Are You a Sinner? I am!

My mother’s family has some struggles, as all of our families do. She comes from a large family of 10 children. Her father died when she was 22, then her brother died in a motorcycle accident when she was 25 and then her mother struggled with alcoholism. I don’t have the best memories of this grandmother, but my mother always took up for this lady, no matter how miserable she made my mother’s life. I have to hand it to all of my mother’s sisters—they all rose above what they grew up under and did wonderful things with their lives. They are all amazing woman, and I  applaud them because they didn’t use their childhood as a crutch instead they became the cream of the crop!

My grandmother had a large family as well, and many of them struggled with alcoholism. I didn’t know many of them very well, but one of them had a big influence in my life. She was more like my grandmother, than my biological one. I love this lady, and still do. She’s a great woman, and still spoils me to this day!

When I was planning to go back to work after my first born, this lady volunteered to babysit my son. I was thrilled. In my books, this woman was the next best thing to my mother. I loved her to the moon and back, and she treated me like a princess all my life, I knew our son would be in wonderful hands. We had the plans all under way, and she was making visits to get to know our son better, and his face would light up when he saw her, just as he did with my own mother.

My husband and I made plans to go out one evening, and decided to see if my great-aunt would be available to babysit. My thinking was, it would be good for the two of them to be alone with each other and she could get used to putting him down for sleeps and such.
We were excited to get out and join our friends for a night of laughs and relaxation. Some alone time, the way it was before our lives got shifted into this other dimension after the birth of this miniature human being. I was pumped.

This lady pulls into our driveway, and comes into our home, and I could smell liquor off of her breath. She was a bit thick tongued and definitely not herself. My heart raced. What was I going to do? I was a new mom, on her first venture out into the world without my infant child for one of the first times, and my babysitter shows up drunk. I was devastated. How did I approach this wonderful lady that was just tempted by her love for liquor? I did as every young mother does—I called my mother.

Frantically, I asked my mother what to do. How do I handle this? I was not used to confronting intoxicated people, especially those who I was trusting to leave my most precious cargo with. As always, my mother guided me with what to say and do. It wasn’t as confrontational as I thought it would be. My drunken friend was a tad bit upset, and in denial that she was under the influence. My husband offered to drive her home, but she was adamant that she wasn’t drinking.

I could have let this really fester inside of me, get bitter about her behavior, and hold a grudge, but I didn’t. Instead I tried to show her more love. I tried to continue to include her in my child’s life. It was extremely hard, because it was a trust I had with her that her involvement with alcohol broke. My mother is such an angel, and kept explaining that it isn’t them acting in that way, it is the hold the alcohol has over them.

This lady has a son, and he has totally cut himself and his children off from her due to this dependency. She tries hard and goes to AA, but like all of us, she gives into her inner demons once and a while. She has such a huge heart and so much love to give. It breaks my heart that her son does this to her. I am sure she has disappointed him like she did me that night, but I am such a forgiving person that I try to look at the best in people, thanks to my mothers gentle guidance. Not everyone is like this, and her son isn’t one of them.

Matthew 6:14-15 instructs us, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

I am a sinner.  Are you a sinner?  Yes!  So, what gives?  Why are we such bitter, grudge holding people?  Why do we have to let anger seep into our hearts, and not forgive people who wronged us?

I might not be struck down with alcoholism, but I have my own demons I deal with, like every human being on the planet. I have to forgive her, if I expect others to forgive me. The most important other being God. I pray and ask forgiveness for my sins but I know he’s not going to forgive me if I have anger I’m holding in my heart towards anyone. Family included.

Are you harboring a grudge? Bitter towards someone? Are you holding resentment in your heart for something someone did to you? Do you have a family member that you distanced yourself from due to a circumstance like I’ve been through? Try reaching out to this person and explain how you feel, but reassure them that you forgive them. Are you not up to talking to them? Write a letter and send it. Whatever way you feel the best at approaching this very delicate and sensitive situation, do it! It will be amazing the way you feel after you let it go.

