Making the Most of Time at Home – A teenager’s view on COVID-19

I remember walking to my chemistry class about a month and a half ago, feeling stressed, and counting the days ‘till Easter break. This is….or was….or would have been…. a crucial year for me, as subject selection was around the corner, and the workload was becoming overwhelming and increasingly difficult – raising anxiety and stress among students in my year.

There are….or were…some highlights of my school (as there always are) – like talking, laughing, dancing and debating among friends at lunch, taking part in sports after school, and strangely, but not so strangely, finding comfort in the frustration and fatigue others face as you go through your academic journey together – things we all took for granted, not realizing the value of the day to day socialization and strong friendships that are crucial to our development, and oftentimes our sanity.

And yes, we have online classes, we call and text, but still, it feels as if the world has stopped. – As if we’re cut off from… not only our friends, but the natural routine of our lives that we’ve grown to love and hate, but appreciate in every aspect. We miss the eccentric energy of passionate discussion, the mindless conversations that defined the bonds we built, the youthful community we helped to form, the small actions or statements that made our days, and the high levels of stress that brought the students together.

Now, online learning platforms have proven to be both efficient and convenient in the sharing of not only academic related information, but music classes, ballet classes, art classes, just to name a few. Yes, we receive the content, and we may (and I said may) grasp the concept, but there is a way in which face-to-face interactions and inclusive discussion in person, register the lesson more concretely. Being together in a classroom, or dancing together in a choreographed piece have so much more meaning
when we can actively, and interactively understand, inquire and be corrected in the moment, when our minds and hearts are open to what’s being shared.

This is not a time, however, to give up hope, or to succumb to the loneliness that seems to be shadowing your thoughts and blinding you from what’s actually achievable. I know it’s not easy to be stuck in your house all day, seeing the same faces, making the same routine trips from your laptop, to
the fridge, to your phone, to your bed, and back again.

Take a break from classes for a moment. Let Netflix wait for just a second. Call up a few friends and have a good laugh. Think about what you’ve been
wanting to do personally for a long time (that can be done at home of course!). Maybe start taking better care of yourself, eat healthier, creatively express yourself, learn how to do something really cool (You can find ANYTHING on Youtube), maybe call your estranged grandma, learn a new language, exercise more often – There’s so much to do when you actually open your eyes and see what the world has to offer. The internet is a huge platform – so much information is at your fingertips. Use it to your
advantage.

Of course, this is a great time to catch up on stuff you may have missed in that math class (you know what I’m talking about), or take some time to understand what that Biology teacher was saying. As I said, the world is at your fingertips. School’s not out, don’t take this time for granted. Having a good academic background is essential and extremely beneficial to your future, but remember that you’re more marketable with a skill or unique talent, so ensure that you take time to develop yourself doing something that you love!

Also, if you want to make a difference in the world, start in your community, let your voice be heard. Spread awareness and hope to those who will hear it via social media. (So when your mom walks up and
asks, “You’re always on that phone! What are you doing?” You can say that you’re spreading hope and awareness like the good citizen you are!) Millions of our doctors, delivery personnel and other essential workers are on the front lines and are at higher risk than anyone else. Let’s keep them, and the victims of the virus in our prayers as we and our leaders fight COVID-19.

Remember to stay home, stay happy and stay hopeful!

-Nia-Ashley Harris

Submit comments or queries below!

More Time for the People I Love #COVID-19!

Omar and Roxanne Genas are a breath of fresh love! Married for 4 years and 10 months, the two love birds have an energetic one year old, Josiah and are elated to have more time together at home as a result of the COVID-19 health crisis. Family and Faith Magazine is pleased to share their wonderful love story and positive perspective in this challenging season.

We asked Roxanne, a stay at home mom and entrepreneur what she loves most about Omar.

Roxanne: He is a real man. A fighter for our dreams. A man that stands on principles and follows through on his commitments. I can count on him to get things done. He loves God and I admire his desire to keep getting closer to God.

I love that he is completely selfless and committed. I remember when I was pregnant, he showed up to every single doctor’s appointment I had. I thought that was normal but when my doctor and I had a little chit chat she told me that I really have a great husband because he’s shown up to the appointments and other women would be so happy to have that.

