Where Have I Been?

August 28, 2010 at 11:33 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Taken from a journal entry–a year ago–and convicting me again today…

Where have I been?  Out seeking success apart from the Lord?  Seeking the world while neglecting my soul?  Doing from first thing in the morning, till late at night, while my Bible and headcovering lie mostly neglected on my desk.  It’s so easy to prioritize the visible.  Always I cling to success and goals and dreams.

But Father, if this thing, this success, be what distracts me from You, what woos and wins my heart away from my Bridegroom, then I hold it out to You in reverence, in awe, in fear and in trust.  Take it.  Always You have whispered in my ear that I must have no gods beside You.  Always I have learned that idols made with human hands have no life.  Always You remain the Life that breaths, the truth that lives, the power that reigns.  I creep again into the lately forsaken chamber of my heart and kneel beside the cold, hard altar where I burn my thoughts and dreams and goals for Your glory.  I must lay this one, too, this dream, on the wood of the altar.  I will soak it with the water of tears and watch while You kindle the fire to make it pleasing to You.  “The Lord, He is God.”  He is a jealous God.  A God who deserves every ounce of my being.

Lord, whate’er between us stands
Whate’er I grasp in these two hands
Must not be treasured, for I find
The things I cling to, these things bind.

Far from treasure, I must view
All things as loss in light of You
Worthless, measured by Thy grace
Colorless beside Thy face.

So Father, teach me first to prove
That I am conquered by Thy love
And so enslaved to do Thy will
That all my dreams must Thee reveal.


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Idols Ashes

February 27, 2010 at 1:00 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )


Here I am again, building a funeral pyre on which to sacrifice a vision.  Like the pilgrims of so long ago, I leave a trail of graves behind me as I travel—each one where I have buried a hope, a dream, a goal, a plan, a love.  The only eternal unchangeable in life is Yahweh.  And that is as it should be.

I have been restless.  I have been discontent.  I have fashioned for myself that which I thought would finish or fulfill me.  Like the idols that see not, hear not, taste not, save not, my dreams demand my devotion, yet offer nothing in return.  I bow before them.  I kiss them.  I plead with them.  I dance in delight as I look at them.

I think of Israel’s discontent while waiting for Moses on Mount Sinai.  For themselves they built a splendid golden calf–the picture of their unfaithfulness.  Always discontent is unholy, for it denies that Yahweh is all.  Always that elusive image of supposed fulfillment or security must be torn down, must be ground to ashes, must be burned on the altar in worship to Yahweh.

Lord, through shadow lands Thou leads me
Bitter waters dost Thou feed me.
Idol’s ashes now distilling
Make Thy water pure and filling.

Seems I’ve seen this place before,
Thou hast washed me clean and pure
In this same bitterness and sorrow.
Thou must wash anew, tomorrow.

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He Has Also Made Me Fast

November 19, 2009 at 1:27 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Ravi Zacharias joined us for the drive to church this morning, with a message from one of the minor prophets on worship—in Spirit and in truth. I listened, wrapped up in his quaint accent and the power of his message, as he shared how worship must be according to God’s truth: intimate, but still reverent. “You call me Father, but where is my honor?” He spoke of the Indian word for father, and pointed out how they never use it without adding a term of respect—like saying, “Papa, sir.” Our relationship with God is the same: He is our loving Father, but we must never forget that He is almighty Creator. Then he began to share a vignette from the life of Eric Liddell. “God has made me for a purpose, but He has also made me fast. When I run, I feel His pleasure.” We worship God by doing everything for His glory, whether it is running—or writing. He doesn’t seek to strip us of our identity and be worshiped by robots. He gives us a new identity in Christ and the power to seek to glorify Him in all that we do. He wants us to use the talents and gifts He has given to each of us to worship Him privately, and to proclaim His excellence to all creation.

Lord, Thou made me for a purpose
To be overwhelmed by worship.
And I see Thy perfect plan
Manifest in who I am.

