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Health Resources

April 23, 2017

I tried adding a new page to my website, but until I can ask my webmaster to do so, this is going to have to be a blog post. For some reason I can add a page, but it doesn’t show up at the top of the website. Oh well. I never did quite understand these things and since I broke the site once, I’m not willing to risk that again!

Many of you have been reading my blog and my books over the years and you have probably heard me talk about my health a time or two. I don’t want to focus on it, but I will say that I consistently look for ways to improve my life, spiritually, mentally, and physically. I manage to fail miserably when it comes to getting enough exercise – new goal for this year! But part of that reason has been pain limitations.

Picture courtesy of Prevention Magazine

Briefly – in case you can relate – I have chronic pain that some call fibromyalgia, others think it a different syndrome, along with some arthritis and back issues. Of course, stress of any stripe makes things worse. And no matter what they say, I believe the weather plays a role. But I digress.

If you are like me or have faced any of these things, you know that pain gets old. And the older we get, the more we do battle with it. But I’ve learned a few things I want to pass on to you, just in case it helps.

These are three things I’m doing to help and they do:

  1. Changed my diet. I went to a new doctor who tested my vitamin levels and other deficiencies and she put me on a restricted diet to see what helped. Here’s what I’ve found.
    1. Avoid grain as much as possible. Not just gluten. Grain. There are two brands that make grain-free pizza, pasta, and bagel – Against the Grain and Cappello’s. When I’m in a hurry and want pizza, these make an easy meal.
    2. Avoid dairy. Okay, I cheat on this. I eat butter (the real stuff) and cheese on these pizzas, but most of the time I stay away from cheese and milk. I have found a brand of cheese (ricotta is the only one I’ve tried so far) from Kite Hill that is made from almonds but tastes exactly like cheese. I love it with almond crackers.
    3. Avoid most night shades – eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes. Okay, I cheat on the potatoes and very rarely on the tomatoes. But we don’t eat spaghetti any more, which used to be a weekly staple in our house.
    4. Avoid soy. Soy really isn’t good for us from what I’ve read and been told and why deal with it? I have found plenty of good chocolate that doesn’t use it, and I don’t eat it in anything else except Chinese food, but they use too many ingredients I can’t eat.
    5. Avoid citrus if you have arthritis. Oranges, lemons, limes – if needed in baking they’re probably okay but I stay away from eating the whole fruit.
    6. So what do I eat? The “avoids” kind of sound like the world has tilted. But not really. I eat most fruits and veggies, except those listed. I make easy meals like chicken with coconut oil and garlic or the roast chicken I made for Easter that was amazing from Elana’s Pantry. Who knew that chicken tasted good with prunes and green olives?
    7. I also make quick lamb patties or hamburgers – grass fed when possible – we just eat them with mushrooms or things besides ketchup. Sweet potatoes are an easy side, and sometimes I get creative and bake or make something that takes more than ten minutes. I make a huge salad at the beginning of the week and it lasts a few days for lunches. Breakfast is normally fruit and maybe a grain-free muffin or bagel.
  2. I take daily supplements. I can’t tell you what to take, but if you suffer from chronic pain, it wouldn’t hurt to be tested for deficiencies. And one supplement that can help some people is Garden of Life Joint Support Supplement – Wobenzym N Systemic Enzymes, 200 Tablets. It was first introduced in Germany and for me, it helps.
  3. I’ve been experimenting with essential oils for the past year. I can’t claim healing from them, but I love the way they smell, make my skin and hair feel, and help with mood – especially when the day is dreary or I need to relax. I list more about the oils I use on my doTerra website. I’ll put a link to the page in the sidebar for future reference, if you are interested in specific oils. That page explains it a lot better than I can, but I must say peppermint oil (one drop) in my tea is great for a wake up or headache quencher and wild orange and peppermint mixed together smells great when rubbed in with coconut oil as a base into the skin.

That’s about it for now. I’m always looking for new ways to feel better and exercise is next on my list. I can’t wait to get back to bike riding this summer, but our weather still has me riding in the house. The cardinals are telling us that spring is here though, so perhaps they are right.

