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Category Archives: Broken, Yet Beautiful

“Feeding” a different beast

This past summer I spent the entirety of my time off in a period of self-care and healing. Working on and loving who God had created me to be. Part of that was understanding just how much I was loved. Through that process, I spent a lot of time in His Word, writing down a number of verses that spoke to my identity in Christ.

Thirty-one verses from God to remind me how awesome I was. That I could flip back to on those days when I didn’t feel so awesome.

But had I? Had I used them?

For about 2 weeks now there has been this on-going battle in my home over social media, whether or not to let the middle have Instagram to be exact. In the same 2 week span I’ve listened to parents who have struggled with setting limits with their own children over media usage, watched kids seek attention in negative ways, and even discussed the ways in which social media makes them “look good.”

Then yesterday in my own journal I wrote this:

I’ve been very distracted lately, Lord. It’s been hard to find my center. I’ve been distracted by people. By work. By media. By the news. And when I sit alone in this chair, I can’t filter it all out, and I get discouraged by what I have seen and heard all day. It’s hard to feel like I am succeeding in Your Wisdom when I am distracted by all that looks anything but kind, but instead looks ugly and dark. 

No, I hadn’t flipped back to those pages. I had scrolled through Pinterest looking for all the right words to make myself feel better when I felt ripped apart by mean ones. Vented on Facebook about crappy people, and the need to be more kind, but had I sought truth from His Word? Had I looked to Him to remind myself whose I was? No. I was distracted by my feed. And when I wasn’t distracted by those voices and trying to feed my soul with feel good videos, I was distracted by all the stories of evil lurking in the world. Discouraged all over again.

I can’t make media go away. It’s here to stay. It’s getting into the hands of kids at younger and younger ages.

But I can choose not to be distracted. Not to reach for it to validate what I may be feeling in the moment. Instead of reaching for His truth or calling out to Him.

I can set the example at least in my own home with my daughter. And, yes…maybe even for others. Because whether they want to admit it or not. They are watching. And what message do I want to send? That love comes from Him? Or how many likes, hits, streaks (whatever), retweets I get on a given post?

That every time I have an issue or have something to say it needs to be shared? Without consequence? That is why I write. To remember. But not everything is Facebook worthy. Not everything needs to be said out loud. Or should be posted for the world to see.

I want girls to know their worth cannot be measured by the number of likes they get on a picture. That life is also unfiltered, unaltered, completely messy, and not usually a highlight reel. That bodies come in all sizes. Even “pint-sized…,” like me. And most of us, yeh, we don’t “wake up like this.” I want boys to know that they are more than a rating scale. That God thinks they are a perfect ten. Even the ones that don’t fit in anywhere right now. That it is OK, more than OK to be nice. To be a gentleman. To stand up for a woman (or a boy) being treated badly. That’s the kind of man I would want in my corner!

That is what I will be sharing from now on.

Unfiltered. Some days with no makeup on. Some days in my pjs. Maybe days my face will be tear-soaked. There will be highlights and lowlights. It will not be perfect. It will be flawed. Guaranteed.

But fearfully and wonderfully made. Molded and made new. Loved by God in all its mess.

Just like you.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2019 in Broken, Yet Beautiful, On Purpose

 

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It’s all going to be OK

Faith and feelings. Or “suck it up, don’t talk about it, just pray about it.”

I’m a straight shooter. I’m honest. I keep it real. I share my struggles. And, I value the art of vulnerability in our lives. Even among the faith community. However, there is often this idea that we can’t be vulnerable, be a mixed ball of feelings and still have an abundance of faith.

Here’s the thing. I am a Bible carrying, post-it note writing, war room crying, prayer warrior. I have faith. I also have a ton of feelings. Many I suck up. Many I just don’t.

Here’s why: We are responsible for what we damage when we are here. And too many are damaging hearts and relationships simply hiding their true feelings. Not being honest with self and each other to save face, and look good in a highlight reel.

