A Pinterest Perfect House

At times, I wish I had a Pinterest perfect house. (There is nothing wrong if your pictures ARE Pinterest worthy. Don’t go feeling all guilty on me if you are a great decorator!) As I think and pray through my selfish pride and desires to look “put together” it leads me to question: What exactly do I want to build? 

I had these friends growing up. Their house was always full of fun, laughter, and silliness. We skated around the cement basement listening to Uncle Charlie on the radio on Saturday mornings. We made a slip and slide from black plastic, built forts behind the goat shed, and ate spaghetti straight off the table. When I came home from a weekend at their home, my little eight year old self exclaimed to my mom, “They have the most beautiful home in the world!” And I meant it. What I didn’t realize at the time is their house wasn’t really beautiful by appearances. Simple, a bit run down from the wear and tear of six kids, and never really all that clean.

What was it about their home that made it so, well, homey?

I met Jesus everywhere in that home. Quite literally, it was where I gave my life to the Lord, but I encountered Him in so many other ways. I found Jesus at the breakfast table as the mom scooped baked oatmeal and talked about heaven as though she had been there. I saw Jesus as the parents passed out homemade Valentine cards. I heard Jesus as the mom sat us kids down and lovingly got to the bottom of a childhood squabble. I played with Jesus when the parents jumped on the zip line and laughed long and loud. Laughter. Space and time to be together.  A home where Christ lives and breathes and plays and rests.  A Pinterest Perfect House The truth is, though, I am far from that ideal. Tension often takes over my body and stress leaks sin out of my mouth. How do we transform our houses into homes? Homes where Christ is met at every turn? Here are some thoughts:

-Get our gaze set on the gospel. 

“All change comes from deepening your understanding of the salvation of Christ and living out of the changes that understanding creates in your heart. Faith in the gospel restructures our motivation, our self-understanding, our identity, and our view of the world.” -Tim Keller, The Prodigal God

For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

-Feast on the Freedom of the Gospel!

“Jesus’s salvation is a feast, and therefore when we believe in and rest in His work for us, through the Holy Spirit, He becomes real to our hearts. His love is like honey, or like wine. Rather than only believing that He is loving, we can come to sense the reality, the beauty, and the power of His love. His love can become more real to you than the love of anyone else.” Tim Keller

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1 Hallelujah!

-Deny the Desires of the Flesh.

Pursuing holiness as we go about our day requires denying our sinful flesh. “What then is holiness? Holiness is nothing but the implanting, writing, and living out of the gospel on our souls.” John Owen “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Galatians 5:13

-Rest in the Reality of His Ongoing Work.

When failure happens, and it will, have the humility to ask for forgiveness. Then rest in the knowledge that we are being conformed to the image of His Son. And press on!

For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.” Romans 8:29-30

“…forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14

I want to offer my family a home, not just a house.

When my family comes to the table, I want to feed them well, but more than that I want to give them the feast of the Gospel and let them be filled forever.

I don’t want a house that is Pinterest perfect, I want a home that is Christ perfected.

introducing johari creations {and a giveaway!}

Allow me to introduce a beautiful business that gives me goosebumps. Johari Creations was created by my friend, Erika, and her friend Lindsy. Erika has always been one of the coolest women I know. She lives her life sold out for the sake of the gospel. This business is no exception.

These women have an eye for the beautiful, a love for the lost, and a desire to come alongside the struggling and at-risk. I love their heart, their mission, and I LOVE their products!

Here is their mission in their own words:

 ”Johari Creations is a marketplace for handcrafted products made by artisans in developing countries around the world. We seek to come alongside our artisan partners with sustainable incomes, holistic development and shared work and responsibility. We believe amazing beauty can come from poverty and while the artisans handcraft stunning products, it is the artisans themselves we celebrate as “johari” – the Swahili word for jewel.
When I saw that Erika was launching this new business, I wanted to get involved. Erika and Lindsy gifted me with this beautiful necklace, a stunning piece made in Ethiopia and Uganda. I wanted to wear something from the land that is to become my home, and wearing a piece of Uganda around my neck brings tears to my eyes. {I wasn’t able to post a picture of me with the necklace because my husband’s computer broke…long story.}
This is what it is all about. Supporting and empowering our sisters around the world. Johari represents many countries around the world with many different products, but I have to say, my favorites are the ones from Uganda. Here is just one of the beautiful Ugandan artisans:

