Lights of Grace



This is one of my favorite paintings. When  I painted it, one of my friends commented that it looked like the person in it was waiting for something. Thank you Andy for that insight.

Do you own certain outfits that you save for special occasions? Do you buy greeting cards with the intention of mailing them, but don’t? Do you commit to something and then decide to wait until the timing is better? Do you decide to lose weight but you’ll start next Wednesday, then the following Monday, then…? Did you decide you want to go on a trip to Europe but decide it’s too expensive? Do you want to write your memoirs, take up painting, volunteer at the homeless shelter, teach a class, take a class, read War and Peace – but haven’t gotten around to it?

I have.

Why do we wait? I suspect it’s because we just don’t know the ending yet. If we did every day would be a special occasion, we’d own stock in Hallmark, we’d experience life events in-the-moment, we’d have a BMI that’s just where it’s supposed to be, and we’d be knowledgeable about how the rest of the world lives. We’d be writers, painters, volunteers, teachers, students and would be extremely well-read (so many books, so little time).

Life does not wait – it continues on as both it and we –  are meant to do. I recently discovered a blogger that talked about about “knowing life”:

What I do know is this. When life changes forever you learn to appreciate every single day, hour, minute, moment, breath, pause, reflection, laugh, meal, conversation, experience, pain, joy, drive, walk, shower, kiss. Every hot chocolate, train trip, day at work, bill to pay, run in the rain, phone call, afternoon nap, rejection, email, glass of wine, movie date, pair of jeans and opportunity. Every YouTube video, argument, cafe breakfast, new friend, disappointment, picnic, cold morning, traffic jam, macaroon and pay day.

You appreciate it all. Because this is life.”

                       – Claire Baker at

We don’t need to know the ending; we only need to live the now.

Why wait?

 “I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”
Psalms 27:13-14

Happy Fall Y’all

What's that leaf doing here? It wasn't here a minute ago!
What’s that leaf doing here? It wasn’t here a minute ago!

“Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.” 

– Corrie Ten Boom

Every New Year kick-starts us by focusing our attention on new beginnings. Spring then propels us to a time of renewal, while Summer slows us down as we enter those “lazy, crazy days” of fun and relaxation. As we enter Fall, I begin to wonder:  What were my New Year’s resolutions? Did my spring cleaning get done? Did my “bikini weight loss goal” happen?

Some would say Fall is a time of cooler weather, football rivalries, comfort foods like soup and chili, the smell of burning leaves or of wood smoldering in a fireplace. Crazy Halloween costumes and treats or tricks are only days away while gathering with family and friends to give thanks for our country over a feast of golden brown turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, with a pumpkin pie finale is weeks away. The Christmas season has begun making its advancing presence felt, although it is months away.

Each day I accompany my dog Teddie on his twilight walks, with the sun either peeking over the horizon of the trees as it brings forth the dawn of a new day, or its descent teasing us with a gentle, albeit, restless reminder that the day is coming to a close. Teddie exudes glee with either time. Head down, he walks as fast as those little legs will carry him, nose to the ground searching out something elusive. Other times, he chases birds, or bunnies. or squirrels and with what purpose, I do not know. His walks are his own and the one thing I have come to realize is this: he is in the moment with the importance and enjoyment of that moment only. It is his moment and it is up him to do with it what he will.

For me, Fall is a season of reflection that usually occurs during those twilight walks with Teddie. Two seasons gone; did I do the right things –  those which are only important in this moment and on this day? Life is happening right now. Did I laugh out loud when Teddie ran after that bird that teased him into a chase? Whether this moment right now is joyful or sad, hurting or healing, the important thing to reflect on is in the knowing that everything changes. Life happens in the moment and if we fail to be in the moment with life, then we simply miss it.

What has happened then becomes a memory, often leaving us changed. What will we do with those changes? What will be is YET to be; leave the excitement or the worry for then. Be here now. Stop and look at the vibrant, as well as the muted colors of nature in the fall – both have purpose. Inhale the crispness of the morning air and feel the remaining warmth of the fleeting afternoons that are not yet willing to let summer go.

