Women stand up and celebrate… you are all moms

It’s Mother’s Day, and I can’t help but think about the women out there who are struggling to conceive. I am heart broken over the miscarriages and still births so many have had to suffer through. My thoughts are on all the women who have hit menopause and watched their dreams of having children disappear. I am reminded of my single girlfriends, who are in their mid-40s and are starting to wonder if they will ever be a mom.

In thinking about all of these situations, God prompted me to ponder on what it means to be a mom. God said in Genesis 9:7 ESV “And you, be fruitful and multiply, teem on the earth and multiply in it.” So being a mom means being fertile. But I am going to put it out there that maybe God wanted to us be women who nurture and mother many. So being “fertile” might not have to merely be about giving birth. I’d like to suggest that God made women to be mothers to all God’s children.

In Genesis 9:1 God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” God said this to men… not to a woman. Noah and his family cared for and nurtured every living creature during the great flood,  making sure the population on earth would not cease. So fast forward this to today and think about how this could apply to a woman who finds herself in a “waiting season” or to the woman who has past her child bearing years.

As I’ve thought about this all weekend, I’ve come to believe all of us are moms. Here are some examples of women in my life that I would qualify as a mom:

• I have a good friend who never had a child, but she deeply cares for and spends countless hours fostering and volunteering in dog rescue groups. She is an amazing mother to many animals who have been abused, abandoned and left for dead. She has saved the life of numerous animals. To me, she is mother!

• I know of a wonderful woman in my church is in her mid-40s and has never been blessed with a child. She is still standing in prayer for the desire of her heart to be fulfilled. But she is a mentor. She opens her heart giving her days to training up the next generation and helping women develop a solid relationship with God. She is a kind, patient, praying woman, and to me, she is a mother!

•  I know of amazing journalism professor who never married. She had spent her life investing in the lives of all her students. She has taught them about the real world. She prepared them for a successful future, and she nurtured the dreams of countless students who wanted to be writers and journalists. She set the bar high and instilled in her class a desire to seek excellence and always celebrated our victories with us. To me, she is a mother!

Dictionary.com defines a mother used as a noun as one’s female parent.  But as an adjective, mother is defined as being a mother; of, pertaining to, or characteristics of a mother: motherly love; bearing a relation like that of a mother, as in being the origin, source, or protector.

Proverbs 22:6 says to train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. But to me the one thing that is clear is that God never specifically said “your child”.

So if the dictionary acknowledges that someone who has never given birth can be a mom, and even more important, the Bible says to “train up a child,” but never specifically says your own biological child, it stands to reason that a women who cares for animals, children, friends, loved ones or neightbors, could indeed be deemed a mother!

So today, on this Mother’s Day, 2013, I’d like to suggest that we make this holiday about more than a woman’s fertility and celebrate all the mother’s out there that are leaving a legacy by raising up future generations. Happy Mother’s Day.  

I’m late. I’m late. I’ve passed a very important date.

I’ll admit it… I love watching animated movies. I adore the tales of good versus evil. It’s exciting to see the maiden rise up into royalty when she finds her prince. I have identified with almost all of the great animated leading ladies, but lately I’ve had most in common with Disney’s 1951 animated version of Alice in Wonderland.

For most of last week I was like the White Rabbit, who is remembered mainly for the little ditty he sang at the beginning of the movie. Frantically, the rabbit said, “I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date.” I’m guessing there are several of you trying to conceive that can relate to my song, “I’m late. I’m late. I passed a very important date.”

As the days went by anticipation began to mount. I mustered myself into a state of expectancy waiting to see a pink line on a pregnancy test. One quick visit to baby center and I calculated the due date. I was all ready planning how I would surprise my husband. Finally after three long years of trying to have a second child, we were getting our prayers answered.

In this same time frame, it seemed like several friends were announcing they were again expecting… for one it would be their sixth child. It was a flood of good news, and I was elated because I was going to finally be able to be a part of that exclusive club. You know what I am talking about… that group of women who for the next nine or so months only speaks about baby things… conversations about growing pains, doctor’s visits, and whether to breastfeed or not. I let my guard down and began to day dream that finally it would be my time to feel complete and normal instead of hollow and alone in my infertility haze.

