Why I Refuse to be Embarrassed by My Kids’ Mistakes

We call Caleb the Court Jester. He’s funny, full of silly antics, and loves to entertain. Often he walks a wire-thin line between trouble and hilarious.

Target is one big playground for my little guy. He skips through aisles. His voice can carry from the lady in accessories to the teenager in electronics. Everything on the shelves must be manhandled and examined by his curious nature. And before I know it, he’s climbing onto stacks of water bottles.

“Mommy! Look at me!”

Caleb Water BottlesI’ve often felt the side-eyes of judgement when walking with him through the store. People who shake their heads at me and my boy. I come home weary.

My Ella, now eleven and a sweet Princess of a girl, has grown out of the tantrums of her early years. As someone with very real Sensory Integration issues, she made my trips to the store no less exhausting.

Her sensory meltdowns, complete with ear-piercing screams and alligator tears, would bring looks from all customers as I rushed to hide my embarrassment and console her, all while piling groceries in my cart.

We all know the feeling—the one when eyes bore into our backs and all we want to do is hide in the lingerie section remembering when we used to shop there. Alone.

I’ve never met a perfect parent. I imagine you haven’t either. And I doubt those staring me down in the corner of the supermarket had perfect kids.

It’s the statement all puffed up with indignation that really leaves me undone–the one that begins with, “Well. My children would’ve never (fill in the blank…) I think, what if they’re right? What if my kids really are the only ones?

But deep down in my momma heart I know all children make mistakes. All children misbehave.

For too long, I’ve allowed strangers, who judge my parenting skills, to cause me to feel embarrassment over my kids’ actions. Ultimately? How dare I? How dare I allow a stranger make me feel badly about my beautiful children? Or make me feel less of a parent because of their disobedience?

It hit me the other day, somewhere between my fun-loving Court Jester skipping down the aisles and me threatening to take away every electronic device in the house (and we all know who that punishes more), somewhere between there, I decided.

I will no longer allow my children’s mistakes to embarrass me.

Why?

Because what you see in Target for five minutes is but a snap shot of who my children really are.

And they’re spectacular.

The other day? The one when my Caleb climbed on a tower of water bottles and pulled every blessed food item from the shelves to tell me we needed to buy it? He also picked up items dropped by strangers, handing them back with a smile. He also jumped into my arms to say he loved me. And he also used all of his manners throughout the store.

Strangers don’t often see the amazing that happens in between the chaos.

Yet we allow those same strangers to tell us we’re horrible parents because they witness a sliver of a glimpse into our lives.

My children misbehave. They’re disobedient. Prince Charming and I correct them for their mistakes. But sometimes my children need to be corrected a thousand times before it sticks. And sometimes, no matter what course of action we take and how much consistency we have, our kids will still choose the wrong. They just will.

But our children also choose right.

This is the reason I will no longer be embarrassed. Because I’ve got two amazing kids. They love with their whole hearts. When given the chance, they sacrifice for others. They give to others in need. And they passionately follow their beliefs.

I couldn’t ask for a more incredible son and daughter. They are my joy, and I love them with an unworldly fierceness.

Oh, yes. They will fail. And sometimes their failings are my fault. But more often than not, my husband and I are doing a pretty darn good job.

So when they misbehave in public? I will no longer be embarrassed by the stares of those who don’t know a single thing about my two beautiful miracles.

Instead?

I may just turn around. Smile. And say, “They’re pretty amazing, don’t you think?”

 

PS…I need to also remember my own words when I’m about to judge another momma on a sliver of a glimpse of the behavior of her kiddos…Yeah. That too.

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The Sweet Mercy of Spring

Traveling down roads we’ve been on before can jar the soul. They can shudder us, shut us down. Because those road have a history—our history.

Driving through a painful past can keep us from our horizon dreams.

We get frozen on the path of our past mistakes, broken down and stranded.

On the way to an appointment the other day, I found myself driving down a backroad on my way to somewhere—a road paved with darker memories. The sun was shining and the branches of trees swayed softly. But I wasn’t thinking of the light or the wind.

I was surrounded by the haunting memories of my past.

