Of Crowns and Things

by Beth Diemert, Ministry Services Specialist/Academy FacultyCrownFixer
Heartbeat International

I have seen this meme a few times now on social media, and every time I do, it catches my eye. Mostly because it pushes my life button. For me, it just captures the very essence of what it means to be life giving. Pardon me for a second as I get a little graphic, but they say the best way to define something sometimes is by defining what it is not. What it is not is life sucking.  You know the kind of thing that sucks the life out of you and makes you want to die? It’s exactly the opposite of that.

And it doesn’t just apply to women. It’s really more for humans across the board… so welcome everyone!

Here is the deal, the work we do is intense. The world of alternatives to abortion, “intervention, securing, and sustaining” life-affirming decisions takes effort! Those of us called to this work know that we are secured by the Giver of Life himself with all we need to “fight the good fight.” But the question is, “what fight is that exactly?”

Paul, in 2 Timothy 4:7 says he has “fought the good fight, he has “kept the faith” which is the heart of the issue - standing for truth and preserving the faith.  But Paul also reminds us in Ephesians 6:12 that in the fight “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” but the battle is “against spiritual forces of evil.” Being one who straightens crowns without mention, means that you clearly understand the difference between the two.

Within the pregnancy help community, there are a myriad of thoughts, theories, and methods for helping. We share a lot of commonality in what we do, but we also have a lot of differences. We are all called to be a part, contributing what the Lord gives us, in the way He leads us to do so. As the body of Christ, there is room for difference within the same mission.

But, crowns get crooked when someone is critical of another’s thoughts and methods, just because they are different from their own. Crowns get crooked when, especially in a public way, one is critical and vocal about another’s way of achieving the same mission. So, here is the secret of what a silent crown fixer knows.

Celebrating another’s achievement, honoring another’s creativity, and acknowledging another’s hard work that gets us closer to the bulls-eye, makes you authentically pro-life in every way. A silent crown fixer is confident enough to know that we are a community, and supporting each other in every positive way we can, not being critical, will bring blessing and increase overall, and peace and solidarity within.

A.A. Milne, author of the beloved Winnie the Pooh series demonstrates this in the relationship depicted with Pooh and Piglet. Though Piglet is small and timid, he is Pooh’s closest friend amongst all the toys and animals. Pooh’s love for him gives him great confidence to declare “The things that make me different are the things that make ME.” And Pooh celebrates Piglet!

So…go be a silent crown fixer. Find a crown to fix today. Speak life! Be life! And wear your own crown tall!

The Good Fight of Faith

by Jor-El Godsey, PresidentAdoption
Heartbeat International

We didn’t ask for this fight. We really just want to help women make the healthiest choice for all involved – the choice for life.

That’s what “pregnancy help” is all about anyway. That’s what started this movement more than 50 years ago. The desire to make sure there were alternatives to abortion for those in the “valley of decision.”

But others, especially those from—or in league with—the abortion industry have decided to fight alternatives to abortion. This has manifested itself in zoning laws and Supreme Court decisions. Our opposition has demonstrated an increasing willingness to use political power and negative digital reviews.

Earlier this year, we learned that two pro-life informed consent laws recently passed in North Dakota were being challenged. You can read more about the specifics of that here. Heartbeat International, has weighed into this fight because the issues at stake in North Dakota have national implications.

But what does that all mean for you? At the moment, unless you’re pregnant in North Dakota and seeking an abortion, it doesn’t mean much at all. If you are, then it means you’ll be denied some key information relating to alternatives to abortion and you’ll have less knowledge at hand to make a fully informed decision.

For the rest of the country and the pregnancy help movement, the legal wrangling in North Dakota won’t have an impact until the lawsuit is decided. Even then, both sides of this seem resolute enough to appeal to the higher courts. Such actions will likely take months, maybe even years. So in the short-term this lawsuit won’t affect anyone outside of North Dakota for a while, if ever.

Although the impact in your part of the country may not be immediate, you can certainly be involved by praying for our pregnancy help colleagues in North Dakota who are affected. You can include prayer for wise counsel from our legal teams and for favor with the judge(s) to see how important it is that every woman be loved and supported in her pregnancy. This means equipping her with the information she needs to make the best decision for every life involved.

