Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {Last Day of School, 2014 edition}

That’s right, today our kids finish up their year of school. While it seems that everyone else had about 183 days off for snow and ice this winter, we pushed on and are done as of today. I’m really proud of Mary Carol and Turner for their work this year, and there is no way I could be any more thankful for the great job Leah does in teaching the kids.

Just a quick blogging note: Our next post won’t be until next Friday. We’ve got some other things going on next week that will keep us from posting, but we will try to have a family links post next Friday to get back into things.

With all that said, enjoy this week’s family links!

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

Welcoming New Neighbors [Of the Hearth]

How to Rebuild a Bigger and Better Emergency Fund [ChristianPF]

5 Mother’s Day Gift Ideas Moms Really Want [My Kids' Adventures]

Why Movie Musical Characters Make Great Role Models [Common Sense Media]

(Podcast) It’s Not All Good or All Bad [One Extraordinary Marriage] Note: This is a very good episode, but I would recommend that only married adults listen to it.

Our Week in Review

These are the 5 most-viewed posts from the past week. Not all were written in the last week, but this is what people came to our site the most to see. (Original publication date in parentheses.)

#5: 10 Budget Basics for Families (March 12, 2014)

#4: A Tribute to Christian Mothers for Mother’s Day (May 8, 2014)

#3: Move Here, and Your Home Will Improve (May 7, 2014)

#2: Video Summer Series Update: The Videos are Ready! (May 5, 2014)

#1: A Christian Response to “Is It Time to Change Our Views of Adultery and Marriage?” (May 6, 2014)

“Like” Our Facebook Page

You just keep helping us rebuild our Facebook page. Last week, when we published our family links post, we had 179 “likes.” As we post this week, we are up to 213, meaning that 34 more people have liked our site just in the last seven days. Thank you so much!

If you haven’t already liked the blog, use the box below, or use this link to jump over to Facebook.

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A Tribute to Christian Mothers for Mother’s Day

I remember hearing “I’ll Fly Away” being hummed around the house.

I also remember getting the look for acting up during worship (you know the look I’m talking about).

I remember hugs when I didn’t deserve them…

…and swats on the behind when I did.

My three favorite Christian mothers
My three favorite Christian mothers (just missing Leah’s mom to complete the “faithful foursome”)

Somehow, I was blessed by the Lord to be born into a family with a mother who loved Him and wanted to show His love to us every day. By the grace of God, I have been blessed to marry a lady who does the same for our two children. I have a sister, mother-in-law, and sisters-in-law who are striving to raise children in God’s ways. To say I have been blessed by all their lives would be a grand understatement.

So, as we prepare for Mother’s Day, I’d like to share a tribute to all of the Christian mothers out there who are faithful to the Lord, and doing all you can to raise your children to love and serve Him.

Christian mothers are not a dime a dozen; instead, their worth if far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10).

They are not unconcerned with the events in the lives of their children; instead, they treasure them all in their heart (Luke 2:51).

Christian mothers do not keep their faith to themselves; instead, they work on having that faith dwell in their children as well (2 Timothy 1:5).

But the work of a Christian mother is often not appreciated. You don’t get to share news of a promotion on Facebook. You don’t earn a paycheck that increases with added responsibility. Even when you go on vacation, your work travels with you. Insurance isn’t provided (instead, it’s sometimes claimed!), and if you call in sick, you are pretty sure things have a good chance of falling apart.

But through it all, you shine the glory of God.

Even on your worst day, you do something to instill a Biblical principle in your children. When you are at the end of your rope, you still show the kids that praying over a sloppy pb&j is important. When your husband just isn’t “getting it” that you need a break, you don’t argue. Instead, you show respect for his work in front of the children, so they will grow in their respect for him, too.

While the rest of the world spends money on little clothes that may be in style and easy to find, you search high and low for a sweet dress, even though you’ll have to iron it constantly. Why? Because you want your girl to learn to bring her best before God. When other boys are playing soccer on Sunday evening, you’re tucking in a dress shirt for the 27th time today. You got his shirt on sale, but had to look at about 12 stores, because no one seems to buy “Sunday clothes” anymore. But you do. Now, you’re just trying to get your boy to sit still during a(nother) longer-than-normal sermon.

