New Years Blues

You know every year it never fails. 

The idea that New Years is a chance at a new beginning…doesn’t always come without the remembrance of all the experiences both good and bad that have occurred in the past year. I can say honestly that I have a pessimistic tendency to reflect on things I didn’t achieve or my failures over the past year; perhaps mistakes that changed the very course of my life—and things I could’ve done differently. 

So while everyone is happy, hopeful, and affirming blessings in my life–I look to the New Year a little sad. 

I still want to encourage you though. 

Because life has never began or ended on New Years. You don’t need New Years to start over. It is purely in your heart—and you can be reborn and start over at anytime–as long as you are willing to make that decision. 

Proverbs 3:5 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart..” and while we may have tons of unknowns–our only obligation is to take the next step in our lives in faith. 

I can’t tell you that I’ll be celebrating New Years like a crazy person…and poppin bottles and dancing the night away. That’s never really been my style. 

But I’ll be thanking God that I have life, air in my lungs…and y’all know the rest. 

The basics. 

The essentials. 

That’s my encouragement for you this New Year. It’s not pretty, ear tickling encouragement. But it’s real. And it’s life. 

Don’t lose focus. 

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Psalm 35

“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me! Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help! Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers! Say to my soul, “I am your salvation!” Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life! Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me! Let them be like chaff before the wind, with the angel of the Lord driving them away! Let their way be dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them! For without cause they hid their net for me; without cause they dug a pit for my life. Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it! And let the net that he hid ensnare him; let him fall into it—to his destruction! Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord, exulting in his salvation. All my bones shall say, “O Lord, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?” Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know. They repay me evil for good; my soul is bereft. But I, when they were sick— I wore sackcloth; I afflicted myself with fasting; I prayed with head bowed on my chest. I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother; as one who laments his mother, I bowed down in mourning. But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered; they gathered together against me; wretches whom I did not know tore at me without ceasing; like profane mockers at a feast, they gnash at me with their teeth. How long, O Lord, will you look on? Rescue me from their destruction, my precious life from the lions! I will thank you in the great congregation; in the mighty throng I will praise you. Let not those rejoice over me who are wrongfully my foes, and let not those wink the eye who hate me without cause. For they do not speak peace, but against those who are quiet in the land they devise words of deceit. They open wide their mouths against me; they say, “Aha, Aha! Our eyes have seen it!” You have seen, O Lord; be not silent! O Lord, be not far from me! Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! Vindicate me, O Lord, my God, according to your righteousness, and let them not rejoice over me! Let them not say in their hearts, “Aha, our heart’s desire!” Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.” Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether who rejoice at my calamity! Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor who magnify themselves against me! Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, “Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!” Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.”‭‭

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Thanks give-me 


The moment we enter the autumn season, we are bombarded and flooded with seasonal marketing. We are propelled into the seasonal holidays in September, and listening to Christmas Carols in shopping malls even before Thanksgiving. I cannot begin to tell you how annoying this is for me personally, especially in a time in my life when I found myself a little hyper-sensitive to living with purpose. I find myself in a time where I am trying to find an appreciation in each moment. No more. No less. I am trying to remain very conscientious about how I use my time and prioritize how I use my energy; and ultimately how everything I do may impact my tomorrow. 

Maybe life isn’t meant to be lived so critically or so seriously. But I think it would be a mistake to live our lives in the deceptive seasonal currents. Time is moving fast, and it keeps us looking for self-affirmations, living for the next adventure, or living for the hustle. Instead of affirming value in our lives, we subconsciously establish superficial goals to have more money, to be more beautiful, or live with entitlement as if we deserve this or that…Being that we are in the season of Thanksgiving, it feels as though the steady and fast paced rhythm of life–has changed the purpose of the holiday–and have modified the root of the season–from Thanksgiving to “Thanks-give-me.”

Have we really become so self centered and selfish that we have lost the appreciation for simple things?
I refuse to be moved by this pace of life. I don’t want to be grateful to God simply when things are good and it’s convenient. In fact, I am experiencing one of the most difficult seasons I’ve ever had in my life. Even with that being said,
I am even more grateful to God for the breath in my lungs. I am thankful for my health, and for having a roof over my head. I am thankful for having clothes and a job. And I am ever so grateful that I have my family…but most of all I am thankful for the forgiveness of God. 

I don’t know…maybe life is just about being able to drift in this massive ocean of destiny…where the current of fate moves us…and we just have to ride it out. Imagine the giant waves that toss us to and fro…then there are the moments where the tide is calm and we float adrift…
Maybe it’s just about perspective. 
Maybe it’s just about the way we choose to view the world. 