Together, with God’s present help, we can take heart in “fighting the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12).

Anger in the Right Direction

Servants of ExcellenceJacopo Tintoretto Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery WGA22436

So they were saying to him, “Where is your father?” Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my father; if you knew me, you would know my father also.”
John 8:19

When Jesus met the adulterous woman, he confronted those who wanted to stone her by asking only those without sin to cast the first stone. After her accusers left, Jesus asked, “Did no one condemn you?”

When she answered that no one had stayed to pass judgment, Jesus told her, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on, sin no more.”

It’s interesting. There were so many Jesus met who crossed the line of sin—people like tax-collectors, a woman at the well, and this woman, caught in adultery. Yet Jesus never seemed angered about their lives, their sin. Instead he refused to condemn these people, many times connecting with them on a deeper level and changing their lives.

But some people did anger Jesus. He said mean things to them. Called them snakes, vipers, hypocrites. Not the kind of things to be shared in polite company. As a result, Jesus probably didn’t get invited to the high-society parties.

One of these verbal rebukes comes just after Jesus’ encounter with the adulterous woman. Once she is gone, the Pharisees show up with questions, as they always did. They were the religious leaders of the day, the smart people who declared themselves purveyors of truth and righteousness.

Jesus claimed to be the light of the world, and the Pharisees were not interested. A debate ensued, leading to their question, “Where is your father?”

The answer could have been, “In Heaven, where He sits on His throne.” But Jesus’ answer wasn’t about where his father was. It was about who his father was. And his answer cut them to the quick.

“You know neither me nor my father; if you knew me, you would know my father also.”

Think about it. Jesus told the very people who thought they knew religion better than anyone that they didn’t know God at all. And oh, by the way, they didn’t know him, either. Quite a statement.

Jesus saved his anger for these people. But the adulterous woman? No condemnation for her, only love and a desire to see her whole again.

You know what? This is what we do. Our mission is not about calling out religious leaders, but it is to reach those who Jesus touched with kind words. Many come in our doors feeling condemned and worthless—even if they don’t admit it. Let’s love them. Build them up. Help them find a second chance.

And if someone comes along to condemn those we serve, maybe we need to call them out. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.


by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist
Heartbeat International

The Beauty and Power of Grandparenting

by Kirk Walden, Advancement SpecialistHenry
Heartbeat International

Braggadocio alert: I’m a new grandparent, which means on Sunday, I'll celebrate my first Grandparent's Day as a grandpa. Any poor soul who encounters me for the next few years must endure endless photos and commentary, such as, “Isn’t that just the cutest smile in the world?”

I’ve found grandparenting is a club, of sorts. I show our pictures, I look at your pictures. We tell jokes about how the main reason we want our children to visit is to see the grandkid. We talk about how great it is to spoil the little one, then give him back so the parents must take on the hard work.

But let’s be honest: I did not earn the title, “Papa K,” by working for it. All I did was father a daughter 27 years ago. She grew up. Got married. Then, one day last November, Laura and husband Matt gave Jennifer and me a “pre-Christmas present,” a little bag with that fancy, thin paper in it. Inside was a pregnancy test. With a “+” sign.

Never have I been so happy to hold something my daughter tinkled on.

In pro-life terms, we were grandparents the moment the test turned positive. Well, earlier, but you get the point.

From there, we just waited around till the big day. When Henry was born, we hugged, high-fived and cried. It’s what you do, apparently.

Because Matt and Laura live next door, two-month-old Henry is an integral part of our existence. They pop down with the little poop machine almost daily. We hold him, talk about him, relish his every wiggle. As for me, I even took him for a mile walk in his stroller, solo. I’m good at this.

And—thank goodness—I haven’t yet changed a diaper. Not that I can’t, because I can switch out a diaper faster than a NASCAR pit crew changes tires at the Daytona 500. But I don’t have to. Which is one of the top reasons grandparenting beats parenting, any day.

But there is something more to this grandparenting gig. A letter from a guy named Paul to his protégé, Timothy, highlights this “something more.”

