Monday, September 25, 2017

when your womb is empty

So I've been going back and forth about whether or not I wanted to share this part of our lives on the blog, but the Lord gave me a prompting and a burden to do so. I'm not super excited about it, but I also want to encourage others and want them to know that they are not alone. I've definitely believed the lie that I am alone in this struggle, and I don't want anyone else to feel that way. There are about a million and one ways this post could look, and I don't really know where it's going to go. So I'm just going to do what all writers do and write what I know. I'm also of the conviction that people need to talk about "taboo" things more. We're all humans just trying to make it to the next day. Just saying. 

All my life I have wanted to be a mom. When my little sister was born, I was obsessed with her. Who knows, I may have called her "my baby;" you know how kids are. I was so so happy to have a little bundle of joy as a new addition to our family and thought it was just about the best thing ever. Growing up I didn't have a lot "normal" teenage jobs- I never worked in retail or in food service. I mostly babysat and worked at preschools. Caring for kids was just natural to me, which led me to teaching elementary school for six years.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. - Ecclesiastes 3:11

Even in my season of singleness, I always felt like I would be a mom someday. I figured if I didn't get married I would adopt or start a children's home or go live abroad and work in an orphanage or something of the like. So when I did finally meet Rory, obviously I started thinking about kids. Duh. I  was made to be a mom. I know it and feel it in my bones. As the older sibling, I've got the bossy thing down. In middle school, my peers called me "Mommy Jessi." Looking back that was probably an insult, but I didn't care. I saw nothing but positivity in that- they thought I could take care of others! Funny how your middle school (or adult) mind can twist things, isn't it? But seriously, friends. I can think of nothing I want more than raising little disciples of Jesus Christ to be fierce world changers for the Gospel. 

I digress. When Rory and I had been dating for a little while, I remember him asking me if my parents cared that he was white. Obviously they didn't, but I returned the question. He said, "No, my parents don't care. My mom really wants mixed grandkids." And there you have it, folks. At this point I had not even met his mother. The man was serious though. There was another time where we were arguing about different sports and I mentioned how much I wanted to play soccer when I was younger. Soccer is his least favorite sport, so he said, "Our kids are not playing soccer." Friends we had not talked about marriage at this point, and he quickly said, "I just talked about our kids. That was weird. Sorry." TRY AND GUESS IF I MINDED. Heart was swooning, peeps. 

Fast forward to the beginning of marriage when I was on the cray birth control and kind of hated life. We knew we didn't want to have kids right away, and even though we didn't want to wait for too long, it felt like a leap of faith to finally just stop taking the pill after a year after we realized the havoc it was wreaking on oh, everything. There are so many scare tactics surrounding sex and pregnancy and birth control and the like. I mean, we literally thought I could like spontaneously get pregnant if I wasn't on the pill. Oh the good old days. 

During our first year of marriage, I literally would beg Rory for a baby and ask him if we could start trying. We had agreed to wait two years, but we would go back and forth on whether that meant we had to wait two years to start trying or if we could have a baby by the time we had been married for two years. After all of my crazy health stuff with the fibroids, we got the ok from the doctor and decided to start trying in December of 2016. 

At this point I was feeling pretty empowered with all of my knowledge of basal body temping (just Google it) and figured it didn't take rocket science to procreate and thought it wouldn't take us too long. But it didn't happen. And then it didn't happen the next month. Or the month after that. Or the month after that.  Now for y'all who are good at math, you know that it has been less than a year. It's "only" (huge air quotes here) been ten months. Most doctors say to give it a year. When you hear that you may think, "Oh a year isn't too bad! A year can fly by!" Which is true. Except for when you're in a season of infertility. I cannot tell you the myriad ways I have imagined in my head that we would announce our pregnancy to friends and family or the holidays that I thought would be so much brighter because of such fun news. Sadly, we haven't had the opportunity to share that news.

