Tag Archives: Scars

Bee in a Cocoon

On the day we left Bolivia I got a tattoo of a queen bee on my arm. It was the third in a series of images I had placed on my arm with indelible ink over the course of one year. My first tattoo is a black lace butterfly. The middle one is a dragonfly. My bee is on top. I imagine there will come a day when the sleeve is complete with hexagonal honeycomb, a beetle or two, and leafy filigree. For now, I am content with my winged trinity.

Fourteen months after the acquisition of the bee, I find myself on my college campus listening to an entomologist give a lively lecture about bees. Dr. Roe doubles as my Anatomy and Physiology professor. She does a fine job teaching about the human body, but her passion for insects is quite evident. The discourse came about as an initiative of the garden group. Permission was granted by one of the leading Sisters of College of Saint Mary for us to run a beehive on campus starting next Spring. This will be a thrill!

Did you know that bees undergo metamorphosis in a cocoon? I didn’t. This fascinates me. Cocoons have been a reoccurring theme in my life over the last few years. I leaned in to study the images on the slide as she explained the three week transformation of egg, to larva, to pupa, to fully formed bee. The egg is laid by the queen. It hatches and is fed by nurse bees. As a larva it grows and fills up it’s six-sided cradle. Then the bees come along and cap the capsule, sealing the larva inside. What happens before the fully formed bee breaks out of this cocoon astounds me.

Did you know that inside its cocoon the bee becomes liquefied? All the cells, organs, and features that allowed that larva to eat and grow break down. “Gradually the pro-pupa becomes little more than a bag containing a nutrient rich soup,” according to this video demonstration of the process: Bee metamorphosis: remarkable internal changes. Do you grasp the sheer absurdity of this fact? The construct of a wriggling little structure becomes liquid. 

Then comes the reconfiguration. In that tiny, dark, soupy cocoon, the liquid swishes around to reconfigure and reshape into a pupa. It grows legs and hair. It’s brain and DNA formulate to give the little creature an instruction manual and purpose of life. The pigmentation of yellows, browns, and golds appear from that milky goo. It’s eyes bulge. Fragile wings grow which will allow that bee to survive and soar.

My eyes welled with tears. I am in a cocoon stage of life. This liquefied stage of a bee’s life spoke to me. In this darkness, safely capped off by my community, it’s okay if I melt. It’s okay, for this time, to submit to the reconfiguration process. It’s okay to feel like I am drowning for a little bit… because that will pass. My life is getting reorganized. I will emerge from this cocoon, resplendent and ready to fly.

For now, I need to be in a cocoon like a bee in a cocoon. 

Scars Invited, Scars Imposed

You can’t see the scar I have from the cesarean section imposed upon me with the birth of my fourth child. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen ’em all. ‘Taint pretty neither. Even after seven years the thing feels numb and achy every once in a while. I didn’t expect that. Maybe it’s because they opened me up, on the same scar, about a year after my youngest son was pulled out of me to yank out some nasty cysts from my uterus. Oh the memories!

The scar where I got stitches as a child when I sliced my finger open while cutting cabbage healed nice. The lines on my fingerprint don’t quite line up and there’s a dent. But you can only notice it if you are looking for it.

Some scars stand out. Some don’t. All have two things in common: pain and permanence.

Some scars we choose, most we don’t.

A middle-aged Bolivian man came to the office to purchase some resources to help his ministry. After some cordial chit chat he steered the conversation a different direction.

Man: Is that a real tattoo?

Me: Yes.

Man: So did you get it before you were saved? [a look of hope dispersing some of the furrow of his brow] Or after? [a slight shadowing of disappointment quickly erased by a forced grin]

Me: After.

Man: How long have you been saved?

Me: Let’s see, I got saved when I was eight, so that means next year it will have been 30 years ago.

Man: [tries to smile, nods his head, stares at the tattoo, pause for the maths] You are 37? You have much life ahead of you.

Me: I hope so. [amused smile that had never left my face this whole encounter]

Then he dropped the subject. Maybe he said everything he wanted to say. Maybe he didn’t. I was ready for a longer conversation.

Why didn’t he ask me how long I have had my ears pierced? Female Christians can choose to put holes in their ear lobes without inviting questions of their faith. At least, no one has ever asked me if I got my ears pierced before or after I was saved. I assume this is an acceptable form of intentional scarring. In the case of most Latin women that scarring comes at the hands of their parents when they are mere infants. In my case I was ten.