The house-lined road with its curvy path was one I would’ve never known if not for an unhealthy relationship. A relationship I only associate with pain, secrets, and sin. A relationship leaving winter’s icy frost on my soul.

The wheels of my car were rolling steady while my heart stood still.

But then.

Then I saw the stop sign, signaling I could make a turn. A turn away from my past. And I was reminded…

Spring is here.

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Spring filters light into my soul in a way no other season can.

Leaves, hidden beneath the bark of stoic branches, unfurl their bright green hue warmed by gentle rays of the sun. Blooms burst up from the black, rich earth thawed by the rising thermometer.

This season ushers in the new. I’m so often in need of just that.

The bursting freshness of Spring, its awakening of life connects me to the deep mercy found in Easter—the cross remembered and the empty tomb celebrated.

I can’t separate the emptiness of the tomb from Spring. I need its brought-back-to-life victory because winter so often reminds me of the pain in life.

Flowers buried deep under frozen black earth. Trees stripped bare by winter’s icy wrath. Everything green is pulled into itself, hiding from dark of those cold months. I know what winter feels like. When life scars me, I want to shrink away. I look for ways to escape, ways to shelter myself from the harsh consequences and memories of my mistakes.

Guilt freezes the soul.

But the empty tomb calls me out of winter’s grasp. It thaws the glacial claw of shame clutched tight on my wrists—chaining me. It reminds me I’m not created to stay buried beneath my past. It tells me mercy is waiting to embrace me with soft blooming petals.

Spring is here.

Jesus entered earth to pave a way for humanity. To create a path through our sin, our shame, our darkest days, so we could know Him. And when we know Him?

Spring unfurls in our souls.

Newness comes to our lives.

Mercy warms the hidden, frost-withered places of our hearts.

Christ bared the raw lashing and harsh beating on His road to the cross. He stretched his arms across the rough wood of the cross. He broke forth from the cold, dark tomb. He defeated death and its icy grasp.

All of this?

To bring Easter to our lives.

When Easter bubbles in our hearts, when the mercy of its message becomes real? We can have the courage to break through the frozen layers of our hearts with the gentle rhythms of Spring.

This season reminds me I can be whole.

Sometimes I find myself traveling back down the roads of my past, living memories that stop the beat of my heart. But I don’t have to stay there. I don’t have to put on the breaks. Instead?

I can dwell in the mercy of Easter and celebrate the empty tomb.

The mercy of Easter tells me I am a new creation. I’m not doomed to repeat the frozen winters of my past. I can lift the fragrant petals of my soul to the heavens, claiming Spring is here.

The mercy of Spring is here.

To stay.


 Excited to be linking up with the amazing Suzie Eller and some other awesome women for #livefreeThursday. Join us as we explore mercy, what it means, how it can sink into our souls allowing us to breathe.

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The Rush and Slow of Being Busy

It feels as if the time since our last conversation has stretched too long, friends.

Busyness sucks the air from my soul. I know you understand. This rushing drags our weary bodies across the sand and throws us into pounding waves. Again and again we’re crushed by the never ending rush of the surf.

We long for the calmness of a spring field or the mirror-lake with its tranquil waters.

Voices call at us from all directions. “Slow down!”

But sometimes, friend? We can’t.

We just can’t.

We have responsibilities. Someone must do the laundry because who wants to run out of clean underwear? Then there are those blasted mildew rings around the toilet.

Grocery store runs. Kid school projects. Meals to make. Carpools and soccer mom brigades. Job responsibilities. Church to attend. Friends that need support. Service projects to organize. Helping the hurting. The list is endless.

There are seasons in which slow isn’t possible.

So how do I cope?

I remember standing in the office of a seminary professor with fellow students. We were lamenting the busy and how it never ends, this cycle of to-dos.

Someone finally blurted, “What if this is it? What if this is the full and abundant life Jesus talked about?”

Instantly, I dug my heels in and refused to agree. Wrapping my mind around the idea my life would always be busy? I just couldn’t be convinced this was it.

I mean, were is the space of time I can sit on a mountain lodge balcony reading my books drinking my coffee for days on end? Or what about sinking my toes in sand on the lakeshore for like, the rest of my life? Where are those wasted days?