From day one Omar has been a true gentleman and that has continued to this very day in our marriage. It may seem small, but he opens doors for me, pulls my chair out at a table and holds my hands when we’re out together. Even though our son is a year old we’re still adjusting to life with the addition to our family, and with that he has taken on a second job which begins in the night in caring for Jo. Almost every night Omar carries out Jo’s bedtime routine and handles the night time feedings. I’m truly blessed
to have a partner like him.

Omar is extremely supportive. He is my biggest cheer leader. No matter what I set my heart to achieve, he’s right beside me encouraging and cheering me along.

Another thing I love about Omar is that he is a joy to be around. He will make you laugh even though some of his jokes are corny but I get them!

A Systems Administrator at a major financial institution, Family & Faith Magazine posed the same question to Omar, who also gushed about his love for Roxanne:

Omar: The first thing that attracted me to Roxanne was her intellect. Scratch that, that’s the second thing. The first was that she was smoking hot! We attended college together and I always held the view, even to this day, that if I cannot have a decent non superficial conversation with a woman, then there’s no way I would marry her. There was never a superficial moment in our relationship. Our courting was unconventional. I love her intellect and the fact that we could reason/argue on several controversial
topics ranging from religion, finances, relationship roles, sex and family.

I highlighted religion first because when we started courting, my wife was an ACTIVE member in the church. As for me, I considered myself to be an atheist. I remember always asking her tough questions about her God because I could not fathom how an intellect like her could believe in a God as was portrayed by the church and the Bible. Roxanne held her ground and although my points seemed valid to ME, she refused to capitulate her belief under the strain of my questions rooted in disbelief. But that
was it, it was MY disbelief, not hers. She invited me to the religious institution she called church and I reluctantly attended. Suffice it to say, I realised that I was the fool in thinking I know more about the God, faith and belief and she was and is as wise as King Solomon BECAUSE she believes. She’s an independent thinker and I will always appreciate that (sometimes it annoys me though. Lol)

Another trait I admire in Roxanne is the dedication she shows to the people whom she calls “friend”. Friendship for her is very sacred and she will go above and beyond once you have proved that you have her best interest at heart because for her it’s a heart matter. I remember when she was planning a baby shower and the lengths she went through to ensure that it was perfect, one would think she was planning a gala for the Prime Minister. Ashamedly I would OFTEN fall asleep while she toils through the
night on a project only to wake in the morning to either see her STILL working, or to see the living room littered with project materials whether it be cartridge paper, balloons or some glitter. But that is it. When she commits, she COMMITS.

Family & Faith Magazine: How has your marriage or family been affected by the COVID-19 crisis?

Roxanne: Omar would sometimes work from home once per week and I would look forward to that day so with this Covid-19 crisis I’m happy he has the ability to work from home. Even though he’s working I know for sure that he’s safe and Josiah and I (mostly Josiah) can pop in on him. I know for sure that Josiah loves having his daddy home more often, daddy is his playmate because I cannot handle the rough playing that he loves.

Omar: To piggyback on what Roxanne just said, the best part about this crisis for me is the ability it gives me to spend more time with the people I love. I love when Josiah wakes up to see me. He greets me with a big smile showing his four little pegs. I love making breakfast for my wife and being present to serve them however I can. There’s nothing more important to me than my family and if I could permanently work from home, I would be a happy camper.

Family & Faith Magazine: What are you doing to keep your family’s spirits up during this crisis?

Omar & Roxanne: Our business is centred around plant based nutritional supplements and environmentally friendly cleaning and disinfectant cleaners so we are not worried. We have been on our vitamins and we also practice proper hygiene and maintain a healthy distance from others especially during this time. At home we go for walks or we have a break for play time with Josiah.

Family & Faith Magazine: Do you have any relational challenges working from home especially with the added responsibility of a baby?

Roxanne: We love it! No complaints on my end after all I got married to spend my life and time with my husband. So with him not having to commute to and from work five days per week and work 40-50 hours weekly this is a welcomed change. It also eases some of the pressure on me in caring for Josiah. When I need to complete a task or need a break to rest, Omar fills in for me. The only challenge that we’ve encountered is that because Josiah and I have a routine, when he sees daddy that routine gets
thrown out the door because he wants to play and be in what daddy is doing. That can be distracting especially when Omar has critical and time sensitive tasks to get done.