Maybe its just about our attitude towards life. 

Philippians 4:8 says “whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, or good; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
In this season, I choose gratitude.

I am thankful for the good and bad. 

I am grateful for experience. 

I am grateful for gain. And for loss. 

I am grateful for the chance to live and make mistakes. 

I am grateful for winning and losing. 

I am grateful for love and Forgiveness. 

I am thankful for the journey.

Just grateful to be alive. 

No more. No less. 
That is where we will find our peace. 

That is where I find mine. 

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Beautiful fight. 

Everyone needs encouragement from time to time. In fact, I find myself turning to the best of my friends, and pouring out my entire subconscious; pouring out my heart. Everything I have seen, everything I have heard, and everything I feel–they know about. AND Usually at the conclusion of our conversations, we dialogue about their thoughts and observations, and as a friend, they provide me with some valuable constructive criticism. It’s not always enjoyable. In fact, my best of friends, tell me how it is–and do not “candy coat” the truth–no matter how painful. After all, we know life is a battle. 

In the book of Exodus, chapter 17, the Israelites were about to go to battle. And Moses, being the mouthpiece of God and one of Elders of the Israelites, gathered his men for battle. In the face of the battle, Moses interceded for the Israelites in prayer. The Bible says that when Moses’ hands were raised, the Israelites would prevail in battle. However Moses grew fatigued. When his hands would lower, the Israelites would begin to lose. So his trusted friends and fellow leaders, Aaron and Hur, came beside Moses and lifted his hands for him.
How many of you have friends like Moses. People who will come along side you and lift your arms up. If you have those friends who love and support you AND are real enough to correct you and give you constructive criticism–KEEP THOSE FRIENDS! 

But how many of us have the tendency to plant people around us that tell us what we want to hear. Those people we strategically place in our lives that ENABLE US in an unhealthy way. I call those people “yes friends” because that’s all they do–is agree with you. They compliment you. Thy laugh at your jokes. They don’t call you out even if your wrong. They are actually negative attributes in our lives because instead of holding us accountable, they actually hurt us with their passivity. For those of you who know what I am talking about; it is our own insecurity that puts those people around us. And through the battles, instead of holding our arms up like Moses, they hold up our egos; when God calls us to be humble and contrite. 
I get it. The fight is real. And sometimes we feel like our egos need to be fortified; but consider the kind of battle you’re in. And consider who you put around you. It is our insecurities that lead us to trust people we barely know. And we stop trusting our long time friends because they hear our burdens over and over and over again. But consider who you let into your life. Be careful who you trust. Because in the deepest darkest and loneliness moments–you know who your real friends are. And if you don’t, Remember that God loves you. 

The Bible does encourage us to cut off those things in our life that hinder us; (Matthew 5:30). The scripture says “if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off…” But be sure you’re not cutting off or cutting out essential pieces of your life because some things don’t grow back. 

Hold onto those that encourage you in the Lord, and not those that massage your ego

Listen, 

I know brokenheartedness makes us deviate. 

Pain makes us compromise. 

Insecurity makes us doubt. 
But God is our stronghold. 
So, consider your battle. 

Because life is a beautiful fight

Still is. 

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Church of Instagram

Have you ever considered replacing the most important meals of your day, with junk food? 

 
Imagine. Instead of eating a wonderful plate of bacon, eggs, and pancakes for breakfast—you have a bowl of M&M’s and a side of brownies. And for dinner, instead of eating some delicious green chicken enchiladas and a side of Spanish rice, you serve yourself a scrumptious bowl of rocky road ice cream. Maybe at first, for you junk food eaters, it may sound enticing. But I don’t think you could realistically sustain that type of diet.
 
Well, this is what people do spiritually when they replace a daily serving of God’s profound and meaty Word with imitation encouragement they find on social media.
 
How many of you are guilty of having stopped diving into the scriptures and become completely dependent on social media sites such as Instagram for your daily spiritual meals?
 
If that is you, then you have officially joined the Church of Instagram
 
JUST KIDDING!
 
Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy skimming through the pages of Instagram posts—to find humorous memes and funny pictures. I have even found a variety of Christian sites that provide simple scriptures and encouraging posts that I myself have actually re-posted. 
 
But it is so easy to get sucked into the Church of Instagram; and believe ALL the positive affirmation posts that tickle our ears and make our hearts momentarily happy. But the reality is, these Instagram posts are not only misleading but not scriptural. We conveniently “like” posts that affirm our situations, instead of accepting responsibility for our wrongs and accepting need for correction. We “like” posts that encourage pride, self love, and and self-righteousness, instead of choosing the path of conviction through scripture that produces humility and softness. You see, the Bible says that “All Scripture…is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training…” In other words, the Word of God is written in a way that is suppose to change us. It should challenge our faith, and it should battle our thinking, and move us to modify our life style choices and decisions. 
 
