fresh air.

What a beautiful weekend. We enjoyed near-70 and low-60 degree weather Saturday and today. People were out wearing shorts and soaking up the sun, hardly remembering that it snowed two inches here last Monday. A lot of Nashvillians (myself included) got our hopes up that spring had arrived early. But the weatherman dashed our dreams with a 10-day forecast including mid-30s. At least the sun will be out, though. Back home, the southeast Kansans are expecting 8-12 inches of snow. I can't even imagine how Nashville would react to that much snow. We'd probably die in our homes.

Sarah, Glory, Chris, Annette, Tonya, Charlie
Yesterday I went to Starbucks while Nate was working and met up with Charlie and Tonya, a couple from our community group. Charlie read while Tonya and I talked about wedding stuff. Tonya is a pro and super detail-oriented. She is going to be a big help and I no longer feel like planning a wedding is incredibly overwhelming. Nate got off at 4 and the four of us headed to Franklin for Taco Night with more friends from community group.

I don't think I've ever laughed so much in my life. Each couple told the story of how they met, and after dinner we played games late into the night. Talking about the gospel with them in community group this morning was life, like a breath of fresh air. These friends are such a gift.


greater clips.

This evening Nate went into the bathroom to trim his beard while I started dinner. I knocked on the bathroom door to tell him dinner was ready, and he had decided to try his hair. I laughed and Nate thought he looked like Forrest Gump.

Nate first asked me to cut his hair when he moved here in September. I had never cut anyone's hair before, so I was pretty nervous. I watched a YouTube video once of how to cut and fade hair. I've cut it several times since then and it's actually really easy.

Nate wore a trash bag so he wouldn't get hair on his clothes … but there was definitely hair all over me and the rest of the bathroom. :)

I'm kind of a pro.
This seat's taykin.

hello, friday.

Ah, Friday. After sick days and vacation, this was my first full week back in the office in 2011. It was a blur. I spent most of the week editing on a new product. First edits are rough. Don't get me wrong; we have very talented and creative writers, but for whatever reason I am bleeding all over the place here. Bleeding. Not literally (I'm sure that's some kind of health hazard in an office environment) but if someone walked by and glanced in here they might think I've stabbed myself with my Fiskars and got it all over my work. I grew up with the impression that all editors were grumpy, heartless meanies who hate everything that comes on their desk. I don't hate everything that lands in my inbox, but I kind of get the stereotype.

On a happier note, one of my photos made it on the Nashvillest blog today. I read the Nashvillest blog every day (usually twice a day because they post that often). It's just a great place to stay up-to-date with what's happening in Music City. And their writers make reading news fun. They're pretty witty.

Last week I went to the eye doctor and I got glasses. I'm not confident enought to wear them all the time, but I wear them at home and when I'm driving and it's amazing! I can see! I used to hate driving at night but the lights are no longer fuzzy. Incredible.


strange south.

Well, it has snowed again. The Metro kids (and many surrounding counties) are enjoying another snow day. Too bad for them when they're still taking classes in July. Nashville hasn't received this much snow since the winter of 2002-2003. Needless to say, it's not normal. I left for work extra early because the roads were still wet and the newscasters were saying it was only going to get worse as temperatures continued to drop. No problems coming in on the streets and I got a really good parking spot in the garage. On the bright side, just 53 days until spring.

Last night Nate and I made a Walmart run to buy me an ice scraper (which I fortunately only used to brush snow off my car this morning) and some fetchal treats. As we perused the frozen novelties section, we came across these:

one word: unnatural.
Chicken rings. I don't know about the rest of you, but we've been noticing these a lot in the South lately. Nate and I first spotted a sign at White Castle and couldn't stop giggling: TRY OUR NEW CHICKEN RINGS! Chicken rings? Really? Hardee's has already educated us: chickens don't have nuggets. I've seen a few chickens in my lifetime—although I've never really examined them close up—and I'm pretty sure chickens don't have rings either.

Nate and I watched the Kansas vs. Colorado game courtesy of ESPN3 online. I fell asleep before 9 but Nate woke me up to watch the last two minutes of the game. For those of you who missed it, Kansas won. Rock chalk.




