Sick day

So, I’m not feeling so hot, well actually I do feel hot. I’ve been fighting a lot of allergy symptoms and even a slight fever yesterday.

I don’t even know why.

To be honest, I hate allergies. They are your body’s reaction to a perceived threat, like a toxin, only without the threat being real.

See, a real threat like smoke, requires a reaction to get it out of your system; but something like pollen, or dog hair, or peanuts, those aren’t toxic, but foe some reason your body thinks they are.

In my case it’s hereditary. Some people develop food allergies because they were fed whole foods too early in their infancy.

It’s just something you deal with, you don’t really have an explanation.

But it was kind of a big week for me and getting sick was not on the agenda.

Of course, I know things happen unexpectedly. I know you can’t control life. But knowing that can make it frustrating. The temptation is to blame God, or life, r chance, or your own poor luck, for dumping these problems on you that you weren’t ready for and couldn’t prevent.

Or maybe you could have, and then you start blaming yourself for being so stupid.

The thing is, I am way healthier than most of the people I know. No one in my house has serious health issues, that can’t be managed easily at least.

But if all I have is allergies and an occasional cold and once in along while the flu or some other unexplained minor illness, I’m doing pretty well.

Still no one likes it, whatever they have.

But I do have a lot to be thankful for. I can be thankful that this only happens every so often. I can be thankful that I no longer get migraines or bad eye headaches on a frequent basis. I can be glad that I don’t have asthma or any lingering heart problems from when I was a baby.

Sure, I’m miserable, but I’m not dying. And I can do stuff, it’s just a matter of how comfortably I can do it.

I get a few minutes of relief every now and then thanks to medicine, which I have access too.

Much as I’d rather complain, I know it could be so much worse. Also, complaining makes you unhealthy, it’s a proven fact.

So this isn’t an in depth post about a movie (though I did just re–watch the original Karate Kid) or about a social problem. But it’s about my personal life.

And my faith is involved. I know better than to wallow in self pity. I do look forward to the day when my health will not even be a matter of caution, but in the meantime, God doesn’t promise perfect health all the time. Just that He will give you enough strength for whatever you need to do, sometimes more, sometimes not.

I believe in healing, but I know it doesn’t always happen, and not always when we want it to. I also know sometimes we have to deal with other issues before we can be healed.

Most of all, I know that the best testament to the power of faith is being able to smile even when you feel bad. A real smile. I

I

m still getting there, and some days I get close than others, but the point is, I at least have that option now.

That in itself is enough to be a miracle.

I remember, sometime last year, I had a night where I was throwing up at least three times, and again the next morning, and though I was tired and miserable and thinking I had eaten the wrong thing; for awhile at least I was able to praise God even while sitting next to the toilet. (And if you’ve done it you know how uncomfortable and lonely that is.) IT didn’t stop the throwing up, but it did give me peace. And that’s more than I used to have.

So, it’s good to look back and see how far you’ve come.

This isn’t just another happy–slappy testimony about how God brought me through something, it’s about how HE’s bringing me through it. Even while I’m still suffering. I hope that count s for something more than the normally criticized too–happy–to–be–relate-able stories.

Maybe you have a similar experience, or you’re going through something rough yourself, I hope this post was a slight encouragement then, until next time–Natasha.

Willingly Ever After.

So, my siblings and I recently discovered this YouTube Channel called “Overly Sarcastic Productions” and I’m just recommending it here because it’s both entertaining and instructive (hopefully like my blog posts.)

That aside, let’s talk.

In my previous post I told the story of how a book changed my life, and it’s not  new thing either. Lots of people have similar story. (I read a book once about it, but I wouldn’t recommend it necessarily.) I didn’t get too much time to elaborate on it though. I do have  limit for how long I make my posts.

What I wanted to talk about more was the idea the book introduced to me. That of Submitting to God’s will. In the story this is always represented by obedience to a difficult command, and/or building an altar and sacrificing the will power. (Usually these two things happen simultaneously.)

This has to be the most unpopular idea in the history of humanity. It takes a brave person to make it the whole turning point of their book.

But Hannah Hurnard is just being honest with us, because it is this act of laying down the will that our human stories all turn on. Will we or Won’t we?

C. S. Lewis recognized it too in “Till We Have Faces.” Orual comes to the point where she says there was no rebel in her anymore. She finally does that the gods say.