Your voice is the one they will remember singing “We Will Glorify” or “Sweet By and By” while making dinner.

Your smile is the one they will remember, though they understand you’re having a bad day.

Your grace will never be forgotten, even though that was your favorite rose bush.

And when they read about Jesus, don’t be surprised if your children think of you.

To every Christian mother, thank you…

…and keep it up!

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Move Here, and Your Home Will Improve

move here

Can you imagine a city counsel or tourism board being so bold as to make a claim that would say, Move here, and your home will improve?

That would be about as bold as it gets. Who could honestly say that, if you move to this one place, your marriage will get better, as will your relationship with your children? I just can’t see any tourism board getting that bold with their claims, no matter how much they may want you to come!

BUT…

I know a place that will do that, and today, I want to invite you to move.

Let me describe this place.

There are no beaches nearby, where you can just get away as a family and connect. No serene mountain cabins with calming creeks or waterfalls, either.

There aren’t any amusement parks or stadiums, where you can enjoy some form of entertainment together and laugh about things.

There’s not even a restaurant here, where you can get a night away from home and just enjoy a great meal.

In fact, the place I want you to move doesn’t have cable TV, internet, or even cell phone service. There’s no postal system or even a road, for that matter.

Oh, and there’s no moving company to help you get all your stuff to the new location.

So far, you probably aren’t convinced this is much of a place for your family to go. But I’ve got one more thing you need to know that will be the make-or-break factor in your decision.

It will cost you everything to move to this place.

That’s right! For your move, you’ll have to pay everything you have.

How does it sound now?

Are you still ready to improve your home? Is it worth that to you?

Then, get ready, because you don’t have to actually pack a single bag or put anything in a box. You don’t have to scout real estate or figure out the local school system. You don’t need to check on currency exchange rates or local cuisine.

In fact, you don’t have to leave where you are, but you must move…

…to the cross.

Only when your whole family is gathered under the glory, power, and sacrifice of the cross will you be everything that God has designed you to be. Only then will the husband truly know what it means to love and serve. Only then will the wife truly know what it means to honor and respect. Only then will the children know what it means to willingly obey.

So, starting today, move your family to the cross. I guarantee that, if the whole family moves, your home will improve.

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Photo background credit: MovingCompanies on Creative Commons

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A Christian Response to “Is It Time to Change Our Views of Adultery and Marriage?”

Yesterday, the Huffington Post ran an editorial by Lisa Haisha with the title “Is It Time to Change Our Views of Adultery and Marriage?”

With that title, you can figure out her answer.

Haisha begins by saying that “society’s view” of marriage–a man and woman married for life–has not always been the accepted norm. Many societies have (and do) expect and promote multiple partner marriages.

She then writes:

Clearly the concept of marriage has changed greatly over the years. And with today’s rate of divorce between 40 and 50 percent, coupled with the prevalence of adultery in many marriages, perhaps it’s time for the concept of marriage to continue to evolve. According to Associated Press, Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 41 percent of spouses admit to infidelity, either physical or emotional. This leads me to ask, “Are we really supposed to be with just one person our whole life? And if not, must we get re-married five times? Are there alternative ways to perceive and participate in a marriage that will guarantee its success?”

As you might expect, Haisha then goes to the growth of life expectancy as her major argument. When people used to marry at 20 years of age or so (she fails to mention that many used to get married as teenagers), they were only expected to live another 10-15 years. So, it was not difficult, she argues, to think that marriage could last “’til death do us part.”

Now, though, we live much longer (and she fails to point out that many are waiting longer to get married, too), so those same 20-year-old newlyweds now would be expected to stay together for 50 or 60 years.

Her point is not to promote adultery, and we should be thankful she points that out. However, she does state about adultery, “Because it is so taboo, when you consider the historical context of marriage, isn’t being shocked by adultery a bit of an overreaction?”

