, a challenge to pray and journal every morning for 1 hour, and a list of service-oriented activities that I should be involved in through my local church.

I was thrilled. This was a language that I understood and spoke well.

I could follow the rules and a “to-do” list like a boss. And so, I did exactly what she said to do. I pumped up my obedience level even more-so and upon returning home, I went hard after the approval of God.

In the years that followed something happened that I did not expect.

Instead of feeling more free, I gradually felt more enslaved. Five years into pleasing God, I fell in love with and married a man because his reputation seemed good for my image. Six years into pleasing God, I went back to my old, comfy idols of self-harm, depression, and the abuse of prescription medications. Seven years into pleasing God I committed adultery. Eight to ten years into pleasing God I lied to my closest friends and family about who I really was. And twelve years into pleasing God I attempted to take my life via overdose.

At the bottom of all my seeking and all of your seeking is one, singular fear. It is the fear that drives us so often into the most dumb and dysfunctional places of our life. If you don’t realize that you personally struggle each day with this fear than you have suppressed this fear so deeply that your heart has become numb to it, and you are simply living a mediocre, auto-pilot existence as a slave. The most liberated people are those people who are deeply familiar with this fear and their great desire to pick it up and play with it each and every day.

The fear of being unknown is at the bottom of all our doubt, depression, disorder, and desperation. This fear alone cripples our culture.

It starts with the fear of not being known by other people. We spend so much time here because the approval of another human being is theoretically possible. It is possible for people to approve of us. And so, once we taste it, we become addicts. The approval of man becomes our cocaine.

But despite the “high” we may feel in the moment of acceptance, here are the facts:

•Human approval is shallow. No human can know the deep places of our heart. If they did, would they still want to know us?
•Human approval is shifty. Some people will like us and some people will not.
•Human approval is skewed. Your friends will overlook many of your failures that need to be addressed. And your enemies will overlook many of the good things we do that leaves us to address them by working harder for their acknowledgement.

But there is a slavery deeper than seeking the approval of man. And that is seeking the approval of God.

While living to gain the approval of man is possible, gaining the approval of God is impossible.

“For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.

Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.” (Romans 7)

When we are drowning the answer is not to kick harder, but to grab onto the only life-vest available–Jesus. And the best response is here in Romans 7: “WRETCHED MAN THAT I AM!”

I shout–YES! I AM FREE!!! There is no amount of working or earning or seeking left to do. There is no amount of being good or moral, not enough time reading the Bible or praying, no amount of journal-writing or acts of service or ministry or legacy-leaving left for us who are in Christ Jesus!

And THIS sets us free to live and love without receiving anything in return.

Our helplessness before God is the space for true faith and freedom to be ignited in our life and for our pleasing of man and God to die.

What foolish slaves we are when we attempt to be something…anything, in the place of grace. We offer nothing to a holy, self-sustaining, sovereign Creator. And it is the being satisfied in this place that busts open our chains and liberates us to live.

Know your stuff > We fear not being known every day.

Believe the truth > The approval of man isn’t worth it. The approval of God is impossible to earn.

Live in Freedom > Through Jesus Christ you have been approved. God is pleased in you because of Jesus. It is finished.

Let Grace Change Your Heart > I don’t have to do anything. I get to serve God and love others.

It is finished, my love.

Kasey is a cancer survivor, a licensed professional counselor who has earned degrees in psychology, public speaking, counseling, and biblical studies. In 2014, Kasey was named ‘most inspiring woman of the year’ by Houston, TX and Buffalo, NY radio affiliates. She and her husband of 13 years, Justin, live in Bryan, Texas with their two children. She is the President of True Mission – a not for profit residential safe-home for minor girls rescued out of human trafficking within the US. She is also co-founder of Raven’s Way, Inc. – a not for profit online community of women who are learning to know and speak their life-story together (launching August 2015).

Kasey’s 2014 book and Bible study, Raw Faith—What Happens When God Picks a Fight, has been hailed as one of the most daring and vulnerable ‘cancer narratives,’ to hit Christian literature. You can find out more about her on her website: KaseyVanNorman.org or follow her on Twitter @KaseyVanNorman.

By |May 1st, 2015|Raw Faith|0 Comments

How Much Is Enough? Sustaining Contentment

by Josh Lawson


Over the past couple of blog posts we have gone on a journey to discover the lost secret of contentment. In our day and age it truly is a virtue that is rarely sought and even more rarely found. But I believe that contentment is the key to finding true purpose and peace in our financial lives. No amount of possessions or power can ever give you the clarity of heart and mind that contentment can.

