Ever since our girls were tiny . . .
. . . we've been sharing the heart of God with them in the evening times as a family. How precious it is to snuggle together on the couch and read the Scriptures!
When the girls were very tiny, not even one year old, we were given several beautiful toddler "Bibles" and Christian books to read with our girls. How they loved sitting with us every evening, reading some of the same books over and over, giggling and smiling and enjoying being all together!
As they grew into readers, the world of family Bible devotionals just opened up to us. We were amazed at how many children's Bibles and devotional books existed. It wasn't like this when we were young!
One of the books we read with the girls quite a few years ago was Starr Meade's book, Mighty Acts of God. It was accurate, filled with simply told events found in the Bible, and the artwork wasn't insulting. We loved it!
Starr Meade has now written a sequel to Mighty Acts of God. How wonderful! Another option for families who have younger children at home (ages 5-10), Wondrous Works of God is filled with 90 more events from the Bible, beginning with the true account of God creating Eve, and ending with the epic visions in the book of Revelation.
What I thought was very unique about this book, as well as Mighty Acts of God, is that each retelling event highlights an aspect of God's character as well as includes a discussion guide to help the whole family see and understand the wondrous works of God.
Each of the 90 retellings in Wondrous Works of God are typically three pages in length, including the artwork.
At the end of each retelling, there are questions to think about and answer, as well as extras to do as a family.
Here are a couple of samples of the artwork in this book:
Beautiful! While I love every stage of our parenting that we are in, I do wish we'd had this book to use with our girls when they were younger. They're a bit too old for Wondrous Works of God now, but some day, we'll have grandchildren with whom we can snuggle up on the couch and share the events of the Bible!
Wondrous Works of God is a hardbound book containing 288 pages. The pages are durable, high quality paper. If you are looking for something new to share with your children, this is an excellent option!
I received one copy of Wondrous Works of God from Crossway in exchange for my honest review of this family Bible devotional. No other compensation was provided.
Our new year is just around the corner! If you're looking for something unique to post around your home, to give your family hope and encouragement for the new year, these free New Year's chalkboard printables may be just what may brighten your guests' and family members' day (and year)!
You'll find a mix of famous New Year poetry and quotes as well as Bible verses that have to do with hope and new things. Please remember that these are copyrighted and are for your personal use only. Thanks!
I'm going to go ahead and post smaller sample photos of the various "large postcard-sized" posters here, but to print off the free PDF printables, you'll find them at the file download link below.
Those of you reading this from an emailed newsletter will want to click back on the original post to easily view and download these new chalkboard printables!
At some point in my childhood, around the 5th or 6th grade, my parents bought a little book by Helen Steiner Rice that has become very meaningful to me: The Story of the Christmas Guest.
I only hear it once a year, read by my father on Christmas Eve, but the text has become so dear to me over the years! (After we got over the giggles from one particular year my dad read "crone" as "cronie"...it just didn't rhyme with "alone" in the next line, so my sister and I had a long giggle fit saying "cronie" and "alonie". It actually kind of ruined the evening for everyone - our giggle fit, not my Dad's mispronunciation of "crone.")
Ahem. Sorry, Dad. We were in junior high.
I enjoy this poem-story so much that I thought I'd share it with you:
The Story of the Christmas Guest
by Helen Steiner Rice
It happened one day at December's end
Some neighbors called on an old-time friend.
And they found his shop so meager and mean,
Made gay with a thousand boughs of green.
And old Conrad was sitting with face ashine,
When he suddenly stopped as he stitched the twine.
And he said, "My friends, at dawn today,
When the cock was crowing the night away,
The Lord appeared in a dream to me.
And He said, 'I'm coming your guest to be."
So I've been busy with feet astir,
Strewing my shop with branches of fir.
The table is spread and the kettle is shined,
And over the rafters the holly is twined.
And now I'll wait for my Lord to appear;
And listen closely so I will hear,
His steps as he nears my humble place.
And I'll open the door and I'll look on his face."
Then his friends went home and left Conrad alone,
For this was the happiest day he had known.
For long since his family had passed away.
And Conrad had spent many a sad Christmas Day.
But he knew with the Lord as his Christmas guest,
This Christmas would be the dearest and best.