Christians can all too often sell Salvation as a way to ease all your troubles. To finally get what you want. Peace. Joy. Love. Eternal Life.

Since the Fall, men have wanted Eternal Life, and God actually had to guard it from them with a flaming sword and two cherubim. (See Genesis 2-3, I think.)

The problem is, we like the Eternal Life idea, but not what goes with it.

Eternal life, if you are a corrupt being, is actually tormenting. Several movies have touched on this idea and also some books, like the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan.

Many people have concluded that living forever isn’t really what we want, like “the Fault in our Stars” basically says, that it’s a fantasy.

The one tiny detail they always leave out is that it is entirely possible that one could exist forever, but in a terrible, torturous place, typically known as hell.

Bringing up hell is not a very safe thing to do. No one likes to think of it. (Well, some people do in an obsessive way I find unhealthy.)

God was doing mankind a favor. Eternal life with no cost would have been horrible, nightmare-ish, for evil people.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t want Eternal Life, the cost is a trade. We havwe to give up our own small, mortal lives. Not in that we die the minute we choose Eternal Life, but that we no longer live as if we’re in control.

That’s the price we are afraid to pay. And many people miss out on eternal life for that very reason. The thing is, controlling our own lives makes us cynical. We’ll scoff at eternal Life and the idea of Christ crucified, not because it’s actually mockable, (what about the story is at all mockable even if you think it’s made up?) but because we get mad that we couldn’t make ourselves immortal.

I actually know this song, maybe you’ve heard it, that’s not even a Christian song, but the first line nails the idea. “They say we are what we are, but we don’t have to be.” (It’s Immortals by Fallout Boy, and for the record, I chose to ignore some of the lyrics for the sake of the ones I think are profound.)

A lot of us see that idea as saying we could change who we are, but the truth is, we can’t. We don’t have to be what we are, it’s true, but it’ll take more than ourselves to change us.

It’s simple logic. You cannot give what you don’t have. I, being human and mortal and flawed, do not have perfection or everlasting life, so I can’t give it to myself. I have to get it from someone who has those things.

A lot of old stories get some of this truth in there in that the hero will have to find a magical item or complete an impossible task with help from a supernatural being (a fairy or elf will count here) before they can live happily ever after. Which means forever, by the way.

To get back to my beginning point about laying down the will, God isn’t making this demand out of a desire for control. He just knows that only He has what we need.

People still get mad at God for making them dependent on him. (It’s happened, even if you’ve never done it, and good for you then.) To which God replies “I am the potter, you’re the clay. Can the clay say to the potter you’re making me wrong?”

I don’t know still why God does all things the way he does, but the whole lesson of the book is that I don’t have to know.

People will always mock Christians, and other religious people, for believing in something they can’t fully understand. And accepting that even when it looks like that something is being cruel. But they don’t understand faith. Or they hate it.

And that’s not going to change my mind. But I have no hate for those people, there’s no point in that. Heck, I hope they are the ones who read my stuff even if it’s just to disagree with it, because it’s important that people know what they are actually against.

I have to go now, hope you enjoyed this post, until next time–Natasha.

Hinds feet on High Places.

I like to talk about movies a lot on this blog. It’s fun, people have watched them so they know what I’m talking about, and I learn from them.

But if there’s one thing that’s been even more important to my spiritual learning process than movies, it’s books.

There was one book in particular that shaped my life in a huge way, and it’s not very well known.

That book was Hannah Hurnard’s “Hinds feet on High places.”  The title is taken from a verse in Habakkuk, “He maketh my feet like hind’s feet and setteth them upon mine high places.” That’s the whole premise of the story. The main character must travel to the High Places and develop hind’s feet.

The first thing to know about this book is that it is an allegory. The backdrop of the story is purely spiritual. Mountains; deserts; the ocean; the meadows; the valleys, every place people use when they are being metaphorical. And why not? It is an unabashed allegory.

In case you don’t know what an allegory is (and I didn’t till I read this) it’s a story about inward realities, but told like a regular fiction story. But all the places and people are symbolic. They have names like “Much Afraid” “Mrs. Valiant,” and of course “The Shepherd.” The most famous allegory is “The Pilgrims’ Progress.” I’ve never been able to get through that book all the way, even I have a limit for old English speech. But the book I’m talking about has very quaint and simple language. Easy to read and entertaining.

