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1 Timothy 6:18-19 – Poverty

“Grandma, what are we going to do?”
Sareen was fearful. Her mom had come home with the hard news – she had lost her job – they could no longer keep her on the grain fields. They had sent her home for good, with a very small bag of coin as her last pay.

So Sareen was fearful. Would they have enough money to live on? She could see that her Mom was also afraid. There were tears in her eyes. And she wouldn’t answer questions. So she looked again to her Grandma.

“Grandma, are we going to be okay?”

Sareen’s grandmother’s face was sober. But then she looked at Sareen and smiled.

She answerer her: “Of course we will be. We are loved. Now I have a task for you. Will you go into the pantry and find a wooden box on the far side, in the corner behind the flour?”

“Grandma, what will I find there?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t looked in it for many years.”

Sareen went. For curiosity’s sake, if nothing else.

==

Thirty years earlier, Sareen’s grandmother, then twenty-five years old was walking through the village and she passed by a beggar, who was sitting on the ground. He looked at her. He appeared to have been looking out for her. He smiled and said, “Noreen, please take this.”

Her name was Noreen.

Noreen looked down and saw that the beggar was holding a gold piece up to her. For her to take. Noreen knew that it was not normal for beggars to offer others coin. Yet here he was doing that. Should she take? Was that … alright? Should she trust him?

She looked around – doubting. But then she looked back at him, and saw love and wisdom and she knew – she could trust him. It was alright. She should take the offered coin.

And so she did. She told him thank you.

And when she got home, she knew not what she should do with the gold piece. So she slipped it through a crack in a plain, wooden out-of-the-way box.

Three days later, Noreen was walking down the same street and passed the same beggar who made the same offer: “Noreen, please take this.” She did.

And two days after that. And four days after that. And three days after that…

Each time, she took. Each time she told him thanks.

==

Sareen didn’t take long to find the wooden box. It was not large and not small. It was plain. She attempted to pick it up. She found she couldn’t. It was heavy. So she opened it up and was very surprised. And very pleased. She gasped.

It was full of gold coins. It was a treasure chest. Where did Grandma get all this?

She went to lift up the box. It was too heavy. So she took handfuls of the coins and put them in her apron. As she made her way to the living area of their small family cottage, she realized with joy that she would have no fear of a lack of bread. She found her mother sitting at the table and her Grandma still sitting in her chair, smiling expectantly as she walked in.

“Mamma, look!” And she let the small pile of golden coin clatter on the table.
“Where did you get that?”
Sareen nodded to her grandma and said, “She told me to look in the wooden box in the pantry.”
Her mom looked at her grandma and said, “Where did you get that?”

Noreen, mother of Farrell and grandmother of Sareen, told them.

They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Our God has made it so that our good deeds, done by the gifts provided by His Son, not only do good for others, but also for ourselves.

Other passages to consider: 2 Corinthians 8:9, 2 Corinthians 4:7, Proverbs 15:6, Matthew 6:19-20

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Dads, I encourage you to regularly hug your kids, but I also encourage you to let them excuse themselves from getting a hug if they don’t want to.

Intro, Why I wrote these stories, and a list of all the stories

Read this to your kids.

Isaiah 55:1–3 – Thirst

Jephemiah walked. He walked with his family. He was tired. He was eight. His whole family was tired. And they were all hungry. As they came around a bend in the road they found they were coming up to a town.

“Children, this is the town closest to our new home. We might be seeing a lot of it in the next few years.”

Jephemiah wondered if there was food in the town. He asked his dad, and his dad grimly said, “Most towns have food, and I’m sure this is no exception. The question is, will we have enough money to get any right now?”

They walked for a few seconds and then he stopped and looked down at his youngest son, smiled and said, “I hope so, Jeph. We’ll ask.”

“And something to drink? I’m thirsty!” stated younger sister Leyna. They’d found that there weren’t very many rivers or lakes in this region of the country. And the water they’d seen wasn’t good for drinking.

“Me, too, kids. Maybe there’s a well around here.”

