Christian

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For the first time in about a decade, my niece, Lindsay Moore and her sister, Jessi Sawdon live close enough to each other to get together often. Lindsay has lived in a number of different places over the years, Brookings, South Dakota; Miami Florida; Greenville, North Carolina; and now Laramie, Wyoming. Her husband, Shannon Moore is a football coach and is currently the Tight Ends / Fullbacks Coach University of Wyoming. Jessi’s husband, Jason Sawdon has had a long and successful career with the Wyoming Highway Patrol and was recently promotion to Sergeant of Equipment and Technology, as the next step in his decorated career. The promotion came with a move to Cheyenne, Wyoming. That was sad for all of us, but it put the girls about 45 minutes from each other and made frequent visits possible. In fact, the visits feel like popping over to a friend’s house. Their play dates are as much for Lindsay and Jessie as they are for their daughters, Adelaide Sawdon and Mackenzie Moore. Jessie tells me that she finds Lindsay to be very funny, and that it is so much fun to “mom” with her. Lindsay loves the kids, hers as well as her nieces and nephew. Sometimes she decides to take the kids for a day or even a week, and they all have a wonderful time.

Lindsay is such a faithful daughter of God, and she is developing into quite the inspirational speaker too. She has spoken at two Women’s Conferences at her church, and everyone has learned so much from her…especially her own family. They have come to really rely on her if they need encouragement. Lindsay has been really digging deeper in the The Word this year, and she is really starting to see the vision that the Lord has in her life. Jessi tells me that “it’s so exciting and fun as an outsider to see that relationship in action.” As a family of Christians (Lindsay and Jessi’s as well as our whole family) watching any of our members grow more and more in the Lord is something that we all rejoice over. In fact, we all strive to grow deeper and deeper in the Lord, so it is a real joy to see it happening. Lindsay has always been a joyful person, and each new step makes her more and more joyful, and what a blessing it is to watch that growth.

Lindsay has lived far away from her family for a long time, so she knew that daily phone conversations and texting were always going to be very important. She is so good about calling all of her family and taking time from her day to make sure she knows what’s happening in their lives and to support them when needed. Lindsay is more than just a daughter or sister. She is their good friend. In fact, we could all take a lesson from her caring nature, and her continued relationship with her family. I know that her family is so thankful that she doesn’t let her busy life keep her from keeping in touch with them every day. They are all really thankful for her friendship. She’s such a good sister and friend.

Lindsay has always been “Lindsay” and that means she is herself. She is very real, and she doesn’t worry about how she might look to others. Lindsay has a lot of funny and awkward stories about interactions during the week. It’s not that they happen all the time, but that she is a just a funny storyteller, so they always seem awkward and funny. She is never afraid to be herself, even if “herself” is silly. That is an endearing quality for sure. Most of us are afraid to look silly, and while Lindsay doesn’t always “look silly,” she doesn’t mind if she does. It’s all a part of her charm. Today is Lindsay’s birthday. Happy birthday Lindsay!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

In a time of world chaos, one thing stands out…Jesus. We all need Jesus. It’s hard to believe that a sinless man would be willing to carry the sins of the world. None of us could or would do that. We would most likely fear death too much…at least at such a young age. It is believed that Jesus was about 33 years old. Most of us would feel like we had too much to live for at that age, and yet, Jesus endured the scourging, the “trial” that was nothing more than a lynch mob, and the horrible suffocating death on the cross, because He saw joy set before Him…JOY, how could that be? How could Jesus see the torture and death that was coming to Him as joy, because mankind could still come to Heaven…that was His joy.

He saw the joy of a world that could be back in right standing with God. Something we could never have achieved on our own. This world was in a seriously horrible place…even more so than the chaos we are in right now. The wages of sin is death, and we had all sinned. It was going to take the death of a man to pay for the sins of the world, but that man had to be sin-free. In the beginning, a sinless man sinned, thereby giving away his birthright of eternal life. So that meant either all mankind had to die and go to Hell, or a sinless man had to die to pay the price for all of us. Enter Jesus, and thank God He was willing to pay that price for us.