Too afraid to admit they are a mess. When God already knows our messiness. We can’t hide it from him. We can walk around wearing a mask of macho and cool in our daily lives, but we can’t hide our broken hearts from him. We can come to church cleaned up and pretty on the outside, but we can’t hide what’s on the inside.

“Pretending away reality never makes things better. It just causes you to implode on the inside while smiling on the outside. That’s no way to live.” Lysa Terkkeurst, It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way

So can we just admit to each other that we are not OK? That what we really want is someone who can be vulnerable enough to admit it, so we can finally say…”Oh my goodness. Me too!!!” And, tell each other that’s it’s OK to not be OK?

That it’s OK to miss someone. Because missing someone means we have also loved someone. We have a hole in our heart that aches because that person inhabited a place in it, and we now grieve for that emptiness. And it’s OK if your grief was short, and if your grief takes longer. It’s OK if you are missing someone who is still fully alive. It’s OK.

It’s OK to have big emotions. Like anger. Like sadness. Like frustration. Like loneliness. God made us with those emotions. He also knows every single one of them. He felt anger when he saw the evil he had created among the world, enough to wipe them out in the days of Noah. He surely felt sadness when he sent His son to die. He feels frustration when His purpose does not come to fruition because earthly desire takes over and wrong choices are made. He feels all that, too. We are made in His image. He gave us all these emotions so we would understand the one he wants us to use the most-love.

It’s OK if you didn’t cope so well with those big emotions today, and reacted in not so glorious ways. It’s OK if you yelled at your kids. It’s OK if you cried in your bed under the covers. It’s OK if you walked into Starbucks sobbing because they handed you the wrong coffee, desperate for one thing to just be right in your day (hand raised here). That’s all OK. Show yourself the same grace God shows you and start over tomorrow.

And know this: It’s OK if you are so not OK that you need a little extra help.

In a world where it’s better to look like you “got it going on,” with a plastered on smile, letting a big fat “fine” roll off your tongue, while inside you are dying, sad, lonely, and wrestling with emotions and thoughts that even scare you…look, we can’t afford to not reach out and get some extra help. Our minds, our hearts, and our souls are too valuable.

It’s OK if you need to call a therapist. It’s OK if you need some extra help from a pill. It’s OK if you need to admit, I don’t “got this,” and I need some help. It doesn’t make you weak or less of a man. It doesn’t make you less “Christian.” It let’s others know you value yourself to keep waging this battle that is taking over your mind, and that you are going to be OK.

It’s all going to be OK.

 
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Posted by on January 26, 2019 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Take me as I am

Those the Father has given me will come to me, and I will never reject them. John 6:37

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When I was a teen, I hated country music. I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. It was not the era of Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, and Keith Urban. Instead their was Joe Diffie, Dwight Yoakam, and Wynonna. And the songs were really all about what country music jokes were made of.

However, when my parents moved closer to my grandparents, and my brother and I spent many a summer afternoon walking to their house, the twang of the songs grew on me.

And I grew to love the no nonsense words of Miss Shania.

She taught me that any man of mine had to be proud of me. That certain things should not impress me much. I could color my hair. Do what I dare. And after a long day I needed someone to rub my feet, and give me something to eat.

Then there was ole Faith…who taught me this: All I really need is honesty, From someone with a strong heart, and gentle hand. To take me as I am. 

So, I had a standard.

However, as faulty humans. We don’t always live up to that, do we?

We expect a little too much from each other.

We expect that prior to any relationship we need to have all our junk together first. We rarely take anyone just as they are. Or, we take them. Then try to mold them into what we want them to be.

This is exactly how Charlotte Elliot came to know Christ. Who is she, you ask? She is the writer of the hymn “Just As I Am.”

Bound by depression in her 30’s, her minister paid her a visit and spoke to her about God. She dismissed him. Dead set on needing to “have her junk together” before she could accept this God in her life.