If you know the Bible at all, you know in Matthew 22, it tells us the second most important commandment is to love your neighbor like you love yourself—your neighbor being everyone you have contact with. Sure, you might not like what they do to you, but we are still commanded to love them. Show those people love and see if it makes a difference. I’m confident it will!

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Nursing Your Needs

I thought growing up was hard. I guess we think that every stage we are going through is tough at the time, then when we look back, we realize that it was actually easier than the stage we are in now. It’s like it is a life test to pass as a prerequisite to move onto the next stage of our lives. Take what we learn and move forward. I know when I had my first baby, it was definitely the hardest test I faced at it was one of the most difficult times in my life.

I was nursing, and very determined to make it for a year performing this job, that I have officially deemed as the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Everything that could go wrong did. We had thrush twice, I had low milk production, he wasn’t latching properly, he wasn’t gaining enough weight, he was projectile vomiting, he had Reflux, then I got Graves’ Disease—it was non-stop. I tried to put on a brave face, tried to pretend everything was hunky dory, but it was the farthest from the truth.

It was a year from a Hell!  He nursed, and then slept on my chest for about an hour, nursed, then projectile vomited, nursed, slept, it was exhausting. Oh—did I tell you if he wasn’t nursing, he was crying? Whaling actually. Good thing babies are as cute as they are, because it was all that saved me some days.

People who knew what I was going through all tried to convince me to feed him the bottle, but I was stubborn and determined not to lose. To me, and my competitive nature, this was a loss in my books. If I didn’t give my first born the best, which through all the literature I read, it was not an option to feed my child formula!  It was a year of my suffering for the good of my child.  I could handle a year of this.  Looking back, I am thrilled I toughed it out!

I also read that the child’s brain developed when they were sleeping and how important sleep was. I remember thinking that my first born was going to be mentally delayed because sleep wasn’t even a word that was in his vocabulary.

My anxiety over this child was through the roof. I was reading too much about trying to have that perfect child and everything in the literature of what I wanted, was the exact opposite of what this little bundle of joy was. I was devastated.

I remember one time, my best friend surprised me with a visit. When I opened my front door to see her familiar smiling face looking at me, I instantly broke into tears. Finally, someone I could tell all this horribleness to. Finally, I didn’t have to put on a face of happiness for the world to see. Finally, I could tell someone how awful my life really was. Finally, someone who I can trust and let know my secrets of how my son was going to be mentally delayed from no sleep, physically delayed from lack of nutrients, emotionally delayed from an unstable mother, socially delayed because he lives on my chest and makes little eye contact with the real world. My list of failures was a mile long.

Was I a failure? No, but in my head I was. I was bringing all this stress on myself. Sure, it was a tough time in this season of my life, but it was my own doings that made it stressful. If I had of learned to relax and roll with the punches, and not research them to death, I know now how much easier it would have been. If I had of prayed about the situation and left it all in God’s hands, it would have been much simpler.

Are you having trouble with your first born child or adjusting to motherhood? Are you struggling in a marriage that is not what you envisioned it would be? Maybe your debt isn’t clearing up as fast as you would like it. Or maybe there is someone that you just can’t please in your life. Whatever your trouble is, just like my nursing trouble, relax, take your troubles to God in prayer, give it some time and watch the magic unfold.

I’m loving my Bible study on the book of Mark! So many great stories, but a verse that popped out at me was, Mark 5:36, “Do not fear, only believe.”   Only five little words, but what wisdom!

You have control over your emotions. I’m chalking my crazy emotions during my son’s first year of life to hormones. Now, I see how amazing he turned out to be 13 years later, if I only had faith instead of fear, that first year of his life would have made it much more enjoyable for me, and everyone around me.

We are all put through tests and trials. It is what you do with these tests that form you into the person you are. I’m stubborn and competitive, so tests to me are a challenge. Some people aren’t as determined as I, but if you fight for what you want, your reward after is incredible. I have no idea if it was my determination to nurse and not feed my child formula that has formed him into what he is today, but it was a test I was put through and I am very glad that I toughed it out.  Even when everyone else thought I was crazy torturing myself the way I did.

