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Monday, December 31, 2018

CLOSING HOURS


Here we are in the closing shadows of another year-2018.  When I stop to consider how long I have been on this terrestrial ball, it can be quite daunting.  In my memories, it seems like not so long ago when I graduated from High School-1966.  The one thing which makes me stop and consider just how long ago that was is when I tell a young friend that date and they stare at me wide eyed as if I traveled to graduation via horse and buggy.  YES--there were automobiles, running water, electricity, and WOW even televisions of a sort.  And yes--it was fifty two years ago.



As the lights slowly dim on 2018, you all know I am pondering what the year held.  As the ball slowly drops and another year begins, I will put this turn of the calendar page to bed as a great year.  What has made the year great?  I have chosen to dwell on the good-the laughter-the smiles-the adventures-the long walks-the long talks---all those things which were joyful. 



And as for those things which were trying, painful, stressful, heart breaking, I am thankful that God constantly reminds me of His presence by my side--IN IT ALL!  The truth of the matter is in the worst of times--His presence seems to be the closest.  I know He is always omnipresent--but when I am at my weakest--I realize I cannot do this without Him.  It takes the hard--to remind me of His constant presence--even when I think "I've Got This."



With age has come a softening and heightened awareness of Who God is.  I am more able to let go of the hurt and pain life can hold.  With the realization of all He has chosen to forgive me , I am able to put behind me life's pain and tribulations.  What once seemed unforgivable, now seems like a blip on the screen of time.  What once seemed to be life altering, has proven to be the agent for a heightened awareness of who He is.



I have begun to look at the whole and not the minutia of the moment. I am not focusing on the hill I am currently on, but instead the entire mountain range and valleys between of a lifetime.   My life has certainly had ups and downs, but the ups have been far greater than the downs.  And because of the downs, I can really appreciate the joy of the ups.  No, this year might not have looked exactly as I had hoped, and things are certainly different than I planned, but I am still here, I am still being used, I am still growing, and I am abundantly blessed by His Life-Changing Love.  



As for 2019--that is tomorrow and I will address tomorrow when the final bell tolls on 2018.  There are times when the past should be addressed before moving on to the future.  How can we learn from the past, if we do not remember and ruminate upon it.  As for today--I am thankful for you all~thankful for your comments--your ability to cause me to think and stretch.  I am thankful God is giving me another year to seek Him and see His handiwork all around.  It has been a great year--and the best part of that year is each and everyone who has chosen to be a part of my life.  Thank you all.

God Bless You Richly in the Year to Come!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!


13 Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing,
 that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Sunday, December 30, 2018

IN THE BLEAK MID WINTER

STOP

AND CONSIDER

WHAT CAN YOU GIVE HIM?



BLESSED AND HAPPY NEW YEAR,

DEAR FRIENDS

Saturday, December 29, 2018

MEANWHILE --LAST SATURDAY OF 2018

THE REALLY BIG NEWS IN DECEMBER

MY TRIP TO NEW YORK CITY 



GRAND CENTRAL STATION


ICE CREAM MADE FROM
CEREAL MILK -
(GOOD WAY TO MESS UP PERFECTLY GOOD ICE CREAM!)


THE ROCKETTES
IN 3 D


ALL A SURPRISE
70TH BIRTHDAY GIFT
FROM THIS SWEET DAUGHTER!



HERO IS EXHAUSTED
FROM ALL THE ACTIVITY!


YES, HE IS IN MY BED!  LOL!

ENJOY THIS FINAL WEEKEND OF 2018!

Friday, December 28, 2018

WARNING LIGHTS

I have just returned from my annual Christmas Tour de Texas.  One of the changes I decided to make in my recent trips has been traveling to Austin via the backroads.  One of the most dangerous and treacherous interstates I have ever had the joy of driving on is Interstate 35 from Waco to Austin.  In order to lessen the stress of life and actually enjoy the scenery without white knuckles, I am taking an old US highway from just across the TX border all the way to the backdoor of #3 son's home.  It is a great drive!