Her mentor and minister’s words: “Come just as you are,” were just the words she needed. She became a Christ follower that day.

It was 14 years later when she would write “Just As I Am.”

These words from that hymn are enough to make me thankful that He accepts me in all my messiness, in all my chaos, with all my junk.

“Just as I am, tho’ tossed about, With many a conflict, Many a doubt, Fightings within, and fears without, O lamb of God I come! I come!”

There are days I am crippled by worry and anxiety. If I didn’t have a God who accepted me in my tangled doubts and fears, I would not make it through.

I am thankful He sees past my twisted thoughts to the person I am outside my head. That He sees past my wretched faults, and accepts me just as I am.

He is and always will be someone with a strong heart, a gentle hand, to take me as I am.

 
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Posted by on August 6, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful, Grace

 

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If He sees beauty here…so will I

If creation sings your praises, so will I. -Hillsong UNITED

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I decided during my quiet time this week to do something a little different. Instead of my usual front porch sitting, I took my show on the road. I loaded up my Bible, my journal, and my pen, and headed to the lake in my local neighborhood in which I am blessed to live.

And, I just sat. Taking in all the beauty that surrounded me during that time. The big huge boulder that supported and anchored my back as I sat in the grass along the bank. The fireflies that danced and skimmed the waters surface. The water that rippled with the blowing winds, and the sun’s rays. The stray bird that flew through the air.

As I sat there, I realized that I needed to make sure that I spent more time doing this. Just sitting. Appreciating the beauty that surrounded me daily.

And, then I thought of something else.

What if I applied this to the body I was in? Saw beauty in it, and all that it has to offer? Walked into a room, not feeling uncomfortable, naked, and exposed? But, feeling like I belonged…because my Heavenly Father always sees beauty there?

This need to feel comfortable in my own skin. To see beauty where God sees it. To accept my quirks as gifts from Him, comes from the transformation I have witnessed in the last several weeks in my daughter.

My preteen, who still adorns her head with silly headbands, and professes she doesn’t care what others think, has now gained a certain slouch of shame when she witnesses the all to common changes that she is seeing in her body.  And, I know. I know she has witnessed this from me. Even heard many words of shame as I critique my body, my supposed personality flaws, my errors. Yes, modesty is key. Integrity. Righteousness. These are something for which we should strive. However, perfection doesn’t exist, and our personalities are usually given to us for a reason. Furthermore, being a woman should never be something of which we are ashamed.

Then there is my son. Neurologically different because of his autism. A condition that makes him look no different, but yet keeps his belly in knots with anxiety. In addition, he is also a bit socially awkward…sometimes saying and doing the wrong thing, at the absolute wrong time. Who now has a sister who will wrestle with her self-esteem. He will hear her negative self-talk. See her be uncomfortable in her skin, and begin to believe it may be alright to talk to women this way. To allow women to feel this way.

And what comes next, is the doubt she begins to feel when she hears someone tell her mom, “You sure are sassy!” She hears she needs to tone her spunk, her “go get em” attitude down a bit.

When she hears me lament about some part of my physical makeup that I don’t like. My tooth that’s crooked. My too curly hair I only started to make peace with, that is just like hers. She will in turn start to wonder if she is flawed as well.

When he becomes more aware of his differences (because as he gets older, they do become more apparent), will he continue to shrug off the kids that call him “nerd,” or “weird?” Will he be bothered by the fact that he truly is uncomfortable, because he doesn’t know how to interact in the space he is in? And, if I can’t see beauty in me. If she can’t see beauty in the skin she is in, he will in turn learn this is the norm.

Her spirit is diminished more and more, and the belief that she is truly fearfully and wonderfully made becomes overshadowed by the critiques and expectations of the world.

She forgets to see God’s beauty in the space she is in. In the body she occupies. In the personality He has given her.

He feels different because he is wired differently. Thinks differently. Is sometimes awkward. Often comes off as rude. Wonders why God made him this way, and forgets that He too…was made in His image. Autism, and all.