People might be judging you, thinking you are crazy for the situation you have yourself in. People might give you their opinion on a trial you are going through in your life.  People might be trying to influence you to do something that you don’t feel in your heart is right.  Listen to your heart, your thoughts, those are put there by the spiritual world.

You might be physically, mentally and emotionally exhausted, but if you feel that something is right, who cares. Turn your troubles to God in prayer. Don’t double guess what he has put in your heart. Don’t have fear, just believe and watch the wonders that are meant to be—BE!

Hug Your Candle Today

My son has been drawn to candles all his life. I just started burning candles again this year, because I thought with him being 13 now, he could handle the temptation to stay away from their soft, silky texture or the desire to play with the hard wax around the outside that isn’t heated enough to melt yet. Well—to my surprise I was wrong. I’m still nagging at him to get his fingers out of the wax, or to stop pushing on the hard wax to make it collapse from its softened inner shell. For some reason, he loves playing with these flaming towers of temptation, and it’s an ongoing battle, that I refuse to lose.

I have to admit, they are kind of fascinating. I love how the thicker candles keep their shape, even though their inner core is melting and forming to the heat of the flame of the wick. I used to go to candle parties back in the early 2000.  Remember those?  Party Lite, I think it was called.  Here, we were told that we should “hug” our bigger candles, so that we use up all the wax and that it doesn’t create a hollow hole in the center of the candle.

How many of us are like these candles that never got hugged? We are all shining on the outside, but inside we feel like a hollow empty person, that has been chiseled away over time. Our candle wick is becoming very short and we have a big deep hollow inside of us, but we don’t understand why. We can look at our life, and we seem to have it all. We have the house we dreamed of, the family that we planned, the spouse that we always wanted, but still something is missing. You can’t fathom why. Sometimes you find that you are sad just thinking about why you don’t feel complete. Why there is such an emptiness in your life.

Over time, we can let bitterness, hatred, and resentment set in to our souls. We don’t even realize that it is happening. Little things happen that we keep bottled up inside of us and don’t let go. Events go on that are out of our control and we hold onto it, for some reason, even though it is slowly tearing us apart inside.

Why do we let the little things bother us and eat away at us? Why do we care so much about simple things? Why do we keep score of everything that happens in our lives and let bitterness set in? Who does the most chores around the house? Whose job is the hardest? Which friend puts the most energy into your relationship? Which person does your boss seem to favor the most?  When you stop and think about it, it is very immature thinking.

I remember saying to my mother, “You love my brother more than me.” I remember talking with friends and saying, “I’m done putting the effort into this friendship.” Sadly, I’ve lowered myself to telling my husband, “It only snows for four months a year, laundry is a daily chore.” Looking back, I was very guilty of letting all these little infantile events take root in my soul and it ate away at my inner core. I became empty inside because I was allowing these immature antics erode my soul…and my candle.

If we turn to the God to fill our emptiness, it is very rewarding. You will understand all your wrongs, and learn how to make it all right! Romans 15:13 reminds us, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Once you let this happen, you will realize just how infantile you were being letting all the drama in your world suck the core and your soul out of you.

You have to let things go and move forward. Holding grudges, keeping score of life, jealousy and hatred are all wasted emotions that are not hurting the person that you felt wronged you, instead, these emotions are really just hurting you. Once you learn to not let the little things to bother you, you will finally feel free, and fulfilled.

Drama in our life, is a choice.  You can let it ruin you and leave you like an unhugged candle, burnt out and empty, or you can hug your candle, and let the drama burn out of your life, and let your soul be filled with the love and joy that it deserves.  Hug your candle today and keep the drama away!

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Spring Cleaning Time

Spring Cleaning—does that give you the shivers, like it gives me? Don’t get me wrong, I love the final product, after all the hard work is put into washing down the walls, cleaning the light fixtures, dusting out the registers, scowering the baseboards, dusting behind the furniture and scraping the scum off the windows. Cleaning one room in your house consumes your entire day! And, if you are anything like me, when you have a free day, cleaning is the last thing you want to do.