If you think that isn’t strange enough, you haven’t seen anything yet. Haisha writes,

Maybe the tenets of a successful marriage should not be whether the couple stays monogamous for decades, but rather whether the couple openly communicates about what their unique marriage will look like, what will be deemed acceptable and what will not, and then honoring that joint decision.

Did you catch that? You should define what you think a “good” or “successful” marriage should be, and then live to that level of success. If that’s means Let’s try to stick it out for 10 years then move on, then I guess you just shoot for 10 years. If that means It’s okay to have an affair so long as we are open about it, then just communicate that to your spouse and your marriage will be much happier.

Haisha does state that she works with many couples who are divorcing (or who have divorced) and that adultery is very often cited. She states that the reason the adultery occurred is because there was a breakdown in communication in the marriage. As she closes her editorial, she writes that couples should be strong in communication to avoid adultery. We would certainly agree with that.

However, she has already weakened her argument with the use of making marriage “fit” within the confines of modern culture. Since society’s view and expectations of marriage have changed/are changing, so should each individual marriage. Her argument is basically, if you want to try to stay married for a lifetime, communicate that, but if you don’t, just cast that vision ahead of time, too.

As a Christian, these types of articles fly in the face of God’s standard for marriage. While it is easy to state that some Biblical people (Abraham, David, etc.) had more than one wife, the Bible (1) never says this part of their life was acceptable to the Lord, and (2) always shows that this led to difficulty.

Further, when the New Testament was given, there is nothing that can be remotely used to sanction anything other than one man with one woman for a lifetime. Marriage is sacred and God-honoring. When we sever the bonds of marriage, we are making it more difficult to display the never-ending faithfulness of God.

So, to answer the Haisha’s question, “Is it time to change our views of adultery and marriage?” The answer is “yes,” if you agree with Haisha. The answer is “no” and “never” if you are standing with the Almighty and His powerful Word.

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Source: “Is It Time to Change Our Views of Adultery and Marriage?” [Huffington Post]

Photo credit: “Wedding Rings” on freeimages.com

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Video Summer Series Update : The Videos Are Ready!

families

For several months now, we have been letting you know about the Video Summer Series. If you are unfamiliar with what this is (or just need a refresher), here is what we wrote previously:

In our first post, written on December 23, 2013 we shared the “Big News” about the Video Summer Series, letting you know that it would be a series of 10 videos, each 20-25 minutes in length, that would be available for free for congregations to use anytime they wanted. We also released the theme, “Building Godly Families,” and the list of 10 speakers.

In the follow-up post from March 5, 2014 we let you know that the recording of all 10 videos was done and we were entering the editing process. We also shared a few pictures from the two-day recording process.

Today, we are thrilled to let you know that the videos are ready! Thanks to the great work of the Gospel Broadcasting Network, Chad Landman, and Shane Williams, the videos are now ready to be downloaded and viewed.

Keep in mind that all this is free for you to use, thanks to the oversight of the Lebanon Road church of Christ, and generous gifts from other congregations. All we ask is that you register, so we can keep up with how and where these videos are being used.

One common question is, “Do these have to be used for a summer series?” That answer is “no.” While we envisioned that usage (and Lebanon Road plans to use them that way), you can use these videos for any setting you think they will be helpful. We have heard from places that plan to use the 10 videos in a Bible class setting, and another that plans to use them later in the year for a winter series. Feel free to use them however they will most benefit your congregation–but please use them!

To give you an idea of the quality of the videos, we are pleased to present the first one on our blog. You can also see this video on the Video Summer Series website without registering. (The other 9 will be available for free. All we ask is that you register, and you will be sent a code to a private page where the videos will be located. If you have already registered, you should get that information later this week.)

So, enjoy this first video by brother Steve Higginbotham, then head over the Video Summer Series website and register your congregation to use these very helpful and timely materials!

(video not playing? Click here to watch on the Video Summer Series webpage.)