Omar: Not at all. Roxanne alluded to the fact that family is one of our highest values and we got married to spend our life together. Too often husbands and wives spend more time at work than they do at
home with their family and that in itself could be problematic because an experience is something that cannot be explained fully, it has to be experienced. Therefore, when a husband has a shared experience
with another coworker and vice versa, then terms such as “work husband” and “work wife” start to emerge. Being home now affords us to spend more time together. If I have a deadline, I hide from Jo to complete it.

Family & Faith Magazine: If, yes, how are you overcoming those challenges?

Omar & Roxanne: In overcoming that challenge I would take Jo into another room to engage him or battle with him to go to sleep.


Family & Faith Magazine: Do you have any other comment you would like to share regarding how your family is coping in the crisis.


Omar & Roxanne: Since the crisis began we have seen people joke (some are serious) about spending too much time with their families. But this is a time for us to get back to basics and focus on what really matters and God’s design for the family. As parents we have a duty to instill the right values and fear of God in our children, so with the extra time together let us draw closer to our Maker and each other.

Comment below or send an email familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com.
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God’s Woman provides strong dose of empowerment

Family & Faith Magazine’s Founder & Editorial Director, Shelly-Ann Harris has a released a strong dose of empowerment for women of faith in these challenging times.

Leaning on examples from amazing women in scripture coupled with her own inspirational personal experiences, Harris provides insights and strategies for overcoming challenges in the easy to read 7-chapter publication published by Breadknife Productions.

Writing this book has been an enriching and therapeutic journey for me personally. I hope it will enrich other women and empower them to face whatever life throws at them with confidence,” Harris said.

Here is one reader’s review:

Worry woke me up tonight. There are so many things happening in my life and in the world that I find it hard to sleep through the night. Scrolling through my phone I found this. And for the last hour I have been filling myself with its wisdom and truth. I believe that God sent this book as a gift to me. I am going to close my eyes and go back to sleep in peace, knowing that he has my back.” – GB

The e-book and paperback are available on Amazon.com.

Shelly-Ann has also authored the following publications:

40 Agreements on Becoming 40

The Goodies on Her Tray (poetry collection)

We Don’t Hate Mondays Anymore (children’s book)

Born in Kingston Jamaica, Shelly-Ann is a passionate woman of faith who uses various platforms to share empowering stories of victory and hope for all people, especially women.

I Miss School

Zoe-Marie and Sarah-Rene Harris share their stories.

I really miss school. It was so much fun, but Coronavirus is making everything boring.

At school, I would always go on the playground after lunch time. We also got candy when we answered questions correctly in class!

I had lots of friends to play with. We played boys versus girls – it was so much fun! We use to play hide and seek, ‘mamma lashi’ and other things! Now we have to stay home because of the Coronavirus.

At least I can see my friends on Zoom when we have classes online.

Still, home isn’t that bad though. When I finish my work I can go on the phone or play with my baby sister, which is fun!

Sarah-Rene is 9 years old

I had just started high school and was finally settling down when a pandemic was declared and all schools were shut down.

At first I was happy for the break so I could catch 2 extra hours of sleep in the
morning!

Although I can wake up later now and wear my own comfortable clothes, I miss many things about school.

Plus I prefer learning in school rather than online classes because my teachers make me want to learn.

But I mostly miss interacting with my friends and I hope that Corona doesn’t infect anymore people so that everyone can go back to their normal lives.

One thing I really enjoy about being at home though is getting to eat way more food and spending more time with my mom who has to work from home.

Zoe-Marie Harris is 12 years old

Making up with that estranged loved one

With the ongoing health crisis worldwide, many people are forced to slow down, avoid public gatherings and possibly work from home if possible. But some can’t stand the slowing pace of life or being at home because now without the busyness of normal activities, they can now more acutely feel the numbing pain of a broken relationship or friendship. They feel the emptiness, loss and hurt of not being in fellowship with someone very special.