Tonight I made my first homemade cheesecake! Cheryl gave me a spring form pan and I made strawberry cheesecake from scratch. Sam and Anne came over tonight for dinner and games, and we had chicken enchiladas with cheesecake for dessert. We played a card game called Golf (thanks, Evan) and mixed it up using rounds of 3 or 6 cards instead of 9. At the end of the night, Nate came out with the win. Unfortunately for the cheesecake, I didn't notice the directions said to refrigerate overnight before serving. It was still a little warm when we ate it, but it was good and there's a lot left that will be properly cool when we eat it later this week. :)


nate the great.

After lunch today, Nate put on some old clothes to venture beneath the house and fix a foundation vent that the neighborhood feline delinquents busted out so they could benefit from the warmth of my crawlspace. The crawlspace is one of the places I would never enter on my own will. Not even for a million dollars. Okay, I'd totally do it for a million dollars, but the dark unknown 3-foot tall space beneath my house gives me the heebie jeebies just thinking about it. So I thought Nate was pretty great for offering to go under and keep the cats out.

Yesterday we went to Home Depot and picked up a new foundation vent cover and a tube of Quikrete. We set it up in the caulk gun, armed Nate and sent him below with the supplies. The previous homeowner left a plethora of junk in the crawlspace: glass bottles, a bag of potting soil, and a dozen or so plastic or ceramic pots--everything covered in a layer of dirt (probably from the flood). As Nate tossed stuff out and assured me there was a tarp covering the ground (albeit a very dirty tarp) I poked my head in and my fear of the crawlspace diminished a little. It probably helped that it's wintertime so there aren't any visible bugs or spiders inhabiting the space.

Nate moved over to the north side of the house and found the old vent pushed into the crawlspace. We decided to use it because it was thicker and a better fit than the new vent; we'll take it back to Home Depot for a refund.

The vent wasn't a perfect fit, but Nate slathered enough concrete around the edges that it should stay in position alright. I supervised and took pictures. :) Another victory in homeownership. Thanks, Nate. :)



So then, we have nothing to do to obtain this righteousness? No, nothing at all! For this righteousness comes by doing nothing, hearing nothing, knowing nothing, but rather in knowing and believing this only that Christ has gone to the right hand of the Father, not to become our judge, but to become for us our wisdom, our righteousness, our holiness, our salvation!

Now God sees no sin in us, for in this heavenly righteousness sin has no place. So now we may certainly think, "Although I still sin, I don't despair, because Christ lives, who is both my righteousness and my eternal life." In that righteousness I have no sin, no fear, no guilty conscience, no fear of death. I am indeed another righteousness above this life, which is in Christ, the Son of God, who knows no sin or death, but is eternal righteousness and eternal life.

"Martin Luther's preface to Galatians (paraphrase by Tim Keller)," Paul's Letter to the Galatians: Participant's Guide. Tim Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church. 2003.




Thanks to some Arctic oscillation, Nashville got 1-2 inches of snow last night. Wet, heavy snow over a layer of ice. When Nate left my house last night, we scraped his car and then mine. So this morning I just had a thin layer of ice to scrape off, at which time I discovered that my ice scraped is basically worthless. (Note to self: It's time for an upgrade.)

Things aren't looking too good out there. Google Traffic is reporting motor vehicle accidents and Metro Police have responded to more than 70 MVAs this morning. There are some slick spots on side roads but the interstates are all clear. (Nice work, TDOT. My drive in this morning was kind of nice.) A lot of my coworkers have stayed home (I'm the only editor on my hall) but for everyone else on the roads: slow down! And avoid hills. And don't follow too closely behind people. Because if you crash, you get to deal with insurance. And that's (s)no(w) fun.


I was one of the 1.3 million people who got in on Living Social's $20 Amazon.com card for $10 a couple of days ago. I got my code via e-mail and ordered some books. I'm really excited about these.

Redemption: Freed by Jesus from the Idols We Worship and the Wounds We Carry (RE: Lit) - Mike Wilkerson

(Crossway): Exodus is a real story about God redeeming his people from the bondage of slavery and how their difficult journey home exposed their loyalties—though wounded by Egypt, they had come to worship its gods. Most Christians don’t make golden idols like the Israelites in the wilderness, but we do set up idols on our own desert road—idols like substance abuse, pornography, gluttony, and rage. And even those who don’t know the pain of actual slavery can feel enslaved to the fear and shame that follow sexual abuse or betrayal by a spouse, for we suffer at the hands of our idols as well as those created by others. We need more than self-improvement or comfort—we need redemption.