I would love to hear what things have helped you, so please pass on your tips of things that worked and didn’t to make you feel healthier.

I hope you are helped by some of this. Life is never easy if you hurt. I hope my experiences help someone hurt less.

Be blessed~

 

He spoke – but they weren’t listening

April 16, 2017

Resurrection Sunday! Selah…Pause. Think. About. It.

This is the day of the Christian’s joy. It’s our reason to celebrate. Death waged war against the Creator of the Universe and lost. How cool is that?

Have you thought about that word–resurrection? In its verb form it means to “rise again”. The dictionary also defines it as revitalization or revival of something.

In the Christian community the word’s meaning can almost get lost for its continual use. We tend to just assume all people understand its significance. We can forget how much resurrection means to the Christian faith.

If Jesus had not risen again after his horrific, tortuous death–if he had remained buried in a borrowed tomb–there would have been no purpose in His coming to earth. Without Easter, Christmas holds no meaning. And Passover would still be waiting its eternal fulfillment.

I suspect that when Jesus explained his coming death to his disciples, they weren’t putting the pieces together. Scripture doesn’t tell us whether or not Jesus told them how his death and resurrection would fulfill so many of the prophets predictions. Or how the feasts they celebrated were symbolic of the future, not just traditional remembrances of the past.

Jesus told them what they could accept, but even then they weren’t really listening. Peter rebuked him for saying He was going to Jerusalem to die. That wasn’t the picture of Messiah the twelve had in mind. They were looking for a political savior. One to free them from earthly oppression.

They weren’t really hearing Him when He talked about His dying and rising again.

It’s so easy to only hear what we want to hear, isn’t it?

Interestingly enough though, the Bible records that some people were listening. They weren’t the ones with the power or even the respect the disciples carried. They wouldn’t be considered leaders in their community or synagogue. They were women.

While the disciples were busy worrying about who would be greatest in the kingdom or wondering when Jesus was going to oust Rome, a woman anointed His feet with precious oil for burial. She was listening when Jesus said he’d come to earth to die, and she believed.

Why was it so hard for some to pay attention and not others?

I think it all goes back to listening. Listening with our hearts, not just our ears.

It wasn’t like Jesus hadn’t tried to tell them. He’d given them plenty of time and teaching in the three years of his public ministry. He showed them what God was like and yet even then they questioned Him. Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father and that would be enough for them. They couldn’t see what was right in front of them–that Christ and His Father were one.

It wasn’t until much later, after Jesus ascended into heaven that they understood how He had fulfilled Passover by becoming the paschal lamb. His death ripped open the great divide between God and humanity. The blood that covered the doorposts and lintels of the Israelite homes in Egypt was only a symbol of the blood of countless sacrifices that came every year on the Day of Atonement. Jesus’ death as the final perfect Lamb of God fulfilled at least these two feasts, and created a new covenant to replace the old.

But until the resurrection the disciples were only thinking of an earthly kingdom and they wanted front and center access to it. They wanted to rule with Christ then and there. They weren’t thinking deeply enough to recognize the suffering savior. Their savior could not die.

Luke 24:8 says that when the angels told the women that Jesus had arisen from the dead, “they remembered His words”. They’d been paying attention as they followed Him from place to place. They weren’t concerned about what Jesus could do for Israel’s politics or how He might deal with their oppressors or how great they might be in His coming kingdom. Each one of those women had a personal relationship with Him because of how He had touched their lives.

Sometimes we get so used to hearing the words, or even a single word, like resurrection, and we fail to ponder the depth of meaning. Resurrection, to rise again, to cause revival of something–wouldn’t the best kind of Easter be a revival of our faith? Maybe we’ve wandered from the words of Christ because we failed to let them touch us in the place that changes us.

Jesus didn’t come just to be a martyr for a cause. He came to defeat an enemy that that held us in a death grip we couldn’t break.

A risen Savior has the power to revive anything. In the quiet, if we are listening, we can hear Him whisper our name. Because of the cross, because of His amazing love and grace, He calls out to any who are paying attention and are willing to listen.

