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Wednesday

28

September 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Get into God’s Word

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Get into God's Word, everyday

“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” A.W. Tozer

God’s Word is perhaps the greatest earthly gift we will ever receive. It’s a compass for everyday living, an encouragement when we’re down, and an instruction manual with details on how to deal with life.

If you’re someone who’s not accustomed to practicing devotions on a daily basis, I encourage you to seek out the Bible and its wisdom each and every day. Make time each day to get into God’s Word. Even if you just start with a Psalm or a Proverb, make the effort to read something from the Bible each day. You won’t regret it!

David said in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” When we go out in the world with God’s Word as our guide, He will provide light for our steps and direct our paths. Tozer said that whatever kept him from his Bible was his enemy, because he realized the crucial importance and impact of the Bible in his life. God’s Word is not just a way to to get to know more about God; it’s a way to know God.

“Whatever keeps me from my Bible is my enemy, however harmless it may appear to be.” A.W. Tozer

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Tuesday

27

September 2016

Hope’s How-To: Build a Dry Lay Stone Bench, Part 2

Written by , Posted in Gardening, Hope's How-To

Hope's how-to: Build your own dry lay stone bench

As you’ve read previously, Wes has completed two dry lay stone bench projects in our yard. In August, he started working on a third, just off our patio, and we’re finally getting around to posting more photos of the whole process. The photo above shows the dry lay bench when the yard-facing end was complete. Wes notes that if you’re building your own dry lay stone bench, it’s important to consider that each layer of the bench should be completed at the same time for structural strength.

dry lay stone bench

This is a photo from our patio vantage point, looking at the completed dry lay bench, just before Wes poured the concrete cap. Wes was very careful to maintain the angle of the bench, taking into consideration which way we want the water to run off the bench (away from our home and patio). During the building of the bench and pouring of the concrete cap, our patio stone was covered to prevent any staining or damage.

dry lay stone bench

In preparation for pouring the concrete cap, Wes utilized some old wire from a sign in substitution for rebar and to reinforce the strength of the concrete cap. We debated whether we actually wanted to pour a cap on this bench, or just leave it as an entirely natural lay, and in the end we opted to pour a cap for a couple of reasons: 1. So the look of our patio would be symmetrical, and 2. A poured concrete cap = extra outdoor seating for entertaining in the summer months!

dry lay stone bench with form

It required a lot of patience to build the form for the concrete. Wes ensured the run off angles were accurate by using a level every step of the way. He also used string to pull in the plexiglass side of the form to create the curved side of the concrete cap. He made several adjustments along the way as setting up the form was tedious work.

dry lay stone bench

As you can see from the photo above, Wes used plexiglass for the one side of the form as we wanted to create a curved side that runs parallel with the natural shape of our patio stone. If you’re planning a project like this on your own property, we’d recommend ensuring that for your concrete cap you use the right ratio of water to cement. Add the water slowly to your mix. After the concrete cap was poured, Wes used a broom to create the brushed effect in the centre of the concrete, and used an edger to create the finished border.

Stay tuned for more pics of the finished product and our patio!

 

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Monday

26

September 2016

Encouragement: Ecclesiastes 3:11

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ecclesiastes 3:11 God's perfect timing

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

There are so many truths throughout the book of Ecclesiastes, and Ecclesiastes 3:11 is a great reminder of God’s perfect timing. So often in life, we put a plan in motion for exactly how we want and envision things to work out. We think we’ve got things figured out, like we know what’s best for our future.

It’s very easy to forget that God’s perfect timing for our lives can turn out to be completely different from what we imagine as being right. In Isaiah 55:8-9, we’re told, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Our thoughts and ways are usually very different from our Lord’s, aren’t they? I also really like how Ecclesiastes 11:5 talks about the wonders of God: “Just as you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”

How many times have you been in a situation, and anticipated how circumstances would work out, as though you were in control? How many times do you think that you’re the one who’s in control, that you can climb that mountain with your own strength, that you can change someone’s heart through your own actions? The reality is, God is in control, and it’s only through Him that we accomplish anything at all!

In Matthew Henry’s commentary, he says the following about Ecclesiastes 3:11: “Every thing is as God made it; not as it appears to us. We have the world so much in our hearts, are so taken up with thoughts and cares of worldly things, that we have neither time nor spirit to see God’s hand in them. The world has not only gained possession of the heart, but has formed thoughts against the beauty of God’s works.”

