Friday, November 30, 2012

I'm a cold, dark stone...shine on me...

The past two nights we have been treated to a deliciously clear and starry sky, lit up by a full, large and gloriously white moon. The moon has been low and huge and seeming to be just within reach as it has illuminated the evening sky while I drive kids to and from activities.

All full moon nights typically invade my bedroom late at night as we have a huge window in our bedroom that has no shade or curtain and we face the woods. The moon rests in the sky above the woods out back in the middle of the night and casts a lot of light into our room. On those nights, and particularly the last couple of nights, it never gets dark in our room. I will wake up sometime in the middle of the night to roll over and see the moon's face with its lopsided smile staring in at me, bright and glowing.

It has always fascinated me on nights like this that we can look at the moon in the black sky and the glow is just amazing. It is hard not to stare in wonder at something so bright in a sky of darkness.

And then I remember...

The moon is not white at all - it doesn't give off ANY light...

It is all just a reflection of the sun.

It is the sun's beautiful light that makes it shine amid darkness.

(Before you head off to read another blog because you are disgusted at how "duh" this is, stay with me a minute...)

The moon is a cold and dark stone - without heat or light. The other side is even called the "dark side of the moon."

The moon is dark.

It is a stone.

It's then that I realize the metaphor and remember the Sara Groves song that I loved a while back that described it so perfectly.

He is the sun; I am the moon.

I am a cold, dark stone with no light of  my own.

When I turn my face to the "sun" I can shine and be beautiful and glow amid the darkness of this world.

I have no light of my own.

From what has become my favorite of the Gospels, John -"In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it...The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." John 1:4,9.

In Isaiah..."The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned..." Isaiah 9:2
"For the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory...the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of sorrow will end."  Isaiah 60:19,20

"For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Corinthians 4:6

We are heading into the season of Advent, a time to prepare for the birth of the Light of the World. Look to Him. Take Him in as the gift He is...and shine.

 Lest we ever take the credit for the light shining out from us on any night (or day)...remember that we, like the moon, have no light of our is God's light shining on us as we turn our face to Him. The beauty is His...

**(I couldn't find a great youtube video of this beautiful song accompanied by beautiful photos of the sun and moon like I would have liked. This is someone's personal video of sisters singing this song. Although a bit like a home movie, these sisters do a beautiful job singing this song with pretty harmony. The tune and words are just beautiful and the point of why I am including it).

Lyrics to You Are The Sun :
You are the sun shining down on everyone
Light of the world giving light to everything I see
Beauty so brilliant I can hardly take it in
And everywhere you are is warmth and light

And I am the moon with no light of my own
Still you have made me to shine
And as I glow in this cold dark night
I know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to you

You are the sun shining down on everyone
Light of the world giving light to everything I see
Beauty so brilliant I can hardly take it in
And everywhere you are is warmth and light

And I am the moon with no light of my own
Still you have made me to shine
And as I glow in this cold dark night
I know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to you

Shine on me with your light
Without you I'm a cold dark stone
Shine on me. I have no light of my own
You are the sun, you are the sun, you are the sun
And I am the moon

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I can't even believe it...

Back in April when we started brainstorming for fundraisers, we debated doing a large puzzle. I had heard about other families doing the puzzle fundraiser and it just seemed daunting to me. It required lots of donors, lots of money, and potentially, lots of time in order to complete it.

But we decided to go for it and I have to say, the first few days after we announced it, I was encouraged. Lots of people joined in and were generous, but then it dwindled.

Over the months, we would go long stretches without a donation but then a friend mentioned us on a blog and we had some donations from folks we didn't even know. The last couple of months have brought us much support and large donations. Some one would hand us a donation (some didn't even know about the puzzle, but their names went onto puzzle pieces after donating - some asked to be anonymous). Anyone who has given to us over these months - whether for puzzle pieces specifically, or just a donation toward the adoption from then til yesterday - got puzzle pieces.

Yes, my good news is that WE ARE DONE...THE PUZZLE IS COMPLETE!

PRAISE GOD that through your very GENEROUS gifts...we have raised $5000.00 through the puzzle. Wow...amazing.

