Monthly Archives: December 2013

That’s a WRAP! One Thing Worthy of Adding to Your Calendar

Only seven errands to accomplish today…Sigh…

Some of these errands are probably necessary, while others, well, not so much. Someone once coined this scrambling as  “calendar constipation”.  Now there’s a visual….

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Guessing the same person who came up with that also came up with the Dwarf in the Drawer to oppose the precious Elf on the Shelf!!!  Who thinks of these things???

My dear friend and mentor, Nancy Tinnell, who faithfully ministers at Middletown United Methodist Church, recently wrote the below poem.  I just had to share it with you!  Between Nancy’s poem and a prior post following this poem on a unique Gift Wrapping Party, I pray your attitude becomes filled with glee and the kick in your step is higher than ever:

The planning, the shopping, the wrapping, the gifting

The eggs, the butter, the flour for sifting…

The holly, the ivy, the tree must look right!

‘Oh, honey, you promised you’d put up the lights?’

I bought it at Target, now it’s cheaper at Sears,

The tree-topper star is missing this year!

If I stay up ‘til midnight, the cookies can bake

While I finish wrapping for Abby and Jake.

If I keep wrapping for Susan and Lee

I can get it all done, if I stay up ‘til three!

The choir will stay late tomorrow night

The cantata is rough and it needs to be right!

I know I need work on my duet with Bill

When I hit my high note it’s always so shrill!

Can I get all this done in the time remaining?

All  the cooking, the serving, the hosting, the cleaning?

By the time Christmas gets here, I’ll have it all done.

I will be like the woman in Proverbs 31!

Will my children rise up and call me blessed?

Or will they just rise up and say, ‘Mom, where’s breakfast?’”

Love that, Nancy!!!  Thank you!

Pictured from left to right is Nancy Tinnell, Jane Chilton and yours truly.

Pictured from left to right is Nancy Tinnell, Jane Chilton and yours truly.

Please allow me to recap a stellar activity.  One of which is way worthy of your calendar.  (If it’s too late for you this year, well, there’s always next year.)

Last Monday, some friends of mine, known as the Butter Babes (another story for another day) met for their Annual Wrapping Party.  I’ll describe it in detail in a minute.  New for this year, at my pleading, we added a stop prior to arriving at my cousin’s.

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We went to the home of one of our dear friends, Aletia Thompson.  She decorates for Jesus at Christmas time.  Each room points to Jesus’  life, death, resurrection and  our ultimate Eternal Home.  Her home is the most beautifully, breathtakingly decorated home I’ve seen.

Aletia puts it beautifully:  “The true gift of Christmas is eternal life.  God gave His only Son that we might have that gift.  Christmas should be the biggest and the best birthday celebration in history because it’s for Our Savior.”

I forewarned the Babes and said, “Now don’t even attempt to compare your own décor, or you may become depressed.  Simply savor each room, each detail, and soak in our Savior.  You will see Him everywhere.”

Worship the King

We were all teary-eyed and speechless.  Judy was so moved, she immediately called our buddy over at The Southeast Outlook newspaper, Ruth Schenk, who fast-as-lightning set up an appointment to go interview Aletia, take pictures, etc.  Her article is in this week’s issue.  (Go to:  www.southeastoutlook.org beginning December 19th, . It’s found on pages 20-24.)

I’m off now to tackle my list. No worries, still smiling, no stress.

I pray you and your families have a most Blessed, Happy, Healthy and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  We have many fun celebrations coming up, so John and  I’ll be spending as much time as possible with our ever expanding family!  Come January, I’ll be sharing information on some favorite books read this year, among other trinkets.

Our gift for 2013 and 2014 is that John and I, within eleven months,  Lord willing, will be gaining three precious, beautiful-on-the-inside-as-well-as-the-outside daughters-in-love!  Wedding Central!  We will also be celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary in 2014!

Please read the below post to enlighten you on my cousin Bonnie’s wrapping party.  It’s worthy of repetition, and as I said earlier, way worthy of your calendar.

God’s Grace, Glory and Blessings!!!

SURE CURE FOR A BAH HUMBUG ATTITUDE…

Hello Friends!  Just wondering, now that Thanksgiving’s past and that Christmas décor’s been up since Halloween (in some stores that is, surely not in this household!), if you have a KICK in your step while shopping, or if you are SLIP-SLIDIN’-AWAY, Scrooge-like?

