Tag Archives: friendship

An Unlikely Bunch – The Gift of Friendship

Gift of Friendship

I’ll just start out by being really honest with you. I didn’t want to be a part of their “group”. When Dominic “recommended” that I go to the new bible study meeting at church I was less than enthused.

There were several times over the course of the past 4 years that I wanted to participate in one of the bible studies, but there never seemed to be time. But now it was HIS idea so somehow it was a priority. And I didn’t want to go.

You see we were really struggling, no…I was really struggling. My attitude and behavior were less than ideal and I was creating waves in our marriage that were drowning us both. I needed something, I knew it…but I didn’t want it to be something he recommended. Admitting this was a good thing was also an admission that I needed help and I wasn’t ready for that.

I can be a bit overreactive and emotional if you couldn’t tell….

A small piece of me knew that if I didn’t go to this study, I may ruin future opportunities…so that first Monday I got in my car and drove to church. It is a 15 minute drive and I fought with God the entire way. “I DON’T want to be doing this Lord. I know that I need something, but I don’t want it to be the something he recommended. I know I am being terrible right now, so please Lord would you give me even one thing at this study tonight that I could take home with me?”

In my time of desperation, when I called out to God, He heard and He answered.

We are an unlikely bunch. The women in my bible study come from all different places. Some of us are mothers, others grandmas. Some of us are moms of teens and others MOPS. Each of us have a different story to tell. Hurts that have cut us deep and shaped who we are today. Struggles with finances and marriages and freedom from the lies of the enemy.

None of us the same and yet each of us are connected in unity with one goal in mind.

We are seeking a God that loves the very broken women that we are and we are working towards knowing Him more. Becoming a light to those around us, sharing our hurts and our hopes in order to lift one another up.

If you were there with us, you would be warmly welcomed. We don’t have all the answers so we search the God that does. We fail in our jobs and our homes and then we come and share our stories of imperfection. It is a safe place that we can be real and yet walk away lavished in the truth of who we are in Christ.

It was not at all what I expected and exactly what I needed.

I don’t know where you find yourself today. Maybe you have been hurt by the church, or by women…I know it happens and can I just say that I am sorry! I know that I have been that judgmental woman myself, believing that I wouldn’t fit in with “that group.” But boy when I prayed that simple prayer for God to give me one thing I could take home, He gave me an unlikely group of women that have become friends. And I am so grateful.

It is my prayer that we can continue to be that gift to more women that join us…that His love would spread into our homes and our workplaces and communities. That by gathering together as imperfect women, seeking God, we will be able to then be a blessing to someone else who really needs it.

I think that is exactly why God gave us friendships, and today I celebrate that!  Celebrating the friendships that give life today and celebrating the launch of this new book. The Gift of Friendship – Stories that Celebrate the Beauty of Shared Moments by Dawn Camp is available for sale now. A beautiful book filled with stories from women who are doing life with friends. The hard, the wonderful, the scary moments that happen in friendship are all shared in this book. A perfect gift for the friends in your life!

When Hospitality Looks Like A Late Night Cupcake Tasting

Cupcake TastingI think I need to start this post with an admission…or an apology. But it is highly likely that if you call our house, I will not answer the phone. Oh I may be there…but I am not going to answer an actual call. I know it is silly…I pretty much hate making or taking phone calls. It is something in my introverted self that feels intimidated by the potential for the “awkward silence.” So I screen and call back when necessary.

Last night I had already changed into my “don’t go out of the house lounge clothes.” Dominic was outside getting the garbages out and I was on the couch when the phone rang. I honestly figured it was the school with a graduation related announcement…so I let it go.

Then I heard the voice on the machine…was that Amy saying something about cupcakes and Dominic’s birthday? Sure enough, my friend Amy from church was calling asking if we were still up…she was making cupcakes and wanted to know if they could bring us some for Dominic’s birthday!

Can you even believe that?! Seriously I was blown away!!

So Dominic came inside and I played the message…he was surprised too. He said we could go over and pick up a few cupcakes… 😉 As a side story Amy and her husband Greg bought a house that we had looked at online several times before we moved here. It is a beautiful, older brick home with a ton of character…we had always wanted to see it in person.