This trip proved to be a little more dicey than I normally bargain for as one of the warning lights on my dash lit up bright orange.  Thankfully I was driving through the by-pass of one of the larger towns you skirt on this journey when the light flashed.  Traveling on a Saturday--Siri was able to locate me help only a few miles away.  There I sat for two hours while they looked at the problem.  FINALLY, I was called and assured the problem was taken care of.  (THIS IS WHEN I REALLY NEED A PARTNER IN THE CAR WITH ME TO REASSURE ME I AM DOING THE RIGHT THING )  Starting the car, the light is off and I head down the road--the light comes back on within a half mile.  I go BACK!!  NOT HAPPY!  This time they tell me they think the sensor is bad and I should be perfectly fine to head on out.  I am NOT filled with confidence since I am only half way and much of the journey is through ranch country with no big towns.  


Heading out, somehow I make it to my destination--about three hours behind schedule.  Now the car is parked while in Austin, but I have another three hour journey on the Texas tour to make it to Fort Worth on Christmas Eve.  The light is brightly shining on the dash all the way (sung to "Jingle Bells" tune).  Before leaving Fort Worth and heading home, I am at the dealership where I bought the car a couple of years ago and having it looked over.  Turns out the light was a minor problem--BUT in checking -the battery is bad and they replace it before I head back to LA.  

NOW--if I had ignored that light---headed back to LA---when I made the necessary stop on my way home (early morning DP leads to a need for a stop-Always!) I could have been stuck in the middle of nowhere waiting for help when the car would not start.  Instead of ignoring it though, I was going to stay another day, if required, to insure a safe journey.  It is always wise to heed the warning lights!


Life is filled with warning lights.  Warning lights on the highways and by ways, but also warning lights along many other paths.  We all have experienced the warning lights for narrowing lanes while on the interstates.  SO MANY ignore those lane closure lights and keep barreling ahead to get there first.  Some are like me and rule followers---when told the lane is closing we get in the lane that is going to be open.  There are warning lights in public buildings--DO NOT ENTER--RESTRICTED AREA--NOT A PUBLIC ENTRANCE.  

There are more subtle warning lights in life than the flashing lights we are used to looking for.  The feeling of impending explosion is a clear indicator you have eaten too much.  The achy feverish feeling of impending illness clearly says "Don't pass Go--don't collect $200--go straight to bed.  Even that uneasy feeling you get when in a clearly unsafe area or being approached by a questionable person. 


I have learned to listen to my instincts.  Better safe than sorry and when the lights are flashing and bells are ringing in my head--I back off and beware.

There is also the small voice in our head that is a warning when we are contemplating sinful actions.  That angel on our shoulder who is throwing up stop signs when we are headed down the wrong path.  God has provided us with a conscious for a reason.  He wants to protect us--keep us safe--from the consequences we must pay when we choose to sin.  It is always our choice whether we heed the warning or plunge forward down the wrong way.  But God-loves us so much--He always gives us a warning.  All we have to do is be aware and heed His warning~the journey will be so much better IF ONLY!

But if you warn the righteous person not to sin,
 and he does not sin, he shall surely live, 
because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”
Ezekiel 3:21

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

AFTER CHRISTMAS

TRAVELING HOME TODAY

SO I LEAVE

YOU WITH THIS WARNING

OF MAINTAINING YOUR COOL

AFTER THE BIG CELEBRATION


Monday, December 24, 2018

THE MORPHING OF CHRISTMAS



How many of us truthfully experience a Hallmark Christmas?  I have watched the movies and read the books about those magical Christmases when all is bright--all is calm.  My Christmases are truly magical, but not in a fairy tale way, but instead in a realistic -more of a I am human way.  That lovely Christmas dinner we all sit down to enjoy in our Christmas best does not magically appear.  In fact most of what we are convinced it takes to make Christmas perfect requires a great deal of work.


My early childhood did hold many a magical Christmas.  My father loved Christmas with a childlike glee.  Lights, decorations, stars, managers, and LOTS of gifts.  Those years were filled with childlike amazement of all the fun and fantasy only a child can enjoy.  And yet, I found myself wanting the rocket my brothers got for Christmas, not the Betsy Wetsy Doll.  Would you rather launch a rocket or change a diaper on a forever wetting doll?  Even as a child that hint of dis-satisfaction had crept in.