That was what Jesus did for us when He went to the cross on Good Friday. I don’t know if many of you really know what scourging is, but let me tell you. The Romans were famous for their horrific types of torture. The “whip” they used to beat (scourge) Jesus usually had nails or pieces of metal or glass attached to them. The purpose of these things being attached to the whips tails was to rip the flesh off of the victim. By the time they were done, internal organs were often visible. Then they took Jesus, after making Him carry His own cross, and nailed Him to that cross. The way they nailed Him to the cross meant that He had to push up with His feet to be able to get air into His lungs. The more tired the victim became, the less they would be able to raise themselves up so they could breathe. It was a matter of slow suffocation. That was what Jesus endured to give us the opportunity to have eternal life again. Nevertheless, it was and is still our choice. I just can’t imagine how anyone could choose not to receive that totally free gift of God. I know I will not refuse that gift.

After being in the grave for three days, Jesus arose from the dead triumphant with the victory, and the keys to the kingdom, which He gave back to us. We can have it all…because He lives. He is risen!! He is alive!! And because Jesus lives, I can face tomorrow, no matter how ugly this world looks today. Victory is mine!! Heaven belongs to me!! I am free, because Jesus paid the price for me…and for you too…should you choose to receive. Praise God…Jesus is risen!! Happy Resurrection Day everyone!!

People are free to call it whatever they want to, but I prefer to follow the Biblical version, in which Joseph was warned in a dream, to move his son, Jesus to Egypt, because the Pharaoh was looking for Him so he could kill Him. Joseph heeded the warning. and the family moved immediately…like in the middle of the night, while those who were a danger to him were sleeping. Thankfully Joseph heeded that dream. Just imagine our world if he had not.

There have been other people who have had dream warnings, or prophetic dreams, whether a warning or a great blessing that was coming their way. I believe that our dreams can be a matter of God talking to us. President Abraham Lincoln was one of those people who had a prophetic dream, and it has been well documented through the years, for those of us who have chosen to listen. President Lincoln had his dream on April 4, 1865, and the dream was so troubling that he actually told it to a number of people including his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln and his former law partner, Ward Hill Lamon on April 11, 1865.

According to Lamon’s recollection, President Abraham Lincoln dreams on this night in 1865 “of ‘the subdued sobs of mourners’ and a corpse lying on a catafalque in the White House East Room.” In the dream, Lincoln asked a soldier standing guard “Who is dead in the White House?” to which the soldier replied, “the President. He was killed by an assassin.” Lincoln woke up at that point. On April 11, he told Lamon that the dream had “strangely annoyed” him ever since. Ten days after having the dream, Lincoln was shot dead by an assassin while attending the theater. Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington DC on April 14, 1865. His assassination was the only successful leg in a conspiracy that also intended on capturing or killing Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward.

Interestingly, Lincoln supposedly later insisted to Lamon that the body on display was not his own…so he, himself did not view the dream as a warning of his own death. Some historians have discounted Lamon’s account, which was first published in the 1880s, nearly 20 years after the assassination. Nevertheless, Lamon claimed to have reconstructed the incident based on notes he made in 1865. I suppose the historians believe that since neither he nor Mary Lincoln mentioned the dream right after the president’s murder, it must not have been true. I believe that it was true, and that they were in such shock, that it never occurred to them to bring it up. Still, it is well known that Lincoln was a dreamer and was apparently quite interested in the meaning of dreams and what they have to say about future events both positive and negative. Proof of his curiosity lies in an 1863 letter to his wife, who at the time was in Philadelphia with their 10-year-old son, Tad. Lincoln writes that Mary had better “put Tad’s pistol away” as he “had an ugly dream about him.” Moreover, members of Lincoln’s cabinet recalled that, on the morning of his assassination, the president told them he’d dreamed of sailing across an unknown body of water at great speed. He also apparently revealed that he’d had the same dream repeatedly on previous occasions, before “nearly every great and important event of the War.”