So he listened with only joy in his heart,
And with every sound he would rise with a start,
And look for the Lord to be at his door,
Like the vision that he had had a few hours before.
So he ran to the window after hearing a sound,
But all he could see on the snow covered ground,
Was a shabby beggar whose shoes were torn.
And all his clothes were ragged and worn.
But old Conrad was touched, and he went to the door
And he said, "Your feet must be cold and sore.
I have some shoes in my shop for you.
And I have a coat to keep you warmer, too."
So with grateful heart the man went away.
But Conrad noticed the time of day
And he wondered what made the dear Lord so late,
And how much longer he'd have to wait.
Then he heard another knock, and he ran to the door,
But it was only a stranger once more.
A bent old lady with a shawl of black,
And a bundle of kindling piled on her back.
But she asked only for a place to rest,
a place that was reserved, for Conrad's great guest.
Her voice seemed to plead, "Don't send me away,
Let me rest for awhile this Christmas Day."
So Conrad brewed her a steaming cup
And told her to sit at the table and sup.
After she had left, he was filled with dismay,
For he saw that the hours were slipping away
The Lord had not come as He said He would,
And Conrad felt sure he had misunderstood.
When out of the stillness, he heard a cry.
"Please help me and tell me - Where am I?"
So again he opened his friendly door,
And stood disappointed as twice before.
It was a child who had wandered away,
And was lost from her family on Christmas Day.
Again Conrad's heart was heavy and sad,
But he knew he could make this little girl glad.
So he called her in and he wiped her tears,
And he quieted all of her childish fears.
Then he led her back to her home once more,
And as he entered his own darkened door,
He knew that the Lord was not coming today,
For the hours of Christmas had all passed away.
So he went to his room, and he knelt down to pray.
And He said, "Lord, why did you delay?
What kept You from coming to call on me?
I wanted so much Your face to see."
Then softly, in the silence, a voice he heard.
"Lift up your head - I have kept My word.
Three times my shadow crossed your floor.
Three times I came to your lowly door.
I was the beggar with bruised, cold feet;
I was the woman you gave something to eat;
I was the child on the homeless street.
Three times I knocked, three times I came in,
And each time I found the warmth of a friend.
Of all the gifts, love is the best.
I was honored to be your Christmas guest.
We've been preparing for the celebration of Christ's birth all month. And I've been thinking about Mary and how she felt as a very pregnant woman, traveling by donkey at the end of her pregnancy. (I was very pregnant in 1997 and again in 2000 with my girls, in the month of December.) Some women don't even travel on trips via car during the last month of their pregnancies, let alone sit on and ride on a donkey for a few days, while in labor! What a selfless, willing young mother she was, a holy example to us all.
Email subscribers may want to click back to the original post to view all of the photos and ideas in a more natural, visually appealing layout.
Our daughters blessed many in our church and community by sharing their musical talents during various church services throughout December. Please pray that I will find an appropriate response to the comment by many, "You must be so proud of your girls and their musical talents!"
I fight against pride all the time. The last thing I want to do is to be "proud" of my girls. (I realize that those who comment like this aren't trying to snare me into a sinful attitude; it's just a common phrase in our society.) I am very pleased with their willingness to share their love of music with others! They practice very hard almost every day, when they could be goofing off and doing whatever they want with their free time. So that's what I've been trying to tell others when they state that I must be so proud of my girls. I love them and I'm very pleased that they have willing hearts to share Christ through music.
But I am trying very hard not to be proud about it.
We decorate our house, inside and out. Even the "stuffed" turkey gets into the holiday spirit!
Kelsi and Brittany set up their Fontanini nativity sets on top of the piano. Every year, we buy them one additional piece for their nativity set. Fontanini nativity pieces are made of resin, making them much less breakable, and they are still made in Italy! They aren't cheap, though, so while I'd love to buy them 2-3 pieces each year, we don't.
The first year, we bought them Baby Jesus.
On year 2, we bought them Mary.
On year 3, they received Joseph.
After that, we allowed them to pick out which characters they wanted to add to their nativity sets. This helps their own nativity sets to be more personal and meaningful. They've each added at least one angel, one shepherd, one wise man, and an animal to their nativity sets now.