And now, I want you to join me in getting the word out about Johari Creations! You can learn more about them by following them at these places: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Also, maybe do some of your Christmas shopping at their website? Here is a coupon code for 20% off  your purchase: gracefullmama20

And now, you can enter to win a $20 gift certificate to Johari Creations! There are so many fun things at their website, so head on over to see what you would choose if you win!

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dear single mom

Dear Single Mom,

I want you to know I notice you. I have now for a while. How did I miss seeing you before?

As I watch you I am blown away. I am in awe of all you shoulder, all you bear. Quietly. Without fanfare.  Your tireless, selfless work. Your shoulders sagging a bit under all the responsibility. I don’t know how you do it. With no shoulder to cry on at the end of a long day. Who do you talk to when things are really hard?

I have left you out and I want to say I’m sorry. All the mom meetings, Bible studies, play dates, and “couple’s nights” you felt out of place or couldn’t attend because you were at work. My heart hurts to know I have done you wrong.

I want to know you. I want to include you. I want to cheer you on. I want to offer my shoulder when you need to cry. 

I promise not to put you into a box or a “single mom” category. I don’t know your story, and I don’t need to. I just know you are amazing. You are beautiful. And I want to hear your heart. 

And know that I see you and so does He. 

Come to the table, pull up a chair and let’s start the conversation….

Because He Loves Me {Spring 2013 Book Study}

“In your pursuit of godliness, have you left Jesus behind?“- Elyse Fitzpatrick

Because He Loves Me is one of the very best books I have read. This book transformed my heart and my thinking where it had strayed away from the Gospel. It was a rude awakening, but one  I needed desperately. I needed the Gospel desperately. I know that sounds funny from someone who has been a believer in the Gospel since childhood, but it’s true.

If we’re not completely convinced that his love is our right now– fully and unalterably ours– we’ll always hide in the shadows, focusing on our performance, fearing his wrath. Prayer will be hard because we won’t want to approach him or be transparent before him. Witnessing will be a chore, for who would want to talk to others about a god who is demanding, angry, or cold? If we don’t consciously live in the light of his love, the gospel will be secondary, virtually meaningless, and Jesus Christ will fade into insignificance. Our faith will become all about us, our performance, and how we think we’re doing, and our transformation will be hindered.”   -Elyse Fitzpatrick, Because He Loves Me

 And so, Ruth from GraceLaced and I will be hosting a book study beginning on Wednesday, January 30th, and continuing every Wednesday for the following 12 weeks!

Care to join us? We would love to have you!

Here is what you need to do:

1. Purchase the book. You can get it here or the Kindle version here. {I have both. blush}

2. Read the intro and Chapter 1 by January 30th. If you have a blog, you can blog about your thoughts and link-up on the 30th!

Grab a button if you are joining us:

Ruth writes about the purpose of this book study:

My hope here is two-fold…I long to see each of us for us encouraged and accountable through a study of a fantastic book. I also seek to encourage you to make the most of your blog or online presence for the encouragement of others as you document your thoughts and discoveries through this study. I truly believe that GraceLaced exists FOR Christ, and FOR his grace and goodness to be seen and known. Reading this book together is one way we can be a part of that very thing.

And that is why I blog here at Grace Full Mama as well. I hope you will join us on this journey!

If you are joining us, won’t you let us know in the comments?

*a big thank you to Ruth for the beautiful graphics!*

Do You Wish You Had a Pause Button on Your Life?

Today’s post is a guest post by Sarah Mae.

Do you ever wish you could pause your life just long enough to catch up with it?

The other day I woke up and thought, “if I could just magically make everyone sleep for a month I could catch up on the cleaning, my to-do lists, and my life.” I want to get everything in order, and then take time for my soul. I need to figure out my life, my next steps, and begin…all why everyone sleeps so their are no distractions or interruptions.