Friday’s Family Friendly Finds {May 2, 2014 edition}

Before getting to the “finds,” let me share some great news with you. This coming Monday (May 5), I can already tell you what you’ll be reading about on the blog. The Video Summer Series lessons are done, and we plan to start releasing them on Monday. I can’t wait to let you see the great work that was done by so many people to get these videos ready. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, wait until Monday and you’ll love what you see!

On to this week’s family links for your weekend.

Family Friendly Finds

This Week’s Finds

4 Things Every Home Needs [We are THAT Family]

Helping Kids Deal with Emotions [Biblical Parenting]

Feed Your Spouse Praise [for the family]

When Selfie-Improvement Apps Go Too Far [Common Sense Media]

Simplify Shopping List Creation with a Household Supply List [Of the Hearth]

Our Week in Review

These are the 5 most-viewed posts from the past week. Not all were written in the last week, but this is what people came to our site the most to see. (Original publication date in parentheses.)

#5: 10 Budget Basics for Families (March 12, 2014)

#4: Everyone Pitches In: Why Work Isn’t Bad for Your Kids (April 28, 2014)

#3: Two Blogs You Need to Check Out, Even Though They are Closed (May 1, 2014)

#2: 10 Things You Can Do to Start a Family Devotional Tonight (April 29, 2014)

#1: “Can We Go to His Grave?” : Helping a Child Process Grief (April 30, 2014)

“Like” Our Facebook Page

You are amazing. Since restarting Facebook, we are already just shy of 180 “likes” for our blog on Facebook. Over 35 people liked us just in the past seven days. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

If you haven’t already liked the blog, use the box below, or click here to jump over to Facebook.

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Two Blogs You Need to Check Out, Even Though They are Closed

Lebanon Road is a wonderful place to be. Our members are so kind, and the support given to each other is remarkable.

A couple of years ago, our congregation went through a series of tragedies that could have broken us. However, with faithful elders and an infinitely faithful God, we did our best to work together through a series of heartaches. While I’m certain that not everything we did was “just right,” I think we can say that we did the best we could.

I will not go into too many specifics, but two who were involved in some of these tragedies decided to blog through their grief and healing. The situations were very different, but they both decided to write about experiences, both good and difficult. While the writing styles are different, both reflect a heart that stayed true to the Lord through tragedy.

In recent days, both of them decided to stop their blogs. Though they are friends, they didn’t decide to do this at the same time; it just worked out that way. However, both of the blogs, though there will likely be no new content, are pages I think you should check out.

The reason is simple: by seeing these words, you see into the mind and heart of someone you know. While you may not know someone who is going through a difficulty like these two were, you know someone who is hurting. Getting even a glimpse into a hurting heart can help you be the support that person needs.

Here are the links, and a very short description of the background:

Five Minus One. This blog was written by a mother who had a stillborn child. That son, though he died at birth, is still very much a part of this family, and she shares that through her blog articles. While she writes from her perspective (of course), you will also see the faith of her husband, and the work they did with their daughter, and (now) their newborn daughter. Her grief was (and is) very real, but you will see a lot of joyful breakthroughs in her writing, as well.

Everyone’s Having Babies, but I’m Getting a Divorce. Written by another young adult lady, this page was penned by a woman whose husband simply walked away from their marriage. Her grief, anger, and confusion are found in her many posts. As with the other blog, though, you also see glimpses of hope and joy. Likely, you know someone who has been through divorce or separation, and this page will help you get some idea of what feelings are present–and continually swirling–as they are devastated by this news.

Each of these two sites never held to a “posting schedule,” per se, but they wrote on a fairly regular basis. With the wonders of the Internet, I hope these sites will be available for a long time to come, but in case they are not, I hope you’ll take a little while to check them out and be touched by what these two ladies shared with the world in the midst of difficulty.

It has been humbling to see their faith, but not just on their respective blogs. As one who has had a very (very) small part in seeing them continue to walk with the Lord through their grief, I am honored to call each of them “friend.”

May their tribe increase.

