GrowingForChrist

Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Book Crash Review: Catbird Singing (Amish Horses Series Book II) by Thomas Nye


About the Book:

Lenny Gingerich leaves the interstate during a storm and finds himself 100 years in the past, or so it seems. An accident leaves him stranded on an Amish farm. Within days, he is driving a six-horse hitch and caught up in an old-fashioned love triangle. Bishop Mose tells Lenny to stay away from the girls, but try as he might, that is not easy. Lenny and his sidekick, a dog named Russell, both have a knack for getting themselves into trouble and everything becomes a tangled mess. While farming with horses, Lenny hears a catbird singing beautiful spring songs, which turn into an annoying meow as summer heats up. Life becomes difficult for a young man who doesn’t understand catbirds or Amish girls.

You can purchase your own copy at CrossLink Publishing.

My Opinion:

I had never heard of Thomas Nye before seeing this book come through an email for review, since it was Amish fiction, I requested it and then realized it was the second in a series so off to the library I went. Thankfully, I was able to locate a copy of the first book and read that before this one arrived which was a great thing as it really can’t stand alone. Some books can, but it really helped that I read the first book, Under the Heavens, because Catbird Singing picks up about two years after the first book and most of the characters in Catbird Singing are introduced in the first book. I want to say I loved this book, but I can’t – I liked it but it was hard to get through, there were a lot of descriptions that could have been omitted as they didn’t really make the story more interesting and the conversations seemed stilted between the characters. I’m not sure if this was supposed to be a young adult book or not, but it seems like it could have been although my 13 year old daughter might have been bored with it had she an interest in Amish fiction.

I didn’t love this book, but I did enjoy it – it is set in an Amish community in Iowa, which was different for me as the books I read set the Amish communities in Pennsylvania or Ohio. There wasn’t much in the way of lifestyle which was nice, since most Amish fiction readers know quite a bit about the Amish faith but it really was a book written from a teen boy’s view of the world, and outsider who happens to have Amish relatives and a way with horses. I must say that I do look forward to reading Thomas Nye’s next book in the series as I’m intrigued by Lenny and whether he’ll decide to become Amish and get his Amish girl or stay English and go to college. Overall, it was a good, simple read – it didn’t have any type of mystery or real suspense – and I’d definitely recommend it to someone who enjoys Amish fiction but wants to get away from the typical Amish fiction that saturates the market today.

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Family Christian: Matt Redman Unbroken Praise CD (review and giveaway)


I’m always on the look out for new albums to listen to in the car while we’re doing our many driving errands during the day, so when I had the chance to receive Matt Redman’s CD, Unbroken Praise, I knew I had to jump on it. Unbroken Praise has 11 tracks on it and you can listen to samples of them by following the link above to the Family Christian product page. While I enjoy all the songs on the album I have to say, “It Is Well With My Soul”, is probably my favorite. All the tracks are recorded live, so I know that may not appeal to everyone, however the sound quality is great and the applause of the audience is usually at the beginning and the end, not in the middle as I’ve heard some live tracks do.

Also normally, when I’m driving I like fast, upbeat music, however I also like being able to just get in the moment and get my praise on – even if that means stares from other drivers, or my children. It’s not so slow that I’ll go to sleep but not so fast that you feel like your at a rock concert – there is a time for each style. You’ll find the following tracks on the album:

  1. Louder
  2. It Is Well With My Soul
  3. Flames
  4. Unbroken Praise
  5. Abide With Me
  6. King Of My Soul
  7. Songs In The Night
  8. No One Like Our God
  9. The Awesome God You Are
  10. No Longer I
  11. Majesty Of The Most High

Whether you just want to get your praise on in the car or in the house this is a great CD to do that, Matt Redman has a wonderful voice and the music is one that you can sing along to, even if you think you can’t sing, the Lord loves a joyful noise! I know this album will be in my music rotation in my car for a long, long time especially with a long drive coming up to visit some friends, I’ll be able to sing along without getting put to sleep and also give the Lord praises for our safe traveling mercies. Truly, this is a wonderful CD and I do encourage those who like Matt Redman or just want a contemporary twist on some old favorites to get their own copy.