Note: This book is a pre-order. It releases in January 31, 2011.

Practical Theology for Women: How Knowing God Makes a Difference in Our Daily Lives (Re: Lit Books) - Wendy Horger Alsup

(Crossway): Have you ever wanted to understand the deep things of the Word but been put off by the intimidating vocabulary of theologians? Have you assumed that studying the attributes of God is for seminary students only? Or maybe "just for men"? Have heavy doctrinal themes felt beyond you and your everyday world? If so-if you've ever thought theology was too deep, too impractical, or too irrelevant for your life as a woman-this book is for you.

As author Wendy Alsup explores fundamental theological issues you've always wondered about-minus the daunting vocabulary and complex sentence structure of academic tomes-she brings them into real life… into your world… and reveals the heart of true theology. It's really about "simple yet incredibly profound stuff that affects our daily lives," she says. Stuff like faith and gaining a right knowledge of God as the foundation for wise daily living.

Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself (RE: Lit) - Joe Thorn

(Crossway): We need good preaching—preaching that challenges us by God’s Word and brings the comfort that comes from God’s promises. Yet many of us rely solely on others to preach to us and are not benefiting from the kind of preaching that should be most consistent and personal—preaching to ourselves.

Note to Self is a practical introduction to this daily discipline. Pastor Joe Thorn delivers fifty brief, devotional chapters that model preaching the gospel to ourselves and its practical implications. Readers will be challenged by the book’s direct, personal exhortations to apply the law and the gospel to their own lives. Part of the Re:Lit series.

Note: This book is a pre-order. It releases April 30, 2011.


hip, hip.

The thought of pulling a dead cat out of my HVAC did not excite me. Tuesday night around 8 p.m. I was laying in bed reading when I heard this awful meooow! seemingly from directly beneath me. Miles perked up and jumped down from the bed. All during the night I kept hearing this cat and it didn't seem to move at all. On the north side of my house in the crawlspace is my HVAC (heating, ventilating, air conditioning) and I just knew that somehow a cat had managed to get into it and was trapped. I've been watching too many Rescue 911 episodes on YouTube lately, and in my mind I was already trying to decide how I would save this cat. Besides, if I ignored it and it died, the smell would be atrocious and I would just feel bad for doing nothing.

The next day, Nate walked around my house to try to see what the problem was. He discovered a hole at my front porch and another where the screened vent had been pushed away from the base of my house. Apparently all the neighborhood cats that roam freely (the reason why Miles stays indoors) have made my crawlspace their little winter getaway. This is no bueno for many reasons so we'll be figuring out a way to block up those holes in the very near future.

My boss, Cheryl, turned 50 today. Sometimes I give her a hard time because she's been working at LW longer than I've been alive. But we think she's great and we got here early to decorate her office with yellow streamers. I'm sure she appreciated it very much. :) For lunch our preteen team took her to Pei Wei. I don't think I've ever eaten at Pei Wei, but I was very glad to find they have pad thai. Jeff was sneaky and scheduled a "meeting" for 1:30 in the conference room. The rest of us showed up at 1:25, then we surprised Cheryl with a cookie party. Jeff read an ode I wrote in honor of the celebration.

Jeff decorating Cheryl's office
An Ode to Cheryl on Her 50th Birthday

Ms. Cheryl, excuse us; we've something to say.
We've planned and we've prepped for your most special day.
We wanted to tell you our own special way
So here it goes, rhyming—a hip, hip, hooray!
Big 50! Big 5-0! We'll deck out your door.
Is that what the L* in your middle name's for?

A Braves fan, a traveler, a passenger by train:
Newfoundland to Scotland … where next, the Ukraine?
They say that at your age, some things start to strain,
So maybe for 60 we'll buy you a cane!
But really, we're happy. We've baked up some dough.
We're glad you were born those five decades ago.

This ode's for you, Cheryl, enjoy our grand cheer.
We hope you love 50. It will last a whole year!
*The Roman numeral for 50 is L … no one got the joke.