I say "season of infertility" intentionally, because I am not claiming or walking in the identity of an "infertile" woman but am instead believing in the power and promises of an almighty God to heal. I believe that all women have the ability to give life and that my body was created to do so, so I am choosing to believe that God will bring us our own biological child(ren) in due time. Hannah's story in 1 Samuel has been a cornerstone for me during this time, because she never gave up. She persistently asked for the desires of her heart and unashamedly begged her God to fight for and remember her, and He did. I will not give up. I will not be shaken, and I will not back down. That's the kind of faith I want to have. That's the kind of God I want to serve and know and love.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

    but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.- Proverbs 13:12

The other day, I was driving to work and singing along to Kari Jobe's newest album (go listen to it right now) and these words left my lips: The only thing I want in life is to be known for loving Christ. And then I started weeping. Because you know what? I want that. I really do. But most days I'd really rather have a baby in my belly or in my arms already. 

I used to take my health and my presumed ability to procreate for granted. It seemed pretty easy for most people around me to make babies, so I figured it would be the same for me. That hasn't been the case so far. And you know what? It sucks. It really, really sucks. (Sorry Mom, I know you hate that word.) Part of me feels like I can't even write this post because it hasn't been a year and we have no "official diagnosis" of infertility and there are people who have waited or are waiting so much longer than we have. My heart genuinely hurts with those friends. 

But this is what I know. There is no pain like that of an empty womb. Nothing. It is the deepest and most raw pain I have ever felt. This summer I found myself sitting on the floor of our living room shaking and crying my eyes out and saying to my husband, "Nothing will make this pain go away. No matter how hard I try to busy myself with other things and enjoy other things about my life, this pain still lingers. It hurts and it won't go away and I don't know what to do. I know I have a great life. I love you. I love our house. I love our friends. But I don't have a baby and I don't know when we will have a baby and it hurts so bad."

With each passing month, I have had to lay down and surrender various hopes and dreams. Like the thought that it would be pretty likely that I would be a mom by age 30. Or the hope that next Mother's Day I would hold a baby in my arms. Or that this Christmas we would be a family of three. And the most frustrating part is that each month brings with it the icky yucky awful painful periods that I can't really do much about right now since we are trying to conceive. It seems like a sick cosmic joke. 

I can't control the outcome here. I cannot perform my way to pregnancy or earn a baby. And sometimes that just about does me in. Because friends, I am really good with earning and performance measures. I have cried out to God- why them and not me? What have I done? What have I not done? Whatever You need me to do, just tell me! And you know what's He's said to me? Abide. 

Ummm. Kind of don't want to do that, Lord. Seems a little loosey goosey and mystical.  Just give me a checklist. Give me a program to follow. I am like, so good at following directions. Just give me a clear-cut list please and thank you. 

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.- John 15:5

Much to my chagrin, God doesn't operate this way. His ways are higher, greater, and better. He is the gentle whisper to my soul in the night when I cannot sleep. He is in the lyrics of the hymns sung in the wee hours of the morning when the pain won't subside. He is in the embrace of my husband's arms when I think I cannot take one more step. He is in the words spoken at just the right time. He is in the card in the mail from a friend who knows how to comfort. He is in the date night where I give thanks that it is still just the two of us for a little while longer. 

For a while I didn't talk to many people about this struggle. It was embarrassing, and I was ashamed. I felt like something was wrong with me and with my body- or with Rory and his body. I didn't want to be a downer when I was constantly surrounded by pregnant women and babies. I've questioned why some people got to have babies "on accident" or why people who didn't even want to have kids got to have them. And to that the Lord said, "That's not for you to decide." Point taken.

Three things are never satisfied;

    four never say, “Enough”:
Sheol, the barren womb,

    the land never satisfied with water,

    and the fire that never says, “Enough.”

- Proverbs 30:16

After ten months of trying to make a baby, this is where I find myself- with a barren womb that is not satisfied. But here's the thing. For the first few months of this darkness, I allowed this desire to completely consume me. It touched everything- my marriage, my friendships, my attitude, my thought life- no stone was left unturned. Baby showers just about did me in and seeing the Facebook news feed riddled with pregnancy announcements felt like a personal affront. Some of these things are still painful, and I have to will myself to be happy for others. That's the primary reason I'm not on Instagram right now. The mindless scrolling was producing way too much bitterness and jealousy in this fragile heart of mine. The struggle was is real, and I say that in the least flippant way possible.

