Saturday, March 31, 2007

Deliver me, O Lord!!! :-)


Oh, how I long for the Lord's deliverance!! From this sinful world, but mostly right now, I long for His deliverance of this little one within me!! Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love being pregnant. I love carrying around my pregnant belly and feeling the little one move and grow and stretch inside of me. But, the deliverance takes the cake!! This is what it's all about - meeting the little one that you have carried for so long, the little miracle revealed in all his naked glory!! My brother's wife, Cecilia, gave me this t-shirt when she found out that I was pregnant with Elijah. It is my absolute favorite maternity shirt!!

I am feeling excited and ready!! Well, physically, I am not ready. There is still a lot to be done around our home. But, emotionally, I am ready! I can't wait. No one knows the day or the hour!!!! We just wait expectantly for him to let us know when he is ready, and I love that. I love the surprise!! My boy's "birth" days are 2 of my absolute favorite days that I have ever had the privilege of living!! Driving to the hospital, enduring great pain, all to hear the sweet blessed sound of a newborn crying! I love it, and I can't wait to do it again. Now, I am almost 35 weeks, so I still have a bit of a wait. But, I am feeling the desire welling up within me - the desire to hold him, the desire to see his little wrinkly body.


My body keeps giving me these little signals that things are moving along, that Elijah isn't willing to stay inside me forever. And, that is a good thing! When I feel a little twinge, it reminds me of the reality that lies ahead of me. The reality that this pregnancy will end, and a new little life will emerge! When I gave birth to Joshua, it was magical and wonderful, but there is something neat about consecutive births, too. Let me see if I can explain what I mean by that. . .


When I gave birth to Joshua, it was all new, this journey we were beginning. I didn't realize fully the blessing that had been given to me. Now, I understand that as adorable and wonderful as this infant is, he is and will be so much more. And, as much as I love him on the day of his birth, as much as I may feel that I could not possibly love him more than I do on that day, I will. I will love him more each day. I love each of my children more and more as their personalities and quirks are revealed to me as they grow. And, so my little heart wonders what Elijah will bring to our family. Will he be funny or tender, serious or just plain silly. Will he be a thinker or will he be carefree and layed back? Only God knows this little one He has created. And, only God knows when my day of deliverance will come!!! And, that is great with me.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Easter Hope

I received some very bad news yesterday. The news I received is very personal so I can't share, but it rivals Cecilia's cancer in its power to hurt and overwhelm my heart. But, this news has to do with a different kind of cancer. A cancer which originated not on a medical, cellular level, rather a cancer caused by an addiction to sin. Both are devastating to not only the ones directly affected but also to those who love them. And, I love the one who is addicted to sin very much and so my heart hurts deeply for this one and the ones that have been directly affected by the reprecussions of his sin.

I walked around yesterday completely dazed and confused that this could be happening to this person. I was shocked to say the least. All day I teared up at even the minutest little things. I'm sure being 34 weeks pregnant doesn't help with that either. I didn't feel like mustering up the energy to do much of anything, so I was lazy, late, and teary eyed most of the day. We had practice for our Easter Musical last night. If it had not been the final dress rehearsal, I most certainly would have skipped. But, I gathered the boys together and met Erik there. . . 15 minutes late. Erik is the "comfortable in the spotlight" member of our relationship. I balance out the scales by being the epitome of a wallflower. I like to hide myself in the crowd - absolutely no speaking parts, and I sing so soft even the people around me have never actually heard my voice. Every year Erik plays Jesus, and I play the illustrious role of a member of the crowd in Jerusalem.

So, when I got there, I snuck across the dark stage to take my place among the crowd. Then to my surprise, something somewhat unexpected happened as I began to sing. Songs that I have sung for the past 2 months suddenly had words that I heard and understood. The opening song has these words, "And the whole world cries 'Hosanna, God save us,' and the heavens replied and called His name Jesus." And, I couldn't hold back the tears.

As much as I absolutely detest being made aware of how vulnerable we are to sin and how deep, dark, and ugly sin is, it always brings me to the same place. When faced with the news of this sin cancer lurking in the life of one that I love, I saw with sudden clarity once again how very desperately we, weak and frail as we are, are in need of a savior. And, my heart cried out with the music of that opening song, "God save us!" Because, by golly, we need a savior. Save us from ourselves, save us from the sin and evil that is rampant in this world where we live.