Fast forward to adulthood with children.  I took up where my dad left off in the quest to make the perfect Christmas.  Every year saw a frenzy of activity--lots of gifts, decorations that grew exponentially with the years--baking and candy making--visiting all the relatives--church plays-school plays--an exhausting frenzy of things to do.  Usually by Christmas day, the kids were cranky, I was exhausted, and there was never quite the perfect Christmas.


An empty nest meant a different Christmas.  My children were born in three different decades, so I had children still at home when the grands started coming.  It only took one Christmas in a quiet house away from that sweet grand to realize that was never happening again.  That year began my traveling Christmases.  I still decorated, cooked, and partied, but the gift giving became simpler and easier.  Christmas day would find me at one of the Grand's homes watching the wonder of Christmas once again through the eyes of a child.


New York City provided an explosion of what we have made Christmas.  The sidewalks were crowded--so crowded you could hardly move.  There was holiday cheer in abundance--occasionally you observed the cheer had been over indulged in.  The lights were bright and the decorations lavish--all in an effort to entice the holiday shopper.  It was surely Christmas on steroids.

Slowly I have realized what is truly important about Christmas.  Christmas has not changed, but my attitude about what it takes to make a perfect Christmas has.  Being with family and friends--decorating for the fun of it--not thinking it is required--cooking what is fun and we all love (this year it is Lulu's chili)--enjoying selecting those gifts and not stressing over the perfect gift.


Most important--I have come to realize the way to truly enjoy Christmas is taking the time to remember the Why.  Stopping each day of the season and reflecting on Who we are celebrating.  Remembering and standing in amazement that God chose to send His Son.  Christmas has morphed in to the Most Wonderful Time of The Year--not because of the tinsel, the gifts, the dinners.  Christmas is a reminder of the Great Love of a Great God and the birth of a tiny baby in a lowly manager--all those years ago.  Christmas has morphed back to the simple one of years ago when in the silence of the night, with the stars shining bright, you can almost hear the cry of a new born babe.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, MY FRIENDS!

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, 
which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you;
 Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the ange a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Luke 2:11-14 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT



SOME THINGS

ARE WORTHY

OF A REPEAT





MAY YOUR

CHRISTMAS

BE FILLED

WITH BLESSINGS,

FRIENDS


















Saturday, December 22, 2018

THE BEST NIGHT EVER!


AS I TRAVEL

TODAY,

I LEAVE YOU

WITH ANOTHER

GREAT PERSPECTIVE

OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY

THROUGH THE EYES OF CHILDREN

Friday, December 21, 2018

WHEN WE ALL GET TO HEAVEN


While in New York, we attended a service of Lessons & Carols at Redeemer Presbyterian Church.  This church was formerly pastored by the great theologian Tim Keller.  The church has services in several locations across the city, but the one we chose was adjacent to Central Park in Manhattan.  

The service was attended by many nationalities~a melting pot of the world.  In the traditional Carols & Lessons service, scriptures leading to and including the birth of Jesus are read and carols which tell the story of those scriptures are sung.  Each scripture was read in a different language with the words printed in the Order of Service to follow along.  The flow of the language from around the world all told the same story~the story of the New Born King.

The sanctuary was a doomed room with wonderful acoustics.  There were songs by the children, specials by the choir and orchestra, and congregational carols which made a joyful sound of praise. The beauty of a packed room raising their voices in one accord was reminiscent of what those angels must have sounded like all those years ago.

The conclusion of the service was the "Hallelujah Chorus" performed by the choir and orchestra.  What a send off.

I worshiped in New York--and in the midst of strangers--I felt the presence of The Lord.  Surely when we all get to heaven this is what will great us.  All of us together--praising Him--and singing of His greatness.  Saints from all nations, all walks, sharing our common belief in One Great God.  It was a beautiful glimpse of what we have to look forward to--when we all get to heaven.

Praise the Lord, all people on earth,
praise his glory and might. 
 I Chronicles  16:28

Thursday, December 20, 2018

THE PRESENCE OF SILENCE

While in New York, we visited the 911 Memorial and Museum.  I walked away deeply moved.