Yet, I don’t want wasted days. I don’t want any day of my life to be worthy of a trash heap.

I believe my seminary friend was right—kinda.

Vacation days? Never a waste. Our souls need the restoration of rest. I will never feel guilty for those. Restoration is not waste—ever. Watching birds float along the ocean air breezes and hiking languid across mountain trails with my children will always be the slow that replenishes an abundant life.

But busy days? They’re part of the fullness too.

Because busy can be meaningful.

The hustle and bustle brings me a life worth living. As much as I lament cleaning my home, I have a home to clean. Homework and carpools and bickering in the back seat make up the fabric of motherhood. Lugging papers to grade back and forth from school to home remind me I have a steady income.

While there is busy in our lives we could avoid—need to avoid, there is also busy that is part of this life. Ingrained into our humanity.

Ocean WalkDSC_0304Spring GreenPapers and CoffeeI can lament the hectic or I can find meaning in it.

So I’m left to find ways of breathing in the midst of busy. Because living a fast-paced life doesn’t mean I never slow.

Noticing the beautiful spring-green on leaves. Deepening relationships with other mommas in the dance studio as we wait for our daughters. Writing an encouraging word to a student on her paper. Stopping to take the Court Jester to a play date at the park and enjoying the company of my friend as we watch our sons zoom past. Talking with my Princess and her sweet friend as we carpool. Kissing the brow of my beloved as we cook dinner together.

Beauty can be found within the busy. When we find it? We begin to understand this full and abundant life promised us by a Savior so wise.

He knew the fast pace we would lead. He knew the seasons of blur we would face. And He knew the glorious beauty we could find there.

I’m learning to breathe significance into the busy.

It’s not easy, all red-faced and panting from the marathon days I sometimes run.

But it’s worth the search when I can find meaning in the midst.

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Tired of Looking for Answers

My husband’s a finder.

Lost keys. Misplaced paperwork. Hidden toys. If I don’t know where it is, my Prince Charming will find it.

When something goes missing in our home, I spend wasted hours hunting, searching, seeking. Then I get angry. Shoving drawers closed and stomping through rooms. Because I can never find anything. Never ever.

My husband uncovers the lost in minutes.

I spend half my life searching, looking for the hidden. But I’m no good at the finding—even with the practice I have looking for answers.

Answers for why my son develops a fever on the worst-time-to-miss-work-ever days. Or why my girl suddenly outgrows all her winter clothes when the bank account and the weather forecast sit at zero. Or why a nail pierces a new tire and the water heater dies within two weeks of each other.

I also want to know the reasons friends face tragedy. Then there are the injustices of the world and human trafficking and murder and so many of the things that cut our hearts, leaving us bleeding with nothing to staunch the flow.

And I want to know why my plans veer off the path I plot. Why family members struggle with life-threatening disease. Why depression drags me into the darkness. When all of these things—I want to know why.

I look for answers. But I’m not the Finder.

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For the last year I’ve been searching for an answer. An answer to a question that has burned and flamed and blistered my soul.

Because I’ve been asking—What next God? What is your dream for me?

Over and over I’ve begged Him to answer, to tell me what He wants. I’ve been looking, hunting, searching and coming up short. Nothing. No inkling of the next step my life is to take.

I’ve mentally slammed doors, thrown papers, and crashed through piles of junk—all a fruitless attempt to discover a resolve to my question.

I’ve been looking for answers. But I’m not the Finder.

God is.

During a worship service a few weeks ago, the quiet voice of my Jesus whispered His words in my heart. Words that stopped my questions and quickened my soul. Whispered words of grace.

Daughter, you’re looking for answers when you should be looking at me.

Peace flooded and warmed my being despite knowing the searching and seeking had been in vain.

The gentle whisper of wind filled the cracks of my humanity reminding me I can never discover how my life fits in this great-wide world if I haven’t climbed into the palm of my Creator’s hand—surrounding myself with the deep crevices of a Savior’s love.

The cure for futile searching?

Looking at my Father.