But the most important thing about it is that the main character, Much Afraid, was me. Literally, if I had been called by a name depicting my inward state, Much Afraid would have been the perfect fit. If you’ve read any of my posts about Frozen maybe you know this. Let’s just say Elsa would have identified with this book.

Much Afraid is one of the Fearing clan, and she has fearing in the blood, as we are told. And only the Shepherd can really help her. Much Afraid is also disfigured. She has a crooked mouth and crooked feet. She can only limp along painfully and she is ugly. But it is her fears that are her real trouble.

We are not told exactly what she fears except for pain and her relatives. Who bully her and plague her and try to kidnap her. She is weak, and they are all cowards. Much Afraid needs no object, she just fears period.

How well I know the feeling. Well, I can’t tell the whole story here, but after the Shepherd offers to take her to the High Places where she can be cleansed of her imperfections, Much afraid accepts, and even allow shim to plant the seed of Love in her heart. Though it hurts. Immediately she feels different.

When I read this the first time, I was not yet a Christian, though I believed in it. I have never not believed it was true. That was why the book made so much sense to me. Everyone in that book knows who the shepherd is. Some of them hate him, others love him. But they all believe, in that sense, that he is who he is. No one at any point denies that the Shepherd is real. Because everyone can see him.

That was how I grew up. There was no question of whether God was real, or whether Jesus was, but of where I stood with them.

That’s the only real question when it comes down to it.

Anyway, so I read the book and honestly, I did not understand it. Oh, I got the point about overcoming fear, but I had never felt real love, or been free from fear for longer than a few hours for most of my life. But Much Afraid has the same experience. She feels bold for a short time, and then she is ambushed by all her relatives and in the end faints dead away. To make a long story short, she is still able to go with the Shepherd, and she sets out, with his two helpers Sorrow and Suffering as her companions. They undergo many obstacles, dangers, and attacks from her enemies, and at the very end of their journey Much Afraid is asked to give up what she ahs staked her whole hope and life on, the promise she was given about having new feet and a new heart. And she asked to give up her human love that is in her heart like a weed, its roots going deep into her soul.

Much Afraid can hardly believe it, but in the end she does as she is told. After both these things are removed and burned on an altar, she faints and wakes up feeling different. Then she washes in a stream and discovers all her blemishes have been removed. Then the Shepherd calls her and she bounds up, with her new feet, and joins him.

More stuff happens, but I’ll stop there. When I first read this, I didn’t know you had to surrender your will to God. Maybe I had heard it, but I hadn’t made the connections. My fear was a terrible thing, but I still chose it over God so I could protect myself from having to do things I didn’t want to do. Fear was an excuse.

It was really to the point where I had no will at all except to resist God. I couldn’t resist fear. I was foolish, as everyone is with their besetting sin, but I didn’t know it. I wanted to be free but I didn’t want to pay the price.

God will set you free, but He demands that you give up your chains, and yourself. and give it all to Him. The reason people hate that idea is because they want control. Fear is a huge problem for all of us. I count myself fortunate that I at least knew it was my problem, many of us don’t.

I didn’t really become saved till I laid down my will to God. And I only knew to do that because I had read this book. To this day I still learn new things from it.

I know it wouldn’t mean as much to anyone else, but it would still mean something, so I recommend checking it out.

Until next time–Natasha.

The Croods

Okay, this movie was on the list of Movies I will never watch.

Why? Because the name says it all. Or does it?

Well, one of my siblings saw it and said it wasn’t as bad as we expected, then I saw the end of it on TV and thought “This doesn’t seem so bad.” So finally I sat through the whole thing. (At least I think it was the whole thing.)

Now, the whole premise is based off evolution, which I don’t buy in the least, so I kind of had to ignore that. I thought “It’s like any other fiction setting. It’s not supposed to be taken seriously.”

Well, I certainly hope that was the case. Let me just say I never saw so clearly why evolution is repulsive and not a really nice kind of fictional idea. You’d either have to believe it was true, or be utterly disgusted that anyone could hatch such and idea. Or lay such an idea, which came first? Laying or hatching? (Ha ha.)