Nature grows older, but no less beautiful as it prepares for what is to be. Life grows shorter as the moments pass. That is our destiny. So for now, let time take care of itself.

In this moment do good things. Be kind to yourself and be kind each other and remember to pray. Laugh with others, cry with others, care for others – but make life count in this moment.

Lights of Grace:
Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”

Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Source: Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Hope and Grace from His still waters. cLBreeden
Hope and Grace from His still waters.

Yesterday was my grumpy day. We all have them. We all need them.

I missed an exciting trip with great friends to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque because of some electrical problems in my house after just returning from a Caribbean cruise with some wonderful friends although it kept my house from burning down although I developed a cold that is getting worse a week later which now requires a trip to see my wonderful doctor while my wonderful dog actually pooped in the hallway because I didn’t take him out because he refused to go out in the rain and then couldn’t play golf because of back problems so went to see a wonderful movie (The Intern) with a wonderful friend which made me optimistic until I watched the evening news which consisted of the devastating floods in South Carolina a high school football player dead after a head injury an airline pilot dies mid-flight Taylor Swift has a dance party with Dylan Barnes to “Shake It Off” and Tom Hanks returns student ID to Lauren of Fordham University while local news is same ole’ same ole – children missing shootings leave three dead house burns down leaving family homeless and McDonald’s now serves breakfast all day.

Breath taken.

I acknowledge any editor would cringe at how that first paragraph is written but THAT is how it’s  running through my head. When I faced each of these things and heard each of the news items I could only do one thing. Pray. I asked for God’s mercy and grace and gave thanks for those things that needed thanking for, through a combination of tears and smiles, leaving it up to the reader to decide what belongs where.

But today is a different day. I woke up at 6:33 a.m. with the following running through my mind:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

These words are from the King James Bible, Psalm 24, Song of David, also not written in today’s standard either. I first learned this psalm when I was in third grade. Yes, you read those words correctly.  I learned them and recited them each morning followed by standing proudly, right hand over heart reciting the Pledge of Allegiance just before math class.

So I share them today, instead of my own words because, in spite of being written in about the 1500s they have withstood the test of time continuing to provide hope and comfort.

So, why reinvent the wheel? May your day sparkle with His Grace.

Darkness, Rainbows and Light


Sometimes I have a bad day; we all do. Just a few days ago my spirit was heavy with uncertainty and worry. Impatiently waiting as I felt, more than watched, the twilight fade into inky darkness, I rushed to seek the shelter of sleep. Instead of the much longed for relief of slumber, I tossed and turned so much that my very patient dog, Teddie, who normally sleeps right next to me, got up, walked to the foot of the bed, circled several times before he plopped down causing an unexpected ripple from this ten pound poodle/fox hound mix. His rather loud sigh was an unmistakable message that seemed to say, “Let it go.”

My failure to heed that message caused me to continue to toss and turn, watching the red digits of the clock change from 10:04, then 10:07, then 10:10 and so on, until I finally startled awake at 3:13 a.m. discovering those same worries were right where I left them – swirling and churning as again the clock tracked my discontent with the flickering of time 3:14, 3:18, 3:20. The sounds of the alarm roused me, hysterical in its insistent challenge of another new day that covered me with a weariness I couldn’t throw off as easily as I did the blanket covering my body. I silenced this reminder by hitting the snooze button and covering my face with the cool side of the pillow.

After the third attempt to deny the day, I rose and went through my morning ritual by giving Teddie a kiss while absently scratching his ears as I quickly said my morning prayer, “Heavenly Father, thank you for this day for it is another day to rejoice for all who greet it. Thank you for this dog, who represents unconditional love and forgiveness and serves as a reminder of the same love you have for us. May I serve you and make you proud today. Uttering amen, I knew that this half-hearted, shortened version of my morning prayer of thankfulness was only an effort to disguise my dark spirit.