Seeking my Jesus calms the anxious search for the missing. The God who taught the flowers to bloom and the sun to shine and the waves to lap the shore is the God who knows my story from beginning to end.

When I seek the presence of God, my nervous need to find answers turns up missing.
Peace soothes the edges of my soul.

In truth? A face turned toward the cross uncovers answers only when they need to be found. And it is a courageous step to trust when you’ve spent a lifetime hunting for the missing.

I want to be a different girl—the one tucked safe, secure in the arms of the God with all the answers, even if He doesn’t share them with me. The girl who bravely trusts in the future she cannot see, in a world she cannot understand because she loves the One who plans her future.

Because who wants to spend all her time searching when she can already be found?

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An Orlando Moms Blog Post…

Hello friends! (Especially email friends.) Today I’m over at Orlando Moms Blog sharing one of the major struggles I had as a new momma with my son and my daughter. So if you’re comfortable with reading all things breastfeeding, feel free to click on over here. I hope that it will be an encouragement to any new mom or cheerleader of a new mom…

(But since some of my readers are former students, you may just want to skip this one…love you guys! *wink*)

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When You Need a Cure For Withering

We drove to the ballet studio, chatting away. In a moment my wedding dress filled our girl talk. Your little girl wedding dreams glowing on your face. As you stepped out of the car, and I watched you walk away, I had one thought.

Just one.

Please, my beautiful girl. Please don’t wither.

You don’t understand what I mean. I know. But I’m serious about this, this speaking of important things. I want to clutch you by the shoulders, look deep into those brown eyes that unmask your stories, and tell you straight—don’t wither.

Daily, I’m a witness to the withering. Young teenage girls shrinking into themselves. Drawing their souls deeper, wearing only the shell of who they once were.

When you were three, one of my great joys was to watch you dance. You danced everywhere you went. You paid no attention to those watching. A praise song would fill the church while you danced the aisles. The sweet matriarchs would nod their angel-white hair and smile as you twirled, your dress spinning, light shining.

You’re eleven now. Mighty, strong. Intelligent, kind, beautiful. You stand on the edge of a precipice—teetering, inching closer to the years that will define and shape your life in unimaginable ways.

The other night you asked me to lay in bed with you—to snuggle. You tucked your head in my shoulder with a book in your hand. You read as I pulled fingers through the silk of your hair. I soaked in your presence, your beautiful heart, your brilliant light.

My heart was so full.

You wondered what I was doing as you turned pages. I was praying, baby girl. Praying you wouldn’t wither.

Praying you wouldn’t shrink away from the amazing human at your essence. Because it sometimes happens. As women we can forget who we really are. There is a point in our lives when we being to worry.

We wither because we worry. Worry the world may laugh.

We become afraid and allow that fear to guide our decisions, our actions, our dreams. Because if we’re too smart, the boys won’t flirt with us. If we’re too bold, other girls may exclude us. If we like sports too much. If we’re too pretty. If we’re not pretty enough. If we wear the wrong clothes. If. If. If…

My precious girl? We can if our way into an empty shell. We can if our way into a weakened spirit who no longer dances because the world is watching. And that woman? That girl? She holds no joy in her heart because she no longer lives as the one she was created to be.

And I watch this every day. Girls trying so hard. I watch their giggles, their flirtations, their masks. I keep watching when they turn away and the crowd is gone.

I watch them when the mask is removed.

Their eyes don’t sparkle. Their lips turn down. And their shoulders sag from the burden they carry. The burden of withering. The burden of loosing themselves.

It breaks my heart.

Because our God did not create us for withering.

My darling? You don’t have to dance down aisles.

But you do need to stand tall.

The cure for withering? Standing tall in your Creator. Know there is only One to please. He is the God who fashioned you, created you, perfected you.

If you allow it? The world will only ever stomp the words “You’re not enough” into your soul.

But Jesus? He’s there whispering You’re always enough because I made you so.

You’re always enough because He made you so.

Listen to His voice when the world flings fear and hurls hate at all you’re meant to be. Because it will. And you’ll want to wither and shrink and hide away from the pain the world digs deep into your heart.