There is something disturbing about watching human beings act like animals, and not as a joke, but because they are just animals, in that ideology. And once Guy, the one normal person, came on the scene, the contrast just got worse. The one thing that helped was Guy pretty much was speaking for the audience the whole time as he was freaked out by the Croods behavior. Which was sort of funny, sort of.

Guy also is initially afraid of them because they are cave men. Which is interesting. because we don’t usually think of more evolved, i. e. smarter, people being afraid of less evolved people. But brute strength is just that, brutal. And I can understand why he was freaked out. The scary thing about brutality is that you can’t reason with it.

But the Croods don’t turn out to be quite as bad as he (or we) thought. Though the way they eat is truly terrifying to watch, and honestly gave me the same sick feeling as “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs,” did. They are stupid, but it’s clear that the father (I forget his name) cares about his family and is unselfish about providing for them and protecting them. His wife is also a pretty nice mom character. Who sticks up for the other characters when she sees fit. Thunk and the Mother-in-law I have little to say about other than they get better at the end, but are pretty annoying and gross through the beginning and middle of the movie. The baby had one sweet moment when she said her first word, the rest of the time she acted like a dog. Literally.

The most important characters are Eeb and Guy. Eeb is kind of annoying at times, but we feel bad for her because she hates living in the dark and doing the same thing every day. Just surviving. The first real moment of connection between her and Guy is when he says, half pleadingly, “I hate the dark.” At first, Guy doesn’t particularly seem to like Eeb, but since he’s all alone in the world save for his pet lemur–monkey thing, he gives her a shell to signal him with. After all, she is human, and he wants her to live through the disaster he’s seen coming. The disaster turns out to be the Continental Drift. (Ice Age anyone?)

Eeb goes on to tell her family about Guy, which immediately makes her dad suspicious, then their cave gets destroyed and they have to run out into the more fertile and uncharted territory beyond. Of course they immediately get into trouble and Eeb signals for Guy. (And if you’re thinking the Adam and Eve thing was intentional, I totally agree.) Guy, albeit it reluctantly, saves them and gets thanked by nearly being suffocated and then imprisoned in a hollow log. however, after a while Eeb lets him get out because he’s hungry and he offers to let her help him hunt. Since she’s been grounded form tis, her favorite thing to do, she accepts readily.

But this movie never loses an opportunity to be crude, within the PG limits that is. You won’t find any sex humor or half cursing in here, that I remember, and it can be really gross, and also frustrating to watch people be idiots the whole time.

Still, there are some moments where we feel like we’re watching a real family. There’s one important scene in the second half of the movie where Guy and the Dad are both stuck in tar, and Guy finally reveals why he’s alone, this was how his family died. They were clearly more evolved, since he is, but no one knew how to get out of tar. Guy then says the last thing his dad told him was “Don’t hide, live.”

Yep. That’s the whole point of the movie.

And while I’d not say the movie makes it in any brilliant way, the setting does illustrate it fairly well. What better way to show the futility of the survival mindset than with a hypothetical cave man story? I’ll even admit that it probably breaks it down in the easiest to understand way.

The point is profound even if the characters are not particularly so. And for once, the simple, three word way of making it actually works. Especially since the way Guy says it really sells the line as important.

After this, the dad finally accepts that even though Guy is sort of a threat to his authority, he is also lonely and needs a family, even if they are a lot less smart than him. Something Guy himself has realized by this time.

Another really important moment is when Guy is the first to support the dad’s plan to save them all. It is really cool to watch the dynamic of the new guy respecting the father, in the most literal sense, as well as figuratively.

We even get a kind of Noah’s ark reference.

The movie closes with the Croods and Guy all deciding to live out in the open and follow the light. In Eeb’s words.

The verdict?

I neither recommend or discourage seeing this movie. You can get a cool message from it, but you can also be left with a lot of unpleasant images running through you mind. A lot will depend on your tolerance level. There are better movies to watch about really living, but few that will cover it in a simple enough way for kids to understand, so there is that. But I suggest parents screen it in advance.

Until next time–Natasha.

 

 

Black, White, and Grey.

You all know that you can spell grey with an e or an a? Weird huh?

The spelling of grey is arbitrary, it’s not even a British English vs American English thing as far as I know. (Unlike spelling honor, valor, favor, flavor, and other “o-r” words with an “o-u-r”, which they do in Britain. Or used to anyway. Which is why, I, being the C. S. Lewis fan that I am, still “misspell’ those words sometimes.) How you spell it is entirely up to you.

