Food for the Soul
CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Audra Jennings

Audra Jennings is a publicist with Litfuse Publicity Group.

Posted 8/3/12 at 5:20 PM | Audra Jennings

3 Simple Ways to Save Money on Back-To-School Supplies

by Money Saving Mom Crystal Paine

1. Start Early

Don’t wait until the last minute to get your back-to-school shopping done. Not only is it stressful to wait until the last minute to shop, but you’ll also spend a lot more money.

Big store chains like Target and Walmart, drug stores like CVS and Walgreens, and office supply stores like Office Depot and Staples begin their back-to-school sales a number of weeks before school actually starts. Start picking up the best deals each week (like the $0.01 bargains at Staples or the free-after-rebate offers at Office Depot) and by the time when most people begin their back-to-school shopping, you will already have most of your shopping done -- and all for pennies on the dollar!

 2. Buy Extras

When looking at the back-to-school sales, don’t just buy what’s on the required list from your local school. Buy extras of things like glue, crayons, paper, notebooks, markers, and other items you use on a regular basis around your home.

I look forward to the back-to-school deals each year so that I can stock up on office and craft supplies we use on a regular basis -- all at the cheapest prices I’ll be able to get all year. My philosophy: Why pay $1 or more for a bottle of glue in November, when you can stock up in August and only pay $0.25 per bottle of glue?

Plus, since many teachers have to pay for some of their classroom supplies out of pocket, consider buying extras of the great deals and donating them to your childrens’ classroom. Or, you could purchase them for local families who are struggling financially.

Money Saving Mom Crystal Paine

 3. Price-Match at Walmart

Instead of going to 3-5 different stores each week to stock up on the amazing back-to-sale bargains, you can just stop by Walmart and price-match all of the local deals there. Just check the ads in your newspaper or online and make a list of local prices, take these to Walmart, and tell your cashier what local prices you’re price-matching your items to.

Walmart’s corporate coupon policy says you don’t need an ad in order to price-match. However, I usually bring the ads with me, just in case there’s any issue or confusion over what the price is.

Crystal Paine is a wife, mom of three, and the owner of MoneySavingMom.com. Check MoneySavingMom.com on Saturdays for the best back-to-school deals at Office Depot, Office Max, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Staples for each upcoming week.

Posted 7/31/12 at 3:16 PM | Audra Jennings

You Can’t Hide from the Truth

Thomas Nelson
The Stars Shine Bright (A Raleigh Harmon Novel) by Sibella Giorello

Giorello thrills audiences with her latest installment of the Raleigh Harmon mysteries

Popular suspense author Sibella Giorello gives her readers the mystery, intrigue and excitement they’ve been waiting for in The Stars Shine Bright (Thomas Nelson/July 17, 2012/ISBN: 978-1-59554-536-7). Known for her in depth research, the latest installment of Giorello’s critically acclaimed Raleigh Harmon series brings readers into the world of crime solving and forensics as well as the darker realms of horse racing and gambling.

The Stars Shine Bright explores the consequences of lying, especially those deceptions meant to protect someone you love. The story follows Raleigh Harmon, FBI Special Agent and forensic geologist, as she struggles to redeem her career and re-start her life following her suspension from the Bureau for bending its rules. Raleigh’s newest assignment sends her undercover to a thoroughbred horse track to uncover who’s fixing the races. But when horses start dying and her own life is threatened, Raleigh realizes something bigger and more sinister is ruining Emerald Meadows.

Living her double-existence undercover as a wealthy scion of the racing world, Raleigh’s never felt more alone. Or more pressure. Her fiancé wants them to begin their life together—now -- but she can’t make any contact with family during her assignment. Meanwhile her mother is confined to a state mental hospital, following a psychotic breakdown, and her one contact with the FBI is Special Agent Jack Stephanson, a guy runs the gamut from jerk to genuine friend at any given moment.

Author Sibella Giorello

With just days left before the horse season ends, Raleigh races to stop the killing and find out who’s behind the deadly plot, while still trying to determine if Jack is friend or foe, and whether marrying her fiancé will make her life better—or worse.