In his letter, Paul writes, “I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.”

Grandmother Lois only gets this one mention in the letter we know as II Timothy. Yet Lois passed her faith on to her daughter. Who passed faith on to Timothy. And Timothy? He was the right-hand of perhaps the greatest of the apostles, the most prolific author in the New Testament.

Without Lois, would Eunice have had faith? Timothy? We don’t know. All we know is, Paul traces Timothy’s faith back to a grandparent.

Like Lois, we want to pass our faith to our children, who can do the same for their children. And we likely have opportunities to share our faith directly with our grandchildren, too. I’ll bet Timothy’s Mimi (that’s Lois, but she deserves a “grandparent name” for this article) did this on a regular basis.

Because we have a few extra years under our belts, we GPs (I’m making up new lingo as I go along) have stories of faith to tell those who follow behind us. So, while changing diapers is important (ask any baby who hasn’t been changed for a while), perhaps this faith thing is an even bigger deal.

The next time Henry comes over then, I might tell him a story. About my faith and what God did in my life. He may not understand, yet. But one day, perhaps he will.

He won’t remember if I change his diaper, anyway.

Thankfulness Beyond the Rules

“Was no one found, who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” HealingLeper
Luke 17:18

The story of Jesus cleansing the ten lepers fascinates me, because it is a great study of how we sometimes view thankfulness.

In brief, here’s the story: Jesus is headed to Jerusalem and is between Samaria and Galilee when he hears ten lepers crying out, “Jesus, master, have mercy on us!” They broke the rule for lepers, who were supposed to cry out, “Unclean” to keep people away from them.

But instead of berating them for breaking the Mosaic Law, Jesus says to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests,” which is what the Law instructed for those healed. Aha! And as they turned to go to the priests, they were indeed, healed. Great news, right?

Nine of the men kept going, on to the priests to fulfill the Law’s instructions. One however (and a Samaritan at that), turned back, falling at Jesus’ feet in thanksgiving and glorifying God “with a loud voice.”

When this takes place, Jesus asks a good question. “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they?”

Jesus continues. “Was no one found, who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?”

An argument can be made that the nine fulfilled the rule of law. By law, they were required to go to the priests, who would then—at some point—declare them clean again. Unfortunately, by only following the rules they missed something bigger, an opportunity to know the Son of God.

It’s interesting to note, they were more than willing to break the rule of Law when they were desperate for healing. Instead of crying out, “Unclean,” they begged for Jesus to heal them. But after healing, it was back to the rules and nothing more.

Jesus was never obligated to heal the nine. Yet when he did so, the nine treated him as if he had only met the minimum standard, overlooking him in their rush to gain their “Clean Again” certificate from the priest. As a result, they missed their big opportunity.

In our everyday encounters, we have service employees, co-workers and so many others who perform tasks which make our lives easier. No, they aren’t necessarily doing something as miraculous as healing us of leprosy, but they often meet needs for us.

They may save us time. Or, fix something we’re not equipped to repair. Or, they do us a favor when we don’t expect it.

When these things take place, let’s be the one who goes the extra mile to say, “Thank you.” When we do, it opens the door to a greater relationship and more opportunities to build hope into their lives.

We can often view Jesus as stoic, leaving feelings aside as he pushed toward Jerusalem and his sacrifice on the cross. But I can’t help but believe Jesus was moved by this one who thanked him, seeing him as an encouragement on his road to Jerusalem.

The nine received healing but missed the greater blessing. Let’s break the rules and be the one. We never know what might happen.


by Kirk Walden
Heartbeat International Advancement Specialist

Staying Sane as Summer Ends

by Andrea Trudden, Heartbeat International Director of CommunicationsHowListening

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love August. Back to school, gearing up for autumn events, cooler weather, and everything to do with it, and did you know it's officially "Family Fun Month"? BUT… it takes me time to get back into the groove. And this can sometimes make me feel very overwhelmed and guilty. Guilty I am not as efficient as I could be. Frustrated that everything is not falling into perfection. And simply tired from all the running around.

