Stopping the Hate Talk: 5 ways to a Better You!

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

“I hate my hair, my arms, my legs.” I look so fat in these pants.” Why can’t I look like that other girl? She always looks so perfect; she makes me sick. ” If I had all the money in the world and could afford a personal trainer, I could look like that too.”

How many times do we say these things to ourselves or about others? Why are we so degrading to ourselves and other women? It doesn’t matter your age: young girl, teenager, young adult, older adult, pre baby body., post baby body. When does it stop? When do you decide that you are enough and that God made you the way you are. As a teenager, I thought myself pretty; I thought myself confident. It wasn’t until middle adulthood that I started to doubt myself. There have been plenty of times that I have looked in the mirror and thought that I did not like the way I looked. Part of my problem is that I have not been treating my body right and I have had two babies and it really does change your body! What do you hate about yourself? What do you love about yourself? Which one do you think about the most?

Self-worth is defined as the sense of one’s own value or worth as a person; self esteem; self respect. Do you place value in yourself? Do you have respect for yourself? Do you think of yourself as worthy and beautiful?

All this self degrading hate talk stops here. IT STOPS HERE!I challenge you here-forth that when you look in the mirror you find one thing you like about yourself, just one. Daily. Yes, DAILY!

There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8: 31-39), but He still wants us to take care of ourselves and our bodies. The following things help me to take care of myself and help me feel good about my own self-esteem.

1.GET UP AND MOVE!  Whether it is taking a brisk walk around the neighborhood, an aerobics video in the comfort of your home, or training for a race, get up and move. Start TODAY! Even ten minutes a day can make a difference. Make it work. Maybe that means climbing stairs during a short break at work or parking in the furthest parking lot. Sometimes, for me that means having a dance party with my 3 year old. Or I have an aerobic app on my phone that lets me choose 5 to 10 minute increments. Sometimes my 3 year old and 5 month old join in the fun. One ting I’m going to try in the next few weeks is running before my husband leaves for work!

2. EAT HEALTHY! Of course there are lots of arguments about what is the best diet or supplement our there. Think before you eat! Is this particular food going to make me feel good or energized? I’m not saying to never have that piece of chocolate, I’m just suggesting you think twice about it. This is definitely one of my biggest challenges. I have a huge sweet tooth! It’s about lifestyle change. While I don’t follow it strictly and I am not an expert, my personal belief is that a plant based diet is best for health and energy. Commit to make a change. Just eating more veggies and fruit can make a difference! Progress not perfection!

3. CHALLENGE YOUR MIND! Take time to learn. Read, whether an actual book, a website, eBooks, newspaper, or a magazine. The world is full of great minds. You are one of them!

4. FEED YOUR SOUL! This is the most important point. Make time to pray or read your Bible and talk to God. I try to get up before my children in order for this to happen. Now lately, that has not gone like I planned. I have an almost 6 month old who wakes up in the middle of the night, and well, I am grumpy if I don’t get enough sleep. On those days, I try to read while I’m nursing him. Many times I’m praying in the car on my way to work. Those two things, especially the prayer, make a huge difference in how my the rest of my day goes, and how I feel about myself as a person. I am a much better mom, wife, and friend, when I make time to pray and read God’s word. End of story.

5. TAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF! I don’t care what that looks like or how much time you say you don’t have. For me it looks like time to write or time for a hike, a walk around the neighborhood, sipping on a hot cup of tea or coffee on my back deck. Coffee or lunch or breakfast with a friend, even if it has to be over the phone. Perhaps you can wake up 10 minutes before the rest of your house, just to sip and drink your coffee. Maybe once a month, you can find a babysitter or your significant other can watch the children, and you can go get coffee, by yourself or with a close friend. Find a  walking partner. Train for a race with your co-workers. Sometimes, I take an extra long shower because that may be the only time I have had to myself that day. I breathe in the steam and take pleasure in the solitude and not having to explain what I’m doing. Everybody leaves you alone when you are in the shower (most of the time).