We have hope. The world would have us believe that certain things will be devastating to us our entire life. But, Jesus doesn't agree. He says that is a lie, and we can, in fact, have victory. And, so I walked away from Easter Musical practice with a new outlook. We have hope and His name is Jesus. And, I am so thankful.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Full Circle

There is something to be said for a quiet home. And, since ours is a very active home, the only time it is truly quiet is when we are gone or most of the occupants are asleep. This afternoon it is the latter. . . Joshua and JCT are napping away, and I am enjoying peaceful music, an ice-cold glass of water with lemon, and a blank computer screen beckoning me to fill it with words. Tranquility. Thank You, Jesus. Because it is not always tranquil here. . . There are boys who argue, who too often fall or bump heads, and there is a mommy who is often tired, moody, and just plain easily irritated. And, it is in times like these, the tranquil moments, when I regroup, gather my thoughts and emotions, and get focused once again on what truly matters.

And, thinking about what truly matters, makes me think about my little Elijah growing and kicking inside of me. I am 34 weeks pregnant with Elijah. In a matter of weeks, my family will once again change. And, I will learn to juggle one more ball. I keep thinking about him. It is as if he could come any day now. . . and, I keep reminding myself that it will be a little while still. But, I am eagerly awaiting the day when I can hold him in my arms with his little newborn tree-frog legs and tiny baby feet.

Today as I put Joshua down for his nap, I layed down with him to sing him a song. I don't know why, but I love to lay beside him and play with his hair and his ears while I sing to him. So, I lay there and sang "I love you up to the moon" by Kim Hill. I have sung this to him since he was a newborn with tree-frog legs and baby feet. There is a line in it that I could never sing to him without crying when he was a baby. It says, "And, one day if you rise up and call me blessed, I'll say it was a joy to give you my best." Oh, that line used to get me everytime, and it still does from time to time. So, today as I sang to him and played with his soft red hair, I thought about how it truly seems like yesterday that I sang this song to him and kissed his newborn head. I could almost smell that newborn smell. And, Joshua just stared at me with eyes heavy, and my heart swelled. I told him every reason under the sun that I was proud of him and thankful that God gave him to me. He's not my baby anymore. How does that happen so quickly? I can't even recount how many mothers have told me to "enjoy these days. . . they grow up so fast." I am beginning to see the truth in that.

On another note entirely, but I wanted to mention it because it made me smile. Last night when I went to the church nursery to pick up Joshua and JCT, Julie took me aside. Julie is the head of our church nursery. She is always in the nursery, always. She is our children's constant and a blessing beyond measure!! She also keeps my boys on Fridays to give me a little time to work around the house, go to doctor's appointments, etc. Anyway, she had a young African American girl helping her last night. She said that JCT walked right up to Shodra and very plainly asked her,

"Are you chocolate?"

You may think my children never leave the house, but this is not true. JCT even has 4 African American cousins. Someday I will dedicate an entire post to my sister who has 8 children (4 of her own and 4 adopted). So, I am not sure why JCT was surprised by her dark skin?? But, the comment tickled me, nonetheless.

And, on that note, I am going to post one of my favorite new pics. This is Joshua and Kyleigh, my sister's youngest daughter.



Well, I hear JCT crying, the phone is ringing, and Rain just let out a little bark. The tranquility is about to give way to the activity of life once again. And, so we have come full circle, and I guess that is a good place to end.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Raising Little Warriors

Where, oh, where do I begin? I am reading Hinds Feet in High Places for the second time in my life, and I love it. Perhaps, I love it so much because I can so relate to this little fearling. I may well have been named Much Afraid because fear and worry have been the two sins that have plagued me my entire life. I am in constant prayer about these two areas of my life and am always seeking to grow out of them spiritually. Though progress has been made over the years, I am still very much afraid of many things. Take for instance when I found out that Joshua was going to be a boy. One of the first thoughts that went through my mind was, "Oh, no! Since he is a boy, he may have to go to war one day! And, I don't think I could bear that. . ." Immediately, my anxious mind went to the fear of losing him in a battle of sorts. Why, I ask, would God call a Much Afraid to rear 3 boys? After all, boys are supposed to be bold and brave. I am, most often, weak and scared.