I need a big, fat, PAUSE button on life.

Can anyone relate?

Well, since I can’t have one (boo), I have decided to create my own pauses amid the distractions and normalties of life. I shall do this by choosing to own my life (as Sally Clarkson says), and be active in the life I want to live.

And why not? I’ve only got one shot at this life gig, so I sure as heck don’t want to waste it. I want to live fully alive! I want to figure out how to enjoy my children (because I don’t always). I want to wonder, and be inspired, and open my eyes to the whole world. I want to embrace the mundane and the hard. I want to live true and honest and willing.

So I will.

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.” -Victor Hugo

Want to join me? Here are a few ways we can choose to live:

Figure Out What Gives You Life, and What Drains It

Living full and open-eyed isn’t about living selfish. Truly living is about figuring out how to thrive even in the mundane; how to live so as to take in and find the pleasure in the hidden, the life in the loss, and the truth in the every of days. One way we can do this is by figuring out what drains our life and what fills it. For example, I could say my kids drain my life, but that would be looking at life through a speckled lens. Instead, I could say that my the days I sit home and avoid my children while my guilt racks up points drains me, but what gives me life is choosing to go on an adventure with them and enter into their worlds and see through their innocent eyes and their full of wonder spirits.

Do you see the difference? It’s perspective.

However, there are truly draining things in life that we should not feel guilty for giving up. Is there something you are doing, volunteering for, or leading that is stealing the joy you have in other areas of your life? What if you dropped one thing you were doing, and in dropping that one thing your body and your mind were freed up, just enough that you could enjoy your family more?

What if you did a hard thing, like serving someone else, but it filled you because you were realized that you gave life another in the serving? But of course you can’t live outside yourself if you’re doing too much for yourself.

Which brings us to the question, what makes you happy? In the deepest part of your being, who do you want to be? What fills you up? What makes you come alive?

Think on these things, and figure out what will fill your soul and what will drain it. Un-muddy your perspective by thinking outside the lens and see what you can come up with.

Evaluate Your Free Time

I have wasted hours of my life on nothing at all. And sometimes that’s okay, but the wasted hours add up to dim, boring, unfruitful life. How un-interesting! This morning I went to Starbucks, and sitting outside was a man smoking a cigarette and reading a book. It was 30 degrees out. I could see his breath in the air. I said, “is this some form of self-torture?” And he replied, “No, it’s actually not that bad.”

I found him completely interesting.

He was living off the grid of normal. He was doing something different, and I liked it. And I thought about the cold wrapping around his head, and the freshness of the chill that perhaps made him feel alive. Or maybe he just wanted to smoke. Either way, it made me want to experience life.

Strange, I know, but it did, and sometimes it’s just those little things. The feel of the cold on your skin, the numb of your fingers, the air in your lungs. It’s all a gift, and I want to feel it.

What are you doing in your free time to feel life? You could read a classic, or go on a walk in the snow, or blast a musical, or watch the flame in a candle, or write or sing or do something out of the ordinary.

Do something, feel something!

Come alive in the hours, in the moments that are offered to you in between the “have-to-do” hours.

“What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.”  -Anonymous

Get Help

I just hired a friend to clean my house once a week while I go grocery shopping.

I know many of you don’t have the money to do that, I didn’t for years, but I also never prioritized having someone help me. I never thought that if I cut my cable and not have TV (except for the function of playing movies) that I could afford help. I never thought that if spent $40 less on groceries a week, I could have help. I never thought like that because having help seemed like a luxury (and for many it is). So maybe you absolutely don’t have the money to hire someone to help you with your housework, but perhaps you could barter with someone – they clean your home once a week, and you do whatever it is that you do, for them.

Listen, I understand that many won’t like this suggestion because of the stigma that getting help is either only for the weak or only for the rich. I reject both of those notions. First, so what if you’re weak in the area of cleaning? If you are, accept it and make adjustments the best you can. As far as help being only for the rich? Yes, some people absolutely cannot fit it in their budget (boy do I know how that feels), but some of us want to, but haven’t really thought about ways we could make it happen. I’m saying, just think about it. Could you find other areas to cut spending in order to get some help? Do you have a special skill you could trade in order to have help?