So they walked into the town.
And they walked into the market in the town. It was a small market, all owned by one man.

Jephaniah didn’t like the man. His hair was stringy. His smile didn’t seem real. And pretty quickly he could see that his Mom, who he trusted, didn’t like him.

There was food at the market table, but it didn’t look very good. The bread looked dry and hard. The fruit did not look ripe, or it was too ripe – brown and spotted.

And there was a large jar of oily dirty water.

But Jephaniah would have eaten and drunk it. He would have eaten whatever food they could get. But …

But soon they were walking away. With just one small stale loaf of bread. Theresa, Jephaniah’s younger sister quietly asked him, “Why didn’t Dad get any more?”

And he answered, softly, “It will be enough. We’ll get other food somewhere.” But he didn’t know where.

And then father was splitting the loaf as they walked. Jephaniah saw that he saved very little of it for himself.

He took a bit. It was not good. It tasted like sand. Or sawdust. And there was not very much. But he ate.

“I’m really thirsty,” Reyna said. Jephaniah put his arm around her. He was thirsty, too.

“We will work really hard and then maybe we’ll get enough money to buy some good food. And enough food for all of us.”

They kept walking through the streets.

And then, as they were leaving town, there was a woman. She had grey hair. She was in a white dress. She said, “Welcome, young family. My name is Sophia – please let me bring you to the King’s market.”

They followed, but he saw little hope on the face of his parents. And that shrunk his hopes. And he thought, Yes, they’re right. If they didn’t have enough money for a cup of water, how could they afford anything the King might provide.

But still they were following. Around a corner, down the road. And Sophia pointed into a big tent with the mark of the Lamb on it.

They walked in and there were tables. Tables filled with food. And the servants smiled as they saw the family. And one said, “Come – you look hungry. Buy and eat. It is for you.”

“We have very little coin,” stated Jeph’s mother. And he expected the servants to frown and send them away.

But they kept smiling. “There is no cost. You need no coin. This is the King’s food and he gives it to you.”

There was a moment of hope for Jephaniah, but also of doubt. How could that be? He saw that his parents were feeling the same way. They seemed hesitant.

But one of the servants said, “It is no trick. We have good food for you and we asking nothing from you in return. Come, eat and drink.”

And as they watched, another servant took a large pitcher, and filled a wooden cup with water – it looked pure, clean and clear. And she handed it to Leyna.

Leyna looked at the glass. She looked at her Father. And he nodded.

So she drank. She took a big gulp.

“It’s good!”

And she drank more. And then she sighed, “I was so thirsty!”

Jephaniah saw that the servant had filled several cups and laid them on the table. He took one and he drank.

And then one of the servants was leading them to a table that had lots of good bread. And butter. And cheese and honey.

“This market is always open and you can come take at any time.”

Their dad was looking around. “I’m afraid I don’t understand this. Isn’t there a cost for this food?”
“Oh yes, but the King has paid for it.”

Jephaniah’s dad nodded. And he smiled. And he took.

They sat down at a small table and ate. And an hour later, Jephaniah was carrying a big bag of grain as they walked home. He had a big smile on his face. And Leyna asked what he was already thinking: “Why would anyone get food at that other market?”

“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;

You have no money to buy what God offers. But God knows that. Take his gifts. They are good and they satisfy.

What gifts does God offer you?

Other passages to consider: Proverbs 1:20-22

Click here to see more stories and why I wrote them.

Intro, Why I wrote these stories, and a list of all the stories

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Psalm 27:3–6 – Enemy Camp

It was dark. Why couldn’t he see? Why was everything so murky. And then the arrow – it was sharp – it looked evil – it was from the enemy. It was coming towards him – no it was flying at his daughter – he could do nothing as it shot towards his family – it was going to-

And then Jomas woke up. He was breathing heavily. He opened his eyes. He was lying on bedding on a canvas blank. He was in a … tent. And then, with relief, he remembered. He was in the camp of the King’s army.

