Restoring Joy

Zechariah Newman —  November 24, 2014 — 5 Comments

My emotions are so fickle sometimes. I wake up and everything is terrible. I frankly wallow in moments way too long, giving in to the drama in my mind. Everything becomes wrong and inadequate with thoughts like, “When God are you going to come through? When is my business going to come to new levels? When will all of my kids be potty trained?!” :) It is simple when there is a constant tension on our lives from where we are and where we want to be to get dissatisfied and lose our joy. The first thing we must do when we feel like this is recognize that we lost it! After that it is easy to regain with a few practical steps.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

When we are missing Joy, these 5 things will restore it to our lives.

1. List. To proactively shift our moods, we need to change our thoughts. Emotions will follow good thoughts. The other day I was really struggling with my mood and I did this simple exercise and my negative heart turned to one of gratitude and joy! Spend a simple five minutes to think about what you are grateful for, then write down everything you can think of. Look at your list and notice how blessed you are!

2. Prayer. A life focused on God will be one of joy. Pray to Him and ask Him to show you how you are blessed. Ask Him to open your eyes and He will be faithful. Then it is our job to look, keep vigilant with our eyes up, and our hearts ready. Talking and listening to God will realign our thoughts with His. Focus on the Creator and joy will return.

3. A close friend’s words. One of our jobs as believers is to prophesy into each others lives. If you don’t like that word, it is simply to call out the attributes that are godly into each other. We need each other to call out godly characteristics when we don’t see it ourselves. Rather than think of yourself, how can you encourage and speak into someone else this week? Your words may be the words someone needs to hear. You may encourage them to live a life more full or your encouragement may even save a life! Speak life!

4. Be present. One common thread happens when we are depressed and angry. We are either in the past or longing for the future. We need to live lives of focus and power and the only way to be that vibrant is to be present in the second. If you feel yourself getting anxious and worried, I assure you you are not living in the present. Realign with the here and now. You have a job to do today that only you can fulfill.

5. Go through the motions. We need to live a life of transparency, so I say this cautiously. Fake it until you make it. Go through the motions and your emotions will follow. Smiling, for example, can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, change your mood and boost your immunity. It can also be contagious. Be honest with your feelings, but you may need to go through the motions to feel more joyful.

When we are feeling negative, the bottom line is we need more gratefulness. That is one of the things I love about this time of year. Today and this week, let’s return joy and hope to the journey. Happy Thanksgiving and be blessed on your journey.

What are you thankful for?!
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My son is a very active four year old and is a little clumsy at times. This past couple of weeks he had two big blows to his face. One he fell and hit the front of his mouth on a door jam. His lip swelled up pretty big and his gums were bruised. This last week he was wrestling with his sister and long behold her head jammed straight into his chin. I heard a whack and he started screaming. I ran to him and noticed one of his front teeth was knocked straight back in his mouth, but still attached.

I calmed him down and got on the internet to look at what to do. I found that you are supposed to apply pressure on the tooth until it is back in place. I explained to him that I had to fix his tooth and asked him if he wanted to watch in the mirror to distract him. Applying pressure his gum and tooth made a loud pop and blood came out everywhere. He stared screaming and asking me why I hurt him. Man that broke my heart. I felt terrible, but the reality is no matter how bad that hurt him it was the best thing for his little mouth.

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photo by: KCNewman Photography

How often is our life like this? Tragedy happens and we ask God why he is hurting us. We wonder if God is really for us. We cry out to Him in pain. I get this sense He is holding us saying, “Son, this is the best thing for you. I know you don’t understand, but just trust me.” If you are struggling to trust God with your life, if you doubt like I do at times that all things do work for your good, try the following steps. These 5 steps renew my trust in God!

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

1. Prayer. Prayer is crucial to having a trusting relationship with God. One of the ways we learn to trust is by spending time with Him. We must pray daily when things are good and when things are bad. Talk to God! Bring your petitions to Him. Pray for help and healing in your life. The second aspect to prayer, which is the hardest for me, is listening prayer. In listening prayer, get quiet before God with paper and a pen. Allow God to speak to you! Both verbalizing and listening in prayer are crucial to renew our trust in God.

2. Study. You must study the Bible. You must build this discipline into your life. God will speak to you through the scripture because as you read and study you will find that it examines you, not the other way around. As you read, it will remind you of God’s promises. Studying is another way to spend time with God. It is through time that trust is built in any relationship. Read the Word to build trust in God.