This is the time of year that all of my three minions have activities. So, Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, we have soccer; Tuesdays and Saturdays, we have softball; and Thursdays, we have gymnastics. Sundays are for Church and family. Then, of course, we have the start of school and spouse time that need to be placed in here as well. Not to mention, time for me to just be with God.

I know I’m preaching to the choir here, but WOW! The running around really catches up to you!!! I actually think I forgot was exhaustion felt like, but the last couple of weeks has definitely reminded me.

So last week, I took our household’s resting time (1:30-3:00-ish and after 8:00 pm) and made a point to do nothing. I recognized that I needed to reset or else I would become cranky and nearly useless.

The importance of personal time is so imperative, and yet it always seems to be the first thing cut from the list. Why is that? Well, it’s because we are Christians.

Women are created to be nurturers, so when there is a need for our family, we fill that need. It is our vocation gifted by God.

We naturally put our sanity aside to keep the others sane.

The good news is that the joy that our little ones have in doing the things they love actually help fulfill our hearts as well. This helps for a little bit, but at a point, you just need to take a guilt-free break before you break!

The problem for me is falling into old habits. I am very much a go-go-go person and I have created three on-the-go minions, so remembering to take quiet time does not come naturally. I go until I can’t go anymore and then I need a reset.

So, basically, this is my reminder to all. TAKE PERSONAL TIME & STAY SANE.

Once I regain sanity, I remember all my tricks and enjoy each moment more.

Whatever season you are in right now, whether you're a parent of young kids, making sure other's children have a chance to be born, or taking care of friends and family, you'll serve others better and be more joyful yourself if you take the time you need to stay sane yourself.

Key takeaways for you:

  • Always find some quiet time;
  • Planning ahead helps the days run smoothly;
  • This is a season in life and it too shall pass {far too quickly}.

Praying That They May Know

FaithWorth“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling . . . .” Eph. 1:18A

Servants of Excellence 

We pray for friends, family members, and many times for those who come in the door of our pregnancy help ministries. When we do, we might pray for specific situations, such as health, relationships, employment, finances and more.

As we pray for those in our circle of influence, let’s ask this: “How would the world be different if God answered every one of my prayers this week?”

One pastor, made this point by asking his congregation, “If God answered all your prayers, what would happen? Would you merely see your food blessed, a few people get over their colds and have traveling mercies to grandmother’s house? Would that be all?”

Tough words!

But look at what Paul prays for his Ephesian friends. Let’s peek at Paul in his prayer closet:

“ . . . That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” (Eph. 1:17-19A)

Now that’s praying. Paul goes beyond the requests we so often think of and straight to the heart of the matter. Because he knows, if his friends in Ephesus capture a clear understanding of God’s love, everything else is going to fall into place.

As he continues, Paul’s greatest desire is that those receiving his letter have eyes to see the hope of what it means to be in relationship with Jesus Christ.

Which is something for us to remember. When a friend, family member or client asks for prayer, what is our primary focus? Do we focus on the situation in front of us? Or on the greater need?

Me? I tend to see the surface need and focus my attention on whatever I’m asked to pray about. But what if I also asked for something bigger, that my friend understand, “the hope of His calling” and to effectively grasp God’s love for us?

Paul focused on the greatest needs of his friends. As I pray for others, it’s a good idea to do the same.


by Kirk Walden, Heartbeat International Advancement Specialist

What’s Your Story?

“And it came about that as I was on my way, approaching Damascus about noontime, a very bright light suddenly flashed from heaven all around me.” Acts 22:6

Servants of Excellencedamascusroad

As we know, the Bible is full of stories. The Old Testament tell us story after story of everything from the first sin, to the rise of Israel, to heroics and failures of people like Samson, David, Solomon, Ruth and so many more.

The New Testament tells us the story of Jesus, including the stories he told. And, we also see stories of those who followed Jesus . . . and the stories they told.

Do we see a pattern here? Sharing our faith almost always begins with stories. And there is no greater example of this than Paul.

Yes, the Paul, the great theologian who gave us so many New Testament letters. The Paul who gave us everything from the great doctrinal book of Romans to the love chapter in I Corinthians 13. That Paul.