Giorello puts a unique spin on the popular genre of forensics, focusing on forensic geology and mineralogy. With a background in geology, she shares with her heroine a belief that science and faith are not opposing studies but ideas that go hand-in-hand. “For evolution to work—for random chance to be the operating system in the universe—we should be witnessing tornadoes blasting through junk yards and building F-15 fighter jets. But we see the exact opposite. There’s a grand design to the natural world, and a design means there was a designer.”

Giorello credits her favorite mystery authors, such as John D. MacDonald, and growing up in a courtroom where her father served as judge as inspirations for writing crime fiction. Giorello’s also inspired by the Bible. “Whenever I say that, some people groan, but those 66 books are sheer poetry, and they cover the most crucial questions. Who is God? What's life all about? Why are we here and what's the plan—for individuals and for humanity?”

Giorello’s strong yet flawed heroine appeals not only to both male and female readers, but to Christian and mainstream audiences alike. As the Seattle Times once noted, “You don’t have to be a Christian to enjoy her books.” She hopes to bridge a gap between audiences. “There are readers who don't want to 'get inside the mind of a killer', and they don't want a lot of cursing and extramarital sex. At the same time, they want something gritty, something more than sugar-coated life. The Raleigh Harmon mysteries offer readers an intriguing puzzle with a smart and sensitive protagonist. She’s cool, honest and very real. She knows God exists, even as she manages to mess up her own life. "

Visit Sibella Giorello online at www.sibellagiorello.com, Facebook or Twitter.

Posted 7/31/12 at 12:58 PM | Audra Jennings

Melanie Dobson shares the magic and mystery of Mackinac Island

Summerside Press
Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan by Melanie Dobson

A story filled with beauty and wonder, Melanie Dobson's Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan (Summerside Press)transports readers to a magical place and time. The story begins in the 1890s at the end of the Gilded Age, a golden era of prosperity and growth. As the Gilded Age comes to a close, the kingdoms of many wealthy industrialists begin to collapse, including the once-wealthy Bissette family who has nearly lost its fortune.However, the Bissettes still own a home on the fashionable Mackinac Island, where they will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing their daughter Elena to a wealthy suitor. FULL POST

Posted 7/26/12 at 1:59 PM | Audra Jennings

Making Sense When Life Doesn't

An Interview with Cecil Murphey, Author of Making Sense When Life Doesn’t

Making Sense When Life Doesn't by Cecil Murphey

Q: You open Making Sense When Life Doesn't with the concept that life is like cleaning the house. Explain what you mean by that.

We get the house cleaned and it looks quite nice. It doesn't stay that way. The tendency is to go back to our careless or hurried lifestyle and the same habits. Before long, the house is messy again.

That's how life works. We fret and struggle to clean up our current mess, assuming that once we accomplish that feat, it won't happen again. But it will. Unless we make changes, we'll go back to the same lifestyle.

Q: What are the three or four ways we can respond to crisis?

We always have choices even if we think we don't.

  1. We can do the throwing-our-hands-in-the air bit that says we give up.
  2. We can complain about the way things used to be. Like the children of Israel in the wilderness, we tend to forget the negatives of the past and our world seemed much better than it is in the present. We cry out, "This is the worst time of my life." That attitude makes us immobile and often a little bitter. "It's not supposed to be this way," is the way we start our conversations.
  3. We can move forward—grudgingly. We change because we've been forced to do so, but we resent the situation and often the people involved.
  4. We can see this as an adventure, a new way of life. We can tell ourselves, “This can be the best time of my life. I can try things I wanted to do but never did. I can learn new things and enjoy life even more.”

Q: It has been said that the only constant in life is change. Why is that such an important truth that we need to face?

We tend to think that if we can just push beyond this present, pervasive situation, life will be "normal" once again. Life doesn't work that way. Living means moving from one problem to the next.

If we accept that we'll always face opposition and grow in the process, we aren't overwhelmed when the next eruption of life takes place.

We learn to say, "This is how life works."

Cecil Murphey, author of Making Sense When Life Doesn't

Q: You say you're not a person who likes to give advice, especially when people are hurting. Why not?

I suppose I like to give advice, but I avoid it. When people hurt or are going through difficult places, they don't need my advice. They need my support.