Fontani makes literally hundreds of pieces, enough for an entire Jewish village complete with baker, metal worker, potter, shopkeepers, and even palm trees! We are blessed that our small town has a unique drug store that sells beautiful items like this.
On Christmas Eve, we gathered around 3 p.m. at our home with my parents who live here in town near us. Our dear neighbor, Marge, joined us at our Christmas dinner we shared together this year: roast lamb, ham, real mashed potatoes and homemade gravy, braised brussels sprouts, coleslaw, fruit salad, and butterflake rolls.
After a wonderful meal together, I cleaned up the kitchen while everyone else prepared for our church's CHRISTmas Eve service. We left the house around 5:15, picked up our neighbor, Marge (who had gone home to feed her pets before being gone for a few hours again with us), and spent the next couple of hours at church, being blessed by beautiful CHRISTmas music. Delightful!
No CHRISTmas Eve would be complete without going over to my parents' home after the church service for some eggnog, CHRISTmas cookies and goodies, and the reading of the CHRISTmas story from the book of Luke in the Bible.
On our way to their home, we drove through some of the local neighborhoods and viewed the CHRISTmas lights. Beautiful!
My parents' home is always so beautiful on CHRISTmas Eve, with all of the many candles lit throughout the living room and dining room. CHRIST is the Light of the World!
When we sit down with our eggnog and plates of CHRISTmas goodies, there's a hush that settles over us. Something about the inspirational music we've just enjoyed at church, and all those candles at my parents' home.
And then it's time to head home. Marge needs to finish taking care of her animals; our girls need to finish their evening responsibilities and prepare for bed.
And me? I need to mix the dry ingredients together for our special breakfast treat in the morning: Paris Puffins (or French Breakfast Muffins). I use a different muffin recipe than what Betty Crocker originally wrote, and it's filled with more spiced goodness like allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
We all hug good night, and head for bed. Except me, who wants to place our CHRISTmas Eve memories here so we can remember them in the future, when our girls are older, grown, and gone.
Our family wishes you a beautiful, peace-filled
CHRISTmas celebration with your families.
Just thinking about it makes me cringe, even over a year later. We'd been happily buying country eggs from a friend for a couple of years, maybe longer. We'd enjoyed eating eggs for breakfast every morning - yum! Scrambled eggs, fried eggs, hard-boiled eggs, eggs-on-toast, etc.
Until one morning. I cracked open some eggs to make scrambled eggs, and then---what? Ew! What is that?
It was a black, rotten egg.
The smell is something I'll never forget. Blech. I forced myself not to get sick, but it wasn't easy. Even though I haven't been pregnant for over 12 years, my nose continues to work overtime.
We'd been enjoying eggs for breakfast for a while by this point, and it was so nice to not be buying expensive boxes of cold cereal each week.
Until that morning. Ugh. It almost makes me nauseous to think about it again. Good thing I wasn't pregnant that morning, or I would have definitely lost it.
Unfortunately, ever since that morning, my daughter Brittany and I have had a difficult time eating eggs in the morning. I'm not just talking about whining about eating more eggs.
It was to the point that I did not want to get up in the morning because I knew we were going to be having eggs for breakfast again.
Depression from eggs? Okay, that just sounds downright strange. Well, it's been like that for me, the person who doesn't hardly let anything get her down. It got to the point that I began to skip eating breakfast some mornings, because I couldn't face the thought of eating more eggs!
What's especially great about Brittany's Easy Egg Muffins is that they will keep more than a week in the refrigerator! Egg muffins can be frozen and reheated, but they taste best and have the best texture when they have been refrigerated. If you choose to freeze these, for best results, thaw them in your refrigerator before reheating them. Microwave on high for 30-60 seconds to reheat one muffin, or place them in a muffin tin and reheat in a 350 degree heated oven for about 10 minutes.
When Brittany made these for our family (what a blessing she is to us!), she only used eggs, Spike seasoning, and cheese. We do have some ground venison sausage that I think we'll try in them next time. Yum!
Here's the recipe with a free printable version below it:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. If using a silicone muffin pan, spray with nonstick spray. (I really like using Spectrum Naturals Organic Coconut Oil Spray.) If using a regular 12-cup muffin pan, put two paper liners into each slot and then spray liner with nonstick spray.