They had run through enemy territory and the soldiers of the King had taken them in and given them food and a place to sleep.

He looked over and saw his two-month-old daughter sleeping in the arms of his wife. They both looked peaceful, safe in their rest. Rest provided by the King.

Jomas wondered, was there enemy nearby? Perhaps they were, just outside the camp walls. He felt that they were. Maybe, if he walked in the right direction, he would be in the enemy camp in just a few minutes.

Maybe they were close, but it didn’t matter. For he and his family was in the middle of a fortified army camp. And to get anywhere near his daughter, an enemy soldier would have to get through dozens, perhaps hundreds of the Kings guards.

He leaned over and opened the flap of the tent. In the torchlight, ten feet away, two soldiers stood guard. They looked alert and able, sharp and serious. As the young father stared, one of the guards looked his way, nodded and said, “Sir.”

Jomas nodded back, let the tent flap fall back in place and laid down again. Soon he, too, was sleeping, looking peaceful and at rest.

In the middle of the next morning, Jomas and his wife and daughter were sitting at table in the large pavilion where the army’s commander was housed.

“And now, young Jomas,” the commander was saying, “I would like to know how we can help you further.”

“Well, I do have a request.”

“Yes?”

“I know that you – you and all your soldiers serve and fight for the King. The Great King.”

“Yes, you are correct.”

“I would like to go to castle of this king and see his home. I would like to live there – me with my family. I would like to serve this King.”

The commander smiled.

“Yes, we can make that happen.”

Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.

One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

The enemy might be nearby, but you are safe in the shelter God provides.

What does God protect you from?

Other passages to consider: Hebrews 11:13-14,16

Click here to see more of these stories and why I wrote them.

Intro, Why I wrote these stories, and a list of all the stories

Read this to your kids.

Psalm 91:3–4 – Snare

The young bird knew he was in trouble.

Only days ago, he’d learned how to fly, and indeed, his flight was seen by eyes that thought that he was enjoying his time in the air – soaring high and diving low – for hours.

But here he was, caught in the trap. He’d seen the squirrel crawling around on the high rock point and the temptation was too great. There was warning in his mind as he flew down and landed close to it. It could be food. It could be easy food. He hadn’t stopped to consider why this prey was wandering around in the open for any eagle to take. And then he’d stepped where he shouldn’t have and now there was a cord, tight around his left foot – he could go nowhere.

So he was trapped, and he was in trouble. He wanted to fly, but he couldn’t even take more than a few steps. He cried out. He cried out again.

And then his heart started beating faster as he saw a larger creature – one with only two legs and no wings. It was further down, lower on the rock formation. It was climbing up – moving towards him. He didn’t know what to do – he cried again.

And then a stick flew up next to him and clattered on the rock, missing him by only inches. Another stick missed him again, now on the other side. The eagle was able to move two or three feet and get behind a rock.

He cried again. And again. He was trapped and something – the walking thing which was a danger, was moving closer to him. The sticks stopped coming, but he heard the walking thing moving closer. The eagle felt it would be there soon.

But then heard something – something above him – and he changed his gaze from looking down to looking up. His father was flying down – landing next to him. And then his father’s
larger, sharper beak was eating at the cord, ripping at it, chewing on it.

And the climbing sounds of the walker was getting closer.

But … then … his foot was free! The young eagle followed his father up and up and up. More flying sticks came, but they all missed, though some were close.

And as they flew – the young eagle sensed it – storm coming. Wind and rain. Perhaps worse. And almost as soon as he sensed it, the wind blew strong. Flying was hampered, then difficult, then treacherous. He needed shelter.

The young eagle screeched, but the father was near and gave guidance and support.

And then they were there – the large nest. Big enough for father and mother and son. And just in time. The wind got strong and the rain started.

The young eagle knew what to do. He got low in the nest and was still and small. And then he felt his father’s wings coming over him, covering him, protecting him. Giving him refuge from the storm.

He could hear the wind and every once in a while, he felt a drop. But he was safe. He didn’t screech anymore. His heart beat more slowly. He calmed down. He was at peace.