Through my own experiences, I realized people quickly gave me advice, quoted Bible verses, reminded me that God was with me, or told me how good life would be afterward. Their words didn't help; I already knew that. I also realized their words often came from their own discomfort and not from great wisdom.

What I needed—and what I want to offer others—is my concern. I don't have to give them answers.

Even if they ask questions, what they really need is for someone to show they care. I want to be with them while they figure out their own answers.

Q: Is it really okay for people to get angry or feel sorry for themselves when something bad happens? Is there a time limit for that kind of negative emotion?

Is it okay? It had better be because that's a natural reaction when life falls apart. That means we're aware of the seriousness of our situation. Not only is it all right, but it's important. Those feelings help us assess where we are. After that, we can begin to solve our issues.

Is there a time limit? We're all different. Some of us can hit the bottom and bounce up quickly. Others move slowly.

After the death of our son-in-law, it took our daughter three years before I felt she had decided to live again. (They had known each other since they were fourteen years old.)

Q: In one chapter, you say that only the strong can forgive. Isn’t that contrary to what society leads us to believe?

It's not natural or easy for most of us to admit our mistakes. But once we face our own shortcomings, we can accept others when they fail or don't live up to their highest standards.

We need a certain level of self-acceptance before we can forgive others. We don't have to wait for others to change, we can change and that means we can forgive.

Once I realized that God loves me, forgives me, and accepts me as I am—that took years for me to grasp inwardly—I understood the concept of grace. I know how it feels to be forgiven. I realized that Jesus Christ saw my motives and not just my actions. He knew my weaknesses and my blind spots. Because I know those things about myself and the overwhelming love of God, I can pass that grace or forgiveness on to others.

Too often I hear people say things like, "I don't forgive. I get even." Such an attitude weighs on our souls, and prevents our living in contentment.

Q: Explain what you mean by “letting go is vital to grabbing hold.”

Too many want to feel safe, so they grasp what they have. They want life to be the way it was (at least the good part) and they constantly look backward. If they're going to go forward, they have to release their past and say, "That's the way it was then. I'm now moving ahead."

When we do that, we're ready to grab hold and move forward. We can't appreciate what we have now if we constantly compare it to the way it used to be, especially if we've been forced to leave the old.

Q: One thing you had trouble understanding at first was the idea that we need the people who make our lives more difficult. Most of us likely have the same problem. Why do we need our enemies?

Our enemies force us to examine ourselves. They tell us things our good friends won't. Even if they exaggerate or are mistaken, we still need to ponder their accusations.

They push us to look at what I call the unexamined parts of our lives.

For more information about Cecil Murphey and his books, visit www.cecilmurphey.com.

Posted 7/12/12 at 9:51 PM | Audra Jennings

Romance, Mystery and the Wonder of God’s Creation

Summerside Press
Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan by Melanie Dobson

Author Melanie Dobson transports readers to a magical place and time to reveal God’s majesty

Not only does God love to create, He also loves His creation. This is the message author Melanie Dobson hopes that her readers gain from her latest release Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan (Summerside Press) that combines historical romance with her trademark element of mystery.

A story filled with beauty and wonder, Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan transports readers to a magical place and time. The story begins in the 1890s at the end of the Gilded Age, a golden era of prosperity and growth. As the Gilded Age comes to a close, the kingdoms of many wealthy industrialists begin to collapse, including the once-wealthy Bissette family who has nearly lost its fortune. However, the Bissettes still own a home on the fashionable Mackinac Island, where they will spend one last summer in the hope of introducing their daughter Elena to a wealthy suitor.

Not only is Elena is repulsed by the idea of marrying for money, she quickly grows tired of the extravagant balls and spends most evenings escaping back into Mackinac’s rugged forest. There she meets Chase, a handsome laborer who shares her love for the night sky. The two begin to meet in secret at an abandoned lighthouse where they discover a mysterious tattered diary.

As Elena falls in love with Chase, her mother relentlessly plots to introduce her to Chester Darrington, the island’s most eligible bachelor. While marriage to the elusive millionaire would solve the Bissettes’ financial woes, Elena is torn between duty to her family and true love.