Prayer and praise are just a start
For the worship of the heart.
Talents that Thou gives are holy
When my life is yielded wholly.

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An Excellent Wife

October 31, 2009 at 1:24 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Lauryn and I, well, we’re both free spirits—independent thinkers. We get together and discuss important and fresh things: like marriage. Are you laughing at me? Why shouldn’t we discuss marriage? Perhaps it’s not a fresh topic, but it’s sure important. I’m convinced that nobody’s ever ready, considering simple things like lack of experience, but I’m doing my best. I dove into Proverbs 31 to study out what I should be working on—really to be an excellent woman, daughter, wife or whatever the Lord has in mind for me—and came up with an interesting bit of a list. But what really stood out to me was the virtuous woman’s purpose: all of these virtuous things she does, not as a pursuit of charm, beauty, vanity, money or power, but because she pursues the Lord.

Lord, may I never so seek charm
As to bring my Bridegroom harm
And may my beauty never be
A thing that could tempt eyes from Thee.

May my diligence prove more
To freely give to all Thy poor
That I can live my life content,
For Thee, my time and talents spent.

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Faith in His Faithfulness

January 24, 2009 at 7:36 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , , , )


It’s a new year full of new things. But God is still the same. Abraham is now in Abraham’s bosom. Pondering the life of Abraham leaves me in awe of the Lord and His ways. They are too high. I cannot attain to them. He called Abraham from among complete heathens. I see no evidence that Abraham was in any way seeking Yahweh, yet the Lord appeared to Him and called Him and promised to bless Him. Each step of the way, Abraham hesitated and God had to give a little nudge. Abraham’s journey lasted for years before he actually believed God and was reckoned righteous. How does this work? Amazingly, beyond my understanding, the Lord can and does draw people for years sometimes before they finally trust Him. The human mind can devise all kinds of questions: What if Abraham had died before he trusted God? What if Abraham hadn’t gone to the land of Canaan? Does it matter, all these “what ifs”? The point is that God was in control. He drew, knowing precisely when Abraham would finally trust and obey Him wholly. Did He choose Abraham because He knew he would trust or did He know he would trust because He chose him? Does it matter? Did He choose Abraham? Yes. Did Abraham trust God? Yes. Was He fooled or thwarted? Absolutely not. Never. Faith bore immediate fruit in Abraham, though. God made a covenant with him and told him to circumcise his whole household. The same day, it says, Abraham and his son Ishmael and all his household were circumcised. He’d not even yet seen the child of promise, though he’d believed God. And later, when God told him to sacrifice his son, his obedience was immediate. That’s the undeniable mark of those who are “righteous” in the old testament. They obey God. It is the evidence of their faith in Him and His faithfulness.

He who has shown Himself faithful, since the beginning of time, is truly worthy of my faith.

Lord, Thy arm is full of power
To lead or save at any hour.
Thy faithfulness, as proved in past
The steadfast mountains, will outlast.

Thy promise of my soul’s salvation,
More secure than earth’s foundation,
Causes hope that’s staid in Thee
To grow to touch eternity.

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Filled with the Holy Spirit

January 17, 2009 at 6:27 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , )


I’m afraid I’ve fallen in love–with a guy I met in the sixth chapter of Acts. “Filled with the Holy Spirit” is tacked onto Stephen’s name like an epitaph. His opponents couldn’t handle him because of his wisdom, grace and enthusiasm. Those would be wonderful charges laid to my case. If only my name appeared on my headstone as “Abigail, filled with the Holy Spirit.” It’s a bit daunting to realize that if I am filled with the Holy Spirit, the world will hate me and will likely rush at me with grinding teeth demanding my death. And religious leaders will be looking on in approval. They won’t be gathered around, applauding, wishing me well, taking celebrity shots-they’ll be pitching rocks.