[3] For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
[4] He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. (ESV)

In our God, we have a protector who can pull you from the trap. Escape with Him. Fly with Him. Stay with Him.

What are the snares in your life?

Other passages to consider: Psalm 57:1

Click here to see more of these stories and why I wrote them.

Intro, Why I wrote these stories, and a list of all the stories

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Psalm 5:11–12 – Storm
Theremy was alone. He was crying. He was four years old. He was lost.

He didn’t know that his family was looking for him. And relatives and neighbors.

He didn’t know that his oldest brother had run all the way to Grandpa’s home to ask him to search.

And his family didn’t know that two hours earlier, Theremy had left his home to find his Grandpa, to try to tell about their new puppy. It had been very important to tell Grandpa about the new puppy.

They did know that he didn’t know how to make it to Grandpa’s house all by himself. And now Theremy knew this as well.

He’d followed the trail but there had been turning points and more than once he hadn’t chosen the right path. And now he wasn’t really on a path at all.

But one thing he knew, at least a little, was that it was getting cloudy. And cooler. And he guessed that it was going to rain. And he guessed that it might rain hard.

Grandpa also guessed that it might rain hard as well. He was searching the hills. He was searching through the paths. He was calling out the name of Theremy.

Theremy saw a garden right around the time that he felt the first drop. He looked up and another drop pelted him in the face and joined the tears streaming down. He looked back down the hill at the garden. Was it his Grandfather’s?

He didn’t know it, but it was. But what if it was a stranger’s? He didn’t know what to do.

And then it was raining harder and he saw that his shirt was getting wet. And the wind was picking up. And the clouds were getting darker.

And then he heard the most pleasing sound he’d ever heard in his whole life. He heard his Grandfather yelling his name.

“Theremy, there you are!”

“Grandpa! I didn’t know where to go!”

“That is okay, dear Grandson. I do.”

“I was trying to find you!”

“I know. You did.  You’re found now.”

“I’m getting wet!”

And then a big wind gust almost knocked Theremy over.

Grandpa took his hand. “We need to get shelter. Please run with me.”

And they did. But soon, too soon, it was hailing.

“We need closer shelter,” said his Grandfather, thinking, searching. “Here we are.”

They came to a wheelbarrow, and Grandpa threw it sideways so all the dirt fell out. And then he turned it over.  And he said, “Let’s get underneath.”

They did. And soon Theremy was safe under the wheelbarrow. He sat on his Grandfather’s lap and he looked up to see Grandpa holding it up over them.

“I’m glad it’s so big!”

“Me, too.”

They heard the banging of the hail against metal. It was scary. He saw the hail bouncing on the grass near them. But Theremy was in Grandpa’s lap. And Grandpa was speaking calmly. “Hail storms are usually pretty short.”

He was right. Soon it was over. And Grandfather was lifting up the wheelbarrow and soon Theremy could see the sun piercing the clouds.  They picked up some of the hail. It was big in Theremy’s hand. But it couldn’t hurt him now.

They walked to Grandpa’s home. There they got on the big horse and rode to Theremy’s house.

His family was very happy to see him safe and happy.

Theremy thanked his Grandpa. “Thank you for finding me and holding it over me.”

“You are very welcome. Now … let’s see this puppy.”

But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
     let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
     that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
    you cover him with favor as with a shield.

We are a people who need protection. We need God to shield us from harm.

Our God is a God who wants to do that.

What is the storm in your life?

Click here to see more of these stories and why I wrote them.

Intro, Why I wrote these stories, and a list of all the stories

Read this to your kids.

Psalm 46:1–3 – Quake

Diana and Thema were sisters who liked to play on the grassy field near their home. Their home was a cottage that was near a cliff that overlooked a bay. The bay was beautiful, but the young ladies were forbidden from getting too close to the edge of the cliff. It was perilous.

Diana was the older and today she was teaching four-year-old Thema about the different kinds of plants and flowers near the cliff that overlooked the sea near their village.