Isaiah says it this way in chapter 26 verse 3, “You (God) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”

Perfect. Peace. Just imagine what that must feel like!

And that “perfect peace” is only found as we fix our minds on Christ alone and trust Him to be our satisfaction in life. In Him alone can we find our contentment.

Prone To Wander
But we all wander. The old hymn says it perfectly, “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” We all have this tendency to wander from that perfect peace and contentment that we find in Christ alone. We tend to chase shiny things and believe the lie that the “fruit of the tree” will eventually satisfy us.

How Do We Sustain Contentment?
So, how can we not just learn the secret of contentment, but how can we SUSTAIN our contentment for the long haul?
We must learn to guard our hearts. Solomon says to his son in chapter 4 of Proverbs, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Solomon has many things to his son, but he says that most important thing he can do is to guard his heart. Other translations say to “watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” In order to sustain a contented heart, we must diligently preserve the purity of our heart.

What this means practically is that we must acknowledge and fight the day to day temptations that will cause us to grow in discontentment.

Let me explain with an example. Several years ago my wife, Jenny, and I were perfectly happy with our house. It was a quaint little place, but it was perfect for our little family. However, within a matter of months, several of our friends began buying or building new homes. We celebrated with them and were happy for their new homes, but it awakened something inside of us. Now we weren’t happy with our house. Now we suddenly NEEDED a new house! We started looking at real estate websites and “window shopping online” for our dream house. We were desperate for our own place to call our own!

But what changed?

Absolutely nothing except suddenly it awakened a need inside of us because we saw what others had. The Bible calls this envy. A quick definition of envy is “a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.” The Bible also calls this one of the seven deadly sins! We can sugar coat it as drive and a “blessing of God,” but at its core it is sin and it is after our hearts.

Guard Your Heart
Day in and day out, we are constantly barraged with opportunities to allow envy to fester in our hearts. We look at other people’s dream homes, dream lives, dream spouses, dream kids on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We salivate over their snapshots of a perfect life and grow disgruntled with our messy, less-than-perfect, behind-the-scenes life full of dirty dishes and piles of laundry.

Guard Your Heart.

Our inboxes are full of emails promising satisfaction in a vacation or new shoes or perfect piece of furniture. Stores scream to come and spend your money on this or that to give yourself a moment of peace and fulfillment.
Guard Your Heart.

Our televisions are full of commercials that scream for our attention and affection. They promise a perfect body, beach-front house, and a beautiful girlfriend all from drinking a specific beer!

Guard Your Heart.

The Fight of Your Life
Contentment is one of the hardest things that you will ever have to learn in your life. And it is even harder to fight for once you have found it. But the key is to fight. Don’t pitty-patter around with envy. Its path promises to satisfy you, but only leads to death.

James says it this way, “But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions).Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death. Do not be misled, my beloved brethren.”

It is most definitely a fight for your life. But the promise of God is that He will not just give us enough to survive, but He will satisfy the deepest places of our hearts. And when we are satisfied in Him alone, that is the greatest place of peace and purpose our lives will ever have.

About the Author
Josh Lawson serves as the director of Community Restoration (formerly Financial Restoration Ministry) at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. He is passionate about seeing families set free from the burden of debt and financial stress, so that they are free to walk in the freedom that Christ has for them.

While serving at Antioch Community Church, Josh and his wife Jenny have developed the REALIGN curriculum. During that time the total amount of debt that has been paid off by both class attendees and those receiving financial coaching has been well over $3 Million dollars.

By |April 14th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

What Can Satisfy Us? The Secrets to Contentment

by Josh Lawson

We had been dreaming of doing this renovation for years. It took us months and months to save up the money, and we had finally reached the point where we could pay for it in cash. The contractors came in and did an amazing job and the finished product was immaculate. During this process, my wife and I promised one another that if we could do just this one renovation we would never ask for another thing. This would be the project to end all projects.

But just one week after the project was finished, we sat in our living room and started to board the “Complain Train.” Have you ever been on it too? It goes a little something like this, “This is wrong… yeah and this…. Oh and this… Yeah and this!”

“All aboard the Complain Train! Final destination, misery and despair!”