So, last night after I finished all that I had to do around the house, I sat down on the ottoman of Erik's chair. He was reading a book that a good friend gave him for Christmas - The Way of the Wild Heart by John Eldredge. Erik loves all of Eldredge's books, and this one is no different. When I sat down, he lay his book in his lap. I unloaded a few fears that I was having about my Joshua. Joshua has been having some silly fears lately - wonder where he gets that?

I shared this example with Erik. . . That night, after I had finished bathing Joshua and JCT, I left them alone in the tub for a second with the water running. I simply went across the hall to get their pjs and came quickly back. Much to my surprise, when I returned Joshua was in tears. He was afraid that the water was going to overflow while I was gone. Let me preface this by saying that this was not the first irrational fear he had had this day, and I was getting tired of them and the tears they produced. Anyway, back to my response. . . My mom was saved in the charismatic movement. And, though I was raised in a Baptist church, her Charisma would occasionally come out. And, this night it came out in me. I looked intently at Joshua and in a loud voice I said, "In the name of Jesus, you will not be afraid." It makes me laugh now just typing it. I continued, "You are Joshua. You are strong and courageous. You will not be terrified for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Repeat that after me." So, he repeated it with me. Then I kept on, "God did not give you a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power and love and self-discipline!!!! Repeat that." He repeated it, his tears subsided, and I turned the water off.

So, back to the real story. I was sharing all this with Erik who was listening intently. After I placed all my fears about my son on the ottoman before him, his response was, "Let me tell you about this book I am reading. . ." And, he began to share with me some interesting information. He began telling me how Eldredge labels the phases of a man's life this way - first, he is the beloved son; second, he is the cowboy/ranger; third, he is the warrior/lover; and fourth and finally, he is the king. I laughed and asked Erik if he was now in the king stage. "No, I am still in the warrior/lover stage. My dad is in the king stage." This is how I grasped what he said, and I hope that I understood it correctly. The beloved son is the stage where they are just loved and adored for who they are, our sweet boys. Then, they begin risk-taking activities. This is the cowboy/ranger stage. The warrior/lover stage is when they are married and going out into the world. Erik explained that he is a warrior at work - conquering obstacles, having successes, etc. And, the king stage is when they are older and their biggest calling in life is imparting wisdom to those who are younger. But, Erik explained men should be a mixture of all of these stages all the time.

Somehow hearing words like warrior and risk-taking and seeing my sweet sons' pictures hanging on the wall behind my husband's chair was hard for me. Because, you see, I would like to keep them under my wings and shelter them all their days. I know that if my husband was put to the test (a burning building, saving a child, etc.) he would lay his life down for another. That is the man he is. He wouldn't give it a second thought. And, that is one of the reasons that I fell in love with him. I am to raise courageous young men like this. Men who are selfless and sacrificial, men who would lay down their lives for others without a thought of themselves. This is what it means to raise them to be like Christ.

Then, Eldredge describes 3 types of Bravery. The first being physical bravery. This is the soldier on the battlefield. This is the fireman running into the World Trade Center when everyone else is running out. The second is emotional bravery. This is taking a stand, risking rejection, risking embarrasment. The big thing here is teaching our sons not to quit, teaching them to rise above setbacks. And, the third is spiritual bravery. This is risks of faith, martyrdom, etc.

So, how do we raise our sweet sons to be brave warriors one day? Eldredge says it begins with things like challenging them to be risky in their prayer life. Risking to ask God for something in prayer. If God does not answer, our sons are taught to perservere and not give up. This quote hugely spoke to me about my Joshua. . . Eldredge said, "Developing a brave heart comes down to this - wherever the boy is frightened, wherever you see a hesitancy or uncertainty in him, gently take him there, over time, and help him conquer his fear. . . That is the place you want to lead your son to. And that is the place we want to come to ourselves, as we learn to press through our own fears. I believe it is why God continues to take us into situations that arouse fear in us. The enemy would say we've blown it, or that we've been abandoned; the Father says, 'You can do this - play the man.' This is how courage is developed." Imagine that. . . He didn't say anything about rebuking fear in the name of Jesus and yelling scripture at them! I guess I have a lot to learn.