The Secret Service was formed as a result of that assassination, but just imagine if they had all heeded the dream warning and placed a better guard around President Lincoln. If those he told of the dream, had considered the possibility of missing the play, or posted guards around the president, how different could have been the outcome. The world will never know, because one of our greatest presidents was gone before he could finish his second term in office. Lincoln was a very popular president. In his run against Democrat, George B McClellan, Lincoln carried all but three states (Kentucky, New Jersey, and Delaware), and won 55 percent of the vote. He won 212 electoral votes to McClellan’s 21, which goes to show that most of the people approved of his anti-slavery policies, as opposed to the Democrats, who wanted to keep slavery, and who fought against the slaves and minority races…and still do, even to this day.

While there were those who thought it wasteful to build the lavish Temppeliaukio Church, a Lutheran church in the Toolo neighborhood of Helsinki, Finland. Before the construction of the church was even fully complete it made headlines when on the nights of July 16 and 17, 1968 a group of Christian students painted in large letters “BIAFRA” in several places on the exterior walls of the building to bring attention to the famine then going on in Biafra, which had declared independence from Nigeria in 1967. The students, part of the 1960s student revolutionary movement, thought they were doing a service to the people of Biafra, but they were simply young and naive, and they didn’t know that one thing had nothing to do with the other, because were the funds not used in the church, they would have been used for something else. Building the church or not building the church would make no difference for the people of Biafra.

The Temppeliaukio Church was designed by architects and brothers Timo and Tuomo Suomalainen and opened in 1969. It was uniquely built directly into solid rock. It is known as the “Church of the Rock” and “Rock Church.” Plans for the Temppeliaukio/Tempelplatsen (Temple square) began as early as the 1930s when a plot of land was selected for the building. It was decided to hold a competition for the design of the church. The plan by JS Siren, who was the winner of the second competition to design the architecture of the church, was interrupted in its early stages when World War II began in 1939. After the war, that design was scrapped and there was another architectural competition. That competition was won by Timo Suomalainen and Tuomo Suomalainen in 1961. Even that plan had to be somewhat changed when, for economic reasons, it was scaled back, and the interior space of the church was reduced to about one-quarter of its original plan. I suppose that when you think about it, cutting a church into solid rock would be a complicated and costly operation. The long-awaited Construction finally began in February 1968, and the rock-temple was completed for consecration in September 1969.

As planned, the interior was carved out of solid rock. It is beautifully bathed in natural light which enters through the skylight surrounding the center copper dome. Strangely, the church reminds me of a spaceship, a little bit anyway, but I find it to be beautiful and quite peaceful too. The church is used frequently as a concert venue due to its excellent natural acoustics. The acoustic quality is created by the rough, virtually unworked rock surfaces. The iconic rock walls were not included in the original competition entry, even though the Suomalainen brothers had considered the idea, because they believed that it was too radical for the competition jury. I suppose thy wondered if it would be looked at as sacrilegious or maybe too backward to be beautiful… how very wrong they were about that. But when conductor Paavo Berglund shared his knowledge of acoustics from some of the best music halls and the acoustical engineer Mauri Parjo gave requirements for the wall surfaces, the Suomalainen brothers discovered that they could fulfill all the requirements for the acoustics by leaving the rock walls exposed in the Church Hall. It was also a financial savings both then and, in the future, as it eliminated the need to paint the interior.

Today, the Temppeliaukio church is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, with half a million people visiting it annually. The stone-hewn church is located in the heart of Helsinki, giving people easy access to its beauty and solace. Maintaining the original character of the square is the fundamental concept behind the building. The idiosyncratic choice of form has made it a favorite with professionals and aficionados of architecture. I can imagine that many of them come to see it simply to admire the perfection of this almost artistic masterpiece. The church furnishings were designed by the architects. Organ builder Veikko Virtanen manufactured the church organ, which has 43 stops and 3001 pipes. In an unusual anomaly, there are no bells at the church. Instead, a recording of bells composed by Taneli Kuusisto is played via loudspeakers on the exterior wall calls parishioners to the services.

My sister-in-law, Rachel Schulenberg was just about 4 months older than my oldest daughter, Corrie, so she was like a sister-in-law and a daughter too. The things she liked were similar to things my daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce liked. It makes sense that it would be that way, because my brother-in-law, Ron Schulenberg was just 7 years old when my husband, Bob and I got married. They were in the generation of our kids. I guess that is part of what makes it so hard to believe that Rachel has been living in Heaven for a little over a year now. She was just too young to have a fatal stroke. It just shouldn’t happen that way.