I chose the holes in my ears.

Earlier this year while talking with my husband DaRonn about the design, size, and placement I mentioned that many people get tattoos symbolizing their kids or family. He said, “The kids have left a mark on your body already. I think you want to do this for you. So you do whatever you want to do.” When a woman bears and cares for children her body changes. My five blessings have left their permanent mark on my body.

I chose the scar the artist needled into me.

My manicurist laughed when I told her that I don’t get waxed because I can’t stand the pain. This, right after she asked about how bad it hurt to get my tattoo (fyi: feels like a sunburn for about a day; that’s it). Oh the irony. Maybe I can’t endure the pain of a waxing because I know that I will have to have it done again, and again, and again, as the hair just keeps growing back. Whereas in the case of piercings and tattoos the pain fades and the beauty is permanent.

done

Back in March of 2010, before the arrival of my fifth child, I wrote a series of posts about scars. You can check them out here:

Private or public, internal or external, scars mark us all.  Let’s be kind to each other. 

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The Interns We Deserved

Pained eyes narrowed in disappointment as he spat out the maleficent prophecy.  “You just wait until you have interns and see the ungrateful way they treat you,” he said. Hot tears filled his wife’s eyes as she nodded agreement.

We sat opposite our superiors at his desk. Our two years in Santa Cruz working with this organization had come to a frazzled end. (Read more about it here: Banished from Bolivia) The grace to forgive the hurtful words and deeds of many people during that season of our lives came slow but sure by miraculous intervention. (Read about that here: Birds, Lightening Bolts, and Hot Air Balloons) I yearn for the divine ability to forget that which I forgive. As a human, my mental faculties allow me to stare at scars and remember. (Read a series about ‘scars’ starting here: Scars – Introduction)

Words can brandish seething wounds. Take care the words you let slip from your tongue and type.

“It’s your heart, not the dictionary, that gives meaning to your words. A good person produces good deeds and words season after season. An evil person is a blight on the orchard. Let me tell you something: Every one of these careless words is going to come back to haunt you. There will be a time of Reckoning. Words are powerful; take them seriously. Words can be your salvation. Words can also be your damnation.” (Matthew 12 in the Message)

We hobbled away from Santa Cruz and began a new life in the city of Cochabamba. Those words about the interns we deserved stayed in the back of my mind and ate at me. Even years after we had established ourselves and the ministry here I could hear those words.

With a high recommendation from a couple who taught some of our mission school classes, a young man contacted us about coming to work with us in Bolivia. We corresponded by email for a few months. It was decided that the timing wasn’t right.

I thought to myself, “Whew, we must’ve dodged a bullet with that one.” I dreaded getting what we deserved. Those words convinced me we had it coming.

Time passed. The young man got married. Then the email conversation was resurrected, and came back in double force. He and his wife told us that they couldn’t get Bolivia out of their minds. Missions burned in their hearts. I felt their passion in every message.

I scrambled for direction. My dread increased. Our punishment drew nigh.

We contacted a few missionaries with experience with interns. One group sent us all their operational documents and told us we could change the names and info to suit our situation. The framework looked perfect. DaRonn and I tweaked a few things and then presented it to this couple. Many provisions in the plans protected both parties from possible abuses. The structure allowed for frequent and clear conversation to span the full length of the intern-mentor relationship. This security snuffed out some of the flames of fear.

  • Can y’all turn in all the paperwork for the extensive  application process? They did.
  • Can y’all raise the funds to come on the scouting trip? They did.
  • Can y’all serve and learn during a three month period here in Bolivia? They did.

Three months of intensive companionship and cooperation is long enough for both groups to decide if this could work long term. It’s also short enough that both have the freedom to back away if it looks like things are not clicking. The mutual agreement was that they would return for a three year commitment of service as interns after a time of fund raising.

Gore family

They served in Christ Nation Ministries here in Bolivia for a little more than three years. If this couple was sent as a form of punishment for our ministerial crimes during our internship in Santa Cruz then the celestial courts got their sentencing mixed up. Retribution felt like being beat with a feather. I have no complaints about the three years working alongside Melinda and Romon Gore. If they are prophetic hellfire and brimstone falling on our pathetic heads then let it rain!

