Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Have you ever wondered, “God, where are You?”

I mean, we learn as a small child in Sunday School that God is everywhere – but have you ever tilted your head back and asked the God of the Universe, “Where are You?”

I know I have...specifically after my fiance David was killed. You may be familiar with that part of my journey ~ on December 10, 1998 (5 months before our wedding date and 2 weeks before Christmas), David Timmer, my fiance and best friend, was tragically killed in a freak workplace accident.

Two weeks later, on a cloudy, dark Thursday morning, there I was, outside trying to shovel my driveway. The snow was up to my waist or higher, or so it seemed, and my little blue car wasn't going anywhere until I shoveled out a path. Jake, who was in preschool at the time, was bitter cold. (You know how it is with kids, it’s fun for like three minutes and then they’re just frozen to the core and ready to be done). As I was shoveling, I found myself asking the question- “God, where are you?”

Although actually, I think it went more like this- “OK God, where are you?! You say You’ll never leave me, but where are You now?! This is a lot of snow, God. How in the world am I supposed to shovel this all by myself? I thought I wasn't going to have to be a single mom anymore. Why did you have to take David home??!! This isn’t fair, God! This just isn’t fair! I mean, look at Jake. He's freezing ~ he has icicles hanging off of his eyelashes for crying out loud. I’m all alone, I can’t even get my car out of the driveway - God, where are You??”

I even lifted my shovel in anger and shook it at the Lord that day...

Just then, a car stopped in front of my house, and a young college kid hopped out.

“Hey lady,” he called, “this looks like a pretty big driveway for you and your son. Go on in the house and let me take care of it for you.”

Tears just poured down my face as I tried to speak the words, “Thank you, thank you, thank you”.

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the Israelites (and us) of God’s promise to never leave us nor forsake us. The next time life circumstances cause YOU to wonder “God, where are you?..., ” ~ Go ahead and ask Him, He might be closer than you think. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Our Friend Margo

A few years ago, our family decided we’d have lunch at Wendy’s every Sunday after church. After a few weeks, we noticed the same woman worked the drive thru every Sunday. Now it wasn’t hard for us to pick up on this – this woman – who we now know is named Margo – had a deep smokers voice, glasses that she wore down her nose, and a front gold tooth. Not to mention she was easily confused and a little bit grumpy. OK, so maybe a lot grumpy. In fact, some of my family members (I won’t name names) started to call her Grumpy. As we’d pull up to the drive thru, they’d say, “Oh no – look who’s working today”. So I said, “What if we started to pray for her??” The family’s response was something like, “Ugghhh” – but we all agreed to pray for Margo, and pray that God would use us to show her what He is like.

Soon we started dining inside of Wendy’s each Sunday – and Margo started coming over to our booth to visit with us. We started to become friends. In fact, I can remember the first time we weren’t going to be there the next week (John and I were going away to Mackinac Island) and Margo said, “Be sure to bring me pictures”. Sure enough, the next Sunday – Mother’s Day – we went to Wendy’s for lunch so we could visit with Margo and show her our pictures.

Somehow, one Sunday, in one of our conversations, we mentioned the gym we belong to. She said, “Oh man, that one with all the pools and that huge water slide. I’ve dreamed about going swimming there.” So the next week, we brought in a week’s membership pass for Margo, and invited her to spend the day at the pool with us. What a blast that was – listening to Margo on the phone calling her sister saying, “Girlfriend, you’ll never guess where I am” – and watching her go down the water slide – screaming like a school girl – enjoying every bit of it – not a grumpy bone in sight.

You know, it was such a blessing to watch my family love on Margo – make pictures for her, laugh with her, do life with her. Our friends started coming to Wendy’s with us after church – and they would love on Margo too. My guess is that she probably started receiving more hugs at Wendy’s than she’s ever had in her whole life. We learned of some of Margo’s financial needs and asked our community of friends if they would like to bless her. Anonymously Margo started receiving gas gift cards, and grocery gift cards to help fill in that financial gap. When Margo’s car broke down and she needed a ride home – she called us – we were her new family.

