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A Re-Pitching

Tent

Ever find yourself in a place either geographically, emotionally or spiritually that just doesn’t seem right?  No matter how or where you turn it just ‘aint good.’  If you were to really (REALLY) be honest, could it be, you are THERE due to poor choices.  YOUR choices. (Please keep reading.)  I have.  I’ve been there. I found myself floundering about, trying ever so hard to just get some kind of foothold, but it is as if I am climbing a wet mossy rock pile, slipping Oh so slipping and never getting to the top.  The only view I see is that of a cliff off to my right and left and the threat of falling is so very eminent.  Choices, take us…

Genesis 13, Abram and his nephew Lot have found they need to make a change, too much ‘stuff’ and people between them, so they decide to part way, making more room, giving themselves some elbow room as we say today.  Uncle Abe took Lot and showed him the land, “Is not the whole land before you?  Let’s part company.  If you go to the left, I will go to the right, if you go to right I will go to the left.  Lot Looked. He saw the whole plain of the Jordan spread out, well watered, Like God’s Garden… Lot took the whole plain of the Jordan.” (v9,10) Abram went on to live in the land of Canaan, near the great trees in Hebron and there he built an altar to the Lord.   Interesting, with the WHOLE Garden of Eden like surroundings, Lot heads out and “pitched his tents near Sodom.” The very next verse, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.”  It was clearly known what that area was like, yet Lot chose to ‘pitch his tent’ there, RIGHT THERE!  In real estate lingo, one might say, “Location, location, location!”  The area the property is located in is so important, everything else you could say about it hardly matters. (DUDE!)

This ‘pitching’ is one of making your home, dwelling there, set up camp, as we would say today, it was where Lot hung his hat.  Yet it is more, it is ‘clearly conspicuous from a distance.’ Meaning, in Lot going THERE it attracted attention by being great or impressive. He was wealthy, loads of stuffimages0D2U6M07 and plenty of people to call ‘his.’  Was it THIS that kept Lot there? Among the ‘ick.’ Was this enviroment more conducive to his ‘greatness?’  Are ‘WE’ where we are, are we STAYING due to this same reason.  We are impressive here, we are great … HERE!  (Point to Ponder)

The next chapter (14) some time later we find Uncle Abe comes to Lots rescue. Rescue.  The word alone paints such drama.  Some kings come and take on Sodom and a few other neighboring places, they plunder  and take captive the people.  Verse 12, “They also carried off Abram’s nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living IN Sodom.” (emphasis mine)  Hm… first he was NEAR, now the guy is IN Sodom.  It would be interesting to know the ‘progression’ of the near to the ‘in.’ (or maybe not, maybe it would resonate too close to home for us)  It says that Abe brought Lot back and all his people and stuff.  Abe brought him back, it doesn’t say ‘where’ back is, but I would risk saying, Abram didnt park the camels right at Sodoms door step.

Jumping ahead, we skip over God making His strong covenant with Abram, his name changed to Abraham, Hagar and Ishmael, the promise of Isaac.  Some real intense times for Abram.  Picking up in chapter 18, God tells Uncle Abe He was going to destroy Sodom.  He pleads with God, narrowing it down that if he finds 10 righteous folks, would he spare them.  God agrees.  Guess who is there?  Lot.  He was rescued and went right back.  How many times does God rescue US, give us a way out, and what do we do?  G-o    r-i-g-h-t   b-a-c-k.

I have to interject, as I somewhat playfully jab at Lot, he was a RIGHTEOUS guy.  He made the top 10 list, God kept His end of the deal.  In the N.T. Peter too speaks of Lot,  “But that good man Lot, driven nearly out of his mind by the sexual filth and perversity, was rescued.  Surrounded by moral rot day after day after day, that righteous man (Lot) was in constant torment. So God knows how to rescue the godly from evil trials. And he knows how to hold the feet of the wicked to the fire until Judgment Day.” 2 Peter 2:7-9 (MSG)   We too, who are righteous have made some of the same stupid mistakes, choices. We know the story, God sends angel guys to get Lot, his family out in time, fully out, minus one, his wife.  I am confident Lot’s choices caused him great regret, it placed him, his family in great danger and it cost him his wife, his home and almost his soul.  TOUGH STUFF.

How many of us, find ourselves in the ‘wrong’ place.  We need a RE-PITCHING of our tent.  It is not just a want or desire, let’s face it beloved, it is a NEED!  We too have made choices where we find ourselves in the wrong camp (if you will) the ICK can be deafening, we seem to be somewhat paralyzed.  We were rescued once, and by golly we went right back.  In being ‘back’ it cost us, cost on our kneesus dearly, and painfully so.