The Love Finds You series from Summerside Press is a collection of novels that captures the flavor of towns and cities across the country with colorful histories. The towns become as much of a part of the stories as the characters themselves. Researching the towns in which her novels are set is the aspect of historical fiction that Dobson enjoys most. In writing Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan, she was able to explore the island that has intrigued her since her early years growing up in Ohio. “I've always been fascinated by Mackinac Island because I was told time seemed to stand still there,” explains Dobson. “From the moment I got off the boat, I could sense it was a magical place. There are no cars on the island so people ride bikes or horse-drawn carriages through the charming village and back into the forest. The island has been a popular vacation destination on the east coast since 1819, so it’s rich with fascinating history and lore.”

In the midst of writing this book, Dobson went to Haiti to help lead a retreat for the wives of Haitian pastors. Each member of their team spoke on a different name of God, and Dobson spoke about God as Mighty Creator. “As I researched God's passion for creating and the love He has for His creation, it was a joy for me to incorporate the wonder and beauty of the universe into this historical novel. I hope that readers leave with a sense of God's majesty on this beautiful island.”

For more about Melanie Dobson and her books, visit www.melaniedobson.com.

Posted 7/11/12 at 5:59 PM | Audra Jennings

Author shares heart behind Tales of the Not Forgotten

An interview with Beth Guckenberger,

Author of Tales of the Not Forgotten

With the help of missionary and author Beth Guckenberger, parents and Sunday school teachers can introduce children to the wonderful things that God is accomplishing around the world through Tales of the Not Forgotten (Standard Publishing).

Standard Publishing
Tales of the Not Forgotten by Beth Guckenberger

Q: Your previous books have worked in stories of your mission work to an adult audience? Why did you decide to write a book for a young audience this time?

It was a combination of motives. Being a mother, I see my own kids asking questions about the world and the issues they are aware of around the world. Also, as a missionary, we serve alongside so many families that travel here on a short-term trip. Those experiences provoke good discussions they take back home with them. I wanted a book that would spark those kinds of conversations of substance at the dinner table and in the minivan, but without having to travel. I had noticed a lot of missions’ material specifically geared towards kids was outdated, or a little cheesy, or primarily guilt-driven. I kept thinking while I was writing that I wanted a book that addressed was God was doing instead of what man wasn’t.

Q: When did you go on your first mission trip? What countries have you/do you do mission work in?

I went on my first missions’ trip when I was 16 to Costa Rica. I can remember at the end of the month, I wasn’t ready to come home!

My family and I have lived in Monterrey, Mexico for 15 years. Back2Back Ministries has sites in Jos, Nigeria, Hyderbaad, India, Mazatlan and Cancun, Mexico and a new work in Port au Prince, Haiti.

Q: What other resources are available to go along with Tales of the Not Forgotten? How are churches and other groups using the book and leader’s guide?

We have written a curriculum to accompany the book that is very user friendly. A parent, a Sunday school teacher, a VBS teacher, or a Christian school can use it. It has a guide, “If you have 15 minutes, if you have 30 minutes, if you have 60 minutes…” so you can pick and choose the activities depending if it’s a classroom lesson or an after dinner devotional. Many churches are already using it in regular classrooms, as a part of their summer programs, or missions’ emphasis months. Families are using it as their once a week devotional, homeschooling families are using it in their school day, there are many ways in which the activities can be incorporated into your already existing structure.

Q: Are you able to keep up with the children in the book to know how they are doing?

Since I live in Monterrey, I am absolutely able to keep up with Joel who lives here. The other three are in the lives of our staff who serve in those countries.

Q: What is the main thing you hope children will learn from your book?

That we trust them with these stories and many more like it. We believe in what their generation will learn and be called to and accomplish for the gospel around the world. Also, that they aren’t too young to be learning about, praying for and going as God’s ambassador.

Q: Tell us a little bit about Back2Back Ministries.

Our Mission: Back2Back Ministries is an international Christian non-profit organization that is dedicated to being a voice for orphans. We exist to love and care for orphans and impoverished children, by meeting their spiritual, physical, educational, emotional, and social needs that they may overcome their life circumstances and break free from the cycle of generational poverty.

Our Vision: We desire for every orphan and impoverished child to have the opportunity for success through “care for today and hope for tomorrow”. Our goal is that each child would experience restoration to a life of purpose in which they can become fulfilled and mature Christian adults.