The memorial pools sit on the site of the building footprints and all the names of those who were tragically lost that day are listed.  The water is continually flowing and the scene is only disturbed by the cascading water in the giant pools.  You are encouraged to touch the names as you stop and remember.






As you enter the museum, you begin a slow descent into the bowels of the former building.  The lower you go--the quiet seems to grow more ominous.  The museum is filled with people and yet there is almost a reverent silence.

The final room you enter is filled with artifacts of all that was left after the towers collapsed.  It was strange knowing you were staring a a piece of paper that someone was writing on minutes before the plane struck or they were leaving a final note knowing the end was near.  The knowledge you were looking at personal possessions of those who are no longer with us had me thinking of the souls of each person represented.  Room after room filled with things which moments before the attack had been perhaps even touched by the one no longer with us.  It was an eerie feeling of heaviness as I considered all those lost in such a short time frame.  I do not believe in ghosts--and yet it felt as if the ghosts of those lost were hanging thick in the air as we slowly made our way through those rooms.

It was one thing to watch that day unfold via television.  It was quite another to stand in the spot where the world came to an end for so many that day.  Looking at the beautiful memorial, I could not help but reflect back to that day and the cloud of debris which rained down for blocks.  The cloud of smoke and ash which darkened the light as millions of us sat in disbelief of that which was happening.  The survivors of that day--they sometimes prefer to not speak of their experiences.  I understand.  Standing at Ground Zero over seventeen years later, I finally have a grasp on what occurred that day.  The small screen which we watch events unfold upon can never relay the true enormity of the reality of being physically present.  .

Here one moment-gone the next.  I left knowing how truly fleeting life is.  No one walked into that building that day expecting the worst day of their lives.  Those who survived--those who are left to mourn--we all--were forever changed that historic day--when evil visited the World Trade Centers.

What did I walk away with?  A profound sense of thankfulness for those who put their lives on the line everyday to serve and protect us.  A renewed sense of the brevity of life. An urgent sense of making the most of the time remaining and determination to finish well.  A heightened sense of the hope found only in God.

So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10


Wednesday, December 19, 2018

TRAVELING

Traveling is a study in human nature-especially when traveling by air.



It all begins with purchasing your ticket-it's a regular smorgasbord of choices.  From First Class to Peon Class--they have a slot you just for you.  The big difference-except for the obvious huge price discrepancies is the size of your seat and when you get to board the plane.  OH--AND if you are willing to fork over the BIG BUCKS for first class--they will serve you free drinks until you slip into a coma-let you use the exclusive--yet still tiny restroom AND close the curtain between you and the common riff raff quarantined in the back of the plane.  



They now have an alternative choice just below first class--business class.  The only thing I can see that is a perk is a little larger seat than economy and slightly more leg room.  My rear takes the same amount of space no matter what the size of the chair.  My long legs, though, try their best to steer me toward the long leg promised land to no avail.  My tight wad self nixes the increased cost of comfort in order to save a buck.

The Johnny Come Lately in all of this is the BASIC ECONOMY!  The basically make you no promises with this bargain basement choice.  NO picking your seat--no getting on the plane until every Tom, Dick & Harry has passed you by, no changes--NO NOTHING!  They basically let you on the plane.  BUT, MY CHEAP SELF LOVES A BARGAIN!


And then there is the boarding process.  The corrals are all dependent upon the class of ticket you buy.  Those hot shots who pay the Big Bucks get on first and they get to go on the left side of the little sign by the boarding gate.  All of the others--the commoners--they have to pass on the right side of the little sign.  NOW--the fact everyone merges IMMEDIATELY after the little sign into the same line does not seem to occur to anyone.  AND we ALL get on the SAME PLANE!


What I REALLY love is how EVERYONE jumps up and runs toward the gate when the very first class is called.  They are NOT going to let you cross those class lines, but perhaps you think I may get the jump on the next schmuck in my class?  I have really never understood why everyone is in such a hurry to get on the plane.  It does not seem to occur to anyone that you will be sitting just that much longer.  Nor do they seem to realize the plane is NOT leaving until we are all seated, buckled and have listened to ALL the safety instructions.  Personally I consider it a WIN to be the last one on board!