So I called her back. It was 9:30 at night, I was in clothes I wouldn’t ever wear outside of the house…and we asked if we could come over instead. She said yes and we headed over.

Sometimes outrageous hospitality looks like a late night cupcake party! (<====Click to Tweet)

The heavenly smell that came out of their kitchen when they opened the door to us was AMAZING. Amy was making cupcakes for her kids to take to school on one of their last days. Lots and lots of cupcakes and all sorts of wonderful flavors.

Cupcakes with oreos on the bottoms and others with strawberries in the center. She was trying a few new recipes out, new creations, and wanted us to try a little bit of everything so we could tell her if it was a recipe she should use again.

She and her family gave us a tour of their home. She said don’t judge…it’s lived in. But all I could see was a space filled with love. Yep there may have been messes in the kids rooms and clothes in piles (just like my own)…but it didn’t matter. When you open your home, as it is, and invite people in…the condition of the space is the last thing that will be seen. What is seen is love.

We were showered with love last night.

The fact that she called and offered to share some cupcakes with us because she saw it was Dominic’s birthday was one thing. The fact that they opened their home, made us feel welcome and shared laughter and stories and cupcakes until probably way too late on a school night…that is hospitality.

She has a gift, not only in baking, but in making people feel like family. 

We went home last night full and with a few extra cupcakes to share. But more importantly we felt a covering of God’s love in a way we haven’t in awhile. All she did was pick up the phone and make a call.

Is it really that simple?!

Honestly I forget sometimes how easy community can be if we are willing to step out and make a simple call. What a reminder that was for me last night. What a blessing to be remembered.

Amy, what a blessing you were to us last night. Thank you for simply picking up the phone and making that call…for inviting us in and stuffing us full of your amazing creations. 😉 I pray that God pours our a special measure of blessings on you today!

Can You Relate?

Relate-Womens-Ministry-1

I want to share something that I am SO excited to be a part of. Recently I was at a baby shower with a few women from my church. We spent the entire time talking and laughing and sharing stories. It was a wonderful time connecting with some of the women that I know, but didn’t know well.

A couple of us started talking later about how we needed to try and do things like that more often. I have said before that community is so important to me and being surrounded by other women (in person) was such a gift. How could we foster that type of community in our local church?

My friend Steph has had a heart for seeing some sort of Women’s Ministry at our church form and even had the perfect name for it…Relate! A place that we could gather together as one and find all those common ways that we can relate to one another.

So we are taking a leap of faith and moving forward and Relate Women’s Ministry was born!

God gave me some words to try and express our heart behind this ministry and I wanted to share those here. Friends if you are in the Marshall MN area and want to join me for our first “event” – please let me know!! I would love to have you join us!

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I don’t know about any of you…but Sunday mornings can be pretty stressful around our house. Heck any morning can be pretty stressful. Getting everyone out the door on time, without fighting can be a challenge can’t it?

So let me just say congratulations on even being here today!

But can I be honest for a minute? I am pretty intimidated by all of you. I desperately want for you to believe that I have it all together, as though that belief would make you like me more…but the reality is that there are some Sunday mornings that I am screaming in the car on the way to church.

Can anyone relate?

Maybe you are a mom to small children and it feels like you have changed 1000 diapers too many and you just want to have an adult conversation for 5 minutes.

Maybe all of your children are grown and out of the house and you are wondering what your purpose is now?

Maybe you are single and you wonder if you will ever get married?

Or you are struggling in your marriage and you feel like you are the only one who isn’t seeing life through rose colored glasses…

Can anyone relate?

God is pretty clear about how He feels about community. He created us to be in community together, to support one another and to lift each other up.

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Galatians 6:2 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ”

Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

A few of us have been talking about how we can create a community for the women of Swan Lake. A safe place where we can meet and find laughter, encouragement, and lift one another up. A place where there is no judgement or comparisons but instead a time where we can share stories and just relate to one another. Find that common ground that IS there between all of us!

A place for all women. For the mothers and the singles, the empty nesters and the retirees. If you are a women (sorry guys) we extend an invitation for you to join us. Because this is new we don’t have everything figured out yet…but if you have a heart for this type of ministry we encourage you to join us and bring your ideas.