Sadly my day dream would suddenly turn into a nightmare with the first drop of blood. I began to realize that I am now like the Mad Hatter – who is having tea with his friends the March Hare and the Dormouse. Their constant tea party never ends because to them it is always 6 pm. I can identify with how they feel trapped… waiting for something to change. For them it is the time, for me it is to stop the 28-day cycle by finally being pregnant! Every month the reset button is pushed. I am back at day one and with that comes a rush of madness waiting on a dream to come to pass.

The day before I was supposed to go to the doctor for a blood test, I start bleeding. And with that shedding comes a tidal wave of emotions. I’m up one second and way down the next. It feels like madness to me. I don’t need a hat full of mercury to feel crazy. I feel as down as the Mad Hatter put it, “I can’t go no lower, I’m on the floor as it is.”

Was I pregnant? Or was I merely just late? Honestly, I don’t even care to know because I am swimming in a whole other area of deep pain. The torture of having to try again. The pain of waiting. The agony of defeat knowing that the answer to either question above is a complete tragedy for me.

By night’s end, I am sitting on my toilet riddled in tears when I begin to sense a prompting from the Holy Spirit: A reminder that faith in God includes having faith in His timing. A verse brought to my mind is Habakkuk 2:3: “For the vision points ahead to a time I have appointed; it testifies regarding the end, and it will not lie. Even if there is a delay, wait for it. It is coming and will come without delay.”

What I do know is that I have longing to have a second child. I believe it was a desire the Lord dropped into my heart since I spent the better part of 2012 trying to “let go” and couldn’t. So here I charge again into the next month, working to quickly heal any emotional scars to be ready to try again with a whole effort and not a half heart.

I summon my strength from God’s promises by putting myself in Sarah’s shoes, who waited a long time in agony to have a child. Genesis 18:14 says “Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Sarah had her child, just as spoken.

So I will fight for my child by standing in faith just as I am instructed in Psalm 37:3-4 “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

I will shout at the mountaintops!

There is not a living soul today that is perfect. We all have problems and issues to face. There are things about us we don’t like and wish were different. Some the battle is with self control. Lots struggle with addictions, while for others it is coping with medical issues. For me personally, struggling the last five to six years to conceive and keep a child has been the greatest mountain of my life.

A mountain is any problem in your life that is keeping you from living the life God designed for you. So in my case, I am certain that God never intended for me to walk around fearful, doubtful of my future and scared I will miscarry if I ever get pregnant again.

I’m not a mountain climber, but I’ve scaled the precipice of infertility and recurrent miscarriage for far too long. I’ve climbed and climbed only to be right back at the base. Over the years I thought I was making progress only to realize I had been lost on the mass running down trails that had no end. Blaming God, welling up anger, operating out of fear and trying to control my destiny only seemed to make it seem I was climbing with a 100 pounds of weight on my back.

What I’ve learned through all this time is that it was never my job to scale the mountain. I could never have the tools needed or the experience necessary to get to the apex. The more I tried to take matters into my own hands… the more the mountain just grew larger and larger. Pressure mounted and cracks formed in my marriage but not in my mountain.

The good news is that there was someone… a great mighty man… who all ready crumbled all our mountains. He stared down the beast and claimed victory over all our problems! So I realized that instead of trying to solve my problem by figure out a way to defeat infertility and keep from losing babies, all I have to do is believe in Jesus and in what the word of God says.

So Jesus doesn’t call me to scale peaks, but He does ask me to take an active role in my destiny! When I accepted Jesus into my heart, I made a covenant vow with Him. That mean by His blood I am able to claim the authority bestowed to me and speak to the mountain!

Jesus said for us to speak to the mountain in His Name. It is our responsibility to believe that you receive when you pray. Matthew 21:21 says Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”

WOW! What a promise! It is my responsibility to speak to the mountain of infertility and miscarriage in my life. Instead of complaining about my issues, I will plead the blood of Jesus and thank Him for healing my medical issues. I can demand everything in my body to line up and function as it should. I can command that all generational curses associated with my problem be broken for me and my future daughter. I can kick out and ride any fear, doubt or jealousy by speaking out and lining up my mind with God’s will!