Here's the thing--no matter how much or how little you pay--you are all on the same plane.  You all take off at the same time and arrive at the same time.  We are all headed to the same end.  It seems to be human nature to want to be at the head of the line.

This is a great analogy of a couple of stories in The Word.  The parable of the talents and the prodigal son came to mind.  With the parable of the talents, the goals seems to be to arrive last, work least, and get the same pay.  With the prodigal son the goal seems to be squander your piece of the pie and have a huge party thrown when you show back up.  We forget the loss suffered by the late worker.  He missed the reward of knowing the respect of his fellow workers and the crown of integrity for his good work.  As for the prodigal, "The Good Son" has the satisfaction of living in obedience, never dining with the pigs, no need for groveling and everyone--especially his father knowing the path he chose.

Yes, we all are all headed to the same end. We are all on the same trip.  The only difference is the choice we make in how we are going to make the trip.  
T
23 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him;
Psalm 37:23

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

HEADED HOME

I Am

Headed Home

After A

Fabulous

Birthday Celebration


Enjoy This

As

I Head

Back To Prepare

To Celebrate

The Birthday

Of Jesus




Monday, December 17, 2018

IT'S OFFICIAL~I AM OVER THE HILL

Today is the day--I am officially now over the hill--in fact--I am sliding down the back side of that hill at a pretty good clip!



Here is a picture of my mother as we celebrated her 70th birthday.  I seem to remember thinking she was pretty old.  WELL--that day has now rolled around for me and something tells me my children, grands, and all the "Young Folks" think I am old too.  SIGH--BUT I don't feel old!  In my head, I am living under the delusion I can still do what I could do --well at even 50.  I did not begin running marathons until I was over 50--that ship has sailed for certain!  My hip would go on strike and become a "Pain in my hip" if I tried to take up running again. And the list is LONG for those things I do not dare try to do anymore that I gave no second thought to in my younger years.



Somehow at this ripe old age, I have managed to keep my head above water--MOST of the time!  




I am still putting one foot in front of the other,





still cherishing my sweet family,



still seeking adventure,



still cherishing my old friends and seeking new ones,



still seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus by serving others,



and still seeking Him and His will for me in all ways.

I am older--but thankfully wiser.  Life has been good--and when it was difficult--He has sustained me.  

Time is growing short--but I am resting in the hope of more-

More friends
More family
More adventures
More service
and especially a deeper understanding of More of Him.

SO Happy Birthday to me!  Thankful and blessed to have made it to the point mentioned in The Word.  From now on ALL is Lagniappe and I plan to live the lagniappe to the fullest.   Thankful for a Good God who loves me beyond my wildest dreams and has not finished with me yet!  Thankful for everyone who has been a part in my life and made me who I am today.

AND remember--Old Age is a great excuse for saying just what you are thinking! (As if I have ever had any difficulty with doing that!)






So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away,
 our inner self is being renewed day by day.
II Corinthians 4:16

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Saturday, December 15, 2018

CITY SIDEWALKS

TODAY 

I AM IN THE CITY

ENJOYING

THE CHRISTMAS SIGHTS




HAPPY WEEKEND,

MY FRIENDS

Friday, December 14, 2018

WHY?

It certainly is NO secret that I have no secrets!  I am guilty of telling it all--well all worthy of writing about.  Why, you might ask yourself, would I be willing to tell you--some of you strangers- all the gory details of my life?  

Two reasons-

I refuse to give any power to the secrets which have already claimed my time, energy, and emotion.  We have talked before of the strangling hold secrets can have on our lives.  We understand the reason for secrecy--usually shame.  The futile attempt of masquerade as someone we are not is exhausting.  Shame looses every time we are willing to live the truth.  Let's face it--none of us can claim sainthood on our own merit.