In the bottom of the muffin cups, layer diced meat (if using), vegetables (if using), cheese, and green onions. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 full, with just enough room to pour a little egg around the other ingredients. Break eggs into a large measuring bowl with pour spout. Add Spike seasoning or seasoning of your choice, and beat well. Pour beaten egg into each muffin cup until it is 3/4 full. Stir slightly with a fork to blend and settle the ingredients. Bake 25-35 minutes until muffins have risen and are slightly browned and set.
Muffins will keep more than a week in the refrigerator. Egg muffins can be frozen and reheated, but I like them best when they are just refrigerated. For best results, thaw in refrigerator before reheating. Microwave on high about 1-2 minutes to reheat.
Free printable recipe!
Now I feel better about facing morning breakfast times. Thank you, Brittany! Which hot breakfast recipes do you enjoy the most that reheat quickly the next day?
You just finished reading Brittany's Easy Egg Muffins. Consider leaving a comment!
This post was originally published on http://www.JoyInOurJourney.com. If you see this posted elsewhere, it has been illegally scraped, and I'd love it if you would let me know. Thanks!
I had the unusual opportunity to receive two books from Zondervan Publishing at one time, in a new series, Where the Heart Lives, by Robin Lee Hatcher! This is unusual because readers often have to wait for Book Two and then Book Three. This is hard to do when the author has written a story that takes the reader in so well that she wants to know what happens next!
Ms. Hatcher sets her books in what she knows best, the Rocky Mountain country of Idaho. The three-book series, (yes, I know I am going to have to wait for Book Three), tells the story of three children: Hugh, Felicia, and Diana, from the tenements of Chicago, who have been orphaned by the death of their mother. They are placed on an Orphan Train to be adopted by families willing to raise them. How this turns out for each one as they are all now adults is the premise of each story.
Book One, Belonging, is the story of Felicia, the oldest girl. Her heart's desire is to be a teacher, and she has trained for the job. The small town of Frenchman's Bluff, Idaho has just lost their teacher, and they are not too sure Felicia is able to do the job but are willing to give her a chance. Colin Murphy is a shopkeeper who has generously given up a home he had built for his wife before her death, for the new school "marm." He and his daughter, Charity, befriend Felicia. Could this friendship lead to something more? How Felicia succeeds in a rough town, makes friends, finds satisfaction in doing a difficult job,and finds a place to call home, kept my interest to the last page.
In Book Two, Betrayal, the oldest child of the family, Hugh, has been in and out of trouble most of his life. Surprisingly, his father is not dead as the children were told. He finds Hugh and leads him on a downward path of crime. Hugh is imprisoned for a crime his father committed, and becomes a very bitter man. He wants more than anything to find his sisters and peace. How this all works out, and how Hugh finds the woman that God has for him kept me turning page after page.
Now, if Ms. Hatcher will please finish Book Three quickly so I can find out "what happens next," I will be most appreciative!
Let's give away one copy of each of these first two books to one of Joy In Our Journey's readers!
Zondervan has provided me with two copies of each of these two books, so I have one brand new, never-before-read set of Belonging and Betrayal to give away!
To enter the giveaway contest, just complete the parts of the Rafflecopter entry form that appeal to you, below. Rafflecopter will randomly select a winner on Wednesday, December 26 at midnight (Pacific time), so be sure to enter before that date and time.
I was provided with two copies of each of these two books in exchange for my honest review of the books. No other compensation was provided.
Migi Miller is our winner for The Grammar of Poetry DVD set !
I've emailed Migi to let her know, and she has 24 hours to contact me here at Joy In Our Journey.com to claim her prize. A new winner will be announced if I don't hear back from Migi by 8 p.m. (Pacific time), on Wednesday, December 19th, 2012.
Believe me, I would love to send all of you who took the time to enter this giveaway your own set. Sigh.
Here's where those of you who really wanted to win this DVD set - but didn't win - come in. Roman Roads Media developers have created a coupon code for a discount on "The Grammar of Poetry", available to those who didn't win the giveaway. They are giving you a 25% off discount, and because this is significant, this discount will only be valid through Sunday, December 23rd, 2012. Anyone who uses the code joyinourjourney25 will have 25% taken off their order on all of their Grammar of Poetry products, as well as their "Samuel Adams Returns" DVD.