You’ll be tempted to become the world’s version of yourself. It’s easier. It shields you from pain. But you will never be happy. Because the world’s version of you? It’s all gray and lackluster.

No brilliance will ever shine from that you.

But when you stand tall in Him?

You become a prism, angled to reflect His glorious light—more dazzling than the world can begin to handle.

Tomorrow I will paint your nails. You will dress fancy and slip on sparkly shoes. We will curl your hair, and I may even let you wear lip gloss. Your Daddy, your first Prince Charming, will open the car door and escort you to your last Father-Daughter dance.

Your last before your wedding.

I will stand in the driveway, a tear in the corner of my eye, wishing the days were slower and the years even longer. Praying my beautiful girl, who twirls through life, will refuse to wither.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY-300x300Linking up with my friend, Suzie Eller and learning to Live Free. I’d love for you to visit her community here. You will be blessed and encouraged.

God-sized Dreams

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Not My Jesus

Something different. A spoken word. Because I want you to hear my heart…

A very special thank you to my good friend, James Wells and my former student, Alex Bernson and Savannah Hedglin for giving up their time and talents to bring this poem to life. You have my deepest gratitude.

Posted in Beautiful Life, Love, Relationship with God | Tagged , | 4 Comments

When Love is More Than Butterflies

I wore my aunt’s veil as I walked down the church aisle at a tender twenty-two. I stared into the eyes of a man who took my face in his gentle hands as he kissed his bride.

My husband is Prince Charming. He is. But he’s not perfect. Neither am I. While he does bring me my cream-no-sugar coffee every morning, our relationship is not without its struggles.

Yeah. So Valentine’s Day has us all swoony over red roses and candle lit dinners. But love? It’s so much more…Sharing my thoughts on true romance with The Moms Magazine today. Come on over and hear my heart?

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Because Life With ADHD? Hard.

Having ADHD doesn’t faze me—most days. I don’t even think about it—most days. It’s part of me. Part of my fabric, my tapestry.

But some days? It just sucks.

There are days it can drag me deep down into the abyss of anxiety and depression. Because it does that. Did you know that’s how it often manifests itself in adults? So. Yeah.

The source of my darkest days boils down to brain synapses that don’t move fast enough in a life that moves in the world of smartphones and WiFi.

The movie Up? Not on my top ten list. But that dog? And the SQUIRREL moments? Genius.

It exactly describes my life. Which is sometimes no laughing matter.

I’m late for everything. All the time. “Get up earlier. Plan ahead. Try organizing a bit more.” All of those things. Even when I can accomplish those tasks, it doesn’t matter. I’m still late. It’s embarrassing.

ADHD adults don’t get special accommodations at work.

My brain stutters. I can be in the middle of a conversation and completely forget what I was talking about. I know. Mommy-brain. But it’s like mommy-brain that I’ve had since before kids, and it won’t go away as they get older.

So there’s that.

I’ve probably checked my phone, Internet, and looked up from my computer thirty times since I sat down 30 minutes ago to begin typing.

I’m at Starbucks wondering what the older woman sitting in front of me does for a living because she looks to be in her 60s with incredibly sassy heals, fabulous scarf, and color coordinating tights. I mean. She’s got more fashion sense than my right foot.

See? Right now I’m trying to drown out the sound of the people next to me and loud buzzing of the espresso machine. Did I mention funky music?

Wow. Colorful spandex just walked in.

Why not write from home? Because, believe it or not, the distractions are way worse. Mommy, mommy, mommy. And the load of laundry I washed yesterday needing to be rewashed. Look. There’s some dust. Let me take care of that. You mean kids have to eat dinner?

Squirrels? They’re constant.

Procrastination is the hardest to deal with. Did you know I have rolls of film that have never been developed? I think the last roll was from over twelve years ago. A wedding I was in—the bride and groom are no longer married.

Rolls of Film

See…I told ya…

 

Right now I’m wondering if you’re as in love with Humans of New York as I am? Because his photography and view of humanity is nothing short of inspiring.

See…

Then there’s having to accomplish projects and long-term tasks

Can’t keep my eyes off a sweet momma and her baby sleeping up on her shoulder. Are you confused yet? Try living in this brain for a while. It’ll flat wear. you. out.

