Broken to Worship

cracked vaseYouthful ignorance saw myself as average.  A pretty vessel that could be used by the master but was just as easily left on the shelf as an addition to His collection or passed over in favor of the beautiful vases with curved necks and golden engravings.  Acceptable but not extraordinary.

Experience proved myself to be ugly.  Broken, cracked, wrinkled, ruddy.  A clay pot deserving of the trash heep.  One whose purpose was forfeited because of its’ condition.  Useless to the King to carry scraps, much less His water or wine.  Placed in a corner, hoping not to be seen but also not to be completely cast aside.

Truth showed myself to be beautiful.  A transformed and completely unique vessel.  Still possessing the same cracks and broken places, but each one molded into a pattern that the master’s hand had designed.  Each crack becoming a river in which His water flowed freely.  Each broken edge becoming a waterfall that cascaded as the vessel was filled.  A vessel of honor, not in its’ own right but because of what the King had done.  Chosen, not left on a shelf.  Carried in His loving hands to specific places for specific purposes.  Carried with the knowledge that its’ brokenness would allow His water to fall, touch, testify, teach and transform others.  Softening other lumps of clay so that the Master could pick them up, tenderly mold them and create other beautifully broken vessels for His glory.

(This is thanks to the truth written in Zach Neese’s book, How To Worship A King.)

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“Once And For All”

I’ve found so many beautiful new songs lately that I haven’t turned my Spotify off for days.  It’s playing all the time and I often fall asleep with earphones in and the timer set.  Randomly shuffling through my worship playlist excites me because, more often than not, God will choose a song to convict me, teach me, encourage me or inspire me.  Sometimes, he’ll simply start a conversation between the two of us that He knows we need to have.  Today we talked about how patient He is. How faithful and how kind.  Through a song I’d not heard before He took a passage that I’d read earlier in the day and turned it.  Just a tad.  I slight change in direction so that my eyes could see anew how incredibly gentle He is to His children.

It was the story about Peter.

The nightmare started when Jesus was arrested and only became worse as the night wore on and Peter denied knowing Him.  Three times!  How could he?  Especially since Jesus gave him a heads up at dinner. Just hours before, Jesus had told His disciples that they would deny and abandon Him. Peter was horrified.  He protested and was certain that He’d never do such a thing. He even went so far as to say He’d die before denying Christ.  It might be tempting to judge how quickly Peter seemed to forget such a shocking conversation until we realize that we do it all the time.  Don’t we?

At least I do.

I hear God’s voice so unquestionably, experience His presence so profoundly or see His purpose so clearly that I confidently, and with all sincerity, vow to die before I would disobey His voice, forget His presence or stray from His call.  And I mean it with all my heart as I’m sure Peter did.

But then came the moment when it all flooded back and Peter stood in a courtyard only to realize exactly what he’d done. And all he could do was weep.

How often do we react to our sin, our forgetfulness, our disobedience or our apathy with that kind of remorse?  How often do we even recognize that we’ve denied Him?  I’m sure that if it was something “big” we would fall to our knees in shame and weep, but the truth is that it’s all “big”.  Some things are just easier to see and feel because there’s no rationalizing them away. They weigh on us like the weight of the world and we can barely breath.  Other things become so comfortable that we repeat them over and over without even recognizing that they are wrong.  And there are those struggles that we’ve had for so long that we’ve just given up on being free from them.  We stop fighting and start to rationalize our way out of any culpability? No matter what it might be, it’s all the same- a betrayal of the one we belong to?

The question is, will we wake up to what we’ve done or what we’re doing?  Do we care enough to weep over it?  Do we want to stop the cycle that we’ve been repeating and die to ourselves in order to live for Christ?  Peter didn’t notice his sin the first time either.  It took three betrayals before he woke up to what was happening and I’m sure that wasn’t lost on him.   I would hedge a bet that he beat himself up over it quiet a bit.