Rachel was good friends with my nieces, Machelle Moore and Susan Griffith, and it was through them that she was introduced to their Uncle Ron. It was a match made in Heaven, and they were married over 11 years when she passed away. They were so happy, and I know their marriage would have continued well into their golden years if she hadn’t left us too soon. Besides Ron, Rachel also left behind daughter, Cassie Franklin and her children Lucas and Zoey; son, Riley Birky his fiancée, Sierah Martin, her son, Jace and their little baby that is coming in this August; and Tucker Schulenberg, her youngest, who was adopted by Ron in 2019, so she knew he would be ok. Rachel was a wonderful mother and grandmother, who loved her children and grandchildren so much, and the perfect wife for Ron…his soulmate.

Rachel was a vibrant person, who loved the Lord. She had worked in the office of her church in Powell, Wyoming before she married my brother-in-law, and moved to Casper. She loved telling people about Jesus and seeing people get saved. She wanted to make sure that everyone she could win for the Lord, she did win for the Lord. Rachel was quick to pray for anyone who needed prayer, even if they didn’t ask her for prayer, she prayer for them. There are many people out there who have received answered prayer because of Rachel…I have no doubt. Rachel was a wonderful person, Christian, and friend to many people, and she has been greatly missed by all of us over the past year. Today would have been Rachel’s 47th birthday. Happy birthday in Heaven, Rachel. We love and miss you very much.

The word knight always makes me think of medieval men in full armor fighting with shields and swords, and maybe that isn’t so far off with the Knights Templar. One thing I didn’t connect to the knights, was Christianity, but maybe I should have. The medieval knights are a little outside my wheelhouse, but I have had an interest in them for a while now, and the Knights Templar are at the top of my list. So, I decided to have a look at exactly what they are, beginning with the Knights Templar.

After Christian armies captured Jerusalem from Muslim control in 1099 during the Crusades, groups of pilgrims from across Western Europe started visiting the Holy Land. As they traveled, many of them were robbed and killed crossing through Muslim-controlled territories during their journey. A French knight named Hugues de Payens created a military order along with eight relatives and acquaintances, calling it the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon. Later known simply as the Knights Templar (Knights of the Temple), it was founded in 1118 in Jerusalem, and was a large organization of devout Christians who carried out an important mission: to protect European travelers visiting sites in the Holy Land. The first headquarters of the Knights Templar was located on the site of the Temple of Solomon, and it was to this temple that the organization was dedicated and where it got its name.

Initially, the Knights Templar faced criticism from some religious leaders. There are always those who think the church and any kind of government or military group should not mix, but in 1129, the group received the formal endorsement of the Catholic Church and support from Bernard of Clairvaux, a prominent French abbot. Bernard authored “In Praise of the New Knighthood,” a text that supported the Knights Templar and bolstered their growth. In 1139, Pope Innocent II issued a Papal Bull that allowed the Knights Templar special rights. Among them, the Templars were exempt from paying taxes, permitted to build their own oratories and were held to no one’s authority except the Pope’s.

The Knights Templar quickly set up a network of banks and gained enormous financial influence, with an ability to quickly fund their work. Their banking system allowed religious pilgrims to deposit assets in their home countries and withdraw funds in the Holy Land. The order became known for its austere code of conduct (which included no pointy shoes and no kissing their mothers, rules outlined in “The Rule of the Templars”) and signature style of dress, which featured a white habit emblazoned with a simple red cross. Members swore an oath of poverty, chastity and obedience. They weren’t allowed to drink, gamble or swear. Prayer was essential to their daily life, and the Templars expressed particular adoration for the Virgin Mary.

New chapters of the Knights Templar were established throughout Western Europe as the group grew in size and status. At the height of their influence, the Templars had a sizable fleet of ships, and they owned the Mediterranean island of Cyprus. They served as a primary bank and lending institution to European monarchs and nobles. Though its original purpose was to protect Christiam pilgrims from danger, the Knights Templar later expanded its duties. They became defenders of the Crusader states in the Holy Land and were known as brave, highly skilled warriors. The group developed a reputation as fierce fighters during the Crusades. They were driven by religious zeal and forbidden from retreating unless significantly outnumbered, and I doubt if they would even then. The Templars built numerous castles. They fought, and often won, battles against Islamic armies. Their fearless style of fighting became a model for other military orders. They were quite the group.