Joshua 1:8 “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.”

3. His thoughts. This can only happen if you read the Bible. Once you know what God thinks about you then you can meditate on it. There are parts of our minds that are diseased and malfunctioned. Parts that have been given over to the troubles of this world. We need our minds to be transformed. As our thoughts begin to change our emotions will follow. Cast down your thoughts and imaginations and pick up God’s!

4. The love of a close brother or sister. If you want a healthy trusting relationship with God, you need other Christians that are going the same direction as you. Community challenges us and refines us. Community gives us visible reminders of God’s love for us. We need this built in our lives. We were never intended to do life alone. Jesus ministered and operated with twelve disciples. He built relationships into His life and we must do the same. Build relationships to renew your trust in God.

5. Worship. I have worship music playing at my store, in my car and at my house. Everywhere there is worship music playing because it is that important to me in my life. It is through authentic worship that our stance and posture toward God is changed. Worship is a natural response to God’s love and goodness. As we begin to be freed of the tyranny of wrong thinking, we have an outpour of worship. Worship God because He changed you! Build relationship and trust through your part of worshiping the Creator of the universe.

Come to your heavenly Father like a child. Just be honest with God. “God I want to trust you fully, however I am struggling. I don’t want to trust in my own strength, but in You. When I don’t understand why, I will trust you. Lord I believe; help me to believe.” Keep on walking it out. King David, a man after God’s own heart, cried out in anguish but in the end said, “Nevertheless I will trust you.” God has you in the palm of His hand. Keep on walking! Keep on pressing in and picking up His thoughts. You are more than a conqueror, now go be blessed on your journey.

How do you strengthen and renew your trust in God?
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My son is four and he is beginning to cling to me more and more. Before I have been chop liver, but he is now wanting to wrestle, fish and play with me. It makes me happy and at the same time it makes me very aware in what I want my son to know. So this is an open letter to my son for when he is older.

Luke

Luke the world will tell you many things. That a man doesn’t cry. That you can’t be strong and compassionate. At the same time, many will tell you that being masculine is wrong. That the adventurer spirit that lives in you is not okay. That you should live a passive life living safe and meaningless. I want to talk to you about four different attributes that the world will distort, but you need to hold onto my words son.

1. Bravery. You will get the feeling that bravery is running into the fight and not being scared. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t let appearances fool you. Bravery is doing what is right when you don’t want to. It means taking a stand when you want to throw up. It means fighting when you want to run. Bravery my son is taking a stand when you are scared to death.

2. Love. The world will tell you that love is about sleeping with a girl. This is not what love is. This is a byproduct of love and when it is not within marriage, it is a cheap knockoff. Love is 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Love well, Luke.

3. Toughness. Again this is misunderstood and I am sorry that the world will tell you to act like a man when you are a child. They will say all sorts of things referring to your physical pain threshold. Toughness is mental fortitude. It is to keep going when others would quit. It is to deny the flesh and live by the spirit. Toughness is to deny yourself and put God in first place. You can only serve one master; choose God.

4. Role in marriage. Your job is simple, yet far from easy. When you find a girl to marry someday, it will be your life long duty to love her the way Christ loved the church. To lay down your life for her and live a life that is sacrificial. Choose a girl like your mom and you will be honored to love her the rest of your life. Do not focus on her role, but focus on yours. Love her the way Christ loves you. Cling to God and He will help you to love.

Luke, I love your sweet spirit. You care for those that many overlook. You are brave. Though many see meekness, I see strength and power. You make your daddy proud. I wouldn’t want you to be any different than what God wants you to be. I pray that as your father I will point the way to the perfect Father. Trust in Him and He will make you who you are meant to be. Be blessed and enjoy your journey son.

What are you speaking into your kids?

 

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I Failed! Now What?

Zechariah Newman —  November 3, 2014 — 11 Comments

I have had a day of wrestling with God. I wrote a few articles for big sites and I didn’t even hear back. It feels like a punch in the gut. A big NO coming in the form of silence. It feels like asking to sit at the “cool” table and everyone ignores you; just this air of silence and dejection. I can get into a mode where I feel like if I switch a behavior or have enough faith, then He will allow my want to come through. If I change, then I can sit at the table and will be accepted.

It's possible

photo by: KCNewman Photography

This dream chasing is not easy. Your path will be littered like mine with rejection and failure. Winston Churchill said, “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” How true this is. Our dreams are going to require us to dust ourselves off and get back up. To rise again after failure is one of the most important habits to get into. To learn to not quit, separates history makers from the forgotten.  These 5 principles will bring you back from rejection and failure.