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Don’t even talk to me if you’re done with your Christmas shopping.  And don’t even look this way if you’ve shopped and wrapped.

Christmas isn’t happenin’ today, the way Jesus intended it to.  For that, I’m certain.  Every single year I try to think of ways to “taper down” on the gift-giving, think of the less fortunate, donate to new charities/ministries, and yet I still wind up looking more like Santa’s helper/enabler than a child of God.  Big sigh.

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The commercialization of Christmas makes me say “Bah humbug”…and I’m determined to NOT let it get the best of me. Lord, please help us to focus on you.  Matthew 6:33 reminds us:But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Praying Friends

So, now that the Christmas season’s officially “on”… I’d like to give you one prescription sure to bring a smile to your face, and a sure cure for any “Bah Humbug” attitudes trying to surface.

I am beyond blessed to have a very fun cousin.  Her name is Bonnie, but we in the family call her “Martha”, as in Stewart.  She’s one of those creative types:  she can whip up the most gorgeous bow you’ve ever seen. Friends now recognize them sayin’, “Now THAT’S a “Bonnie Bow”!!!

Bonnie will also try any new recipe.  She’ll paint a room an entirely new color when the mood strikes.  Furthermore, she will absolutely, positively, do anything for anyone, at any time, just for starters.

A few years ago, Bonnie came up with this fabulous idea…  She invited a group of our friends, a/k/a “the Butter Babes” over for a gift wrapping party.  Soup simmerin’ on the stove, Christmas music in the air, pool table covered as our wrapping station, and we move in for the day.

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What’s great about this is she sets the date way ahead of time (novel idea!) so we know when our deadline is…as in if you want to wrap a pretty package, you’d better have done some shopping and have packages in tow!

The five of us man our stations and the wrapping begins.  (Did I mention her endless supply of reams of paper and enough ribbon to extend to the moon?)  Oh, but the conversation around the table is the best.  You’re wondering if there’s a message here! Or what’s so spiritual about a wrapping party?

Well, you’ve got to know these Butter Babes.  These are some serious Bible study students and teachers.  These are some very close friends and mentors. These are some serious prayer warriors. They share meaningful Scripture. They share prayer requests. They share answered prayers.  They have lived a lot of life.  We laugh.  We cry.

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One of my favorite verses depicting this friendship journey is found in Proverbs 27:17 which says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (NIV)  It’s a huge blessing simply doing life with the help of dear friends who teach you to ultimately lean on the Lord.

Nary a  “Bah Humbug” erupts from this bunch. Nope, the Butter Babes would flat have a meltdown if such a phrase surfaced.  (Oh, I could have fun with that last phrase…)

Proverbs 27:7b says, “A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”  Refreshing it is to be surrounded by such sweet sisters.  No Scrooges allowed!

Let me show you one more favorite verse to go along with our prescription:  Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. “

The “sure cure” for a Bah Humbug attitude can be found straight out of the three above phrases I’ve italicized:

Spur one another on:  This means we cheer each other on toward the finish line…as in our Heavenly Home.

Not giving up meeting together:  Keep regular gathering times with your friends.  How many times have you heard “friends are cheaper than therapy”?  It’s always nice to have something to look forward to.

I have another group of friends which includes a retired school teacher.  (Several actually, but one in particular is the glue that holds us together.)  Periodically, Jayne will shoot us an email with the tagline being:  “Random Dinner”.  She randomly picks a night and we show up to catch up.  Try it.  You’ll like it.

Encouraging  one another:  This goes hand in hand with spurring one another on. All three of these are great fuels for fanning the flame of friendship.

Kelly Minters Nehemiah

Kelly Minter’s Bible study on Nehemiah—A Heart That Can Break offers a PERFECT DEPICTION of what I’m attempting to recommend to you regarding friendship.  She opines*, “The world doesn’t need more wealth, strength, power, or skill as much as it desperately needs trustworthy peopleMy heart is never more at rest, my soul never more at peace than when I am in the presence of a person of integrity.

I find relational serenity in never having to second-guess what the person really meant, not having to dodge gossip or duck drama.  When I have the assurance that a person’s word is true, motives pure, and intents just, I have found a rare treasure indeed.”

Look again at those two above paragraphs.  Did you see that cool phrase, “relational serenity”?  What a sanctuary! What a safe haven!!!