But then there’s this passage from church on Sunday.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus is humble and gentle.  He’s kind. He’s patient. He’s loving.  He’s strong and He fights for me and with me as He prays on my behalf.  I’m certain He prays for those things that I struggle with.  I imagine that He prays for me to wake up to the heavy burdens I carry and that I’d have the courage to lay those things down at His feet.  After all, He knows that’s the only way I’ll find rest.  Freedom from the repetitive nature of the things that hold me captive is found in exchanging my load for His.   It’s a great deal because his is so much lighter than mine.  It’s lighter than yours too.   Whether your load consists of lots of hidden denials that   have accumulated so slowly over time that you aren’t even aware of the burden you carry or whether it’s one big heavy burden that threatens to crush you, you weren’t meant to carry it.  It’s too heavy for your shoulders or mine.  But His shoulders can handle whatever we have to give. Whatever we are ready to die to,  once and for all.

Shame. Regret. Weariness.  Anger. Bitterness. Pride. Fear.

Even if we pick it back up tomorrow.

He won’t turn me away when I fall on His mercy and grace…no matter how often I’ve fallen on it before.  It’s as relentless as the waves.   He’ll continue to offer the trade of His load for mine until I find freedom, once and for all, through His blood and in His love.


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“So Will I”

starsI’ve wanted to start a series of devotions based on worship music for a while now.  Personally, music touches the core of who I am and can speak truth into places that are cold and hard to the influence of anything else. It melts me, inspires me, heals me, encourages me, fills me with joy, with gratitude, with power, with memories and with praise for someone much greater than   the circumstances around me.  Lots of music touches me, not just worship music; but, when I feel lost, scared, confused or broken I know I need time alone with something that refocuses my heart and mind on God.

Today I needed that.  I need a whole lot of that lately.

This world is sucking the joy and courage from my soul and I find myself just numb. It seems to me that the tender side of humanity is fueled by empathy so even if we aren’t directly involved with something, simply hearing about hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, wars, genocides, slavery, starvation, poverty and the effects that all these things have on other humans is hell brought to earth.  Add to that terrorism of all kinds…simple, unadulterated hate…and it’s just too much.

As I’ve been praying lately, I keep coming back to the statement that Jesus made in the gospels. (Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21) Basically, things are going to get worse.


And yet, we often act shocked and surprised by the tragedy that we see around us even though we’ve been told to expect it.  We’ve even been told it will affect us personally.  Jesus didn’t say we should expect riches, perfect health or an easy life.  Quite the opposite.

Yes, God blesses us, all of us.  Even in the darkest of times there are blessings to be found.  As Mr. Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

I believe that’s not only true but it should be even more so in the lives of believers.

Those same passages that warn us of the evil we will face also reveal the calling of Christ to His followers in the midst of them.  In the face of these tragedies, (and often because of them), we are called to share the truth of His love and grace.  The gospel is seen in the hands and feet of God’s people helping.  It’s expressed in the words of humility and love.  It’s felt when people put aside their own comfort, safety or even rights for the good of someone else.

To me, that’s worship.

As much as I love music, a series on worship would be  incomplete without basing it on the fact that worship is expressed in how we live.  In what we say and don’t say.  In how we love people that may not agree with us.  In how we continue to live in gratitude, joy and peace regardless of the evil and fear that is rampaging this earth.

Today, I played Hillsong’s “So Will I”  over and over and over again.  This song has brought me to tears for weeks, but today it was new.  It not only spoke to the beauty of nature that shows God’s greatness, to the grace that has covered my life and to the love that He has for all human beings but it spoke to my calling as His child.

My call to worship Him.

To reveal His nature.

To obey Him.

To bow in reverence.

To lift Him high.

To go where He sends.

To leave my past behind me.

To surrender to His purposes.

To love people.

The question, and the struggle, is whether I will do so in the face of evil that dares me to do otherwise.

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Let the Wind Blow Like a Hurricane


I was sitting on the front porch swing this morning like I normally do when it’s not 110 degrees.  Suddenly, my dog, “Stupid”, ran off after a squirrel.  She’s cute as a bug and tiny, but she thinks she’s as big as our German Shepherd.  She’s also…. #1 not named “Stupid”, #2 Not very smart and #3 Infuriatingly stubborn.  I sat on the porch yelling for her to come back because the number of times that our neighbors have picked her up out of the road and brought her home is embarrassing.  She likes to chase cars, hence, the nick name of “Stupid”.

