Friday, July 31, 2009

"Please Wait"

In the wet and wonder of a water park, my daughter signaled to my friend to bend down. “My mom is read-icted to the bible” she whispered in her ear.

“What did you say?” my friend asked, uncertain if she understood. “My mom is read-icted to the bible.”

My friend shared this story with me later that day. We giggled about it. Not addicted to the bible, but read-icted. Very clever. Mostly, I was surprised and delighted that this was what my daughter thought about me and felt like she needed to share with my friend.

Later that week, in a moment of solitude, my daughter announced to me that now she was “addicted” to prayer. She said that she prayed all the time, and in fact, I noticed her stopping frequently during the day, closing her eyes and whispering prayers heavenward. She prays simple prayers. Desiring prayers. Needful prayers. Sweet prayers. She prays for rain, and for rain to stop. She prays for letters in the mail and for blueberries at the store. She prays for safety when we are in the car and she prays for others to be happy.

This morning she was playing the computer while I was having my quiet time and reading my bible. I noticed that she was hanging upside down off the couch, head hung low, and whispering.

“What are you doing, dear?” I asked.

“Praying. I’m praying that the “please wait” sign would be gone so I can play the program I want to play. I am praying that God would hurry it up so I would not have to wait” she said, with a smile. “I like to pray for everything. Oh. There it goes. It doesn’t say “please wait” anymore. It’s ready for me!”

I smiled. I had prayed a prayer or two (or hundred) for the “please wait” sign to be removed, too. But, unlike the quick answer to prayer that my daughter experienced, God is still asking me to wait. His answer to my prayer remains, “Not yet. Please wait … still.”

Lamentations 3:25-26 says, “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

Dear reader, perhaps God has you in a waiting period -- waiting to see what He has planned for you and/or waiting for what you are to do. Wait quietly. Wait confidently. Wait with great strength, for waiting is not weakness. Wait with hope. And while you wait, pray and seek Him, diligently, trusting Him for the plans He has for you, for He is good to those whose hope is in Him and He will deliver you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A "Swimming Lessons" Lesson

I heard the enthusiastic swim instructor's voice bounce off the water, “Now we are going to work on our Elementary Back Stroke.”

I did not need to hear my youngest daughter’s voice. Her face and body language said it all. Across the pool, I could distinguish tears from pool water, running down her face. Her brow was furrowed, her shoulders hunched and her hands cupped and lifted up out the water. She was sure to be saying “But I don’t know how to do that stroke!”

The instructor, with a tender smile and a hug, gently plucked her out of the pool and placed her on the rim. She demonstrated to my daughter how to move her arms and legs. My daughter’s strain melted into a smile, as she jumped in to the pool to try it for herself, and all was well again in Level 3 swim lessons at our local pool.

I don’t know about you, but I can relate to how my daughter felt. I’m going along, listening to the Lord, working on whatever He has for me for the moment, and then I find myself up against something that I have no idea how to handle. I cry out “Help! But I don’t know how to do this new challenge!” There are challenges like holding on to a slippery hope, or speaking the truth even when the other person is not willing to listen, or believing that God has a future for me, when it seems as if all looks like a murky abyss, or dealing with memories that had been put aside, only to now, again rear their heinous head.

“Help, God! I don’t know how to do this one! I've been working hard on these other issues, but I wasn’t expecting this one, and now what do I do!”

And then with the gentleness that only God possesses, He lifts us up and sets us down, and begins to teach us the way in which we can handle the challenge before us. When we seek Him, we will find the way, and He will show us. This I know to be true. It is part of my story with God that I can attest to, but when I am caught off guard, I have to stop and even remind myself.

My two older kids are at camp this week. I was trying to memorize the verse that they were working on yesterday, when I witnessed this little interaction with my daughter and her swim instructor – evidence of God at work, again.