My next step was to open my bedroom curtains gasping as I was greeted by a rainbow peeking above the tree line of the western horizon against a backdrop of ominous dark clouds. I hurried down the stairs and out onto the deck, welcoming the unexpected coolness of this southern August morning. The wind blew with enough gusto to tickle the green leaves of the trees; I relished their rustling response that felt like laughter. I listened closely, certain there was a whisper of comfort in their sound. Not yet able to discern their quiet message, I watched as the rainbow continued its journey, arching above the western horizon in harmony with the sun’s eastern assent.

Picking up Teddie I held him close as I sat in the old rocker, oblivious to its flaking paint and creaks. Teddie flipped over, happily demanding his morning belly rub. I felt as if comforting arms were holding me in their embrace as the reminder from Genesis 9:12-17 (Old Testament) brought me comfort:

“God said, “This is the sign of the promise I am giving to you and every living being that is with you for generations to come. I will put my rainbow in the clouds to be a sign of my promise to the earth. Whenever I form clouds over the earth, a rainbow will appear in the clouds. Then I will remember my promise to you and every living animal.”

“Okay. I can do this,” I thought just as the appearance of a smaller, fainter rainbow appeared next to the first one.

“Hmmmm. You know me well,” I smiled, casting my eyes upward to the rainbows. “You know I often need more than one reminder that you’ve got this. I have shelter, food, good health, family, friends and let’s not forget, the best dog ever who loves me unconditionally.”

As peace enveloped me, I whispered, “Just as you do.”

I buried my face in Teddie’s soft fur, tears of gratitude escaping my closed eyes. Once again, I raised my eyes toward the heavens discovering that the rainbows had disappeared, their reminder having been received. Even so, I felt a loss, wanting them back. I turned to go into the house and rejoiced to see that the eastern sky was filled with the same colors of the rainbows – reds, blues and yellows streaking the sky as the rising sun shared the sparkling light of its rays.

Looking into the twinkiling dark eyes of Teddie I smiled as he braced his fore paws on each of my shoulders and licked me right in my mouth (yikes!), as unexpected as the disappearance of the rainbows.  I laughed right out loud as I rejoiced, “Teddie, did you know your name means ‘gift from God’?”

Teddie being Teddie, jumped down to chase a bird.

Joy filled me as I realized that those worrisome thoughts had vanished just like the rainbows, leaving hope for this moment and for this day with those glowing rays of sunshine; His promise fulfilled.   Just as He said.IMG_20150403_074617301_HDR

*I share my actual pictures are from that morning.

Reality and The Rose Colored Glasses or “What WAS Harper Lee thinking?”

I would never second guess a writer who wrote a book such as “To Kill A Mockingbird”; or for that matter, her prequel which was released as a sequel, “Go Set A Watchman”. Both books written from two entirely different perspectives, reality or rose colored glasses.

It is up to the readers to determine which is which and those choices are purely personal.
Watchman has a lot of the truth of those times in which it is set. Mockingbird also has those same truths. The major difference is the characters of Atticus and Scout. In Mockingbird, the Atticus character is one of strong courage and integrity; the stuff John F. Kennedy’s books, “Profiles In Courage” honors. Scout’s character was shaped by his moral fiber which went against all odds. Didn’t she realize the difference her father made in that instance?

In Watchman we see the character, Atticus, who knew but one way to function in the environment in which he lived. To go along to get along was surely a coward’s way, but in those circumstances it could have been the only way to create that single, significant change in the universe. Scout moves away from the south and becomes a disillusioned adult woman, not only by her father, but by the world of prejudice she endures as a female, even in the progressive world of New York City. I wonder, why didn’t she fight to make one small difference?

I, for one, can see how Ms. Harper wrote “Go Set a Watchman” first. Perhaps that was her truth – her reality.

Perhaps, “To Kill A Mockingbird” was written once she got the reality of that time out of her system. Conceivably it was only then that she could put her rose colored glasses on and write the story the way she wanted the world to be, one of goodness and strength that made changes that could be built upon for generations to come – just as Rumi said,  “You are not a drop in the ocean.  You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

For that is what writer’s often do.

