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Sep 27, 2012

Technicolor Clapping

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Strength For The Day

Spring rejuvenates flowering dogwood, cherry, pear and the vibrant colors of trees in blossom. Summer reveals the beauty of myriad shapes of leaves gifting you with delightful shade in the heat of the sun. Deciduous trees in the fall erupt into a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors.  Who cannot marvel at the feast for the eyes of fall foliage in brilliant hues? Such a grand opportunity for exuberant praise of the magnificent God whom we adore! Creation is a bold evangelist; calling for commensurate response from all creatures who bear the image of their Creator. The predominant truth in Isaiah 55 where our text is found is, “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”(Isaiah 55:6-7) This is the song of the trees; the reason their “hands” clap. Shouldn’t this be your response as your eyes survey the spectacular colors of the fall? Seek the Artist whose paintbrush is untiring; call on Him who is quite near, right before your eyes, as the trees He husbands reveal the brilliance of His strokes. Be compelled to forsake wicked ways and thoughts, and return to His fortress to bask in the abundance of His love and protection.
If you would see and hear Him through His creation, pierce your ears to hear and open your eyes to see. Does the artistry of man surpass this? Will it form the same language of saving grace and comfort which we observe in the beauty of the earth unless it mimics His grace? Many are too distracted by poor technological substitutes (television, cinema, cell phones, computers, culture noise) to enjoy what the trees are telling you about the One who made you. Creation as many may presume is not deaf and dumb. “The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1-2) It is a shame if your ears are tone deaf to the Creator, verbose through the remarkable craftsmanship of His creation which displays His character.  Relish the sights and sing God’s praise. Talk to those beside you with adoration for Him concerning your spirit’s testimony prompted by the sight and insight of your eyes enlightened in His Word. Share the message out loud of the trees’ acclamation with your children, family, and friends. The Psalmist does, why not you? Do not squander these opportunities of grace. You will spurn the abundant compassion of the Lord if your mind and heart remain frigid to the voice of God’s creation, in which you live, and move, and have your being.
Many an unbelieving eye has been mesmerized by the glory of the earth, or a pagan poet moved to pen singing words describing the wonders of nature, but the Psalmist tells us undeniably that the heavens are proclaiming the glory of God. If the sights and sounds of creation do not elicit the knowledge and action of Isaiah 55:6-7 then the beauty and magnificence of creation will be your only reward; a “reward” which will be destroyed, and for you be no more for eternity. The one who is moved by the language pouring forth from creation to seek the Lord while He may be found, and return to Him for abundant pardon, will see the new heaven and new earth and live within it forever. Hence, you are still blind and deaf if you merely delight in creation without delighting in and praising the One who made it; and hear the message which He proclaims in His handiwork.
As you see, hear,  and contemplate the glory of God in the things He has made, even in the midst of another colorful fall, the conclusion of the matter is as David finishes Psalm 19: “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” Enjoy the color in expressive praise!


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Sep 26, 2012

Do we remember?

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 Do-We-Remember

Taking moments to notice the positive

During the Civil War, at the Battle of Fredericksburg, in what was one of the most one sided victories for the Confederacy, the Union Army marched across open ground to face an entrenched Confederate Army. The Union’s losses were massive and what they had endured was etched in their memories, so much so, that during Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg, the Union soldiers chanted “Fredericksburg as the Confederate soldiers retreated back to the woods.

Throughout history, often in war, we see instances of remembrance as points of inspiration for an army during battle. The battle cry for the Texans during their War of Independence became “Remember the Alamo. “Remember Pearl Harbor is another familiar expression that was used throughout WWII. Pearl Harbor is something I will personally always remember, not because of my age but because when I was seven years old, I lived on Pearl Harbor’s Naval Base, literally yards from the harbor. I saw the Arizona Memorial repeatedly and the wreckage beneath the water. For those who have been to the Memorial, the oil on the water remains etched in your memory.

In the same way, the attack on 9-11 will remain particularly vivid in the minds of those who lived in New York as the landscape is forever absent of the twin towers. The same is obviously true for those who were on the campus of Virginia Tech along with the families of students who will always remember April 16th, 2007 and the massacre that took place that day.

Though it would seem remembering events like these should be simple, it is in our nature that we collectively forget things, or that we lose their meaning. Recently, a 17 year old asked a friend of mine what 9-11 was. The idea of someone not knowing seems amazing to me as most of us can remember where we were, what we were doing, etc. when 9-11 happened. But as I thought about this 17 year old, it struck me that she was only 10 when the event occurred. It was not so vivid in her mind. She may not even have been told. So in this, we see a special connection, and for parents, frankly an obligation, to teach and remind our children of what has happened not only in their own lives but in the “distant past as well.