In the next weeks, amid the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, we will be trying our best to complete our puzzle, get it framed between two pieces of glass, and hang it in a prominent place in our home. Our family is now from all the ends of the earth and a map of the world is so fitting.

Thank you to all who have donated.  We have left our "chip-in" on the blog for any who still would like to donate, as we are still raising necessary funds.

In other fundraising news:  Thank you to all who worked so hard to help pull off our Holiday Market - still waiting on numbers to announce to you how much we raised there.

Thank you, also,  to all who are saving loose change for us in our Cha-Ching for Ting banks. We received a huge bag of change from a very special-to-us family yesterday... such kindness. I will one day post the total on that fundraiser once all the banks come in...

As you bring your Cha-Ching Change in, I will add your name to the bottom of the blog. I want you to know how thankful we are! And if you missed out on the puzzle and want to help our little girl in some way, save up some loose change in a jar for us. Every little bit helps!

Adoption is not cheap. One day I will break down the expenses on here. Although we are able to afford to raise another child, the money for the adoption and travel costs are not just sitting in our accounts. That's where we had to just trust God and proceed anyway. We determined that at the onset we would need to fundraise for half the costs (that comes out at roughly $15,000).

Thankful to GOD and to YOU doesn't begin to tell you how we feel.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Over the years, I have not always been as successful as I would like to be with my quiet times. For many years, I guess, it has been hit or miss whether I was able to get in a devoted time to pray or read my Bible. For many years, I did a women's Bible study which had weekly homework, so I had something pushing me to sit down, read, think, and pray on a regular basis.

I have had many fits and starts of journaling. Most fizzled out as quickly as they started...I loved picking out the pretty journal, pens, etc. but never kept up with the journaling - many times in the morning, I just can't gather the thoughts to write them.

I have from time to time joined online Bible studies - did them on my own time - sometimes in the morning, sometimes at night. These studies consisted of studying a book in the Bible - verse by verse. Writing a verse a day - then writing observations, applications, and a prayer about that verse. I found sometimes that that felt forced too. I wasn't always in the mood to have the words to write out the application or even a prayer about that particular verse.

One thing I found tho', was that I really enjoyed writing the verses.

Writing slows you down in a way that reading doesn't.

Why am I telling you all this?? Well, I have found the most wonderful tool for my quiet time.




Journibles are journals that are set up to be your own transcribed Bible.  The idea comes from Deuteronomy 17:18 where God tells the kings of Israel to handwrite their own copy of the Torah - the book of laws. The reason was so they would write it, learn it, have it with them always, and teach others from it. I found even as a student (and interestingly my college son tells me this all the time about himself), that I studied best for tests (and retained the material longer) when I could write what I was studying over and over.

The righthand page of a Journible, is where the verses are to be copied. Each verse is listed by number with ample lines for each one. The lefthand page is for notes, comments, doodles, prayers, and often a question is written to lead to deeper thinking or research - or you don't have to put anything at all! With my iphone with me, I can quickly do an internet search for a word definition or help with an answer.

I am LOVING my Journible. I am learning so much and retaining more - and it's becoming something I can't wait to do in the morning. I started out with the book that includes 1Timothy, 2Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews. The company has books of most of the New Testament and much of the Old Testament. They are still producing books with the plan that at some point, the entire Bible can be offered.

I am enjoying being a scribe of God's word. Copying with my best handwriting and precision while slowly taking in what I am writing. Then rereading to get more (I even "listen" to the word too using my YouVersion Bible app).

I am even taking a daily picture while I do my Journible (on Instagram - my name is Mustardmom on there - look up #writingtheword to see lots of others doing the same) - to keep a record for myself of my time in the word. It's been fun and I am enjoying getting up early with my tea, my Bible (or Bible app on my phone - I am doing the ESV Bible, a version which I do not currently own), my Journible, and sometimes a fire in the fireplace - to meet with the Lord while I rewrite his words and take them in.

Just lovin' it and thought you might too. I learned about the Journibles from another blogger, so I thought I would pass it on to other bloggers (or blog readers) as well.