So here is how I will speak to my mountain:

1. I will speak to the mountain and command it to be removed! (Mark 11:23)
2. I will use the faith God has given me because faith has something to say. (2 Cor. 4:13)
3. I will guard my words and speak nothing negatic. My tongue speaks life and not death (Proverbs 18:21).
4. I will not ask or beg. I will demand God’s will to be done for what I have authority over. (Mark 16:17)
5. I will not be conflicted! I understand that I will not receive anything from God if I waver.  (James 1:6)
6. I will be a believer and not a doubter.
7. I will not waiver in my pursuit even if I do not get pregnant immediately! I will remain patient and remember that I might have to speak every day for a very long time trusting that every time I do speak, cracks are forming!
8. I will have faith ­ – remaining firm in knowing that one day… the mountain will fall! Scott and I will be blessed with a second child!

Just think of all the miracles that can happen if we all started speaking to our mountains! Will you join me in speaking to yours?

(A special thank you to Karen Pope of Heart and Soul Ministries for inspiring this blog post!)

HOPE

We desire to build upon our family. We started trying to conceive when my daughter was 5 months old. We knew it was in the hands of the Lord to bless us and within a few months, we found out we were pregnant. We miscarried, and four months after that, we lost another child. I thought surely God’s intention was to bring Averey a sibling, so I was surprised when several months went by and nothing.

I guess I’ve been wandering around in the wilderness because my daughter is now three years old, and I am still in a season of waiting. I have to be honest that this two years has not been easy at all for me or my spouse. I’ve had to press in hard to hear God’s promise. I’ve had to combat lots of attempts of the enemy to make me jealous and bitter. I’ve had to forgive my body for not working properly. I’ve had to honor my husband through the times he forgot what day it was in our cycle and seemed to not care whether or not we hit our ovulation window. But the biggest revelation I’ve had is how hard I’ve had to fight to keep HOPE alive.

The Bible says in Proverbs 23:18 NIV that there is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.

That’s great news! But the Bible also said that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. I’ve learned that there is no greater way to break a woman’s spirit then to rob her of HOPE!

I’ve seen several times during my drought that I’ve had to seek out hope. I’ve watched as many of my friends got pregnant, prayed with me that I would conceive so we would be pregnant together and deliver their sons and daughters while I watch in silent sorrow. The very second I entertained the thought of feeling sorry for myself, the enemy gripped me. And even though I’ve had prophetic words and visions of another baby, I still would start to think thoughts like I guess I have to be okay with only having one child. I convinced myself it was just be easier to let go of my desire, and I began to let the enemy kill a part of my heart and convince me that God’s will was not for me to conceive again.

I’ve recently realized that dreams are not things you pick up one day like an item on your grocery list. There are not to be lightly held like a feather. No, the desires of our heart are to be treasured and tended too like prized roses in a beautful garden.

God planted the seeds of those desires. And I’ve realized my job to sow them. I am called to prune off all the dead weight which would be all negative thoughts in my head. That means I have to fight against my tendency to be jealous when I see a baby bump. I have to keep my mind and heart focused on the blessing of birth and not focused on the thoughts that I’ve somehow been deprived and am unworthy of a child.

To keep HOPE alive, I’ve had to learn how to shield myself from all the lies that are thrust upon me. I’ve heard over and over how I’m just too old to have a child. I’ve heard I should merely count my blessings and stop trying to jinx myself! (As if I am just not capable of having another healthy child at 42.)

So many times I’ve had statistics thrown at me that try to rob me of hope. Medicine says I have a less than 10% chance to conceive. But I’ve chosen to trust that God doesn’t read statistics, so I’ve trained myself to not claim these words spoken over me! Instead I glean hope from the Bible which shares stories of several women of advance age who had babies. If God can make Sarah pregnant around age 90, then I can conceive in my early 40s!