Remembering is an experience, but when we begin to look at things that have happened during our lifetime or in our history rather than events that we have personally experienced, our memory fades and the event loses its meaning and exclamation in our mind. If it is our nature to forget, then we must endeavor to remember the experience. Remembering must be linked to the emotion of that experience. But why is it that we often forget the positive emotions and instead remember those that are not pleasant?

A common joke in our culture is that men forget their own wedding anniversary. An extraordinary day, filled with wonderful emotions gets lost in the minutiae of life. We sometimes need reminders, prompters, triggers to make sure we don’t forget. Thank goodness for Microsoft calendar reminders.

But how is it that we forget or why is it that we forget? I would tell you that it is our habit to forget the positive, and more routine to remember the negative. We do this all the time. “Let me tell you what happened to me, rarely surrounds something positive that happened. It is more likely to point to how we have been treated “unfairly or what someone had “done to us.

This is particularly true in the workplace. When I was in graduate school, my independent study was on evaluation systems. What I found and witnessed in my own workplace is that most often when people evaluate others, they merely remember and note the most recent negative behaviors. We are not inclined to view the avalanche of positives that have occurred. Why…because the negatives remain with us longer. We often don’t record or keep triggers for all the positive things that have occurred.

As parents, this is acutely important, for so often we dwell on the moment of what our child did wrong versus remembering all that they have done right. I am not saying that there should not be accountability when our children behave in a way that is inappropriate, but do we acknowledge and remember to tell them all the time, the majority of the time, even some of the time all the things they have done right? Isn’t that the crux of the problem; we remember the negatives, and ignore so often the positives.

So take a moment now to remember:

  1. all that you have to be grateful for
  2. how you can praise your children for the positive that they have done

Our memory for the positive must remain stronger than that of the negative. We need to:

  1. develop the habit of remembering all that we have to be grateful for
  2. take the time to record the positive…write them down even, then share them
  3. communicate to those you love more of the positive than the negative

Remember, that you as parents and adults are teachers. Teach those you love to remember all that we can be thankful for and develop the habit in others that the numbers of positive markers they record in their memory need to far outweigh the number of negative ones.


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Sep 25, 2012

What Is A Good Father?

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To explain what I feel a good father should be, I must first point out some negative things and hope that they will not only alarm you who are reading this text but also give you a better idea of what we are up against.  In other words, to tell what a good father is, I believe I must first pursue the bad direction in which our fatherly images have traveled in the past few decades.
People can say that alarmists have always stood up and said that things were not right with our young people and pointed to the father images and the homes in general as the culprits.  Yes, this has been done many time in various parts of the world and during a great many different time periods.
Today we could ask almost anyone on the street what a good father is really like, and unless we were speaking to the very few individuals who seem to think that we need a strong family leader, the answers would probably be somewhat shocking.  They might tell us that the father is the one who usually tried to get the sympathy of the other family members and especially the attention of his wife.  He may do this with  some type of childish action or even some form of hypochondriac procedure.  This I imagine has been drilled into our population by the one-eyed monster, we call television, that graces most all our homes.
Of course, everything cannot be blamed on television.  Through the years, our society has become liberal to the degree where strong leadership is feared by many, and at the best, avoided by the vast majority.  Very seldom do we see a person who is reflecting real, strong, positive leadership ability being elected to a public office. This goes for the father image as well.  If we see a strong-charactered, God-fearing head of a household reflected in real life or in fiction, we will immediately come to the conclusion: he is going to scar his children by his domineering personality and make the some type of servile individuals for the rest of their lives.
I say this is not so!  Leadership can only be passed along through example.  Unfortunately, we have lost almost all of or examples as far as fatherly leadership is concerned, so there is no one to perpetuate this image.  The young man grows up with a weak father and does not have anyone with whom to identify, so he does not know what a real man is.  He sees the dad allowing the good mother of the home to carry on his responsibilities, while he grossly neglects the family in many different ways.
I am sure that at this time you are wondering if I am ever going to get around to telling you what I think a good father is.  By describing a bad father, I am surely telling you what a good father should be.  He should certainly be just the opposite of a weak, poor father.  I would much rather see a strong-charactered, righteous man walk by his children, and in doing so, observe  them somewhat flinching as they became fearful that he might just swat them, then see the reaction of most children to their father today.    Maybe I’m a bit old fashioned, but I really feel children of all ages should have a type of fearful respect for their fathers: not because he is going to harm them physically, but because they have been brought up to the point that they dread him giving them even a glance of disdain.
A good father should do some of the things that we commonly picture a father doing.  That is, play ball with his son, take him fishing, have a close father daughter relationship with his girls, and all in all, be a kind and sympathetic person.  He should do all these things, yes, but he must first and foremost be the family leader.  He has to take the helm of leadership and guide the household through the storms it is going to face as the years go by.