I should note here that I'm not an affiliate with Roman Roads Media. I just really like what I see about their products, and I want you to know about them, too!
"The Grammar of Poetry" DVD set is an excellent idea for relatives who just don't know what to bless your family with for Christmas! This is a great price for a wonderful product. Let me know how you are enjoying using "The Grammar of Poetry" when you use it with your own family! I'd like to know how it goes.
Thank you for coming over to take a look at "The Grammar of Poetry"!
A special "thank you" to Roman Roads Media for their willingness to offer this product for review and to sponsor the giveaway! My honest review is what you have read here on Joy In Our Journey.com, and no other compensation has been provided.
Amid the long lists of people to visit, shopping to do, and a Santa on each corner, often the message of CHRISTmas gets lost in the busy-ness of the season.
Several years ago, our family chose to simplify some of our Christmas "happenings" and focus more on Christ. We began reading through a fun and meaningful series of 3 books (we read through one book each year) written by Arnold Ytreeide (Jotham's Journey, Bartholomew's Passage, Tabitha's Travels) for our family's regular evening worship time with Advent. These three stories fascinated our girls when they were younger (about age 7+), and now that they are in jr. high/high school, they still are enjoying the stories and Advent readings! (And so are Elmer and I...heh, heh!)
We simplified our gift-giving list; we actually decided to make fewer Christmas candies and goodies; etc. This year, we are decorating our home with our traditional Christmas decorations as well as these symbols of peace that my daughter, Kelsi, and I designed. People have seemed to enjoy the free October Autumn Pumpkin Scripture printables we made for October and the November "Leaves of Thanks" Scripture printables, so we decided to make some free printable Scripture decorations for December and CHRISTmas for you to enjoy!
(Email subscribers will want to click on the title of this blog post to view the graphics and to download the three pages of Christmas Peace for your use.)
If you would like to print out these 3 pages of CHRISTmas Peace for your own personal family use, or in your classroom or Sunday School class, just click on the page, below. White or cream-colored cardstock works well for printing these three pages. If you desire, feel free to laminate them for future use. Merry CHRISTmas to you and your family!
Please remember that these CHRISTmas Peace printables are copyrighted and are not to be shared on another website without permission from Joy In Our Journey.com. Thanks!
I'm thankful I don't have to admit that the Roses are Red poem is the only poetry to which my daughters have been exposed. If that was the case, I think they'd have thrown The Grammar of Poetry books directly at me as hard as they could, when it arrived in the mail.
Kelsi and Brittany have actually read some poetry over the years: Shel Silverstein (although I doubt they remember that, it was so many years ago), folk rhymes like Little Miss Muffet...biblical poetry found in the Bible, and other little poems we've come across now and then.
Of course, there's also the poetry they've found in greeting cards, and in some of the literature books they've read (Lord of the Rings, etc.).
But as far as studying poetry together in an academic sense, we've done nothing - nada.
When I came across The Grammar of Poetry, I was intrigued.
DVD lessons? Yes!
Professionally produced materials? Yes!
Poetry taught in a classical form of education? Yes!
At the junior high and high school level? Yes!
From a Christian perspective? Yes!
The girls and I are thrilled to let you know about The Grammar of Poetry. I feel SO blessed by being able to use this fantastic classical poetry curriculum!
We could have used the teacher's guide and workbook on their own, without the DVD, but we would have missed out. This Grade 6 to High School curriculum revolves around 30 DVD lessons with Matt Whitling. And when I use the word "revolves", I mean that with the DVDs, this one-semester program is captivating and interesting!
Email subscribers will want to click back to the original post (click the title of this blog post) to view the YouTube videos of the teacher in The Grammar of Poetry and to enter the giveaway!
We've used several DVD curriculum programs in our homeschooling over the last 10 years. The Grammar of Poetry - by far - is the most professionally produced set of DVDs that we've seen developed for homeschoolers. It really is that good.