Even God took imperfect people to do great things. The book of Judges in the Bible could almost have been written by horror author Stephen King in some instances, and by Reverend Billy Graham in others. Flawed people are just that, often consumed with guilt, suffering with the scars from their family history or personal failings. When I think about myself, underwhelmed comes to mind. Yet, over the course of my life, God has shown that He loves to use weak and silly people like me. This reminds me that my responsibility is response to God’s ability. Flawed people so often make change for the greater good, even when they just go along to get along.

We all choose triumphs of good over evil or we choose the heartache of evil over good. Let’s please not miss the good that came, generation after generation, from  Mockingbird and not allow Watchman to be a “gotcha” about two flawed characters.

I choose to believe.

Golf and the Imperfect Player


Today is July 8, 2015. Wednesday, a most serendipitous day as it turns out.

I was supposed to play golf this glorious morning. But I woke up with a stomach bug which can’t be ignored on a golf course. My partner to-be was one of my favorite golfing friends – rats!

So, I stayed home. As so often happens, there was something I needed to do on this day and it was not to play golf.

Wednesdays has always been my blog posting day. However, writers are creative people and that is why we find the most creative ways to avoid writing. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, so I got my writing partner, Teddie, and we clicked on my blog.

“Time to update this,” I said to Teddie.

He responded by licking my chin and snuggling closer to the keyboard in hopes that I would scratch his ear instead of playing with the dreaded machine.

I rubbed my cheek against his furry head, hoping for inspiration. The Sparklers Blog site’s new look cried out for some refreshing blogs to go with it. After all, how long before my Facebook friends get weary of reading my same old words?

I put Teddie down, as I paced in my small office, tossing a golf ball back and forth in my hands, matching the cadence of my steps. My writing partner doubled my paces with his four paws, following my steps, turns and stops with great precision. I thought about doing the laundry Shuddering, I sat back down and Teddie curled up at my feet. “What’s wrong with me?” I asked Teddie. He cocked his head, his black eyes looking deeply into my blue ones before snorting and curling up for yet another nap.

It takes persistence to write and send my words out to the world. “Same old words,” I thought. “Hitting golf balls is much more fun because, at the end of the day, it’s is all about competing with yourself. That makes it the game for me.

When I first began to play, I missed the ball more than I hit it. Oh the times I hit the ground behind the ball, feeling the shuddering jolt from wrist to shoulder, with the golf ball still in place, or worse dribbling on the ground in front of me. Initially I would cut my eyes around to see if anyone saw it, relieved when no one seemed to be looking in my direction.

So, I took lessons, practiced, practiced, practiced and practiced some more until I finally learned to play the game. Imagine my surprise when, as I played and began to keep score, I wanted a better score than the one before. I began to analyze, not what I did right, but what I did wrong. What made me miss that ball? What made the ball go in the opposite direction from where I aimed it? What made me miss that putt?
I had the best game of my life recently and was so very anxious to go “show off “my improvements at the ladies Wednesday league play. Instead, here I sit writing my first blog on my new, improved blog site while dodging puppy kisses when I asked Teddie why it had been so long since my last blog.

Why did I avoid writing my blog? Why did I look for things like pulling weeds, Facebooking, or internet shopping (but not buying). Analyzing the whys of this I realized perhaps I was afraid of sharing my own opinions… .

No, my feelings… .

No, my heart.

That’s it, heart. My heart is shielded by my desire to be better than I was before this moment. When I stop to think about that, I realize that being better doesn’t mean being someone you are not. Just like I’ll never be on the LPGA tour, I’ll never be a perfect person. Just as the persistence with my golf game allowed me to learn the self-improvement of the game, God’s grace allows me to be forgiven and to just be who I am as I strive to be the best me. My words are free to be shared because they come from the faith in my heart. This sparkle was for me today; yet I am hopeful that this sparkle from my imperfect heart, will bring just a bit of light to someone else.

How good is that?

I kissed Teddie’s head and felt that spark of God’s Grace!

“Keep It Shut” What To Say, How To Say It, And When to Say Nothing At All” — Karen Ehman

Keep It Shut

Funny how, as I sat down to write this book review a quote by Maya Angelou popped into my head, “Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them in deeper meaning.”