When I find myself getting impatient or experiencing disappointment, or when things don’t work out as I think they should, it’s a great reminder to look at verses such as Ecclesiastes 3:11 about God’s perfect timing. It may not make sense right now, but God’s got a reason. Our task, like Job, is to continue praising Him even when things don’t make sense, and to continue trusting Him and growing our Faith. “Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number.” [Job 5:9] Job experienced more testing circumstances and situations throughout his life, and yet he never once questioned what God was doing. He knew that God had a plan and would work every thing out in His timing.

Wherever you are today, whether waiting, wondering, or worrying, take heart. God’s perfect timing is worth the wait! God is in control, and He hath made every thing beautiful in His time.

“He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

 

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Friday

23

September 2016

Hope Reflected: Attributes of God, Part 2

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God's attributes

In my last column, I shared three of God’s attributes that have impacted my life: God is faithful, God is love, God is merciful. This week, I’d like to share three other attributes of God that are just as amazing and encouraging.

William Ames once said that, “The attributes of God tell us What He is and Who He is.” This seems like a simple truth, however sometimes we really need to be reminded of what an amazing God He truly is, to really dig in and appreciate all of His wonderful characteristics. Remembering God’s attributes is an excellent way to alleviate anxiety and create peace and rest for our hearts.

  1. God is unchanging. God is unchanging; He is immutable. Think about it. From before the beginning of the world all the way through history to today, God hasn’t changed. He is steadfast, He is sure. And we have 24/7 access to Him! Malachi 3:6 says, “For I am the LORD, I change not;”. Imagine having a confidant or someone you could rely on, no matter what, and no matter how many times you screw up. We have that in God! You can find confidence and peace in knowing that there is One Who never changes. James 1:17 tells us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” We can rely on God, all the time.
  1. God is all-knowing. That’s right: God is omniscient. Have you ever wished that you knew why you were going through something, or why something didn’t work out how you thought it should? How sometimes your best laid plans don’t pan out, and you just can’t figure it out? We serve a God who’s already got your life completely figured out. God knows everything – from the past, the present, and your future – and He’s got a great plan. David tells us in Paslm 147:5, “Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.” We are also told in Isaiah 46:9-10 to “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.”
  1. God is gracious. Read: God gives us what we don’t deserve. He loves to shower His people with goodness and gifts that are exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. Ephesians 2:8 lays it out like this: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,”. There is nothing we can do to earn our salvation; eternal security is a gift from God. It’s not something we can obtain in and of ourselves; it only comes as a gift from God. That’s what I don’t understand about people who refuse to accept God’s grace. It’s like turning down a free gift, the greatest gift! In 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul reminds us of God’s promise, “’My grace is sufficient for thee:’”

There are so many attributes of God that serve as evidence of His greatness, and also that can help us achieve true peace and contentment. Arthur W. Pink, in his book The Attributes of God, said it like this: “Here then is a sure resting-place for the heart. Our lives are neither the product of blind fate nor the result of capricious chance, but every detail of them was ordained from all eternity, and is now ordered by the living and reigning God. Not a hair of our heads can be touched without His permission.”

For wherever you are right now, there is a promise from God and one of His attributes to help you through! All you have to do is trust in Him.

Originally published as “Attributes of God, Part 2.” Minto Express. August 10, 2016: 5: Print.

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Thursday

22

September 2016

5 Fall Container Gardening Ideas for Your Patio

Written by , Posted in Gardening

The transition from Summer to Fall can be difficult to navigate for even the most advanced gardeners, and it seems like at this time every fall season we find it easier to purchase pre-made containers filled with fall blooms or even just basic potted mums.

In looking for some autumn garden inspiration, I came across some beautiful and unique fall container gardens that would suit our home — especially while we’re fortunate enough to be experiencing some warmer temperatures! Take a look at my latest gardening pins over on my Pinterest, and check out these five fall container gardening ideas for your own patio!

1. Not your traditional fall planter. Featuring all the deep shades of autumn, this fall container garden is both unexpected and absolutely lovely. Filled with Purple Pixie® Loropetalum, ‘Lemon Lime’ Nandina,, ‘Fireworks’ Pennisetum, and ‘Alabama Sunset’ Coleus, this planter is one that would get compliments at any door.