And, this very tender mother's heart listened as my husband shared his heart and his goals for our boys. Purposeful. It has been a key word to me lately. I don't want to go through the motions parentingwise. I want to be purposeful in all I do as I rear these little guys to be Godly men. As I listened to Erik my eyes went back and forth from the picture of Joshua to the picture of JCT. I prayed for them in ways unique to each of them. And, my eyes traced every curve of their soft sweet faces, my baby boys. And, they are still very much under my wings and will stay there for a little while longer. But, not forever, no, I will purposefully rear them to go out and be warriors. And, if that means going across the world to fight in a war, if God has called and purposed them to do that, then I will have them as prepared as I possibly can to lay down their lives for another human being, for a cause that is bigger than themselves, and most importantly for their faith. Whether their battlfield is literal or figurative, I pray that they will be brave warriors and go forward, facing fears head-on. I cannot hold them back, as tempting as that is. After all, they are not mine to begin with. They are God's little warriors. And, for some reason, completely incomprehensible to me, He has blessed me with the great honor and privilige of birthing them, holding them, loving them, raising them, and ultimately of letting them go to be the brave warriors He called them to be for His glory alone. Oh, that God would give this Much Afraid the courage and wisdom to rear them in this way.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Scattered Thoughts

What a day! I say it everyday at the end of the day. "Whew! What a day!" I am completely spent. The physical labor of raising children amazes me at times. It is so exhaustingly physical. The bending, lifting, stretching, catching, and chasing is a workout in and of itself.


My day consisted of a 2 mile walk pushing a double jog stroller, approximately 4 hours of outside play with the boys, and an hour long Super Wal-Mart excursion. Erik didn't get home until 8 pm, so I did the evening routine (dinner, bath, and bedtime) by myself. And, now I am tired, moody and tired.


I am moody right now. I'd like to blame it on pregnancy, but I'm not sure that is entirely fair. I think a lot of it is simply my attitude. I must admit when I sat down to write this I was ready to unload all my negativity, but then I put on my favorite CD - Sing over Me. And, my favorite song is on right now - You are Good. And, how I ask, how can I complain when I am being reminded of God's goodness? He is good, and so is life. Did I mention that I am moody? I always tell Erik that sometimes the fact that I am moody is a good thing because I can go from a bad mood to a good mood quickly. Now it works the other way, too which isn't such a good thing. But, usually when I am in a foul mood all Erik has to do is make me laugh, and for the most part, my bad mood is over. And, I am thankful for that.


A thought or two from my day:


Joshua announced on our walk this morning (after I told him that tomorrow was Rain's birthday), "Tomorrow is when it is nightime again and then daytime again. That is tomorrow." And, I thought that was a very smart way of putting it.


Joshua has given me a friend to ride beside in the van. Larry, decked out in an ensemble put together by none other than my sweet son, is sitting in the passenger seat of my van - seat belted in and all.


JCT sang over and over again today the theme song from the new Veggie-tales movie. "Da Lone Stranger. . . Your mask hides your face, who you are we can't say. . . Da Lone Stranger. . ."


Elijah did some kind of crazy tumbling move inside of me while I was doing dishes tonight. I mean I really thought he might stick an extremity through my skin. He is all boy. I can tell that already.


And, to make the day perfectly complete, my husband just asked me to check his back for spiders. He has a serious spider phobia. He always thinks a spider is crawling on him. It cracks me up.


So, all in all, it was a good day, an exhausting but good day. And, I am thankful for it.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Praise!

Cecilia had her very last hard chemo treatment this week!! Huge celebration for our family! She is doing well and is very relieved to be done. Her hair is beginning to grow back in a little bit! From what I understand, she will have to keep her port and continue to get one chemo med for a year, but the BIG stuff is over!!! Thanks to everyone who has said a prayer for her!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Big Bad Wolf


JCT told me all day on Saturday as he played in the backyard, "Mommy, I am the big Big BIG BAD wolf!" And, he looked so adorable that I had to take a picture of him. He is one cool cat, my little JCT. The sunglasses stayed on most of the day.