Happy Birthday, Cheryl. :)



This weekend, Nate and I had the pleasure of hosting several of our friends. Evan and Jenn flew into Nashville Friday morning and we spent the day with them. We had an early lunch at Pancake Pantry and then walked around Vanderbilt for a bit before stopping at Starbucks for warm drinks. We played talked and played cards and then for dinner I made caramel apple pork chops.
Evan and Nate at Vandy
Evan is kind of a pro at getting into sports facilities via unlocked gates and doors.
We checked out the football stadium and gymnasium.

The Vandy men's basketball team was practicing.

Evan and Jenn
Nate took Evan and Jenn up to Love Circle where he proposed to me January 1.

We also discovered pretty quickly that Evan is allergic to Miles. Saturday night, Lindsey and Tiffany (more Kansas City friends) arrived after driving all day. They brought an air mattress and we set them up in my second bedroom. Evan, Jenn, Lindsey, and Tiffany were here for a City Life conference and we were glad to see them before their conference started on Saturday.

My friend Clarissa from Lincoln, Nebraska, flew in Saturday morning to hang out for a few days. I met Clarissa in Jacksonville during STP in 2008. We made Asian chicken roll-ups for lunch, caught up on life (we hadn't seen each other in a year!) and then we took a nap. I made chili for dinner and then Nate, Clarissa, and I headed downtown. The City Life group was staying at Union Station so we met up with them there and played cards until midnight.

Yesterday afternoon we went to Antioch to see Life As We Know It at the $1.50 theater. It was pretty funny. Today our KC friends headed out early to drive back west. Clarissa and I slept nearly 12 hours and got up for breakfast and then headed to the mall at Cool Springs. I've really been needing to find jeans but haven't had any luck. We went to JCP and found a pair of Levi's I liked but I needed size 4 Long. I went to the counter to see if they could order some, and they said Levis doesn't make 4 Long. Really? I resorted to going to the juniors' department where I finally found some jeans that fit.

Jean shopping was much quicker than anticipated so we decided to stop in at David's Bridal so I could try on some wedding dresses and start deciding what I like and don't like. It was surprisingly busy (some people don't have to work on MLK Day) and none of the salespersons even acknowledged our presence; I guess you should probably have an appointment to try on dresses. We looked at some dresses on the rack and I decided what I didn't like, and then we left. Leftovers for lunch and then making coasters. I drove to Clarissa to the airport for her 5 p.m. flight and headed to Starbucks to see Nate during his 10-minute break.

Back to work tomorrow. Between being sick and days off, I've managed to avoid a full week so far this month. I think I'll have a 5-day week next week but I'm looking forward to being back at my desk.

Praise God for friends.


DIY: coasters

Today Clarissa and I stopped by Home Depot and picked up six glazed ceramic square tiles. The last time Nate and I were in Louisville, I saw some of his friends had handmade decoupaged coasters. I thought, I could do that, so I did. Each tile was only 16 cents and I had all the other supplies I needed at home already. I cut pictures from my Real Simple magazines and in no time had six beautiful new coasters. (How great that one issue had a word cloud of things that make people happy. I used it behind the red leaf.) I used straight-up pictures, but in the past I've decoupaged collages with various cut-out objects or strips of pictures. Get creative! This would be really fun and easy if you want to make gifts for someone.

DIY coasters. Click photo for a larger view.
Materials. 4-inch ceramic square tiles, adhesive felt pads, matte finish,
magazines, foam brush, spray gloss finish

  1. Apply adhesive felt pads to the bottom of each tile.
  2. Cut 4-inch squares from pages in the magazines. You could also cut out individual words or pictures.
  3. Use the foam brush to cover the top of the tile with matte finish. Lay the magazine pieces on the tile, using your fingers to carefully position the pieces and push out any air bubbles.
  4. Cover the surface area with another layer of matte finish.
  5. Set aside to dry.
  6. Spray the surface of each coaster with spray gloss finish and set aside to dry. Without the glossy finish, water on the bottom of a glass will make the matte finish stick to your glass.
    That was easy.