“Why does the goat frown at us?” asked Thema, distracted from the plant that Diana was describing.
Diana frowned herself, slightly disappointed that Thema wasn’t totally focused on what she was saying. “There are no goats around right now – they are all at pasture.”

“No, the Rock Goat!” she said, pointing out across the bay. Diana chuckled. Months earlier, Thema had declared that the forty-foot rock formation high on the other side of the bay looked like the face of a goat. Diana had immediately seen the likeness and agreed. So that what their family had called it all summer.

But now in the cooler days of Autumn, Diana stood up and stared out across the bay. They were on a hill and she was able to see the waves crashing against the rocks at the foot of the cliff, a hundred feet below the cliff. The waves were big today.

“That’s how it’s looked for years – maybe he’s frustrated that he can’t sleep in our cozy home and has to just stand there in the rain.

She pointed out the waves to Diana, who agreed – yes, they were very big, and then she added “but they will never touch the Goat!”

“No, they won’t!”

And they walked down the hill away from the cliff and towards different plants.

A few minutes later, she was encouraging Thema to smell the pungent aroma of a tall plant with sharp leaves when the ground started shaking. They almost lost their balance.

It stopped, things were still and the two sisters looked at each other, stunned and relieved that the tremors hadn’t lasted long. Diana saw confusion on Thema’s face. The older sister remembered tremors, but that was years ago, and Thema was an infant.

But then the ground started shaking again.
As the tremors grew, Diana saw Thema’s look of confusion change to fear and then terror.

“Why is the ground shaking?” she yelled. They both lost their balance and fell to the grass.

They both screamed as the trees began to fall. And they ran – towards home.

But not all the way. Thema didn’t like this, but Diana knew what to do. They must get to the refuge. They must get away from the cliff and onto the flat overlook rock.

Diana had been six when her father had taught her, “It has taken us centuries, but we’ve learned over the years that there is one safe place in an earthquake. Your great uncle died when a tree fell on him, but there are no trees near the flat rock. My grandmother’s sister died young when she was thrown from a cliff, but the flat rock is some distance from the sea. “

It wasn’t far – a five minutes’ walk from the cottage. And it would be a shorter trek, since they were running. But they kept losing their footing. And sometimes Thema would stop in horror at what she was seeing and hearing. This was reasonable – she was only four and there was great noise in the destruction and debris and dust flying.

At one point, a crack in the ground opened in front of them. But now they could see the flat rock – their end goal – and people standing on it, calling out to them.

Diana guided Thema around the opening and they ran up and in. Soon their uncle made their way back to them and picked up Thema and they, finally, made it to the flat rock.

There they found their parents. Their mother had been had been at the well and was relieved to see them. She cried as she embraced them. Their father had been shepherding the goats and he put his arms around his whole family.

There was another earth shake and they sat down. Diana could feel that the rock was indeed more stable. She looked around at their surroundings.

She looked towards the forest. Many trees were down.
She looked towards the sea. The water was rolling and crashing.
She looked across the bay. There was destruction happening on the cliffs.

“Diana, look!” her sister was saying, “Look at the Goat Rock!”
And as Diana looked, the frowning formation crumbled and fell in pieces into the water below. The waves churned at the impact of the tumbling boulders.

“My Daughters,” said Father, “We sit near destruction, but we do not need to be afraid. We are on the flat rock, which will stand through the ages. We are safe here.”

Diana could see that parts of their home were not intact any more. She didn’t know how long that would take to fix. She didn’t know the future. But she knew that they would be safe on this rock.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

In our God, we had a safe place that will keep us from falling, even though the mountains (and everything else) around us is crumbling.

What do you need an unshakable place for?

Click here to see more of these stories and why I wrote them.

1. The Army
2. Quake
3. The Storm
4. Snare
5. Army Camp
6. Thirst
7. Poverty

Allegory Story Introduction – Why I Wrote These

“They don’t care about towers.”