I now know that they are part of God’s long con of redemption.

During their three years working here every once in a while I wondered if it would all go sour. I constantly assessed and analyzed my interactions with them. I worried that we were being set up for a fiasco of tremendous proportions.

To the last day when we said our bittersweet goodbyes at the airport, along with the dozens of people who had come to love them dearly just as we had, I imagined a fight or a disagreement or some other ugliness. Only hope reigned. Only words of goodwill and kindness were spoken. As they disappeared through the security checkpoint the security of grace and mercy’s complete work extinguished the last smoldering embers of the lie.

With humble gratitude I say with full assurance that the intern-mentor relationship of the Gores and Washingtons demonstrates the unfathomable fullness of God’s grace. To God be all the glory for this precious gift.

Thank you Jesus for redeeming us! Thank you Holy Spirit for never abandoning us! Thank you Heavenly Father for working all things for the good! Thank you God! Thank you God! Thank you God!

Washingtons and Gores 1

Though my brain has the power to rehearse hurts, it could never have devised this beautiful scheme of redemption that spanned a course of years to be accomplished. If you find yourself in a place of fear or dread, I want you to be encouraged. I want you to know that God is not looking for a way to smash you to pieces so that you learn a lesson. God is good. God is great. God is gracious. God is kind. God is long suffering. God is love. Trust His eternal character.

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Scars – Conclusion

This final entry on the topic of the purpose of scars is purely scripture. There is hope. There is help. Let these words speak to your heart. Seek help if you need to from professionals. And may we all be caught up in the wonderous grace of God.

The Weight

2 Corithians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.

Psalm 23:4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with meValley of the shadow of Death

Matthew 11:28 – 30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

2 Corinthians 1:2 -5 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Conclusion

I do believe that you can make it through this and be better off for it in the end. Sure, we can’t even imagine what that is going to be like. But I do believe that when we are chatting in eternity you will be able to say, “I wouldn’t have had in any other way.” God is going to give you beauty for ashes. You are going to be alright.

Scars – Introduction

Scars – Acquainted

Scars – Tattooed

Scars – The Healer

Scars – Magnetic Attraction

Scars – Conclusion

The Weight

2 Corithians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 61:3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (***) Valley of the shadow of Death

Mat 11:28 – 30 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

2 Corinthians 1:2 -5 Grace be to you and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;

4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.

5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

Conclusion

I do believe that you are going to make it through this and be better off for it in the end. Sure, we can’t even imagine what that is going to be like. But I do believe that when we are chatting in eternity you will be able to say, “I wouldn’t have had in any other way.” God is going to give you beauty for ashes. You are going to be alright.

Scars – Magnetic Attraction

It is fun to play with magnets. Seeing a long chain of metal objects stick together is fascinating. Have you ever tried to push strong magnets together with the non-attractive ends only to feel an invisible force prohibiting your efforts? These two forces (attraction and repulsion) are at work in our relationship with God as much as they are in magnets. Creating a stronger connection with God and His people will aid you in the healing process. Just as we must switch the direction of the magnet that it might connect with the other there are some changes to make. That might mean a switch in some of the mindsets in reference to relationships already established in our thinking. Evaluate if you need to make some of these switches.

Switches:

1. Switch, “Trusting another means I will be taken advantage of,” to, “If I trust others I will be considered trustworthy.” Pushing someone down when in a panic and drowning will probably cause you to drown as well. Striving to pull the other up you will both be saved. A person who is suspicious of others will be thought to be a suspicious suspect.

2. Switch, “Vulnerability means I will be hurt,” to, “Vulnerability means I will be healed.” Take for example a hurt tooth: The dentist will have to inject and inspect and you will be painfully vulnerable to him, but in the end that vulnerability will lead to healing. Without the dentist help you will have greater pain and maybe even lose the tooth. In a relationship if you do not open up to the other person then the sores will fester and you may lose the relationship; just as you would eventually lose a tooth if left unattended. Opening up will lead to healing.

3. Switch, “Transparency means they will see my weaknesses,” to, “Transparency means they will see Jesus more clearly through my life.” In our weakness He is strong.