    This week has been a blur. I managed to get showered and in bed last night before 8 p.m. which felt like a small victory until Miles woke me at 4 a.m. pushing pencils, chapstick, and paper balls beneath my locked bedroom door. He jumped at the handle and meowed loudly, "Moooom!? Mom?!" hoping I'd get up and feed him. I won't get up until my alarm goes off; I don't want to encourage his early-morning behavior. He'll sleep in the kitchen while friends visit this weekend.

    This morning I was trying to focus only on the things I needed to do today. After work, coming home to clean and do the dishes and take down the Christmas tree. Nate had to go to work at 4:30 today, so I wasn't sure I'd see him but he was waiting for me when I got home and to my very pleasant surprised he had done all the dishes and put them in the cabinets, done my laundry and folded it and put it away, emptied the trash and recycling bin, and took down the Christmas tree and put it back into the attic! Yay, yay, yay. :) He's great.

    We had chapel yesterday and Dr. Rainer spoke about when your calling is greater than your comfort, and he read through Genesis 12, Abram's calling. Sometimes God might call us to do things that mean giving up things in which we are extremely happy and comfortable. God told Abram to go, and Abram didn't even know where he was going. He just went. It's kind of scary to imagine following God into the great unknown and trust Him to provide, unless you really understand how small a thing it is for him. I wonder if any of Abram's friends or family members said, "Abram! Are you an idiot? You have everything you need right here! What a comfortable life! You're going to give it all up because you think God wants you somewhere else?" But God dumped more blessing on Abram than he could have imagined. Abraham was certainly not a self-made man. What a tough lesson.

    Lance Stafford (on piano) is lead vocalist for the Christian rock band, Cloverton, of Manhattan, Kansas.
    His twin brother, Layne Stafford, plays bass guitar for the band.

    My next interview for our devotional magazine is going to be with Cloverton. These guys hail from Manhattan, Kansas, and one of them was part of a group I hung out with a lot my last semester of college. They won Grand Prize in the 2010 Rock the Camp contest, an honor that allowed them to open for TobyMac on tour in July. Cloverton will also be on the K-LOVE music cruise in next month, playing alongside Casting Crowns, Matthew West, Leeland, Newsboys, Jonny Diaz, and more. Their music is great and they will be in Nashville in early February, so I'll get to interview them in person.

    The grocery shopping/cooking has been excellent so far this month. I think I've spent about $90 and still have enough ingredients to make 7 or 8 more dinners. (I don't cook on nights that Nate works.) So Plus we usually eat leftovers at least a couple times each week. So unless we decide to eat steak the next two weeks, I think I'll be under my grocery budget for January. Woo hoo! Our most recent great experience was Asian Chicken Roll-Ups. The recipe was in my new Betty Crocker Cookbook (Bridal Edition). It's so easy to make and so yummy. In fact, we're having them again for lunch tomorrow when Evan and Jenn are here.

    Tomorrow night I am planning on making Caramel Apple Pork Chops. We had them a couple of months ago with Samne. Clarissa flies in Saturday morning. I'm so excited.



    Yet you would not go up, but rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. And you murmured in your tents and said, 'Because the LORD hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt, saying, "The people are greater and taller than we. The cities are great and fortified up to heaven. And besides, we have seen the sons of the Anakim there."' Then I said to you, 'Do not be in dread or afraid of them. The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes, and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.' 

    Deuteronomy 1:26-31



    When I was little, snow excited me. I loved the thought of spending hours trudging around in my boots and building snow forts with my siblings and drinking hot chocolate and—best of all—not going to school. It snowed last night in Nashville and continues to snow throughout today. And when I woke up, I was not excited.

    Welcome to the real world. Adults don't get snow days (unless you work for a school district) and I got up early to dig my car out with my plastic dustpan and brush. I never got around to buying a snow shovel. (Using a plastic dustpan as a show shovel is a great way to break your plastic dustpan, fyi.)I spent a couple minutes trying to decide whether or not I should even attempt to drive into work. I kind of wanted to go in since I had been home sick a couple days, but I knew if I did go in, numbers would be low due to all my coworkers who conveniently "work from home" on days like this. (OK, maybe they actually do.) I checked Google Traffic and TDOT maps. We were ice free and I figured 3-4 inches of snow was relatively soft and safe.