We are hoping to gather together once a month, on a Friday night or Saturday morning for a few hours. We will have an activity and a devotion and a time of fellowship. I know that there are several women here that I don’t know well and I am guessing the same could be said for many of you. We want to change that and are hoping that this is the place to start!

So for our first “event” we will be showing the movie “Mom’s Night Out” here at the church on Friday May 1st. It is a funny movie and one that all women, regardless of where they are in life, can relate to. Come ready to laugh and eat some popcorn and enjoy some fellowship with other women!

Feel free to bring a friend too! All women are welcome!

Unconventional Friendships – An (in)Courage Guest Post!

Incourage Friendship Post

Just under 6 short years ago a website was born who’s heart and mission it was to encourage women, gather them together, and equip them to serve well where God had planted them. That site is (in)courage and was one of the first community sites that I started reading after I started blogging myself.

Each morning a post would fill my inbox that gave me hope, brought me laughter and helped me feel like I wasn’t alone. You see making friends hasn’t ever been easy for me. I tend to isolate. And so having a little piece of friendship in my inbox each morning was such a  gift.

And so today it is with excitement and honor that I get to share a little of my journey to some “unconventional” friendships on the (in)courage site. I would love to have you join me there. While some of my dearest friendships have come in an unexpected way, it has reminded me that God can and will use any situation to gather His daughters together!

Because God knew my secret longings for friendship, and He provided it in the most unconventional way…(<====Click to Tweet)

And if you haven’t already been receiving the emails from (in)courage every day – sign up here so that you too can receive these free daily emails of encouragement in your inbox! You will be glad that you did! 🙂

When Laughter Lifts Spirits

Laughter

I had the joy of attending a baby shower yesterday for a sweet new mama. This is her first child and it can be scary. Several of us from our small group joined together to have this shower and it was such fun.

Nancy hosted and made the yummiest of treats. I ate 3 of her filo cups at the shower (I was trying to be super polite) …I could have had 50. They were THAT good. They were these little filo dough cups filled with cheese and mayo and bacon and tomato. YUM!!

I digress….

I had an idea for the cake and was scheduled to do the frosting and then my kids got the stomach flu (YUCK)…so my friend Steph offered to take care of it for me, which was such a blessing.

They did such a good job. It was so adorable! And their story about how it all came together (or almost didn’t) was HILARIOUS. I was laughing just hearing it.

I needed that laughter yesterday.

I said it before but I have found myself in a tough season. It has been a struggle and while I have felt God’s presence so clearly, it is still hard. I haven’t found myself laughing much, and sometimes it is just what we need.

We spent almost 3 hours laughing and sharing stories.

Joy, our youth pastor’s wife, shared the devotional and gave the best “10 things to do to go crazy” list. Dave Letterman doesn’t have anything on this woman. So so good. Everything was written to be sarcastic and we were roaring through it. Like “When you are feeling down about yourself, go onto Facebook and compare your life to all of the perfect people out there…” or “Apply every piece of advice someone give you to your life immediately.” (Don’t we all find ourselves doing these very things and then going crazy over it?!)

And then we just shared stories about our kids and life.

They weren’t the “bragging” kind of stories. No, these were the real life, it isn’t easy and we all make mistakes, kind of stories.

Laughter filled the room, time and time again.

And as the time was coming to the close my friend next to me said something to the effect of “this was so much fun. I just feel better about myself as a mom and feel like I can go home now and better deal with my life.”

Isn’t that what community should be about?

A gathering where our joys are multiplied, and our sorrows divided. (<====Click to Tweet)

If we leave a time like this feeling better about ourselves, it is so so worth it.

It wasn’t really about the food or the cake (although both were amazing), it was about shared heart-stories and women gathering to support and love one of their own.

I need more of that in my life.

I need to make it a priority to spend time with other women, in community. Because when I do I walk away with a lighter spirit and a song in my step.

Laughter truly is the best medicine!

Photo Credit: a4gpa

Neighboring Well

ArtOfNeighboring

It was clear that she was “new”. As a new dance mom myself and just a few months into the routine, I could tell that she was attending drop off for the first time. I raised 3 boys before we had a chance to welcome a girl into our family, so this dance mom thing is new territory for me.

