Thursday, April 29, 2010

Worship In Posture, Not Pose

“Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool.” - Psalm 132:7, NRSV

The motto for my husband’s company is “Posture, Not Pose.” If I had to choose a motto for worship, it would be the same. It made me think about worship’s posture.

Of course, it would be inseparable from the heart, complete with singing and blessing of God’s name, perhaps an intermittent cymbal. I saw grandiose pictures of it in my mind, and places in my life where it could be implemented. To be honest, the more that I managed the vision, the more it started to look like a spiritual spa. I felt dangerously close to “pose.”

I needed something more useful to me. Once I told a friend who was struggling with her fate that fulfilling her purpose was an act of worship. I now have to ask, was I consoling her or was this true?

I could not help but attach the invitation to God’s footstool with posture, and now posture to daily life. It does not seem remarkable, but I have found that simply doing “the next thing” can be one of the greatest acts of worship in my day.

I do not own a footstool, but I know someone who did.

My grandmother lived with us for a time. I recall sitting at her feet for hours. She would tell me how I needed to alter my daily routine, and I would ask her the questions of a lifetime. How fascinating to see her bible by her chair, hear her talk about granddad and their reunion in heaven, and listen to the tales that only come from the right question and silence.

I could have heard my grandmother’s life on a couch or at the dinner table, but in our experience the footstool accomplished more. It is, simply, a small table on which you put your feet; but it was there that I willingly postured myself under my grandmother’s tutelage.

Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, made the decision to sit at the feet of Jesus, instead of remaining distracted with hostess responsibilities. She just sat and listened to Jesus talk. Can you imagine?

Risking the appearance of doing nothing, Mary’s choice was to sit under the tutelage of Christ. It was inevitably questioned. In her defense, Jesus said, “...there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her (Luke 10:42, NRSV).”

John 12 shows that the better part was not taken away from her; in fact it seemed to have grown. Scripture tells us that Mary brought an expensive jar of ointment into her brother’s house on this occasion. Immediately, she was disparaged by at least one of the attendees for the extravagance.

As before, Mary was not deterred. They did not know that she was going to the footstool to worship.

Amidst the chiding, the looks and the gasps, she walked. At the familiar feet of Jesus she fell. This was the altar at which her offering would be spilled. Posture humble, ointment scooped, with face to the ground she rubbed in the precious scent. Loosening her hair, she wiped, covering His feet.

The intoxicating smell filled the house, as this scene went on for an eternity. Some were embarrassed for this demonstration, certainly for Mary’s constant excessive acts of devotion. They needed no encouragement.

But, Mary’s eyes were on His feet, inspecting the long miles of wear and pondering the few to come. She was anointing, not making a vague gesture. She knew that what He said was true. He was going away. These actions were all that her broken heart could say.

Onlookers were silenced by the second defense from Jesus. In few words, Mary became the gospel embodied, the good news with its face to the floor and aromatic hair. This was worship.

Worship. What was meant for Christ’s burial was used at the footstool. Worship. Mary, with tears and ointment, prepared Jesus for His death.

A footstool seems to need feet to rest upon it, but I have found that it wants more. It wants the humble, the unequal, the intentional and the personal. The work that is done at a footstool is covenant work, important work, sometimes lowly work.

In our fear of being taken any lower than our day demands, this work is often put aside; but when the complete separation between the Father and the self is understood, when the chasm that was overcome is grasped, we finally understand who we are and who He is. Our heart acts in one way to this worships.

After we sit at His feet, we stand at His footstool, this humble marker of God’s greatness. Over this footstool, postured, we are to pour out respect, admiration and devotion with a reverent heart because we are not God. We are the other, the unequal and the object of salvation.

My confusion comes during the day, when my emotions awaken, startled that, again, I am doing the menial. We hear this around every corner. We hate our jobs, our children are ungrateful, I have no life because I am a stay-at-home mom, the church suffers from apathy.

Somewhere in the menial I forget that God dwells where I dwell, and I dwell where God puts me. All dwelling places have the capacity for worship, a footstool.