Challenge yourself to love more. We don’t need all the hate talk. Life is hard enough without being so mean to ourselves

What are some tips you have on increasing self-worth?

Thanks for reading! Please share with those extraordinary women you think need a reminder of how awesome they are!

I have purchased my own website now, so I will be getting away from word press and starting my blog over there! It’s still a work in progress, so be sure to join me at ExtraOrdinary Living  to see what adventures lie ahead.

 

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All I Need is to Trust

{a95594f7-0dfd-4a22-b877-0531c3490ff2}_6BWRecently I have started trying to initiate a morning devotional time with my toddler. It is literally only a few minutes including reading or watching a short bible story, singing a song if I can think of an applicable one, maybe talk a few minutes, and a scripture. We are working on memorizing a short scripture. The first day I tried it, my daughter was focused and even repeated the verse after me. I was so excited! I did not think it was possible for a two year old! Of course, in typical toddler fashion, she has vehemently and passionately refused to partake in any sort of devotional time since then. I, of course, being a dedicated mom, continue to try anyway, in hopes that she may absorb some of what I am saying.   And while I know she is only two, I can’t help but irrationaly think she is doomed and will never learn to listen. Of course, I know this is just a phase. (that she will hopefully soon, but not too soon, pass.)

At any rate, it does not matter if she refuses to listen right now or not; the truth of the matter is I have learned more then anybody. It has caused me to memorize scripture (a habit I have long forgotten) and the particular one I am trying to enforce upon my poor daughter is actually very fitting in my life right now.

“Depend on the Lord, trust Him, and He will take care of you” Psalms 37:5

My husband and I are about to have another child in this scary, messed up world.  We have just lost another (the third in three years) family member to the ugly word that is cancer.  I have friends and family members going through so much hurt right now.  I suffer from my own lack of friendship making skills. I want to pay off school loans, but can’t seem to find a way.  Every time I think we are making progress, something else happens where that money needs to be allocated: an unexpected, but necessary trip, a car needing repair, clothes for my child and upcoming infant, and so on. I am struggling with the feeling of being overwhelmed and the daily mundane tasks seem ever daunting.  The security thing is what gets me the most.  I like to feel secure. I like to know where my bread is coming from, and I honestly have never really had to wonder. We have closets full of clothes. I know we have way more than we need. That’s where the trust gets me. I know God will take care of us, but will I choose to let him? To honestly give of myself and my finances? To know he will carry us through the hard times of recent losses and sorrows? To know that He is with me, to the very end?  I am reminded of a very simple story:

One day, while at summer camp in high school, we were having our Bible class time. It was sooo hot and humid. The air was completely flat, no breeze, nothing. If you have ever lived in the deep south, then you know what I am talking about. There is no relief from the raw humidity and heat. Well, we were all sitting on the grass or tree stumps, trying to focus on the devotion and not focus on the sweat blinding our eyes and drenching our clothing.  I don’t remember what we were talking about, but it must have been something to do with praying in faith, because I decided to pray for a breeze. Most importantly, I believed. I knew there would be relief. And there was!  It was just enough, even if for a moment. Now, I know in the large scheme of life how that must seem like a mundane, useless and trivial prayer. There are so many greater things to pray for: lost souls, the poor , the homeless, the list is insurmountable.  That is just the whole point though! God does care about the big things of course, but perhaps more importantly He cares about every thing, even the things that seem trivial. He cares about us!  That is where trust comes in.

So as I contemplate the aforementioned verse, I think of what that means in my life. To trust, that in spite of currently having no benefits with my upcoming maternity leave (my choice so to get paid more hourly), he will provide. He will provide what we need and if needed he will provide a job when I am able to go back to work.  To trust, that through the loss of loved ones, He will provide us comfort? To trust that God will work in my child’s heart and help us to show her God’s love? To trust that God will provide the friendships I need and help me overcome my personal obstacles? To trust that God will provide a way and not give us more than we can bear?   I dare you to trust. Trust that He will take care of us.