So consider the next time you see a post that says,
 
“Do what makes you happy…”
 
or
 
“Never apologize for how you feel…”
 
or
 
“Remove all the negative thoughts in your mind and replace them with positivity…”
 

These posts are all lies. They are convenient positive affirmations that do nothing to help you grow, or learn, let alone change. Instead they perpetuate  pride, malice, bitterness, and anger. 

It is so important to evaluate the things that are feeding our souls; and I am encouraging you to turn off social media, spend less time on Instagram, and instead of posting selfie, after selfie, after selfie—Why don’t try to return to that place where you just humble yourself before God’s Word, and listen to what God has to say to your life. That place where we can agree to accept responsibility for our actions, and ask God to truly change our hearts. Let God’s word be that “…lamp to my feet” and a light down the path of your life. (Psalms 119:105).
 
Guard what feeds your heart and mind. 
Be protective of your daily spiritual meals.
 
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5) and do not lean on INSTAGRAM . 
 
 
 
 

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The iPhone X


How many of you have signed up to buy the newest iPhone? They call it the iPhone X—promising to be the next greatest invention since the first revolutionary iphone that hit the market some 10 years ago. I remember standing in line for the first iphone because I wanted the experience of holding a super computer in the palm of my hand. Now years later, that excitement has worn off and we still are led believe that with each updated phone, we are getting something better. Advertisers market new phones and phone companies offer great deals and convince you that you can have the “lastest and greatest” for just a small price-all the while, you’re honestly just senselessly spending your money and getting the same product. 
But why as a generation are we always in constant pursuit of something better?

Ironically, the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics states that our universe is in a constant state of decay and deterioration. That’s why, if you spin something, it eventually slows down. The theory says that the universe is constantly losing energy.

Interestingly, the theory also can be applied to our lives. I mean, have you ever met anyone that gets younger instead of older? No.

So if our universe is actually in a constant state of deterioration, then that means nothing gets better.
Think about it in another context—relationships.

People leave their relationships or marriages for example, because “they aren’t happy.” Maybe their spouse or partner isn’t treating them the way they want. Maybe the spark of romance is no longer there. Maybe they look older, or have developed bad breath or bad habits over the course of the relationship. And you have convinced yourself that “YOU DESERVE MORE.”

How many of your find yourself feeling that way? Well, it’s a trap. LISTEN CAREFULLY!!!

NOTHING GETS BETTER! 

Focusing on relationships for a second, did you know that the National Center for Health Statistics report that in the United States, 50% percent of first marriages end in divorce— 67% of second marriages end in divorce…and if you think that is bad—a whopping 74% of third marriages end in divorce.

Yet, even with those statistics, we find that our generation continues to feed into the TRAP and change relationships like they change their socks. 

We tell ourselves that WE DESERVE MORE or there are GREATER OPPORTUNITIES out there!

We say “I am not happy—and I give up ” thinking that if we change our external circumstances, then our situations will change. And that my friends—is a lie.

The bible says “Keep your lives free from covetousness, and be content with what you have.” (Hebrews 13:5). In other words, BE HAPPY AND STOP THINKING THAT THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING BETTER!

The truth is…there is and always will be something greater out there. But if our minds and hearts DO NOT CHANGE—neither will our circumstances!

There was a time in my life where I pursued a higher education, a home, a car, kids, travel and a family. And truthfully,  in these past few years, I have found myself increasingly restless regarding the life God has given me; evaluating my journey. But in retrospect, now some 20 years later—I step back and realize that I have achieved everything I’ve ever wanted. Yet, sometimes, our need for fulfillment and validation—our desire for sensation and attention—or our hope for love and purpose—is blurred by the lie that it’s not enough. BUT DO NOT GIVE IN TO THAT LIE.

Today, my prayer for myself and for those reading this—is that we can stop feeding our ego and we would remain hungry for God, instead of constantly sitting at the banquet of selfishness full of ourselves. I pray that we find a place where we are content with what we have—or who we are, or who we are with—rather than being in this constant state of unhappiness or feeling unfulfilled—or being led by the promise of someone who proposes to offer you more. 

I pray that we find a peace in who we are in Christ, because the need for fulfillment will never end. We will always want more. Someone will always offer you the world. But do not give in to the lie.

Look around you. Do you have clothes in your back? Do you have a home or place to sleep? Do you have food in your fridge? Do you have good health? Do we have our families in tact? 