Anyway, I couldn’t see where she was so I waited 10 minutes while yelling at her like a crazy woman before I got up to find her.  I guess she’s learning because, uncharacteristically, she wasn’t in the road.  She was comfortably sitting under the tree in the comfy sand just taking in the morning. Because doing the same thing over and over and expecting something to change is normal for a crazy person, I kept calling her like I had been for 15 minutes.  She continued to give me that “I’m not moving but you’re funny” look. So,  I finally  walked over to pick her up.

As I got to where she was, I stopped.

It was so different!

That very spot in the yard was the exact place where the morning breeze was blowing through in such a refreshing and beautiful way.

I’m all about aesthetics and how something feels so maybe you’ll think I’m crazy but in this exact spot, it was beautiful. “Stupid” had figured something out that I hadn’t.  On the porch, it may not have been 110’ but it was humid and stuffy.  I’d been comfortable, but I’d been ignorant to the atmosphere just 30 feet away from me.  An atmosphere that was fresh, cool, invigorating and beautiful. But “stupid” wasn’t stupid.  She’d found it and she wasn’t about to move.

To be fair, I recognized how nice it was in that spot but I picked her up so I wouldn’t have to chase her down  in my PJs and brought her back to the porch without much thought.

Enter Spotify.

I like to listen to new music when I can and worship is the heartbeat of who I am, so I had randomly browsed a station for that kind of thing when I got back to the porch only to hear a song called “Catch the Wind” by Melissa Helser.   As I looked over my yard, I thought, “How often, Lord, do we stay in places where we are comfortable instead of stepping out into the uncomfortable?  Instead of stepping out into the places where we  find the movement of your Spirit? The flow of who you are? How often do we miss catching the wind?”

I knew God was speaking to my heart.  Maybe he’s speaking to yours.

Whether it’s a place of comfort, a place of staleness or a place of pain in which you find some sort of security in identifying with that pain…are you in a place in which you aren’t feeling the move of the Holy Spirit?  He is active! He is vibrant! He refreshes! He resuscitates those things that are dead!

My heart is crying for that.

For God’s people to step out of what they know and walk boldly into what He is doing.

The power that He is.

The love that He shares.

The truth that He speaks.

The peace that He pours.

The salvation that He lavishes.

It takes humility. It takes submission.  It takes obedience and abandoning our own agenda.  It takes trust and faith and hope that there is something new and powerful that only God can do.  It takes worship and laying down our desires for His desires!

It can be painful…no…torturous.  But oh my Lord…it is worth it.

To stand in the flow of the Holy Spirit and the things that he wants to do in and through us is like nothing in this world! It’s different! It’s beautiful.   And it’s my prayer.

Oh my Jesus…do that in me.  Do that in my family.  Do that in my church. Do that in your people.

Help us to reject what is comfortable and step boldly, stubbornly and defiantly into the flow of your Holy Spirit. I don’t want to live another day without it!


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The Secret To a Happy Marriage (Remember the term: Tongue and Cheek )

marriage fingersSteve hasn’t been able to sleep lately.  He’s had this problem before, but I thought it was in the past.  Unfortunately for him, it seems to have reared its ugly head with fervor.  I actually miss those nights when I was up till 2 or 3 writing or thinking. My mind seemed to work better late at night when everyone was asleep but, lately, I’m out by 10 or 11 and struggle to wake up by 7.  That disturbs me. But Steve needs sleep.  He’s the textbook case of a human that has to have at least 8 hours, if not more, and being awake till 2 in the morning or waking up at 2 and staying awake till 6 just doesn’t cut it for him.