My grandnephew, Jake Harman is totally a character. To call him a goofball is an understatement. Jake and his wife, Melanie have three children…Alice, Izabella, and Jaxx. I rather think that Melanie has four children, however, because as anyone who knows Jake will tell you…he is just a big kid!! When it comes to rough housing, Jake is the ringleader, and all the kids follow suit. It may look to the outsider, like Jake is attacking his kids, and that they are terrified of him, but don’t you believe it, because they know that their daddy is a big teddy bear. I truly don’t think I have ever seen Jake happier than when he is with his family. He is a great husband and dad. He is blessed with a wonderful family, and they are blessed with him.

Jake has been a transit bus driver for the City of Casper for a while now and loves his job. Jake is the kind of guy who likes to stay busy. He doesn’t really like sitting still. and that’s a good thing, because while he sits driving the bus, he is always going from place to place. Jake is, first and foremost, a Christian, and while he can’t bring it up, he is able to spread the word of Jesus (when a customer brings it up) and he absolutely loves being able to talk about Christ with others.

Jake and Melanie participate in an organization called Christ-Like Neighbors, in which they go help out anyone in need in any way they we can. Sometimes it’s snow removal or lawn mowing. Other times its cleaning or grocery shopping. These are people who really don’t have the ability to do the work that they need to have done, so they really appreciate what the Christ-Like Neighbors does for them. Jake and Melanie have a heart for those in need, and I think it is so wonderful of them. Of course, like most volunteers, Jake and Melanie feel that their reward is the smiling faces of those they have helped. Today is Jake’s birthday. Happy birthday Jake!! Have a geat day!! We love you!!

My niece, Jenny Spethman is my sister, Cheryl Masterson’s youngest child, and sometimes it’s still hard for me to believe that she is all grown up and a mother of 5 children, one of whom is graduating from high school this year. Jenny seems to take family life so much in stride. Oh, I know there are kid struggles, as there are in any family, but all in all Jenny and her husband, Steve Spethman have been very successful, and they have raised wonderful kids.

As I think about Jenny, I find myself with the same thoughts over and over…a love of God, humbleness, and kindness. Those are things not everyone can have said about them. Jenny is one of those people who absolutely ooze those things. She doesn’t put on airs or act conceited. Those traits live strongly in her heart, and as the Bible says, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45. That is very true of Jenny. I don’t think I have ever heard her speak an unkind word to or about anyone. It just really isn’t in her.

These days, Jenny works part-time at the law firm where her mom, works, and everyone there absolutely loves her. Jenny could go full time, and in fact they have offered that to her. Of course, that would mean being in an office all day, and not the “runner” she is now, but Jenny likes being the runner. She runs errands that need done for the office, such as taking legal documents to the courthouse, going to the post office, and anything else they need someone to do outside the office. She also helps out at the reception desk for lunch and breaks for the receptionist. By running their errands, Jenny has developed a great relationship with everyone in the office, and they dearly love her. It’s not that Jenny and Steve need the money anyway, it’s just what Jenny calls “Mad Money” and that is all she wants it to be. Jenny and Steve love to entertain, and she is definitely a fashionista with a flair for the unusual, ina a way that the rest of us are just a bit jealous of. With her “mad money” job, they have the extra money to do all the fun stuff they want to do. Today is Jenny’s birthday. Happy birthday Jenny!! Have a great day!! We love you!!

Sometimes, all it takes to make a hero is to be at the right place at the right time. Most of the time, these “right place right time” moments are truly just miracles…they couldn’t be anything else. There is simply no other way that many people could be in the right place at the right time. It was miraculously orchestrated by God, and because it was, people’s lives were saved. No one will ever make me think differently about it, because twice, I was there in these situations.