“How then,” I thought, “can I possibly get the essence of Ms. Ehman’s book down in words, in this case, on a screen that illustrates her deeper meaning?”

With each turn of the page and with each word read, her messages, sometimes blunt, sometimes witty – but always with truth and wisdom, I journeyed with her through her own stories and the words that guided her message coming from the greatest book ever written, The Holy Bible.

Finished, I closed the cover of her book, feeling as if something was left unread, I went back to all of the sections I had underlined in her book, and there are many. This time instead of just rereading her stories, I relived my own and In the doing, I experienced moments of truth, of times I am ashamed of and of times that I was able to see how God used me to help someone else. Both realizations were humbling.

      The times I was disrespectful to my parents with my words or tone; I wish I could tell them I’m sorry, but they are no longer here.

     The times I rolled my eyes, impatient with seemingly healthy people, who chose to live on the streets instead of supporting themselves and being productive citizens. “Why?” I wondered, until…realizing that the deeper meaning is on the inside and it does not require judgment.

     The times, far too many of them, when I longed to take back words or tone when I realized I had actually spoken those words right out loud.

There were also triggers of memories of God’s grace as He used me to help someone else. I didn’t realize that I was being used or that I was being helpful because my help was in the form of the words I uttered as well as how I uttered them:

       “My daughter is only twelve years old, she’s been raped and she is pregnant,” one of the employees told me. “She’s severely mentally handicapped and the doctors say she needs an abortion but the insurance won’t pay for it,” and with those words, she fainted in my office. It was 1979, young in my HR (personnel) career, but not in my faith, I made the call to the insurance company, praying for God’s guidance the entire time.

       “Thank you Ms. Linda,” as the young single mother of three cried, our tears mingling, as we hugged each other with fierce thanksgiving that she did not take her life on that day she said to me, “I can’t go on.”

      “We hoped there wouldn’t be a lay-off, but we thank you for the way you’ve treated us and helped us during this bad time,” said the thirty-year employee as he accepted his separation package.

Words of grace received and shared is the deeper message of this delightful, heartfelt book.  It personally helped me look within myself of what was, and to be aware of what will be. Thank you, Ms. Ehman for a book I will long treasure. Your words made a difference.

Her book may be found at:

Official Family Christian Blogger

“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:5-6

A Letter to GoDaddy on Puppy Miracles

GoDaddy PuppyDear GoDaddy,

Your latest puppy commercial was a brilliant marketing strategy. You managed to get MORE advertising than the Super Bowl XLIX could have provided, and it was free.Cool. Now why not go one step further and actually put the dollars you saved toward something that will further expand your media coverage on this topic?

I would like to share my story of a puppy miracle, who at two weeks old, along with his brother was thrown from a truck. Workers on the side of the road promptly rescued one of the puppies while the other one ran away. Later in the day, that independent little guy was found.  Both puppies were taken to the local animal hospital where they were nursed back to health by the generous vets there. The following is my story of how a puppy, who was “bounced” out of a truck by human hands, can find the exact right home:

The heat of July last year marked the six-month anniversary of the death of my husband. This was also marked by the introduction of Teddie into my life. His sparkly black eyes, white curly hair, and smiling face captured my heart instantly and convinced me to do something that I had not planned to do so soon. I adopted this adorable six-month old puppy from an animal rescue organization.How could I not? It seemed the natural coming together of two wounded souls who needed each other in order to move through our own brand of recovery.

Teddie had almost failed to survive his beginning in life. Only four weeks old, weak and sick, he had been discarded and left to die on the side of the road. Malnourished and frightened, he ran from those who tried to rescue him. Eventually, he was found and taken to the animal hospital in critical condition. He was diagnosed with puppy strangles, thought to be caused by deficiency in the colostrum of his mother’s milk; therefore his immune system had been compromised. His lymph nodes were painfully swollen, the hair around his head and ears had fallen out, and numerous sores oozed a smelly liquid.
He spent two months under the care of the wonderful doctors and staff of the hospital before being released to recover in a foster home. His appearance improved, albeit still small in stature, he was put up for adoption.