We had this incredible product that we had always dreamed of, but we were still not satisfied. We still wanted a little bit more.

But haven’t we all been there? We thought those shoes would be the shoes to end all shoes, but 30 minutes after we bought them we were just as miserable as before. Or we thought that as soon as we said “I Do” at the altar, all of our hopes and dreams of feeling loved and accepted would be satisfied. Then the honeymoon happened. Or we think that if we can get a raise then we will finally be able to stop being stressed out by money. But it never happens.

We are never fully satisfied by the things that we think should satisfy us.

What Can Satisfy Us?
Deep in the heart of each of us we are all hungry. We have been constructed with a very legitimate need to be satisfied. But in the brokenness of our world, we believe we can fill that need with stuff. However, God in His kindness (and “smartness”) has created each of us to never fully be satisfied by the things of this world, but instead by Him alone.

The first secret of learning contentment is to realize that our satisfaction is never found in our provision, a place, or a person, but in Jesus alone.

When we are satisfied in Him alone, then everything else has its right place and can be enjoyed.
Let me explain. If I believe that God has given me my wife to be my place to find happiness, I will be constantly demanding her to make me happy. And when we aren’t happy in our marriage, then it must not be God and it must be her fault, so I will toss her out and move on to the next thing to make me happy. However, if I believe that God alone is my place of satisfaction, then I can love and adore my wife without any expectation that she meet a need that only God can. And when good times come, I am content. When bad times come, I am content. Because my contentment is not dependent upon my circumstances or how my wife acts, but on the consistency of the person of Jesus.

The Second Secret to Learning Contentment

The second secret of learning contentment is to be thankful for the provision that God has given you.

Only days before we boarded the “Complain Train,” we were in awe of how beautiful our house was. But as we noticed every little thing that was wrong, it caused us to grow more and more discontent.

The next morning I was reading in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 where it says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” In that moment, I felt God speak to my heart and say, “Joshua, I want you to be thankful.”

I responded with a bland and robotic, “Yes sir. Thank you.”

Then He spoke again, “No, I want you to actively thank me.”

So I got up from my chair and told Jenny that I thought God wanted us to thank Him for the things in our house that He had given us. She obliged and we began to go room to room and thank God for all the little things we had been given. We sarcastically started with the toaster, “God, thank you for this shiny toaster that we have been given. It creates great toast.”

But as we continued throughout the house, our snarky smiles began to subside and tears welled up in our eyes. By the end of that time, we were weeping on the ground thanking God for His goodness and provision in our lives, and begging for forgiveness for being spoiled brats constantly demanding more but forgetting our past blessings.
We recognized in that moment that we have a good Father God who has always provided for us, but our lack of thankfulness was leading us to forget His goodness and His provision and leading us into deep discontentment.

Thanklessness + Forgetfulness = Discontentment
Thankfulness + Deeper Awareness = Deeper Contentment

Foundations of Contentment

The first two keys to learning the secret of contentment are to:
1) Know that God is our only place of satisfaction
2) Choose to be thankful for the things that God has provided.

As we learn these two keys, it will allow us to enjoy the provision of God with greater freedom and peace.

The Final Key

The third key is the most significant of all in sustaining a contented heart and we will discuss this in our next post!
See you then!

About the Author
Josh Lawson serves as the director of Community Restoration (formerly Financial Restoration Ministry) at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. He is passionate about seeing families set free from the burden of debt and financial stress, so that they are free to walk in the freedom that Christ has for them.

While serving at Antioch Community Church, Josh and his wife Jenny have developed the REALIGN curriculum. During that time the total amount of debt that has been paid off by both class attendees and those receiving financial coaching has been well over $3 Million dollars.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @joshvlawson


By |April 7th, 2015|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How Much Is Enough?

by Josh Lawson

In the early 1900’s there lived a man by the name of John D. Rockefeller. He was the first baron of the oil industry, and he is believed to be the wealthiest person in the history of the world. At one point during his lifetime, his net worth totaled more than $350 billion (in adjusted dollars). Just to put that into context, Bill Gates is the wealthiest person in the world currently and his net worth is a measly $75 billion. You could combine the net worth of Bill Gates and the next five wealthiest people in the world and John D. would still be wealthier than all of them! This guy had wealth beyond our wildest dreams.

But during his life someone asked him a question that we have probably all wondered ourselves, “How much is enough?” His response might shock you. Even though he was the wealthiest man in modern history and had all the money anyone could hope for, he replied, “Just a little bit more.”