Jeremiah 6:16 says, (when you don’t know what to do …) “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Dear reader, are you at a crossroads? Have you come upon a time of choice and decision? Are you faced with a new dilemma or a reminder of an old one that you need to process through and deal with? This is what the Lord says, seek Him. Seek Him in prayer. Seek Him through His Word, the Bible. Seek Him through the wisdom of those who also love Him. Stand and look around and ask Him to show you the path of truth that you are to walk in. His path is the “tried and true” way. It is the good way.

God will show you, and when He does, He asks us to walk in the way that He reveals to us. It was scary for my daughter to have to jump back in the water and try the “new” stroke that her teacher taught her. It can be scary for us to step out and do what God is asking us to do as well, but He is faithful and it is in seeking and obeying Him that we will find rest for our souls. That’s a promise.

Friday, July 24, 2009

God's Perspective and Peace

I walked along the path in a favorite serene spot of mine. Many memories came to life in my mind. It is a beautiful place of peace for me but it is peppered with points of pain. I chatted for few moments with my elderly neighbor lady. She is dealing with a multitude of medical problems as well as the reality of recently being widowed, but her demure yet strong spirit was evident when she spoke. She shared the latest news about the neighbors, catching me up on their happenings -- some happier than others.

"We all have our things we must deal with," she said softly. I agreed, and then we parted. I left thinking about portions of my pain, and the peace that I so desired, from the Lord.

I thought alot about living in the tension between our pain and peace. What do we do when a place of peace becomes a place of pain -- either partially or fully? It may be a physical location or a space in our hearts, where peace had resided, but pain has now taken up residence. How does God come in and begin to change our pain?

I believe by faith, and some by experience, that God does so by giving us perspective about Himself, ourselves, and our situation. God takes our places of pain and and gives us peace amidst them, by giving us His perspective. It may not mean that our pain will disappear. There are life long griefs that are carried -- the loss of a loved one, wounds from the past, serious medical illnesses, betrayal, abandonment, abuse.

However, dear reader, God comes in and takes hold of our face, between His powerful yet gentle hands and asks us to look at Him, only at Him and receive the peace He has for us. He shows us Who He is, how much He loves us, and what we need to know about the plans that He has for us.

In John 16:33 Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." Many of us would not deny that there is trouble. Spending time with my neighbor shed light on only a few of the burdens that people are enduring, but Jesus reassures us. He has overcome these troubles in this world. Our suffering is not uncommon to man, nor to Jesus, who is acquainted with our grief, and yet Whom is also the balm for our sorrow. We can take heart and have hope.

I don't know if I will ever fully understand it, this side of heaven. God offers us His perspective, amidst our pain. It is here that we see Him clearer, feel His presence nearer and love Him dearer. Take heart, dear reader. God is doing something amidst your pain, and when you trust in Him in the process, He will give you peace, for He Himself is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A "Ministry of Confrontation?"

In the previous Post I spoke of speaking the truth in love. That comes from Ephesians 4:15, and although it is for the recipients benefit, it is for ours as we grow in maturity.

But how do we do that? I jokingly said to a friend of mine the other day, "Ugh. I hope that God is not growing in me the "ministry of confrontation" (if there is one) -- I am sure getting a lot of training time in this arena, and I am getting worn out!"

I am sure we have all said it -- "I just don't like confrontation. I am not a confrontational person," and usually we use that as an excuse to not do it. Now, I am also sure that we would agree that some people must like it, or at least they seem to eek out of it some sort of self-satisfaction, or relief at the very least, but I am not sure these people are doing it in love. The truth is, it is hard for most of us to have to confront at all, especially in love. It is a vulnerable and daunting place to be. A humble place to be. A scary place to be.

Despite these feelings, we are called to live in the truth, share the truth and expose the truth. However, in order to do this we must first be willing to wade through the murky waters of our own sin to arrive at a place of presenting the truth -- to step out humbly, aware of our own frailty and dirt. We must be gentle, not vindictive. We must seek God for when to share, how to share and what to share. We must be bold. We must be willing to listen to the other person and hear what they have to say. We must be wise, and we must understand that allowing them to continue in their sin is not loving them, and in fact, may be aiding them. Confronting in love may be a place of holy ground.