For more information about Beth and Back2Back Ministries, visit www.bethguckenberger.com or www.back2backministries.org.

Posted 6/29/12 at 3:02 PM | Audra Jennings

Life Won’t Ever Be Perfect, but It Can Be Good

In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t Cecil Murphey helps readers accept, adapt and flourish when the trials of life throw them off track.

Life is like cleaning the house—no matter how hard you work to clean up the mess, tomorrow the clutter and disorder will reappear, and it will just need cleaning again. In Making Sense When Life Doesn’t: The Secrets of Thriving in Tough Times(Summerside Press) best-selling author Cecil Murphey writes that while life’s messiness is unavoidable, it’s how a person chooses to respond to the mess that matters.

None of us wants to be an expert on messes, but Murphey has walked through many hard times himself, including the tragic loss of his son-in-law in a fire that destroyed his home and everything in it. In his career as a writer, pastor and missionary, he’s been a witness to what tragedy and change have done in the lives of countless others. Combined, these experiences allow him to share the secrets of thriving in tough times with wisdom and compassion.

Making Sense When Life Doesn't by Cecil Murphey

Murphey explains that while you don’t get to choose your crisis, the crises will happen. Companies downsize, relationships end, trauma hits, and illness comes, but there are three ways in which we can respond: decide to live with the mess and comfort yourself with the memories of the past, move on with life and resent the change, or tell yourself that this can be the best time of life and try something new.

One of the most important lessons we can learn is that life will never be perfect, but it can be good. The secret is learning that our lives will be made better because of adversity, not in spite of the hardships we face. “As long as you tell yourself that the chaos and disorder will disappear when an event happens or after some event, you fool yourself—at least for a time,” says Murphey.

In a gentle and encouraging way, Murphey offers simple and profound insights for living a significant life such as:

  • I need the empty spaces in life to learn to accept fullness in life.
  • I need my opponents. They often speak the truth that my friends won’t.
  • To appreciate others’ accomplishments enables me to enjoy my own success.
  • We all have regrets about the things we’ve done. The biggest regrets are about the things we didn’t do.
  • It’s okay to feel sorry for yourself or get angry or depressed—that’s normal and natural. But don’t let those negative emotions control your life.
  • Changes will happen. I can accept them now, or I’ll be forced to accept them later.
  • We all have soft spots, and as long as they remain, we’ll automatically switch into a defensive mode to protect ourselves.

Making Sense When Life Doesn’t will leave readers viewing life from a new perspective and better equipped the next time they are faced with difficult times.

For more information, visit www.cecilmurphey.com.

Posted 6/21/12 at 9:54 PM | Audra Jennings

An interview with Lisa T. Bergren, author of Glamorous Illusions

Glamorous Illusions, the first release in Lisa Bergren’s new Grand Tour series,is a beautiful exploration of the covenant connection between God the Father and His children. Through the story of Cora Kensington, Bergren takes her audience on a European adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awareness, and self-discovery.

A person often identifies themself by their family, profession, or circumstances. However, as Christians, what would happen if we began to better understand our true identity in Christ? It is this spiritual journey that author Bergren guides readers through in Glamorous Illusions.

Q: Why do you think it is so difficult for us as Christians to remember our first, true identity?

David C Cook
Glamorous Illusions, the first book in the new Grand Tour series by Lisa T. Bergren, available from publisher David C Cook.

We’re so absorbed in how our contemporary culture identifies us—by looks, career, family, wealth, faith—that we forget that our primary identity is a child of God. That no matter where we work or what we accomplish, no matter what happens and who is in our life (or isn’t), our core identity makes us valuable, treasured, cherished, forgiven, free and mighty. We are stronger than we could ever believe, through him, here to do his good work. But we buy in to the false identities our world gives us—which leaves us feeling consistently weak and wanting and wimpy.

I get it. I really do. But if we could just seize that core identity and hold on to it, I believe we’d be as Catherine of Siena said “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire.” There’s a whole lot of untapped potential within each of us…and it’s tied to our understanding of our truest identity. Cora Diehl Kensington, my main character, is on an inner journey to discover that just as surely as she is on an outer journey through Europe.

Q: Before you begin a new series, how much time do you devote to research of a time period or location?