Here's the link to the Journibles website:!  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Giving thanks...

Our Happy Thanksgiving is over...sniff, sniff...

I love Thanksgiving. It is a relaxing, slow, holiday with family, friends, lots of talking, laughter, and yummy eating. It is time to reflect on the past year, all that we have been blessed with, and the beginning of the excitement that the start of advent holds.

I just love it...

We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving visit with all the Snells up in Maryland. Mimi and PopPop hosted a wonderful few days of awesome food (despite their new oven not working - yes, turkey can be done on a grill!). We got some shopping done (just the craft store for me - I don't really like shopping!), and lots of cousin time. We even got to visit for a while with John's aunt and uncle from Maine and their son and his wife and their cute little boys (who live on the Maryland coast).

We returned home to find our house...alarming. Smoke alarming, that is. We had received a call, the first day away, from a concerned neighbor (thanks Carol!), who had been walking her dogs by our house and heard our alarms going off. She called our house to check on us and luckily our home phone rings our cell phones if we don't answer. We tried to talk through telling her where the hidden key is located and where the power box is in the house, etc.

Luckily there was no smoke or smells, but nothing turned off the alarms. They are connected to one another electrically but even without power, they all have batteries. We didn't want them to have to deactivate all the batteries on all three floors. So the alarms sounded the entire time we were away. Nothing too loud outside, except if you were walking by (we have a sidewalk that many walkers use - I'm sure it turned a lot of heads. On the bright side, no robbers would have come near...)

Mimi and PopPop's treehouse in the woods for the grandkids - complete with built in bunk beds, ceiling fan/heater, dvd player, front porch with a porch swing, real windows and doors. It was a labor of love and is a family favorite!

John found the problem when we returned and fixed it. Although, just now (as I was typing), I had to run and take down the one defective alarm as they all just went off again. Guess it still needs work. Man, they are loud...

Thankful that there was no fire, among all the provisions that I thanked the Lord for this week.

Reminding myself that being thankful and giving thanks is something to do daily - not just once a year.

Thank you God for all you have given me. I am one lucky girl...

Monday, November 19, 2012

WOW.... was beyond what I imagined.

God was faithful and pulled together our little fundraiser...despite all the work I wasn't able to do because of being so sick last week (I knew He would do it!). Friends volunteered to help and cook and provide drinks and details. Invites went out and friends brought friends.

Our little fundraiser, was a great success. The house somehow got cleaned and somehow there was plenty of room for all the vendors and their stuff. A steady flow of shoppers (sometimes it was very crowded) just kept coming. Food kept showing up. The weather was glorious so kids could play outside (cause I hadn't even considered having the basement cleaned up for playing kids - we had shoved a bunch of things down there to clear out our first floor).

so wish I could show you T's pictures - at least the party was able to see her!

 And I felt better than I had in a week.

It was a huge blessing. The vendors I didn't know before were so wonderful with hearts for the orphan and adoption.  All our daughters sold items they had made as well as several little girls from our lifegroup and church. All our vendors were kind and supportive - and fun to have here!

To top it off, I learned that morning that it was National Adoption Day. I had not had any previous knowledge of that when I scheduled the event. God was smiling down!

Many people came to the party - thank you, thank you. We sold some tshirts, lots of our Just Love Coffee, and puzzle pieces. Nearly all our Cha-ching for Ting banks were taken. There was lots of laughter and fun. I wish I had taken more pictures (and better ones - especially during the big crowds - but I was BUSY!! (and socializing of course, what I do best...). I missed a picture of cute little Bethany with her knit hats, and many of my amazing friends who baked and stayed to help. Love you all!

Despite my scheduling snaffoos, John and Jack made it back from the chess tournament to catch the end of our event. Jack was sporting his silver medal - 2nd place in his age division for his first tournament. GO JACK!

Now for the info you are here (hopefully!) to check out:

If you were unable to attend on Saturday, or live too far away (hello to all my extended family!), the following vendors will continue sales this week that will benefit our adoption. Do some Christmas shopping in the comfort of your home over the upcoming holiday. Stay away from all the mall crowds and Black Friday maniacs (oops, sorry if you are a Black Friday maniac...).