We are all messy, unique, quirky, weird, sassy, beautiful, funny, and glorious. In the space we are in. But, somewhere along the way, we will hear a different message.

I hear…she hears…he hears…we hear…You don’t measure up. You don’t fit in. You need to change.

If the stars were made to worship so will I
If the mountains bow in reverence so will I
If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I
If the rocks cry out in silence so will I

 If He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made….so will I.

Because the tree just stands majestic. It may drop its leaves in silence when the time is right, but in due time, it buds again.

The flower isn’t told not to bloom. That its colors are too bold. Its fragrance too sweet. Its petals and design too quirky.

The bird isn’t told to sing a new song. That the one it chirps is too loud, not their style, or doesn’t sound quite right. It belts out its tune anyway.

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. Psalm 139:13-14

That girl. That boy. This woman. You. Will walk into a room and feel comfortable in the space we are in. Not slouching. Standing tall and majestic. Not feeling awkward, or weird, or different. But, like an exotic flower that blooms boldly. Like a bird, singing a song, that may not be someone else’s style. It may be out of tune, and too loud.

But, if creation can sing praise for what God has made…then, so will I.

So will I.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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How are you….really?

How are you….really?

The age old question…”How are you, today?”

Then…the usual response: A painted on smile. A handy-dandy, “Good. Great. How are you?”  Usually all uttered in passing without any secondary regard for what could potentially be bubbling underneath the surface.

Many years ago my work “girlfriends” and I used to joke about a colleague of ours. It had to do with this same age old question. That simple, “How are you?” Our joke was that we didn’t ask him, because well…he would usually share his life story with us that day.

I started to think of that joke recently in light of our often, probably not so true responses. In light of all the suffering taking place around us. In the world. More than likely in our homes. In our hearts.

What if more people told us how they were, really? What if more people actually stopped to listen?

Are we happy plastic people, under shiny plastic steeples? With walls around our weakness, and smiles to hide our pain? But if the invitations open to every heart that has been broken, maybe then we close the curtain on our stained glass masquerade. -Casting Crowns

I don’t know about you, but my heart is heavy each time I watch the news. Read the paper. Open my phone, and read about another life drastically changed because of brokenness. I don’t know about you, but there are days I feel broken myself. A complete mess. And I am tired of staring at stained glass, trying to be honest, wondering if I am the only one who is a hot, stankin’ mess!

Simply because someone didn’t feel like hearing my story after they asked the obligatory “How are you?”

Paul sums up an important call to all those who follow Christ in Galatians 6:2: “Share each other’s burden, and in this way obey the law of Christ.” He was specific about the “law of Christ,” because the Galatians had been deceived. After Paul had ministered to those in Galatia, the teachers of the “law,” saw it fit to teach them something different, something that led them to believe that the teachings of Jesus were false, that “pretty living and acting” was the way to heaven.

No. That isn’t it at all. It’s “real” love. What hurting people need and want. What Paul wanted the Galatians to remember is it is exactly what Jesus commanded them to do, and it had nothing to do with “acting” like they had it all together. It was the “whole law summed up in this one command, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Galatians 5:14

So, can I tell you how I “really” am? Can I share with a neighbor for a while?

But would it set me free, if I dared to let you see. The truth behind the person you imagine me to be? Would your arms be open? Or would you walk away? Would the love of Jesus be enough to make you stay? 

The same Jesus who stopped for the one to ask “Who touched me?” The same Jesus who stopped the disciples scurrying to let the children come to him. The same Jesus that stopped in the middle of the crowd for the one man who was calling his name. Who stopped EVERY time for the ONE. Never in a hurry. Never in a rush. Never worried that the one was a little too broken, bruised, damaged, or messy.

I want that kind of real.

And, I want to be that kind of real.

To the broken, bruised, damaged, and messy. Like I am. Like we all are.