1. Speak Life. In Proverbs 18:21 it says that, “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” Talk about conviction. When I have a problem I talk about it and think about it until no one will listen and then I will start calling people to talk about it some more. This is not what God tells us to do. We need to speak life into our situation. Speaking the promises of God gets our minds off of our own inadequacies and on the One that changes us! Talk about how big your God is and not how big your problem is. It is okay to wrestle and cry out to God, but in the end we need to bring it back to His promises.

2. Take Ownership. We must take ownership for our actions and inactions. It is easier to blame others, however, the truth is the responsibility is ours. Shirking responsibility gives power to others and is the beginning of justification for our actions. Take ownership of what you can control and give the rest to God. I will write new pieces for some of those sites trying to improve my writing. Trying a new angle and a fresh look to see if that’s what they are looking for. How can you take more responsibility?

3. Get Counsel. Proverbs 15:22 states, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” I will get counsel from my coach as well as other people I trust. We have blind spots as people and that is one of the reasons why we need each other. Get counsel before you shoot again. Your dream is your baby and frankly no matter how impartial you think you are, you aren’t. A group of people can help you look at it more honestly and lead you in a proper direction. Get counsel from wise people.

4. Reconnect With Why. Your why is your anchor, not your what. Stop getting hung up on how and what. We always like to go there. Rekindle your passion for the dream by cementing with your why. If you are married talk with your spouse. My wife remembers things that I forget that help me when I am feeling low. Times that God came through and things that I have said. Write down why and say it out loud.

5. God’s Plan. The reality is when we are living in God’s will, we need to lay down our timing. Sometimes, like the Israelites, we think we are ready to fight and we are not. Sometimes we need to walk around in the desert to prepare instead of going the quick route. God loves you and I believe He wants the best for your life even if it’s not what you want. Continue to push forward, but remember God is the dream giver. You are the one partnering with Him to do His plan. Trust God. He is faithful and just.

Remember your feelings in failure are just that; feelings. The fact is God loves you and has your back. Get back up and fight. Fight for things worth fighting for. Every person that has accomplished anything has had obstacles to overcome. The bigger the obstacle, the sweeter the victory. God will be faithful my friend. It is not easy, however, it is worth it. Be blessed on your journey.

 What makes you get back up?

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5 Killers of a Dream

Zechariah Newman —  October 28, 2014 — 12 Comments

When I was twelve I wanted to be a major league baseball player. I practiced all the time with my dad and brother. This was my dream. I got pretty good making the local All-Star team, being amongst the best in a playoff. I was so excited to play and thrilled for the chance to compete. The playoffs started and I found myself on the bench. I didn’t get to play much at all that summer but just a few innings. Then the last game came, I got to play and went 4 for 4 while the team lost. That was the last time I ever played baseball. I quit, disillusioned I never suited up again and lied to my parents that I didn’t like baseball anymore. This is not an uncle Rico story, that if coach would have put me in we would have taken state. It is a story of my struggle in life to give up before break through. To lay down a dream just because it got hard or didn’t go the way I wanted it to. If you are chasing a dream avoid these 5 pitfalls.

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photo by: KCNewman photography

1. Comparison. I compared my skills to people who were different from me. In baseball, I had never hit a home run except an inside the park one. I thought that I was inferior because of this. Comparison is a good way to kill your dream. You were made unique; don’t try to be someone else or you will give up. Comparison leads down a path of wearing a mask, which leads to isolation and exhaustion.

Psalm 139:13-14  “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

2. Disappointment. You will face disappointment along your journey. Everyone that has accomplished anything had something to overcome. Your life will be the same way. It is in those places of disappointment that determines our lives. Will you cling to Christ or lay down? It is God that moves mountains. We merely partner with Him. Use disappointment to shape you and bring you closer to Christ.

Romans 8:37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

3. False summit. This goes with disappointment, however, it is the hardest disappointment for me. There will be times where you think this is the summit, only to find out you’re not even close. Our expectations getting shattered is the biggest blow. When you reach a false summit, take a deep breath and carry on. Dig deep in Christ for energy and never grow weary in doing what He has called you to do.

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

4. Justification. Justifying how hard it is, is how we talk ourselves into quitting. Justifying is the beginning of the end. As soon as we start justifying, we are removing our power in Christ and giving it to another. Focus on your part and what you can do as this will move you on. The only justification we need is in Christ!