And can I just say it is a bit intimidating.

Maybe it is just women in general, we can come off as illusive and unapproachable. I do the same, I make myself busy with my phone so that I don’t have to make conversation with a “stranger.”

As an introvert and shy to boot, it is work for me to join a conversation, to make friends.

It isn’t comfortable, it never is, but I am learning that sometimes God calls us to step out of our comfort zones and do something different.

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My friend Kristin Schell is doing that with her #theturquoisetable movement.  I love this idea and can’t wait to get a table this spring. Recently she told me about another book that captures this idea of neighboring well.

The Art of Neighboring arrived at my door yesterday and I started reading it as I was getting ready this morning. If I didn’t have to be at work, I would be on the couch reading this. I had flagged pages and underlined in the Foreword. Oh it is going to be good.

“I am convinced that living in close community with our neighbors is the best way to live. The command to love our neighbors lies at the core of God’s plan for our lives, and when we follow this mandate, it changes everything. The journey begins when we choose a lifestyle of conversation and community over a lifestyle of busyness and accumulation. It’s about making room for life and choosing to befriend those God has placed around us.” p11

So often we make assumptions about people. We wave and smile as we drive down our neighborhoods, but it doesn’t go beyond that. And when we haven’t taken the time to really get to know someone, we assume we know what happens in their homes. Good, bad or otherwise…we don’t really know.

“Perhaps we’d find that the people on our block are normal people just like us. They go to work, hang out with their kids, and put their pants on one leg at a time. At the end of the day, they long for a place to belong, a place to be accepted and cared for. They want to do something significant with their lives, something that really matters. What good things might happen if you truly got to know the people in your neighborhood and they got to know you?” p18

These words put a lump in my throat.

If there are people in my neighborhood that are looking for a place to belong, and I can do something about it – what is stopping me? As a believer in Jesus, isn’t this my calling?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

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I am telling you that this isn’t going to be easy for me. My heart beats fast at considering hitting publish to these words, knowing that my neighbors may read them…people in my church. I don’t want to be someone who talks the talk and is afraid to walk the scary road ahead of me.

But this idea of better community, or neighboring well is hitting me on all sides and I can’t ignore it or assume that someone else will do the hard work.

So once again, with knees knocking, I step forward willing to let God use me. (<====Click to Tweet)

As I headed back to the dance studio to pick up my girl, I saw the new mom waiting…phone in hand, scrolling, because it is what we do.

And I turned and said hello, asked if they were new to Marshall, or just new to dance? They had just moved here for a job, new community and new people. Another mom joined the conversation and she also has been here only 2 years “And I don’t know anyone.”

I want that to change! So in a few minutes we stopped and share “newbie” stories and next week maybe that conversation can continue.

We don’t have to do this alone, we shouldn’t do this alone.

It will likely be baby steps for me, but they will be steps forward, to learning the art of neighboring, and neighboring well.

Will you join me?

Photo Credit: From The Art of Neighboring

When Technology Connects

Map

I think I loved the idea of developing friendships, creating community even at a young age.

My parents would take us on travel adventures when I was little. Driving across the US in our van or VW bus, we filled our time with road games, latch-hook and Sesame Street song tapes.

When we would arrive at our destination, usually a campground, we would find the best spot and set up camp. Back in those days we camped in an actual tent, like on the ground. You know where bugs and bears can get you…ahh the good times! 😉 It was always fun and I have fond memories of those summers with my family.

Every once and awhile I would meet another girl my age who was out with her family. One year a girl from California parked next door. I say parked because her parents had a HUGE camper, and it even had a toilet inside. I was only slightly jealous.

She and I had fun exploring together and at the end of our stay we exchanged addresses and promised to write letters.  

The letters came frequently at first, but then as school got back in session, and life happened…well the letters stopped.

Today, because of the amazing technology we have, staying connected is so much easier.

I have marveled recently at how, through things like Voxer, women from all over the country have been able to develop friendships that will remain lifelong. A message, or a prayer can be shared in moments and suddenly they don’t feel so far away.

Some of my dearest friends are those that live the farthest from me.