What will you trust God with today?

IT ONLY TAKES ONE

2012, Three Amazing women standing next to me . Expecting my first child.

2012, three AMAZING women standing next to me , expecting my first child.

One of my original goals for this blog was to interview every day women in order to inspire and encourage all of us living our extraordinary ordinary lives. For my first extraordinary story, I think it would be best to start with those who inspire me on a daily basis. To start within my circle of friends and family and move outward is an obvious choice for me. I am very fortunate to have a loving and supportive family and in-laws. I know not everyone is as fortunate. So who is the main woman in my life, present, past, and future. That constant has always been my mother.

Here are some of the extraordinary things you may or may not know about her:

She traveled abroad as a teenager.

She raised three children with ages between 1 and 4 years on a very tight budget. We were never without, but I do remember her having to put things back in the grocery store. As a mother myself now, I can only imagine how stressful that would have  been.  We never had name brand clothes.  We didn’t go on lavish vacations or have a lavish house. We had three bedrooms and one shower for five people (four being female!) But we had a home, and that is where my many memories lie. I only mention these things because as a mother myself now, I realize how easy it is to overlook the most important thing in our lives: GOD  That one word encompasses the rest of the world: our families, relationships, jobs, and everyday lives. To truly understand the importance of the listed things, one must have God. For without God, there is no love.

When my mother was in her late teens or 20s, she moved to a small town in Arkansas, hundreds of miles away from her hometown. That is always brave .I have done the same thing myself. I have never regretted my decisions, but there are definitely times when I wish all my family was closer.

My mother was the oldest of 6, the youngest sibling being 18 years younger than her. (I think that one may have been a surprise). I fought with my two sisters, I can’t imagine fighting with 5 siblings.

She led girl scouts for years, of which many of my most joyful memories and friendships were developed.  She was also a Sunday school teacher for years. I know she imparted so much joy and memories to so many young girls. That’s a hero in my book.

One of the most admirable things she did was moving away from her childhood home. To choose a different life than the only one you have ever known takes bravery.  It is on that point that I wish to expand. I hope her story inspires you to be brave and to take that unknown step if that is what is called for in your life.

Have you ever felt alone or that you didn’t fit in anywhere? Have you ever had a stirring in your heart, but you don’t know what it is or where it is coming from? Have you ever wondered if there is more to life? That’s where this story begins:

There was once a young college lady living in a small town. She had lived in that town her whole life, that is the only thing she knew. Then her life started changing. She had just broken up with her fiancée. Her heart is breaking, she’s confused, there is more to life, there has to be.  A friend who left for a far away college comes home for a visit. She tells you how great things are at her college, the friendships, the fellowship, the distance. Oh, the distance. She thinks to herself how that distance might just be what she needs. Her friend tells her to pray. PRAY? What is that, I don’t know what that means? But God knows her heart and her prayers.  “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do no know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26 -27 NIV

With unknown faith and courage, she takes a step, 700 miles a away. She is already lonely, lost. But there is something compelling her to this unknown place and world. Once there, she finds friendship, and she finds a friend in Jesus. She finds the courage to be different. She gave her life to Christ. The sacrifices are worth it because she understands the value of showing her children God’s love.

Do you relate to this story? Know there is an answer. God made you, he has a plan for you. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

It only takes one person to make a difference in countless lives. We may not always see the effects, but they are there. Think about the friend who shared Jesus in this story. Though she may have thought she only made a difference in one woman’s life, she made a difference in many. You see the woman whose life was changed went on to marry a Christian man, they had three beautiful daughters. Their daughters had children, and the story is not over. That’s not even counting the ways in which she touched young girls’ hearts who then went on to touch others’ lives. In our culture, we like to see immediate results, but that is not always how God works. You don’t always see what he is doing in your life , but he is working. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I’m reminded of the children’s bible song, “He’s still working on me”:

He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He’s still working on me.