John D. Rockefeller was not the first person to feel this desire for “a little bit more” and he is surely not the last. This “little bit more” is called discontentment and it creeps into each of our hearts whether we have a billion dollars or a one dollar bill.

Discontentment is a lethal concoction of Greed plus Envy. Erich Fromm says that “greed is a bottomless pit which exhausts the person in an endless effort to satisfy the need without ever reaching satisfaction.” At our core, we are all on a search for satisfaction. But, we have been sold a bill of goods that says if we keep following the bread crumb path of consumption, we will eventually find satisfaction.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

Satisfaction can be had, but let me tell you a secret: it will never be found in things, people, events, or stages of life. It won’t be found in that perfect job, perfect spouse or perfect kid (but please tell me if you ever find any of these!).

Satisfaction (also known as contentment) will be the hardest thing you have ever learned – that’s why Paul called it a secret. But it is also closer than you might imagine.

Do you want to learn how to be truly satisfied?
Do you want to get off of the rat wheel of trying to find your satisfaction in stuff?

Then please join us over these next few blog entries as we seek to find the secret of contentment and try to answer the question, “how much is enough?”


About the Author

Josh Lawson serves as the director of Community Restoration (formerly Financial Restoration Ministry) at Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas. He is passionate about seeing families set free from the burden of debt and financial stress, so that they are free to walk in the freedom that Christ has for them.

While serving at Antioch Community Church, Josh and his wife Jenny have developed the REALIGN curriculum. During that time the total amount of debt that has been paid off by both class attendees and those receiving financial coaching has been well over $3 Million dollars.

Follow Josh on Twitter: @joshvlawson


By |March 31st, 2015|Josh Lawson|0 Comments

Margaret Feinberg – Fight Back with Joy – New Tour!


Information sheets - Fight Back 2015 (4)

Contact us for more information! info@gotothehub.com

By |November 12th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Philip Yancey at Maranatha Chapel – San Diego, CA


Thank you, Team!

From Left: Anthony Evans, Tom Dean, Philip and Janet Yancey

Special shout out to Anthony Evans, Tom Dean, and Philip and Janet Yancey!

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Thank you!

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It has been a pleasure working with you! Thank you for approaching this event with kind hearts and sweet spirits, sharing your church and family, and providing such a wonderful environment for Philip, Anthony, and our partners. We couldn’t have done it without you!

With the generosity of Maranatha and the people of San

Diego, 163 children now have life-saving sponsors!

Thank you to all who supported Philip and Anthony by spending the evening

with them and listening to their hearts!

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For a culture that has become rejecting of Christianity, it is ever more important for Christians to show the love and grace of God through actions as well as through words. The church must approach and interact with others, knowing we live in a world that rejects the idea of sin and eternal consequences. Philip Yancey kicked off this spectacular tour, speaking on the idea of grace in a post-Christian society, and launched his book Vanishing Grace at Maranatha Chapel in San Diego, CA. With truth displayed and matched with spirit-engaging worship by Anthony Evans, this event was quite a hit! We look forward to the next six stops on this tour and hope that even if you can’t make it, you’ll pick up a copy of Vanishing Grace!
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By |October 27th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

A Writer’s Life with Philip Yancey

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Philip Yancey has spoken on grace before. In a book that touched lives throughout the world, Philip began a journey of discovering why Christians seem to have a hard time showing grace to those around them. What’s So Amazing About Grace? very quickly became a challenging call to Christians everywhere to revamp their understanding of grace and delve deep into their own lives; to show God’s grace to everyone they encounter.
Philip returns now with the sequel to his award-winning book: Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News? Seeing the changes happening rapidly throughout the country, Philip once again raises the question of grace. Where is it, and why do we have to search it out? He takes it a step further, tackling the topic of how to live out grace in a world that is hostile to Christianity. Seeing and anticipating the major changes our society is undergoing, Philip jumps ahead and says, “hey, this is what we can do about it.”

Here is a blog he wrote for one of our tour friends, FaithLife (formerly Logos):

A writer’s life is a strange combination of isolation and busyness.

The act of writing itself requires quiet, reflective time. I can’t write if someone walks into the room. I block out distractions by listening to music through my headphones, and by shutting off my cell phone and email program.