A prophetic word is a faith builder like no other! It’s fuel for HOPE! A couple of very wise, mature women have spoken into my life and said a second child would come. I choose to dwell on these words as if they have all ready happened! This makes my mind and heart thankful instead of fearful. Thanking God for what is to come shifts your eyes off the negative and onto a positive and that is great way to build up a wall of hope. When the months go by and I start a new cycle, I don’t have to be emotionally down and drained. I can be thankful and keep my eye on the promise.

To keep my eyes focused on the truth, I’ve learned to ask God for details about my child. I commune with Him about her. I let Him build up my HOPE which in turn fuels my faith! I can stand on the word of God because it is true, binding and unchanging. He is the unfailing God and when He saying a child is coming… He means it!

I might be running a marathon through the wilderness before I am blessed with another child. But while I am waiting, I will do my very best to protect my desire, persevere, keep my hope alive, fight against attacks of the enemy, and remain thankful for what is to come.

Romans 5:5 NIV “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

Hate the sin; not the sinner.

One day I was lingering in my Facebook news feed and ran across an interesting post. It was from a newly pregnant woman who had been advised by her doctor to terminate her pregnancy due to serious health issues. She was posting on a “child loss” group page where scores of women who have lost a child due to still birth or miscarriage were finding hope and healing by sharing their stories.

This desperate plea tugged at my heart as I read how she felt guilty. She clearly wasn’t comfortable with making this decision. She didn’t know how to come to terms with having to end the life of the baby growing inside her. She was looking for an “answer”… a glimmer of hope. I think she was either looking for permission to do the impossible or was hoping that someone her the way to move on into the next stages of her pregnancy. I instantly prayed God would bring the supernatural down upon her knowing God could heal and protect both her and the baby.

What came next rocked me to my core. There were scads of comments – more than 80! And the majority of these comments were gut-wrenching attacks. I could visualize the lynch mob forming. I could just imagine the scores of women assembling with their weapons in tow… going to hunt this woman down and put a scarlet “A” on her. I began to weep as I thought about this young girl… wondering if she knew Jesus at all. I began to pray for her, and I felt like God wanted me to love her. After some time in silence… I typed up a prayer. After six miscarriages, God blessed me with a miracle, and I trust God could and would do the same for her.

When I closed down my computer, I wish I could say it was the end of this. But I was stewing. I couldn’t stop thinking about the condemning comments. I grew angry at all of the comments as I imagined how each one pierced this woman’s heart and must have hurt her. I got to thinking about how each and every one of us are sinners and how she did not deserved the pile of judgment that was heaped on her. There was not one comment left that came from God’s own hand. Every word that crucified her came as a result of another woman’s brokenness, and I got fuming mad! The source of my anger was this: knowing I had probably experienced more loss than any of them and my heart could feel compassion. Why couldn’t they?

But God… every so sweetly reminded me of the fact the women on this group’s page have all suffered a terrible loss. These women are in vast amounts of pain and are each venturing through their own grief journey. I’ve heard many times the expression “wounded people wound,” but this was the first time I saw demonstrated to be true. The more I got angry, the more God began to gently correct me as I heard Him say “love them all.”

“Love them all.” Those words were like an arrow that pierced straight to my heart. God continued to show me that I had crossed a line into dark place. I was judging the women who were judging the other woman. I was angry at their lack of compassion, and I was doing exactly the same thing to them! As soon as I processed this… I instantly repented.

I was reminded of Jack Hayford’s book called I’ll Hold You In Heaven. The last chapter is all about his journey to overcoming self-righteousness in regard to abortion. He writes “God wanted me to love people who had abortions, whether or not I agreed with their action. And He wanted me to do it without the usual verbal appendage, “Okay, I’ll love them, but I will hate their sin.”

There was no reason for me to be mad at those comments. The mere act of “hating their sin” is me breaking God’s command to not judge others. Luke 6:37 says “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

I realized once I asked for forgiveness that I should have never been anger. I should have prayed and commanded healing into those wounded women in the exact same way that I prayed for the one contiplating the abortion… with love and kindness. I should have trusted God to reconcile each women’s pain the way He has mine every time I have lost a child of my own. I was reminded of Psalms 103:8 which says “The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.”

I realize that is how God wants us to be. So a fitting end to this blog would be to repent. The title of my blog is wrong, and I am sorry. In seeing the error of my ways, I would like to re-title it “judge not the sin; nor the sinner.”