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

5. Ignorance. I have been ignorant to so much and I still am! Ignorance kills dreams, mainly because we spend a lot of time on the wrong things. Those that have achieved the dream you want, know how to get there. Ask God for wisdom and ask others that have made it. No one was meant to be on this journey alone. Remove as much ignorance as possible. Ask the One that gives wisdom. He is faithful!

James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Press into God and find someone to talk to. Allow yourself to acknowledge disappointment and fear, then get back up and shoot again. Dreams aren’t stopped by failure, rather they are stopped by inaction. Sometimes a dream needs to die for another to start. Make sure that you have exhausted all possibilities first. You don’t want to wonder the rest of your life. Keep up the good fight and be blessed on your journey.

What motivates you to keep going?

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Fear Of The Unknown

Zechariah Newman —  October 21, 2014 — 5 Comments

The part of being faithful with the small things we often don’t want to talk about is that when we are being faithful with the little, we are not fearing, worrying, having anxiety and agonizing over our next step. It is a simple concept, but hard sometimes. Taking steps of faith were not meant to be easy. I often get stuck in thinking, “Is that you God?” I find myself analyzing and in the end talking myself out of the next step. The time, energy and effort spent worrying about things outside of my control is pretty sad.

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photo by: KCNewman photography

I have operated, at times, like faith is the absence of doubt. This is the furthest thing from the truth. I believe that great faith is movement in spite of doubt. It reminds me of the gazelle.

The African gazelle can jump thirty feet in distance and fairly high. However, they are easily held captured. This animal can be held captive by a three-foot high fence for one simple reason. If they cannot see where they are landing, they refuse to make the leap. Though they can easily jump the fence, the gazelle won’t.

We are often like the African gazelle; great bound up potential refusing to move. Just sitting dreaming of more; dreaming of a full life. A tiny wall that mentally looks like a big obstacle holding us in.

True faith requires risk. It demands a step into the unknown. Faith requires doubt. Stop waiting for all the answers, for that day will never come. Leap with the risk of the unknown. Today work with excellence and diligence, walking in peace, continuously moving toward your goal and dream. Take steps of faith and allow God’s will to be done. Move and the path will be revealed to you. Be blessed on your journey.

How do you overcome the fear of the unknown?

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Heart Of Service

Zechariah Newman —  October 14, 2014 — 10 Comments

In life we can either live a life of service or one of self-service. I struggle often with actually living a life of service. One that comes from the heart, not just the right actions. Not some mask of service, but authentically serving those I touch in my everyday life. When I am focused on my wants and desires I struggle with depression. Thoughts of self-service succumb to self-pity. Why me? Why is everything hard for me? I do the right thing and never get a good result! These are some of the negative thoughts I have when I focus on my life instead of living a life for others. At the time it feels like the truth although it is the furthest thing from the actual truth.

Galatians 6:9 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

When we focus our lives on helping and serving, we will be fulfilled. However, when we focus on when we will get a harvest, we will be depressed and frustrated. Our eyes have fallen on our wants and fixated on the negative things in life. I could spend ten minutes telling you how blessed I am. I could also spend ten minutes telling you why my life sucks. Sometimes in the same hour. It is all about where we choose to focus.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

Zig Zigglar has a great quote. It says, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” I love this quote. I have one issue with it though that has led me astray. If in our hearts we are helping others to fulfill our wants, it will not work.

Studying Zigglar’s work, I believe he was exhorting us to get our minds off of ourselves and on serving others. This will lead to success! Only when we lay down our wants do we actually receive our true desires. Unfortunately, I at times have manipulated others; helping them with the intent to get what I want. The problem is then I am unconsciously or consciously still fixated on myself.

This week let’s be proactive in helping others. Let’s detach the strings that we put on “favors.” Serve just to serve. Sow seeds of love, peace and joy into others by focusing on the cross and God’s love for you. Love because Christ loved, serve because Christ served. Be the light that believers are called to. Use your dream that God put into you to serve and that after all is why He gave it to you to strengthen and exhort the body. Be blessed on your journey.

How do you focus your life into being one of service?

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I hate having a meaningful conversation and watch the other person stop looking at me and look down at his or her phone. The conversation energy just completely stops. It makes me feel really important to the person. Okay, maybe not.

You see the same thing in restaurants. Couples looking down and fiddling on their phones. It is sad to me that in a connected world we have become isolated.