Here are all the websites and some assistance on how to order so it benefits our fundraiser. Thanks in advance for your prayers and shopping support!

Thirty-one Bags --    Click on "my parties," then click on "shop now" on the Julie Snell line. (If you have trouble viewing this site from Chrome - it wouldn't open the page for me - try Firefox - I had no problem opening it there!)

Silpada Jewelry --  Click on "shop Silpada catalog," then click on "find your hostess now," then click on "continue shopping."

Do You Bake? --  Scroll down for the event - it is listed as Julie S Fundraiser. Click "shop with this event."

Miche Bags --  you will see open parties on the left - we are Julie Snell fundraiser.

Pampered Chef  --  click "shop on line," then type in Julie Snell, then click on Julie Snell.

Blessings Unlimited --  Just order, it will go toward our event.

Tastefully Simple --  Click on "host a party," then click "search" under the "searching for a host or party,"  then click "select" and type in Julie Snell VA, Nov 17

Mary Kay --  Just order, it will go toward our event.

Premier Designs Jewelry -- if you are interested in this jewelry, check out their website Contact Jennifer at I have catalogs for local folks!

Our family thanks you so very much for your support as we get closer and closer to bringing little T home!! God bless!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Holiday Market FUNdraiser

So I have been planning this fundraiser for a while now. I haven't been to one like it or even read about someone doing one like this (what was I thinking...).

I had several friends offer to do sales parties for me as a fundraiser. I had done that before last time for our previous adoption and it was fun. After several people asked me I thought...hey, instead of having to pick which one to host (cause we all know I am not gonna wanna ask people on multiple occasions to come shop), why not have multiple people here on ONE occasion, selling lots of things. And hey, it's getting close to Christmas, why not make it a holiday market? And hey, don't I know someone who sells such and such? And doesn't that person have a friend that sells such and such? And ...on and on it went.

So now, we have a holiday market fundraiser planned for this Saturday (1-4pm at my house for you locals just now learning of this!). We have 14 vendors coming, as well as our family selling our t-shirts and our coffees. My oldest daughter is selling her hair bows, and the little girls are selling Christmas ornaments. Little girls from our lifegroup will be selling pipe-cleaner creatures. It will all happen on my first floor (throughout all the rooms). Oh yeah, and I decided to throw in door prizes, refreshments, Christmas music -- and banks.

Banks??? Yes, I have "piggy-backed" piggy banks as an additional fundraiser. I have made 36 mason jar banks (they are pretty cute if I do say so myself, and no, they aren't really piggies...just felt like calling them that) that will be offered to the first 36 people in the door  anyone who will take them. A little explanation and some candy hugs and kisses are in the jars. Fill the jar with your loose change, bring it to us and dump into our large jug, keep the bank and collect again for another's adoption or to donate to something else. Cool, huh?

I have made a large display-board telling T's story with lots of pictures of her (SOOOOO wish I could share on here but our agency doesn't allow it) and another large display-board to show our coffees and t-shirts. We have bought a few t-shirts  (by the way they are awesome, great quality and super soft) for our family to wear.

I have sent out email invites and Facebook invites, re-invited those who didn't RSVP yet (I know I am driving everyone crazy!), made and distributed flyers, and told people. I have no real clue how many people will step through the door. My prayer is that it will be enough to give all my vendors many new contacts for future party hosting as well as some sales each. I just want there to be a continual flow of people from 1-4, when the open house market is scheduled. I am hoping for holiday cheer, good fellowship, and above all to glorify God through His people helping to give a little girl a home.

Oh and did I mention that the chess tourney I signed Jack up for, which had been pretty much cancelled due to low enrollment is now back on and will go all day rather than just the morning as I thought - meaning he and John will likely be gone all day, missing the market (John was to be my coffee guy)? Did I mention that I have been sicker this week (still not quite right) than I have been in years (I won't even go into it, you would run, but I promise - no contagious germs here anymore) and so have spent most of my time in bed or on the couch moaning about how much I have to do but unable to do it? Have I pointed out that I haven't been able to be at the bus stop to hand out the neighborhood flyers because I have looked so awful from being sick and had no energy to go down there?