We all need to do it, and it is part of everyone’s yearly routine. Some people might enjoy it, like Danny Tanner on Full House, but he is a fictional character, that everyone laughs at. Do these people really exist? Are there really Danny Tanners in real life, who love to clean?
I guess we have to look at it from the point of view, that we are fortunate to have a house to clean. Be thankful that the winter months are over and the windows that we are cleaning are going to enhance the bright sunlight that is shining into our homes. We have to be grateful that we have a collection of dust-bunnies under our bed, because at least we have a comfy bed to sleep on.

Everyone gets dust-bunnies, everyone’s windows get dirty from the winter months. It’s how we deal with these pesky bunnies, or these dirty windows that shapes our lives into what they are. Everything in life has a season. I look back on my university life, and think how great I had it. My parents footing the bill, my life was carefree and whimsical, and all I had to be responsible for was myself. But at the time, I couldn’t wait to get out in the real world and get my life started. Man, was I stupid!

We all want what we see at quick view, or what we might see what others have, that we want.  You might think that you might not have to do spring cleaning this year. You may think that you don’t have any dust-bunnies, you may think that dust hasn’t been collecting in your registers, you might think your baseboards are dust-free, but think again. We all have dust collecting in our lives, and we all have to clean this nasty pollution out of our worlds. It might not be your season…maybe you are more of a fall cleaning kind of person, but we all have cleaning needs.

I just started studying the book of Mark, through the Woman Living Well website, and as I read Mark 1, verse 40-45 is all about Jesus healing a man of leprosy. It really got me thinking, that we ALL have leprosy of some sort. Whether it is our need to gossip to make ourselves feel better about ourselves by other people’s misfortunes, maybe it is our marriage that is going downhill fast, or it could be a financial burden that has been lurking around our necks that we can’t seem to get rid of. Whatever your leprosy is, do what this man did in Mark 1:40-42, “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy? It really is—ask for God to make you clean from whatever your Spring Cleaning needs are, whatever leprosy has a hold on you. Stop looking at what people seem to have from a quick glance at their homes. We ALL need to spring clean, it’s just whether you want to admit to it or not. We all have our areas of need or our areas of weakness, our dirty areas in our home. We easily cover them up with a quick cleaning, but sometimes, we have to bow our heads and ask for help in prayer.

This spring, dig deep into your cleaning regiment. Move the furniture, vacuum down the register vents, suck up those dust-bunnies and give your home an overhaul. Once you start praying for the areas to be cleaned, like this man with leprosy, it will amaze you the difference you will witness in your life. Prayer is the best form of cleaning there is—cleans your soul today! I assure you that you will love this final product as well!

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Cupcake Connoisseur

At the thought of red velvet cupcakes, I instantly salvate. I don’t know what it is about that intense chocolate sensation, but as soon as it hits my taste buds, they have a little dance party inside my mouth. Does this happen with any other cupcake? Nope! Just the red velvet ones. Why? I have no idea!

My daughter on the other hand, hates any chocolate cupcake. She only likes vanilla cupcakes. In my mind I think, how can this be? Does she not know the dance party that she is missing out on? I always get her to give the red velvet cupcake another try, but every time she spits it out in disgust. There is no convincing her that these cupcakes are the be-all-end-all like I feel they are.

To make everyone happy on special occasions like birthdays, we go to a local cake shop and get a variety box of cupcakes. This place has oodles of different kinds of flavors that will fulfill the tastes of any pallet. I’ve tried many, many different kinds, but still to me, nothing beats the red velvet.

We are fortunate to have such a variety of different cupcakes to sample, and it is very parallel to our choices when it comes to religion. We can choose the ones that give us the feeling of a dance party in our hearts instead of our taste buds.

I’ve listened to many different people who are teaching God’s word, and just like the cupcakes, so make me excited about the word of God, and then others aren’t as tasteful. The one’s I find the most bitter to my senses are those that put down other people that are trying to teach God’s word too. I listened to this one individual who was explaining why the Pope wasn’t in heaven, he also was honestly poking fun at a very popular new age pastor, and so, I stopped listening to this man, even though he was very intelligent when it came to God’s word. He definitely wasn’t my taste in cupcakes!