4. Switch, “Just a little lie won’t hurt,” to, “Lies of any size diminish my credibility.” Being a person of integrity and honesty – even when it is reference to mistakes – will gain you credibility in the eyes of others. Pray honest prayers; don’t try to cover up how you feel.

5. Switch, “These are the conditions so one may earn my love,” to, “I choose to love unconditionally.” Love is a choice, not an emotional feeling.

6. Switch, “This person will never change,” to, “Hope that God is still working is the only hope I have for a relationship.” They say that a relationship is dead when one loses hope that the other can change. This is not to say you must remain close to an abusive person. The bible gives clear instruction about not becoming closely tied to people that display certain characteristics. Jesus told us to pray for our enemies and those who despitefully use us. Pray and don’t curse.

7. Switch, “It is impossible to move past this,” to “If I just don’t quit I can’t lose; all things are possible with God.” To look at the whole thing from start to finish may be difficult and overwhelming. Just look at today. Just look at this hour or this minute. In this moment you can choose to breathe. Choose that this moment you will trust God. Take it one moment at a time.

originally posted: June 17, 2008

Scars – Introduction

Scars – Acquainted

Scars – Tattooed

Scars – The Healer

Scars – Magnetic Attraction

Scars – Conclusion

Scars – The Healer

Why would God show us Himself as the Healer if we were never going to be hurt? In this world there is free will. Hurt caused by other humans is a reality we face. In this world there is an enemy called the Devil. Hurt caused by that evil one is a reality we face. In this world there is a system at work that we do not fully understand. At times that system causes us hurt. Whatever the reason we are hurt we have to face it. We can waste away in the futile attempt of trying to find someone or something to blame or we can look to the Healer to heal us.

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

Luke 17:15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

Luke 9:42 And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.

Mark 1:34 And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils; and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.

Matthew 14:14 And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.

Psalm 107:20 He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.

Scars – Introduction

Scars – Acquainted

Scars – Tattooed

Scars – The Healer

Scars – Magnetic Attraction

Scars – Conclusion

Scars – Tattooed

A person who gets a tattoo voluntarily places a permanent scar on their skin. Usually there is a purpose behind this marking. Sometimes it is a superficial desire to fit into a certain group. Usually, though, the image serves as a reminder of someone or something significant in their life.

When a hurt is left on our soul there is a scar. Granted, we do not choose these scars. They come to us by way of ugliness and pain that we cannot explain and would not wish on anyone else. Nonetheless we have been marked.

We now stand in the place to give purpose to these scars. We can choose to let those scars remind us of how we got them or we can choose something different. We can choose to let something beautiful come out of the healing process. The significant change that happens in our lives as we choose to grow out of offense, hurt, confusion and isolation is a glorious testament. The power we gain is worthy of being remembered.

Have you ever wondered what the purpose of scars is? I mean, God, in all His wonderful power could have made us heal up without scars, but He didn’t. So here are my thoughts of why we get scars in our bodies and in our souls when we heal.

  1. To remind us that healing is a process. Expecting to go from one day hurt to the next day perfectly fine is evidence that you do not understand that the process of healing is one step at a time. Give yourself the liberty to heal slowly.
  2. To remind of the healing power in the body. Apart from the body an appendage cannot heal. Without a connection to the body of Christ (a nourishing church) our souls with wither and rot.
  3. The ugly mark will remind us that we are not perfect and we need the grace of God.
  4. To remind us of our induction into the fellowship of the sufferers which we share with our Redeemer. Christ suffered an immense amount to redeem us. We can be more grateful and take this sacrifice to heart when we remember the pain we feel.
  5. To make us empathetic of those around us with scars. We are not alone. Look around. Now we can understand and have compassion for those hurting around us.
  6. To know deeper a different facet of God’s character. He is the one who walks next to us through the valley of the shadow of death. His love is demonstrated in new way at those moments that we would never know if we did not hurt.
  7. To see another side of humanity. While ultimately God is the one who heals you He may choose to do this through the touch of another human. As we learn to open ourselves to the comfort, care, advice and compassion of wise and loving individuals our hope in humanity is restored and we are healed. The scar reminds us that there is still goodness in the heart of humans submitted to the Lord.
  8. To give us hope for a better day. When we remember the scar we can hope for a fully restored creation on the day that Christ returns. That day all tears will be wiped away.
  9. To allow others to know you are susceptible and transparent. An approachable quality is derived from the soul that has suffered. As people are drawn to you there is a natural response of pointing them in the direction of Christ. This is a gift unattainable by any other means.
  10. The scar reminds me I am strong in my faith. The scar reminds me He is strong to heal.