When all I can think about is what I don't yet have, I'm not walking in the truth. Because the truth says that I am not lacking. The truth says that the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. The truth says that God has not forgotten me. In fact, He has engraved me on the palm of His hands. The enemy of our souls is crafty, friends. It is so so so easy to focus on what "everyone else" has. But when I do that I'm not walking in gratitude and I'm allowing my desires to become demands. And when that happens, I've made God more like my Santa Claus. When I'm focused on my pain and frustrations, I can't love others well because all I can do is look at me, me, me. And the enemy knows that. The beautiful thing about this season, especially the most recent months, is that God has made it overwhelmingly clear that He loves me and that He is continuing to work in my life. In. so. many. ways. 

Here's what I've learned since and am trying my darnedest to walk in- my story is not her story. Her happiness does not have to threaten mine. I can rejoice with others. I can walk alongside friends who are in different seasons and who are experiencing what my heart literally hurts to have. But I cannot do it alone. I have to fight for this joy and this happiness in a way I never have before. It is a conscious choice to celebrate others, but that doesn't make it any less genuine. I have to remember that the world does not revolve around me and my pain- no matter how real and raw it is. I have to remember that my God is for me even when I don't want to get out of bed in the morning because the pregnancy test was negative again. I have to remember that God is sovereign and that He loves me and that His plans for me are always only good. I have to remember that He didn't make me sick or cause my illness and that He's not punishing me. I have to remember. I have to remember. And it is in the remembering that my praise comes forth and my soul is lifted. It is in the remembering that my hope soars and my perspective shifts, because He's in the waiting.

So I buy the gifts and I say congratulations and I go to the showers because that's what a good friend does. And all the while, I hold on to hope. I say thank you to Jesus for the millionth time as I recall His kindness to me and how much He's done for me. I fall more in love with my husband every single day as I covet  admire his strength and unwavering faith. And I pray like I never have before and say sorry a lot and surrender and just ask God for a deeper love for Him and a heart that looks like His. Because if there's anything I've learned in the last ten months, it's that Jesus is all that matters, and He is all I have. So I lift my voice and give a sacrifice of praise and laugh at the days to come as I hope in His unfailing love. And I say with confidence and conviction, it is well with my soul. 

P.S. To those of you who already know this story and who have held my hand, cried with me, prayed for me, encouraged me, comforted me- thank you. You mean more to me than you know. 
P.P.S. If you've made it to the end of this post, thanks for reading along. Please please please don't send any advice or suggestions my way- I don't have the mental or emotional capacity to receive that right now. Instead I ask that you pray for us- for physical healing for me and for the Lord to give us the deepest desire of our hearts.
P.P.P.S. If you are my friend and you are pregnant, I love you (and please don't think otherwise!). I just probably don't want to talk about babies all the time. :)

Sources of Encouragement

God's Plan for Pregnancy (Literally the best book about all things pregnancy- before, during, and after- and one I wish I had a year ago. I recommend it to everyone no matter what their situation.)
Sarah's Laughter Infertility podcast
The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey podcast (episodes #158, #155, #132)
Mom Struggling Well podcast (episode #105)
The Shauna Niequist podcast (episode #2)
The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp
True Identity by Jennifer Brommett
Fiercehearted by Holley Gerth
Gracelaced by Ruth Chou Simons
Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst
God is Able by Priscilla Shirer
The Lucky Few by Heather Avis
The Armor of God Bible study by Priscilla Shirer
Covenant Bible study by Kay Arthur
And entirely too many worship songs to count that have held me and lifted my heart.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

#sistersofinfluence: Amy Morrison

Friends, I am so excited to have the privilege of introducing you to my sweet friend Amy Morrison today. She is an amazing woman with many gifts and talents! Amy and I met through Instagram. :) She is a counselor and also is passionate about holistic care and wellness. I love seeing what she eats everyday; her meals are #foodgoals for sure! Not only is she passionate about eating well and taking care of her body, she is also passionate about making sure that she and the other people around her are emotionally and spiritually well, too. It is my joy to introduce her to you today! 

Tell us about yourself. Who are you?