Think about it.

Be grateful. 

Live daily in that peace. 

Rest in God. 

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

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Point the finger

Have you ever heard the saying “Do as I say, and not as I do.” It’s actually a funny example that is often used in the context of parenting. Parents will say “Don’t drink…” or “Don’t have sex…” to their teenage sons or daughters; yet those same parents spent their adolescent years drinking and having sex in disobedience to their own mother and father. 

I think what parents actually intend to say is “Don’t make the same mistakes I did!”

Generally speaking, it’s ironic how people can try and give advice but not follow it themselves. I think as Christians we have to be careful not to cross the line of giving advice that we cannot follow ourselves. (Believe me, as I write this, I do so with conviction).

So is a marital counselor who has marriage problems suddenly disqualified from giving counsel? Is a teacher who has a son or daughter failing in academics, not eligible to teach? Or is a Pastor who struggles in his spirtuality, suddenly disqualified from sharing the Word of God?

ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

So then why are we so quick to judge people? Why are we so quick to establish conclusions about people’s lives and disqualify them simply because of discrepancies we find or see?
The Bible says “You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:5). 

It is with the best intentions, we encourage people because we want them to live right. The Bible says “You will know them by their fruits…” In other words, we will be able to see through the genuineness of a person’s life in the reflection of say their marriage or relationship, their children, or job. While some may disagree, we must always remember that while we point the finger at others, there’s always more fingers pointing back at us. 

So next time someone judges you or critiques your life–don’t be offended. Just remember that usually when we ask God to help us grow–he typically makes it rain. Let it wash you. Let the rain water and revive those dry areas in your life. 

Today, remind yourself that God is your judge. He is a God of forgiveness and a God that understands. Know that He understands your struggle and while He does not give you a “get out of jail free card” for every mistake you make–He is still God. He is still on the throne and He is still not like us. 

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I can do what I want.  The end. 


How many times have you had those dreams where you were flying euphorically through the sky like Superman. Psychologists and Dream analysts alike say that flying in a dream can actually be interpreted oppositely. Dreams where you are flying actually mean that you are “not free” and/or “feel restricted in some way.”

I find that there is a general misconception when it comes to freedom. You’ll hear young adults reference freedom by saying (with a voice of rebellion)…”when I’m 18, I’ll be able to do this or that…” Or perhaps in the context of a problematic relationship, a person might say “when I’m out of this relationship, I can do what I wantthe end.

Interestingly, people usually misinterpret the idea of being “free” with an action. However freedom is not so much “the ability to do what we want, but rather the RIGHT to do what we ought.” In other words, just because we have the freedom to do something, does not mean we should. 

Jesus says in John 14:6 “for I AM the…truth…” because true freedom is not something we can do or touch…it is not tangible or something that can be purchased. True freedom is dependent upon where the understanding of God is, in relation to our lives. SO IF WE KNOW GOD, then we will know FREEDOM.

So whether you are rich or poor, married or single, old or young–at some point you can experience this need for a perceived FREEDOM. BUT instead of seeking freedom we can experience a sort of mental and emotional imprisonment simply because of the disconnect from the nature of purpose and meaning. As a believer in God, I believe that true freedom means to live a life that honors God

If you imagine it this way–a domesticated bird who lives its life in a cage–is suddenly taken outside. The door to the cage is opened and the bird is presented with the opportunity to fly away. Contemplating the dangers also associated with this freedom–including predatory animals, changes in climate, the need to search for food and more–the bird must make a choice. 

So the question remains—is the cost of being “free” worth the dangers associated with it? 

Can we acknowledge that God does not imprison us with rules to life–but rather protects us from the dangers associated with living a life without HIM?

My prayer is that as you seek purpose and meaning in your life; and as you search for freedom–physical, emotional, and spiritual..that you also remain conscience to the implications that each decision has. 

May your pursuit to find freedom–not lead you down a path of obscurity or self-destruction; but that you eventually realize that your freedom is only found in the place you’ve known all along–in God. 

Don’t fool yourself. If you are looking to do what you want–God will allow to do that too. But if you are truly seeking truth and freedom–you’ll find it (Jeremiah 29:13). You won’t find it in bars, drinking, or simply doing what you want–you’ll only find it humbly on your face before God.  

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God NEVER removed the crown


Do you remember the feeling of getting on your first rollercoaster–the anxiety of that long ascent preparing for the first drop…the deep pulse of the rhythm of your heart beat, and the almost peaceful silence as you climb to the very top. Then suddenly the steep descent and the feeling of breathlessness; there is a race of emotions we experience as we sit helpless through the maze of twisting turns and spins…And that is how life feels sometimes

There have been many days when I have been so grateful and happy…everything seems to be going right. All my bills are paid, I have money in the bank, I have my health, and feel at general peace with myself. Yet there are other times I have woken up and felt like a complete failure. 

