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If you could go back in time....

I want to go back….

Sometimes we get so frustrated or disillusioned or hurt or grief-stricken or angry that we think that God obviously didn’t know what He was doing when He allowed certain things to happen in our life.  Pretend that you could change your past.  Pretend you could do things differently, but the rules are that whatever you change means it changes everything.  If someone has hurt you so badly that you wish you had never met that person, ask yourself these questions:

  1. How would my life have been different?
  2. Where would I have lived?
  3. What would I have done?
  4. What in my life now would I not have if I had never met that person?

Bible Reading:  Genesis 37:1-36, 39:1 – 45:11

Click here to read a summary of the life of Joseph.

Questions:

  1. What did Joseph’s father ask him to do?  Genesis 37:14
  2. Because his older brothers were so jealous and hated him, what did they do to Joseph?  Genesis 37:28
  3. When Joseph was a slave in Egypt, what happened to him there?  Genesis 39:2-4
  4. Because of the lies of Potiphar’s wife against Joseph, what did Joseph’s master do?  Genesis 39:20
  5. When Joseph was a prisoner in Egypt, how did God bless him?  Genesis 39:21-23
  6. While in prison for two years, whom did Joseph meet?  Genesis 40:2-4
  7. When the cup bearer returned to serve Pharaoh, what did he remember about Joseph?  Genesis 41:12
  8. Because Joseph was able to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh regarding seven years of plenty and seven years of famine, what did Pharaoh do?  Genesis 41:40
  9. Who came to Egypt in search of grain for food during the famine?  Genesis 42:1-2
  10. Did the brothers recognize Joseph?  Genesis 42:8

Imagine the scene in Genesis 45.  The Bible says, “Joseph was no longer able to control himself in front of his servants, so he ordered them to leave the room. No one else was with him when Joseph told his brothers who he was. He cried with such loud sobs that the Egyptians heard it, and the news was taken to the palace.”  Joseph said to his brothers, “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people’s lives.”  Eventually, all of Joseph’s family moved from Canaan to Egypt where they would have food and Joseph was reunited with his father Jacob.

Considering Joseph’s life, would you have stopped him from leaving his father’s tent that day ~ the day that his brother’s sold him into slavery to Egypt?

In the same way, if you could go back in time, would you change your life to take another path if it meant not having any of the blessings you now enjoy?

What are those blessings?  Name them.  And think about if you did not have them.

Take time to thank God for your circumstances and ask Him to give you strength and courage to allow Him to work in your life for the good of many people.   Your life story is not over yet!

 

Two word prayers

Two babies bwOur daughter had twins who were in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit called the NICU for four weeks. They were tiny – these two – a little boy 3 pounds 7 ounces and a baby girl 3 pounds.  We praise the doctors and nurses for their care and skill, but we praise God most of all for each and every answer to our prayers.

One day a very dear Chinese friend told me that her family was praying for the twins.  She said her little girl prayed only these words, “Two babies – one boy – one girl.”

This prayer is a valuable lesson that when you bring a very real need to the Lord and ask for His divine grace and mercy, words can be few.  In fact, God is not impressed with our many words. It is our heart and our need for Him that He sees.  While the twins were in the NICU, I also learned the valuable lesson that sometimes prayers can be too deep for words.  In fact, we know that when we do not know what to pray or how to pray, the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness.

Our daughter would see to the needs of the twins and watched them closely.  By God’s grace, with tender loving care, time and the prayers of many, the twins grew and grew.

Since the twins were in the NICU and after my friend shared the simple prayer of her little girl, I have thought about two word prayers and wrote down the ones that have come to my mind.  I share these with you ~ you may think of others that are meaningful to you.

Lord, please….

Help me.  Protect me.  Guide me.  Use me.   Bless me.   Change me.   Teach me.   Take me.   Fill me.   Comfort me.  Remember me.   Defend me.   Hear me.   Silence me.   Heal me.   Stop me.   Lead me.   Show me.   Equip me.  Rescue me.   Save me.   Send me.   Cover me.   Forgive me.   Cleanse me.   Shepherd me.   Inspire me.   Redeem me.  See me.   Restore me.