I’m a not a Catholic, but I am a Christian, and that is all that matters to me. I study the bible, meditate on God’s word, and try to incorporate what I learn into my daily life. I try my best not to judge anyone, and that includes those whose life mission is to teach the bible to others. I do, however, find I’m left with a bitter taste in my mouth when these people are diminishing other religions, others’ techniques of teaching, and judging whether the Pope is in heaven. But, again, that is my own personal taste.

Luke chapter 6 has a very nice part in it about judging others starting at verse 37…”Do not judge others, and God will not judge you; do not condemn others, and God will not condemn you; forgive others and God will forgive you.”

I know one thing, I am not a cupcake connoisseur, but I do love my red velvet cupcakes. Neither am I a bible expert…I just know that I love God, and try my best to follow his word. Since it is written that I am not to judge others, than that is what I will do. Race, religion, even sexual preference…not MY place to judge!

As it says in Matthew 22:36-39, “”Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord you God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and the most important commandment. The second most important commandment is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”

Is judging whether or not the Pope went to heaven a very nice way to love your neighbor? Absolutely not. Just because you might have a difference of taste between cupcakes, doesn’t give you the right to judge me for liking red velvet cupcakes, and in my opinion, it doesn’t give anyone the right to judge whether someone goes to heaven or hell either. Just my taste on this touchy subject.  I admire and love you for whatever cupcake you choose!

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My Aunt, My Angel

auntFamily is a huge part of my life. I love all that it stands for and represents. You know when all else fails, family is going to be there for you, no matter what, or at least I’m fortunate to have a family like this!

When I got married, my aunt and her husband took my wedding pictures. This particular aunt loved pictures and volunteered taking pictures for everything. It was such a kind gift, because it takes the entire day taking pictures at a wedding, but she never once complained about it. She was just a magnificent woman.

Sometimes members of a family can also be misunderstood…and this was my aunt. She was different than her other siblings, but different in a good way. She was wise beyond her years and couldn’t care less what people thought of her, or her beliefs. She was very modern in her thinking and coming from a very religious mother, this was sometimes frowned upon.

When I was a teenager I used to love going for walks with her in the fall and look at the beautiful leaves and smell the crisp autumn air as she would share her world views with me…It was something we always did when she came home for a visit. I cherished these walks, her views were so different than what I was used to hearing. She was very liberal in her thinking. So open-minded. It was as refreshing as the fall air!

After my wedding, was my baby shower. A young couple starting out and having their first child, money was tight, and we were looking forward to the generosity of all our kind family and friends and their gifts of love towards our first born child. This particular aunt gave me the strangest baby shower gift. It was a candle holder. Yep…my forward thinking aunt got me a candle holder for my baby shower gift! Can you believe this? Everyone that knew her agreed that she also probably spent a lot of money on this candle holder…I was in awe wondering why she hadn’t of given me something more useful…something more…babyish…I thought this aunt understood me…knew me.

This candle holder wasn’t just any candle holder, it was a beautiful angel sitting down with its wings in full spread, hugging its knees. The angels head was tilted to the side resting in its folded arms. It was all white adorn with a burgundy and gold ribbon and burgundy artificial flowers and white baby’s breath encircled the actual candle. It was very nice, but what was I going to do with it? It didn’t match any of my Noah’s Arc décor in the nursery…it left me mystified.

Two days before I gave birth to our incredible first born son, we got a phone call late one evening. It was my father’s voice on the other end, and as he said just my name in a very shaky voice, and skipped all normal greetings of a casual phone conversation, I knew something was desperately wrong. When he announced that this amazing aunt was hit by a car while driving on her motorcycle with her husband I couldn’t believe the news! How could this be? Why? NO!

Little did I know, that this angel candle holder was going to represent so much to me, then, and even 13 years later as it still sits on my shelf. I haven’t even as much as burnt the original candle that she set in it. It is probably the most special gift anyone has ever given to me…and I know that she is one of the angels watching over me, my family and probably, definitely my son!