 

fall container gardening

img src southernlivingplants

 

2. Tall and slender. This unique container doesn’t take up a whole lot of horizontal room, which I love — ideally suited for smaller patio areas or apartment living. While most people view yellow blooms (pictured below is thunbergia ‘Susie Orange with Eye’) as a sure sign of spring, the warm hue works well and stands out against the rest of the darker plants like pennisetum glaucum ‘Purpple Majesty’ (ornamental millet), iresine ‘Purple Lady’, alternanthera ‘Purple Knight’.

fall container gardening

img src gardendesign.com

 

3. Warming up wicker. While most of us look to Fall as the season for putting away patio furniture, if you’ve got a wicker side table, try using it as a stand for your fall container gardening! While potato vine wouldn’t thrive in our climate, homes in the south could certainly enjoy a vibrant fall container filled with the cascading vine, croton, and large gal mums.

fall container gardening

img src southernliving

 

4. Colourful kale and cabbage. Definitely not comes to mind when I think fall container gardening, ornamental cabbage (brassica hybrid) and kale are a very interesting way to fill a planter for fall! Both hearty and eye-catching, you can usually find ornamental cabbage and kale in a variety of shapes, colours, and sizes. Add some common ivy and you’ve got a beautiful fall container.

fall container gardening

img src OMGLifestyleBlog

 

5. Grasses and mums. Ah, the traditional fall planter. When it comes to fall container gardening, you really can’t go wrong with a variety of grasses and fall mums. Try incorporating grasses in a variety of heights, colours, and texture into your fall planter, and complement with brightly-coloured mums. The beauty of using grasses in your outdoor autumn decorating is that grasses quite often last right into the winter season.

fall container gardening

img src thegardenglove

 

6. Dark and moody. If you’re not a fan of colour and prefer to keep your outdoor decorating low-key, this striking fall foliage planter may be a combination that could work for you. I love the monotone mood of purple millet, black mondo grass, and sweet potato vine.

fall container gardening

img src gardenista

If you’re looking for more fall gardening inspiration, be sure to follow along on my Pinterest!

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Wednesday

21

September 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Discouragement is a Choice

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected

discouragement is a choice

“Disappointments are inevitable. Discouragement is a choice.” Charles Stanley

It would be completely unrealistic to think that throughout our lives we’ll never experience disappointments. Yet, how often do we experience disappointment and then get disappointed, without realizing that the road of disappointment is actually a choice?

Disappointment is defined as “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations.”

Discouragement is defined as “a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness.”

It’s easy to see then how experiencing disappointment can lead to discouragement, right? Especially if we experience repeated disappointments; it can cause us to doubt our abilities, to question our circumstances, to choose discouragement.

Charles Stanley’s words, “Disappointments are inevitable. Discouragement is a choice.” are easy words to say, and hard to live. I know in my own life I often struggle with disappointment and discouragement. The key is not to stay there!

When you’re tempted to choose discouragement, remember these verses:

  • “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” Psalm 19:14
  • “The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.” Psalm 28:7
  • “Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
  • “Fear thou not; for I am with you: be not dismayed; for I am your God; I will strengthen you, yes I will help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
  • “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11
  • “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
  • “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13
  • “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-17
  • “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” Philippians 1:6
  • “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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Tuesday

20

September 2016

Oscar Peterson Roses

Written by , Posted in Gardening

Earlier this Summer, I got an amazing deal on some roses that were listed as clearance at a local store. Marked down to less than half price, I couldn’t resist purchasing a bush of Oscar Peterson roses, part of the Canadian Artists series. It wasn’t necessarily the quality and good condition of the rose bush that sold me, it was more the fact that these were Oscar Peterson roses! (If you know Wes and I, you know our obsession with all things jazz music). Naturally, the Oscar Peterson roses seemed like they’d be a perfect fit for our front garden.

oscar peterson roses

As you can see from the photo above, our rose bush was in need of some tender love and care. We planted it as is, and trimmed off the dead blooms, and we also fertilized. Not discouraged, I thought it might help new growth if we trimmed the entire rose bush back. Sure enough, the plant grew back, however after about one month there were still no blooms.