The fame and popularity gained while hiding our secrets is plagued with holes.  We might be liked, but the one who is liked is not the real us--but instead our creation ~while hiding behind the mask of half truths.  The Sly One is whispering in our ear--"They will not like you if they know all about you."  AND WE BELIEVE the old forked tongue deceiver.  The truth of the matter is~well in my little corner of the universe~I appreciate those who are willing to be honest with me.  Playing games--especially Who Am I Today? -- drives me away faster than a hot knife through butter.  Honesty and willingness to be up front with who you are is one of the most important traits I look for in a friend.  Consistency is the key--be the real you--yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

And Number Two

If ONE person is touched, encouraged, strengthened or enlightened by my words of experience and truth, mission accomplished.  As we teach our children the lessons we have learned with experience, I am relaying the sometimes hard learned lessons life has shown me.  Perhaps what I say does not resonant with you, then move on to your next thing.  Every blog will not touch every reader.  BUT if one person learns where my strength comes from when facing disappoints, trails, and pain~then it is all worthwhile.

I had quite a few comments about my willingness to be truthful after a recent blog.  The truth of the matter is--some things I had really rather forget.  We cannot forget what has happened in our lives.  We can take each and every occurrence and treat it as a lesson which we learn from and pass the lesson along.  All the lessons have not been hard--all the occurrences were not shameful--but each and every step along the way has shaped who I am today.  I am willing to share and thankful for your comments that you were touched.

I would not fail to impart wisdom to my children and grands.  I just take it a step farther and share it with you, my good friends.



I am no King Solomon, but like him, I am willing to write what I have found to be truth.  I am deeply thankful for those of you who are willing to read and comment.


12 Is not wisdom found among the aged?
 Does not long life bring understanding?
Job 12:12

POST SCRIPT--GO AHEAD AND LAUGH-
THIS SCRIPTURE IS GREAT!


Thursday, December 13, 2018

COMMUNICATION 101

Last post on the Bible Study book. (I do NOT promise).



One of the questions in this week's lesson is~

"Do you find it easy or difficult to pray?"




My immediate response was "Let my tail get in a crack or the world start falling apart and it rolls off my tongue as easy as ABC."  I can throw up a frantic petition quicker than Drew Brees can launch a Hail Mary.  




Unfortunately, though prayer is essential, it is often put on my back burner when I am "busy" with whatever claims my attention at the moment.  After all--I've go this handled, Lord.  Prayer is not unlike any other thing--it gets easier and better with practice.  First requirement though is to practice.




What is prayer?  Simple-communicating with God.  How do you pray--stand on the street corner and shout petitions for all to hear.  Not quite!  Communicating is a two way street.  It is all for naught if one does not have someone on the listening end.  Being willing to listen is only part of the equation--you must also  be willing to hear the one who you are communicating with.  Communication is NOT listening to a monologue.  Communication is a give and take process.  We have to be willing to keep quiet and listen for God as well as giving him our two cents.


Lauren pointed out how shallow a relationship would be if two are unwilling to communicate.  Talking about a one way street.  Anyone would tire of never being heard--and certainly not understood if there is no communication.



The Word clearly tells us God desires our prayers and we should practice until we are praying continuously.  Talking with God as we walk throughout the day.  We should take "All things" to God--not just the choice few we think we might not be able to handle.  I am certainly guilty of thinking I know best and only going to God in desperation when I might not have this handled!

I loved the study I did long ago which used the acronym ACTS for a design on how to pray-

A doration
C onfession
T hanksgiving
S upplication

It is certainly nothing wrong with a formula, Jesus, Himself gave us a formula.  How much better though to have open~two way communication on an on-going basis?  

"When I am consciously aware of God's presence and am in conversation with Him all throughout the day, inconveniences become opportunities; disappointments become an occasion to trust the Lord's sovereignty, hurts become a chance to extend the forgiveness extended to me through Christ; fears are overcome by His love for me as His child; and happiness overflows into praise. Prayer is not easy, and it's for sure not natural, but it is essential to the next part of His will for my life: to give thanks in all circumstances."Lauren Chandler

Our aim--our goal should be pray without ceasing and rejoice.


1Rejoice always,
 17 pray without ceasing, 
18 give thanks in all circumstances;
 for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18