And perhaps, the most important prayer of all…

Lord, thank you.

Two babies

​Bible reading:

Matthew 6:6-7 | Romans 8:26 | Philippians 4:6-7   |  Matthew 7:11

Questions:

  1. What is prayer?
  2. How will praying bring you closer to God?
  3. When you pray, what is your attitude?
  4. Does praying mean God will always give me what I want?  How can bringing your requests to God be similar to a child bringing a request to their parents?

The Hubble Telescope has given us far-reaching views of the universe, but the Hubble itself has its own remarkable story. When the first images from Hubble were received in 1990, NASA scientists realized there was a very small, but significant flaw in the mirror. NASA was able to correct this mistake so Hubble could send amazing images from space; but it was an extraordinary achievement that required astronauts installing five pair of corrective mirrors (Hubble’s corrective lenses) in a space walk in 1993.
Read more about Hubble’s mirror flaw

Important lesson learned: Check, double-check, triple-check.  It could save a tremendous amount of trouble!

hubble Pillars of Creation

Taken on April 1, 1995, “Pillars of Creation” was named one of the top ten photographs from Hubble by space.com.

Stunning images received from Hubble

Pillars of Creation” is a photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of elephant trunks of interstellar gas and dust in the Eagle Nebula some 6,500-7,000 lights years from Earth.  NASA scientists named this nebula “Pillars of Creation”, because the gas and dust are in the process of forming new stars.

The phrase “pillars of creation” originated in a sermon given by an English Christian minister to describe the birth of Jesus Christ.  ​

And now wonder, ye angels, the Infinite has become an infant; he, upon whose shoulders the universe hang​s​…he who created all things, and bears up the pillars of creation.”​
Charles Spurgeon​ (1834-1892)

​Bible reading:   Genesis 1​

Questions:

  1. Do you know the meaning of the word “Genesis”?
  2. What is your personal belief about how the universe began?  What other theories have you heard?
  3. If you were going to describe how the universe was created, what words would you use?
  4. What do you think the Bible is saying in Genesis 1?
  5. What phrases are repeated again and again in Genesis chapter 1?
  6. If you could ask God one question about the universe, what would it be?  ​

For further discussion:  How does Genesis 1 answer the five W’s about creation?

Who?  What?  When?  Where?  Why?

Read more about “in the beginning” in John chapter 1.

Creating a budget

coins-1015125_640This may seem like a boring topic; but trust me, when you start working and are receiving a paycheck, it is easy to lose track of how much money you are spending. On my first job I did not make very much money,  I had to learn the hard way that money always goes out faster than it comes in; but I learned “the value of a dollar”.  I hope our talk about a budget will help you so that soon and very soon when you are working and supporting yourself, you will feel very content and happy about your standard of living and how you are spending your money.  Learning to support yourself will be a source of great pride and accomplishment.

Think about these questions.  Fill-in-the-blanks with these words: prioritize, challenge, discretionary, credit, balance

What is this image saying to you?  How important is it to you to ____________ your budget?

1.  What does this saying mean?  Parents owe their children a good education, a good name and good-bye.

2.  What do you think will be your greatest _____________ to not over-spend?

3.  Do you think it’s a good idea to make purchases on credit?  Why or why not?

4.  How important is it for you to have the latest technology for a phone?

5.  Do you plan to use a debit card or a ___________card?  If so, how can you resist the temptation to overspend on your card?

TIPS FOR CREATING A BUDGET

For the first month, write down everything you spend your money on.

At the end of the month, did you spend more than your income?  If so, how much more?

_____________ your spending.  After paying for what is necessary (food and rent), how much money is left?  This might be called _______________ spending.