Giveaway!!!

Contest is open to U.S. Residents ages 18 and older, void where prohibited. Winner must respond to the email I sent within 24 hours or a new winner will be selected. Winner will be randomly selected via Rafflecopter. Easiest way will be to right click and open in a new tab. Ends 9/3/15

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Get Access to Every ‘Adventures in Odyssey’ Episode Ever!


It’s August, which means it’s nearly time for your kids to pack up their pencils, zip up their backpacks, and hop on the school bus. Aside from prepping them for their new teachers, new classes, or maybe even a new school, it’s important to prep their faith. Sign your whole family up for Adventures in Odyssey‘s Odyssey Adventure Club for a special price of $9.99/month. The club is an essential tool to teach your children to share their faith at school, to be bold, and to grow in their relationship with God.

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Join during the month of August for $9.99/month, and you’ll receive these benefits for being a member:

  • Unlimited streaming of Adventures in Odyssey library (800 episodes) retail value over $1,500 USD
  • New monthly exclusive episodes
  • Monthly Web Quests
  • Monthly Clubhouse magazine subscription (U.S. Residents Only)
  • Daily devotions based on Adventures in Odyssey episodes
  • OAC monthly member newsletter
  • OAC exclusive video stories
  • Animated Odyssey videos, Last Chance Detectives, and more!

Spend the last few weeks of summer vacation with your kids listening to Adventures in Odyssey episodes and build their faith!

Ready to join? Head over to the website and sign up today!

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BookLook Review: All You Want to KNow About the Bible in Pop Culture by Kevin Harvey


About the Book:

Somehow, it’s hard to picture pop culture and Christianity going hand-in-hand, but maybe we simply aren’t looking at things the right way. All You Want to Know About the Bible in Pop Culture reveals places where readers may be surprised to find redeeming values and gospel messages in today’s movies, music, popular TV shows, and much more!

When you look closely, past the outrageous outfits and the antics of teen pop-sensations, it’s easy to see that from the big screen to the small screen and right down to the radio waves, God and His stories are still prevalent in pop culture today. There are movies and television shows that speak eternal truth, reality show families who represent believers well, even fictional Christians portrayed in a positive light. And if you listen closely, musicians are still conversing with God as the original songwriters of the Bible did. For the reader searching for meaning in media today, All You Want to Know About the Bible in Pop Culture is the perfect choice.

Features include:

Fun Bible-based facts and trivia questions
Examples of biblical messages from current TV shows, films, and pop songs
A casual and engaging resource

You may purchase a copy at Faith Gateway.

My Opinion:

Now I’ll admit I requested this book more for my oldest than myself, but I knew I had to read it and so I did – I don’t usually try to find Jesus or Biblical themes in everything I watch or listen to. I know that if I’m watching say, CSI, more than likely it’s not going to have a Christian theme, if it does it’s usually Christians being made fun of, or if I listen to KISS more than likely there isn’t going to be much God talk. I think though, for our younger culture who is very much into the movies and even being able to personally interact with celebrities on social media that knowing how to see God in EVERYTHING is worth knowing. Kevin, the author draws parallels to some famous superheroes and other modern, well known celebrities or fictional characters and he does a good job at it (although I don’t recommend reading it late at night or you may not get much out of it).

For my children and I the favorite parts of the book were the quizzes at the end of certain chapters and games like the mazes or cross words – we did the quizzes at night in our cabin during our church’s family camp. Some of the choices were funny, like Alf was mentioned as a choice and we all laughed at that while some had us needing to grab our Bibles and re-read the account and were left in awe by what we had forgotten or not learned. I also enjoyed learning that some of our rote sayings like “escape by the skin of his teeth” was actually in the Bible and is attributed to Job – it makes our phrases take on a whole new meaning when one can see that they come from great men and/or women of the Bible. A great read for adults and while not all quiz questions were suitable for my now 9 year old, it was easy to skip them and include the whole family in on their Bible knowledge!