    I thought Miles was going to become an orphan this morning. Absolutely none of the roads had been cleared by TDOT (did someone forget to tell them it snowed last night? I think they waited for sunlight) and the interstates were so bad, I couldn't even tell which lane I was in. I headed up Nolensville at 20 mph, wondering whether or not these other cars were purposely running red lights and driving on the curbs and sidewalks. I merged onto I-440 not going any faster than 30 mph.

    I-65 was packed and white and I cautiously moved to the left lane (no braking!) where it seemed most cars had traveled. I glanced in my rear view mirror just as the car behind me started to spin and careen to the right shoulder and I held my breath, just knowing the cars following would smash into it. But they didn't and the car stopped on the side of the road. My heart was beating pretty fast. I had enough scary for the morning and was thankful when I pulled into the parking garage at work in one piece.

    At lunch I went down to the Pepsi machine to get a diet Mt. Dew and the stupid machine at my money. There was a number on the machine and I called it and they told me to go to the cafeteria downstairs and get my money back. (I normally am against buying soda from a machine because you can buy a 2-liter at Kroger for the same price as a 20-oz. but I'm having one of those days.) I was glad to notice out the windows that you could see most of the roads which made me optimistic about the drive home, which turned out to be very manageable.

    The snow is drifting down slowly but steadily. It's prettier when I'm sitting in my front room with Miles on my lap. I feel a little silly being a Kansas girl getting slightly worked up over snow, but when I lived in Kansas, I enjoyed a school day. Now I'm an adult and actually have to drive in it. I think we'll be good for the next few days even though I'm pretty sure Metro schools are trying to stay out of school for the entire month of January.

    I'm ready for spring. I'm keeping my eye out for daffodils and robins, although the other day when I was driving I looked down and saw a robin dead in the middle of the road with its feet sticking straight up. I'm pretty sure that is not a good sign.



    Well hello, hello. Despite some recent suspicions of the otherwise, I am in fact still alive. I was out sick for most of last week and after 72 hours stuck at home, I am finally starting to feel like I can return to sitting at my desk without the fear of plunging into sudden mucous-related death.

    Nate came over while I was sick to bring me fluids and cookies. (I love him, but he isn't the best nurse.) Thursday I talked to my doctor and she told me it was probably viral, so they couldn't give me anything for it and I had to wait it out. Being sick stinks, but early on I discovered that nearly every episode of Rescue 911 is available on YouTube and that kept me pretty occupied. (Shamefully though because I should have been reading.) I think I am on the up-and-up.
    Apparently it is supposed to snow 2-4 inches in Nashville tomorrow, possibly up to 7 inches south of the city. The Weather Channel reported 2-4 inches above I-40, and 4-7 south of the interstate. I-40 runs through the middle of Nashville, so technically I am south of it by about five miles. As long as they get the roads cleared and we don't have a lot of ice, we should be fine. Nashville shuts down for 1 inch though, so there is probably already panic and chaos brewing in the metro.

    I haven't started reading any books yet this year, but our community group will soon be reading Radical by David Platt. We finished up 2010 with R.C. Sproul's The Holiness of God and are touching on Jonathan Edwards' resolutions in between. Radical is a fairly new book and neither Nate nor I own it, so I set out to find the best deal. It retails for $14.95 on Amazon plus shipping. I just bought two copies for $11.04 (free shipping!) at The Book Depository.

    teal and black
    Nate is working this evening so I'm home watching the KU v. Michigan basketball game on CBS. Though Nate and I haven't set a date and have been engaged a week, I'm feeling slightly stressed that I haven't really begun planning the wedding. We're shooting for summer, maybe July, which gives me about six months. So ... where exactly do I start?

    I'm naturally a planner so I feel like once I get going in the right direction, I should do alright. I think I need to talk to my recently-married friends. One of Nate's coworkers does hair. We've started a guest list and picked colors. I guess that's a start! :) It just seems like there's so much you have to hand off to other people (photography, cake, catering, dress alterations, hotel reservations, etc.) and it makes me kind of nervous to think everyone is going to do their jobs right and it will all come together.

    Is it too late to elope? ;)

    ps. We're getting married in Nashville! I'm taking suggestions for best place to get a cake, find a dress, host a reception or rehearsal dinner, hire a photographer, get flowers, etc.
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