Have you ever heard of the envelope method of budgeting?  It is literally where you create envelopes that are marked for how much money you can spend on certain categories:

Rent, food, telephone fees, charity, insurance, transportation, clothing, personal items, hair, nails, entertainment, saving for a big purchase like a trip.  Write a word on an envelope, then put an amount money into that envelope that is maximum amount of money you can spend for that particular category.  You get the idea.  Even if you don’t actually put the CASH in the envelope, you can create a system so that you know what you are spending for each category and once you reach your limit (what is budgeted), you cannot spend anymore in that category.

Can you think of other methods that might work for you so that you are able to manage your money wisely?

Happiness is not buying another pair of shoes.  In this world, you will never make enough money to buy happiness.   Happiness is spending a dollar less than you make!  Happiness is being proud of what you have and not always wanting more.  Happiness is understanding that there is more to life than “things” and that the greatest things in life are free.

Bible truths

Contentment:  Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Feast or famine: I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him [Jesus Christ] who gives me strength. Philippians 4:12-13 

Your value is not in money: Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Luke 12:7

Don’t forget that these are free:  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.  I Corinthians 13:13

Karen’s Life Sketch

Karen KingOn this, the first day of 2017, it seems an appropriate time to share my life sketch.  Rather than looking forward to the new year, I am looking back over my life and analyzing it.  There have been physical changes ~ for sure.  And life is filled with emotional experiences bringing you happiness and sorrow that change you.  Then ah, yes, our spiritual lives are sometimes left to be relegated to a mysticism or sheer energy; but truly, truly, our lives will be richer and fuller if we recognize that our self-worth is not in things or possessions or degrees or accolades but in our personal relationship with God ~ our Creator.  So this is my personal life sketch.  I hope you will take time to write yours and I would love to have you share it with me.
My birthday is July 18, 1953.  I was born in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas.  I am the youngest of five children.  I have two older brothers, an older sister and a twin!  Although my brothers and sisters and I live far from each other in distance, we enjoy using technology to keep in touch and we love being together.

My twin sister’s name is Kathy.  We are very different.  She is creative and spontaneous.  I am cautious.  We work together which means we talk every day even though she lives in Florida and I live in Oklahoma. Our business is KathyandKaren.com.  My sisters and I also have an on-line community Call Me Sister where we write blog articles about daily life. We would love to have thousands of virtual sisters.  We hope you will join us and call us “sister”.

My family moved to Oklahoma from Arkansas when I was in first grade.  Bob, my husband, and I dated when we were in high school.  Then while Bob was attending the University of Oklahoma, I moved to Oklahoma City at the age of 18 to work. During those years we fell in love and three years later we were married. When Bob graduated, we moved to Tulsa where Bob worked for an oil and gas company.  I worked as a secretary until Sarah was born in 1980 and I became a “stay-at-home” mom.  Taylor was born in 1984 so my life was filled with family, my church and volunteer activities.   I also homeschooled our children for three years when they were in elementary grades.

God has used many circumstances to shape my life.  No doubt the event that first jarred my most wonderful world and made me re-evaluate my life was in 1996 when I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 43.  From that point, nothing was the same.  I changed my diet, my activities and even the way I thought!  Well, I say I changed the way I thought.   Actually it was God who changed my thinking, because I could not have changed my thinking without Him.  He showed me that every day of my life is a gift from Him.  He showed me how fragile my life is and how I really didn’t control it.  He showed me how His love was showered on me each and every day of my life.  He showed me that it was not my job to worry about changing other people, but only to pay attention to how I should live my own life.

Bob and I lived in Tulsa for 28 years and he continued to grow in his career in oil and gas.  Unfortunately, after 9/11 Bob lost his job and was unemployed for a year and a half.  However, because of this seemingly terrible situation, we moved to Florida so that Bob could teach math at a failing high school in the inner city of Miami. That is where we lived before we moved to Norman.  We love Norman and we love meeting many students at OU from China.