One night I was having a home party, and the Spirit of God said, “invite Margo”. I’ll be honest – I wrestled with that one. "God, it's one thing to go visit her or give her a ride, but to invite her into my home, with all my friends..." I was soon convicted of my pride – and that night, at my home, one of my dear friends led Margo to the Lord and she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior.

It was so fun to watch God work in Margo’s life. She began attending church with us. I was asked to lead a children’s Bible club each Tuesday morning. I knew I was supposed to take the job – and someone else was to join me. You know who, right? Margo! Each Tuesday morning , my girls and I would pick up Margo, and she would go help at the Bible Club with us. Margo was making $10 an hour to learn basic Bible Truths and sing fun Bible songs. Isn’t God awesome?? I’ll never forget one of our crafts – On a sheet of paper I typed "God Loves Me" at the bottom, and then I took a photo of each of the kids, had them glue it on, and then decorate it. Margo, of course, as one of the helpers, had to make one too. She was so proud of her craft – and for the next few months – every time I went to Margo’s – there it hung proudly on her refrigerator. God loves Margo.

You know, life can be hard – and this is definitely true for Margo. Our paths don’t cross like they used to – unfortunately she was let go from Wendy’s, and has had a hard time finding steady employment ever since. I did run into her just a few months ago in the produce section at Meijers, of all places. What a blessing to be the arms and mouthpiece of God – give her a big hug - and remind her of that simple truth that God loves her so very much, and we do too.

What a gift to know that God chose our family, my small group, and my dear friend that led Margo to the Lord – that God chose us and gave us a very important job to do – in the midst of just living our everyday life - to show his dearly loved child Margo what He is like.

Let's pray: Dear God, Thank You for chosing us to reflect You…Your love, Your kindness, Your goodness…to this lost and hurting world. Please give us the eyes to see those all around us who could use a touch from You. Use us, O Lord, to advance Your Kingdom, one precious person at a time. In Jesus' Powerful Name Amen

P.S. Margo has given me permission to share her story. We love you, Margo!! :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I'm tired today. Exhausted. Overwhelmed with all of the school notes and phone calls to return and bills to pay. Spring hockey starts tonight, t-ball this weekend, I have physical forms to fill out (does anyone know when Jake's last TB shot was??), dance recital papers to read and sign, field trip $$ to send in, and someone just called to see if I could bring in 2 dozen cookies for tomorrow's Spring Program. I have hot lunch duty today at the high school and recess duty at the Elementary school. My hair is too long, my nail polish is chipped and I've worn these jeans one too many days in a row. My life feels cluttered and disorganized and in need of an intervention!!! Anyone else?? :)

And so I turn to God's Word (don't worry...I am reading God's Word with a venti Starbucks latte in my hand). I love Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified Bible which reads…

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me – I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me…

That's what I need today ~ an infusion of His inner strength into me! I picture myself in my comfy purple chair with my arms stretched out, palms facing upward, and an IV of His strength slowly dripping right into me. And I pray....

Infuse me with Your STRENGTH, O Lord..., and I think about how STRONG and MIGHTY He is...

Infuse me with Your PEACE..., and I reflect on His peace, His perfect peace, that surpasses all understanding...

Infuse me with Your PATIENCE, O God..., and I think about how patient He has been with me. May I extend that same patience to my kids (and my dog!) today!

Infuse me with Your GRACE..., and I am overwhelmed as I ponder His amazing grace. His grace that saved a wretch like me. May my life (and my thoughts and actions) reflect His grace to all who encounter me today.

Let's be honest. My circumstances have not changed. I'm still tired. My desk is still cluttered and now I'm late for recess duty! But by asking God for an infusion of His strength, peace, patience, and grace ~ I can now leave the house equipped and empowered by the One True God to face any and all circumstances that life will throw at me today. Bring it on!

What about for you?? Could you use an infusion today? An infusion of God's strength? His patience? An extra dose of His peace? May I encourage you to sit back, relax and allow God to infuse you with everything that you need to face the circumstances that come your way.