Need someone real today? Need someone to listen to your story?

I got time for your real. I got time for your mess.

No stained-glasses here.

Just a broken, bruised, mess. Ready for the one who can give an honest answer to the age old question…”How are you….really?”

 

 
 

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It’s OK…He gets me

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I’m fully known, and loved by you. You won’t let go, no matter what I do.  -Tauren Wells, “Known”  

I have been blessed to have some fantastic friends who have been placed in my life. The kind that just seem to get me. Who know what I need at just the right time. And, give without being asked when I need it the most.

The tribe who sends silly pics to get me through the hard days at work. Surprises you with coffee and chocolate for an even tougher Wednesday evening, because they know how hard the first “shift” was, and they know this one may just kill ya.

The ones who send the “Hey, you were placed on my heart today, and I was just checking on you,” text. The one you get at the moment when…well, your heart was breaking just a little.

The ones who know what you are going to say before you say it (and stop you from saying it). Who you can give “that look” to from across the room, and they know just what it means (and make sure to remind you to “fix that face.”).

The man who comes home with your favorite candy because he knows, he just knows it’s been a hard day, and you could use just a little “joy.”

And, God bless the ones who utter the words: “Girl, you look down. You need a hug.” Because, they can see it in your face, and they want to carry your burden.

Yes, I am blessed with some amazing friends.

But, there are still times when I wrestle the darkness, and I feel alone. When I feel people don’t get certain parts of me.

The parts that hold in tangled emotions that if shared, I fear these people who have my back, would turn theirs and leave. The passions about which I feel so deep. The desires and the burdens of my heart. The reasons why I don’t just simply give up on some folks. The reasons why I cry…a lot. Why I am angry, and want to run away screaming.

So, instead…I just hide. I hide these things from those who love me. Because, I think they couldn’t possibly get me.

And, the truth is…sometimes they won’t. But God does. He knows me. He gets me.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and you know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I am far away. Psalm 139:1-2

He knows our anger. He knows our bitterness. Our hidden sorrows. Hurts. Passions. Desires. Those things we just don’t think we can explain to other people, and He gets us.

Even in our deepest, darkest, weepiest moods…the kicking, screaming, fighting, and crying ones. He gets us. Just like a blessed friend, He knows exactly when we need a reminder that we are loved, and sends a note slipping from the crevices of a Bible. A note, saved, but long forgotten.

Just like coffee from a friend. Chocolate from my man. Or a hug from my beloved coworker.

He gets you. Even if you think no one else does. He knows you. All of you, and He loves you just the same.

 

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2018 in Broken, Yet Beautiful

 

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Mom: One beautiful, slimy, mess

Mom: One beautiful, slimy, mess

I have a confession when it comes to the idea of the “perfect” mom. It has to do with my kitchen. Well, let me be honest, the downstairs portion of my house. The parts of the house that people can see.

See, I have this deep hatred of slime-making. For about 4 months this summer and fall my kitchen became a slime-making factory. Which means that glue, Tide, and glitter stuck to my counter and floor for 4 solid months. It also meant that my kitchen, the first part of my house that people saw when they walked in, was a mess. My counters looked like the dough boy had taken a poo, and Tinkerbell had blessed it. The stuff just would not come up. I eventually banned the slime, so my kitchen could be “perfect” again. So people could think I had my stuff together. So they could think I knew how to take care of my household. That I was the “perfect” mom. Had a Neat. Tidy. Well organized. Spotless. Glueless. Glitterless kitchen. “Perfect.”

My outward appearance could once again measure up to the standards that others deemed appropriate. That others decided made great mom material.

Here is the thing about outward appearances: “The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

Since I banned slime those months ago, I have been put through some fires. Those fires have made me become more present, and more cognizant of what makes me who I am, and less worried about who others think I should be. More focused instead on who God has made me to be. It has also made me more observant of the high expectations the world places on others. The expectations that have nothing to do with what God measures.