Doesn’t that just seem fitting? Because we like to say there there’s black and white morality, and then there’s a grey area. The grey area is your arbitrary perception of right or wrong, or your uncertainty thereof.

In simpler terms, the grey area is moral limbo.

Some say there is no grey area. (Gray area?)

Well, I think that there probably is. But I think we need to be more specific about what we mean when we say grey area.

We don’t mean that some things are neither right nor wrong, we mean that some actions are right or wrong in different circumstances, and those circumstances are not always plain to see.

See, I believe in situational ethics, but not what the term means now, but just that different situations call for different actions.

What I don’t believe is that your code of ethics can change with each situation. Just the enacting of it does.

See, if you are a inconstant person when it come to telling the truth, than your ethics are that truth is only important some of the time. So whether you tell it in one situation (where it won’t hurt your case), or hedge it in another (where it will), your ethics have remained the same.

Likewise, if you tell the truth whether it hurts you or not, you ethics are to be painfully honest.

Simple, right?

But that’s more of a black and white example. Or is it?

People would argue that lying is better sometimes in order to save someone’s feelings, I personally think lying is justifiable only when someone’s life is at stake, and that’s a rare situation.

But you see how this black nd white thing can quickly be turned into a grey area.

It’s kind of the inspiration for the title “Fifty shades of Grey,” but I won’t go there. (No, I haven’t seen it, and I won’t if I can help it.)

But this is where all this arbitrariness has gotten us.

Part of the reason I enjoyed Mr. Miracle so much was because in the 70’s, right and wrong could still be cut and dried things. Clearly, Scott was doing the right thing, and his enemies were monsters (literally often enough.) Barda sometimes verges on doing something bad, but she is always stopped or stops herself before it gets to that point.

But look at superhero movies and comics now, our heroes spend more time trying to figure out if they are really heroes than they do defeating the bad guys. Who often try to say they aren’t bad guys. You know, back in Shakespeare’s day, a riveting villain was one who knew they were evil and wanted to be different but had one vice they would not let go of (Read Hamlet.) Shakespeare called it what it was, insanity. There was no grey area. most of his villains don’t even want to change.

Now, we have bad guys who don’t want to change yet we feel sympathy for them because they are more human. Plenty of people will defend to the last this way of treating bad guys.

When this trend started, it wasn’t all bad. Some villains do just need to be shown some mercy. But I would argue they are the ones who are less evil and more confused or bitter. Which would not be the majority now.

Some people are cruel because no one had ever been kind to them, they can change because of mercy.

But some are cruel because no one ahs ever stood up to them. And that is not something mercy is going to fix.

Why should we sympathize with people who have never really been mistreated but decide that it’s their destiny to control everything?

I have both real life and fictional examples in mind, and I’ll bet you do too.

I think this is pretty long, but my word count is not working, so I’ll wrap this up.

We all need to realize that you don’t prevent evil by questioning good. Someone needs to tell the media this. (Of course, sometimes evil masquerades as good.) But when good is apparent, we should not second guess it.

There’s this thing called faith. I like what that one girl in the first avengers movie said after the big New York showdown. The avengers saved her life, so she believes in their intentions.

You see, it’s not the good guys fault that there are evil creatures raining from the sky, but it is their fault that the rain stopped.

That’s all for now, until next time–Natasha.

The S-word.

First of all, let me apologize for not posting so consistently, my problem is partly not having access to a computer as much.

But today I figure I need to post, so let’s talk.

Yesterday I had a unique experience, I went to teen bible study that talked about 1Peter 3. A little context, on that chapter, it’s about submission, honoring your wife, faith, and Jesus’ victory over hell and the devil.

Where do you start?

But of all the subjects that are controversial in a youth group, or in church period, or in any culture ever, submission is one of the top 3 or 4.

Now you all know my stance on feminism, and it’s no surprise then that I don’t view submission as a bad thing, but…I confess I haven’t liked the idea in the past, and I’m still growing into it now.

My problem with submission goes back farther than I even can remember; and it’s the same for many women. But it always, always is about not trusting men.