Each footstool requires the same heart. Each dish to wash, bottle to give, meeting to run, or fund raiser to organize requires that we recognize the dwelling place is often the commonplace. Here the humble heart is the altar and worship is the language spoken over it.

“Posture, not pose” is the heart that can worship where it is put. It is the gospel lived as an act of worship to the Father. It is willingness to sit under the Creator and learn worship from the menial, the elementary, the exhausting and the undesirable.

I believe God is asking me if I can I worship from these places.

Before I answer, He reminds me that posture is not for a moment: it is for each moment.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A New Lesson On Fishing

This Sunday we had a guest speaker. I really look forward to hearing him when he is able to make the trip. Different voices can spur me to action. Different perspectives can convict me in new areas. I download sermons and speeches to my IPod so I, at least, have the option to learn when waiting on my car or in a doctor’s office. Sometimes, I just play Bedazzled.

The topic this Sunday was loving those who do not have a relationship with Jesus.

You will notice that I do not blog every day. Yesterday, I had every intention of blogging but my day took a different turn. I accompanied a relative of mine to an annual series of testing. My job is to accompany, listen, remember, write down, schedule, wait and drive., a privilege..yes.

I was able to spend the rest of the day with my family, and had a scrumptious dinner at the restaurant where we had our rehearsal dinner. It was a wonderful, abnormal day.

It seems that I have more abnormal days than normal, anymore. This wasn’t always the case, but I am learning to take the day as it is prepared for me. I pray about it, so it must be right.

The more that I embrace the abnormal schedule, as opposed to the predictable schedule, I have more experiences with people who do not have a relationship with Jesus. I see this trend growing in my life.

As a blogger, I interact with other women of faith, which thrills me; but, as a believer, I am called to live the commission to which we have all been appointed. Jesus commissioned us face-to-face, and I still believe in the power of human contact when doing ministry.

If I am to be completely honest, I pray for these opportunities to be used by God, yet, when it involves loving strangers I find that I am a little shy to complete them. Love can cross this timid line which makes me second guess extending my love to the unknown. It is a place that I need to grow in understanding and in truth.

Perhaps, I misunderstand how to love a stranger.

This Sunday, one simple point in the sermon cleared so much up for me. I learned the right way to fish for men. These fishermen that Jesus spoke to were fishing with a net. When you fish with a net, you catch all kinds of stuff. Our job is not to sort the fish, but to love. We let the angels do the dirty work of the sorting. We just love on everything in that net.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous...” - Matthew 13:47-49, NRSV


Not for me.

This Sunday I learned that to love...

I need to intentionally place myself amongst those who do not know Jesus.

I need to act lovingly by speaking the name of Jesus to those who do not know Him.

I need to forget about sorting and just love.

This changes so much for me.

Does it change anything for you?

Friday, April 23, 2010

I Don't Want For My Mall Hair To Come Back Around

The other day, I was standing with some high school girls discussing their recent pictures. I carelessly made the comment, “One day you will look back at those skinny jeans and think, ‘What was I doing?’”

Some of you can think back to the folding and rolling up of jeans and t-shirt sleeves. That and some Keds, with scrunchy socks, and you had a killer outfit.

They looked at me like I was crazy.

(I would like to preface the rest of this post by saying that I grew up in Texas. Texas also gives you an insight into my boots.)

See, I know what it is like to look back at a picture, knowing that you were following trends.

This is my hair in the 9th grade.

I know, right?

This was my hair in the 11th grade.

The older I get, the less solace I find in the phrase, “Don’t worry, it will come back around.”

Today, I declare, “I don’t want for some things to come back around!”

For more Caffeinated Randomness, visit Andrea at Under Grace and Over Coffee.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Two Ways To Get Rid Of Unused Stuff And Throw A Party

My entry way with everything ready for donation. It exhausted Maggie.

This was the scene after my recent "Garage Free". I spring cleaned and realized that there was just too much stuff...too much stuff! I told you that this was coming up, but what I failed to show was what became of my house. My husband helped me set up stuff on tables in three rooms. The doors opened at 5pm and it was a free spree, until the women's leadership team meeting started in my living room at 6:30pm.