The women of His day listened when He spoke. And they believed Him.

Do we?

~Selah

#livegrace #stopdoubtingandbelieve #resurrectionsunday #heisrisenindeed

In Light of the Cross – Is God Good?

April 13, 2017

God is good. You’ve heard it said many times, haven’t you? And when our circumstances are pleasing and all seems right with our world, “God is good!” is easy to say. To feel. To mean. Who doesn’t enjoy life when things are as we want them to be?

I’ve grown up hearing these words, but every now and then they rub me the wrong way. Sometimes it’s my own jealous feelings that make me question – is God really good? Why did she get an answer to her prayer and I’m still waiting?

Oh faithless heart. How easy it is to lose sight of this simple attribute of God when the answer to my prayers is no. Or worse. Wait.

I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not alone in this.

God doesn’t seem quite so good to us when someone we love dies.

Or when our hopes are deferred.

Or when people let us down.

If I’d been one of the women who followed Jesus when He walked the earth, I might have questioned the goodness of God when I stood at the cross and watched how much He suffered. I can imagine I would have felt pretty desperate on that day before Resurrection Sunday.

Do you think the disciples felt like God had let them down?

Or guilty because they hadn’t done a thing to stop the crucifixion?

Sometimes we blame God for things at the same time that we are also blaming ourselves. But then when we  justify ourselves or realize why there was nothing we could have done, God seems like the only one left to blame even if He is not guilty.

In that moment, God doesn’t seem good to us, does He?

All the former things we considered to be blessings of God – the beauty and wildness of nature, the wonder and complexity of birth, the excitement and joy of love, even the promise of eternal life for those who trust Him can seem less than when faced with trials and fear and strife.

When we are in between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, we are living in the shadow of a sealed tomb, and we are lost and scared and scarred by the unknown. By the pain of loss. By the doubt of joy to come.

But if God is good, isn’t He good even in the bad times? Does the God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever change? Was God less good on that Saturday in between? Is God not as good in the shadows as He is in the light?

When I wrote Rebekah, this subject came up as I contemplated what Isaac went through at his binding – that time when his father Abraham, out of obedience to God, would have sacrificed his only son that he loved. A symbol of exactly what God did when He also sacrificed His Only Son Jesus. And while God never intended to allow Abraham to actually kill Isaac, He tested Abraham in that moment.

And the altar became the darkest place on earth.

Much as the sky above the cross grew black the day Christ died.

In light of the cross on that Saturday, God’s ways were as dark to Jesus’ disciples as they were to Abraham and Isaac before the angel spoke and stayed Abraham’s hand.

As dark as the light before the dawn when the angel rolled the stone away from the tomb.

In the light of the new dawn it is easy to see that God is indeed good.

But that space between the light and the dark can seem the blackest. And the goodness of God is tested.

In Rebekah, I imagined Isaac giving words to these thoughts saying,

“God is good because He is. He does not need a reason to do what He does, and He is not answerable to us when He chooses to test our faith. But we can see His goodness in the things He has made, in the very creation that surrounds us.” 

Maybe that’s why hearing people only praise God’s goodness when things go their way sometimes rubs me wrong. It’s because I rarely hear those same words spoken when things are darkest. Truth is, I rarely say them myself when I’m walking in the shadow of a sealed tomb. Or an unanswered prayer. Or a test of faith.

They say success is a truer test of faith than failure. “The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and a man is tested by his praise.” (Proverbs 27:21) Hmm…Can we say, “God is good!” in the crucible? In the furnace?

Do we declare Him good when things don’t go as we’d planned?

If God is good, He is always good. Even if we don’t think so.

He is good…because He is.

May you see Him in the darkness as well as in the light. May you see Him in between when His goodness lies in the whispers, in the shadows. He hasn’t left you. In light of the cross, He’s just doing His greatest work in silence. 

Selah~

#livegrace #inlightofthecross #godisgood

 

The Real Cost of the Cross

April 11, 2017

Have you ever stopped to think about what caused Jesus to sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion? Or to ask his closest friends to stay awake and pray with Him even for an hour? Or to beg His Father for another way–let this cup, this horror–pass Him by?