Whether it’s a wrapping party, or a lunch out somewhere, or a Starbucks rendez-vous, I pray you’ll set a date with some of your friends and sail cheerfully thru’ this Christmas season, in relational serenity, sans any “Bah Humbugs”.

Purposefully celebrate Isaiah 9:6, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (KJV) Remember Christ’s Birthday.

Savor God’s gift.  As Liz Curtis Higgs said, “Let’s be forever grateful for the One whose birth changed everything.”  (Click here to see an interview with her…)

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‘Til next time!

(This December post is happily dedicated to my long-time friend, cousin-by-marriage-who’s-more-like-a-sister, partner-in-crime in shopping, encourager extraordinaire, Bonnie Johnson. May blessings be abundant to you and your sweet family this Christmas season!!!)

*Lest you think I toss out unique words frequently, this one, “opine,” was a new one to me. Can’t believe I haven’t discovered this word ’til now.  I’m practically a professional at offering my opinion!  May we all opine with tact.

I ran across it twice in two days in two different books!  Both worth recommending:  one by Tim Keller, The Meaning of Marriage:  Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God and the other by Robert J. Morgan called Angels—True Stories—What Angels Do For Us.

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Move Over, Mom…I’m Drivin’… (Part 5 of 5 on Help from Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolates)

Sweet Sixteen…

 Where does your mind go when you hear that phrase?  Depends on how you’re affected, beginning with your age.

If you happen to be the lucky soul turning Sweet Sixteen, you’re excited, ready to get behind the wheel of that car, ready to take on the world.

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If, however, you happen to be the parent of the sixteen year old, I’d like to offer the thought of Sweet Sixteen as an oxymoron.  Sitting in that passenger seat gives you a panoramic you may not wish to view.

Three for three of our boys will tell you their least favorite time of my mothering came when they got their driver permits. It forced me in the passenger seat for six very long months.

Their favorite phrase to utter became my least favorite one to hear:  “Move over, Mom, I’m drivin’….” It’s a wonder I didn’t punch a hole in the floor or rip off a door handle.

Naturally my sweet husband, the adventurous one, loved teaching the boys to drive.  Somehow, tho’, I was usually the one with them because of school, etc.

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This week in our fifth and final post on fear, we are going to bring home some tactics to carry with us when we encounter fearful situations.  I’m sad to bid farewell to my favorite little book on fear by Debora M. Coty, Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolates—Wit and Wisdom for Sidestepping Life’s Worries.

 Again, to grasp the entirety of the book requires you read the entire book.  It’s so good and includes twenty-two amazing chapters.  I’ve simply given you morsels.

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A certain “activity” seems to be haunting me, no thanks to different authors, who do not know each other, yet who seem to truly believe in this activity.  It surfaces in Bible studies I’ve done repeatedly.  When this happens, I firmly believe it is our precious Lord getting our attention.

The “activity”?  Scripture memorization.  Groan…..I s’pose I avoid it because I’m not gifted in this area.  I can’t remember milk at the grocery store, much less multiple words…And yet, the benefits are innumerable.

Rob Morgan wrote a wonderful book that is the perfect addition to your library and hopefully your Scripture arsenal. It’s 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart.

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Rob says “if you’ll just invest at least five minutes a day, you’ll reap seven remarkable benefits:

1 – Clearer thoughts.

2 – Steadier nerves.

3 – Healthier emotions.

4 – Purer habits.

5 – Happier homes.

6 – Greater respect.

7 – Eternal optimism.”

Let’s join Debora Coty, our Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolates author, perched high on a snow-covered mountain top, waiting for a rescue team to find her.  Seems she took quite a spill while snow skiing that did some damage to her knee…

She said, “A Bible verse I’d learned long ago sprang to my mind:  ‘I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth’(Psalm 121:1-2 NIV).  I said the verse aloud again and again.  The words seemed to take on a life of their own, growing richer and mightier and more vibrant each time.”

She continued, “Then a strange and marvelous thing happened. The majesty of the mountaintop scene consumed me, and a warm, quiet peace filled my heartI realized that I had indeed been given a sword—a powerful weapon that would keep fear, my immortal enemy, from ripping my helpless, defenseless heart into itsy-bitsy pieces.”