Let's pray: Dear God, Please forgive us for trying to meet the challenges of our day in our own strength. Thank You for the promise that You will equip and empower us with everything that we need for victorious living. Please infuse us with Your Strength and Grace so that we might reflect You to our friends, family, neighbors, and this lost and hurting world. We love You! In Jesus Name. Amen :)

Friday, April 17, 2009


What a blessed week it has been! Our family is healthy and well, spring is in the air, our life is free from crisis this week, and my house is clean (for the most part!). Life is good! :)

The kick-off to the Monday night Bible Study was so much fun! The church hosting our Bible Study had pre-purchased 40 books, and we sold them all (and need to order more)! The women were excited and God's presence was definitely with us! I can't wait to see what the Lord will do in and through this group over the next 5 weeks! :)

Tuesday morning I had the opportunity to share at Sunshine Church's MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) gathering. What fun!! I knew it was going to be a great time when I first saw the room ~ it was bright and colorful and full of life! The moms were warm and caring and my heart quickly connected with theirs! I love following God and going wherever He leads (although it is almost always out of my comfort zone) and then watching Him work in powerful ways!

In my message on Tuesday morning, I shared 7 things that I believe we need as moms to not just "survive" motherhood, but to really "thrive" in the role God has called us to. Whenever I share this message, there is one part in particular that seems to especially connect with the women ~ discovering (or rediscovering) what brings us JOY.

In my own journey, there is a definite season in my mothering journey that I lost my joy. When my youngest (Sarah) was born in 2004, I felt called to leave my full-time ministry job to be a full-time mom. I knew this was what God was calling me to do, and looked forward to the challenge. However, once I was home full-time, I felt completely overwhelmed and inadequate. My kids were ages 6 months, 1, 2 and 10. (So, yes, we had 3 in diapers!). It was exhausting and lonely. Most of my friends stopped calling. (Not as much fun to "do lunch" when Cindy has 4 kids with her). I was scared to go anywhere by myself with so many kids. I watched my neighbor go blueberry picking and apple picking with her family, and then spend the day making fresh pies. Her son refused to eat my mac and cheese because it wasn't homemade. I felt like such a loser mom. Another friend was out of the house each day by 8:00 AM and would go to the park and the beach and always had fresh, healthy snacks for her kids. My kids were addicted to apple juice and ate sugary fruit snacks. I thought maybe I should go back to work ~ maybe I wasn't cut out to be a stay at home mom. I felt so alone. My counselor at the time said, "Well Cindy, it sounds like you're going through a desert experience." Really? You think?? I just paid you $10o to tell me that?! I had completely lost my joy.

And then a dear friend shared with me advice that had been passed on to her. She said, "Cindy, you need to parent within your personality". My personality?? I didn't even know who I was anymore. I was just in survival mode ~ trying to make it through the day without crying and whining (the kids, not me) and have a half-way healthy meal on the table for supper. A shower for me made the day a celebration. Parent within my personality? Who was I? What brought me joy???? I didn't even know anymore.

So I started to make a list. For me, I love people and parties and celebrations. I love loud fun music, and adventures, and doing things in "themes". I enjoy friends and serving others and most importantly, I am passionate about teaching and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and His great love for us all.

Soon I started to incorporate those things into my days. We had "Terrific Tuesdays" and "Wacky Wednesdays" and "Super Saturdays". We would invite friends over for a pink princess party, or have a luau in our driveway, or have scavenger hunts throughout our house to find mini pots of gold. We sang fun, loud Bible songs and went for prayer walks and put flowers on our loved ones doorsteps (and then rang the door bell and ran away)! We had a ball! :) My JOY was back! :)

Now please know, just like I'm not cut out to bake all day or can fresh vegetables, you may think I sound like a weirdo because I love colorful, plastic table cloths. Or that I love to have indoor picnics complete with plastic ants. That's ok. The key is to find out who God created YOU to be ~ and then be THAT person! Live a full life being the man/woman God created YOU to be. Discover what brings YOU joy and then parent within YOUR unique, God-given personality. Your family (and the Kingdom) desperately needs you to be YOU!!! :)

What brings you JOY? What are the things you love to do?? What family activities are most fun for you? Or if you could plan a day full of JOY ~ what would that day look like?? I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!!