Hey! I am a wife, a counselor, and a believer. I live in the Denver, Colorado area where I have a private counseling practice, a counseling job with kids who are on Medicaid and having trouble in school, and a job as an instructor at a gym. I am passionate about holistic health and how our food, sleep, and exercise impact our mental health. On any given day you will find me dreaming up a new goal, hitting snooze a couple too many times, enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend, or trying out a new exercise. I love to read so I am always looking for book recommendations (amazon prime is my bff).  Check out my blog and website for more information about me and what I do!

How did you come to know the Lord?

I was born into a Christian family, but it wasn't until high school that I really found my faith. In high school I had a youth pastor who challenged me to choose my faith for myself instead of relying on the faith of my family. It has been a challenging journey; making my faith my own. I have experienced my fair share of doubt and disillusionment. However, I continue to come back to my faith and I know that the push and pull I have experienced is a normal part of the spiritual growth process.

What do you think it means to be a woman of influence right where you are?
I think it means connecting to your community, this can mean a variety of things but I think it is about knowing who is making your coffee at your neighborhood coffee shop, or saying hello in a kind way to your mail man. I believe that we are a sum of the small, intentional movements we make. I believe you are a woman of influence when you take daily steps toward your goals and who you want to become. Its not a simple thing, it takes years of hard work! 

How does the Lord allow you to shine His light through your counseling?

I do not identify myself as a strictly Christian counselor, but I think I am still able to shine His light by seeing my clients as whole people who are made in the image of God. I see my clients as not only being depressed or anxious but as humans who are beautiful and complex in their own ways. 

What is the best piece of marriage advice you have been given?

Communicate about everything, no matter how small or insignificant you think it is. 

What is one thing you want the women of our generation to remember?

Never forget that you have a choice. Whether you feel pressured to have a job or to stay at home, you have a choice and you get to own it! We can get so stuck in what we think we are supposed to do. I love encouraging people to think outside what they feel pressured to do and make an educated choice about what is actually available to them. 

What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

I love the story of The Prodigal Son! I see myself and my issues in all of the different characters and I am so grateful to have a Father who runs out to me and accepts me for who I am! 

What is one truth you want others to remember and cling to?
There is freedom in discipline. A lot of people think they will be limited if they choose to be disciplined about something, but I think there is so much freedom in your ability to say no to certain things and yes to others. 

And last but not least: coffee or tea?

Coffee for the most part, but tea has a soft place in my heart. My mom is from New Zealand so we grew up enjoying tea together almost every day! 

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

#sistersofinfluence: Elizabeth Mayberry

Friends, today I am so very excited to introduce you to my sweet friend Elizabeth Mayberry. She and I haven't met in real life, but we are acquainted through Instagram. :) I have followed her blogging journey for years, and then mutual Insta-friends brought us together a few months ago! Not only is she a blogger, she also designs these amazingly cute mini-planters for succulents! She is a wonderfully creative woman with so much vision and drive. She loves her people well and enjoys life. I guess I'll let her tell you the rest!

Tell us about yourself. Who are you?
My name is Elizabeth and I am a Colorado Lifestyle Blogger & Photographer. I have been married to my best friend for five years and we live in a home we own & love at the base of Pikes Peak. I have a tendency to be an workaholic and perfectionist but God's grace is bigger and better. I love people, the outdoors, local beer, and sour gummy worms. I am passionate about making a difference and helping others awaken their God-given dreams and passions! 

How did you come to know the Lord?

I grew up in a Christian family. Both my mother and father grew up in non-believing homes and met the Lord in high school. Their faith was very much their own and they were passionate about the Lord. I accepted Him into my heart when I was 4 or 5 years old. In college I was faced with a new world and forced to figure out what I wanted to believe and stand for all on my own. I stumbled around for a couple months - trying on new friendships and relationships - and quickly realized the Lord was the only one who satisfies. I switched to a new college (John Brown University) to major in ministry or people and grew into the person I am today! 