In 2003, a sixty-seven-year-old woman named Dorothy Fletcher had a heart attack on a flight to Orlando, Florida. A heart attack in any situation is bad news, but on a flight with limited medical supplies and even fewer medical staff. Immediately following Fletcher’s heart attack, the attendant, as often happens, asked if there was a doctor on board. In a medical emergency, like a heart attack, any doctor is better than no doctor, but what she got was so much more than what she expected. In response to her anxious inquiry for a doctor, 15 cardiologists stood up. Not just doctors…cardiologists, and not just one, 15!! How could this happen? Well, as it turns out, Fletcher has her heart attack on the perfect flight. The 15 cardiologists were on their way to a cardiac conference. Totally a God thing!! Needless to say, she survived.

Heart attacks are scary no matter where you are, and when an emergency happens, things move very fast. On Sunday afternoon, October 14, 2018, in the Walmart parking lot on the east side of Casper, Wyoming at 4:45pm, I faced my own emergency when my husband Bob Schulenberg had a heart attack in the Walmart parking lot. Before I even knew that my husband was down behind the car, a man who watched him fall was with him. By the time I got to him a cardiac care nurse was treating him. Almost instantly, a transport worker from the hospital who also knew CPR assisted, and then another cardiac care nurse showed up. The first man on scene had called for an ambulance, and with that came the firemen, most of whom my husband, as their mechanic for a number of yeas knew. Within two hours, my husband was recovering from the Widowmaker heart attack. People can say what they want, but without God’s orchestration, my husband would not have had all those people there and every procedure in lace to save his life. Everyone was in a place they normally weren’t, and none of them knew why. Even the heart cath team was at the hospital when they normally wouldn’t have been at that time.

My own emergency, fell into place in much the same way. When I was on a hike in the mountains, I slipped and fell…breaking my shoulder. We were ¾ mile from the end of the trail and the car. So, what is the miracle here? Well, there is one. When I fell on that trail, I was with a group of people. My husband and I have hiked many trails…just the two of us. We have never had a “situation” on the trail. On this day, I was with, not only my husband, but my sister-in-law and her partner, a nurse and life flight pilot, respectively. In addition, I was with my other sister-in-law, who is an experienced caregiver, as are my husband and me. The other people with us were physical therapists. When I said that I had broken my arm (shoulder), I immediately had a medical team at my side. They quickly fashioned a sling out of a bandana and a dog leash (amazing), but when they got me stabilized, and were ready to try to get me up, two hikers came over the hilltop saying that they were CNAs and they could help get me up. Unbelievable!! Then, they gave us a sweatshirt to usa as a gait belt for stability. All those people there for me when I needed them most!! That is totally a God thing. Yes, all these people were in the right place and the right time, but you will never convince me that it was a complete accident that they were. Nope!! That was a God thing!!

Depending on who you talk to, you will hear a variety of thoughts on Christmas, from it being a pagan holiday to it being a Christian holiday, to Jesus being born in the spring…which is interesting to me, because my nephew, Barry Schulenberg celebrated his December 11th birthday on June 11 for a long time so that it wasn’t so close to Christmas…thereby spreading his gift receiving out over the year. Noe a bad idea. Really, my point is that the time of year really doesn’t matter. It is the fact that you are celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior. I don’t think He cares, one way or the other, if we have the date wrong. Birthdays are often celebrated on a day other than the actual day…and Christmas has also been celebrated on a day other than the 25th of December, due to work schedules, illness, and distance.

The point is that Christmas…on whatever day it is celebrated…is the celebrate Jesus’ birth. Our Savior, the Son of God, the Word of the Trinity, took on flesh to become a human and gave up Heaven to come to Earth to die for us, that we might live in Heaven with Him and that we can become the Righteousness of God, even here on Earth. That is the reason we celebrate Jesus, and the reason we always will. People can call Christmas whatever they want to, but those of us who serve the Lord will always know exactly why Christmas is important. They can never take that away from us.

Jesus was the greatest gift God ever gave to the world, and that is why we give gifts to this day It is to remember the greatest gift ever given, because of a love that is beyond anything we can possibly imagine. If you want to really understand the love of your Heavenly, remember how much your parents love you, and then multiply it by infinity. That is the love of God. The Bible says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting Life.” God is Love, and He gave His Son for us. Praise God, Happy birthday Jesus, and Merry Christmas to all of you.

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