I’ve heard many a sermon on the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. I’ve even got some medically-educated friends and relatives who have shared the awful physical pain Jesus went through on that cruel Roman creation of torture. If you’ve ever watched The Passion of the Christ, I’ll bet you couldn’t watch it twice.

If we are a reasonable, empathetic human being, we don’t like gruesome. We are appalled by man’s inhumanity to man. Holocausts and genocide and every other type of terror is an assault on all that is decent. We decry it, consider it outrage. It leaves us without words.

But may I suggest to you that I don’t think the physical torture of the cross is why Jesus begged His Father to find a different way?

When you think about the cross, if you know anything about Christianity, you know this is precisely WHY Jesus came to earth. To break sin’s curse. As Aslan did in The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe, he took Edward’s place so that Edward wouldn’t have to die as a traitor. Edward couldn’t free himself so Aslan did it for him.

Jesus knew and accepted His purpose–to come to earth in human flesh–to set us free from sin’s curse so we don’t have to die as a traitor against God.

So why the emotional agony? (I’m not trying to minimize torture–so please bear with me here.)

I simply think that there was something more, something deeper than the physical or even sin-bearing part of the cross that caused Jesus such immense emotional pain.

Tim Keller says in his book, The Reason for God, Belief in an Age of Skepticism, “There may be no greater inner agony than the loss of a relationship we desperately want.”

Before that statement in the book, Mr. Keller explains that to understand the suffering of God, we have to remember the relationship Jesus had with the Father from the very beginning. The triune God–Father, Son, and Spirit–have always exited in intimate communication with one another. There is no closer relationship than theirs. They are three and distinct, yet one in ways we cannot comprehend, but if even a small part of that oneness comes close, think of it like a loving family. Husband and wife are “one” according to Scripture, and though this is a weak illustration, the Father and Son and Spirit are one. They share a relationship that is closer than our most loving relationship on earth.

But imagine your closest relationship, be it your spouse, a child, a parent, a friend. Imagine you have been inseparable for all of your life. (Suspend some disbelief here for a moment.) Imagine that your closest relationship is only a prayer away. He or she answers every mental text, email, phone call, and instantly communicates with you. And you share your deepest thoughts, you can finish each others’ sentences, your breath is their breath.

Now suppose that intimate relationship with your best loved one is threatened. Suppose something happens that causes you both to decide that for a time, you are going to have to be physically apart. The thought is devastating, but for the greater good, you decide you can handle a few physically separate years. There is still the phone or FaceTime or texting, right?

But what if it got worse. What if you knew that in the parting there was going to be an estrangement with that person you love with your whole heart? If you have lived through estrangement from a casual acquaintance, it probably didn’t trouble you that much. A closer friend–that would hurt–especially if you wanted to fix it and couldn’t. But a family member? A spouse? A parent? A child? Now we get a whole lot closer to the emotion Jesus may have felt.

I don’t think we will ever feel that estranged emotion in the exact way He did, but if you think about it, what is worse? Physical pain or emotional pain? Whenever I’ve asked that question of people, they say emotional pain almost every time.

And you know? Jesus came to us as fully human and fully God. The God part of Him knew with perfect detail how it felt to be close to His Father. He often went off alone to pray–I suspect because He wanted to talk to His Father. They went over the plans together. He sought His Father’s will when He picked His disciples. He did everything His Father wanted Him to do.

And  in all His prayers it is never recorded that He sweat drops of blood over anything else. Until the Garden of Gethsemane.

All of the cursing and shunning and persecution he received at the hands of the people He came to heal and save, that He would yet suffer the next day before the priests and the governor and more was not even remotely as painful as the loss He was going to suffer when He was cut off from communication with His Father.

I wonder–if we went a day without talking to God, would we even notice? If we went a week without talking to our best friend, would we miss it? Jesus sweat drops of blood over His upcoming loss. He knew that the torture would be horrific. He was going to die. He was about to fulfill His purpose for becoming one of us.