That was my realization, as I was teaching our Wednesday night Kindergarten/First Grade class about Proverbs 18:10. It made sense – they had no conception of towers as an application into their life. None of them had ever needed to go into a tower to be safe. None of them had every been given security by running into a fortress.

So I decided to tell them a quick story – “Okay, imagine if …” – about a child, maybe around their age was running from an enemy (or a wild animal? I hadn’t planned it out very well). As I described the danger, I became aware of something interesting – the whole class was quiet, and their eyes were focused on me. I imagine that you can guess – it’s a rare thing to have 30 six and seven-year-olds sitting still and listening. And then I told them about the child running into a fortress, provided by the King. I pressed in on how the walls of the tower made the child feel safe.

And then, as I was finishing the story, I knew something else:

“They don’t know they need a tower.”

But now, I had their attention. And I could tell them that all of them – in fact, every person – is like that young girl who cannot protect herself from the danger. And that led right into the gospel, and why we all need a tower, provided by the King, to save us. And what is the tower?

The Word of God uses a lot of allegories and similes and sometimes we can fly by them and not let them empty into our lives, our situation, our status. This is especially true of children, who might often think the stories are about adults or for older people. And here’s where stories can help.

Stories can bring us emotion and connection and highlight need. Stories can help us connect with truth as told by God’s authors in His Word. That’s what I’m trying to do in this book of stories.

I don’t mean for these to be stories for parents or stories for children. I mean for them to be stories that parents read to their children.

Intro and why I wrote these stories

Read this to your kids.

Proverbs 18:10 – The Army

Pedro was walking near his home, on his way home from his apprenticeship training – he was learning how to work with leather. The walk was on a familiar path that he’d taken, by himself many times. And it had always been a safe road.

But he knew he was in trouble when he saw the army. He’d rounded a corner and then jumped back – throwing himself to the ground. They were still at quite a distance, he saw as he peeked around a tree, still laying on his stomach. Still far, but they were not walking with secrecy – they were coming brashly with some speed. He immediately recognized it as the enemy, the enemy army with its yellow and red banner.

His father had told him that there might be a day when they would hear the trumpet blast and there might be a great threat from this army. They were ruthless. They went from town to town destroying. Pedro’s family knew people who had been killed.

He could hear them laughing harsh laughs. Had they seen him? He feared they had. With relief, he saw that the army was at a crossroads and was heading down the road – not towards him.

But then he spotted an officer calling some mounted men. And Pedro saw this officer point towards him. And then the men kicked at their horses and rode at a gallop straight towards him.

He’d been told what to do if he learned that this army was near their village. He ran. He ran back to town, but not by the road. He headed away from the road, through the woods, woods thick enough – he hoped the branches would hinder the horses.

He ran – his goal was not far, but it was too far. Soon he could hear the horses and they must have been able to determine his direction. Should he have hidden? No, he knew where he needed to go.

He ran – and soon his lungs were hurting and there was blood on his face from being scratched by the pine branches he ducked through.

He ran – and the horses’ footfalls grew louder, and he heard harsh voices “There he is!” And now there were arrows whizzing past him.

And then he was in the open, out of the woods and he saw his goal – a wall, a strong wall with high turrets, with the King’s banner flying. He knew it would be there and he was glad to see it. There were men on the top of the wall and they were yelling for someone to open the door for him – a door he also knew would be there.

And the door was opened as he ran – not very wide, but wide enough.

He slipped through. The guards shut the door. There was the sound of arrows banging against the door and bouncing off.

And then his saw his family in the crowd that had gathered there. They embraced. They smiled.
He was loved inside the tower. The tower builder was inside. The enemy was outside and couldn’t hurt him or his family. He was safe.

[10] The name of the LORD is a strong tower;
the righteous man runs into it and is safe. (ESV)

In our God, we have a place of safety from evil attackers. Safety from eternal harm. Safety from beings who want to destroy us. God protects us, always.

What can God protect you from?

Other passages to consider: Psalm 60:4

Click here to see more stories and why I wrote them.

Dads, at your next meal, ask one of your kids to pray.

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