Loved one,  be bold, be decisive, pull those stakes out, tear down the tent, throw your head back, chin up. Re-pitch.  Look at the land again.  Choose.  Choose the good spot.  Position yourself right up, near and IN the presence of God.  This pitching and dwelling is a ‘double occupancy.‘  “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may ‘dwell’ in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” - Paul, Eph 3:16-20 (emphasis mine)

A re-pitching.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Give Him Just ONE

A Bible study

Women.  We are used to multi- asking, having our minds and lives  firing in 5 different directions, no wait, 6-10. At times we DO find ourselves on overload.  When we do, what do we tend to do?  And do well? Criticize ourselves.  I am reminded of a time when I sat among a small group of gals in a bible study setting.  So nice to be with those who have the same love for God that I do. In that discussion time we were sharing our goals for the study. There was a mother of ‘4’ (FOUR) small, YOUNG, needing her attention, children. I can sense you close your eyes and breathe a prayer over this gal. I know, I did too.

In her frustration and complete weariness, she shared in depth about not having ‘enough’ time for devotions and her bible study. She felt defeated and was basically giving up. Those in the group kept trying to help with creative ways to carve out ‘enough’ time. Go to bed earlier, get up earlier, when they sleep …. this young mom was nearly in tears. I just sat and listened. They were more worried about the ‘quantity’ of time, rather then the ‘quality.’

You know me, I finally leaned forward and looked the gal in the eyes, lovingly asking, “Could you look at maybe ONE verse each day or the whole week?” She stopped talking. So did the others. “This gal is NUTS!”, I’m sure they thought. One stinkin verse??? THAT is NOT enough! I will get behind, gotta get through that one year bible reading, gotta get my homework done! Gotta write in my journal. This attitude belongs to many of us. How many of us too, feel defeated and well basically allow our God time to slip, slip away.

I then shared that its not the quantity of time with God, and His word that is important, it is the quality. If you have just enough time to read one verse, then the baby cries, or the dog barks or milk is split etc etc etc (so goes a moms life) then take that ONE verse, WHILE you are cleaning up the milk – holding the crying baby, ask the Holy Spirit to speak to YOU about that verse. You, God, His word … quality time. Listen – listen for HIS application.  If need be at the beginning of the week, jot down that verse on a 3×5 card, tape it to the mirror in the bathroom.  Even though you may have a parade of offspring following you in there, READ it aloud.  Again and again.

Don’t get me wrong I am ALL OVER Bible study, to seek out the meaning, the context, the reason WHY Paul wrote what he wrote. What the original language is saying, asking the who – what – where – why – and how questions (ok, the Bible teacher in me HAD to insert this). But there are seasons, seasons when time captures us. Seasons when even with discipline … our clock is full.

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Heb. 4:12 – emphasis mine) Allow that ‘alive word’ to minister to YOU! One verse?  Enough? Yes, yes it is with the Holy Spirit whispering in your ear. The Psalmist wrote “Oh how I love Your law, I meditate on it all day long” (Ps. 119:97) Meditate here means to reflect, pray, cause your thoughts to return again and again.

During that moment of silence with the gals, I shared I once spent days just on Thomas’s ” … my Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28) I didn’t research – I didn’t cross reference, just “My Lord and my God”, knowing the context, I thought about it ~ I said it ~ I pictured it ~ prayed it. It was amazing. The gals just sat there and starred at me, I was shocked that they allowed me to sit at their table again and share.

God knows us, knows our heart ~ for those of us, whose season doesn’t allow for hours or minutes of ‘head in the book’ sessions, don’t stress, don’t feel condemned, if we can give Him just ONE verse, HIS word, He can minister to us. It can be amazing.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)

God is in the Whisper

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The world races in an alarming speed that would boggle the mind of Albert Einstein himself. Often within this world, life if full of landslides of pain, ravished with disasters and narrowing it down to just ‘ickiness.’ Many, if not most ask at one time or another, “Where is God?”