But when He was lifted high on that cross, broken and bleeding, and enduring the most horrible type of physical agony, it was the gut-wrenching cry, “My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?” that caused His greatest suffering.

My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Did you notice that in that moment, Jesus didn’t call Him Father? In the Garden the night before He called Him Father.) But in the middle of that cry, the fellowship of the triune God was severed in a way we cannot fathom.

I believe this is the true cost of the cross. Jesus was forsaken by the one person who loved Him most.

Jesus was forsaken by the ONE person who loved Him most.

And He could barely stand it. He agonized, dripping blood over it.

But He did it to break the curse. So we could be with Him and with His Father and share in that intimate fellowship they had shared before time began.

He counted the cost before He came.

He prayed in the garden for the grace to afford to pay it.

He cried in despair when He finally went through with it.

He did it for you.

He did it for me.

And if we can wrap our hearts around that truth and embrace that intimacy with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ by His Spirit, then this promise becomes ours. One that we can only appreciate in our own darkest moments.

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

He was forsaken at a level too deep to imagine so we will never have to be.

~Selah

 

April 2017 New Releases

April 10, 2017

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

sandpiper-cove

Sandpiper Cove by Irene Hannon — When a police chief and an ex-con join forces to keep a young man from falling into a life of crime, sparks fly. Given their backgrounds, it’s not a promising match—but in Hope Harbor, anything is possible. (Contemporary Romance from Revell [Baker])

 

oh-baby

Oh Baby by Delia Latham — Dawni Manors seeks peace in Angel Falls, Texas. What she finds is a cowboy, an abandoned infant, and emotional chaos. If the Heart’s Haven angels really are there, what in the world are they thinking? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

 

General:
a-fragile-hope

A Fragile Hope by Cynthia Ruchti — Where does a relationship expert turn when his wife leaves him and carries a tiny heartbeat with her? (General from Abingdon Press)

waiting-for-butterflies

 

Waiting for Butterflies by Karen Sargent — When tragedy strikes, Maggie discovers a mother’s love never ends–not even when her life does. Longing for her family after her sudden death, she becomes a lingering spirit and returns home where she helplessly witnesses her family’s downward spiral in the aftermath of her passing. Her husband is haunted by past mistakes and struggles to redeem himself. Her teenage daughter silently drowns in her own guilt, secretly believing she caused her mother’s death. Only her five-year-old, full of innocence, can sense her presence. Although limited by her family’s grief and lack of faith, Maggie is determined to keep a sacred promise and save her family before her second chance runs out. (General from Walrus Publishing [Amphorae Publishing Group])

Mystery:

sunset-in-old-savannahSunset in Old Savannah by Mary Ellis — When a philandering husband turns up dead, two crack detectives find more suspects than moss-draped oaks in charming old Savannah, including a scheming business partner, a resentful mistress, and a ne’er-do-well brother. (Mystery from Harvest House Publishers)

Historical:
above-rubies

Above Rubies by Keely Brooke Keith — In 1863, young teacher Olivia Owens establishes the first school in the remote settlement of Good Springs while finding love. (Historical, Independently Published)

Historical Romance:

a-rose-so-fair

A Rose So Fair by Myra Johnson — Caleb Wieland would give anything to win farm girl Rose Linwood’s heart, but Rose’s stubborn independence is proving as thorny as the flower for which she’s named. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
under-the-same-sky

Under the Same Sky by Cynthia Roemer — In 1854 Illinois, Becky Hollister wants nothing more than to live out her days on the prairie, building a life for herself alongside her future husband. But when a tornado rips through her parents’ farm, killing her mother and sister, she must leave the only home she’s ever known and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.
Catapulted into a world of unknowns, Becky finds solace in corresponding with Matthew Brody, the handsome pastor back home. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)
the-pony-express-collection