Lord, I stand here, ready, willing
To receive Thy Spirit’s filling.
Overflow me with Thy wisdom,
Grace and power, those that listen

Will be made to love or hate Thee
Since they simply can’t debate Thee.
If I preach Thy precious story
Thou wilt stand and gain the glory.

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Who Wrestles with God

January 10, 2009 at 1:36 pm (Flowers of Thought) (, , , )


I can’t say that I greatly admire Jacob. I mean, the man had the nerve to wrestle with God, to demand that God bless him before he would let Him go. How irreverent must he be? God could have slain Jacob. He didn’t have to bless him. Why did Yahweh Almighty, God of Hosts, allow a weak, disobedient man to wrestle with Him-and prevail? In those early dawn hours, while Jacob wrestled with God for his very soul, God reached out and marked Jacob His own. The limp that Jacob, now named “One who strives with God”, would carry to his grave would remind him of that night he saw God face to face and his life had been preserved. Mercifully. One touch put his hip out of place. How helpless he truly was in the hands of Almighty God! God delights for us to wrestle with Him, our will and His struggling so that when we demand He bless us, we can see how completely helpless we are. Everything we have is a blessing. Every step we take that we do not limp is a mercy of the LORD. The very fact that our life has been preserved is Yahweh’s compassion and long-suffering.
Lord, when I wrestle Thee I find
That Thou dost show Thyself more kind
For Thou could crush and Thou could kill
Yet Thou preserves and keeps me still.

To come to Thee should bring my end
Yet Thou hast chosen me Thy friend
And wrestling with Thee only proves
How powerful Thy saving love.

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Telling in the New Year

December 31, 2008 at 11:11 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , )

flowers-of-thought-2Taken from an entry for New Year’s Day, 2008

Several years ago I resolved never to make New Year’s resolutions. If I am not quite mistaken, that was the first resolution I have ever faithfully kept. Don’t be horrified to think that I never have new resolves. Can you even begin to believe such a lack in me? Instead of making new resolutions every year, only to be dropped, trampled on or broken within a month, I simply make new ones every day. Some as basic as: today I will drink eight cups of water. Trust me, this one is harder than it sounds when the heat of summer and the loss of sweat are no longer driving me to it. Others are a little more serious: today I will finally unpack and clean my camera and I will plaster my seat to my seat and write at least five hundred words on Eldenwood and I will line out Bible study notes and questions from John for Amber.

As a family, we’ve been traveling through Acts, stopping off with Paul to pay special attention every time he preaches the gospel. He has no formula, but I’ve learned a lot through his presentations. To the Jews he lays out exactly how their fathers rejected the Lord time and again and then comes down to Jesus, the promised Messiah, rejected by them. To the gentiles, he begins with the God who created earth and heaven and who will judge us all then points out our unworthiness. When the sword finds tender flesh, and his listeners are cut to the quick, he offers the saving grace of Jesus. When seized, attacked and forced to render an account of his teachings and actions he resorts to sharing his own testimony. After all, a testimony is a person’s own story and who can argue with it? What a powerful tool the story of the Lord’s calling in my life can be, and I should always be ready to give an account for the hope within me.

Lord, this work of Thine, my story,
Is written to give Thee the glory.
So in telling I proclaim
The wonder of Thy matchless name.

My tongue, a scribbling scribe’s own pen,
Must write each word that Thou portend
Attesting Thy dictation here
As Thou dost tell it, year by year.

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Wherever I Am…

December 20, 2008 at 6:24 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , )

flowers-of-thought-2Itchy feet and the restless urge have overtaken me again. I must be getting too settled in. Rain or mist has been the pervading weather for the last several days, leaving me sunless and cabin-locked, for the most part. This evening found me turning circles in the living room. It isn’t quite long enough for cartwheels, unfortunately. I started into Job this morning, but my mind feels completely saturated, like a sponge so soggy it can’t absorb any more. Asked what the Lord is teaching me, my mouth hangs open like a door with a loose hinge, and I can’t squeeze even one drop of refreshing water from my mind. Where do I even begin? I’ve been soaking it up, enjoying the time of solitude up here on the mountain, learning of the Lord. Now I’m ready to bound down into the valley again, desperate to seek and save His lost lambs. “My people perish for lack of knowledge” He says. “There’s a famine for hearing the word of the Lord.” “Beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.” My spirit wanders around inside me. I catch myself daydreaming witnessing opportunities, replaying conversations, rethinking what I should have said. I want to go out, to seek, to serve, to give myself a sacrifice.