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Talking About Depression Is Depressing
Sep 19, 2012

Talking About Depression Is Depressing

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We all feel sad, down, blue or discouraged at times.  That’s pretty normal.  Sadness, disappointment, and pessimism are natural reactions to the hassles of life.  I regularly feel a bit blue during football season as I watch my beloved Oakland Raiders lose each week.  The reality is that, in the scheme of things, the loss of a favorite team is not that meaningful when compared to an argument with a friend or loved one.
For teens, there are many things that can cause stress: a breakup, a best friend moving, doing poorly on a test, or not performing at an athletic event.  Such events may even make them feel pessimistic about the future.  We’ve all been there.  In most cases, we manage to overcome these feelings with a little time and care.  Depression, however, is different.
Depression is a lingering mood of sadness and hopelessness.  It can last weeks or months and is fairly common among teenagers.  Statistics suggest that adolescent girls are twice as likely to experience a period of depression as compared to boys.  At Paul Anderson Youth Home (PAYH), many of our young men come to us with a diagnosis of depression.
So why do teens get depressed?  Well, for the same reason we adults get depressed.  Internal and external pressures cause stress.  The difference is, as adults, we have learned to work through those feelings, emotions and stressful situations.  Maturity has made us better managers of our emotions and feelings.  But our children are still learning how to navigate their emotions and manage those pressures. Their skills are limited.  It is critical for us as parents to be able to recognize the signs of depression in our children, as depression often leads to thoughts of suicide.

AVOIDING TRAGEDY!

Approximately two million teens attempt suicide each year!  Girls are more likely to consider and attempt suicide, while boys are more likely to succeed.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among teens, behind unintentional accidents (largely car) and homicide.  This is tragic on multiple levels, not only for the teens suffering from feelings of hopelessness but also for the families who feel the aftershocks.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

A teen who is contemplating suicide will manifest warning signs.  It is these signs that we as parents must pay attention to, especially when we know our children are struggling through break-ups, arguments with friends, academic struggles, insecurity, being bullied, crisis at home, addiction, conflict, or major disappointment.
In most cases, a teen considering suicide progresses through 3 stages:

Stage 1 – Thinking seriously about suicide
Stage 2 – Talking about suicide and making a plan
Stage 3 – Implementing the plan

Parents must pay close attention.  As I have said before, don’t say, “that can’t happen with my child.”  It is our tendancy as parents to think this way, but the truth is it can happen to anyone.  Be on guard.  Listen to your teen.  Know what is going on and try your best to understand what they are experiencing.  When they express feelings of hopelessness, listen to them.  When they feel trapped in their emotions, gently show them a way out.  When they make statements about everyone being better off without them, confront this as un-truth!
Remember, we all go through times of sadness.  But when it is more than occasionally feeling blue, sad, or down in the dumps, it is a sign of something deeper.  Understand that it is normal for your teen to experience feelings of sadness and discouragement.  It is part of the process of growing up. However, it’s important that we are aware of the signs of depression and suicide so we can recognize when these feelings become a cause for concern.
We at Paul Anderson Ministries are here to help families face the realities of this generation and equip you with resources to tackle the challenges of this current culture.
Do not fight this alone!  Get help from trusted friends, family members, the church, counselors, or someone you trust.  You are an important part of your child’s team.  They need the input of caring adults in order to avoid the dark days of depression and instead enjoy God’s light!

Excerpt from Dangerous Trends: Understanding Depression and Suicide

Love by Listening
“Often the most important thing you can do to help a teen that is struggling is simply to listen.  Your child may not be able to accept advice or analyze the problem right away.  You have to do the hard work of just listening.  The great English statesman, Winston Churchill, once said, ‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.’  Find the courage to sit quietly and really listen to your cNate-Thompsonhild.  Ask questions and do not offer advice or quick answers – not yet.  Just listen and resist the incredible urge to speak, even when there is uncomfortable silence.  Listening is a powerful act of love and helps them realize what ideas and emotions they have inside.”


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Sep 19, 2012

Q&A with Glenda: Divorce

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Unfortunately, divorce is very prevalent in our society.  Glenda shares her thoughts on divorce and the affects that it has on our children.