I am ashamed to say that I started to do the same things. I stopped being present in the moments with those I love. Looking down at my phone when it went off. Social media began to control me instead of me using it as a tool.

With a world that never stops, I began to remove all points of quiet out of my day outside of that first few hours that I didn’t have my phone. The phone would interrupt my work, writing, family time, prayer, and other things throughout the day.

I at least, felt a little powerless. I believe most people like me are a little powerless. That is why I have made a choice. I no longer have Facebook and Twitter on my phone. If this doesn’t help I will get rid of my smart phone all together.

Are you present with those physically with you? How many times a day do you check your Facebook or Twitter? Track it for one day. In 2013 ABC did a study that the average user checks 14 times a day. I was checking more than that. Yikes!

I still get on social media to post and respond, but for me, social media plays into a weakness having such easy access. Some are stronger than me and that’s okay. Know yourself; weaknesses and strengths.

The experts would say I am wrong with this and I need to be everywhere all of the time. That is why I haven’t done it until now. My dream was feeling like a nightmare. I have decided my family is more important.

A funny thing has happened. I am now getting more traction now that I am not wasting away my day being interrupted.

What stand will you make? I would encourage you to chase your dreams in a way that makes sense for you and your family. Use Hootsuite to post at certain times and only get on social media when it makes sense for you. Stop being controlled by the tool of social media and take your life back. Be blessed on your journey.

Do you have a problem with your smart phone?

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I get caught up into “the grass is greener” thinking all of the time, sometimes resenting my very life and the gifts that are in it. I can be blinded by the beauty and stuck in my mind of “what ifs.” I’m guessing you struggle with this to. Do we really think that our dream will make us happy? Pause and think that over. I believe most dreamers believe that it will, I know I do at times.

I want you to chase your dream, but you and I need to be happy and content in the life that God has given us today. If we do not appreciate the moment, we will be unhappy on the journey. Guess what? We will be unhappy when we reach our dream as well. Yuck!

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

We believe sometimes, well at least act like a dream or a thing will complete us. Like Jerry Maguire, “You complete me dream.” I believe that this is a false trap of the enemy to distract us.

If you are in your job right now that you don’t like, I believe it is your job and mine to be a faithful steward. If you don’t know what step to take, it is your job and mine to love God and others today. One of the most honoring things to God is a cheerful heart and appreciation for all that He has entrusted you with.

Why would God give us more when we aren’t faithful with what He has given us today?

Chasing your dreams the right way with surrender to God’s will, while doing all that we can is so fulfilling. However, chasing your dreams with a victim mentality is deflating and depressing. Trust me, I have tried it both ways and still fall back into victim mode on certain days.

Proverbs 17:22 “A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.”

The point of today’s post is simple. What we all have is a heart problem. Not a job problem. Not a money problem. A heart problem. God is more concerned with what is happening in you than in what you do for a living. This does not mean you shouldn’t chase your dreams, but that you should chase God first, then family, then your dreams. Surrender to God by doing all that you are physically able with a cheerful heart. Be blessed on your journey.

How do you keep a cheerful heart?

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Who’s Fault Is It?

Zechariah Newman —  September 23, 2014 — 9 Comments

You don’t understand! No one will help me. They got lucky. These are all the thoughts I have had. Protecting and defending my choices and actions can be a full time job. Even my sin I can shove aside as a generational curse or wounds of another. I have no responsibility for my actions. I am a victim to the failures and sins of others.

It is so easy to blame circumstances outside of my control for my lot in life. Blame for me is not hard to find and I have played the victim more than I would like to admit.

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Photo by: KCNewman Photography

As I write this with tears in my eyes, I am amazed at how I have let my flesh and Satan distract me from God’s purpose. I have been so busy squabbling for scraps that I don’t even look at what I can do! Today no matter what circumstances arise, no matter where we are, we can do something.

If we don’t take responsibility how can we change?

If we don’t admit that we picked it up, how can we put it down?

If we don’t recognize ourselves as a sinner how can we be saved?

2 Corinthians 12:9 states, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.'”

Failures, setbacks and challenges are real. Generational sin and wounds from others affect us, but you and I have a choice to stand and say, “Jesus I need you! Change Me!” Only when we take responsibility for failures, can we have the power through Christ to change. So this week walk in boldness. Be a warrior for Him by being weak and in need of a Savior. Do what you can and give what you can’t to Him. Be blessed on your journey.

How can you take more responsibility?

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