The lime green crocs will forever be a memory for me. JCT has wanted crocs for quite some time. Joshua has a pair of brown crocs, and JCT would slip them on from time to time. . . He loved them. So, I went to a friend's store here in town to let JCT pick out his very own pair of crocs. I showed him a black pair, a red pair, an orange pair, and a tan pair. I asked him which one he wanted for his very own. He looked right past the colors I had pulled out and proudly declared, "I want da geen ones." And, how I ask, could a mother refuse? So, he has lime green crocs, and he wears them everyday with everything. And, he loves them. Over and over he tells me, "Mommy, I lika my shoes. I lika my geen shoes, Mommy." Am I proud of my purchase? Oh, yes, I am proud.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Nothin' Like It. . .


Christening springtime with your brother.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Stuff-Mart a.k.a. Target

We live in a town so small that the height of our shopping experience is Wal-Mart. So, for several weeks I have had a trip planned to the city for me and the boys. We drove an hour and a half for the great privilege of shopping at a Target. It is the little things you know?

Well, let's just say I went a little crazy. . . I began in the Maternity section, then moved to the sleepwear, then to children's clothing, then to houseware, and on and on I went. . . I began with Joshua in the back of one of the carts, but quickly needed more space, so he had to walk. . . Let's just say that I ended the shopping spree pushing one cart full and pulling another cart behind me. Yes, I did. And, this is not like me at all. I am really quite frugal. My father raised me to be very careful with money. I count every penny and pinch them for all they are worth!! So, I'm not sure what came over me when I saw all those pillows and bed linens, vases and boxes. Most of the things I bought were on sale - great deals, but I learned that great deals tend to add up - even if each individual item is only like $10. I was like a crazed woman throwing things in my cart with both hands!!

At times, I felt like people were staring at me. And, I wanted to say, "Look people, I live in a really small town, and I don't get to do this often. And, I am about to have a baby. I really want to be ready, you know, and have all I need before he comes. So, please don't think I have a spending problem. I don't. I promise. And, I assure you I am not in denial. I've just been couped up in my little town too long. And, this is a really great store. And, this is my one chance to shop here before the baby comes. And, we just renovated. And, there is so much we need. Okay, so maybe we don't "need" all this stuff like we "need" water or shelter. But, it will sure help make my house feel like a home again. But, I know homes are made of love and family and not things. But, I am nesting right now - big-time. So, please don't think I have a problem. Because I don't, really, I promise. I don't." But, since that didn't sound too convincing, I just kept my mouth shut and continued shopping, with my head down, determined to finish quickly.

But, the part that I hope I never forget happened somewhere in the middle of my little escapade. The cart was so full that I was stuffing things beside JCT in the front. The pillows in the back were piled higher than little JCT's head, but still I was finding things and stuffing them in every little corner and crevice of the cart. . . Suddenly out of the nowhere, Joshua grabbed the side of the cart as I was attempting to balance yet another pillow on top of my towering, overstuffed cart and said, "Stop! Mommy, you have to stop! You can't keep doing this! You cannot put another thing in this cart! You are going to end up like Madame Blueberry!!!!!"

And, if you don't know the story of Madame Blueberry, you should really watch the movie. It is my all-time favorite Veggie-tales movie. Needless to say, it is about a blueberry that is very blue (unhappy because she does not have enough "stuff.") So, she goes to Stuff-Mart and stuffs many carts full of stuff. Ultimately, she realizes that "stuff" will never make her happy.

I will admit that I felt a smidge of conviction at Joshua's comment. I felt alot more conviction when the lady at the check-out handed me my receipt. . . I walked straight to the car pushing and pulling my carts and children. After changing a diaper and putting the boys in their carseats, I climbed into the driver's seat, took a deep breath, called my husband, and tearfully confessed my sins. Thankfully, I have a husband who is alot like God. His grace and mercy knows no bounds. Erik responded with laughter knowing that this little trip was not my norm. He knows how I hate to spend money. Ahhh, we live and learn. But, I have a feeling we will be making a trip back to the city in the next week or so to return a few things. . .

Monday, March 05, 2007

I wouldn't have it any other way. . .

Life is full of stages. . . We are infants, toddlers, children, teenagers, college kids, grown ups, newlyweds, etc. . .