With the new ministry that he’s started, a new local shared office space that he and our neighbor have embarked on and a new leadership and emotional intelligence training business that he’s launched to help support his ministry, he has a lot on his mind.  I’m sure that’s part of the problem.  He’s a smart man and he has a million things running through his mind all the time.  Lately, it’s probably closer to 2 million.  I’ve wondered how to help. I’ve suggested “mind dumping” before bed but that’s so close to work that he’s probably hesitant.  I’ve mentioned not watching TV or looking at the computer for an hour before bed but that’s his “disconnect” time.  I’ve wondered if warm milk, avoiding wine, doing yoga or taking a hot bath would help but I walk a fine line of mothering him when I say too much.  I’ve tried to leave him alone as not to add to his stress or the growing list of things he’s thinking about but tonight I wondered how I could covertly ask questions in order for him to dump all his thoughts on me so his mind might be able to slow down.  But I suck at asking questions.  I inevitably ask the ones that stress people out instead of distressing them.  Probably because I naturally play devils advocate in the hopes of heading off negative experiences.  I’m that “glass is half empty” kind of girl even though I REALLY want to be the “glass is half full” person.  Maybe I never notice because the glass is always full of Pinot Noir so I’m happy either way, but other people don’t see things through the same rose colored wine glasses that I do.

Anyway, just when I was feeling like a horrible wife and having no idea how to help my man, I had to potty.

Yes, you heard me right.  Those glasses of wine led me to my aha moment, thank you very much.

Because I suddenly realized the secret to loving my man.  Hear me ladies.  The simple answer to all your marital needs is in this simple act of servant-hood.

Lift the seat after you pee.

Yes, you heard me right.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard (or read) something about a woman complaining that a man doesn’t put the seat down on the toilet.  In fact, I recently saw a YouTube video with a little girl berating her father over the topic and I remember wondering what woman taught her to be so self-centered. With all that men are expected to figure out, understand and handle in our families, we add lowering the toilet seat?   And there are women that don’t just mention it.  They get downright angry about it. Really?

In this day of strong, independent feminists are we so weak that we can’t stretch out our hand and gently lower a toilet seat for ourselves? Are we so self absorbed that we can’t stretch out a hand to lift that same seat in the service of another?

It’s 4 to 1 in our house and I naturally lift the seat every time I flush the toilet.  Honestly, it’s the least I can do for this wonderful man that has put up with hormones, shouting matches, silent treatments, shopping trips, emotional tantrums, and more.  Why women assume it’s the man’s job to lower the toilet seat is beyond me.  Aren’t we just as capable of serving men as they are of serving us?  If we aren’t, we have a long way to go.  Yes, I love when he opens the door for me.  I love feeling protected.  I love his patience, kindness, flowers, having someone clean the kitchen, planned date nights, a hand written card, his wisdom and prayers for me, how he looks at me when I feel less than beautiful and having him hold my hand…I love being treated like a lady and I love that he is strong yet gentle.  But, I also love discovering something that I can do to repay him for all the things he’s done for me.  It doesn’t happen often because he’s much better at this stuff than I am, but tonight, as I happily see him finally sleeping…I am grateful that I can lower the toilet seat.

It’s a start.

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sunriseI’ve been praying for light lately.  Light that reveals truth.  Light that gives direction. Light that chases away darkness.  I’ve been praying that we would recognize His light, that we would be drawn to it, comforted by it, changed in it and inspired to shine it regardless of the darkness we might find ourselves in.

I’ve been praying that God would speak four words over so many lives.  Four words that He spoke at the beginning of time … “Let there be light!”

Maybe this prayer has seemed so relevant because so much around me seems dark lately.  The struggles people are faced with as well as the world we live in.  It just seems dark.   Doesn’t it?  Or is it just me?  It could just be me.  After all, God has been teaching me a basic truth about light over the last few years.   I’ve learned that we don’t really see the beauty or truth of light without experiencing some darkness.  Not that I have enjoyed it, but seeing and walking through darkness, even in the smallest way, has only magnified God’s light.

Chiaroscuro is an Italian term that roughly means “light and dark”. It’s an art term that describes a method of using light and dark paint to accentuate the volume, mass, details and contrasts of a subject.  At times, the contrast of light and dark can become more important than the object being painted and can actually become the subject itself.


That’s what I’ve decided.