I’ve got to start at home.

Lord, I’m here where Thou hast placed me
Restlessness and doubt still chase me.
Am I needed here at home?
For Lord, the urge to roam has grown.

And I can justify desires
By claiming Thou hast lit the fires.
But Thou hast bid me be content
Where’er it is that Thou hast sent.

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Pride and Oposition

December 13, 2008 at 6:18 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , )


Once upon a time I had a precious friend-a sweet example of humility and purity, I thought. I know she’s been drifting her own way, turning a deaf ear to the Lord, and when I called “to chat” recently, I honestly couldn’t help it– I just had to start asking questions. I can’t bear to see her caught in the lies of the enemy. I’ve shared the gospel with her several times in the past, but the Lord still wouldn’t permit me to make small talk. I had to share again. It was like wringing out my soul to press her for answers, to hear her say she just couldn’t humble herself to repent, to know that she is making a choice that will separate her from me for eternity. Even more terrifying, that will separate her from God for eternity. Why are we so proud? Why do we seek to accomplish on our own where we know we can never succeed, to the eternal torment of our souls? Why do we risk eternal regret to resist momentary humiliation? Lord God, I don’t understand! How do You reach the soul that is convicted of sin, but refuses forgiveness? What a terrible, miserable existence that must be, choked by the murderous fingers of pride. And yet, how often do I also turn my back on my God, the God I claim to serve, and tarry in the arms of pride, drinking deeply of self-love. How is it I obtained the grace that God bestows on the humble? I shake my head in wonder.

Lord, my tears, my bleeding heart
Can never even fill a part
Of all the agony Thou tasted.
Let not Thy precious gift be wasted!

Her decision, God on High,
Is hers alone to make, but I
Must let my thoughts and actions prove
That I am purchased by Thy love.

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Esteemed by God

December 6, 2008 at 6:14 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , )


I spent the morning with Daniel-a man, recognized in heaven as a “man of esteem”. As I read I tried to pick out what it was that earned him this title from a heavenly messenger. As a youth, he purposed to please God, and then sought the approval of his authorities for his goals. And God blessed him and granted him favor with his authorities. Later on, his purpose to please held strong. His enemies, in jealousy, commented that were they to find anything of which to accuse him, it would have to be in his worship of God. And so he was thrown to the lions. His enemies knew that his worship would remain steadfast, regardless of the circumstances. God allowed the wicked edict, and the unjust punishment in order to glorify Himself when He rescued Daniel from the mouths of the lions. Daniel sought the Lord diligently in spite of sickness, fatigue and spiritual warfare and was rewarded with understanding from the Lord. When he discovered that Jeremiah had prophesied the end of the captivity in his time, he bowed his knees before God, confessing his sins and the sins of his nation and pleading the Lord’s compassion-praying according to God’s known will. God said he had humbled himself and set himself to understand God’s word. As soon as Daniel started praying, the Lord heard him and sent answers-because He esteemed him. God esteemed a man. He thought highly of him. The very last verse is a message from God saying, “Go your way to the end; then you will enter into rest and rise again for your allotted portion at the end of the age.” Five hundred years before Jesus, the firstborn from the dead, Daniel was promised a resurrection to glory.

I must purpose to be like this man whom God esteemed: set my heart to please God, to serve those He has placed me under with humility and wisdom, to worship God with diligence, in spite of obstacles, to be guilty only of worshiping Him, to pray according to God’s will, repenting for myself and others, to set my heart to understanding His word.