Verse after verse started popping into my head, some from childhood, some more recently memorized, some I thought were long forgotten.  Like old friends, they surrounded and comforted me.”

Debora calls this mountaintop epiphany the day she “learned to swordfight”.  She adds, “I’m a firm believer in the mega-importance of keeping a full arsenal of scripture loaded and ready for battle.  God’s Word is our sword…it must be mobile, sharp, and handy at all times.  Even on a lonely mountaintop.”

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A couple of favorite verses prove this to be true:

Hebrews 4:12 tell us, “For the word of God is alive and activeSharper than any double-edged sword…”

Ephesians 6: 10-18 teaches us all about putting on the armor of God.  Verse 17 says, “Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.”

Now armed with our swords, we must stay armed…as in not parking them at the door.  I’ll never forget hearing Angela Thomas speak one time.  She said, “If you are a believer in the Lord Jesus, Satan views you as sportin’ a red target on your back.  We’d best be prepared for his attacks.”

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Let’s add this verse to our list:  I Peter 5:8 warns us to “Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

My Life Application Bible enlightens:  “Peter warns us to watch out for Satan…feeling alone, weak, helpless, so focused on our troubles, we forget to watch out for danger, making us especially vulnerable to Satan’s attacks.”

James 4:7 reminds us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”

Debora gives us some great verses to memorize to combat our fear in Chapter Sixteen.  This one you can remember easily:  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”  (Psalm 56:3)

So whether or not you’re jumping into the passenger seat with your sixteen year old, or walking down the halls of a hospital for tests, or sitting in a motorcade of a funeral, or facing one of your biggest hurdles, hold on to the best lifeline available, God’s Word.  He will sustain you.

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“Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NASB)

I pray you’ve been encouraged to “fear not” after our five weeks together, thanks to Debora’s wonderful book.  Thank you, Debora!  Your faithfulness has helped so many of us!

I also pray you and your families will have a most blessed Christmas season and reflect on our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and His most amazing birth.

This week, in honor of Nelson Mandela who just passed away, let’s close with a quote from him on fear:  “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

‘Til next time!

This week’s chocolate recommendation:  a delicious, but disastrous discovery from Costco—and you get not one, but six packages of brownie mix.  Try Ghiradelli’s Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix.

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This  week’s post is dedicated to my new friend and counselor (!!!), author Debora M. Coty.  I have never enjoyed a book more. I’ll be reading and re-reading Fear, Faith and  a Fistful of Chocolates ‘til the Lord returns.  And I can’t wait to start your other books!  Merry Christmas and thanks for your wonderful inspiration!!!  God’s Blessings!!!

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My Mother is My Travel Agent for a Guilt Trip…(Part 4 of 5 on Help from Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolates)

Best bumper sticker ever is the above title:  “My Mother is my travel agent for a guilt trip.”  I nearly wrecked my car one day when I approached a car with this funny phrase adhered to its’ bumper.  I cried I laughed so hard.

I later recounted this to my Mother who found no humor in this whatsoever. 
None, nada, zip
.   Hmph…

I don’t know about you, but it’s fair to say our boys would tattle on my mothering skills, saying I’m gifted in the area of guilt.  Guilt, manipulation, control—they all go hand in hand, wouldn’t you agree?!!!

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Years and years and years ago, back when John and I were dating…I’d drag him along with my parents to Owensboro, Kentucky.  My Aunt, whom I’m named for, started a Thanksgiving tradition of hosting a boatload of relatives. (If you remember the children’s book The Relatives Came, by Cynthia Rylant, it’s frighteningly similar!)

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At the time, John and I were attending UK (The University of Kentucky) in Lexington, Kentucky.  My parents lived in Lexington, so we all rode together to Owensboro.  Three hours one-way gave us plenty of time to catch up.  Mother was in her element. Daddy simply tagged along.

One year I suggested we try going every other year, thus skipping this particular one.  “Oh dear,  we couldn’t possibly not go…” Mother replied quickly, followed by a very, very,  v-e-r-y long sigh….and then… here’s where she poured forth the guilt: “At Bem’s age… (that was my Aunt’s nickname), we just never know how many years she has left.”   Daddy and I rolled our eyes over that one.

Granted Bem was Mother’s sister, and Mother wanted to see her and her other sisters, June and Louise. But, I’m here to tell you Bem lived twenty plus more years after that little discussion. God rest her sweet soul.