No matter what circumstance or topic, the comparison between God’s light and evils’ darkness is literaly night and day. Experiencing God’s light only heightens the utter void of walking in the dark once more.  And, experiencing the dark side of my own humanity only heightens the miraculous glory of experiencing God’s gracious light.  Once my heart sees the magnitude of how both effect people and our world and the detail of light’s beauty and darkness’s sorrow – my relationship with God changes. My relationship with others changes. Gratitude wells up from the depths of a soul that is grateful for being “brought out of darkness into God’s marvelous light.”  Worship ceases to be something I do out of habit on Sunday mornings and becomes how I live every moment of my life.  Singing songs takes on a new sincerity and passion with every word that I can then relate to.  Reading scripture becomes a treasure hunt for truths that will shine more light into my life and, consequently, into my world.

There have been moments in the past when I sang words that I didn’t understand.  I hadn’t experienced the freedom, forgiveness, love or closeness to Christ that I was singing about and I wondered if my hollow words were normal.  There were times when I read passages and thought to myself, “Does this kind of relationship with God really happen?  Or, is what I know all there is?”

I’m convinced that many people in our churches feel similar things.

For me, the enemy had lulled me into thinking I knew what the light of God was when I really had no clue. It was as if I’d been sitting in a dark wooded area at night with a little match lighting my surroundings and no idea of what the sun would do when it rose over the horizon. The match gave me some light, and it was good, but it was a tiny bit of what was available.

There’s no limit to God’s light.  It’s magnificent.  It’s life giving.  Darkness can not exist in it. There’s more light than we can experience or comprehend and God offers it freely.

The question is, do we want it? How badly?  Do you, as a child of God, want to know more of His light than you already know?  Even if it means you see the darkness more clearly?

Then ask our Father of Light to reveal more of himself to you. Ask Him to speak those words into your life in a new and deeper way than you’ve ever known.

“Let there be light!”

And keep asking until you feel the sun coming up over the horizon and shining on your face.  Until you look back at what you didn’t even know was darkness only to praise His great faithfulness for making you new every morning and for opening your eyes to more of who He is. To more of His light.



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Just Eat Something Already

wings-pic1Can I just say (like I do every year) that it’s freakin’ hot in Texas during July and August? This year has been mild in comparison, but still…

It sucks the drive right out of me to workout.  Even with air-conditioning I just want to sit down and wait it out till September.  Walking from the house to the car and from the car to the gym seems to shrivel me up into a little bump that just wants to sit on a log and bide my time until a breeze blows through our corner of Tornado Alley.

I don’t feel that guilty about it but I have been considering ways to avoid gaining weight from all the ice cream, snow cones, margaritas and eating that I do while hibernating indoors. (Yes, I hibernate in the summer – not the winter.) So, I’ve been researching the newest rage in the fitness world. (Drum roll, please) The Keto diet.

It’s actually not all that new. The Keto diet was created in the ‘20s for patients with epilepsy and is still used for that purpose today. It’s been used as a diet for athletes since the ’80s and is, interestingly enough, also used to help obese patients lose significant amounts of weight.  I say “interesting” because the diet is based on the idea that you take in most of your calories in the form of good fats which is contradictory to what most people have been taught for decades.  Proponents of the diet say that it also clears mental function, helps with sleep and can prevent diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and diabetes. The intake of fat in the Keto Diet helps to combat insulin spikes in the body so that the digestive system begins  to use fat as fuel rather than glucose.  There are studies that support these findings and I have friends who have seen drastic health benefits by adhering to the plan, but here’s my thing….there are plenty of other studies, some of which are much more extensive, for other diets as well.

The China Diet for instance. It’s based on one of the largest comprehensive studies of human nutrition ever conducted. This study was done through a partnership between Cornell University, Oxford University, and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. Data was collected over a span of 20 years. It showed that the diet significantly effects the body’s ability to fight cancer, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune diseases, bone, kidney, eye, and brain diseases. The China Diet is plant based!  Vegetarian in other words. (My grass-fed cattle are throwing a little party right about now.) Although scores of studies show the benefits of eating vegetables, fruits and grains, many in the fitness industry scoff at the idea of not eating animal protein. However, it’s one of the best documented diets in the world in regard to helping the body fight disease.