Whether you are the person who was hurt or the one who did the hurting, Family and Faith Magazine is pleased to share some practical insights on how to restore a broken relationship. We spoke with the extremely knowledgeable and experienced Dr. Barry Davidson, respected Christian counselor and CEO of Family Life Ministries, who told us about some of the key elements for reconciliation – forgiveness, remorse and rebuilding trust.

Have you truly forgiven the person who hurt you?

Forgiveness is perhaps the most frequently discussed issue when it comes to restoring relationships. Maybe because it is something the Lord Jesus has required of believers: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32). To carry out this command, some persons say that forgiveness is simply a decision that we make based on obedience to God’s word. But how can you know when you have truly forgiven someone? According to Dr. Davidson, true forgiveness happens when the person who was hurt is in a position to wish the offender well. He also told Family and Faith Magazine what he considers to be the ‘5 truths about forgiveness’.

  1. Forgiveness is an act of the will. It is not just something in your head; you have made up your mind and are willing to forgive.
  2. Forgiveness is very costly. It cost Jesus His life, it is going to cost you your pride. Most times, the victim wants to see that person (who hurt them) suffer, so to really decide that you don’t want them to suffer is costly in that sense.
  3. Forgiveness should be expressed verbally and specifically. You need to be able to say to the person ‘I forgive you’ and tell them exactly what you are forgiving them for.
  4. Forgiveness is not conditional, so you are not going to say to the person ‘I forgive you if you promise me that you will never do this again.’
  5. Forgiveness is not impossible. ‘I can’t forgive you’ really means ‘I won’t forgive you.’

Nevertheless forgiveness is only one aspect of reconciliation. Another important part is rebuilding trust, which Dr. Davidson maintains is the responsibility of the offender. “You have to forgive in order to be healed of hurt, in order to be in a position to be reconciled. But you don’t have to trust after you have forgiven the person, you may, but your forgiveness can be sincere even if you don’t trust the person,” he explained. He warned that if you have forgiven someone who is not trustworthy and you begin to trust that person again; you are exposing yourself to danger for which reconciliation becomes almost impossible. “A common mistake that pastors make is that they equate trust with forgiveness…but trust is something that is earned. (With regards to) the person who cheated or the person who physically abused his wife (for example), for her to stupidly trust him back in her space would indeed stupid,” Dr. Davidson admonished.

“So what we professionals do is that we encourage the forgiveness because unforgiveness affects the person who needs to forgive more than the person who needs to be forgiven. But we say to that person that that aspect of trust is not your responsibility, it is that person who offended you; it is their responsibility to earn back that trust.”

Dr. Davidson added that the offender needs to work on themselves; grow, heal and change in order to make themselves trustworthy and be in a position to be back in the victim’s space again. “Because what has happened in the past is that we have had people who are abusers; and they physically abuse their partners and they are very remorseful (but they are in) the cycle of abuse; they are remorseful, they want to make up and you make up and they start it again and it has a tendency of getting even worse and we have seen people who have actually died. So what we are saying to people is, yes you have forgiven however this person has to earn back the trust; this person has to be sincere, genuinely remorseful, genuinely sorry, genuinely repentant and really put in the work to be trustworthy again and that’s when you can experience total, real reconciliation.”

Come back soon for tips on how to rebuild trust in your relationship!

Send comments and questions to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com or comment below.

Parenting Kids in Times of Crisis

Imported COVID-19 cases are now in Jamaica and families need to grapple with how to equip children during these times of uncertainty. As a parent of 4, I believe one of the first things is to do is model the behaviours that we want to see. So if I want my daughters to wash their hands properly with soap and water, I must do my best to model that behaviour. If I want them to practice exemplary personal hygiene, keep their surroundings clean, avoid touching their face and so on, I too must be doing the same. I must practice what I preach. Social distancing may be a little more difficult to implement and enforce but should be done as we would normally do when someone has the regular flu or conjunctivitis.