I think about King David, a man that the Word of God says “was a man after God’s own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14). David experienced quite an array of problems throughout his life. While David slayed Goliath as a teen and had many victories and accomplishments–he still experienced difficult seasons in his life time and time again. Think about this–even while anointed King by the Prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 16:13), he was noted to have committed horrible sins including adultery and murder. Did you know that?

So then how could David have remained a “man after Gods own heart…” while making such mistakes and committing such treacherous sins (2 Samuel 11:2-5)?

How could the promise of God remain over David’s life even amidst the mistakes he made?

If you study the life of David, you will see that he possessed a character that sought after God. He was a person that was continuously pointed back to humility. While there were times that seemed utterly hopeless, David’s hope remained in God. 

There has been times in my life personally, that I have felt victories; and then other seasons I have felt insignificant and without purpose. An author by the name of Oswald Chambers says “If God allows you to be stripped of the exterior portions of your life, He means for you to cultivate the interior.”
If you find yourself in that season, remember this; that even amidst all of David’s failures and mistakes, God is simply calling you to examine your life and character. Recently during a very vulnerable time in my life, someone prayed for me and reminded me that God NEVER removed the crown from King David’s head. The Bible says that even despite all his mistakes, the anointing of God never left David (1 Samuel 16:13).
And the anointing of God won’t leave you–IF we continue to seek after Him. IF our faith is unconditional, and not circumstantial–AND IF our hearts remain repentant and pliable…the promise that God has for our lives will remain. 
It’s been many years since I stopped leading worship full time. Maybe because of my past illness, the emotional roller coasters I’ve experienced, or personal mistakes I’ve made–the virtual course of my life has seemed to change. But I know that God NEVER removed the crown from my head and the anointing that God has over my life remains. And it remains over your life too. 
Why? Because even though we change, God doesn’t. He is not finished with me yet. And He isn’t finished with you. 

Remember…

He remains faithful. 

He remains in control. 

He is still on the throne. 

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Plastic Surgery

Have you ever sat back and looked at a picture album of old pictures…and see a photo of your younger self and sarcastically ask “who is that?” Everyone over the course of their life, changes physically. In fact, research says that from the time we are infants to adulthood, we no longer live in the same body because of the amount dead skin cells we shed. We literally have a completely different outer shell from the body we were as children. As a society we focus a lot of energy on our physical appearance. In fact, some people have become obsessed with their looks–and go so far as to have plastic surgeries, fillers, botox, and lip injections, perhaps in an attempt to feel better about themselves. Who knows what personal reasons people do those things? But the irony is that in an age where we have so much beauty around us…we also have a plentitude of insecurity and depression too.   

Social media sites are flooded with “feel good” quotes and beauty blogs with tips on how to stay young and beautiful. Fashion websites and pictures of gorgeous models, wearing the most expensive and luxurious name brands saturate the internet–giving a landscape of people that appear nearly physically perfect.  

But now a days, just being beautiful is NOT GOOD ENOUGH!  
Why? Because true beauty is more than just the “outer shell.”  

True beauty is not the characteristic that saves relationships and marriages–its faithfulness.

Beauty doesn’t take care of a person who is ill with cancer–its compassion.

Beauty doesn’t raise your children into amazing people–its understanding and patience.

Beauty doesn’t graduate college, nope…its intellect.

Beauty doesn’t glue a relationship together when you hit a rocky point in your life—its honesty and respect. 

And beauty, sure isn’t the reason a person would buy a ring and humbly propose marriage–its geninueness and vulnerability.

The simple truth is –we must be more than one dimensional as a person.  In other words, true beauty is not just the outer layer of our skin, but who we are as people. It is our character.

Maybe instead of lip injections or fillers or plastic surgeries…we need to have open heart surgery…because we waste our money in the end, if all we have to offer is just a pretty face.

Maybe its time to allow God to come into our lives…and renew our heart and mind instead. Because we can be the most beautiful people on the outside—but be the most treacherous sinful and ugly people on the inside.

The Bible says that “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a person who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30). 

It also says “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” 

1 Peter 3:3-4 says “Do not let your adorning be external— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”

If we are willing to receive this understanding with an open and sincere spirit…If we truly want to see the Lord do something amazing in our life… and we are willing to humble ourselves before God…Maybe first, we will realize that it isn’t our faces that needs fixing, but our hearts.

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