Scars – Introduction

Scars – Acquainted

Scars – Tattooed

Scars – The Healer

Scars – Magnetic Attraction

Scars – Conclusion

Scars – Acquainted

They started telling me their stories. It caught me off guard when the children who decided to speak shared about their mothers. “My mother brought me a huge cake,” as the extended arms indicated the enormous dimensions. “My mother is beautiful,” another declared with loving eyes. “My mother is going to come and take me from this place,” the oldest of the group at seven years old crossed her arms in defiant determination. The possiblity may exist due to the foster type care that we provide children. But those words shot forcefully from that little mouth straight through my heart.

Suffering doesn’t touch you until you touch the suffering. And until you are touched by suffering you will not touch a sufferer.

I used to say that I would much rather learn from the Good Book that God has provided for our benefit rather than at the cruel school of hard knocks. That is not the case now. I see value in feeling, to bring me to a new awareness not attainable by facts on a page.

In my ignorance of pushing suffering away from myself I also pushed the sufferers away. As I have learned to embrace the hardships in my life I have also embraced the suffering people. Skirting the valley sent me tumbling down in only to realize that there were others going through as well.

Three days to break the body of Jesus and see it revived again with scars to testify. Thirty-three years suffering with raw and blistering humanity to break his heart, never to see it fully restored. He is a man acquainted with suffering. Can I be acquainted with him yet ignore his empathy and compassion? Doubtful.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)

This is a description of Jesus. Namely the part of Jesus’ life when He was giving it away. This passage is full the horrific suffering that Jesus took upon Himself. He knows the pain. He still carries the scars. We are not alone.

Isaiah 53:4- 9 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

5  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

6  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

8  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

9  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Take a moment and notice the different kinds of suffering that Jesus took upon himself. Do you identify with any of these? Let it be a comfort to you that you are not alone with your pain and scars.

originally posted: Aug 6, 2008

Scars – Introduction

Scars – Acquainted

Scars – Tattooed

Scars – The Healer

Scars – Magnetic Attraction

Scars – Conclusion

Scars – Introduction

Mr. and Mrs. Hurtz* ignored their coffee. Our words were few. Their soul pain spilled out in hot embittered tears. A week’s worth of crying had left the why questions behind. They wanted to know one thing: what do we do now? My own welled eyes mourned with them the lost of a life never known.

This was not the first time I had consoled a broken heart; nor was it the last. Each time is different. The meager words change. The tone varies. The intensity of the interactions are unpredictable. One thing remains the same: I feel completely helpless. Humbly we come to the foot of the cross and bear the wounds before the one who bore it all. Humanity touches divinity and the scars form.

What about those scars? What about the pain that lingers like the smell of onions on your hands long after your eyes are dry from the stinging vapors of the cut? What do we do with detestable suffering?

Far be it from me to assume that I have all the answers. That is where you come in. We won’t get it all figured out. That is not the goal. I simply would like to delve into some thoughts surrounding suffering with you. Over the next few days here on ‘@ngie’ as well as in Spanish on ‘existencia compartida’ there will be themes launched. Read. Think. Comment as you like.

As it stands now I have five themes. Some come from teachings I have given in the past. Others come from past blog posts. Part of the content comes from discussions I have had both live and through email. I am hoping that this compilation will be a resource. I am thoroughly excited about expanding the concepts with the interaction that will take place here.

To finish the story I will quote Mrs. Hurtz*.

“Could you please pass me the thoughts about the purpose of our scars? I know that because of the church, you two as my pastors and the support of other friends I can say today that I am completely restored. Recently about seven other ladies who have been through what we went through have come to me. But they have been suffering for years. They are looking for help. I think I can help them.”

As I sat to write what started as six simple phrases turned into a five page thing. That is what you will find here. Welcome to the journey, I am glad we are walking together.

*Name changed, real story, real people.

Scars – Introduction

Scars – Acquainted

Scars – Tattooed

Scars – The Healer

Scars – Magnetic Attraction

Scars – Conclusion