A friend who worked with the local rescue organization knew my husband had passed away and how deeply I was grieving. She was convinced that Teddie was the perfect therapy for me, and I for him. I wasn’t so sure. I’d not had a dog since childhood. My career kept me much too busy over the years.

Suddenly, I had this very shy puppy, 97% percent poodle and 3% foxhound, who needed house training, was a picky eater and incredibly stubborn. He pretended that he didn’t need anyone, and his bravado never faltered during those first few months. His body language seemed to say, “I’m okay all by myself.” All too often he refused to eat, and I spent time on the floor feeding him, bite by bite, with my hands.

I had a fence installed so he could run and play freely. In the beginning, he wanted only to sit under a chair. Gradually, he developed a normal puppy curiosity about the world and began to chase the birds that flew overhead and dig for unknown treasures in the grass.

His dignity was evident from the beginning because he required privacy when he went to potty. I was careful to avert my eyes, as he always looked to see if I was looking, and would refuse to go if we made eye contact. This was the first time I laughed out loud, but not the last.

Soon he was eating out of his bowl and learned to walk on a leash. We began to take evening walks and I met many of the neighbors that previously I had only waved to in passing. Everyone seemed to be drawn to Teddie, whose earlier bravado was slowly replaced by his kindness to everyone. He began to find his place in life, and it became obvious that his purpose, determined by him, was to take care of me.

From the beginning, when a dark moment of grief would come over me, he would stop his play and race to my side, jumping into the chair with me, sitting quietly while I cried. I would look into those dark eyes that seemed to reflect an old soul, filled with understanding of my pain, offering his unconditional love and the comfort of his presence.

We experienced the change of seasons as we traveled that first year of our life together. Summer days meant sitting on the porch swing together, enveloped by the humid southern heat, but not really feeling it. Fall came and Teddie delighted in chasing the leaves that blew about the yard, soon replaced by the snows of winter. Snow was a particular delight to him, as he frolicked and dug in the elusive substance.

Spring brought an unexpected magic because I abruptly realized that I had begun to notice the world again. The budding of the trees, the flowers bursting forth with color, the baby birds chirping, and the ability to smile as Teddie became fascinated by the bees and chased them optimistically, as puppies will do.

Life continued to cycle, regardless of circumstances. I had experienced the change of seasons this first year through his eyes because mine fogged with grief. Unexpected magic came from the realization that this puppy had overcome so much, yet had created a life of substance and purpose in spite of his early adversity. He had evolved into a young, confident dog.

This was most apparent when I took him to the vet’s office for his one year checkup. He was immediately scooped up and taken to visit everyone in the office. Excited squeals of joy and lots of hugs and petting greeted Teddie. I felt like I was with a rock star!

One of the technicians who had cared for him during his illness had nicknamed him “stink, stank, stunk” in reference to those smelly, oozing sores that had covered him. At the time, Teddie desperately wanted to snuggle. Initially she didn’t want to get the ooze on her, but Teddie continued in his own stubborn way to snuggle regardless. Finally, she gave in and returned the love. This steadfast determination is most likely the thing that saved his life.

The vet came out to say, “We didn’t realize this was our Teddie at first. He looks wonderful, with so much hair since we saw him last!” she exclaimed. “You know, we get many animals in serious conditions like Teddie’s and most don’t make it. Once in a while though…” Tears glistened in her eyes. “…you get a miracle. Teddie is one of those miracles.”

Smiling, I knew that the miracle was a gift. It was my healing that resulted from the evolution of sick puppy to confident, young dog. I now look forward to the journey into the next phase of his life – and mine.Teddie in Sunshine

There’s a saying, “Who rescued who?” There are so many miraculous stories such as this and there are so many ways to get publicity, as you well know, so why not give this a try? Put the dollars you would have spent on the Super Bowl commercial on animal rescue. I’ll even do my part and blog about your “miracle money donation”.


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