What do you think it means to be a woman of influence right where you are?
Every lady is a woman of influence - we all have an impact on those around us. Whether large or small, possessive or negative, our lives impact others. We need to take that seriously and own it! I was once told that your words either bring life or they bring death - there is no in between! To be a woman of influence right where we are, we need to open our eyes to those around us and open our hearts to the Lord. We each have been given a platform to steward, whether our neighbors, our classmates, or Instagram followers, or our blog readers. Being content and open to the Lord will help us love those around us and be good stewards of the influence we have been given! 

How does the Lord allow you to shine His light through your business(es)?

I think one of the largest ways is how I interact with others and how I share the Lord in natural ways. I do not have a Bible Study blog, I have a Lifestyle blog. And even though every post doesn't dive into theology, the Lord is an active part of my life and shows up often! I've revived super sweet emails from believers and non believers alike saying I've encouraged them, inspired them, or taught them more about the Lord just through how I live my life. 

What is the best marriage advice you've received?

Marry your best friend.... and so I did that! If you marry someone you enjoy being around, you'll have that to fall back on. Marriage is wonderful but not always easy. When hard times come, your friendship remains. 

What is one thing you want the women of our generation to remember?

You are chosen, you are worthy, and you are called to action. Love the Lord God with all your heart and love others as yourself. 

What is your favorite verse or passage of Scripture?

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing." - Zephaniah 3:17

What is one truth you want others to remember and cling to?

Grace. Grace. Grace! 

And last but not least: coffee or tea?

BOTH! Coffee before noon, tea after! 

Individual shots:

Monday, September 11, 2017

September Goals

It is the first full week of September! Wow friends. We are in the last quarter of 2017, and I don't know about you, but I want to make this time count! I am becoming more and more aware of the fact that our time here on earth is oh so precious. Each month as I consider my goals, I want them to be steps that I am taking toward making the world around me a better place, not just about making me a better version of myself.

Here's what I was working on in August:

August Goals


four online classes 
two in-person oils events or one-on-ones
finish part three of my book
have our new neighbors over for dinner


work out 5x a week
meal prep
complete Bible study homework
write someone a note


read the Word
encourage Ror
encourage someone else
be timely

The Nitty Gritty

August was a great month! I was super encouraged and excited about momentum that I found in my Young Living business! Last month, four new people joined me on this wellness journey! I love being able to help people learn more about essential oils and how to incorporate them into their daily lives. It is such a joy! I didn't host any big events in person, but that's ok. August is crazy with the influx of college students into town, and that means more work at church, too! We didn't have our neighbors over for dinner yet, but we have had some more conversations and are encouraged by the interactions we've had. Meal prep happened and made life SO much easier! AND I was able to get to work on time 95% of the month! Rory gave me some grace on a couple days where I didn't feel well or was literally one minute late. :) I'm hoping to turn over a new leaf and be more timely with consistency.  

What I Was Grateful for in August

One highlight of last month was that I had the privilege of celebrating my best friend's first baby with a tea party shower! It was such a special day and was so much fun. We also got to enter into the new school year with a retreat for our new interns at the church. That weekend was a blast and I am truly looking forward to getting to know all of them better as the year goes on. They are definitely one of my favorite parts of my job. During this summer I also was part of a great ladies' Bible study, and we celebrated the end of our time together with a lovely potluck dinner and shared about all God had taught us. It was truly a sweet time, and I am so grateful for them. At the end of the month I was also able to attend a Bible journaling workshop hosted by Lifeway with the girls from our couples small group, and that was so fun! I learned so much! Annndd we had a blast doing more furniture projects for our home!

September Goals


establish a writing rhythm
finish first draft of book
visit Ms. Mary
bring neighbors a meal 
get a date on the calendar for dinner with across the street neighbors
follow/complete blog schedule
complete 30 days of Bible journaling/lettering challenge


hang out one-on-one with an intern
use one lunch break to write
use one lunch break to read
work out 5x
get 2 chapters done of book
write someone a note


read the Word
encourage Rory
encourage someone else

What are you working on, friends?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Currently: September