It is October 30, 2013. Sitting at my desk at work, I receive an email sent from my husband’s phone (boyfriend at the time). Hm… interesting. It simply says, “Could you call me when you get a chance?” This was out of the ordinary for him, so what does any adoring girlfriend do? She panics and runs outside to make that call. Once hitting cell phone coverage, a text comes in from Marks daughter. “Please call me ASAP!” Ok, this CANNOT be good! I prayerfully dial Marks number. He picks up immediately. THAT again is a serious sign, usually his phone is silenced and he would text me he is in a meeting. But today, he answered. “Hi.” He simply says. I of course cut to the chase, “What is wrong?” He in his always calm manner, says, “I’ve been in an accident.” “Are you alright?” I ask. “Oh yes.” He responds in a nothing wrong in my world tone. My mind whirls with exhausted imaginative horrifying pictures flashing as news reels expose the front end2accident. “Where are you?” I timidly breathe out? “In the ER here in Tacoma.”

As I dive out of my bosses office with faint echoes of “Keep me informed” I travel the 2-3 hours to get to Mark. Finding out he was in a 3 vehicle accident, he was exiting off the freeway, he alone going the speed of about 60. To this day, he doesn’t remember anything from the accident. Only to awaken in the ER two hours later. He hit the windshield with his head, and now bleeding internally under that wound. NOT good. What seem to be ETERNITY, I arrive and ushered in to be with him, my heart sank. One eye swollen shut, blood dripping from it, the other attempting to focus to believe it was really me there with him. He was in really bad shape. We spent the day in the ER, then a very long night in ICU. He was in agonizing pain as one would expect. When terrible things happen we always sway our heads in the direction of doubt and sorrowful questioning. Where was God?

I can sit here and say, at times “God is in the whisper.” Mark drove a beautiful 2009 Pontiac G8 GXP, limited edition. You see Mark had 3 children, two lovely grown daughters and his baby… Pontiac sports car. Just hours prior to the accident, Mark felt compelled since the fall season was here, it was time to tuck the Pontiac in for the winter. Taking it for a thorough cleaning, parking it and tenderly covering it with the canvas cover. Tucked in and parked, THIS morning Mark climbs into his 2011 GMC Sierra truck. The night before the accident, Mark having been driving the sports car all summer and the last couple of months, he switches cars. God is in the whisper. You see if Mark had been driving the sports car, he would have been killed instantly in the accident. Oh how I LOVE that truck! Acting on the whisper of God and that truck … saved his life. The impact of the accident CRUSHED the front of the beautiful silver chariot, BUT stopped just at the fire wall, as if God’s hand reached out, divinely stating ‘THAT is enough!” The inside of the cab was untouched. Airbags deployed all over the interior, he survived. So did the other 2 folks involved in the accident. It took 10351379_758996764144178_6530844034717706651_nsome time for Marks blacken eyes and swelling to get back to normal, the headache to FINALLY go away. Ten months following the accident, Mark and I were married. I LOVE that man! God knew what He was doing. Not long ago, due to the only vehicle to drive, and causing the value to decrease, Mark traded the beloved Pontiac for another LARGE – safe, 2014 DeDe loving TRUCK.

You may say, but you don’t know what I have faced or am facing… where is God in MY  ickness of life? He is here. He is orchestrating, He is raising His hand, He is declaring. Oh the playing out of the symphony may not match our expected last stanza, but “He is….” The author of Hebrews quotes Moses saying of God. “I will never leave you or forsake you…” (Deut. 31:7-8, Heb. 13:5-6) We may NEVER –EVER know the ‘misses’ waved away by God.

O God, may we be sensitive to Your breath brushed across our ears. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” – Is. 30:21

God is in the whisper.

In Him , DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Powerful & Effective

Bike

While driving to work this morning, I became aware of something, “Where’s Linda?” Linda is a gal I see riding her bike every morning, she is but a speck of light at first with a head lamp on her forehead and flashing back light. I have never met Linda. I gave her that name, frankly from a holiday family gathering. We were all loudly engaged in energetic conversation, when all of a sudden my Grandmother blurts out “Who’s’ Linda?” The room silenced, all eyes on Grandma, we ALL busted out laughing, there was NO mention of Linda in the conversation. So, now the saying goes, “Who’s Linda?”

For the past few month, this Linda and I pass each other every work day. I have begun to pray for her. She not knowing. But it doesn’t matter. Our paths intersect for a reason. So I pray. I pray for her safety on the road, for any unknown needs, that while she rides YOU, God are speaking to her. This particular morning, I didn’t see her. For never meeting this gal, my heart sank. However, about a ½ mile up the road, there she was. I again began our morning routine, unknown to her!