Most girls who have no initial problem with submitting to men have had good male relationships in their lives, and like a lot of girls, I haven’t. Partly because my contact with guys has been extremely limited living at home with my mom and no brothers, and only male in the house, my dad.

Despite my trouble with submission, I have stood up for it in the past, and still will; because it’s in the Bible, and God commands it, and for me that has to come first, before my issues, my mistrust, and my fears.

And fears are a big part of this. I don’t care how strong she seems, any woman who hates men and hates submission is afraid, deep, deep, down; and she is afraid of being found out.

Many women have been abused, physically and emotionally. Nearly all of us have been yelled at, manipulated, misunderstood, or mocked, by men. I won’t say it doesn’t hurt me when men act like women’s feelings are too much to handle or not worthy of respect, and then they mock things we are interested in.

But… that’s not every man. There’s a good portion of nice, sensitive guys, or strong and brave ones, hopefully a mixture of both, who are out there, and they treat women with respect. It’s a rare breed of men who would meet my standard of Uncommon (hence the term) but there are plenty who aren’t bad guys, and don’t deserve the sort of disgust and contempt they are often treated with.

And for the record, there are not many women who are what I would call a real woman, either. It’s rare for both genders nowadays to really be what they are. But I’ve talked about this before, so let’s get back to the subject of submission.

Like I said, women are afraid. That chapter we studied, 1 Peter 3, actually is one of the only passages in the bile to address that issue as the root of our struggles. It’s a big problem for men too, but women have a different sort of fear then men, and it’s harder to pin point, which is probably why it’s not talked about enough.

But in a nutshell, we are afraid of rejection, just like anyone, and also of not being enough; and if we’ve been hurt before, we are afraid that if we are hurt again it will break us.

So we tend to harden our hearts to avoid this, and we resist authority, or if we are not the type to do that, we resist love. Or maybe we hide instead, a lot depends on the personality, but the root of it all is fear.

I have been afraid, but unwilling to show it, so I would be belligerent instead. I’d put  up a fight over something not that important because something important had not been fought for a long time ago, and I was upset about that.

But the thing was, God never said you can get out of submission if you’ve been burned, on the contrary, it’s even more important then, and here’s why:

It’s easy to submit when you’ve never been deeply hurt, but it takes a very tough woman to submit when she has been hurt, and even more so if she knows she will be hurt again, whether she submits or not. (By submitting I do not mean submitting to being hurt on purpose, only to the possibility of it, which is very different.)

Doing the right thing is always harder at first than doing the wrong thing, but this rebellion against men has hardly helped our case anyway, and it’s destroyed many relationships. Sometimes you have to do the right thing and trust that God will take care of you no matter what.

And that’s a difficult thing to do, but so, so necessary if you want to heal. I know personally.

A word to the men: I just want you to keep in mind that girls need understanding. We aren’t taught about this sort of thing, and it’s left a lot of us feeling clueless about how to treat the men in our lives. Also, men need help with this too, it’s not just about girl power, it’s about man power too. I personally regret that guys get so overlooked on this front and they deserve respect just as much as girls do,.

But we need to keep in mind that it takes a lot less to upset a girl than a guy, usually; and so all of us need to watch what we say to and about people of the opposite sex. Also, though not always, it’s our actions that say the most to men about how we feel around them. And how we interpret their actions.

But since I’ve never been in a romantic relationship, I wont’ say anything about that, it’s just a general rule in any relationship.

Some final advice:

Men, don’t be afraid to invest in the women around you. Even if they misinterpret it, even if they hate you for it, and even if you have no clue what you’re doing, you’ll get better. And please, do not take any crud from girls just because they are girls. Stand up for yourself, but do it in the right way.

Women, don’t be afraid of every man just because you have been hurt. Don’t date anyone you can’t trust (a general rule actually) and don’t marry anyone who doesn’t treat the women in his life well. But also, don’t put down men just because they fail. We all fail. Most of us don’t really now what we’re doing. We need to accept that and be willing to forgive.

But even more so if a man (or woman) has been cruel to you, and especially if he or she has done it on purpose, the strongest thing you can do is let it go. It only gives them power over you if you let what they did ruin the rest of your life. And this goes for any relationship.

Now, read my advice to each gender and flip it around to apply to the opposite, because the truth is, we all struggle with the same stuff, in different ways.

Okay, I’ll stop this here, until next time–Natasha.