Let's pray: Dear God, THANK YOU for creating each one of us unique and special and full of gifts to build Your Kingdom. Please remind us who You desire us to be ~ and help us to silence all of the voices and the "shoulds" around us. Thank You for the promise of LIFE to the FULL in Your Name. Thank You for the gift of JOY!! May our lives reflect the freedom and fullness and JOY of following You!! In Jesus Name. Amen :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

"H" verse

If you are following along with our Scripture Memory "ABC" style, here is the "H" verse. :)

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

Even if you've not been memorizing the verses with us "ABC" style, may I challenge you to memorize this verse! Put it on a note card, on your bath room mirror, in your car, anywhere else you might see this verse and reflect on it during the day. As you commit this verse to memory, please let the Truth sink in. You, dear one, are LAVISHLY LOVED by your Heavenly Father.

Regardless of what you've done.

Regardless of where you've been.

Regardless of how you feel.

Regardless of what they said to you.

God LOVES you.

He loves you and calls you His very own child! Just the way that you are!


Let's pray: Dear God, THANK YOU for your lavish, unconditional love! Help us to live our lives as your dearly loved children. For anyone who feels unloved, insignificant, or not good enough ~ would you please remove those lies and fill their heart and mind with Truth!! And Lord, as we receive and live out of the lavish love You have for us, may we love those around us well.
For Your Glory alone. Amen :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Wide Awake

Yesterday I had the chance to really start to recharge after last week's adventures! All of my 4 kiddos were either busy at a camp or grandmas or in Georgia, so I had the whole morning by myself! Ahhh! Just what I needed! I found the closest bookstore, and spent 3 and a half glorious hours studying, praying, reading, and feeding my weary soul!!

One of the books I picked up while I was at the bookstore was "Wide Awake" by Erwin McManus. Whereas I don't always totally agree with everything Erwin teaches, I recently heard him talk about his new book and wanted to look at it more closely. Once I started reading "Wide Awake", I had a hard time putting it down. It got me all fired up and even more excited about living "wide awake"!

In his book, Erwin challenges us to put an end to all the "sleepwalking and settling", and reminds us that each one of us was created by God for a reason. That God has called us to live as Jesus did-a heroic life, void of monotony, teeming with danger, adventure, and the unknown. Living "wide awake" is about realizing that the world desperately needs us to live up to our God-given potential. Erwin shares...

"We need to live wide awake because there are
diseases killing millions and we need to find a cure,
famines leaving multitudes starving and we need to provide food,
economies leaving families homeless and we need to create opportunities for work and wealth,
genocide that must be stopped,
slavery that must be ended,
water wells that must be dug,
children who need to be loved,
relationships that need to be healed,
elderly who need to be cared for,
beauty that needs to be created,
futures that need to be saved, and
dreams that we must not let die or go unfulfilled.."

Sign me up! I WANT TO LIVE "WIDE AWAKE"! I don't want my life to be so focused on me or my comfort or what's for dinner or what's on sale at CVS or whether I'm a size 8 or a 10 or, for crying out loud, what size Jessica Simpson is this week. How easily I can get distracted from what really matters. What matters to God. What is important to Him and to His heart.

Let's live our lives Wide Awake! Let's ask God to use us to make a difference in this lost and hurting world. To reflect His goodness and His grace wherever He might have us...whether it's at Taco Bell, or in an office, or on a missions trip, or in our own neighborhood. Let's live our lives Wide Awake and look for those divine opportunities to be His hands and His feet. Let's live our lives looking for a child that needs love, a friend that needs a hug or an encouraging word, a co-worker that could use a listening ear. Let's live our lives Wide Awake ~ and allow Him to do immeasurably more in and through us than we could even ask or imagine. There is a future that needs to be created, and it is waiting for us all to wake up and get out of bed. The alarm has sounded, and it is time to shake off the slumber. It's time to live, to create, to imagine, to dream . . . Wide Awake. Anyone with me???

Monday, April 6, 2009

What'd you say, God??