However, there are also plenty of scientific studies that prove grains can cause inflammation and that inflammation is related to obesity, joint problems, cancer and digestive issues. The Paleo Diet is a favorite among people that have experienced issues such as these. Studies on this diet show benefits to the human body in losing weight and decreasing the effects of arthritis, IBS, etc. The Paleo diet encourages consumption of healthy fats, eating “whole foods” and animal protein in moderation while avoiding sugar, additives, chemicals and processed foods.  More studies are being done on the side-effects of overly processed foods and the myriad of chemicals that are added to the American diet and the finding aren’t encouraging.

Add to these hot diets the Mediterranean diet which is also backed by plenty of studies showing that it helps lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, lowers stress and extends life expectancy.  (I think that’s due to the fact that red wine is part of the diet).  Researchers have discovered that people living in the area of the Mediterranean have these health benefits in common more than in other areas of the world.  It’s no wonder,  considering it includes healthy fats (olive oil), seafood, low amounts of red meat, large amounts of fruits and vegetables, pasta, rice and grains.  (Is it just me or does that sound like the best part of every diet rolled into one?  Maybe it’s just that I REALLY love Italy) Anyway, the point is that this diet also has an abundance of scholarly support for the fact that it’s a healthy way to lose weight and to live a happy life.

But don’t they all say that?

So, what’s a person to do?  I could go back to my Tootsie Roll diet that I used one month in college when I’d run out of money and lived on a huge bag of tootsie rolls for a week. I lost weight! But, that’s probably not the best or healthiest plan.  Or I could go into Intermittent fasting and cut down on the number of times I even need to worry about these decisions. (Which, by the way, has a respectable number of studies supporting its’ health benefits as well.  However, if you’ve ever struggled with an eating disorder, don’t even go there.)

What I do know, based on both research, medical studies and observation, is that the American diet is horrible.  If you still want to argue over whether sugar, processed foods and preservatives are bad for you, go right ahead, but you’ll probably have that talk with your doctor soon enough.  More than likely, no one can convince you otherwise anyway. I’m sorry about that.  I’d hedge a pretty healthy bet that if you could avoid these things for a month, you’d be shocked at how much better you feel.

But for the rest of us, while we want to be healthy, we’re bombarded with opinions.  Eat meat, don’t eat meat, eat grains, don’t eat grains, eat soy, don’t eat soy…

So, here’s where I’ve landed. Nothing works if you don’t do it and not everything works for every individual.   I know what doesn’t work for my body. Processed grains don’t agree with my digestion.  I’m easily addicted to carbs and have difficulty eating small amounts of them. I eat out of habit and boredom at night so I need tea in my hand to stay distracted.  Sugar substitutes cause my joints to hurt immediately and, alcohol makes me sluggish the next day even if it’s just a bit. So, I’m trying this Keto thing for a few weeks just to see if it makes my brain feel less foggy but if I can’t get into Ketosis, I’m not going to fret over it. That will tell me something about how I handle, or don’t handle, carbs and fats.

You may have to play around with different diets to figure out which one, or what hybrid, works best for you – but you’ll get it.  When you do, stick with it.

What we know from all of these diets is…

Vegetables are great! Eat more of them!  That’s across the board.

Eat foods in as natural a state as possible and with as little processing as possible.

Stop being afraid of good fats like olive oil and avocados.  Your body needs them.

Don’t be afraid of complex carbs but don’t make them the majority of your diet. (That should probably be veggies if we go back to the common theme in all these diets.)

Do avoid simple carbs.

And finally, moderation is key.  My mom always said that so I’m sure it’s true. She’s usually right.  Oh, and let yourself enjoy life, food and the gifts God has given us.  Be grateful…consciously and purposefully.  And enjoy the company of other people.  Don’t just eat mindlessly and on the run.  Make meals an event.  At least, those are the things I want to do to get me through these long hot months in Texas. That and the occasional serving of “Heavenly Chocolate Crap” or Braum’s Ice cream cones.  Hey. you only live once.




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