The goal: To give away enough stuff so that we could meet in the living room.

I served cold beverages and tried to "sell" my friends items that I had no use for. They, in five years, will probably come to the same conclusion and hopefully bless someone else with all of their goodies. I am happy to say that it was not overcrowded, as my guests staggered their timing. All that was left was donated. My house was freed.

Upon planning all of this, I heard of another way to get rid of unused stuff that sounded a little more fun. I got this information from a friend, who has a get the idea.

So, this Mrs. X invited over her friends and told them all to bring five items, or so. Each person was given their own sticker color, or type, on arrival. Then they put all of their items out for everyone to inspect. If someone was interested in an item, they put their sticker on it.

If there was more than one sticker on an item, these individuals had to compete for the item. This can be with trivia cards or any game that causes people to laugh hysterically. The idea is to keep it moving while laughing a lot. Keep a camera around! The winner took the item home, of course.

Really, the decision lies in the amount of time that you have. You can get rid of stuff, quickly, like me; or you can spice it up and have a new reason to party. Whichever way you choose, have a blast!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Feeling Stuck And The Decision To GO

I serve on the women’s leadership team at my church. I have had this “burden” for women’s ministry for several years. It was the first area of the church that God appointed me, and it has been my passion ever since that time. In fact, I went to seminary because I became aware that my teaching had reached a place that needed to be more informed. My love for learning seemed perfectly matched for His call to preparation.

That being said, I serve on a wonderful women’s leadership team. I can’t even tell you the things that we laughed about at the last meeting. I really can’t tell you in writing...too incriminating. Oh, and we did a lot of business, too.

I had the opportunity to go to the YouLead conference with these ladies a few weeks ago, and it was incredibly helpful. I recommend it for your women’s leadership team, if it is in your area.

The topic of one session was, ‘going with God’. We all pray that, right? We want to be available for God to use us, expanding His ministry through us, or maybe we just pray that on good days. Nonetheless, I would say in the blogging world most people desire increase, not decrease. Most people living their ministry, desire more influence, not less. I am not necessarily talking about numbers, but hearts ripe for transformation.

At the conference, Chris Adams challenged us by saying that you cannot stay where you are and go with God. When she spoke these words, my head whipped around because she was on the mark. You cannot stay where you are and go with God. You have to find where God is working and join Him there. This is a great definition of ministry.

Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, the Son can do nothing on his own, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. - John 5:19, NRSV

Jesus could do nothing on his own. He saw the Father working and He copied that. He only worked where He saw His Father.

I wonder how my efforts would look if I diligently looked for the Father, if I watched His course and made my plans around that, and nothing else?

I would save time.

I would save heartache.

I would save headaches.

I would be with the Father.

Would your efforts look different?

Monday, April 19, 2010

When Fierce Love No Longer Works In A Family

I have been asked to write about family several times, but each time I chicken out. My family reads mom, my sister, my mother in-law, my aunt-in-law (love your emails, Aunt Connie!). I am sure that many of you know what I am saying. Some life lessons, you can’t just put out there if it could hurt other people.

So, my disclaimer to this post is that it does not concern any of these family members. In fact, this post is about anyone who has an object of fierce love, especially the kind we assign to family members.

Fierce love is different from other kinds of love. Fierce love is what happens when someone talks about your sister. You can talk about your sister, but that privilege does not extend past you.

Fierce love is willful.

Fierce love is disappointing.

Fierce love aggressively invades your life and their life.

To test what kind of love I have for these individuals who hang on to my prayer list with sighs and head shaking, I have decided to check myself with this verse...

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NRSV

If I am honest, I have fallen into fierce love which is a twisted earthly ambassador of its pure inventor. I find that I am not bearing anything well, or believing that they will ever change. I lost my hope with trying, and I cannot think of enduring in this state forever. Sound familiar?