Another life-changing event in my life was the birth of our two grandchildren – Cooper and Avery.  After many disappointments and medical procedures, our daughter Sarah and her husband continued to hope and pray for a child.  With great joy, we learned that Sarah was pregnant, then we learned that she was going to have twins!  Her pregnancy was very difficult. She was hospitalized when she was only 22 weeks pregnant and was put on bed rest.  The babies were born March 5, 2014 – at 30 weeks – two months premature.  Cooper weighed only 3 pounds 7 ounces and Avery weighed only 3 pounds.  The babies were so small and we prayed earnestly for them.  We are so grateful that many others also prayed for them.  Now Cooper and Avery continue to grow healthy and strong.  We are so very grateful and thankful for this wonderful gift.

On November 8, 1964 at the age of 11, I made the most important decision in my life. I became a Christian by asking Jesus to be my personal Savior and the Lord of my life.  This decision has given my life great purpose and meaning.  From having cancer to surviving a very serious car accident several years ago to the birth of Cooper and Avery, I have become aware of how much in life I do not control. That has made me understand more about how to trust God to take unplanned and sometimes painful circumstances and give us hope, because He has given me life. I want my life to count for something. I want my life to count for God. Each morning, I awaken with expectations and I appreciate each day.  The Bible is my guide.  I love my husband.  I love my children.  I love our grandchildren. I love people.  I know that this is only possible because God showed me His grace and He took my bad attitude and turned it into thanksgiving.  He showed me that the most important things in life are those things that you cannot see, but they are very real.  I am thankful that Jesus saved me from my sins and that as I have trusted him as my Savior and Lord, He has given joy and peace.  He has not only given me a new life today and tomorrow, but forever.

My life had always been busy. I worked. I got married. I had children. I volunteered. I attended church and studied the Bible. My life is now more precious than I had previously realized. This life is like a vapor – a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. We must build our lives on the foundation of faith in Christ – understanding that apart from Him we are nothing. He loves you so. James 4:14 and John 15:5

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.    Hebrews 13:8  The Holy Bible

There is a particular word that can stop time.  It is the word that will be like a bee sting.  It is a word that makes all things new.  In the nano second after you hear this word, whatever was bothering you will suddenly seem extremely trivial and unimportant.  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, your perspective changes.  All of a sudden, you want to tell someone that you care, that you are sorry for every single cross word you ever uttered.

December 13, 1996
I received a biopsy report.  I knew the report would show “it is something” or “it is nothing”; but my doctor did not say, “It is nothing.”  Instead, he very calmly said, “Mrs. King, you have infiltrating ductile carcinoma.”  This was an unexpected blow.  Other people get cancer.  I was only 43 years old.  We had two children at home and they certainly still needed a mother.  I called my husband and he immediately came home from work.  All of our priorities changed.  It didn’t matter that Christmas presents weren’t wrapped or that a Christmas light had burned out on the roof.

December 13, 2016
Today is my twenty-year anniversary as a cancer survivor.  I am grateful for these twenty years and consider each one a gift from God.  In the last couple of years, our daughter has had twins and our son has been married.  While I know they would have been able to live without me, I am very thankful that I was able to be there to support and encourage them.  I know they would have been able to live without me, but I think a part of life would have been sad.

These are lessons I learned from cancer and it is what I shared in a Survivor’s Speech at a Relay for Life in Hollywood, Florida, ten years ago.  It is still true today.

We can all say that cancer changes things.  During my 9 months of treatment I prayed a lot and asked myself many questions and I came through that time learning many things.

#1   My life is precious to me and every day is a gift…a gift not to be taken for granted.  

#2   People have great capacity for compassion and kindness.

#3   Faith and hope are real.  As a Christian I have great comfort and peace knowing that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of my life.  Cancer deepened my faith and increased my hope. 