A season of letting go

It’s no secret that I have longed to have another child since the day our daughter was born. But earlier this year I started hearing clearly God telling me “let go, Kim, let go.” It was a word that started showing up when I went through some freedom sessions at our church. This has been a six-month journey to discover just what He meant.

Right after I heard let go… I knew immediately I needed to stop charting. I had grown accustomed to living life around what day it was in my cycle. I was focused on when we needed to TTC, when I ovulated, when I would or wouldn’t start. I started to think about my life in terms of 14-day increments.

Letting go of charting was hard because I had become addicted to the roller coaster. I would get so pumped up for the romance to come. I would anticipate the two weeks after I ovulated and think about how awesome it was going to be to see the pink line on a home pregnancy test. But then I would be destroyed when I would wake up one morning and know I wasn’t pregnant.

It was not fun to be around me that day or the next three days after. My emotions ranged from anger to extreme sadness. I would frustrate at stupid things that I should have laughed at. I would push my spouse away or chew him out for trying to console me. It would take me a week to regroup and get myself prepared for the cycle to happen all over again.

Exhausting doesn’t even begin to spell it out. But once I finally obeyed God and truly let go for the first month… I felt so free. I was liberated from a prison I had willingly put myself in.

I seemed to walk out of one prison and walked right into another. We miscarried our ninth baby in June. Doctors deemed it a chemical pregnancy because it seemed to end as soon as it began. I spent the next month grieving and processing all of pain associated with another loss, but what I also learned as the summer began was that I desired to solely focus on the daughter I had.

Letting go of my obsession with “baby #2” allowed me to freely be the mom to Averey I desired to be. We had an amazing summer. Had I not obeyed God I would have missed out on so many memories because I had been so wrapped up in having a baby. Letting go afforded me the chance to:

• Not crumble when I see a mom towing around her two kids
• Not be jealous when I see baby bumps
• Not get sad when thoughts that my daughter will grow up alone pop in my mind. (That’s a lie of the enemy and not even true!)
• Enjoy my time with my daughter free of the nagging thoughts that I am letting her down by not giving her a sibling
• Honor the miracle that she is in a deeper and more meaningful way

By the end of the summer, I began to think about all the baby stuff that we have hanging around the house. The carrier, the swing, the Bumbo seat, pack and play, clothes, shoes and crib. My house has become a shrine to the child I don’t have yet! I felt like I had been a mommy in waiting but now I was trapped in this prison of my home. Everywhere I go… there is a constant reminder of a dream unfulfilled. I still have not reconciled this, and my garage still looks like a re-sale shop. The emotional drama queen side of me wants to get rid of it all, but then the rational side of me says that would be financially frivolous.

Every once in awhile I will stumble onto something that tears me up and I will crumble. One day I was cleaning my closet and found a sack of new maternity clothes we bought before I miscarried baby #7. They were still perfectly folded in the Motherhood Maternity bag with tags attached. I was instantly transported back to the day Scott and Averey took me in there to buy them only days before I started spotting. I do not make a practice of thinking about the past, but once in a while the enemy throws me a curve ball (such as a bunch of maternity clothes), and I’m back to a painful place all over again. It like my house is stuck in a time warp or is a shrine to what I don’t yet have. I’ll admit that some days I feel trapped.

September is upon me now, and it has been months since I’ve charted. I am sitting in church one day, and God point out a mom-to-be. She’s clearly nearing the end and is ready to give birth any day. I look at her, and I sense God correcting me ever so gently says, “I didn’t tell you to let go of your dream.” I sat perplexed. Was the desire in my heart for a child waning?

I realized I had been so focused on obeying God that I had extinguished the passion I once had. I sense God continued saying “I wanted you to let go of control… not your dream.” He wanted me to stop concerning myself with time lines and charts. He was looking for me to fully trust Him to bless us when He wanted too.

So apparently in my quest to obey God’s direction to I had gone too far. I had stopped dreaming. I had ceased to imagine our lives with another miracle in it. My once five-alarm fire was merely a pile of ash, and God clearly did not like that.