I noticed something this weekend as I spent time with my family at the local carnival. Without spending time through the lens of my phone for once, I spent time observing those around me. In line for one of the rides was one mom whose look was unconventional. She had piercings in her ears, in her nose, in her eyebrows. Her hair was shaved on the sides, with long braids adorning the hair she decided to leave. Her child had a shaved, poofy mohawk, and she held another child in her arms. Her appearance didn’t bother me at all. What bothered me were the looks she got. She wasn’t an inattentive mom. She was lovingly sharing a snow cone with the kid she was kissing and holding in her arms. She had her other child securely beside her in a wagon. She never took her eyes off her children. She was like any mom enjoying a Friday night out with her man and their kids. What bothered me were the stares. Like she could not be a mom and look this way.

So, then I wondered, what about me? Pink hair. Nose ring. Tattoos. Mom. Grandma, too. Guess, this isn’t what we should look like.

Or what about the kids that didn’t happen to have parents there. Oh my gosh the shame. You mean they were not being helicoptered all night? You mean they were being treated like we lived in the 80s? Where in the world were those parents? No wonder they were scurrying around, hitting each other on the heads with inflatable hammers, and running around pretending to swim with donut swim tubes. It must be their lack of home training. And I must lack it too since I chuckled, and remembered being a kid. Before life got too heavy. Remembered being a kid. One who had clear boundaries at home. Who wasn’t allowed to jump on furniture. Who definitely got in trouble if I dared to hit my brother with anything, even something inflatable. But would do it every chance I got if my mom wasn’t looking.

 

But, as I chuckled. I saw at least five more snicker.

So. What about me? The same goofy kid about 30 years ago? What about my kids who swing unsupervised in the park, while yes…mom may spend some time on her phone? Because, well…she wants a bit of a break. And, just doesn’t want to swing today. What about my kids who wrestle on the floor, sometimes have to be reminded not to run out in traffic, and still forget that sand should never be thrown on another families beach towel? Guess we deserve a snicker, too.

My kids thankfully don’t care about my tattoos. They don’t even think twice when I come home with pink hair or a nose ring. And because of this they don’t think twice when they see these things or any difference in someone else either. And, that is great. What they need is a mom who understands that life is messy. And the new mom in our lives, the one raising our grandson, needs this message, too. That we don’t need to be neatly pressed, and perfect all the time to be beautiful and relevant. That sometimes we just need to get in the kitchen and let them make slime.

And, I did just that a week ago with 5 preteen girls. Yes, I lifted the slime ban. And for once I didn’t fuss about the mess. I didn’t constantly go behind them and wipe up the counters, and a week later I am still wiping up cornstarch off my floor, and I don’t even care.

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 I don’t want my kids to see me stressing over the state of my kitchen. I want them to embrace mine and their differences. The ways in which God made them perfect. I want them to see me laughing in the kitchen as their friends tear it up making slime. I don’t want them to worry that someone is going to comment in the Starbucks line that they are too young for coffee. I want them to be happy that their mom treated them to something special that day. And, I never want my daughter to lose the passion she utters when she tells me and the rest of us: “Who cares! Who cares what anyone else thinks!”

It’s OK if our life is a little slimy. If our kitchen is a little messy. If you can’t eat off your floors. If the laundry has been sitting on your bed, unfolded for days. If your youngest is the loudest one in children’s church, and you are the pastor. If you have pink hair, short hair, long hair, nose rings, or like no jewels.

Whatever the differences. Whatever the preferences. However God made you. However God made me. I want my kids to remember I was present. I was laughing. I was completely imperfect and OK with it. Because, God knows I am perfect, and that I am the perfect mom for them.

And he made you the perfect mom, grandmother, wife, aunt, daughter, niece, and mentor, too.

Body and soul, I am marvelously made! Psalm 139:14, MSG

Go! Embrace and be present in your slimy, yet perfectly imperfect marvelously made mess today!

 
 

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