#4   Pray for wisdom for researchers to unlock mysteries about this disease.  Pray for wisdom for doctors who treat cancer patients.  Pray for wisdom for families as they make important decisions. I pray that all of us will be wise about this disease and what we can do to prevent it.  We as survivors are members of a club that we don’t want you or anyone in your family to join – the dues are too high.  It has been said that people change their lifestyles for three reasons:  fear, pain and wisdom.  So I pray that you will be free from fear.  I pray that you will be free from pain; but, most importantly, I pray that we will all have an abundance of wisdom to take what we already know about cancer and be proactive and live a healthier life – physically, emotionally and spiritually. 

This is a special day ~ I never want to forget how it felt twenty years ago today when a doctor called and my life was suddenly changed.

Yesterday a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer. My heart sank and then I remembered that even in the pain, cancer cannot steal joy. As we approach Easter, I’m reminded that cancer cannot destroy the hope we have in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I also remembered this “Survivor’s Speech” that I gave at a RELAY FOR LIFE rally in Hollywood, Florida in 2006.  I must have saved a copy of it because it meant something to me.  I hope that now – 9 years later – these words still ring true and will have meaning for someone else.  To encourage someone who needs to be encouraged, bless someone who needs to be blessed and inspire someone who needs to be inspired. And to my fellow cancer survivors and to those who are presently in the struggle, I still say, “God bless you.”

Opening Ceremony Survivor’s Speech
RELAY FOR LIFE
Hollywood, Florida
Friday, April 28, 2006

My name is Karen King.  I was diagnosed with cancer in December 1996 – almost 10 years ago!  To my fellow cancer survivors, I say “God bless you!”  I know many of you have suffered and are suffering more than I.  It is an honor to represent you and my hope is that I represent you well.

I think that we can all say that cancer changes things.  During my 9 months of treatment I prayed a lot and asked myself many questions and I came through that time learning many things.

#1   My life is precious to me and every day is a gift…a gift not to be taken for granted.  And as  cancer survivors I know we can all appreciate having hair – in any amount!  We can all agree that there are no longer any “bad hair” days!”

#2   People like you have great capacity for compassion and kindness and for this we as survivors are so grateful and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

#3   Faith and hope are real.  As a Christian I have great comfort and peace knowing that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Lord of my life.  Cancer deepened my faith and increased my hope.

Many people have worked hard – very hard – to bring about this Relay for Life.  We appreciate their efforts and the efforts that each one of you has given to support the American Cancer Society and the cause to fight cancer in all of its forms.  As you walk the track today I ask you to pray for wisdom.  Pray for wisdom for researchers to unlock mysteries about this disease.  Pray for wisdom for doctors who treat cancer patients.  Pray for wisdom for families as they make important decisions.

Finally, I pray that all of us will be wise about this disease and what we can do to prevent it.  We as survivors are members of a club that we don’t want you or anyone in your family to join – the dues are too high.  It has been said that people change their lifestyles for three reasons:  fear, pain and wisdom.  So I pray that you will be free from fear.  I pray that you will be free from pain; but, most importantly, I pray that we will all have an abundance of wisdom to take what we already know about cancer and be proactive and live a healthier life – physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Thank you.

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BOATLIFT 9-11

BOATLIFT 9-11

In the decade-plus years since 9.11, I had never heard this story.

After the terrorists attack of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2011, Manhattan shut down – all subways, tunnels, bridges, and trains were closed.  People ran to the water’s edge.  Realizing there was no way off the island, some even jumped in the water.  Others trying to flee began to overload boats that were already anchored there.

Coast Guard 9.11

US Coast Guard Pilot Boat #1 knew that they could not handle this situation alone and they made a brave decision.  The Coast Guard sent out a radio alert to boats in the area – asking any and all boats to respond to Governor’s Island.

And the boats came.

 

This YOU TUBE video is a story of the courage, compassion and heroism of these “regular citizens”.

The largest sea evacuation* in history, in less than nine hours, nearly 500,000 civilians were rescued from Manhattan by boat.

May God richly bless these people who took action and came to the aid of fellow citizens in their hour of dire need – disregarding personal harm for the sake of those they did not know.  I thank them from the bottom of my heart for their immediate response.