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

I review for BookLook Bloggers

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Happy 9th Birthday to my Son


My son’s first happy meal – he was so funny!

This day nine years ago I was at the hospital early with my husband and our two girls, waiting for the pitocin to kick and walking the halls. My little man entered the world several hours later and captured my heart. Much like daughters do to their dads, this little man won me over – my worries over what to do with a boy gone. I had a son. You can read the birth story.

My son grocery shopping at a near by children’s science museum.

I cannot believe he’s 9! It’s been a rough few months – he is the one who found Don but thankfully he didn’t realize at first, he just thought dad was still asleep but had had an accident. It’s hard to be a mom who doesn’t know what it will be like to be a teen boy in a few years and all that comes along with it.  I know that the Lord will be with us, just as He got me through the potty training and getting used to having a son He’ll get me through being a widowed mom of a boy.

Yes, those are his shorts on his head. He still makes me laugh with his silly antics.

He laughs at farts and tells gross jokes – he reminds me of my husband in that way not to mention he looks like him too. He’s a yellow belt in karate and tests again on the 30th for his next belt, I think it’s an orange with white stripe. The dojo he’s been at now for about 4 years has become like an extended family. He took a boys hip hop class last year and really enjoyed it too, unfortunately it’s been discontinued.

With his umbrella he painted in a College for Kids summer class back in 2012.

As soon as his eyes open in the morning he is ready to go, go, go – while he still has a temper (comes by it honestly) he is also the sweetest little boy. If I’m feeling sick he makes me get well cards and draws me pictures. He still likes to watch Ben 10, even though it’s no longer ‘popular’. He enjoys going to Sunday School and Junior Church. He is doing better with reading and I can see him conquering it very soon! Some days are hard, as being a mom can be, but in the end when we’re snuggled on the couch or in the bed reading a book it’s so worth it. Happy 9th Birthday to my little guy, to my son.

(c) 2015, Sarah Bailey/Growing for Christ, All Rights Reserved, Unauthorized Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws

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Blogging for Books: Effortless Healing 9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Fix Itself by Dr. Joseph Mercola


About the Book:

Do you have to tell your leg to heal from a scrape? Your lungs to take in air? Your body that it’s hungry? No. Your body does these things automatically, effortlessly. Vibrant health is your birthright and within your grasp; you just have to step out of the way. In Effortless Healing, online health pioneer, natural medicine advocate, and bestselling author Dr. Joseph Mercola reveals the nine simple secrets to a healthier, thinner you. The results are amazing and the steps can be as easy to implement as:

· Throwing ice cubes in your water to make it more “structured”
· Skipping breakfast, as it could be making you fat
· Eating up to 75 percent of your calories each day in fat for optimal health, reduction of heart disease, and cancer prevention
· Avoiding certain meat and fish, but enjoying butter
· Eating sauerkraut (and other fermented foods) to improve your immune system and your mood
· Walking barefoot outside to decrease system-wide inflammation (and because it just feels great)
· Enjoying a laugh: it’s as good for your blood vessels as fifteen minutes of exercise

Effortless Healing is the distillation of decades of Dr. Mercola’s experience and cutting-edge medical knowledge. With his wisdom and that of your body, you can optimize your health, your weight, and your life…effortlessly.

You can purchase a copy at Penguin Random House.

My Opinion:

I’m trying to get healthier and I know many rave about Dr. Mercola so having a chance to get this book for free to review piqued my interested. It was a very easy read – took maybe two days to fully read the book in it’s entirety and the concepts weren’t hard to grasp but it may take another reading and note taking to fully implement some of the ideas. I’ll admit some of the ideas I already knew such as low carb, good fats can aid in weight loss and health benefits, cutting out sugars and sodas and drinking water are all common knowledge. I don’t plan however to go out and purchase the reverse osmosis filters for my house or my shower – the expense I would occur is not in the budget of this widowed mom. Actually, I guess, now that I think about it almost everything in the book is common knowledge but Dr. Mercola explains why certain things have health aspects like why laughing for 15 minutes is a good exercise.