His faith began with a story. One place he tells his story is in Acts 22. Defending his work before the Jewish council, Paul launches his story by recounting his advancement in Judaism. He mentions (v. 3) his education under the great Gamaliel, and his zealousness in persecuting that ragtag bunch of heretics known as The Way (v. 4).

But, Paul’s story shifts on the road to Damascus, where he met the man he was persecuting. Jesus. Paul tells of a bright light, of being blinded and falling to the ground. And, he tells of a life-changing conversation with a man he thought to be dead, which turned him from persecutor to a promoter of this new faith.

Reading Luke’s account of Paul telling his story, we see his listeners throwing fits of anger. This says much more about Paul’s listeners than his story. Because as we know, Paul told his story to people everywhere, launching churches all over the known world.

The point? While Paul’s story is more dramatic than most, all of us have a story.

We sometimes get caught up in trying to know exactly how to best share the hope within us. We search Bible verses, learn techniques and avail ourselves of trainings. None of this is wrong, but often our best approach is the simplest: Tell our story.

Just like with Paul, our story is our own. Someone could argue with Paul, but they could never take his story away. More important? Paul’s story—like ours—allows us to be transparent, which always draws in listeners.

The next time someone—whether inside our ministry’s doors or in our neighborhood—wonders why we believe what we do, perhaps it is time to do what Paul did so well: Let’s tell our story.

Our story may be a conversion story, like Paul’s. Or, it may be a story of a time when we clearly saw God’s hand in our lives. If our listener is open, our story may invite a transparent conversation—a conversation which opens the door for our listener to begin, or extend, their own story of faith.

The good news? If we have faith, we have a story. And it is often our story which may inspire the stories of others.


by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

Be a Rule-Breaker: Love

Servants of ExcellenceHealingSabbath

And the synagogue official, indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, began saying to the multitude in response, “There are six days in which work should be done; therefore come during them and get healed, and not on the Sabbath day.” Luke 13:14

The synagogue official, staunch defender of tradition, must have been a fun guy to hang out with. Because after seeing the miraculous healing of a woman who spent 18 years with a sickness which kept her from ever standing upright, his first thought is to defend a man-made rule which God never intended when He created the Sabbath Day.

The religious leaders of Jesus’ day voiced plenty of complaints about their Messiah. They didn’t like his friends, weren’t happy with His drinking habits, and vehemently opposed how Jesus spent His Saturdays.

In their minds, Jesus was nothing but a rule-breaker; a tradition-stomping, disrespectful insurrectionist who wanted nothing more than to thumb his nose at anyone with authority.

But we know Jesus was quite the opposite. He was—and is—the authority, a man who loves His Father so much that He defended the Father’s love . . . above the rules men created for their own benefit.

Love doesn’t care what day it is, because every day is the perfect time to love the hurting. Love doesn’t fret over the status of someone else, because everyone is worthy to be loved. Love isn’t bound by tradition because love has no shackles, no limits.

What about those of us in the pregnancy help community? Thankfully, we don’t have man-made religious rules which keep us from loving.

On that Saturday, Jesus saw a woman who was, for 18 years, beyond healing. For 18 years, her illness kept her from standing upright. Nothing helped. Likely in pain every single day, no one’s prayers made a difference. Others probably took care of her.

But somehow, on that Saturday she made it to the synagogue to see Jesus. And on that day, everything changed. It was her right time, regardless of the rules.

If we are reflections of Jesus, part of our mission is to love enough to see those who come in our door as at “just the right time” for healing of emotional, spiritual and possibly even physical wounds. Because for love, there’s no time like the present. And that’s a rule we can always live by.


by Kirk Walden, Advancement Specialist

 

Uncovering Buried Desires

by Jenn Walden, Guest WriterBuriedDesires

At the age of 33, I met Kirk. He was a single dad of three children; ages 11, 14, and 16. I wasted no time falling in love with the four of them. In a moment only God could orchestrate, we became a family. Never married and never a mother, the moment I said, “I do,” my life was forever changed. After years of wandering, I finally found my tribe.