*The next largest sea evacuation was Dunkirk in WWII when 330,000 British and French troops were rescued over a period of nine days.

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Happy Birthday to me!!!

20130723-103521.jpgMy twin sister Kathy and I celebrated our birthday this month and for the first time in many years, we were together ON our birthday!  It took some planning since she lives in Florida, I live in Oklahoma and we always see each other on the 4th of July when our entire family meets in Perry, OK at my brother’s farm.  But this year was a special year.  Turning 60 deserved some special treatment.  After spending a week in Oklahoma, we started our journey with an overnight stay at my brother’s house in Arkansas and they treated us like royalty.  After fishing in their pond, they sang “Happy Birthday” to us with cards, cake and candles.  But that’s another story…

20130723-105954.jpgWe are not “shop ’til you drop” types; but for our birthday, we decided to create a day together at the little shops in downtown Melbourne.  We had lunch at a Cuban restaurant called “Le Bon” – it was a French restaurant and the Cuban brothers who own it hadn’t had time to change the name yet.  They had coffees (thus the glass jars) and an amazing menu with hot sandwiches and a dessert called Arepas.  Our Le Bon arepa was filled with guava and cream cheese served hot!  Delicious!  So imagine this….very friendly, nice Cuban brothers in a restaurant called Le Bon serving South American corn cakes called arepas.  I love Florida!  I love America!

The necklace I’m wearing is very colorful and made of bones – I bought it at a little shop called GO FISH, a Christian company that supports and sells crafts made in under-developed countries.  Okay – I love the necklace, but I love even more to think about someone in Peru making this by hand for me.  I am such a spoiled American – maybe this necklace will remind me of that so I don’t forget.

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Because the next stop was a cute shop called Unique Treasures and I found this darling outfit.

Now I don’t have a picture of what iSissy2 purchased (my older sister is iSissy1 and I’m iSissy3), but I will take one later…when I can slow Kat down long enough for a picture!

The pictures below are worth a thousand words.  We had a fabulous dinner at home, then our husbands surprised us with chocolate cake, singing Happy Birthday and candles – special candles that don’t blow out.  Even if you are 60, it’s funny when you blow out a candle and it re-lights.

But the really funny story was when Bob and Robert told us about making the chocolate cake – they used a tape measure and calculated the volume of the mixture so they could decide what pans to use.  When they said they thought it made sense, Kat said, “I’ve never used a tape measure when baking a cake…”  We cracked up laughing!!!  We love our guys!!!

Hope you enjoy our collection of birthday pictures!

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Happy Birthday to us!  Happy Birthday to us!!!  And many more!!!!

 

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This mourning dove became the object of our admiration and affection.

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The landscapers had leaned the ladder against one of the posts on our carport. Within an hour, there was a nest and that was that. In “googling” Mourning Doves, I learned they are not very good nest builders. That’s the truth – it was just twigs laying on top of a ladder!  But what she may have lacked in nest-building expertise, she made up for in perseverance and courage!  She built her nest and waited.

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Then the rains came.  Wind, hail, thunder and lightning came.  Numerous freezing nights with wind blowing, hail pelting, rain falling all at the same time.  During a tornado warning, we took cover and when we came back, she was still there.  Remaining strong and unrelentingly loyal.

And then something wonderful happened.  She was rewarded.  Baby birds!  I was so relieved!!!  She made it…she did it!!  Yea!!!  I learned about squabs, fledlings and perseverance.  WOW!  Now I know.  Mourning doves are beautiful creatures – inside and out.

NOTE:  After the babies flew away, the next thing we knew she was nesting again above our back door.   Now wait a minute!!!

Thanks to Bryan Reynolds, freelance nature photographer, enjoy these beautiful photos!

Courtesy of:
Bryan E. Reynolds
Executive Office, President and Founder
Butterflies of the World Foundation botwf.org.

Mourning Dove

 

  Mourning Dove BR4

    Mourning Dove BR3

 For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. — Psalm 50:10-11 (NIV)

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