Because it never stops. Never.

I think I just checked Facebook for the bazillionth time.

Living with ADHD is hard. Sometimes I medicate. Sometimes I don’t. It really just depends on how fast I’m spiraling through the pressures of normal life. It depends on whether or not my coping skills are worn out. It depends on whether I want to feel normal or feel like myself.

Today’s post? A little, okay—a lot, wonky. But maybe you can relate? Or maybe you know someone who has ADHD. Maybe it’s your own son or daughter. Maybe my ramblings today give you just a glimpse?

Like I said. Most days are awesome. I’m even grateful for this ability to see the world in such a different way.

But some days? It gets the best of me.

Sassy shoe woman just left, and I’m late to pick up my son from basketball.

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When Our Dreams Meet Reality

I listened as the two high school seniors began to talk about college plans. Their talk turned to questions. Dorm or Apartment? Financial aide? Majors? Waves of nostalgia flowed through my memory bank as I recounted intense life changes during those years.

The two kids-not-kids listened. While excitement crinkled at their eyes, nervousness edged at the corner of their mouths.

I saw my eighteen-year-old self staring at me from their anxious eyes—the eyes of those preparing to enter the real world, though I’m not sure college is a solid example of the world and all of it’s realness.

But I remember how real it felt.

Who am I going to be? How will my life turn out?

These are the questions the two students weren’t asking out loud, but they were still asking.

They’re the questions I remember asking myself as I watched my parents drive away from my dorm that first day in August over 20 years ago. Who am I going to be? What will the portrait of my life look like?

If I’m honest, I’m still asking those questions.

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I look back at that kid I used to be with all her dreams, ambitions, goals and wonder if she’d be happy with where she is today.

Because sometimes our dreams are realized in ways we never expect. Sometimes our dreams come in shapes that fit a different part of our stain-glassed windows. Sometimes our dreams lay shattered on the floor of reality.

Life will always look different than we imagine, but that doesn’t mean life’s not beautiful.

Did you hear those words whisper in your heart?

Hear them again.

Life will always look different than we imagine, but that doesn’t mean life’s not beautiful.

Here is what I know to be true. When we say yes to God, when we say yes to the little steps, the little decisions, the little moments He asks of us, beauty will break through like light filtered in the colors of a stain-glassed masterpiece.

I went to college a whole lot unsure. But I had ideas of dreams. Ideas that included marrying a pastor or missionary that would love me forever, making enough money to stay at home when I had children, changing lives in the world through politics or law or something like that, becoming a famous writer of the fiction sort, and doing long-term mission work in Africa.

Big dreams.

Ask me which came true.

All of them.

And none of them.

While Prince Charming isn’t a pastor or missionary, he does love me forever. Turns out, I’m the one with the seminary degree thanks to his unending support.

I did stay home with my daughter for three years and my son for five months. I still want to just be home. It’s still a dream. But our family does earn enough to meet our needs. And for that? Grateful.

I’m not in politics or law but I diplomatically argue my point every day in classrooms of teenagers, praying I make a difference in their lives—in their world.

While I’m not famous and don’t write fiction, I do have a tiny corner of the blogging world where my voice can be heard. For each of your reading souls? I’m beyond indebted you take the time to listen.

Africa. The word written across my heart at ten. I’m not living there, but I’ve traveled to the continent of my dreams twice and fallen in love with its people. I also was asked to write English curriculum for orphanages now using my lessons in ten Rafiki Training Villages throughout Africa.

My point? My dreams at 18 look very different from the reality of my today. But my dreams are still there—changed, honed, perfected.

The art of stain-glass mesmerizes me. Each piece of glass broken and snapped in two, to fit just right. To fit perfectly into the greater masterpiece of our lives being created by the hands of the Master Artist.

It’s painful, often doesn’t make sense up close. But when we step back and look at the work of our lives as a whole, we see the beautiful portrait we are. Even if those lives look nothing like the dreams of our childhood.

Because in the end? What we really dream of is a beautiful life.

And my 18-year-old self? She’d be smiling today.

She is smiling today.

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