A few years ago (when Amanda was not quite 3), she and I were at the local grocery store together. I was focused, carefully following our grocery list, while my little Amanda sat in the front of the cart, legs dangling out, soaking in all of the sights, smells, and sounds of the large store. As we turned down the cereal aisle, an employee began talking over the loud speaker (although to us it sounded more like mumble mumble). Amanda tipped her head back, nose straight up to the ceiling, and responded, "What'd ya say, God??" :)

What about you?? Have you heard from God lately?? :) Do you recognize Him when He is speaking to you? Would you like to learn how to discern the voice of God more clearly in your life??? I know I sure would!! :)

Starting next Monday, April 13th, my dear friend Julie and I will start a new 5 week teaching series at Sunshine Church. We'll be going through Priscilla Shirer's Bible study, "Discerning the Voice of God". We'd love to have you join us! We meet from 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM ~ and during that time I'll do some large group teaching, plus there will be small group time, interactive activities, and more! You won't want to miss it!! All women are welcome ~ whether you are young, old, a Sunshine attendee or never been to Sunshine...whether you are a brand new Christian, have been serving God your whole life, or still trying to figure this "Jesus" thing out ~ you are welcome!!

Here is your official inviation :) ~

Who: You! And a friend too!

When: Monday, April 13th - Monday, May 11th
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Where: Sunshine Church ~ 3300 East Beltline NE, Grand Rapids, 49525
(in the Sunshine Room ~ through the front main doors and to the right)

RSVP: Please! :) Please leave me a comment or send me an e-mail at

We will have the study guides available on Monday evening ($14).

We would love to have you join us!!! If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact me! See you on Monday night!!! This will be fun! :)

Let's pray: Dear God, we are excited to see what You are up to as we begin a new series on Monday nights. Lord, please hand pick the women You would like to come. Please remove any distractions or obstacles or anything that might get in the way of your precious ones attending. Lord, teach us more about Who you are and how to hear Your voice more clearly. We want to know You more!!! In the Strong Name of Jesus I pray.....Amen!!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Our God is a God of Miracles :)

First, true confession case you're wondering how many Starbucks decaf skinny vanilla lattes I had during my crisis week, the correct answer would be.....three. (If you're wondering why I'm not drinking lattes, read here I'm sorry to disappoint you if you thought I'd stay strong and keep away from Starbucks. I did fine until Friday, and on my last trip of the day to the hospital, I made a Starbucks run. It's not like I was trying to hide it ~ my good friend Jen noticed my latte right away, but it just felt like a nice treat at the end of a very long and emotionally challenging week. Saturday, my Amanda and I were out shopping and a latte just sounded so good after being outside for hours freezing cold at an awesome Easter egg hunt my good friend coordinated for 200 of her closest friends :) (Thanks, Natasha!). Unfortunately, John and Jake were very disappointed when I showed up with a latte in my hand. Guess Jake should learn now that his mom is very human (and there are worse choices I could make!) And then today my brother showed up with a nice hot vanilla latte for me. How could I resist?? Tomorrow is a new day, and I do want to begin afresh with my personal ban of Starbucks decaf skinny vanilla lattes. I'm so grateful for God's grace, aren't you??? What a week it has been! It's hard to believe that tomorrow will be one week since I received the phone call from Jen that changed everything. Has it only been 6 days??? John and I stopped by the hospital with our gang after church this afternoon. Tom Torresson was sitting up in his chair getting ready to eat lunch. I COULD NOT BELIEVE IT!! It's hard to put into words what the past 6 days have been like~ shocking...heartwrenching...exhausting...amazing...sacred..prayer-ful....unbelivable... Our God is such a God of miracles!!! The cardiologist shared with Tom today that he has been given a second chance at life. Wow!! To see a picture and/or read more about the miracle, visit Tom's care page at (This is shared with permission from Tom's family) I'll end with one of my favorite quotes from author Max Lucado... When men work, men work... but when men pray, God works!!!! Amen!!! We have seen God at work in POWERFUL ways this week!! To God be ALL of the GLORY!!! :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Blessed to be a Blessing

Can I start off with some personal history that I think is helpful for you to know about me?? Forgive me, but I'm going to jump right in....

10 years ago, on December 10th 1998, I received a call while I was at my parent's home ~ my fiance David had been tragically killed in a freak workplace. The night is a huge blur (as I'm sure you can imagine) ~ but what I do remember is my dear friends and my pastor rushing right over. I remember my mom's friends making coffee and bringing meals and helping with Jake (he was 4 at the time) and praying like crazy for us and just sitting and being available and handing me Kleenexes and telling me what to say and listening and just being there.