I am finding that fierce love is what makes my sister mine to love, mine to fix. We are bonded in a way that no one else can understand, and I have the right to feel territorial. It should not be a surprise when one of these objects of fierce love becomes the reminder of where we end. Oh, what a difficult day that can be!

I was talking with someone recently who said she was done. She could not put her heart into her family problems anymore. It left her empty and the drama left her tired. I know what she means.

Then I realized that this is a moment of hope, not defeat. I just kept hearing, “Good, you end here.” It is good that we end. It is good that we understand that God is in the places that we cannot go. We are not capable of changing, enlightening, altering, or loving someone into submission, or (my favorite) reality. We end in defeat and He begins in power.

Have you ever been there? Have you invested yourself in a person who just can’t seem to get it together? They bring you the greatest hope and follow it with the greatest defeat. Always hand in hand, this roller coaster makes you want to say, “Enough, if I don’t get off now I am going to be sick!” That is exactly how fierce loves affect us. We want to ride with them until we realize that they are the only ones enjoying themselves, or we are going to, physically, throw each other off this ride.

We have to make a conscious decision to get off this roller coaster.

What a moment of trust that it takes when we look at God and admit that this object of our fierce love has remained that way out of our pride, our ego, our last name. We have not turned this person over completely to Him because somehow we believe that God honors our vested interest and our shed tears. How many tears has He cried over our family members?

So, there is an end. At this end, we know that the only thing that we can do is pray. Why? Because this is when we claim His power. We trust that He will, not can but will, do infinitely more.

He will do it because He loves them more than we can imagine, more than fierce love.

Have you fallen fiercely in love?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Prayer for Amy Beth

There are many women gathered in prayer today, for Amy Beth of Ministry So Fabulous. I am so encouraged when this happens in the blogging community, because this is the only way to be useful to Amy Beth right now. This girl is suffering. Please lift her name up to the ear of the Father for the healing of her body. If you feel inclined, you can join many others and link your blog to a day of prayer for her. This link can also provide updates and specific prayer needs.

Thank you.

He Covers Me, Today

I am doing errands this morning. It is not remarkable, and not even close to heroic. Even in these small tasks I need the covering of the Lord. Perhaps, it is because I prove each day that I can mess up anywhere. Can I get a witness?

I just don't want to miss out on Him. I don't want to miss a thing that He does, today. Because of this, I have to rely on Him to do everything.

This morning, during my prayer time, I wrote,

Today, cover the work of my hands.

Cover the thoughts in my head.

Cover the movings of my heart.

Cover the blindness of my choice.

Cover the cruelty of my flesh.

Cover the words from my mouth.Cover the direction of my feet.

Cover the safety of my path.

Cover this woman from the influences of this world.

Cover me with your word, your Spirit and your love.

Cover me, today.

Today, is all that I am expected to accomplish. This moment is all that I am expected to live in. Getting dog food and groceries is no less of a spiritual course than the rest of humanity. Today, this is my task and I have to trust in the only One who can cover me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Great Weekend In Review

Invigorating and tiring. That is how I would explain this weekend. I had so much fun with the girls. As we get older, simply being a girl can become a rare opportunity. Responsibilities take over and 'girl time' becomes a privilege. We should giggle and talk about frizzy hair. I am happy to say that I had my dose of it, in its most unadulterated form for two days.

When the high school girls come to my house for these mini-retreats (as Lauren called it in her comment on Friday, loved that), we are simply girls. I might get more out of it than they do. We followed our schedule pretty closely. I don't have pictures of every single thing, but I will give you some highlights.

We went to the tea...

Our hostess (the woman standing in the white pants), who serves on our women's committee with me, spoke about individual expression in our homes. She is a phenomenal interior designer and faithful woman. I am excited to make some of the changes she suggested. More to come on that.

The tea was a great time to be a girl with some of my favorite girls...

The woman standing in this picture (she doesn't have her heels on so look right above everyone's head) is one of my favorites, her name is Elizabeth. She just started blogging over at Caffeinated Grace. Drop in and say hello, if you have a moment. BTW, she is hysterical and her posts show it.

Speaking of girls, here is one of my senior high girls...