Lord, I purpose now to please Thee
It becomes my solemn duty
To be so in love with Thee
That visions of Thy glory fill me.

May the fault of faithful worship
Be the only cause for cursing.
Set my heart to understand Thee
That I may proclaim Thy beauty.

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What He is About to Do

November 29, 2008 at 6:08 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , )


Reading through the book of Amos this morning, several things caught my attention. One was the repetition of descriptions of God’s power, followed by the introduction “Yahweh of hosts is His name”. God is a person-not a human, but a person, who has thoughts and feelings-and power. The second was an instance of intercession. When God showed the prophet terrible plagues he was about to send on Israel, Amos begged the Lord to stop-“How can Jacob stand it for he is so small?” Both times he made his plea, the Lord relented. What an amazing thing, to think that a simple shepherd could be so in fellowship with Yahweh of Hosts as to beg Him to stop a punishment-and be answered with favor. And yet, the Lord could not have swerved from His ultimate plan. His plan then, must have included Amos’ intercession–His desire must have been to have Amos plead with Him to be merciful, and to answer and so to shine in the splendor of His own grace. God must love for us to boldly intercede and beg His mercy on behalf of others. And when we do so, we are following the example of the Good Shepherd, who always lives to intercede for us.

Lord, Thou call the humble friend,
The lowly Thou delight to send
For what Thou speak, they must repeat
And with Thy peace, Thou shod their feet.

And Father, Thou delight to show
Thy plans to harm and overthrow
That these same lowly may entreat
Thy favor at Thy mercy seat.

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Bread of Life

November 22, 2008 at 6:04 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , )


Today, as I shared in the bread and loaf, Jesus’ miraculous feeding of five thousand came back to me-with some interesting correlations. Jesus fed five thousand people with a broken loaf. He fed many more than that with His body–which He proclaimed as the bread of life. He gave thanks, broke the bread, and gave it to His disciples to distribute among the multitude. At the last supper, He said, “This is My body, for you” and handed it out to His disciples. In the same way, He chose to share Himself with the world, through His disciples. Each of us has received a piece of Jesus’ body, as partakers in His grace, which, miraculously, is enough for us to share with everyone with whom we come into contact. With multitudes. And no matter how much of His grace we pass on, there will still be basketfuls left! That’s how sufficient the sacrifice of Jesus is. Almost wasteful in its extravagance. When God provides, He always does so extravagantly. Above and beyond all that we ask or think.

Yet I distribute so little of the Bread of Life. I wish with all my heart I were a gifted evangelist.

Lord, Thou broke Thyself for all,
And I have heard Thy Spirit’s call
To eat of Thee and then to spread
Thy wine of life to those claimed dead.

In laziness I tend to eat
And deem myself a loved elite
Grow fat, and store Thee on a shelf
To hoard and keep for just myself.

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The Source of Joy

November 5, 2008 at 8:14 pm (Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

untitledI had a very brief conversation with a lady from church this week about joy. I shared how suffering for the sake of Christ, or even just suffering in general, can bring greater joy than in perhaps any other circumstances because we are stripped of all other things that bring us joy and we see the brilliance of the glory of God and prize it more fully in contrast to our destitute and miserable situation. She commented, not exactly in disagreement, but added that she thought the key to joy is contentment-so whether we’re in trials or in good times, whether we’re changing diapers or are rejoicing in our toddler’s first steps or other earthly blessings, we can have joy if we are content, satisfied with Christ and rejoicing in Him. And I would (mostly) agree.

But as I’ve meditated on this conversation and have spent quite a bit of joyous time singing to the Lord and praying to Him while folding clothes, it occurred to me that there is only one key to joy and it is not contentment.