While you won’t find me ‘grounding’ anytime soon – with high arches, plantar fasciitis and heel spurs going barefoot for any length of time is enough to have my feet in pain the rest of the day. However, I’ve already eliminated using sunscreen on the children and I, although if we’re out say at the zoo I may opt for some once our skin starts to turn a bit pink. As I said most of the book is common knowledge, but I’d never heard of structured water before and not sure if I’ll ever get around to that, but I would like to find a way to make non-molding sauerkraut at home. The only part of the book that really bothered me is the part that talks about (briefly) the health benefits of sex, however it’s stressed as safe sex, not within the confines of being married or in a monogamous relationship – that was disappointing as quick hook ups have an emotional toll which can affect one physically. I think this book is a great idea started for those who need a quick way to get started on better health and maybe even weight loss and help with what may reverse some chronic health conditions.

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Litfuse Publicity: Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor by Melanie Dobson


About the Book:

When Heather Toulson returns to her parents’ cottage in the English countryside, she uncovers long-hidden secrets about her family history and stumbles onto the truth about a sixty-year-old murder.

Libby, a free spirit who can’t be tamed by her parents, finds solace with her neighbor Oliver, the son of Lord Croft of Ladenbrooke Manor. Libby finds herself pregnant and alone when her father kicks her out and Oliver mysteriously drowns in a nearby river. Though theories spread across the English countryside, no one is ever held responsible for Oliver’s death.

Sixty years later, Heather Toulson, returning to her family’s cottage in the shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor, is filled with mixed emotions. She’s mourning her father’s passing but can’t let go of the anger and resentment over their strained relationship. Adding to her confusion, Heather has an uneasy reunion with her first love, all while sorting through her family’s belongings left behind in the cottage. What she uncovers will change everything she thought she knew about her family’s history.

Award-winning author Melanie Dobson seamlessly weaves the past and present together, fluidly unraveling the decades-old mystery and reveals how the characters are connected in shocking ways.

Set in a charming world of thatched cottages, lush gardens, and lovely summer evenings, this romantic and historical mystery brings to light the secrets and heartaches that have divided a family for generations.

Find out how to buy your copy here.

About the Author:

Melanie Dobson is the award-winning author of thirteen historical romance, suspense, and contemporary novels. Two of her novels won Carol Awards in 2011, and Love Finds You in Liberty, Indiana won Best Novel of Indiana in 2010. Melanie lives with her husband Jon and two daughters near Portland, Oregon.

You can visit Melanie at her website, Facebook and Twitter.

My Opinion:

Not often does a book keep me up all night, however Shadows of Ladenbrooke Manor did and it was well worth the lack of sleep that I had to go through the next day! I think I’ve seen this type of book referred to as a time slip book, meaning that at one moment the reader is in the year 1954 and then the next the reader is transported back to the present day (of course this isn’t the only book to use these feature), and thankfully it was quite easy to follow along and know when the switch was coming. There is a thread of generational sins when Libby’s mom becomes pregnant out of wedlock and then the same happens for Libby – I don’t want to give a lot away but the healing and reconciliation in the book is so inspiring as is the growing faith of all the characters involved.

When the book transported me to 1954 I could feel myself becoming one with the English sea side village and then the countryside, Melanie’s use of desciptors made me feel like I was there or could jump through the pages and be there. I could sense the fear, the animosity, and ultimately the love that wove themselves through the families in the story – while not everything works out with a positive ending for us in the real world – sometimes it’s nice to escape into one where it’s all neatly tied up in the end. What kept me up though at nice was the mystery that Melanie expertly wove into the story as well as the difficulties Libby’s parents experienced with what we would now associate with autism. It all wove perfectly together and created a beautiful story.