A dear, wise friend of mine shared with me this past week a saying that she had heard about sin. I was preparing to confront someone in love over their sin and the effects that it had on me. She said, and I paraphrase, "Sin takes you further than you want to go, makes you stay longer than you want to stay and costs you more than you want to pay."

Dear reader, the "ministry of confrontation?" I don't know, maybe it is more like a "ministry of grace" as we step out in to the truth and help to disrupt the twisted, far reaching entrenched effects of sin. Maybe we must pay a price and take a risk, so that they will not. Do so in love. Do so boldly. Do so humbly. Do so gently.

Ephesians 4:15 says that in "speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ." Be encouraged, God uses our willingness to step out in obedience and speak the truth in love as a means to grow us in maturity, making us more like Jesus, and that is a humbling to me.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Living in the Light and Loving Well

It seems as if I am having a run on burnt out light bulbs around my house. In my kitchen alone I have 4 out. I keep intending to go down to the basement and hunt for new light bulbs, but I get distracted and don’t. One by one, the light bulbs burn out, and my kitchen is getting darker and darker. Even the light in my bathroom is burnt out, and we are (strangely) showering in the dark. We need some light around here. I need to change those light bulbs so that we can see what we are doing, at least more clearly!

As I thought about needing to increase the light around our house, I thought about living in the light in life. We need to live in the light, in order to see what is going on around us and in us. We need to live in the light of God’s love, Jesus, so that we can, in turn, love well.

“Loving well” – what does it mean? How do we do it? I am challenged by the whole concept. It is complicated. It requires a great amount of strength and a great amount of patient perseverance. It requires the grace of God. It requires wisdom and a willingness to live in the Light. It requires work.

How to “love well” in difficult times is on my mind right now. When do we withhold an answer and when do we speak? When do we turn the other cheek and when do we share the truth? When do we address an issue and when do we not throw pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6)? How do we live fully in the light, when there is so much darkness around?

Ephesians 5:8-15 says “Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them ... everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”

Whew. That’s a lot, but it encourages me and strengthens me. To live and love well I need to remember that I am a child of the light. Everything is exposed by the light of God’s truth. We need to spend time with the Lord to know the truth, and then to have the wisdom and strength to expose the truth. We are to be careful and wise. These are desperate times. People can be deep in denial about themselves or their situations out of fear, or they are choosing to walk in their own way, away from God. The truth is not revered. In contrast, it is ignored. However, to live in the truth – in the light – is to “love well" and God calls us to love.

Dear reader, perhaps you are at a point today when you need to step out in to the light and live in the truth about yourself and your life. Maybe you need to confess and repent. Maybe you need to confront someone else. Maybe you need to stand up for yourself, find your voice, and speak difficult words, in love. Seek the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind and soul and ask Him what His will is for you. It can be very difficult. I would rather not do the challenging work (I can tend to put it off, like changing light bulbs, but even worse), but I also know that it is well worth it. Trust the Lord. He will give you the strength that you need for today to do what He has you to do, in the light of His love.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Walking With God Out of the Valley

The other day, I stood at the base of a path of stone steps, looking up. The flat, irregular steps are nestled between large boulders. They are in a place that is special to me; sweet memories occupy this place, and some difficult ones, as well. And here God again showed me what I needed to see.

Walking with God up and out of the valley requires a great amount of trust, but He is our guide, showing us the way. When we choose to trust Him and rely on Him, He directs our steps. Step by step, word by word, circumstance by circumstance, He shows us the way in which we are to walk. In this wilderness valley, He is our constant companion. He knows the way and He is the Perfect Protector. We need not fear. The way in which we walk, however, will be unlike any way that we could have dreamed. It is His way, and it is full of life and blessing beyond our imaginations, even when we can not see the next step. Even when it seems as if all is loss, and there is no gain.