Eventually, though I have to pay for the isolation. Right now I’m sitting on an airplane frantically trying to catch up on the accumulated emails and scheduling details that I put off while writing. A new book is being released—Vanishing Grace: What Ever Happened to the Good News?—which I’ll be presenting to a group of pastors in Boston. While flying east for that event, I’m reviewing notes and fine-tuning a PowerPoint file. Soon I’ll take that presentation on a seven-city book tour.

When I’m writing, I focus on one thing only. When I’m catching up, I flit from place to place like a hummingbird. Flying across Ohio, suddenly I remember a strange and confusing passage I read in the Bible this morning. It appears in the latter part of Ezekiel, a series of very detailed instructions on the building of the temple and the resumption of animal sacrifices. Many of the rules described echo those in Leviticus, but some have changed. Why is so much space devoted to these details? I ask myself. And what does this passage have to do with us today? I wonder how modern Jews, who have nothing resembling the temple described, interpret these chapters with their architectural specificity. Are the blueprints symbolic or literal?

When a line of questioning starts bugging me, I have great difficulty getting back to other tasks. Magically, because I have Logos Bible Software, I can look up the answers right now, sitting in a chair in the sky zooming across the American heartland. I have access to hundreds of Bible resources on my laptop computer, and in a few minutes I can survey a variety of opinions from scholars who have addressed my very questions.

Last weekend I spent hours moving hundreds of books and reference works out of danger from a basement flood. Thinking back, I have to smile at the contrast between those books, which take up so much space in my office, and a software program I can carry in my coat pocket. In some ways I’m old-fashioned. I still listen to classical music, I stubbornly cling to my flip-style “dumb phone,” and I don’t use Twitter. I must tell you, though, that I am forever grateful to live in an age that makes it possible for me to carry the wisdom of the ages with me, wherever I go.

–Philip Yancey

Don’t miss out on hearing this message in person! Join Philip as he travels with Anthony Evans, participant of The Voice, on his 7-city tour this fall — details available here!


By |October 13th, 2014|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why Do We Call it Christmas? – Colorado Springs, CO – Recap!

CO Vischer recap pic

Special thanks to Woodmen Valley Chapel in Colorado Springs, Colorado for hosting a evening of fun, Christmas truth for your community! The event was hopping with kids and parents, excited and eager to meet Phil Vischer and his new set of characters including Buck Denver, and to find out the real meaning and origin of our Christmas traditions.

During the video these families learned where the name of Christmas came from, where Santa Claus originated, and why we celebrate the birthday of our Lord and Savior on December 25th! Join us in The Woodlands, TX on 12/8, and Roseville, CA  (Free event!) on 12/15 to see for yourself!

Thanks to Phil Vischer and team for bringing such an informative and creative program to the kids! It is a blessing to work with such a great team!

By |December 9th, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Gospel Tour – James River Assembly, Springfield, MO — Recap!









Special thanks to everyone who made this Tour possible! Thank you James River Assembly for an amazing night of truth-teaching, life-changing, good ol’ fashion (but never outdated!) Gospel. Thank you Pastor Matt and Pastor Tullian for all the hard work, love, and dedication that goes into messages like these! Thanks to Ben Cantelon for the wonderful worship! And of course thanks to Logos Bible Software and David C. Cook!



Special shout out to all who participated in the simulcast! We know it’s not easy to fly around the country and truly appreciate you joining in for such a night as this!

We look forward to bringing you many more events like The Gospel Tour. wherever you may be, stay tuned for dynamic, trustworthy speakers, brought straight to your home, office, small group, or church community via simulcasts. Don’t forget to check out our huge online library for your favorite speakers, teachers, and authors, available anytime, anywhere you need them!

By |November 20th, 2013|Uncategorized|4 Comments

The Gospel Tour @ Oceanside, CA – Recap!

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We have 6 ladies from our Friday morning Bible study. We have been studying Tullian’s book “Jesus + Nothing = Everything.

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Our small group has done one if Matt’s studies. We are thrilled that he came to Southern California.

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We loved both speakers. We are from a church in crisis and the Gospel message tonight helped us re-boot and shift our perspective. We heard that the Gospel is not only for evangelism but also to sustain the body of believers.

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Many thanks to Matt Chandler, Tullian Tchividjian, New Venture Christian Fellowship, and all of the behind-the-scenes people who helped bring the life-changing message of The Gospel Tour to Oceanside, California.

By |October 21st, 2013|Uncategorized|0 Comments