All of the little issues we've had over the years with different DVD and online programs we've used have been completely eliminated from The Grammar of Poetry DVDs. These folks really know what it takes to make a professional looking program!
Here's my 14-year-old's first attempt ever at writing a poem, after viewing Lesson 5:
Here's a better description of some of the goals of The Grammar of Poetry:
This is the ideal introductory poetry course for students and teachers discovering the art of poetry. As a "grammar," it teaches the fundamentals of poetry from scansion and rhyme to more advanced concepts like spatial poetry and synecdoche.
Using the classical methodology of imitation (advocated by educators like Quintilian and Benjamin Franklin), this text helps students become active participants as they learn the craft of writing poems. It also offers practical tips and helps, including:
The thirty lessons in The Grammar of Poetry contain instruction on ten powerful tropes, student activities for every chapter, riddles to solve, a glossary of terms, a list of over 150 quality poems to integrate, and real-life examples from Shakespeare to traditional tongue twisters. It is designed for a semester at the 6th-9th grade level, but is perfectly appropriate for anyone with basic writing skills and the desire to learn poetry.
After one of the lessons on rhyming, we learned that it can be very helpful to have a rhyming dictionary. Since we don't have one (yet!), we found this site online that will help would-be poets:
The presentation of The Grammar of Poetry, lesson by lesson, does contain poems and concepts from Christianity. As a Christian, desiring to hand down the Christian faith to my children, I welcome curricula that includes a Christian focus.
Mr. Whitling also encourages creativity among the student audience. When the girls were learning about rhyming schemes, Kelsi decided to use the Tengwar (Elvish) language found in the Lord of the Rings books! Here's a close up of some of her assignment. Instead of writing: A, B, A, B to describe the rhyming schemes of the first stanza, etc., she chose to use Tengwar. Silly girl! :)
Ha! She thought she was so funny when she showed this to me. I think she expected me to make her erase and start over, but while I don't know Tengwar, I could tell why she was ordering her rhyming lines in the way that she chose to do this. :)
Here's another preview of The Grammar of Poetry:
After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.
Lydia's talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade, Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.
When Bane's enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane's mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.
| || |
Author ~ Elizabeth Camden
I am a college librarian in central Florida by day, but by night I can be found pounding out inspirational historical novels the moment the sun goes down. I love writing books about fiercely intelligent people who are confronted with profound challenges. As a rather introverted person, I have found that writing is the best way for me to share my faith and a sense of resilience with others.
I married relatively late in life, which turned out to be an odd kind of blessing. My years as a single woman taught me many things. I learned to be independent and resilient. I learned how to manage my investments, earn and save enough money to have investments, mow my own lawn, fix the rickety appliances in my sixty-year old house, and spend the holidays on my own when travel to family was not possible. Most importantly, it taught me never to take my husband for granted. I give daily thanks for the blessing of being able to share a life with my favorite person on the planet.
Wow! It is not often that a book that is so full of twists and turns that it is hard to put down comes my way. Against the Tide by Elizabeth Camden is just such a book.
The story begins with a truly poverty stricken family in the late 1800's. The family lives on a tiny, decrepit fishing boat. It is now time for the oldest daughter, Lydia, to go to school. Lydia leaves her father at the dock excited and fearful at the same time. The day passes and she returns to the dock to meet the boat, but they never return. She is now an orphan and is taken to the orphanage to live. This tragic situation shapes Lydia for the rest of her life.
Through much hardship and an unusual gift for languages, Lydia is able to get a job translating documents for the Navy. This provides some security for her, but that soon comes to an end. Talked into helping a young man, Bane, uncover an opium smuggling operation, she is accused of dishonorable actions and fired from her job. How she regains her life, and helps Bane to uncover and convict the smugglers, is a tale full of twists and turns that will keep you turning the pages as fast as you can read them!
I highly recommend Against the Tide, by Elizabeth Camden for both its historical accuracy and excellent writing.
Bethany House/Baker Publishing Group provided me with one copy of Against the Tide in exchange for Joy In Our Journey's honest review of this book. No other compensation was provided.
Hi! I'm Julieanne!
You'll find me in the kitchen
trying new Trim Healthy Mama recipes, loving God, and carrying out that love as I bless my husband and teen daughters.
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