The health crisis facing the world also presents an opportunity for parents to talk about factors in this life that are out of our control. It’s a real life lesson that can serve children well when they get older and things happen that they didn’t plan for. We can’t panic and go into hiding. We must pray, plan and process the situation and take actions rooted in wisdom. Fear is never a useful or productive response. The scripture has strong encouragement for moments like these: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6)

From this scripture we can glean at least 2 actions:

1. We should encourage our children to pray instead of worrying. Make praying a habit so that it doesn’t seem odd in times when you really need God and to be surrounded by His peace.

2. We should encourage them to find things to be thankful for – this puts their minds in a positive place and increases their faith in God’s track record. They can begin to have thoughts like – if God has done it before, He will do it again. He has kept us in times of trouble before and He can keep us again.

Let us as parents also model this behaviour of faith in these difficult times.

Through Water or Fire – I am an Overcomer!

Through Water or Fire – I am an Overcomer is the empowering theme for the Christmas Documentary Edition of Family and Faith Magazine! 

Sponsored by the Jamaica Broilers Group and Breadknife Productions, the Magazine shares two inspiring testimonies of Christian women who have overcome tremendous challenges.

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Nicole Lalor Ingram

Nicole Lalor Ingram, a project manager by profession, is fully healed today following a terrifying diagnosis. “I was diagnosed with a CSF leak which the condition where the fluid would leak from the brain so …once that leaks out then the brain starts sagging in the back of the neck,” Nicole explained to Family and Faith Magazine.

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Nadine Blair

The second testimony comes from Jamaican media personality, singer, author, the well known and loved Nadine Blair. Nadine shared with Family and Faith Magazine a surprising long time struggle with not feeling good enough. “It took me years to come to a place of accepting me for who I am. I am black, I am dark skinned and I have big nose and big forehead. It was a real struggle growing up,” the gospel sensation confessed.

Both women shared exciting testimonies of how God’s power and grace have helped them to overcome their personal struggles.

This Edition of Family and Faith Magazine also features exciting gospel trio Levy’s Heritage which is made up of the talented children of Jamaican gospel veteran, Lubert Levy. Oshin, Ovando and Oneil Levy shared their refreshing journey as young Christians in ministry.

President and Founder of Family and Faith Magazine, Shelly-Ann Harris wants viewers to be encouraged and gain strength to overcome their own life challenges.

“We wanted to showcase the power of the Christ of Christmas in empowering believers to overcome difficult circumstances. We hope the Magazine will give the urgent and important gift of hope on this wonderful day and throughout this blessed season,” she said.

WATCH NOW HERE!

VIDEO | Train up Your Teenager – The Role of Parents, Teachers and Students in Academic Success!

Schooled with insights and wisdom from two veteran high-school principals, Mrs. Esther Tyson and Mr. Linton Wier and a high-school grade coordinator, Mrs. Diedre Dixon, Family and Faith Magazine released its insightful 3rd documentary under the theme: Train up Your Teenager – the Role of Parents, Teachers and Students in Academic Success!

Released on the Magazine’s youtube and social media channels, the documentary, which is sponsored by the Jamaica Broilers Group, offered strong advice to teachers, parents, students, the community and all other stakeholders in the quest to have better results at the end of the academic year.

Below are excerpts from the educators’ sage advice:

“I say to my students, there comes a time when you have to have tunnel vision. Make those healthy choices in terms of how you manage your body; you can’t be having friends who are going to keep you up at night talking about their boyfriend or girlfriends. You really need to be resting or studying.” – Esther Tyson

Watch a short documentary clip here!

“When you see something (indiscipline) happening on the street, if you don’t feel like you can get involved at least call the school. We get calls from random persons on the road about students who did something good or something bad. It’s very important for us to know what is happening out there and so that helps to influence what we do as teachers.”” – Diedre Dixon

“You have to have a passion for teaching, if you don’t have passion for children don’t stay in the classroom because you damage lives.” – Esther Tyson

“Children that do exceptionally well are the children with parents that are totally involved… One of the things that our parents need to understand is that schools cannot and should not be treated as a daycare centre. Parents must understand that education is a relationship; it has to be a partnership.” – Linton Wier

Family and Faith Magazine President and Founder Mrs. Shelly-Ann Harris, noted that her main takeaway from this third project was that parents need to maintain the same or even a greater level of interest and support in high school as they did in primary / prep school. “As parents we spend significant time and resources to get our kids ready for GSAT (and now PEP) but in high school there is a tendency to loosen your grip on the handle so to speak. The educators made it very clear that this is a no no. Our teenagers are not adults and they need guidance and support all the way.”