If you’d like to see what other bloggers thought, please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.

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Litfuse Publicity: Beyond the Ashes (Book 2 in The Golden Gate Chronicles) by Karen Barnett


About the Book:

“Tis better to have loved and lost…,” but can Ruby Marshall risk her heart a second time?

Where better to rebuild and face one’s fears than in 1906 San Francisco, a city rising from the ashes? Ruby Marshall, a young widow, is certain she’ll discover new purpose assisting her brother Robert with his cancer research, but she doesn’t anticipate finding new love.

Dr. Gerald Larkspur dreams of filling his empty home with family, but he’d always hoped it would be a wife and children. In the aftermath of the great earthquake, the rooms are overflowing with extended family and friends left homeless by the disaster. When Robert’s widowed sister arrives, the close quarters seem close indeed. Ruby and Gerald’s fledgling romance is put at risk when Gerald develops symptoms of the very disease they’re striving to cure. Together they must ask—is it worth a second chance at love when time might be short?

You can purchase your copy here.

About the Author:

Karen Barnett is the author of Mistaken and several articles that have been published by Guideposts and other national magazines. She lives in Albany, Oregon, with her husband, two children, and three cats.

You can find her on her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

My Opinion:

I had the pleasure of reading the first book, Out of the Ruins, which was fantastic but I think I enjoyed Beyond the Ashes even more. Maybe because I could empathize with Ruby in the fact that she lost her husband, suddenly and unexpectedly, at a young age even though she had no children with him. She arrives to help her brother, who she doesn’t realize is engaged to Abby, the young woman from the last book, and thinks she should just go back home and life a life as the widow Marshall. Her brother and his partner convince her stay, even with the unfavorable living circumstances they are forced to live as the city rebuilds. Ruby is afraid, she wants a comfortable life with no unknowns so driving a car or even a street car is enough to send her running, I know that fear too – paying the bills for the first time, going on a long vacation with just myself and the children. Her life has expanded and opens up new experiences – and she struggles with the Lord in why the senseless loss of her husband.

The characters seem so real, even as they live their lives, we can feel their feelings – Abby’s elation over her impending nuptials, Ruby’s hesitancy to enter into a new relationship, As the book progresses we see Ruby develop from a woe-is-me widow into a woman who becomes her own woman, with or without a man in her life. Working as a nurse in the hospital with her brother and his partner and volunteering in the tent camps for those who lost everything but can’t afford to rebuild, she blossoms. She eventually realizes what the Lord has in store for her but only after she turns her whole life over to Him, which was one of her struggles when she first arrived in San Francisco, she didn’t want a God who would take a loved one, but she realizes there is much in store for her life than just being a widow. I do suggest you read the first book first so it all flows together and you’re in for a real treat when you read Beyond the Ashes.

If you’d like to see what other bloggers thought please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.

Beyond the Ashes Karen Barnett

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Litfuse Publicity: Summer’s List by Anita Higman


About the Book:

A dying wish alters the course of a young woman’s life.

Life hadn’t been easy for Summer Snow. In acts of selflessness—caring for her ailing parents and running her grandmother’s bookstore—she had forfeited her youth and dreams for the needs of others. And the only tries she had at love . . . didn’t turn out. She had the bookstore, she had her beloved granny, but she was missing something—or someone.

Opportunity strikes when Granny sends Summer on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer’s past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?

Purchase a copy on Anita’s website.

About the Author:

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends.

You can also find Anita on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

My Opinion:

I’m not sure why I keep picking the sad books lately, maybe it’s because it’s where my heart is or because it gives me the freedom to cry without having to explain myself? Anyway, Summer’s List, was an awesome book – while I knew it would be a romance type book, it was the mushy, doe eyed romance that I’ve read in the past and I’m thankful for that. It was also a quick read, which was great for this busy mom who barely has time to read anymore. Summer Snow receives the news that her beloved Grandma is dying and it could be soon so Grandma gives her a list – a list so she can live, thrive but first she has to find Martin Langtree. Of course, Grandma has found him for her. There are adventures to be hard, mysteries to be solved and a love to be rekindled.