The Pony Express Romance Collection by Barbara Tifft Blakey, Mary Davis, Darlene Franklin, Cynthia Hickey, Maureen Lang, Debby Lee, Donna Schlachter, Connie Stevens and Pegg Thomas — Nine historical romances revive the brief era of the Pony Express. Join the race from Missouri, across the plains and mountains to California and back again as brave Pony Express riders and their supporters along the route work to get mail across country in just ten days. It is an outstanding task in the years 1860 to 1861, and only a few are up to the job. Faced with challenges of terrain, weather, hostile natives, sickness, and more, can these adventurous pioneers hold fast, and can they also find lasting love in the midst of daily trials? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

plain-targetPlain Target by Dana R. Lynn — Horse trainer Jess McGrath only wants to clear her disgraced brother’s name, but enemies keep coming out of the woodwork and danger only gets closer. Jess soon learns that no place is safe—and no one can be trusted…except for the last white knight she’d ever expect to ride to her rescue. Paramedic Seth Travis was the boy behind her high school humiliation, but he’s also the man keeping her alive. When they find sanctuary in the Amish community, can they uncover answers in time to stop a killer—and resolve their past in time to build a future together? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])
dangerous-testimony

Dangerous Testimony by Dana Mentink — Four weeks before she’s set to testify at a gang murder trial, someone is determined to make sure that Candace Gallagher Andrews never takes the stand. When nowhere is safe for the private investigator or her little girl, Candace turns to the only person she can trust—longtime friend and former navy SEAL Marco Quidel. For Marco, protecting Candace is not just another duty. As the trial date nears and the killer stalks ever closer, Marco knows fear for the first time—the fear of losing Candace and her daughter. But while Marco begins seeing Candace as more than just a friend, her late husband’s memory is never far from her mind. So he must keep Candace alive—and not get emotionally involved—long enough to put away a killer. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

deep-extractionDeep Extraction by DiAnn Mills — Special Agent Tori Templeton is determined to find who killed her best friend’s husband. Tori finds an unexpected ally in the newest member of the task force, recently reinstated Deputy US Marshal Cole Jeffers. As Tori and Cole dig deeper into Nathan’s personal and business affairs, they uncover more than they bargained for. And the closer they get to finding the real killer?and to each other?the more intent someone is on silencing them for good. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)

final-verdict

Final Verdict by Jessica R. Patch — When Aurora Daniels becomes the target of someone seeking their own twisted justice, Sheriff Beckett Marsh is the only one who can rescue her. As a public defender, Aurora has angered plenty of people in town—and in her past. And while Beckett constantly clashes with the feisty lawyer professionally, it’s his duty to protect and serve. Guarding her 24/7 is now his sole assignment. He may not have been able to save his fiancée from a dangerous felon, but he’ll do whatever it takes to keep Aurora alive. Even if working with her to catch and convict this ruthless killer puts his heart in the crosshairs. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

guardian

Guardian by Terri Reed — When a fellow FBI agent is kidnapped and a protected witness vanishes, Leo Gallagher will stop at nothing to find them both. So when he discovers a link between the case and a single mother in Wyoming, Leo and his trusty K-9 partner rush to question Alicia Duncan. Could she be the key to locating the missing persons? Not if a killer has anything to say about it. Someone is determined to keep Alicia from talking, so Leo and his chocolate Lab must keep her and her little boy safe on their family ranch. With danger lurking around every corner, Leo must work overtime to not lose another person who’s important to him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin]) witch

Witch by Denise Weimer — Having restored Michael Johnson’s ancestors’ house and apothecary shop and begun applying the lessons of family and forgiveness unearthed from the past, Jennifer Rushmore expects to complete her first preservation job with the simple relocation of a log home. But as her crew reconstructs the 1787 cabin, home to the first Dunham doctor, attacks on those involved throw suspicion on neighbors and friends alike. And while Jennifer has trusted God and Michael with the pain of her past, it appears Michael’s been keeping his own secrets. Will she use a dream job offer from Savannah as an escape, or will a haunting tale from a Colonial diary convince her to rely on the faithfulness of his love? (Romantic Suspense from Canterbury House Publishing)

Speculative Romance/Fantasy:
the-fairetellings-series

The Fairetellings Series (Books 1 through 3) by Kristen Reed — Discover a trio of enchanting novellas inspired by three beloved fairy tales: Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty and the Beast. (Speculative Romance/Fantasy, Independently Published)

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