I’ve recalled all of this to end with this thought… it is time to press the re-set button. Miracles come out of blind faith and hope… not out of charts and obsessing about what day of the month it is. I can have a desire in my heart yet trust God to fulfill it. So here I am… a daughter of the Most High… putting it out there that I am once again dreaming about the day I will welcome a baby into the world. And when I am tempted to want to chart or start seeking fertility measures again, I will do my very best to keep His words in mind… “Let go, Kim, let go.”

The One who sweeps away the snakes

One night a good friend was coming over to catch up on some sewing projects. She got to our house and waltzed up to our front door. But this night she was greeted by something other than my pearl-white smile. When she reached the front door, she was face-to-face with a giant snake.

Terrified, she ran back towards the driveway. I could hear screeching, and when our phone rang, I knew it was my panicked friend. She yelled out “snake,” and all of us went into crisis mode. We were all freaking out… after all… it was a snake! My daughter, now intrigued, desired to know what all the fuss was about and was doing her best to open the front door. Eventually, with my excited daughter looking on, my husband took a broom and swept it off our porch and into the garden where the reptile slithered away into the dark of night.

All was right with the world when my friend finally walked through our front door and we went about our night. But months later, my daughter was still talking about the snake that her daddy rescued Miss Jennifer from.

I hear my daughter boasting about her brave dad, and I am so proud. One day as she told me the story for the hundredth time, it got me thinking about my life and how my Abba Father protects me from all the things that lurk in the dark. Why is it that I don’t always feel as fired up to brag about my Father saving me from my snakes as my two-year-old?

The hard truth is I should be a walking billboard. God has come to my rescue more times than I care to admit as I have invited trouble into my life and walked right into situations that I knew better. God protected me from being kidnapped when I was a child when a stranger approached my sister and me. He kept me safe all the times I wrecked my car yet never suffered a scratch. He watched over me when I was foolish and drank too much at college parties. And most recently, He protected my unborn child and myself as we battled through a serious illness that was killing our red blood cells. Even though I grew increasingly weaker and weaker, I knew we were going to be okay.

When I was in my late teens, a girlfriend and I got into a car with six cute guys we had just met at Lake Murray. We went driving around all over Ardmore, Oklahoma, which was hours from where we lived in Texas. There was alcohol and a lot of flirting. I remember feeling nervous at times as wondered what I had gotten myself into. Our parents had no idea where we were and since this was way before cell phones, I had no idea how to contact them if there was an emergency. I am relieved to say that nothing happened to neither of us. But in hindsight, the reason wasn’t because they were nice guys or because we were armed with a big can of mace. The sole reason nothing bad occurred is there was another passenger in the car. I think about all the things that could have happened to us and can only get on my knees and thank God because I know that night could have ended in a completely different way if He had not joined us on our excursion.

I reflect on the close calls… and the one constant is that HE was always there to keep me safe. Even in the worst moments of my life… He was there shielding me, covering me, solving my problems and guiding me through my poor choices and bad decisions. Deuteronomy 8:15 NIV says “He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions…”

Like the verse says, God has led me through each and every trial in my life with gentle nudges and great care.  He has kept me safe from harm and derailed the enemy’s plans many times. Whether it was carrying me through suffering the loss of my unborn children or keeping me hopeful after a harsh medical diagnosis, I look at all the ways Jehovah-Shammah has brought me through my dark times, and I am just so grateful.

Just like Adam and Eve… we will always be tempted and lured by snakes. But God’s promises are so good. I am thankful He is the Lord of All… because when He comes to sweep away the reptiles that are overwhelming me… He never even has to get the broom! One word and they slither away in defeat!

God has made it so that when we are forced to face the “snakes” in life, we can be reassured there is one who will look after us, protect us from harm, help us to overcome temptation and redeem by helping us to see the best in every circumstance we face.

So tonight I brag on my Dad. He’s swept away more snakes than I care to count. My billboard would read, “God is my hero!” I am so thankful to God. I honor my protector. I love my Daddy, and I will continue to place all of my trust into him… even when I am unknowingly making a choice to walk right into the snake’s path.

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