I like to be reading and researching a good six months before I begin writing. Research gives me context, as well as potential plot points to incorporate.

FULL POST

Posted 6/6/12 at 11:56 AM | Audra Jennings

Missionary Beth Guckenberger introduces children to missions

Standard Publishing
Tales of the Not Forgotten by Beth Guckenberger

We often forget how fortunate we are, the many blessings in our lives, and the extent of human suffering around the globe. How can we teach our children to grow up with hearts for others and to be mission-minded? With the help of missionary and author Beth Guckenberger, parents and Sunday school teachers can introduce children to the wonderful things that God is accomplishing around the world through Tales of the Not Forgotten.

Written for ages 8 and up, Tales of the Not Forgotten shares a collection of four real-life stories of children from impoverished circumstances and paints a picture of God’s dynamic movement in their lives. The first in the Storyweaver series, Guckenberger inspires readers to trust that God is weaving a story in the lives of each us, writing endings they would never imagine. She takes young readers on a journey to faraway lands, introducing them to faces the world often doesn’t see, but are not forgotten by God. FULL POST

Posted 6/4/12 at 1:17 PM | Audra Jennings

Bergren Challenges Readers to Face Their Own Identity Crisis

David C Cook
Glamorous Illusions, the first book in the new Grand Tour series by Lisa T. Bergren, available from publisher David C Cook.

New series from Lisa T. Bergren leads readers through a journey of inner discovery

Glamorous Illusions, the first release in Lisa Bergren’s new Grand Tour series, is a beautiful exploration of the covenant connection between God the Father and His children. Through the story of Cora Kensington, Bergren takes her audience on a European adventure of forgiveness, spiritual awareness, and self-discovery.

A person often identifies themself by their family, profession, or circumstances. However, as Christians, what would happen if we began to better understand our true identity in Christ? It is this spiritual journey that author Bergren guides readers through in Glamorous Illusions.

It was the summer of 1913, and Cora Kensington’s life on the family farm has taken a dark turn. Not only are the crops failing, so is her father’s health. Cora is carrying on, helping her mother run their Montana farm until a stranger comes to call, and everything changes. Cora then learns a secret that will radically change her future: she is the illegitimate daughter of a copper king who has come to claim her.

Cora is invited to take the “Grand Tour” of Europe, a journey intended to finish a person’s education, to solidify an understanding of ancient culture and contemporary refinement. As she travels from England to France with half-siblings she’s never known, Cora encounters the blessings of the Kensington family name, as well as the curses. But when an unbidden love begins to form, she realizes the journey is only beginning.

Faced with the challenge of accepting her father, new family, and the identity that comes with it, Cora also struggles to accept that she is also the daughter of the one true King—a Father who is the only One who can truly heal. “Glamorous Illusions is not only Cora’s journey toward understanding true identity in Christ, but it will help every reader understand it better too,” explains Bergren. “It’s an examination of the bond between the Father and his child.”

Each member of the traveling group expects an outer cultural journey of refinement, but each will also wrestle with their own sins and inner conflicts. Ultimately, they explore what truly informs a person’s sense of identity. Readers will be able to join Cora and the other Kensingtons and Morgans as they continue their Grand Tour, discovering new lands, new cultures, and new aspects of themselves, in the upcoming installments Grave Consequences (Spring 2013) andGlittering Promises (Fall 2013).

(David C Cook/June 1, 2012/ISBN: 978-1-4347-6430-0)

Praise for Glamorous Illusions:

“A fascinating mix of travel and intrigue, heartache and romance, Glamorous Illusions sweeps you away on the Grand Tour, exploring London and Paris through the eyes of a young woman who longs to find her place in the world. The title captures the story perfectly, as Cora delves beneath all that glitters to discover what is real and true, while not just one man but two vie for her affections...ooh, la la! A grand start to a new series from a seasoned author who writes from the heart.”
~ Liz Curtis Higgs, New York Times best-selling author of Mine Is the Night

About the Author: Lisa T. Bergren is the award-winning author of over thirty-five books, with more than 2 million copies sold. A former publishing executive, Lisa now divides her time between writing, editing, parenting three children with her husband, Tim, and dreaming of her next trip to Italy. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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