He makes our steps firm and He provides us with balance to walk up these steep stone steps. He may take us in one direction, and then another, but always it is He who is marking our path. On the journey, sometimes it seems as if He brings us along a traversing way, however, it is only because on that path there is something that He wants us to see or learn. No step is wasted with God. If the slope becomes slippery, it may be to remind us to grab hold of His hand. When it is dark, it is for us to trust more in the power of His Light. He knows what we need to climb out of the valley. He packs the essentials for our trip, and then gives us them when we need them.

Dear reader, what valley are you desiring or needing to climb out of right now? Is it abuse? Heartache? Rejection? Betrayal? Sorrow? God is ready to take your hand, and direct your paths. His truth is our guide, His Word is the light unto our path (Psalm 119:105) and His power is our strength. To make our way up and out of a time of great trial is only possible with Him; our only hope is in God -- He is sovereign and He is good.

Psalm 25:4-6 says, "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach my your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O Lord, your great mercy and love for they are from of old."

Perhaps your circumstances seem like a mountain side of large, impassable boulders, too big to climb over or around. Perhaps it seems as if it will take too much energy, too much trust, too much work, too much everything to make it out of the pit or the valley. Call out to God and He will show you the way; He will set a path. Trust in the Lord, dear reader. He loves you so very much and is waiting to take your hand. If you are holding on to Him already, persevere. Do not look down or back. Persevere patiently and keep your eyes fixed on Him. Be mindful of Him. Serve and love Him with all of your heart. Commit your way to Him. Trust in Him. Believe in His love for you. He is faithful to strengthen your steps, hold your hand, and give you the sight you need to take the next step with Him.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

In His Time

Sometimes, if not often times, it is hard to see how God is orchestrating our lives. Unexpected circumstances blow in and blow down our dreams. Yet, there is a part of us, perhaps even just a flicker that hopes and looks toward God, desiring and believing that He is doing something good in the midst of such uncertainty or calamity.

I purchased a quart of strawberries the other day. As I began to wash them, I realized that a small unripe strawberry was mixed in with the other red ripe ones. That little strawberry caught my attention. I have portions of me that are like that small green strawberry. I have fruit in my life that is fruit, but it is not ripe.

I yearn for it to be ripe. I feel as if I have waited and waited for it to be ripe, as I continue to abide in Jesus and hold to the Vine. And yet, it still is not ready for what God created it to be and I can get frustrated.

You see, the little strawberry is as much of a strawberry as the big red ripe ones are, it just is not ready to serve its purpose. It is not flavorful, nor is it nourishing. It is young and needs more time to grow.

I think sometimes I want to get ahead of God (not that it is possible) and I want to do things for God that clearly I am not ready for. He still has work to do in my life to make the fruit that He has produced in me perfectly ripe for the work that He has for me to do. Until the ripening has been complete, the fruit in my life, although fruit, is not ready.

When I am feeling discouraged, wanting all of this trial and suffering to have some positive and purposeful result, I must remember that just because I do not see it ripe, it does not mean that it will not be. My job is to continue to wait on the Lord. He knows what gifts and strengths that I have that are to be for His work.

Truth is, dear reader, sometimes I can trust God for the big picture, but I am lousy at trusting Him for the day to day. I am convinced that He has a plan and a purpose for my future (Jeremiah 29:11), but I forget that He also has a plan for today. I want to be ripe, and in that I miss the joys and the workings of God in the process. Even in today, God is at work. He is not just focused on the "big picture" but on the minutest of details. And each detail in today is growing us and ripening us for the specific work that He has for us to do, that which only we can do for Him. Remembering that encourages me and keeps me focused on God, not on whether my fruit is small and green or ripe and ready.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Q 4 U -- Authenticity

Ithought I would try something different -- a Q 4 U -- Question for You -- Series. When I write, I often wonder what other people's thoughts are on a matter. We all view the world differently based on our life experiences and even how God is working in our lives. Intermittently, I hope to present a word or a thought to see what insight or struggles people have about a particular subject.

One of my random ramblings on my last post was, "People crave authenticity." I am in the process of writing an article on authenticity; it is something I often think about. I have some ideas that I would like to share, but would love to get your input first. So, if you are willing to speak ...