“I am also reminded that God uses people, especially teachers, to intervene in children’s lives, point them towards their destiny and indeed help to train them up in the way they should go,” Harris remarked.

Go here to watch the complete documentary and share with your family and friends!

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com 

 

‘Women Who Love Jesus and Live in His Power’ Easter Documentary!

Family and Faith Magazine has released an inspiring documentary for Easter, 2018, titled – Women Who Love Jesus and Live in His Power.

Replacing our customary print edition for the Holy Season, the documentary showcases the compelling testimonies of 6 outstanding woman: Lisa Stiebel, Architect; Dr. Anthea Henderson, Lecturer; Keody Thompson, Realtor; Valerie Kerr, Lecturer and Pharmacist and Joan Fletcher, Attorney-at-law and Co-pastor of Transformed Life Church.

In addition to gripping testimonies on miraculous healing, marriage reconciliation and deliverance from depression, the 45-minute documentary highlights the exciting lessons the women are learning from God in this season of their lives; tackles feelings of unworthiness among women and explores Easter time in Jamaica, among other themes. There is also a special feature on the amazing work being done by ‘God’s helpers’ (social workers) for the mentally ill at Bellevue Hospital.

President and Founder of Family and Faith Magazine, Shelly-Ann Harris, is excited about the new project. “It has been such a humbling and overwhelming experience listening to each exemplary woman testify of God’s power. Humbling because what else can you do when you behold God’s power at work in people’s lives? And overwhelming because God’s glory was so evident and so strong,” Harris, who also directed the project, expressed.

Shelly 2016

Additionally, she noted that, “Yes the documentary is all of 45 -minutes but it is time well spent! We invite families and friends to get together during the holidays, watch the documentary together and be blessed.”

Watch Now!

Happy Easter!

Comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com

Prime Minister of Jamaica Repents for the Sins of the Nation

Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness and his wife joined with thousands of Jamaicans on Saturday, December 2 to seek God and repent for the sins of the nation. Amidst leaders from most Christian denominations including Seventh Day Adventists, Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, Independent churches and other groups, the Prime Minister passionately and solemnly listed and confessed the sins of the nation and sought forgiveness from God under open sky in Half-Way-Tree Square.

“Lord God and Heavenly Father, I come to you today on behalf of my nation, my family, my wife who is here with me and every family and person in Jamaica. I come as Prime Minister of Jamaica on behalf of myself and all leaders of the state and their various administrative staff, operational arm, and the various agents and agencies;

Lord God and Eternal Father I come acknowledging that we have sinned against the people of Jamaica, we have sinned against our fellow man, we have sinned against our family members and relatives, we have sinned against our neighbours, we have sinned against the children, the youth and the unborn. We have sinned against the poor and the weak and the elderly, we have sinned against the free and the imprisoned…” Mr. Holiness outlined.

Moved by the Prime Minister’s confessions and supplications, the audience could be heard weeping and shouting “amen” and “hallelujah!”

“We hereby seek your face and turn from our wicked ways asking for your mercies and forgiveness for sins and seek by faith and by choice to humble ourselves in your sight acknowledging our sins individually and collectively. We now take responsibility for our sins. As we come to you, grant us grace to obey you in Jesus name,” the Prime Minister petitioned.

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Explaining his perspective on prayer, the Prime Minister also noted that: “We pray not because we don’t want to work…we pray because we know our efforts will never be enough.

“We pray because God is stronger than us,” Prime Minister Holiness declared to much cheers and applause from the audience which tarried in Half-Way-Tree Square until after midnight.

The National Day of fasting, prayer and repentance was convened by Pastor Jeffrey Shuttleworth of Tarrant Baptist Church. In addition to the Prime Minister, several church leaders from various denominations prayed and repented about several themes including the family, the economy, violence, media and culture among others.

comment below or send an email to familyandfaithmagazine@gmail.com