oscar peterson roses

It looked good and appeared healthy, however nearer the end of August, our Oscar Peterson rose bush still had no blooms. It could have been related to the fact that we experienced a cooler period in the weather, or the fact that we trimmed back the entire rose bush. That being said, last week, after two months of no blooms, our Oscar Peterson rose bush finally produced the most beautiful, delicate blooms!

oscar peterson rose bush

Aren’t they absolutely lovely? We are loving these roses. As a mature flower, the Oscar Peterson rose features vivid white petals and a yellow stamen. The two roses pictured above were our first two blooms of the season, followed by two additional blooms that haven’t quite opened.

oscar peterson roses

As you can see, the blooms above are the roses before they’ve fully bloomed. The Oscar Peterson rose variety begins its life as a very soft yellow rose, and as it opens becomes a bright white. We’re thinking the two yellow blooms could be due to the cooler weather we experienced last week, and are looking forward to later this week when the roses totally open up.

The unfortunate thing about our Oscar Peterson roses is that since we’ve trimmed the bush back, the plant regrew and appeared healthy, however once the roses started blooming, we noted the leaves have taken on a spotted appearance, where the skin of the leaves actually takes on a transparent appearance. [#Gardenchat friends, any advice here would be appreciated.]

oscar peterson roses

Wes and I are looking forward to adding additional roses from the Canadian Artists Roses Consortium to our garden next year. If you’re not familiar with Canadian Artist roses, more than 1,000 original hybrids were made in the development of this series. 35 of these made the final selection list, and in 2007, two varieties (the Felix LeClerc rose and the Emily Carr rose) were introduced; in 2012, the Bill Reid rose was introduced; in 2014, the Campfire rose (named in honour of Group of Seven artist Tom Thomson) was introduced; and this year, in 2016, the Oscar Peterson rose was introduced.

If you’re looking for a unique flower for your garden, we would definitely recommend checking out the Canadian Artist rose series. Each bloom is beautiful, a different colour, and tells a story you can share in your garden for years to come. For more information, visit the Canadian Artists Roses website.

“In the plant world, none is more revered than the elegant rose, a symbol of true love for millennia, a flower of singular beauty with no equals.”

 

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Monday

19

September 2016

Encouragement: Attributes of God – Deuteronomy 32:4

Written by , Posted in Hope Reflected

encouraging verse God's attributes

“He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4

God has so many incredible attributes; when I feel discouraged, it often helps to a. give thanks, and b. consider the many attributes of God that we so often take for granted.

If you’re looking for encouragement today, consider this: God, the Creator of the entire Universe, created you, and He loves you! If you will seek Him, He will hear you and He longs to have a relationship with you.

Think about it: The Creator of the entire Universe wants to know you! If you’re looking for reasons to get to know Him, consider these 5 amazing attributes of God:

  1. God is the Rock. Not just a rock. THE Rock. You can lean on Him whenever, wherever, and about whatever. We serve an awesome God who wants to have a relationship with us. We can confide anything to Him; He loves us!
  2. His work is perfect. Perfect. Not good. Not great. Perfect. In Hebrews 12:2, we are told that God is the author and finisher of our faith. His way is perfect, and His work is perfect. Choose the path that He has for you!
  3. All His ways are justice. ALL. Not some. Not most. ALL. God is just, and God is truth. So many times in life we think circumstances or things aren’t fair, or we hear things said about us or people make assumptions about us that aren’t true. We serve a God who’s ways, ALL His ways, are justice. And He is truth. In Revelation 1:8 we learn that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the One Who is, Who always was, and Who is still to come.
  4. God is Righteous. By definition, He is morally right or justifiable; He is virtuous. God doesn’t change; He’s always been righteous, and always will be.
  5. God is Upright. Strictly honourable or honest. Imagine knowing someone Who doesn’t — who can’t — lie; that’s God! If you’re looking for someone Who will always be honest with you, Who will never tell lies, Who places value on you, then look no further than our Heavenly Father. Psalm 23:1 tells us that God is our Shepherd; Psalm 121:3 reminds us that God will not allow our feet to slip; that He who keeps us will not slumber.