The key to joy is Jesus Christ Himself. I know, I know…that’s the classic “Sunday School answer”, isn’t it? But it is so very true, and if we miss this, we will miss the focal point of all God-glorifying and soul-satisfying gladness! Consider this: We have the joy of our salvation in Him. We have the love of the Father and fellowship with our Creator in Him. We are made complete in Him. We have the promise of our inheritance in God’s eternal kingdom in Him. We have blessings in this life only by His grace. We suffer for His sake and are identified with Him in His sufferings as a gift of His grace. We have His Holy Spirit working in us to conform us to His image, according to His will. We will be with Him forever and will experience fullness of joy in His presence because of Him. We rejoice in hope because of the promises of God that are ours in Christ Jesus. Truly, apart from Him we can do nothing, and without Him we have nothing. We cannot have true joy if He is not the source of it!

No, the key to joy is not contentment. And suffering itself will not produce it in the believer, either. Prizing Jesus above all things is the key to joy-that your joy is wrapped up in Him and nothing else. And this is absolutely linked to contentment-if you truly hold Jesus as your greatest, even your only treasure, then you will be content! And your contentment in all things will be possible because of the strength which the Lord provides (Phil. 4:13). If you aren’t content, you’re probably not prizing Jesus most of all-you’ve perhaps forgotten how wonderful He is, or you’ve set your mind on earthly things, or you’ve stopped believing some of His promises (among which are “I will never leave you nor forsake you” “In Him you are complete” and “those who hope in Him will not be disappointed”). Either there’s something in the way or you’ve looked away.

And when it comes to running this race with endurance and the strength to lay aside the sin and other things that hinder us, we are told to fix our eyes on Jesus, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross. He is our example, He is our source, He is our joy. And in following Him, we endure trials “for the joy set before us”.

Many are “content” and many suffer who do not know real joy. True joy is a fruit of the Spirit. It is to rejoice in the Lord at all times, to know and value above all else the one true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. That is eternal life (John 17:3). And in Christ Jesus (in abiding in His love, hearing His word, obeying Him) is our joy made full, and it is in His presence that there is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore! (John 15:11, Ps. 16:11)

Meditate on the verses I’ve referenced, and read the book of Philippians, focusing on the themes of joy, contentment, and suffering-and the infinite value of Christ Himself, with which no other thing can ever compare! Contentment with things or circumstances and endurance through suffering are bi-products of having joy in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ! What a beautiful thing that we don’t have to be tossed around by things that happen to us or around us! There is one source of joy for us, and it is our blessed Savior! Keep this in mind as it relates to this recent election, or whatever gloomy things you may be facing; and keep it in mind as it relates to the earthly blessings you have received-they are trash compared to Christ! And join me in praising God for His amazing grace!



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Through Fire and Water

September 22, 2008 at 7:31 am (Flowers of Thought) (, , , , , , )

Sometimes it seems as though the Lord leads through fire and water. Even little things like a shot laptop screen, no electricity in my bedroom, worthless telephones and an ill washing machine begin to feel overwhelming.

When Israel conquered a foreign kingdom, Yahweh told them how to purify the plunder. “Pass everything that can stand fire through fire, then cleanse it with water, and whatever cannot stand fire, pass through water.” (Numbers 31:20-23, paraphrased) Later, Yahweh spoke through the prophet Isaiah, using the same beautiful symbolism to describe how He would buy back His people from captivity. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you, I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you. For I am Yahweh, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isaiah 43:1-3) To me, the words ring out with hope-I have been redeemed from the world, bought by the Savior and made holy through His precious blood. When He leads through testing or trials-fire and water-He will be with me, as He leads me in the path to purification. I will never be overwhelmed. Only cleansed. Made holy. Like Yahweh.

Lord, when fiery ways I trod,
Beside me, Thou, the Son of God,
The fiery furnace Thou wilt bear
And always show me Thou art there.

And when my way lies through the water,
Thou reminds this frightened daughter,
Once Thou parted such a sea
And safely o’er Thou’ll carry me.

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