Again, just think about it.

Get Perspective From an Older Woman

Have you ever experienced something that seems so important and intense at night, and then morning comes and the thing doesn’t seem as dyer? This is how I feel about perspective. Perspective is a grand thing, and it generally comes from those who have lived much of life and have gone through the ups and downs of the human experience. They are like the morning, they see things clearly and in the light. I love talking with my mentor because she is able to calm me down and bring things into focus. She asks me great questions that help me think through whatever issue I’ve brought up, and she doesn’t get as worked up about things as I do. I understand that not all older women have a wise perspective, but many do, and it’s worth finding an older women to talk with regularly, as you will gain great perspective on the happenings of life.

Own Your Life

I struggle with discontentment. I long to be in other places, to live another life, to explore and get lost in art and music and deep conversation. At least once every few months I go to a dark place where I feel trapped with my life. I have to be super intentional about coming out of that place, by being careful what music I listen to, to what I think, to how I pray. I have learned that to be content in my life and to enjoy it, I must first accept it. I need to accept exactly where I am, and then choose to own my life right where I’m at. I am responsible for creating beauty and adventure in my life; I am responsible for filling my soul. I want my heart to be captivated by the wonder of the world, but I can’t do that when I’m sitting around sulking about all that I can’t do with my life. I must get up, go out, and live…kids in tow! Sally has taught me that a wise woman owns her life, and I have come to see how very true that is. My longings will never be fulfilled on this earth, because deep down inside, the groanings are for heaven.

Accept your life, own it, fill your soul with beauty and adventure, and lean into the hope that one day, if you know Him, your heart will be filled with the fullness of heaven.

By Sarah Mae, SarahMae.com

 Psst… Sarah Mae’s book, Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe (Thomas Nelson), was released this week! The book was written for those who have ever whispered, “I just can’t be a mom today.” From the perspective of a mom in the middle of the little years and the perspective of a mom who has raised her children well, you will find encouragement, practical help, Q & A with Sally Clarkson, and videos at the end of each chapter of Sarah Mae and Sally discussing the chapter. Find it wherever books are sold (and check out the amazing gifts and giveaways happening this week!).

I hold these pages, words of Sarah Mae’s and Sally’s, that are a gift to every mother, that welcome mothers everywhere out of hiding and loneliness and into a fellowship of sisters and mentors, that will make you feel not alone, that will make you feel that there is real God-given hope.” -Ann Voskamp, New York Timesbest-selling author of One Thousand Gifts

Pinterest Fun

Pinterest Inspiration

A while ago, someone asked me if it was difficult for me to use Pinterest as a missionary overseas.  Meaning, is it hard to be content with what I have while looking at Pinterest? My answer? Yes and no. Yes, because I  found some wonderful inspiration from Pinterest and have made many things from the pins I find there. BUT, I have to be careful to keep my heart and mind in check while perusing pins.  As with anything, something that is good can turn into sin if I’m not careful.  That being said, I want to share with you some of the things I’ve made from Pinterest!

The inspiration for the picture above came from this photo:

                                                                                                                    Source: edenlang.blogspot.com via Joy Forney on Pinterest


I made this….

Ideas from Pinterest

after seeing this:

                                                                                                                                  Source: craftster.org via Joy Forney on Pinterest


My sweet husband made these from cutting a PVC pipe in half, spray painting it, and attaching it to the wall…..

Pinterest inspired PVC pipe bookshelf

after I showed him this:

                                                                                                                               Source: gusandlula.com via Joy Forney on Pinterest


And when I laughingly showed my hubs this…..

I got several of these for Valentine’s Day!! Hahaha! He knows what I love!

Pinterest inspired Hey Girl Ryan Gosling

All in all, Pinterest has been a great source of DIY and inspiration for me, and has motivated me to try new things! How about you?