Ok friends, we are officially in the fourth quarter of the year! And no, that wasn't a football pun. This isn't a drill! 2017 is coming to a close as we enter the fall months. Can you believe it? Fall is my most favorite time of year. Call me basic, but there is something special about sweater weather. There are so many lovely things that I'm looking forward to in this season. Here's what's going on in my neck of the woods:

celebrating: I made it to work on time all month in August! Ok so there were literally two days where I was one minute late, and I had to be ten minutes early the next day to make up for it. The hubs gave me grace. But I am super proud of myself and am looking forward to a lifestyle change for sure.
watching: It is no secret that I love Jane Austen period dramas. This past month, Rory and I got sucked in to Death Comes to Pemberley on Netflix. I had previously avoided it because I thought it would be too dark, but it was so so so so good. Rory said he thought it was better than the movie! It is highly recommended!
welcoming: The beginning of fall! Cannot wait to wear my boots and sweaters and all the layers. :)
preparing: This month I am preparing to finish my book. I have had big work spurts, but this month I am being intentional. God told me to write this book, and I am determined to have it done before the end of this year! I am also preparing for a big oils event with a sorority on campus, and I could not be more excited!
photographing: All the fall things of course!

Linking up with Anne and Lowanda today!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

on letting go

It is September, my friends. We are saying goodbye to the grilled food and popsicles and hello to the crockpot and casserole. We are hanging on to every last bit of summer that we can and also embracing the beauty that is fall. In order for fall to arrive, there has to be a death. A death of the green and verdant landscape we see and an ushering in of vibrancy as we await the long slow days of winter. But I'm getting ahead of myself, aren't I? Let's focus on the beauty of food, football, family, and friends, shall we? Fall is for fun!

My husband and I had a great conversation today at lunch (on Labor Day) about the importance of priorities and knowing my limits. I like to think that I can do it all and do it well, and that is just not the case. I want to be seen as capable and willing to do what it takes to get the job done, and that just isn't a healthy way of processing the world. When I am more afraid of how I look to others instead of how I measure up to God's idea of success, I have allowed a fear of man to dictate my life instead of a fear of God. And that, my friends, is a recipe for disaster.

The quote above was my computer background for a while. I would look at it and think about how there was so much I wanted to get done and so many things/people that I wanted to be and how it was impossible without God. But I think that I've had it all wrong. I wanted people to look at my life, and think, "Wow, how does she do it all?" I've been looking to God to bless the plans that I make instead of asking Him to show me His ways and then walking in them. I'm wanting to lead myself instead of allowing Him to lead me.

One thing that I pride myself on is this sense that I can get a lot done in a short amount of time. But sometimes that just isn't the case. What I see as productivity is actually just a bunch of busy work that isn't contributing to my ultimate goal of knowing God and making Him known. I have succumbed once again to the tyranny of the urgent instead of focusing on what is truly important.

At the beginning of this year, I wrote out a set of goals. Those goals seemed lofty at the time (and still do, to be honest) but I think that the majority of them were pressed upon my heart by the Lord Himself. It is easy to look at them and think, "Wow that's a lot." And it is. But nothing is impossible with the Lord.

Throughout this year, the Lord has redirected me a few times and also given me new dreams and passions. There is nothing wrong with that, in fact, I welcome His suggestions. :) But I don't always make room to process through those things well and to truly embrace His call in light of how I'm living now. I want to hold my plans with open hands. I want to hold everything in my life with open hands. I only have one life, and I want to live it well.

Yes, it is important to reach toward goals and to practice discipline. And in the midst of that discipline and all those goals, it is also important to abide and remember the One who gave you those dreams and goals.

I've made a list of goals for this month, and I'll be sharing them with you later this week. But I just want to share with you all that I am not perfect. I miss the mark more often than I hit it. I try to force things and run ahead of the Lord. But. There's grace for that. I am growing more and more into who He's created me to be, and He is helping me to see what is important in His eyes.
In this last quarter of 2017, I want to let go:

of my pride
of my desire to have my way
of my agenda
of my lists
of comparison
of FOMO (sadly a real struggle of mine)
of my "need" to check in on social media
of my materialism
of myself

I'm not naive enough to think that all of these areas of needed improvement will be "fixed" when the clock strikes midnight on December 31 and we find ourselves in another new year. But I can place my hope in Christ and know that He who is in me is greater than he that is in the world. I can remember the promise that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. And I can know that His love is good, true, and unfailing. And for that, I am truly grateful.


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