I admit I was worried at first that the whole story would just be a watered down, mushy romance but it far exceeded my expectations and I’m so glad that I read it because it was so real. The characters emotions were real, including Summer’s need for seclusion after her Grandma’s passing and her pushing those who wanted to help her away. I can sympathize. Normally, I don’t cry over a fictional book, but this book had me needing tissues because it was so real and I could feel Summer’s raw emotions coming off the page. The love of Martin also shines through and then reconciliation after a mystery had been solved also just jumped from the pages and shows how God weaves through each of our lives even when we aren’t aware.

If you’d like to see what other bloggers thought please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.

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Litfuse Publicity: Called to be Amish by Marlene C. Miller


About the Book:

Fewer than one hundred outsiders have joined the Old-Order Amish—and stayed—since 1950. Marlene C. Miller is one of them. In this rare memoir, Marlene recounts her unhappy and abusive childhood, how she throws herself into cheerleading and marching band, and how she falls in love with Johnny, the gentle young Amish man who helps her lace her ice skates.

Against the wishes of both sets of parents, Marlene and Johnny get married and begin a family. Follow the author on this unusual journey to find out how God’s love called her out of bitterness and depression and into the warm embrace of her new Amish community.

Accompany her as she dons an Amish dress and prayer covering and gets baptized. Learn how she endures the strain of ten children, a hundred-acre farm, and accidents and tragedy, and find out how she comes close to walking away from it all. Turning Amish has proven to be anything but plain and simple for this former majorette. But nearly fifty years later, Marlene is still living out God’s call as an Old Order Amish woman.

You may purchase a copy at Herald Press.

About the Author:

Marlene C. Miller joined the Amish as an adult and has been a member of the Old Order Amish for almost 50 years. She and her husband of 48 years live on a farm in Ohio surrounded by their nine children, more than 40 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

My Opinion:

There was a time that I tried convince my husband that we should become Amish, maybe not Old Order as the author of this book is, but at least New Order. He shot me down – told me he’d tried to grow a beard and couldn’t and he had no interest in being a farmer. So that was that, I never did become Amish and now while I still respect their beliefs I’m glad for it, the Lord has me where he wants me but I still enjoy reading about the Amish whether through works of fiction or in this case an autobiography. Marlene walks us through her growing up years, years in which she grew up very, very poor and abused at the hands of those who were supposed to love and care for her. She had some good times but she longed to get away from her home so she became heavily involved in marching band becoming the head majorette. Ice skating one winter is when she met and eventually married Johnny Miller, an young Amish man who was living in the English world.

Marlene’s books tells me I’d probably love to sit with her and chat, she seems very down to earth and realizes that the Lord doesn’t want everyone that follows Him to be Amish. Her ‘kitchen sink conversion’ was hers alone and the Lord led her and Johnny to join and return to the Amish community and be reconciled to his parents. Being an Amish farmer’s wife with many children wasn’t easy, especially when her husband had to take on other jobs to support their growing family, but as she says if she’d known what the Lord had in store she’d probably not have gone Amish. I agree with her – if I had known what the Lord had in store for me these last few months would I still wanted to have loved and been married? Her doubts are honest and her fears real, but she always goes back to the One who can comfort and calm and that is where she and I get our strength.

This was a fast read and even includes some pictures from Marlene’s child hood and teen years and some of her children before she and her husband became members of the Amish community. Her book reads like you’re sitting with her on the sofa and just chatting like old friends. She is honest about her feelings and her fears both as she strives for four years to be accepted and baptized Amish and even then after – her struggles of being a mom, farmer’s wife and so much more. If you want an honest glimpse of Amish life coming from one who used to be English then this book is a great one, with honesty and faith Marlene tells her story of a little girl lost and becoming a woman found.

If you’d like to see what other bloggers thought please visit the Litfuse Landing Page.

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