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Sep 18, 2012

Teen Depression: Your Mind Can Convince You Of Anything

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Below is a collection of interviews of Real Teens talking about how depression affected them.


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Sep 18, 2012

Depression in teens

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Nathan was changing. 
He was becoming increasingly irritable, bored, sad, and just plain angry. When his mother would ask what was wrong, he’d snap, “I’m just having a bad day.”

For a few months Nathan’s mother assumed that the pressures of school and just being a young teen were the cause of her son’s moods swings. The school counselor told her that many teens experience stress and that being 16 is an awkward age. “Just give him time,” she said.So Nathan’s mother did, until one day when Nathan came home from school and said he wished he were dead.
Adolescence is not an easy time, so there is no simple way for parents to tell the difference between a bad case of the blues and symptoms of depression. So when feelings of sadness, loneliness, confusion, and anger persist, it may not be “just a phase” they will simply grow out of.It may in fact be depression.
Depression is on the rise among teens. Some studies report that depression affects about 5-8% of teens. Despite its increasing incidence and devastating effects, depression among teens remains woefully underdiagnosed and under-treated. Consequently, many depressed teens become seriously sick before a proper diagnosis is made. Because depression is linked to increased: risk-taking, substance abuse, promiscuity, pregnancy, delinquency, and suicide, early detection is critical.
The good news is that depression is highly treatable. Learning the facts and warning signs will help parent know when to get help.
Some types of depression:
Major Depression and Dysthymia are the most common types of depression observed in teens. Profound sadness, hopelessness, mental confusion, social isolation and thoughts of suicide characterize major depression. The course a depressive episode can vary, however if untreated an episode of major depression generally lasts one year.
Dysthymia is a “low-grade type of depression characterized by persistent feelings of sadness and worry. Children with dysthymia tend to have low self-esteem, poor social skills, and be pessimistic. They may have difficulty in school and trouble in forming relationships. Dysthymia can follow or precede a major depressive episode or be entirely unrelated.

What Causes Depression In Teens?

Recent studies have demonstrated that depression is rarely due to a single event or condition. Rather, it is the result of a complicated matrix of family, social, genetic and biochemical influences. As with many diseases, some people are more susceptible than others. However, depression tends to run in families. Or putting it another way, the vulnerability for depression is one of many family traits passed on from one generation to the next. For example, a child who has one parent with depression has a 10-to-13% GREATER chance of developing depression in his or her own lifetime. Clearly, the vulnerability for depression can be transmitted genetically. But genetic vulnerability is just that–a vulnerability–not destiny.

Symptoms of Depression

The symptoms of depression in children vary from child to child. While some teens look sad, others appear anxious and worried. In general depressed teens experience changes in their thinking, feelings and behavior. Here are some characteristics of each.
* Thinking negatively, self-defeating thoughts and problems with concentration and memory.
* Calling themselves “dumb,” or “ugly.”
* Hopelessness and irrational fears about the future increase as the disease progresses.
* Likeliness to obsess over minor faults and failures and see themselves as worthless.
* Appearing visibly sad, worried, and irritable.
* Complaining that they feel “bored while rejecting opportunities to participate in activities that they enjoy.
* Experiencing bouts of seemingly unprovoked anger.
* Using alcohol or drugs to medicate their depression.
* Clinging or becoming overly dependent on a girlfriend/boyfriend.
* Becoming preoccupied with death and dying, and making suicidal gestures.
* Experiencing difficulty sleeping and wake frequently during the night.
Persistent nightmares in younger teens.
* Talking about hopelessness and death.

Getting help

If you suspect your teen is depressed get help immediately. Your pediatrician of family doctor is a good place to start. Treatment for depressed teens involves individual and family counseling and medication.
The use of antidepressant medications is becoming increasingly common as a treatment strategy. The number of children in the US prescribed medications to treat depression has tripled since 1986. Antidepressant medications are thought to work by increasing amount and availability of certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in the brain, thus restoring chemical balance and appropriate mood.
The newer antidepressants, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) have proven to be effective for the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Examples of these medications include Paxil®, Prozac®, Lexapro® and Zoloft®. Most of these medicines take several weeks before symptoms improve. In some, albeit rare instances, these medicines have increased depression and suicide attempts and therefore should only be used under the supervision of and experienced medical professional. Another somewhat unique antidepressant, Wellbutrin®, has a similar mechanism of action as the SSRI’s but works on different neurotransmitters. It has been successful in the treatment of depression and ADHD in children and teens and works much faster than the SSRI’s. It may be a good choice for those with attention problems and depression. The combination of medication and counseling has been shown to be a very effective modality for depressed teens.
Remember that depression is highly treatable illness and most teens can and do recover. Recent research shows that over 60 percent recover or partially recover after one year. Lastly, it is common for parents to second guess and blame themselves when a child is depressed. Keep in mind that depression is caused by numerous and largely unknown factors. Fretting about the cause will not change a thing and may even make matters worse. The best way to help your teen is to stay in the present, take time and listen to them, emphasize their worth, pray for them and with them, let them know how much you love them. Then let tomorrow take care of itself.