There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,
Don’t judge her yet, there’s an unfinished part.
But I’ll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hand

God’s work is not finished. It only takes one drop. We do the sowing. God does the growing. Your don’t always see the fruits of your seeds, but they are there. Know you are not alone. God is with you. He is waiting with arms wide open. Waiting for you.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7: 7-8 (NIV)

KEEP DREAMING, NO REGRETS

KEEP DREAMING, FARTHER THAN THE OCEAN

KEEP DREAMING, FARTHER THAN THE OCEAN

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to be when I grow up. You see, I want to be proud to tell my children and grandchildren what I do, whether that be a homemaker, a lawyer, a doctor, a volunteer or anything else. I want them to know that they can reach for their dreams and if their dreams change, that is okay, because that’s life and God speaks to us in different ways at different times. Lately, it has been a struggle. You see, I am a nurse. I decided that is what I wanted to do in college. Being 18 or 19 or 20 and having to decide your entire career path is very daunting and overwhelming. So being the analytical person I am, I did personality tests, career tests, talked with career counselors, perused all the careers my personality matched. Basically I spent a semester to a year of my life contemplating this ever daunting decision that would forever change my path of life. Or so I was led to passionately believe.

Now I am all for career counseling; please don’t misunderstand.  I think nursing is a noble profession, and I think I made the right decision for myself with the knowledge I had at the time. I try really hard to not live with regrets, because what are regrets? Nothing but pining over your past life thinking about what might have been. That is no way to live. And I believe, even if you did make a bad decision, that your past is part of who you are today. It does not define you, but to deny your past is to deny yourself.

What I have struggled with the last few years is thinking I had to stay a nurse forever. That it wasn’t okay for my life or passions to change. I am just now coming to the realization that it doesn’t have to stay that way. I should have figured that out a long time ago. There were several women in my nursing class who were not the traditional age for college and in fact it was their second career choice. They had different careers. So why have I felt this way all these years?

I worked so hard to graduate nursing school. I studied constantly, I had no life, I was constantly worrying about falling behind (more on worries another day). I lost hours of sleep. Just about the only relationships I had were the people in my nursing class (who were awesome by the way). There were days when I stayed up until the early hours of the morning, studying and working on  projects. The next day I had clinical, and then the next night was the same. It just seemed a shame to waste what I had spent five years studying and working towards. Not to mention, that I am still paying off school loans (I chose to go to a private school). I have worked in all different arrays of the nursing profession. I worked in an intensive care unit, a rheumatology clinic, a medical surgical floor, and I now work in the operating room. It’s not that I don’t enjoy what I do, but it’s that I have lost my passion, I have lost my way. I have become apathetic, and that is what I’m not proud to tell my children. Now, maybe that just means that I need to find a different avenue of nursing. If that is not the case, then I have to accept that  I may need to pursue a different passion, one that I can be excited to dream about  I feel like right now,

God has put it on my heart to start this blog. I want to be able to reach out to women all over the world, who just need a little encouragement or don’t feel like they are enough. They are enough, and so much more. They are God’s daughters. You are beautiful because God chose you before you were even born, and you were made in his image.

Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart.”

Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God, he created them, male and female, he created them.”

Perhaps, like me, you are struggling with thinking  you have to stay in the career you chose, but I no longer believe that is true. In fact, that is preposterous.  As moms and daughters and sisters, we should always dare to dream. Ask God to help you with your dreams and show you the way. It might take you down a path you would never expect, but as long as you are following him, it will be the right path. As for me,  I pray this blog is also God’s dream for me and that he can use me to inspire and encourage woman for His glory. And if he says no, then I pray he will direct me in the way I should go.

Psalms 23:1-3, The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul, He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.”

Keep Dreaming and being your extraordinary you. There is none other like you, none so beautiful as in the eyes of the Beholder.