And, I, at present, am in the stage of life where little ones run wildly through my home. I believe that this is the stage of life where God, if you let Him, determines to diminish all bits of selfishness from a young mother's heart. Somedays I contemplate and compare myself to the "old me." The me that was free to do, for the most part, whatever she pleased. No longer. No more sipping coffee on the back porch alone with Erik while slowly warming up to the idea of morning. . . Now my very own little sunshine wakes me up - before the "real" sun has even thought of shining.

And, here is my little soliliquy. . . I now take showers with an audience of 2 little boys, laughing and making faces at me through the glass door. I have mastered the art of putting on eyeliner and mascara with a two year old sitting on my lap opening my powder compact and playing with my make-up brushes. I usually have sweet company at all times of the day - even when I sneak off to quickly use the bathroom. They can always find me. I can cook a three course meal using only one hand. And, though I carefully plan my day the night before, my children usually have others plans, and my beloved list is often discarded by midday. So, for someone who loves routine, I have learned a great deal about flexibility. And, for someone who loves to work hard and finish early, I have learned to slow down. After all, life is not a race. And, there is no need to rush when you can't get done early. This job is 24/7.

So, occasionally, I have these thoughts of longing for the former days. The days when I didn't have to fix meals for 3-4 people 3 times a day or take an hour and a half out of every evening to bathe, read, brush teeth, fix beds, pray, sing, and tuck in my two little ones. On occasion, I long for the days when I could get up and take care of just me. Drink my coffee slowly and read my Bible for an hour if I wanted - when I had time to really think, really pray.

But, you want to know the truth? That would be nice for a day, or maybe an hour. . . But, when I really think about it, I wouldn't change a thing about my life. I would miss my little audience during my shower. And, I would miss making PB&Js and slicing apples. And, no matter how tired I get of reading JCT his favorite books over and over (you know, the ones that I memorized a year ago, but I am still reading daily), I know in my heart of hearts that I would miss reading them. And, when it really comes down to it. . . I love my life.

I love my life.

I love my boys. I love taking care of them. I love the sound of their laughter in the afternoon when we play outside. I love taking them along with me when I exercise. The jog stroller on hills, after all, makes me stronger than running or walking by myself. I love holding them when they get sick or hurt. I love that I know every freckle. I know every bump and scratch on their skin, and I know how it got there. And, every now and then when I ride alone in the car, it is just plain boring. . . too quiet. I miss them when we are apart for any length of time. They make me laugh. They make me better. As I am attempting to grow them in character and selflessness, God is using them to grow in me character and selflessness. Isn't that funny? The majority of my spiritual growth is not taking place in my "quiet times," during this stage of life. I am in a different school now. I am growing daily as I learn to serve and lay down my will and my desires for what is best for the little ones God has entrusted me with. Alot less thought, but alot more action.

I am in the Goldfish and Cheerio stage of motherhood, and I am embracing it. Is it trying? yes. Is it tiring? yes. Is it at times frustrating? oh, yes. Do I often feel like throwing in the towel? yes. Do I complain? yes, too much. But, is it worth it? Oh, my, YES! And, do I love it? YES!

My life is far from perfect, and it certainly isn't easy. But, it is wonderful. And, the best part is at night after my sons are snug in their beds. And, I am sitting in bed reading by the light of my little lamp. Beside me, I can hear the man I love more than anyone breathing sweet sleepy breaths. And, I pause for a minute, put my book down, and stare up at the ceiling thanking God for giving me this day, this life. Then, I turn off the lamp, and curl up under the covers - feeling completely spent and depleted. But, I am satisfied. I am needed, in a more vital way than ever before in my life. And, I know deep in my heart that today I have given my all, my best, all that I am to the ones that I love most. My exhaustion is quite possibly the most fulfilling thing that I have felt all day. Because today was an ordinary day, an everyday, kind of day. . . a day well spent. And, I wouldn't have it any other way.
My photo
Hi! I live in a sweet country home overflowing with love, laughter, and little ones. I have been blessed to journey these days beside a man that I love, respect, and admire. He is my soul-mate and best friend. Together we are seeking to raise our seven children to be lovers of God, to be wise and discerning, and to be all that our sweet God created them to be. I am in the goldfish and cheerio stage of life, but I am keenly aware that these days are slipping right through my hands. This blog is my attempt to keep our memories safe for years to come.

 

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