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Receiving The Harvest
Sep 17, 2012

Receiving the Harvest

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Receiving The Harvest

Though it is vital to properly mold children from birth, it is important to know that with the Lord there comes mercy that can be new every morning. As God promised in Joel 2:25a: “I will restore to you the years that the locust have eaten.

Because of the society in which we live, more often than not, it seems children have not been raised in an environment of consistency; therefore, it is important to remember that it is never too late to teach our young people about God’s Word which builds character and reveals His grace that provides another chance. This is the mission of the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

One of the principles we want “our boys to learn is that: we are to live in harmony. (“Make every effort to live in peace with all men Hebrews 12:14a) Because they live, work, and play together, there are occasions of disagreement. Many of our young men have never been “bridled, so they know little about “controlling their emotions or “subduing their passions.

At the PAYH, we constantly teach them that the greatest way to work through issues is to pray together. This is difficult for mature Christians, and even greater for young people, especially while they are experiencing anger. On one occasion recently, we were overwhelmed with JOY when we saw the seeds that we had planted take root; I would like to share this with you.

Two of our young men had a strong disagreement that precipitated an altercation. Before the staff member who was present could get there, quickly, one of their peers jumped in to separate them. Eddie Burris, one of our boys of the “sixties who has been on staff since 1970, began to try and help these young men work through their issues. After several hours of counseling, they asked to be alone. Concerned that all was well, Eddie looked out the window and found them together with their heads bowed in prayer.


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Sep 17, 2012

Advice To Parents: Hope

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What do you do when your teen is out of control?  What do you do when your teen begins making decisions that you as a parent  know is going to lead down a dangerous path?

Jake shares his advice for parents on how to hold onto hope even in the face of the uncertainty of your child’s future.


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Good Company
Sep 14, 2012

How Can You Tell If You Have Good Friends

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What difference does it make who I choose as a friend?
Some time ago, I realized that the people I spend my time with directly impact my capacity for success. It is a simple principle in life: you become like the people you spend your time with. There’s no getting around it.The time you spend with your friends is like plugging into some social network and downloading operating software onto your brain. This can be great or it can be dangerous.
Being around good people doesn’t necessarily make me good, but it certainly doesn’t hurt my chances. I have surrounded myself with the kind of people I want to be like. They are people I absolutely love to be with (they are hilarious, interesting, and fun). They always bring out the best in me. They care about what happens to me. And they accept me for who I am while encouraging me to be my best. In fact, they refuse to accept anything less than my best.
How can you tell if you have good friends? There are many signs that you can look for.
Here are a few:

  • Are they successful? In other words, do they pass school or fail? If they are successful in life, that’s a good sign.
  • Do they know how to have fun without hurting themselves or the people around them? Do the risks they take outweigh the fun they have? If you find yourself getting into trouble when you hang out, that’s not good. If your friends inspire you to ditch classes and ignore your parents, something is wrong.
  • Are they consistent and committed? If your friends are only around when you are an easy person to be friends with, they aren’t your friends at all. Get new ones.
  • Consider what your friends bring to the table. Do they suck you dry, mooching off you emotionally or physically? Do they take without giving? This principle is easy to discern. Relationships are two-way streets: there should be good traffic moving in both directions.
  • Check out their ambitions. Every living person on the planet is moving in a particular direction, you can see where someone is headed by looking at the trail they leave behind.

If someone has a history of jumping from group to group, from friend to friend, then chances are they will not be loyal to you either. If a boy will cheat on his girlfriend to be with you, he will most likely cheat on you to be with someone else. Or if a girl talks to you about another girl, than be assured she will talk about you.If someone has a history of failing, whether it is in school, at work, or in relationships, it only makes sense that they will continue to fail in the bigger picture: life. You can learn that pattern.
It can be difficult to tell yourself the truth, but we are talking about life here. We are talking about something more significant than what you’ll do this weekend. The friends around you should act as road signs: they’ll show you where you’re heading. Be honest with yourself. You alone are responsible for where you end up. If you don’t like where this carpool is going, get out of the car.


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