Sometimes we don’t understand why things happen the way they do or their reason…just like this gift. Why was she giving me an angel…my forward thinking, cool aunt. Sometimes we have to wait to see the value in certain things…or their meaning. If we are patient we will see the purpose of a situation. It is difficult some times when pain and grief are involved, but like it is said in Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

My aunt’s time in her earthly form was over, two days before my son’s body was brought into this world. My forward thinking aunt gave me the most precious baby shower gift I could have ever asked for. A constant reminder that she was such a huge part of my life, and was going to continue to be with me and my family, maybe not in an earthly form but in a spiritual form. At the time of the gift opening I didn’t realize this, but we aren’t going to understand everything that happens to us. We just have to go to God in prayer and ask for strength to get us through our trials. Everything has a purpose, and once you find out why, you will understand his grander plan.

Two years later, my second child, our beautiful daughter, was born. She was almost two week overdue, but to our pleasure, she was born on my late aunt’s birthday!  March 12th. Not only do I have the ceramic angel candle holder as a reminder of this wonderful woman who has had such an impact in my life, but we also get to celebrate her birthday every year with that of our daughter. She might not be here in body, but I am more than certain, she adorns us every day with her spirit. How lucky am I?

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Ignoring Our Whispers

Did you ever have that feeling like you are invisible? You talk, talk, talk but nobody is listening. Or you try so hard to get through to people and they just don’t learn? I have a classroom with a handful of children like this. Some days I feel like my own children don’t want to listen to me. How many times do you tell your husband a story and he doesn’t listen. I have this one gymnast that I have been working on correcting her sickle feet on beam, and it’s going on 6 years and she still turns her foot in. Is it just me that nobody listens to or does this happen to other people?

I love all of my jobs! There is nothing better than being a mom! I love being a teacher and a gymnastics coach! Even being a wife has its rewards, I am a person who enjoys doting on my husband and children it makes me feel good. Each of these jobs can get very frustrating by times especially when you feel like you are talking to the walls. I know that every one of these people don’t set out in the morning to ignore me. They don’t purposely strive to irritate me, but when you try hard to make a difference, and people don’t seem to listen, it is a frustrating situation.

I’m guilty of being one of these people too. Ask my mom, my coaches and even my husband. I know we all can be guilty of not doing what people ask of us, or what we think others expect us to do. It’s human nature, but out of all the important things that we do, we have to learn to listen to what the Divine is whispering to us.

I know some people don’t think that God is talking to them, but if you listen close enough he talks to everyone of us. Where do you think those thoughts that pop in to your mind come from? Your inner thoughts. Those that you keep thinking over and over again, for no apparent reason. It is our inner souls trying to reach out to us. It’s the Great Divine trying to form our destinies. We can choose to ignore these signals, and thoughts, or we can investigate them and listen to them and see what happens.

We have to be open to these thoughts. Ready to roll with the punches and have trust in what our inner souls are whispering in our thoughts. Sure, we sometimes have those thoughts that aren’t what we should be thinking, things that we know are definitely wrong. We have to ignore those thoughts are listen to the inner self that knows right from wrong.

When our inner soul is trying to connect to us and we are ignoring it, it will even try to come to us in our dreams. You might feel that what has been haunting your thoughts during the day is now haunting your dreams at night. God tries to reach us whatever way he can. As I study Job, I love learning the lessons in this chapter.  Job 33:14-16 tells us, “Although God speaks again and again, no one pays attention to what he says. At night when people are asleep, God speaks in dreams and visions. He makes them listen to what he says and they are frightened at his warnings.”

Has this ever happened to you? That haunting thought that you are being whispered in your mind, then the same thing comes to you in a dream. Listen to it! It is your inner soul trying to reach out to you. Trying to help create your destiny. Trying to form you into the person that you are destine to become. Try listening to it, and see where it takes you. You just might be pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Nobody likes talking when nobody is listening. God is no different. Don’t make the mistake to ignore what is trying to be taught to you. Take the time to sit alone with your thoughts and see what you hear. It will amaze you just what you are being told to do, and just what you haven’t been listening to for many years!

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