A book launch originally connected us, and then emails, a sharing of life and laughter and even at times tears. We start our mornings with a greeting and prayer requests. These women have invested in me and I in them, in ways I could have never imagined even 10 years ago.

While technology can be, at times, a curse…today I see the blessings.

Because of technology, I now look at a map of the United States and realize that even though the States separate us, the gap doesn’t feel too big because with a touch of a button we can leave a vox, or send an email…and we stay connected.

How do you stay connected with technology? 

I’m sharing this story with this week’s community link-up at The High Calling. You can add your voice to the “Technology at Work” discussion here.

Photo Credit: Marxchivist

A Weekend Filled with Love

What a whirlwind weekend of fun I had. I still can’t believe that Gindi, Christine and Delonna wanted to do this for me and that they worked with Dominic to pull off such an amazing surprise!

I feel so blessed. The trip to Houston (once I knew where I was going…) was a long one. What is it about trips that once you start you just want to be there already and once you start the journey home you just want to be home?!

Birthday 22

I was greeted by Gindi with a sign that she and her kids made for me, a balloon and beautiful flowers! And there were chocolates all over my bed when I got to her house as well. I felt so loved.

Gindi is an amazing planner and gets joy out of party planning, and she had a packed but wonderful schedule planned for us. On Sunday morning we got up and all went to church. Her church had these beautiful stained glass windows and rich hardwood pews. Her pastor talked about not getting stuck (frozen) in our lives as Christians, but rather we need to go out and be a people of community, we are God’s chosen and we need to start sharing the joy of that message with others!

Birthday 23

After church we ran home to get ready for all of the fun of the afternoon. It started with brunch at Benjy’s. This place was so fun and we had a wonderful meal. Next we were off to do a little shopping (because of course!) and then on to a high tea at the St. Regis in Houston to celebrate Gindi’s nomination of one of the 50 Most Influential Women in Houston!

I knew she had been nominated, but was even more excited when I go to the actual award ceremony! I had the opportunity to meet her boss and co-workers, her best friend (in Houston) Mary, her mother-in-law and niece and her beautiful mother. Gindi’s mama was such a joy to visit with.

I had not ever had high tea before, but they served us 3 courses! This close after a full brunch…we ate and ate on Sunday! The first course was several different petite sandwiches, followed by a scone (which I hadn’t ever had before!) and then 3 desserts. While I am not a huge fan of tea, this experience was so nice and to be able to cheer Gindi on as she was called up front…priceless!

Birthday 24

After high tea we did a little more shopping and found some great clearance deals. And then onto another restaurant for dinner. As if we hadn’t eaten enough already! The waitress knew it was my birthday and brought the most decadent chocolate dessert as a treat for us to share. So wonderful!

Birthday 25

Monday was a bit more relaxed. Gindi had booked us a morning at the Trellis spa, and for my first real spa experience it was oh so good! We got swedish massages first and then pedicures. If money were not object, it would be lovely to visit there once a month to relax and de-stress.

We shared lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen, which was also new for me…I clearly don’t get out enough! (BBQ chicken pizza that was to die for!) And then some shoe shopping. (Because of course) And then we grabbed some groceries to prepare the treats for the Turquoise Table neighbors party she was hosting that night!

Birthday 26

Because we were home early we got to surprise the triplets and pick them up from school. I should have gotten a picture of their uniforms, because they were adorable. All the way home the talked about their day, what their favorite part was, what they learned. It is fun hearing it from 1 5-yr old, but 3?! I just giggled all the way home! 🙂

They quickly changed out of their uniforms and into  something that was more appropriate for the “Let it Snow” party Gindi was hosting at her turquoise table from 5-6. And of course, Frozen PJ’s and cowboy outfits were the perfect choice!

We made several treats for the party, Snowmen noses (carrots and dip), hot chocolate, frozen hearts (strawberries dipped in melted white chocolate), snow (popcorn) and ice treat (rice crispy bars with blue sprinkles on them!)

It was COLD (even for the Minnesotan) and so it was a smaller gathering than usual, but I got to meet a few of her neighbors and it was so much fun….which leads me to my next post that will be titled “Dear Dominic, We ARE Getting a Turquoise Table” (look for that later this week!) 😉

Birthday 21

After the gathering we all went out for Mexican food at Los Tios. A fun, kid-friendly restaurant where we ate AGAIN. I am going home today happy, blessed, full and 10 pounds heavier!