Six years ago, in December 2003, while I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with Sarah (Jake was 9, Benj was 2, Manda was 10 months) ~ John and I hit a wall physically, spiritually, and emotionally. We decided we needed some space in our marriage. That month is a blur ~ but what I do remember is a friend coordinating a schedule with meals and child care and my friends grocery shopping for me and my dad taking Jake to hockey and my mom sleeping over. I remember friends going to buy stamps for me and decorating my house for Christmas and just sitting and being available and handing me Kleenexes and bringing me Qdoba and listening and just being there.

Back to 2009...Monday afternoon I received a call from my dear friend Jen Torresson. Her husband Tom wasn't feeling well and Jen was wondering if I could come watch her kids while she followed Tom in an ambulance. I didn't think I could make it work with my kids' schedule ~ but when I hung up the phone the Spirit of God said, "GO!!!!!". My girls and I ran out of the door without shoes or coats and went as quickly as we could to the Torresson house. We watched as Tom was led out of the house on a stretcher and into an ambulance. What we now know is that Tom had a massive heart attack on the way to the hospital. He was without oxygen for at least 30 minutes. He received 30-50 shocks to his heart. Jen called me from a private waiting room (they wisked Jen into a private room once she arrived at the ER and had her wait there with a chaplain). The doctors told Jen they were trying to resusitate Tom but it wasn't working, and that she should prepare for the worst. (At this point I called my dear husband John who works near the hospital and said, "Honey, get there now ! Please!" ~ thanks honey!). Jen started calling family members (all who live out of state) and sat at the hospital in shock and disbelief.

The rest of Monday is kind of a big blur. I remember calling friends frantically to start praying, running to Jen's neighbors, nervously walking my mom through directions to Jen's home so I could rush to the hospital to be with Jen, crying out to the Lord and begging Him to breathe life into Tom quickly. Tom's men's group and other friends also quickly rushed to the hospital and we were all there to hear the cardiologist tell Jen "he wasn't sure which way it would go". Jen and I went back to see Tom in his hospital room, and I just held her as she stood over his weary, exhuasted body with a very sick heart. As the tears poured out, in my heart I begged and begged God to not take Tom from Jen, from the kids, from his family, from his friends. We needed a miracle!!

The rest of the week has gone by quickly. As friends and family, we've worked together to coordinate meals and transportation and play dates and prayer chains and care pages. We've loved on Jen, sat quietly with her, brought notes to show her a glimpse of all of the love and support she has behind her. We've read scriptures to her when she has asked, prayed over Tom, made sure she is eating and sleeping, handed her water and Kleenexes and just been there.

What have I learned this week?? So, so much, but a couple of things include....that God is in control of ALL things, that prayer works powerfully, and that the body of Christ is a beautiful thing. I've learned that there's nothing more heartwarming than watching a mom stroke her 39 year old son's hair, and that I don't ever want to be without a Bible in my purse. I've learned that friendship and community is so extremly powerful (I already knew that ~ but I witnessed it again first hand). I've learned that it is a blessing to live in Grand Rapids (home of an amazing Heart Center) and that being a part of the Kingdom of God is absolutely amazing!!

Most importantly, my faith has been strengthened 100% this week. The power of prayer is so amazing!!! I just got off of the phone with Jen. When I asked her how she was, she responded, "Fabulous!". Tom (get ready for this) heard his kids' voice and turned his head and tried to smile!! He has passed all of his neurological tests so far, and they are thinking he will go home by Wednesday. WE HAVE WITNESSED A MIRACLE!!! To God be the Glory!!!

Isn't it awesome how God can redeem pain in our own lives as we pour ourselves out for others? How God can use things that helped us in our time of pain, to now bring comfort to others? Isn't it amazing how we can all work together to be the hands and feet of Jesus ~ and watch the power of God at work! Our God is so HUGE ~ I'm almost speechless by what has taken place over the past 5 days!!

So that's what I've been up to this week! Please keep praying for the Torresson family! I can't wait to see how God will continue to use this experience for His Kingdom purposes and Glory!!!
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