Prayer, an amazing thing. Some make it more complex than it is, more lengthy then needed and by golly more King James than understood. Paul shared multiple times about our CALL to pray for one another. For starters, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.” Phil. 2:3-4. He then bluntly states, “Brethren, pray for us.” – 1 Thess. 5:25. Again, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and Prayerquiet life in all godliness and dignity.” – 1 Timothy 2:1-2. James shares, in a more intimate environment, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. – James 5:16 (emphasis mine) Astonishingly, this was said of Job in the Old Testament, “The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.” – Job 42:10.

Prayer, simply coming to our God, and talking to Him. Often we speak on behalf of another, I would venture to say, most of our conversations may be as quick as “O God, help!” One of my most favorite moments of the day, is when Mark, my husband takes me in his arms, placing his face alongside mine, feeling his breath in my ear, he tenderly prays over us, our children and our day.

Prayer, whether it be in the arms of a loved one, on our knees on behalf of the nation, face down in battle for deliverance or heart bowed while driving by a stranger, let us converse. May it be said of us as said of Job, “ The LORD…” (“The LORD restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the LORD increased all that Job had twofold.” – Job 42:10.)

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Personal Note & Announcement

Southwicks2Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.” Ps. 37:4 “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt. 6:33   God, I delighted, and sought and You added… thank You! 

In all transparency, it’s been a rough last few years. But God.  But the God Who holds the stars in the sky, the One who designed the stripes on the zebra, the One who saw and too felt the pain of my failed marriage after 20 years.  He was there.  As I attempted to pick up the broken pieces of my life that scattered all over the ground, I seem to chase each one like that of a juggler who’s throw and catch went wrong.  But God. “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps. 73:26)

On July 12th, one month ago from today, I married the most AMAZING Godly man.  Mark and I have known of each other for about 27 years.  Meeting again at the family farm last summer, we ‘noticed’ each other.  He too, had experienced a failed marriage, walking in the healing of Jesus, we developed a wonderful friendship.  I, with my quick wit and slight mischievousness and Marks solid calm manner and quiet strength, we make for a great balanced pair.

I have never experienced the love, acceptance, tenderness and protection like I am now as Mark’s wife.  What a gracious gift.  God’s gift of 2nd chances.  His mercy showered, His grace extended.  Not to mention we are having the time of our lives!  We laugh, poke fun, hold hands, play footsie, go for walks and the poor guy rolls his eyes (I’m afraid they will STAY that way one 20140712_124803-1-1of these days) from my energetic imagination! And when he smiles, my heart melts a thousand times over.

But God.  He designed this marriage. We sense the call to move as one in ministry,  I may sit down and begin a study and he is there as I grab his hand and off we go on one of my many ‘rabbit trails’, the discussions are deep, life changing and spiritually challenging. He holds me as he prays, for us, our 4 children and our love for Him.

As a symbol for myself of the committment I have for my God, about 4 yrs ago, I got my right ear pierced.  This I took from what St Paul would say in many of his writings, “I Paul a bondservant of Jesus..”  ‘Bondservant’ coming from years of tradition.  In the O.T. after six years, the 7th yr the slave could go free, however, they had the option to VOLUNTEER to stay with their Master, but doing so it was for LIFE! The Master would take the slave and pierce his ear against the doorpost of the Masters house, then place a gold ring in his ear. This symbolized the slaves volunteering servanthood and the ‘life’ mark for the Master. Doing so for myself was a reminder, that I too, am a ‘bonservant’ of God, He, my Master, for LIFE!  In our wedding ceremony following communion, Mark replaced the little crystal stud ear-ring with a diamond, symbolizing a new Southwick_Wed-148fresh start in Jesus. Mark too wears a Star of David necklace he got while in Israel, I took that and placed it on him with the same symbolism.  “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”  Ecc. 4:12  Husband and wife and our God!

Psalm 92:4, what King David wrote SO resonates with me,  “You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.”   (NLT) What You have done for US!

The God Who splashes the rainbow in the sky, the One who gave the bee his buzz and the God of 2nd chances, “For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”

In Him, DeDe & Mark (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Seeing THEM!

Big rig

 

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  - Paul,  letter to the Philippians 2:4

This morning while driving to work, cruising along, the traffic seemed heavier than normal for 5:15am.  Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw the pretty orange lights of a big rig truck.  The poor guy was trying to maneuver through the morning commute, cars full of folks that I am confident had not yet been caffeinated to complete awareness of their surroundings.  Like that of a ‘Chess’ game, I figured “If I move over one lane, move forward around this little white car, and return to my original lane, I could make room for the big truck to get around.”  Off I went, and NOT going over the speed limit I might add.  Doing so, the truck driver saw the ‘move’ and made his own advance.  As we continued on down the freeway for a few minutes, just as I began my exit off, the truck driver passed on by, but NOT without a reaching out of his hand and the ‘wave’ of thanks.