“He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.” Deuteronomy 32:4

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Monday

12

September 2016

Encouragement: Psalm 138:3

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encouragement encouraging psalms

Psalm 138 is one of the most encouraging psalms. Written by David, a man after God’s own heart, Psalm 138 is filled with some amazing truths.

“In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.” Psalm 138:3

One of David’s psalms, Psalm 138 is so encouraging and inspiring. It speaks of whole-hearted praise for God, worship of His Holiness, God’s lovingkindness and truth, the power of God’s Word, God’s ways, and so much more.

Perhaps my favourite verse from this Psalm of praise is verse 3, when David says: “In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.”

This verse tells me at least four facts:

  1. God is always there for me, I just need to seek Him. “When I cried out…”
  2. God’s answers prayers. “You answered me…”. It may not always how we think He will answer, or how we think He should answer, but God hears our prayers, and He answers our prayers. Thank you, Lord!
  3. God makes me bold. “You…made me bold.” We all know Proverbs 28:1, which tells us that “the righteous are bold as a lion”. True boldness comes from Christ. D.L. Moody once said, “When we find a man meditating on the words of God, that man is full of boldness and is successful.”
  4. God provides strength for my soul. “…with strength in my soul.” God is more than capable of bringing me through anything. I’m reminded me of one of the other encouraging psalms, with the incredible promise of Psalm 27:14: “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” God will provide the strength you need for whatever you’re facing this week. Note it doesn’t say that He’ll remove the problem in front of you, but He will, HE WILL! provide the strength you need to come through it. Praise the Lord!

We serve an amazing God, and He longs to have a relationship with us, and to provide for us. If you’re looking for examples God’s goodness, check out any number of the encouraging psalms. Written by various authours who faced various challenges—and received various blessings—throughout their lives, the psalms are some of the most inspiring and incredible chapters of the Bible. All we need to do is cry out to Him! Wherever you are today, God is there for you, He will answer your prayers, He will make you bold, and He will provide you with strength for your soul! God is good!

 

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Thursday

8

September 2016

5 Fall Flowers for Your Garden

Written by , Posted in Gardening

There’s certainly (hopefully) still some warm weather to enjoy before we’re full-blown into Fall, especially if our ferns, hydragneas, and rose bushes are any indication. That being said, Wes and I have been putting some thought into Fall flowers and considering what we’d like to incorporate into our yard in the future.

I’ve been pinning some great Fall flower gardening options over on my Pinterest, and I’ve got to say, the options for flowers in a Fall garden are endless! There are so many varieties of blooms out there. We’re already planning ahead what perennials we want to get growing for next year. In the meantime, here are 5 Fall flowers for your garden:

 

1. Aster. Ah, the aster flower. In hues like purple, white, pink, and even blue, asters provides excellent colour to stand out in your Fall garden, long after other blooms have died off for the year. While they look similar to mums, don’t be deceived. Asters don’t come in as many varieties or colours as mums.

5 fall flowers for your garden asters

img src prariemoon.com

 

2. Colchicums. Beautiful, bold, and bright, colchicums (like the Waterlily variety pictured below) provide a lovely spread of blooms throughout the Fall. Available in white and pink hues, colchicums are a great perennial to plant and enjoy year after year.

5 fall flowers for your garden colchicum flowers

img src Brecks Bulbs

 

3. Sedum. These flowers are a sure sign to me that autumn is in the air. I can remember sedum flowers growing in my Mum’s garden when I was a child. This perennial features clusters and clusters of flowers, most commonly in a reddish pink colour. Sedums are a beautiful Fall flower!

5 fall flowers for your garden sedum flowers

img src Fine Gardening Magazine

 

4. Helenium. How cheerful are these daisy-like flowers?! Heleniums look like a happy flower. Featuring velvety petals and available in a variety of autumnal shades, heleniums boom very late Summer and they love sun.

5 fall flowers for your garden helenium

img src Jacky Parker Floral Art Flickr

 

5. Mums. Chrysanthemums are probably the quintessential Fall flower. Available almost everywhere, fall mums are a classic flower to add some colour to your yard throughout the autumn months. Mums are beautiful, bright, and hardy.

5 fall flowers for your garden mums

img src thriftydecorchick.blogspot.sg

If you’re looking for more inspiration for your Fall garden, head on over to my Pinterest page and follow along!

 

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