After six months as a family, we celebrated our first Christmas at Disney World. Moving states, building a house, enrolling in new schools, forming friendships, starting a business, step-parenting, and yes, a new marriage had sufficiently strained and tested all of us. We were ready for a break and some family bonding.

Feeling Funky

Despite the joy of our time at Disney World, by the end of the trip I was not feeling well. I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong, but upon returning home things were no better. The voice of fear, dormant since my new marriage, surfaced again.

Five years earlier I had been diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. This led to a partial hysterectomy, heavy doses of chemotherapy and long-term medication. Now, the fear of cancer was back, and I thought, Just as I am experiencing so much joy, cancer is returning to steal it all away.

When I shared my symptoms with a friend however, she made a strange suggestion. “You need to take a pregnancy test,” she told me. My medication however, limited any possibility of pregnancy. Still, I tentatively bought a couple of tests, believing a false positive would only signal the cancer was back.

When the test was positive, I cried, convinced my worst fears were realized. When Kirk said, “Take the second test,” it too was positive. We agreed I needed to see my oncologist immediately.

The nurse did not play into my game of fears. Without hesitation she laughed and said, “You don’t need to see us; you’re pregnant!” Shocker. Despite what I read on the internet or made up in my mind, a positive pregnancy test is not an indicator of cancer; who knew?

Exposing Guilt

I never once remember praying for a baby. After the miracle of meeting Kirk and his children, I was not going to be greedy. They were so much more than I ever believed I deserved. I would have told you emphatically that God does not cruelly punish His children. Yet, buried in my heart the thought brewed; Jennifer, there are natural consequences for the poor choices of your youth.

If I’m digging deep, I didn’t allow my heart to long for a baby because I didn’t think I deserved one. To this day, I still feel guilt surface when I meet precious people battling infertility. Why, I ask, did I so easily receive the longing of their hearts?

Despite the tremendous odds stacked against me, my sense of unworthiness and an absence of prayers in this direction, I gave birth to a baby boy.

Through the Eyes of a Doctor

When I saw my oncologist for a routine appointment, she asked about my pregnancy. As we talked, with tears in her eyes she told me, “You realize this baby is a miracle.” My doctor’s words jolted me, bringing full realization to the provision and hand of God.

Until that moment, I didn’t fully understand that in medical terms there should not be a Joshua Walden. I’m so glad God never got this memo.

Two years later, at the age of 35 I received yet another miracle. Jacob joined his brother in 2009.

Unexpected Gifts

Sometimes, for reasons beyond our comprehension, God gives us lost and forgotten dreams. In the process, lies which chain us to past mistakes are uncovered; our hearts suddenly freed to understand the true grace of God.

The first time I held Josh was one of the purest moments of love I’ve ever experienced. Holding that tiny life was more than my first moment with my first-born; it was my opportunity to truly embrace a testament of God’s love and mercy.

My past, for too many years, held on to me. In its grip were my deepest desires, so instead of seeking these desires, I buried them.

As a result, I truly believed God felt obligated to withhold certain blessings. I lived a life thinking that while God was kind, He sought only to correct me and make sure I understood that while I was forgiven, I was never meant to be fully worthy of His overwhelming love.

Giving me the gift of motherhood, God gave me the buried desires of my heart. And, He opened a window to help me see His boundless grace in ways I could not fathom before.

In different ways, God wants to give these gifts to each of us. For me, it was through motherhood. In the middle of my trial with cancer years earlier, I saw no possible avenue to becoming a mom. But God was there; waiting, preparing and then whispering to those around His throne, “Watch what I’m about to do in this one’s life. It will change her forever.”

Today, I’m mom to five. It’s a story I could have never written, never dreamed.

My prayer is that even if we are in the deepest of trial, we will remember that despite our pasts, God is about our present.

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I am forever grateful to the God who looked at me and said, “It’s time she saw the love I have for her–her buried desires are never too deep for Me to find.”

 

Jenn WaldenJenn Walden is a mom and blogger who can be found at www.1stfaith.com/jenn, where this article first appeared. She is married to Kirk, an Advancement Specialist for Heartbeat International.

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