Do we look and ‘see’ those around us?  Are we aware?   Do we CARE? Do we see the need and heed?  Or do we see and ignore or hastily say “Go around me!”  While at it, “CROWN ME!” (Chess game…ouch!)  Paul speaking to the Christians in Phillipi, proceeds the above verse stating: “…being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves..” V2-3  As we cruise through this life, may we be aware, may we look and see how we can help others, whether that help be small or large.  Taking the time to offer a smile, holding the door while they carry heavy bags of groceries, allow someone to go ahead of us in line, give a word of encouragement, take a meal, hold them, laugh with them, cry and pray.   May we have a God focus… others.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

Love Beyond Tolerance

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This last weekend whilest visiting a church I felt a ‘renewing’ (if you will) of the challenge to love like God does.  (Being gut honest here) Love like God. Sigh. It is easy to love the lovely, those that fall in line with us completely, yet when we step off  that platform, the ‘easiness’ seems to escape us.  Trying not to reach and grab nicely packaged excuses, when loving requires practical application or even TALKING to them … loving enough to share Jesus with them…”Oh they are not like me…. they wont understand….their lifestyle is SO different than mine… what would I say ” or “they are gay, pierced, tattooed, divorced, addicted, ugly, they swear and frankly some may … ‘stink’.”     But  in my reality, I humanly state:  “I will never love to the capacity that HE does.”  None of us will, just because we are humanly limited, does NOT stop the attempt. With His grace, His guidance, power, unction, and filling, I will love.   I have found that my desire is thrown beyond ‘tolerance’, beyond just getting around the person to move in a forward direction, treating them with invisible attentiveness.  NO!  God wants me to stop and ‘see’ them.  Love them, speak to them (not at them) connect, lead and serve.   “God so tolerated the world that He just let them go on their way.” NO!  “God so LOVED the world that He gave…”  Love, is giving… giving of ourselves.  Then, there is ‘whosoever’ (another study)

I am confident at times we make this so much BIGGER than it really is. More complex than intended, more ‘self-ish’ than assigned.  One of my dearest friends is a gay fellow at work.  We get along much like bantering brother and sister.  We have agreed to dis-agree.  He was raised in the church, he knows what the Bible says, he doesn’t need ‘preaching’, he NEEDS love.  He knows I care for him and yet I do not condone his lifestyle. He knows my love for God, His word and His stuff and people.  Even in all this, he KNOWS I love.  He jokes that we’d make a great prime-time TV show “Gay boy and preacher girl”.

One element that challenged me this weekend,  the pastor in the pulpit shared this true story: A pastor friend of his  felt compelled to barbers_pole230challenge his folks to step out and tell people about Jesus, even if it is as simple as ‘God loves you’.  Three different men shared with him later, that they felt God place someone on their mind immediately and chose to act on it.  One guy shared, he called his brother, whom he hadn’t had much contact with over the years, called to say “Love ya brother and God loves you too,” and quickly hung up.  The next guy was out working in his yard when his neighbor was out and as he  waved, telling him have a good day and “God loves you”, the man walked away fast.  The 3rd guy was sitting in the barber’s chair and gaining the courage, looked in the mirror and stated, “Bob, God loves you.”  Bob, swung the guys chair around and said, “WHAT is going on… Last night my brother called me, this morning my neighbor and now YOU tell me God loves me.”    Wonderful story.  THAT is our God!  What lengths will He go to get the message to us. Are we willing to be part of the orchestration of the message?

Paul writes to young Timothy, “…proclaim the Message with intensity; keep on your watch. Challenge, warn, and urge your people. Don’t ever quit. Just keep it simple. – 2 Timothy 4:2 MSG  (emphasis mine) As the King Jimmy puts it, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season”   When asked, may we have an answer.  When opportunity knocks us over, may we stand and stand FIRM on God and His word. And love.

Whom might we need to call, wave to and have our chair swung around in awe of what God is doing.  Love beyond tolerance.  Wake up to the invisible.

Closing with:  “This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in Him, and He in us: He’s given us life from His life, from His very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent His Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.” 1 John 4:13-16 MSG  John continues in verse 19, “We love because He first loved us.”

Love like God does.

In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Heb. 10:24)

 

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