If you haven’t joined me already, I’d love for you to join me on Pinterest! You can see my personal style, what makes me laugh, and what kind of food I like to eat!

Pinterest Button

Also, there is a great new board I am thrilled to be a part of……it has lots of fun inspiration for the Christian woman! Just click the picture to go to the pin board:

Pinterest Button

Now, if you will be so kind as to leave YOUR Pinterest information in the comments so I, and everyone else who reads this blog, can find you on Pinterest!
Photo credits: Dave Forney, Tripp Flythe

Avodah Coffee!

I am hopping in from my blogging break to share with you about some great coffee…..

I love coffee.  I love the taste, the smell, the feeling that I get when I sit and linger over a great cup of joe. I AM from the Northwest after all, where there if pretty much a coffee shop on every corner {not kidding!}. So, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review  {read: drink lots of} the delicious coffee from Avodah Coffee.


Not only do I love the coffee and it’s wonderful robust flavors, I love the people behind the company and their purpose and vision. I met Jessica last year at the Relevant Conference {now Allume Social}, where we spoke together in some workshops {love her!}. She is the co-host of that amazing conference, as well as a wonderful blogger at Muthering Heights. She and her husband Jordan have a vision for more than just making amazing coffee, they want the coffee to be the starting point.  And what a great starting point it is!

Here are their words about the name and vision for their company:

“The word Avodah is Hebrew, and describes action that is simultaneously work, worship and service. It means that the work we do is more than a job – that bringing the awesome to our customers is about serving you, the farmers who grow the coffee, and those who benefit from the organizations we support.  All this combines under a lifestyle of Avodah, through which all we do becomes an offering.  When you see Avodah, you know you’re getting great coffee with a great purpose.”

I hope that YOU try this wonderful coffee.  There are lots of different kinds of blends and flavors, why not try them all? Head on over to Avodah Coffee to peruse their great selection! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

*I was given coffee to sample from Avodah Coffee.  All opinions are my own.*

The Legacy I Want to Leave: Captivated by the Cross

Pain, dysfunction, and brokenness permeated the air of my parent’s childhoods. It was their reality, their heritage.

 Weary of this reality, they begged a friend to show them the way to be new, changed, different.

That friend dazzled them with the truth of what Jesus had done for them on the Cross.  They werecaptivated.  In awe, they accepted that exquisite gift and their path turned in a completely new direction. They encountered the Cross and never looked back.

As they made their own new family, their little nest of 3 girls, they desired things to begin anew.  They struggled along to figure out how to “do” family, how to break the chains of the past, how to build a home on the foundation of Christ. Was it perfect? No, but it was real.

Real relationship, real humility, real forgiveness, real grace.

It is a legacy of two sinners holding a precious gift, the Cross, in their hands, and being awestruck as they held that gift. They couldn’t help but pass that on to us, their children.  As I look at their trail-worn faces, their triumphs and failings, I see Jesus. The path they chose was difficult, the blind leading the blind, pain of the past erupting.

Still now, they are captivated by His love, by His tenderness towards them, by His open arms for sinners.

I have the privilege of standing on my parent’s shoulders as they kneel before the Cross.

Because of them, I am also captivated by the wonderful Cross.

Join me today at Mom Heart to hear how I want my children to be captivated by the Cross as well.  I pray that we together might be mothers who are captivated by the Cross and hand that to the next generation.

I invite you to subscribe to Grace Full Mama here.

A Spring Blessing Blowout Giveaway!!

Spring is such a beautiful season!

The first buds of the year are blooming, grass is getting greener by the day, and temperatures are on the
To celebrate, several other bloggers and myself have teamed up to offer you this Spring Blessing
Blowout Giveaway
, and one reader will win a BIG prize: $360 in PayPal cash!
We pray that this Spring Blessing Blowout Giveaway is truly a blessing to one of you. We’re
thankful for the time you spend with us here, the thoughtful comments you share, and the encouragement
you’ve given. You have been a blessing to us!
Grab a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, and send in as many entries as you like using the Rafflecopter widget
below. There are many blogs you can “like” or follow to gain entries, and you can take your time doing it.
Have fun!
*Please note that comments left on this post are NOT counted as entries; you must enter through the
Rafflecopter form below.*

Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run from today, April 18th until 12:01 a.m. on April 25th. It’s
open to everyone and one winner will receive $360 in PayPal cash. The winner’s name will be displayed
on this post after the giveaway ends.