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“Can We Go to His Grave?” : Helping a Child Process Grief

He died a few weeks ago, and we knew his death was coming. He had been ill for some time, and we had both called and visited with him. Of course, it was still sad, and we miss him, but his passing was not unexpected.

go to grave

Then, out of nowhere, just a couple of nights ago, our eight-year-old starting crying as she said her nightly prayer to the Lord. Her tears were out of missing this elderly man who always gave her a hug and handed her candy. So far as I know, she hadn’t cried since the day we found out about his passing, but now she was sobbing as she thought about him.

It took nearly an hour for Leah and I to get her calmed down and to sleep. But, in the midst of that crying, she asked both of us, “Can we go to his grave?”

Honestly, I have no idea why this man’s memory suddenly reappeared in her mind, or why it was so strong. I don’t know what caused our daughter to want to travel to his graveside (which we will do in coming days), and even take something there.

But this episode made me evaluate a little bit about how a child processes grief. While I am certainly no expert, here are three things this time of tears made me realize.

1. Every child is different, even in grief. My son cries when someone dies, but then he rarely is emotional beyond that initial news. Our daughter, though, will sometimes cry at a funeral, or (as we found out the other night) several days beyond. Both are okay, because every child is different and will process grief in a different way.

2. Children have very strong memories. Most of us know that, but sometimes those memories “come out” at seemingly random times. There was no reason (that we can think of) why our daughter would be so touched on that night by this man’s memory, but something obviously brought his life to her little mind. We need to let a child remember.

3. Comforting a child is difficult. When a faithful Christian passes away, it is not that difficult for an adult to find great comfort in the fact that the individual is at rest and in the hands of God. While we still hurt due to our loss, we can grasp that concept and find peace there. Not every child can “get” that, at least not to the same level. For most children, they just know they hurt, and it is difficult to find the words that will bring peace. Sometimes, it’s not words; it’s lots of hugs.

This night also made me remember something as a minister, and that is that I need to pay special attention to children at funerals. Sometimes, they get lost in the shuffle, and they could use a hug or kind word.

QUESTION: What are some things you can share to help a child who is trying to process grief? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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Photo background credit: Steven Depolo on Creative Commons

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10 Things You Can Do to Start a Family Devotional Tonight

One of our most popular posts of the last few months was also the longest. It was a transcript of a lecture I gave at the annual Bible Lectureship at Freed-Hardeman University. The post, which can be found here, shared many practical things to keep in mind for leading a family devotional.

10 family devotional

But maybe you are still on the fence. Maybe you know you need to start a family devotional, but you are still afraid of actually making that first step.

Here’s the thing: it doesn’t have to be a giant leap!

No matter the age of your children, there are several things you can do that will get the ball rolling on making the family devotional a regular part of your life at home. Just to help you get started with ideas, here are 10 that you can do tonight with little (if any) preparation. Just pick one and have your first family devotional tonight!

1. Read the Bible. No, not all of it in one night. But pick a favorite Bible story, or choose to read through a book over the course of a few nights. Currently, we are reading the entire New Testament (a chapter or two at a time) for the Parade of Winners event at Lads to Leaders, but you can choose to read something much shorter.

2. Memorize a verse (or two). Pick one you already know, but help you kids memorize a great verse. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a great one to start with. Spend 5 or 10 minutes each night for the next week memorizing this passage together. Maybe start a “verse of the week” devo idea, and you’ll learn 52 (or more) each year, as a family.

3. Reuse Bible school materials. If your children regularly attend Bible classes, chances are you have drawings, coloring sheets, or even crafts lying around that go relatively unused. Use them! Let your kids talk about the Bible story again, then read the Biblical text that goes along with it.

4. Have on object lesson. What spiritual things come to mind when you look at a table? A television set? A door? A salt shaker? Simply pull out an object and talk about how that thing makes you think of God, Christ, the church, or some other spiritual concept. What a great way to help your child look at the whole world through the eyes of eternity.

5. Take a creation walk. Instead of walking just to “get fresh air,” go out and talk about the wonders of God’s creation. Let your kids pick up leaves, creepy-crawlies, or whatever else and talk about how wonderful it is that God made everything with purpose and design…including the feet you are walking on!