They also had a blast sitting in my husband's car and playing with the IPad...

We went to the Rock and Worship Roadshow, and all that I can say is, "Wow!". We worshiped the King until we had no voices left and our feet were sore. What an awesome experience to worship with thousands of other believers. The name of Jesus was lifted up on Saturday night. I am still on a cloud. I Facebooked pictures from the concert, taken with my camera phone. You can basically tell that I was somewhere with bright lights. If you haven't done so already, friend me on Facebook and you can see them.

But before we got in, we waited...

My husband is on the left, his friend who visited us this weekend is in the middle (his wife, Amy, blogs over at Evidence of Creativity...amazingly gifted!), and our youth pastor is on the right. Again, to the one on the left...nice, right? I know. I just love that guy! He has had so much fun with his friend this weekend. They have seen a car show, played Wii, eaten, laughed at things I don't understand; AND, since he was in town, my husband stayed at his hotel so the girls and I could have the house all to ourselves. Nice!

All and all, it was a great weekend.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Something You Didn't Ask About...CR

Today is, indeed, random as I follow our fearless leader, Andrea, into another Friday. See more of her over at Under Grace and Over Coffee.

I am getting ready for a sleepover. No, it isn't a bunch of 30 somethings trying to recreate their girlhood. There is nothing fun about a bunch of women who are ready to call it a night at 9:30pm. That is if they didn't accidentally have caffeine past lunch.

My senior high girls are coming over!

This means junk food, Jesus, more food, and musicals (usually Enchanted with audience vocals) as loud as we want them.

Our plan...

Dinner out (I will let them pick, of course.)

Musical and snacks (because they have different metabolisms than a 30 something)

Table Talk for Teens (upon request, before bed)

Get up to devotional and breakfast (usually they are more excited about breakfast)

Off to the tea thrown by our women's committee at church (this means getting spiffed up, but I have my own bathroom so the world is good)

Another feeding (Of course, they get to pick.)

Then the piece de resistance, we are going to The Rock and Worship Roadshow. This means getting in line at 3, for a 4:30 door opening, for a 6pm concert. For this 30 something it means comfortable shoes, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and a bottle of water. For them, it is fun with lots of people they don't know.

Then, everyone goes home and I crash hard.

Just another day in youth ministry. I love those girls! Pictures will be coming, I'm sure.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Women in the Word @Exemplify

I anticipated April for many reasons. Only one, of which, was the flip flops and t-shirts. There is something else, though...

As many of you know, I just love the Exemplify Online team. I have written for Exemplify's Devotional Channel for several months (I am bad with time, so probably longer). This is the channel that I always write about, but there are several other channels to meet every need imaginable, such as a Family, Marriage, Singles, and a Ministry channel.

This month has brought a new relationship, as I was invited to join the Exemplify Magazine team. This ministry has a thirst and hunger for glorifying the King. It ministers to me much more than I contribute to it, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.

While this month's column was a testimony/introduction to my presence on the team, the April theme of the magazine is worship, and that is exactly what it does. It worships His name.

Without further delay...

I can’t really explain how it happened, but somewhere along the way I lost my life.

It was not the same scenario as losing my keys, or setting down my tea cup and forgetting where I put it. I do things like that all of the time. I did not forget the location of my life. I just lost it.

When this lost life began, it could be said that I was off to a good start. My family encouraged me to know the Lord, and the church body knew every move that I made. In fact, I was in church every time the key turned.

In response, it became irresistible for me to know something else. Rebellion was a sash that I wore as if I had won its pageant.

To read more, click here and visit April's issue of Exemplify Magazine.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Window Shopper Deux

My dear friend Victoria over at Let the Son Shine, is doing a new meme on the first Tuesday of each month. I simply love it. It gives us the opportunity to rummage through the archives of the blog to a time when no one, and I mean not a person but my husband and one or two friends, read it.

I need to see some of these lessons, again. I need to hear past-Tracy tell me to intentionally put on the fruits of the Spirit if I want to see them in my daily life. What a challenge! Isn't it amazing how we continually need the same words?