A Great Guide for Good Girls!

Ok, this good girl is blushing right now, but I’m hitting publish anyway!!  

I am thrilled to welcome Sheila Wray Gregoire here today.  She is a Christian speaker, columnist, and author.  She loves speaking about marriage, parenting, and keeping our eyes on Jesus. She lives in Ontario, Canada, with her husband of 20 years and her two daughters, whom she homeschools.  You can find her blogging at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum.

She has written 5 books and has just released her latest title, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex!!

I love the way that Sheila is able to delve into a sensitive topic and speak with frankness, biblical wisdom, and grace.  Thank you, Sheila, for laying it all out there for us!!

This is a great go to book if you need any ideas or advice on the topic of sex!

I was able to ask Sheila some questions on some of the topics covered in her book.  Here is our interview:

Joy: What are you best quick tips to help a woman get in the mood?

Sheila: We women need to realize that sex is primarily in our brains. We don’t work like men. Men are aroused before they make love; we women aren’t usually aroused until we start. So if you’re waiting to start panting in order to make love, your sex life will become awfully rare!

But because sex is primarily in our brains, we can then take a bit of control. Make sure you can concentrate! If you have a ton of stuff going on in your brain, bouncing around like a pinball machine, get it out before you start to make love. Talk. Go for a walk with your husband. Tell him, “I don’t need you to solve anything; I just need to get all this out so that I can be fully there with you later.” That will get his attention!

Then, do the things that make you feel close to your husband throughout the day. Text him. Phone him. When you’re together at dinner time, kiss him. Often we stop kissing because we don’t want to promise something we may not want to do later, but then we lose something that makes us feel close to our husbands.

Finally, just think about sex in a positive way. We women can often think of reasons not to have sex–I’m tired, I’m grumpy, he’s been distant, the kids will be up early–but let’s put as much energy into thinking of reasons to have sex! How about: sex helps you sleep. If you’re exhausted, make love, because you’ll fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. It makes you feel closer to your husband. It makes you feel more intimate. It can be relaxing. All of those things are great

Joy: What is your best advice to the woman who wants to enjoy sex with her husband, but has issues from her past that keep her from doing so?

Sheila: This is such a common problem. Whether it’s past abuse or past relationships, we can bring a lot of baggage into marriage. And when I conducted my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found that one of the biggest sources of baggage was having sex with the man you did marry before the wedding. It isn’t just past partners that can haunt you; it’s sex with the man who is now your husband. You feel guilty about it. Sometimes it was too quick and you didn’t feel any pleasure, and now you doubt you can. All kinds of things can hinder our ability to truly enjoy sex now.

In the book I talk quite a bit about how to walk through this, but I think the main healing comes from recognizing again that sex is not primarily a physical thing. It is an emotional and spiritual connection. And if you can work on that true intimate connection while you make love, sex can take on new meaning. It isn’t something degrading, or disgusting, or shameful, or even just mildly unpleasant. It can be something truly beautiful.

So spend some time just touching each other while you’re naked together. Don’t worry about actually making love; just spend fifteen minutes when you touch each other when you’re not allowed to do anything else. Feel how intimate it is, and how your body can start to respond just from feeling love.

And then pray about it. It sounds really corny to pray before sex, but God does know what you’re doing, and He made it to be wonderful for you. So pray first. The more connected we feel spiritually, the more sexually drawn to each other we will be. Even read a Psalm together every night before you go to bed. As you begin to let God into this part of your relationship, you’ll feel more how much it is blessed and how much it actually is sacred. And that’s the key to actually being able to enjoy it on all levels.

Thank you SO much Sheila for sharing with us today! I pray that this information will help all of us in our marriages today!  If you want lots more great advice from Sheila on this topic, go get her book, The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex!!

Thoughts to share?

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