6. Make a prayer list. Let your kids help you come up with some things to thank God for, some people they know are hurting, and other things that are on the hearts of your family. Spend serious time in prayer, and make sure to mention–specifically–the people, events, etc. your children listed.

7. Have a service night. Kids love activity, so why not make your devotional all about serving others? Raid your pantry and make some gift baskets to take to a neighbor’s house. Create some cards out of cardstock for a church member who is sick. Spend the time showing your kids how to make a phone call to someone who is ill or hurting.

8. Sing. Family devotionals are a perfect time to not only sing the songs your kids love from church, but to instill in them the wonderful old hymns of the faith. You don’t even need a songbook. Just open up and sing a handful of favorites, praising God together.

9. Play a simple Bible game. There’s no need to buy one, either. Make it up. Ask trivia questions and let the kids move across the rug with each right answer. Or grab a sheet of paper and play a version of Hangman with short Bible phrases.

10. Make Bible art. Let the children draw their favorite Bible story, or create a sculpture out of Play-Do of something from Scripture they love. Then discuss this together, reviewing the Biblical text to help everyone remember all the details of the story.

By the way, did you notice that none of these things costs a dime? These are all things you can do tonight with little-to-no preparation and you don’t need any money. All you need is the dedication and courage to step up and start your very first family devotional.

Will you?

QUESTION: What are some other easy ways to start your very first family devotional? Share some suggestions in the comments!

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Photo credit: Jeff Noble on Creative Commons

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Everyone Pitches In : Why Work Isn’t Bad for Your Kids

Last Saturday was beautiful. The weather was gorgeous, and we actually had a day at home. So, we took advantage of it all and planted our garden. We had prepared the ground earlier, but it still took about 2 hours to get everything in the ground. (Now if we can just keep it alive…)

everyone pitches in

You may have noticed the use of the word “we” in that opening paragraph. That “we” was not just Leah and me. It was all four of us. The kids pitched in at times, too, and helped us get several different kinds of veggies in the ground.

Now, some people read that and are considering calling the authorities on us. Yes, we made our kids use tools like a hoe or trowel. Yes, we made them help dig holes in the dirt. Yes, we made them place seeds or put plants in the holes. Yes, we made them help us water everything when we were done.

Were they great at it? Nope. Did they want to quit? Quite a few times. Did we get frustrated with them? Of course. But they worked, and we think it was good for them.

Some may ask, The kids work? Why would we do such a thing to our kids?

It’s because they are part of a family, and we refuse to allow them to not learn what it means to contribute to the overall success of our home.

Far too many children just get everything, and mom and dad spend every waking moment at the beck and call of their children. Meanwhile, the kids contribute nothing to the home.

Don’t believe me?

Check your family calendar. How many evenings and/or weekends are spent running your children from one of their activities to another, while you are exhausted from working to provide the fuel, registration fees, uniforms, meals, etc. for all these trips?

Open the closets in your bedrooms. While I do think kids need nice clothing (and modest clothing for sure!), how many of the clothes in their closet are there just because the kids “got tired” of what they had, so we bought them something else to appease them? Oh, and they didn’t pay a dime toward the purchase.

Take a little tour of the bedrooms, playroom, garage, and yard. It might be eye-opening to see the amount of “stuff” your children have that they don’t play with or use, and have never shown real gratitude for, even though they didn’t pay for it. And what are mom and dad doing? Often, they are already budgeting for the next toy.

In reality, having our children pitch in is helping to grow in gratitude and humility. We do not have to run a boot camp to help them in this area, but just giving a child whatever he/she wants certainly doesn’t help things. A few chores and other ways to help around the house instill the right kind of pride in their young heart.

So, look around your house. What have you just been doing instead of “letting” (making!) the kids help with? Make it age-appropriate, but challenge them. At the least, they can clean off the dinner table, straighten their room, and do other daily tasks like these.

Or…you can have a garden!

QUESTION: What are some tasks your children help with around the house that build character in their young lives? Share your suggestions in the comments!

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Photo credit: Oatsy40 on Creative Commons

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