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

WHY I HAVE TO PRAY TO SURVIVE PARENTING

Here my toddler lies on the floor right before the classic tantrum position. (I didn't get a picture of that)

Here my toddler lies on the floor right before the classic tantrum position. (I didn’t get a picture of that)

I honestly do not know how people parent without having a nervous breakdown if they don’t pray. For me, the task of parenting is so daunting and overwhelming, I have to pray, for fear of completely messing up my child. I’m not saying I pray everyday ( I am a work in progress), But sometimes, make that all the time, I feel like I have to pray to make it through my day, even if it is a simple ” Please God help me not kill my child today”. When I really start to think about what it means to be a parent, it truly does overwhelm me. I am completely responsible for this little being that God allowed me to bring into this world. If she becomes a burden on society or a blessing to society, it all comes back to the parents. I worry I don’t play with her enough, that I don’t let her play by herself enough. I don’t read enough, too many toys, not enough. The list goes on and on as I am sure many of you can relate. Then there is this task of  teaching her about God!  I don’t know anything about God, how on earth am I supposed to teach someone about God?! And you love these little beings so much, that it literally hurts.

I  start thinking about God and Jesus, father and son, and how Jesus was sacrificed for me and thus completely separated from his father. I don’t know if I could ever do that. I could sacrifice myself for my child, but to have my child die for others is unspeakable,. It is unfathomable. I guess that is where the necessity of the cross comes in to play, for my sinful heart. I have to pray, for fear that I will be swallowed up by my anxiety and panic. It calms me, and reminds me that I cannot control everything, that I have to trust God.  For however much you love your child, God loves them more. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)  John 10:10 states, “That they (we) may have life and have it abundantly.”

Isn’t’ that just it?, That we may have life and live it to the fullest? We don’t have to worry! God is enough!. There are so many different schools of thoughts on every topic, from breastfeeding to free range parents, to helicopter parents. You name it, you can find a book on it. (trust me, I have looked. ) Those things are of course important and I definitely have opinions on all the above.  But the thing I feel is most important is that we teach our children what it means to be loved and what it means to love. To love without condition. That in and of itself would be an anxiety producing task, if it wasn’t for our heavenly father being the perfect example.  “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

One of my favorite stories to read to my child is “God Gave Us You”, by Lisa Tawn Bergren. It is a beautiful story about how this bear cub was a gift from God. It reads:

” Every night, I prayed for you, my special child, I prayed that your bones would be straight and your heart would be strong. But most of all, I prayed that someday you would love God.” “I love God,” Little cub said proudly. “I know,” said Mama. “I do too.”. Mama lowered her voice. “And then we took you home. And it was just us. Our family. We just stared and stared, wondering at the miracle of incredible you.” “Because why?” “Because God had given us you. Then little Cub asks “Did you ever want a different baby?… “Never,” Mama said. “Never, ever, ever. Your papa and I wouldn’t trade you for the world….Because God gave us you. Because God gave us you”

The first time I ever read that story I had to hold back my tears to finish the story. Even now. two years later, I still have to hold my tears back. Perhaps that is how God feels; he has to hold his tears in check, because he chose us. Chose us to love , so much so that he was willing to give his only son to be sin for us. “…even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:28) Imagine if your child was taken to prison and given the death penalty, for a crime he or she did not commit. I would be in anguish, infuriated!! Perhaps that is a  sliver of what God went through, except Jesus received the death penalty for thousands and thousands of crimes he did not commit.

I am no expert on parenting or things of God, but my prayer for you is the same as my prayer for my family:

Dear Father,

Please help us show your love to our children, in all our words and actions. When we make mistakes, turn our mourning into gladness, for you are merciful and good.