This morning we were up early, early and out the door by 6am. I should be home shortly after the kids get out of school and I can’t wait to see everyone! And kudos to Dominic who spent the weekend with not one but two kids barfing. 🙁

I know it wasn’t the weekend he had hoped for and he had to work from home yesterday to stay with Karlena who needed a little more time to recover. I can’t say that I am sorry I missed all of that…but it is no fun being a single parent during times like that! I am so blessed to have him as a husband.

I keep saying it, but this weekend was such a gift to me. It filled my spirit in so many ways and just getting to do life with Gindi for a couple of days was over the top. I wish that Delonna and Christine could have joined us in person (heck I wish all of you lovely friends could have joined us!!) but really it was just a time of so many great memories and such good food! 😉

I don’t feel like I deserve all of this, so I truly am just sitting back in awe of what God has done for me in these beautiful friends! Thank you so much girls, it was a weekend FULL of love!

What Your Heart Needs

Phone booth

I am not much of a phone call kind of girl. In fact they sometimes scare the daylights out of me. It is those awkward pauses that might happen and “what if I say something stupid” kind of fears.

I don’t enjoy having to call and order the pizza, in fact for years I refused to do it. (I know what am I 12?!) Calling clients is one of my biggest fears at work, when the reality is that most often I can answer any questions they have and our conversations usually end up just fine.

I guess it is something that has always caused me some sort of anxiety, so I just avoid it if I can. So let me apologize right now if you have ever called my house and I haven’t answered the call…. : /

But this weekend I got a voicemail from my friend Kami (this call I totally missed I swear!!) and I called her back and just had the most wonderful conversation with her.

We don’t see each other but maybe once a year, it isn’t often enough but it was so nice to just catch up and share life a little. To talk to another mom who gets where parenting isn’t usually glamorous or even wonderful. A friend who knows what it is like to have “that” child….you know the one that doesn’t listen and seems to like being naughty. 🙂

And when I got off that call my spirit felt lighter.

I didn’t even realize that I was feeling a little down, but that call lifted me and I am so grateful for it.

Some days we just need that pick me up don’t we?!

Maybe it is a call from a friend, or some retail therapy, even a good cup of coffee if you are into that sort of thing! 😉

If I have learned anything the past several years it is that life isn’t, and won’t, always be easy. I will get frustrated, feel lonely or angry and upset. I will feel misunderstood and left out.

So knowing that these days will come, what can we do to counteract it?

I find for me that I need to surround myself with truth.

The truth of God’s word, a favorite scripture taped to my mirror (Ephesians 3:20-21), or a devotional book filled with inspiring truths that encourage and offer hope.

My dear friend Holley Gerth has written a new devotional called “What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days.” And it releases TODAY!!

What Your Heat Needs

It is a beautiful book filled with 52 short devotionals. At the end of each day is a prayer and a space where you can write a reflection from the reading.

Holley is the real deal. She is a woman that writes from experience, someone who has been dealt the hard days, and walked through them with grace.

This doesn’t mean that she has enjoyed the process, or even always handled it well, who of us have right!?!

But as you read these devotionals you feel as though you are sitting across from a friend, pouring out your heart, and she understands all you are dealing with.

In her words “Acknowledging the hard parts of our lives doesn’t mean that we’re not grateful for the gifts God has given. We can thank him every day for the child he’s given us while also feeling exhausted when that same child gets on our last nerve….”

“God understands both”

God wants us to bring the good and the bad to Him. (<====Click to Tweet)

He knows there will be hard days, days when our hearts need a lift.

I am so grateful that He has called and gifted Holley with words of hope so that she could bring that message to us. This is a devotional that you will want to get and keep close by for those times when you need a reminder that you are not alone.

Thank you Holley for once again filling my home with words of light, His light that shines through you. I am so blessed to know you and honored to be able to help promote this newest book of yours!

I was graciously given a copy of Holley’s devotional from Revell Books to read and review as a part of a blog tour. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Phone Booth Photo Credit: Monica Arellano-Ongpin

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