AGH!!!! Help!!! I have awesome, wonderful vendors coming in one day. All have been so gracious and wonderful to give of their time as well as offer me cash rather than product rewards for hosting (some will give a percentage of sales). Say a prayer for me. Say a prayer for this event.  I have made a drawing of where all the tables will go and where each vendor will be located but having never done this before, I have no idea if this will work or what?? EEK!

The great news - even for you readers - is that for the vendors with online stores, this fundraiser will be going on for another week!! That's right. Any orders tagged on through next week, online, will count toward the total sales and thus the total of what we will earn toward our adoption!! YEEHA!!

So I will need to get emailing and posting again to my long distance family and friends to alert them to the continued sales going on to benefit our efforts to bring little T home.

Check out our next post for the listing of vendors and websites that are available and get a little Christmas shopping checked off your list! Wouldn't it be nicer to shop in your jammies by the fire, than out on Black Friday at the crack of dawn fighting off the other Target shoppers??

And keep me in your prayers. I have been so sick and so weakened from being sick (the weight loss is an added benefit!). I thank God for the timing and know he's in control of this thing, as He knows what's best and has me improving just in time for this event. I have been very discouraged, overwhelmed, and scared about how this will all come together in light of being sick and unable to get it all done on my own. I have had so many friends come alongside me to encourage me, shop, cook, and even clean my house. I am blessed with my sisters in Christ and God's sweet mercy. Thank you girls!

Up again during the night last night, feeling yucky and unable to sleep. I had my handy Bible app on my phone and the encouraging words of James that lifted my spirits - thank you Lord for your mercy, faithfulness to me, and saying just the right thing to me in the dark of the night...

"Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly without a second thought."  James 1:2-7 (The Message)

"Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life." James 1:12 (The Message)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How do you pack a Samaritan's purse?

Yay! It's one of our favorite times of the year - Operation Christmas Child Box time! It is always our first project of the Christmas season - and it's a good one! 
WHAT?? You don't know what I'm talking about??? Well, glad you asked ;) 

I am happy to tell you all about one of the easiest, simplest, most meaningful ways to jump start Christmas! And it's going on this week. Hurry... you will want to head over to Samaritan's Purse (see the button in the right hand side of the blog and at the end of this post). Many churches take part in this project, but you can also participate on your own.

Samaritan's purse, you might have guessed, is a ministry who draws its name from the story of the Good Samaritan. Jesus told this story to stress the need to show compassion and assistance to desperate need wherever we find it. After telling this story of how a Samaritan helped the man that everyone else ignored, Jesus told his listeners "Go and do likewise."

Samaritan's Purse has been around for 40 years, seeking the lost and hurt and desperate to provide food, shelter, medical care, assistance, relief during disasters, Gospel teaching,  and even giving children Christmas presents!

Here's where you come in! Operation Christmas Child delivers boxes of lovingly packaged presents to children all over the world living in poverty. After you pack your box, and drop it off by the end of this week at a local drop off location (and they are everywhere - check the website), your gift will be on its way to a child who will likely receive his/her only gifts from you. The child will also be offered written Gospel materials in their native language, and in many places, be able to attend a Bible program through a local church.

Grab a shoe box and start shopping (actually the plastic shoe boxes work well and are a bit larger). Decide if you are shopping for a girl or boy, and what age group (2-4, 5-9, or 10-14). Be creative and don't stress out your bank account. Take your kids with you - we have done it every year and my teens still love it. It is a great way to teach the skill of giving to others first (before getting your own gifts). Wonderful toys that children love can be found at dollar and discount stores. Children who receive these gifts love toys but also need and love to get toiletries, clothing items, eating utensils, and candy. They are grateful. Hard for us to think of getting excited about getting socks or a new toothbrush...but I guess we would, if we didn't have any.