What does being authentic mean to you? What does it look like, lived out?

Please leave a comment below or e-mail me at I am eager to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks for helping me out!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Random Ramblings

Today was one of those days when I felt like I had a thousand thoughts, and couldn't hone in on any one of them. So, here are some random ramblings for today.

1. Your clothes don't have to match and your hair can be a mess, and it can be fun. (This one I noted when realizing, as I stepped out of the car to go in to a doctor's appointment, that my 5 year old's T-shirt was stained with lunch, it did not even remotely match her shorts (which I wasn't sure I even recognized) nor her flip flops. One pig tail was up, one was down, and she had chocolate chip cookie smeared on her lips. I commented, "Honey, what do you have on?" She looked down and said, "What, Mom? I'm fine with it. I like it, it's fun!")

2. It's alright to be sad and excited at the same time; it makes for a well rounded person.

3. Forgiving someone is one thing; living forgiveness moment to moment is another. It requires gut wrenching grace.

4. We don't have to hurry. Big decisions require waiting on God and time. Time and truth go hand in hand. We just need to persevere.

5. Being dependent on God does not mean your weak. It means you have extraordinary strength.

6. Plants need water and fertilizer and attention. They need to be cared for; if they are not, they start to wither and wilt. So do our relationships with the people we love.

7. Pancakes and scrambled eggs are great for dinner. I heard an older woman once say, "It's not what's on the plate, but who's in the chair." I like that.

8. People crave authenticity.

9. An unmade bed is just as comfortable as a made bed at 10:00PM at night, maybe even more so.

That's it for tonite, dear reader. My head is still spinning, and I'm heading off to nest in to my unmade bed. I'd love to hear about your random ramblings ...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Afraid of the Dark?

Today was "D-Day" for my 10 year old son and me -- "Drop off at camp for the first time - Day. We both woke up early this morning. I intended to spend my time with the Lord on the screen porch. He was just excited/nervous, and couldn't sleep. I guess I was, too.

We sat down, together, and gazed outside. Other than the sounds of morning birds, silence occupied our space. I could tell he was thinking. I was just watching him, waiting to hear about what was on his mind.

"Mom, isn't there a verse about darkness not really being dark to God. Something about darkness being like light to Him?" he asked.

"Are you concerned about night time at camp?" I queried, as I picked up my bible and hunted through the concordance.

We looked through several verses, and He chose Psalm 139:12 which says"...even the darkness will not be dark to You; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to You." We talked about how God created light, and how out of the darkness that covered the earth God brought everything in to being; He had power over all darkness. The dark is nothing to Him. God sees everything, and nothing can be hid from Him. Even in the dark, in a cabin at a camp, there was nothing that God isn't taking care of, and He is right there.

Dear reader, I don't know about you but I may not as afraid of the dark at night anymore, but I can fear the darkness of my circumstances. It feels as if I can get lost in it. I can't always see very far in front of me. Like a little child who does not know what is around the corner in the dark, I can fear things. The dark can make me feel alone and isolated. It can be scary, full of uncertainties.

When I am walking through a time of darkness, I am reassured that God sees all and that He is working amidst it. Psalm 18:28 says that He turns our darkness in to light. I do not need to feel alone. He is always near, even when others can not be. He is using this time of darkness to teach me things that I need to know about Him and about myself, thus transforming my darkness in to light.

God is always present, always working. As I finally go to bed tonite, I am thinking of my little guy and hoping that He is comforted and made strong by a realization of God's presence in His life. He need not fear (and nor should I), for God is always with him, wherever He goes. When I can not hold His hand, God always is. I pray that he will not fear the dark, not just tonite but always, and trust in the One who is the Light.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


“Now what do you have?” I muttered to the dog from the other room, as if he understood, and as if I actually expected an answer. I stomped around the corner in to the living room, where the dog sat, crouched over chewing on something small. His “dietary indiscretion” (as the Vet calls it) had gone too far. Socks, candy wrappers and children’s toys were one thing, but blue food coloring – he had crossed the line for me.