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This week, from my new favorite attached-at-the-hip-handbook: Fear, Faith and a Fistful of Chocolates—Wit and Wisdom for Sidestepping Life’s Worries by Debora M. Coty, we’re going to tackle the topic of guilt.  I know, I know, ‘tis a challenge du jour for most of us, therefore, well worth our time

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Chapter Four is very helpful for us addicted-to-being-guilty-for-something, while killer funny.  It’s title?  Had Your Vitamin G Today? (Guilt)

Note:  Do NOT miss the cat story within the chapter.  There is nothing more comical on the planet. I simply cannot reveal a tidbit.  YOU must read it, and aloud, to all your friends!

Debora offers, “Guilt’s effect is kind of like a vitamin in reverse.  Instead of nourishing our bodies, it depletes our spirits.  And yet we faithfully keep popping that vitamin G (Guilt) every day as if we can’t live without it.”

Look at those last six words:  “as if we can’t live without it”…Remember last week we talked about toxic talk? (For more information, click here)  Wallowing in guilt, over and over, ranks right up there with toxic talk.  And pretty much no one wants to jump in our trenches of guilt we keep digging.

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Debora tells of a friend named Esther who “uses a great mental tool to help her resist picking guilt back up.”  Esther said, “Guilt is a dead thing…If you think of old, already forgiven sin as a dead thing, imagine you’re digging it up from its grave every time you revisit it.” That pretty visual  surely makes one think…

Corrie Ten Boom puts it another way.  She said, “God casts our sin into the depths of the ocean and posts a ‘No fishin’’ sign.”  Beautiful.  God’s  grace at its’ finest.  We just need to remember it!

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“How far has the Lord taken our sins from us?  Farther than the distance from east to west!” Psalm 103:12 CEV

My Life Application Bible says, “East and west can never meet.  This is a symbolic portrait of God’s forgiveness—when he forgives our sin, he separates it from us and doesn’t even remember it.  We need never wallow in the past, for God forgives and forgets.  We tend to dredge up the ugly past, but God has wiped our record clean.”

As Mother’s health deteriorated, especially after Daddy died, she used the phone less and less.  Miraculously, I quit guilting over visiting every day.  One day, however, we were talking and I said, “Well, Mom, I’ll come see you tomorrow, okay?”

Her reply sent me reeling once more…She said, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, always tomorrow…”  Making me think she did realize I wasn’t coming every day.  Right back into that pit of guilt I fell…

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Friends, Guilt is not from God, it’s from Satan.  The Holy Spirit may convict us of something, but shame and blame is Satan’s game.

Debora reminds us that “Satan, the archenemy of our souls, is using our guilt to separate us from our Lord. That’s what ‘the accuser’ does best.  He accuses us mercilessly and racks us with guilt that makes us feel worthless and unworthy of Papa God’s love.”  Noteworthy warning!

Oh, but there’s GOOD NEWS…Debora says, “The Accuser underestimates our Savior’s mercy. The all-encompassing forgiveness and acceptance led Paul to proclaim, ‘There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.  And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.’”  (Romans 8:1-2 NLT)

Let’s all write that verse on a post-it note and stick it on our mirrors, our car’s dashboards, wherever we’ll see it daily.  It is time to ditch the guiltEspecially with the Christmas season in our midst! The song doesn’t say, “Deck the halls with bows of guilt,” does it???!!!

Let’s vow to move forward, basking in His peace and His blessed assurance we are forgiven and there is no more guilt weighing heavy on our shoulders.

‘Til  next time!

This weeks’ chocolate recommendation is for all you ice cream lovers out there.  Again, from Trader Joe’s, try their Mini Mint Ice Cream Mouthfuls!!!  Delish, even if snow is in the forecast….Ice Cream Sandwiches

This post is dedicated to the famous Daves sisters:  My Mom being one of ‘em.  Seems our cousins who are still living, refer to us possessing “The Daves Factor”, as in a teensy weensy streak of some-kind-of-stubborn.  So, in Heaven, we  happily envision Bem, June, Louise and Mother having endless conversations.

They help us all remember Jude 21:  “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

From left to right: My Mother, Anita Mills, Bem (Elizabeth Dawson), Louise Santorum, and June McCandless

From left to right: My Mother, Anita Mills, Bem (Elizabeth Dawson), Louise Santorum, and June McCandless

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