Amen

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

The Gift of Purple Flowers

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Our yard is a mess. We are not home project people. I kill pretty much every plant that I breathe on or look at, but I love flowers and beautiful landscaping. I hope to one day find the time to focus on gardening and landscaping. Right now, between a toddler, a dog, and a baby to be, working 20 to 30 hours a week, and just everyday life; it is not a priority. In addition to my thumb being black, our yard is basically rocks, leaves, and trees. Fortunately, for us, we live on a steep hill, so unless you are stalking us, you really don’t notice our disastrous landscaping.

On the opposite spectrum is our neighbor’s yard. It is pristine. They have a vegetable garden, beautiful flowers and hedges, and  a perfectly manicured lawn. (I might be a little jealous as they may be a little embarrassed to live next to us.)

Last summer, my mother-in-law lost the fight to pancreatic cancer. Needless to say, it has been a hard year for our family: a year filled with grief and sadness, and bittersweet memories. We are trying to pick up the pieces of this puzzle called Life.

Now, you are probably wondering, what in the world does the above have to do with landscaping and flowers? Well, you see, our yard is normally crab grass and rocks. This year it is filled with beautiful purple flowers. Purple flowers may not mean that much to you, but for our family, it is a gift, a relief from the sadness and broken heartedness. You see, purple was my mother-in-law’s favorite color. And to top it off, purple is the color which symbolizes pancreatic cancer.  Every time I see those flowers, every time my daughter plays in the “field” of flowers, I see love, joy and peace. I see my daughter playing with her lost “Mimi”. I see a hole mended in my husband’s broken heart. I don’t just see flowers, I see love, I feel an angel’s presence sent there just for us. I hear God whispering to us that we will be okay, that He is with us. He is waiting with arms wide open to envelop us with his goodness and unconditional love.

Purple flowers are a gift.

If you are grieving, in whatever form that may be, I pray that you will open your eyes and  your heart to receive a gift from our heavenly father. He longs to comfort us.

Matthew 5:4
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Psalm 34:18
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Extraordinary Moments of the Week: December 21st, 2014

This segment marks the first of a brief summary of  the extraordinary moments in my week. The moments in which I have witnessed acts of beauty, service or kindness; moments where there is a light in the darkness. I hope you will follow along with me, and share your own moments.

One of the strongest passions in my life is learning to show my daughter God’s love. My greatest hope for her (and any future children) is not that she will be happy or successful (although of course I want those things as well!), but for her to know God’s love and for her to love God. I do not profess to understand this myself. My daughter is currently teaching me more about God’s love than I could ever attempt to show her. A child’s innocence and pure honesty has a way of keeping one accountable of every word and action they profess to say or do.

I believe one way in which we can experience God’s unconditional love is just by living; Living in the beauty of this world and looking for the light in darkness.

1. Monday, a friend of mine needed to buy one more gift that her daughter wanted for Christmas. The store was on the clear opposite side of town for her, so I was able to go for her.  I am glad (though I admit begrudgingly at first) that I was able to hopefully alleviate some of her stress level at this busy time of year.

2. Monday morning, we also received an unexpected gift from our daycare provider. Gifts are always nice, but it seems even nicer when it is unexpected. Thank you! It made our day!

3. Tuesday, I’m at work, and I just have to brag on our cleaning attendant. Not only this day, but everyday, she keeps everything remarkably clean, considering I work with about 100 other people on any given day. And to top it off, she does it with remarkable grace and cheer.

4. This is my daughter’s 2nd Christmas, so of course last year she really was not all that interested. This year. however, the joy in her little expression from opening gifts and realizing they were for her, is enough to melt this mama’s heart.

5. Another note on Christmas: The ability to be able to face time with my family, who lives hundreds of miles away. That is something we can only fully appreciate in this day and time.

6. Friday, I had the blessing of going to lunch with my husband’s aunt. Female camaraderie is hard to beat.

7. Finally, but certainly not least:  Watching the excitement on my daughter’s face as she jammed to her uncle playing the drums.  And I do mean jammed!  IMG_1647

Matthew 5:16 (ESV): In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

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