Ugh. I could have screamed. Actually, I think I did. Splattered in an uneven display on my tan patterned area rug were bright blue blotches of color. The dog, responding to my "not so happy" tone of voice, sprinted for the kennel. I followed close on his heals, and dislodged the vessel from his mouth, leaving a dog with a very blue tongue and a look of bewilderment on his face.

My friend Pat came to the rescue. Pat knows every trick and can clean everything. She sprayed stain remover, and patted, and scrubbed, and patted, and sprayed. Most of it came up, but one rather large spot remained, lighter in color, but noticeably present, smack in the middle of the rug.

Throughout the day I saw remnants of the blue food coloring on my hands, and on my rug, and I began to think. Sometimes when the sin of someone else touches our lives in a significant way, consequences occur, and sometimes they remain, like a stain. It can be forgiven (and needs to be in good time) but it may not be forgotten. There may be long term consequences that we are faced to deal with, and it is hard and a great amount of grief may be experienced in the process.

Perhaps, dear reader, you have experienced this in your life. I don’t like having to suffer the consequences of someone else’s sin (my own is difficult enough to deal with). Our lives can forever be marked by some of these circumstances. Nor totally ruined by it, but changed by it.

It feels unfair – it is unfair. So, what do we do? How do we respond when we are reaping the consequences of another person’s sin? Galatians 6:7-9 says, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

In the process of living in this stained life we can make choices to continue to sow love, obedience and trust in the Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit which dwells in us. He will give us the grace and strength to “do good.” Action by action, word by word, thought by thought, we can sow the seeds of seeking God and pleasing Him in all things, amidst the pain. The truth is, we may still grieve the effects of sin, but we choose to walk in the light of His love.

The stains in our lives may change the landscape of our lives. Sometimes, they are big, and sometimes they are small. Either way, God has it all under control. He will not be mocked; no one makes a fool of God. Dear reader, love, obey and trust God. Let the Spirit do the work in you, to grow you. Choose to “do good” and do not give up. Do not shrink back in fear, but step out in faith and allow God to use the stain to transform you. Who knows the blessings that may be harvested?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Hesitant to Hope?

I must admit that I have been feeling a bit out of sorts the last couple of days. Kind of like I got out on the wrong side of the bed, but not as crabby, more quiet. I don't like when I feel this way. It doesn't feel natural, and I feel as if I am losing sight of what God really has for me.

I think it boils down to me dealing with disappointments. Dreams have been dashed, time and time again. Things aren't what I thought they would be. I desire to have hope, but I can tell that I am holding back. I am hesitant to hope.

I guess we hesitate for many reasons. Maybe we just don't have the strength to fight another battle in order to even potentially win the war. Perhaps it's fear; we are afraid that if we hope, we are just setting ourselves up for more disappointment or even, raw pain. Sometimes we hesitate because we lose our focus. Our circumstances seem to big, and we forget how really big God is. And maybe we even hesitate to hope because we have lost a sense of whom we are, made in the image of God, and dearly loved by Him.

Hoping requires taking a chance, and looking beyond our circumstances. We may find ourselves squished in between two parenthesis, seeing where we have been and knowing that we aren't going back, but looking forward, past the next parenthesis, and feeling very uncertain about the future. My encouragement to you, and to me, dear reader, is that God is in the parenthesis, too. He is writing your story and my story. He may have us in the parenthesis for a time, to give us perspective and rest and strength. It is here that we are pupils in the school of suffering, learning the valuable lessons that He has for us, in order that we can go out and minister His comfort to a hurting world.

Hesitant to hope? I can be. I am right now, but I am trying to look beyond and upward. My hope is not in what I see or what I feel, but in the Lord alone. He is faithful. The Psalmist says in Psalm 33:18, "But the eyes if the Lord are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love." Look toward the Lord, dear reader, not on your circumstances. He is looking down upon you. Look up and meet His eyes, He is faithful to be your all in all, no matter what, and He does love you, unfailingly.
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