Click on the Operation Christmas Child button at the right or below and read all the directions about what to pack and what not to pack and how to send. You will need to send your $7 postage with your box, or you can pay online - if you do it online, you have the added bonus of being able to track your box to see what country it lands in!

What an easy way to share the love of Christ, the childlike wonder of Christmas, and teach your children to "Go and do likewise."

Operation Christmas Child

Monday, November 12, 2012

The pits...

I mentioned in an earlier post that three other happenings had gone on around here in the last weeks. First were the kids' birthdays, the hurricane was the second, and the third was the election.

 As the election got closer and closer, I found myself feeling more and more awkward and alone. Not an easy thing to explain and perhaps I am on Facebook way too much. The ranting and posting was making me a bit sick (luckily I don't watch much tv so I escaped the mean commercials), but I saw a whole lotta other mean stuff on Facebook.

I am not a political person and if one were to look back across my life, I have wavered and changed in my thinking of what is ok, how government should run, and how and why I choose a certain candidate.  I do not watch the news nor read it most of the time now, and perhaps to some I might seem a bit misinformed about many of the daily goings-on of politics, government and international affairs.

I did not comment on anything political on Facebook until the day of the election when I did "like" a posting of one friend's that spoke of choosing the  candidate most closely aligned with Biblical principles. I believe it may have actually been a Billy Graham quote.

I am already tired of being challenged as it is about what I believe and the choices we have made for our lives - they are not the choices that the world typically makes or promotes. My faith and the core beliefs this country was founded on are also apparently no longer what the world typically believes or promotes anymore either. 

 Frankly, I don't so much take all that too personally but feel badly that what is really at stake and what is really being challenged is my God and his Word. I do think that now more than ever we need a candidate who will tow the tough line of old fashioned values, stricter moral codes, respect for life, a government with a plan and one who applauds those who work hard. I want a leader who will seek to pay off our debt and who sees the importance of supporting Israel.

I was not excited about either candidate and quite honestly, it was hard to get too excited over the whole thing except that I want the above listed things for this country - a country that some of my children will be entering as young adults in the next four years.

I am disappointed in the results obviously, and tho' it was exciting to take my just-turned-18 year old to the polls with me (it is always exciting to me to vote - I feel very patriotic),  I felt a pit in my stomach all day and even more so as the results came in late Tuesday night.

The pit is still there...feeling sad that our country is so torn in two - sorry, but it is. Both sides of the issues are so very different - there is no in between.

 I am feeling sad that despite the victory, the tone of hateful anger from those who were for the winner - continued on Facebook for days after the election. I find myself confused - it is those very people who claim that the win was a victory over hate. Just sayin' and keeping it real folks. I have to say that NOT ONCE did I see an ugly statement from someone who felt they had lost that night - only sad and concerned comments. 

I will not comment further about this issue after this post, but I will say that I will continue to stand for what the Lord stands for:  

Life - despite the inconvenience or inability to accept the consequences of behavior.  
Babies are a blessing from the Lord.
Family - as God designed it only. 
Marriage - as God designed it only - a spiritual and holy union of a man and woman's lives. (Let me be clear - this is not about hate, this is just what the definition of marriage is according to the one who designed it).
Hard work should be rewarded and not penalized.
Debt that continues to grow without a plan to repay, is not okay
Israel is to be supported. 

I think we are very foolish to think that God will continue to bless a land that chooses otherwise. Needless to say, I will do my best to support our President because I love our country. I will commit to praying fervently for him and the others in the government (because as we all know, decisions are made by many in government - not just the President) as they face the future.

Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right. 
Abraham Lincoln 

(insert palate cleanser here)
 Now on to another PIT...our new fire pit!!

John spontaneously built a fire pit. So strange, I had been thinking of asking him about one since we were planning the teens' party. Guess he read my mind. He built it while we were away at Jill's and we have had so many fun nights of roasting marshmallows, hanging out by the fire, and enjoying our backyard. It reminds us of many fun campfire nights with the Snell family and cousins in Maryland and Maine. 

I will leave you now with some fun pictures of our new evening past-time...marshmallows and our fire pit! I have replaced one pit with another pit - and I like this one so much more...

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