BTW, my husband did the artwork for this post. How adorable?

So, here is Window Shopper from March 10, 2009...

Colossians 3:12-15, “As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.”

Upon my initial reading of this verse, I thought to myself, “Isn’t it great that Paul loved clothing as much as I do”? I have been trying to picture this scenario for the average woman, as we walk into a department store, up the escalator and saunter into our favorite clothes area.

Immediately, things start to pop out at us and we travel to them, seemingly effortlessly. My mother’s favorite color for clothing is lime green, she moves faster in a department store than anyone that I have ever seen, so off to any lime green sweater vests she would go. I am trying to spiff up my church clothes, so I would be off to the button up shirts and slacks (I am horribly predictable).

What would the clothing of compassion look like in our department store? How about kindness, humility, meekness and patience…what about love? Would we be subject to the endless row of sweatpants with the fruits of the spirit embroidered on the rear end? Would it be emblazoned across the drop neck tees, perhaps with glitter? Maybe it would be hanging from a bright golden necklace…unmistakable to strangers that we do indeed possess these amazing fruits. Is this good enough, or is it window shopping the Spirit?

I found a litmus test for myself in these verses. Verse 13 tells me that “putting on” compassion, kindness, humility, meekness and patience can be seen through my bearing of others. The way that I deal with others tells me what I need to know, like dealing with the lady at the cash register, or the young girl that just laid down on the floor screaming for a new pair of humility sweatpants…or my husband.

What is happening in my heart and head can tell me if I am window shopping. Here is a big one; I can look at the way that I am willing to forgive the past and present mistakes of those around me, by loosing them on earth and laying them at the foot of the cross for Christ to work in their lives. This tells me if I am a spiritual window shopper.

And love…it leads to perfect harmony (Love = Perfect Harmony). How many of us have perfect harmony? Do we let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts? I say that again…let the peace of Christ rule in my heart.

I come across people, all of the time, window shopping for peace. I want peace. That cannot be window shopped; it is Christ living in our hearts and taking the hits that confuse us and leave us spiritually bankrupt at the end of the day. Why? Because we are His, holy and beloved. Holy and beloved.

Thank you Jesus for making us your beloved. Thank you for taking the hits for me today. Take us away from window shopping so that we can experience you. I pray that each of you will let the peace of God reign in your lives.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Friends, Come and Get It

What a wonderful week! I feel refreshed and ready to take on a new month. Seriously, how is it already April?

First, I have to share the most impactful quote that I heard at the YouLead Conference I attended a week ago.

"When God gives us a command, we don't need to understand his directive, we need to understand his authority." - Chris Adams

I will let that simmer.

So, obviously, I have been challenged since my last post. I have also had more time to focus on Easter week. I breathe a sigh of relief as Sunday rolls around and I can say, "He is risen, the Lord is risen, indeed!" I hope that you had a meaningful Easter.

This week was filled with other things besides preparing for Easter. It was time to spring clean. Two years ago, I had back surgery. So there was no spring cleaning in 2008 or 2009. Are you following me here? There has been cleaning, but no spring cleaning.

I am slowly spelling out that 2010's spring cleaning is gargantuan. I got married a little over three years ago, so this year was the first year I felt the authority to throw out any pre-us belongings. When we got married our stuff got married, which means that our stuff has been growing since 2006.

There are two positives from this...


This might look like pictures of a kitchen, but this is a picture of my kitchen after 5 days of cleaning. Every excess dish discarded. Every shelf liner washed. Pantry is cleaned out and rearranged. I, now, only own cleaning products that I use. I mopped the floor once and steam cleaned it twice. No longer does unidentified goo run down the sides of the trash can. That thing that I found in a ziploc in the back of the cabinet...gone. PERFECTLY. CLEAN.


Now my friends will do the rest. I am putting it all in my dining room, which was also spring cleaned, and it is the job of my girlfriends to come and get what they want. One way or another all of this stuff is leaving my house. What do you think? I supply the coffee and they take what they can carry?

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