Addiction – Hidden Secrets – Flying with the Dragon

Hidden Secrets - Flying with the Dragon

Addiction doesn’t come in single file; it contains multiple elements!  As a result, the life-sucking tentacles of addiction sink deep and hold fiercely. Nonetheless, addictions can be broken.

I see the devastation of addictions on individuals and their families on a weekly basis. The visibly obvious comes in the form of chemical addictions to alcohol or drugs. With increasing regularity however, it is those entangled in the bondage of sexual addiction who sit before me with downward gaze.

Conservative figures record 48% of women and 78% of men battle this dragon. It is a battle originating from hell’s deepest recesses.

Marriage

Addictions create a threefold cord that is difficult to break over the mind, the body and the soul.

Difficult?
Yes!
Impossible?
No!

I have been on this battle ground with sexual addiction in my home, family, church and community for decades. It is a battle worth fighting! It is a battle worth winning!

It is a battle worth fighting! It is a battle worth winning! Click To Tweet

A Parable

In a faraway kingdom a quest was in progress to capture the great dragon that was attacking villages by night with fiery fierceness. The King’s own son was sent out to find and subdue the dragon.

Dragon Hunter

When all alone, the prince came upon the sleeping beast. The prince found it difficult to envision this placid creature as the man-slayer the King described.

The dragon spoke first, “I’m not as fierce as the King has said. As a matter of fact, quite the opposite! I am the one to set you free. Come for one flight with me and I will show you.”

The prince was uncertain and confused. He knew he should be more cautious than he was now feeling.

“Sit upon my back and I will take you to unbelievable places. I will give you your heart’s desire.”

The prince instinctively knew he should not trust the beast. “Just one ride would not hurt!”

The prince dismounted his faithful stead and slipped himself between the spines of the dragons back. One swoop of the dragon’s powerful wings lifted them into the night. Upward they went with exhilarating speed. The dragon was true to his word. Never had the prince experienced such things.

As the prince entered the gates of his city, shame cloaked him. “Why was I so easily deceived? I, a prince, have befriended the enemy?”

Silenced by shame, the prince hid himself. Yet, he thought often of the excitement of the ride. Soon he sought out the dragon. Another ride…another night…then another…and another…

On the way into the city by the moonlight he noticed his hands were beginning to form scales. Quickly he covered them with his gloves concealing how much he was becoming like the deadly dragon.

Addiction Exposed

Each night their journey would take them into more and more grotesque places. The prince rode secure upon the dragon as it breathed its fire into homes and villages. Blood stained the princes armor – the blood of his Father’s people!

Under cover of darkness, the prince attempted to slink back into the city. A crowd of angry villagers surrounded him, “He was there! He was riding on the dragon when it destroyed our homes!”

The King approached his son, “Is it true? Were you with the dragon?”

Shame

The prince’s secret could no longer be hidden. “Yes, Father,” was his hollow response.

He was sure the King would enforce the punishment he deserved – life for life. On his knees he waited for his Father’s angry blow. With the hand of mercy his Father touched his shoulder, removing the cloak covering the ugly spines growing on the prince’s back.

“My son,” the Father spoke tenderly.

Looking around, the Father asked, “Who else has ridden the dragon?”

To the prince’s surprise his older brother slowly stepped forward, then his young sister. One by one, many villagers came and bowed mournfully before the King. Few had escaped the dragon’s subtle lure.

Few had escaped the dragon's subtle lure. Click To Tweet

Princes and Princesses

In a culture like ours with tolerance and acceptance of sexual perversion, the dragon is constantly fed.  As with any addiction a little taste draws one into ever deepening levels of attraction and bondage.

Apart from the grace of God the noose of addiction destroys completely!

Noose of Addiction

The dragon of addiction is overcome through truth and a community of supporters.  Don’t try to fight alone! Fight to win gaining victory over mind, body, and soul!

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible –
and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.”
Ephesians 6:13

It is amazing to watch how those who have overcome “become a light” of help, hope and strength to others in the battle. A necessary but painful part of recovery is coming clean – letting God’s light shine into the secret place. There is no easy way. It will be difficult.

All of us also lived among them at one time,
gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following
its desires and thoughts.”
Ephesians 2:3

“All” is an inclusive word. None of us have room to boast. We each have our own battlegrounds. We all deserve the full weight of punishment for our personal sins. Yet, God has made us for better as His princes and princesses.

First Steps

There is good news!

“But because of his great love for us,
God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ
even when we were dead in transgressions –
…For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –
and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God
not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2: 4-10

God’s love and mercy extends to all! To overcome will take work done through His grace alone.

The first step is honesty and transparency. Begin with a visit to a pastor or addictions counselor. There is an army willing to step into the battle with you. You will need to become accountable to others to help you through the process.

Accountability and Freedom

There are no quick fixes. It has taken you years to get to where you are. It will also take years to completely overcome.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more
than all we ask or imagine,
according to his power that is at work within us…”
Ephesians 3:20

Your freedom awaits!

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Parable taken from “Pure Desire – How One Man’s Triumph Can Help Others Break Free

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Lost to Found! Death to Life! The Prodigal is Coming Home!

Prodigal

I have memories of getting lost in the back woods and coulees of the Qu’Appelle Valley. Many hours were spent exploring and forging new trails where only deer, fox, rabbits, and the like occupy. At times I would be lost and not even know it! In my wandering, I would eventually arrive back at a familiar place and could find my way.

At times I would be lost and not even know it! Click To Tweet

Lost

It is one thing to be unknowingly lost, but quite another to come to the place where you realize how lost you are.

Lost Puppy

Jesus relates a parable of just such a young man. In his immaturity, he prematurely asks and receives more than his share of father’s estate. Off he goes as far away as the cash in his pocket will take him. He leaves more than his father’s home. He discards family values and faith.

Only when he is entirely broken and destitute does he finally see how lost he is. At the bottom of his self-made pit, he looks up, “My father is my only hope!”

 “When he came to his senses, he said,
‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare,
and here I am starving to death!

 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:
Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

 I am no longer worthy to be called your son;
make me like one of your hired servants.’

 So he got up and went to his father.
Luke 15: 17-20

Found

Heavier than the stench of the pig pen was the shame and guilt that cloaked him. Each step home was a painful reminder of how he had drifted. Words of repentance could no longer be silenced!

Pig Pen

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.”

We have no idea how long the father had been watching and waiting; we do know he never forgot or gave up. Compassion never ends! Love never fails!

The day dawned! The day long waited for was now!

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
Luke 15:21

The son starts his well-rehearsed confession, but never gets to finish it. He is home more than willing to be a servant forever! “Let me work! Let me labour! Don’t call me a son! I’ve gone too far! It has been too long! I’ve done too much! I’m not worthy!”

Father’s Heart

Son-ship has nothing to do with being worthy; it is has everything to do with relationship! My sons are my sons! There is nothing they could do to change that! My DNA is in them. They are loved beyond measure for no other reason  more than being sons. Even if they choose to forget, I cannot and will not forget.

Father Son

“But the father said to his servants,
‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.

 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.
’ So they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:22-24

Just as he is, the son is welcome. Brokenness of sin, stains or life, cannot stop the Father’s lavish love. Love covers!

The part we see is only the beginning. The relationship once severed now completely renewed. Once lost, now found! The dead is alive! Every day forward would be a reminder of restoration.

Lost at Home

The second son, though faithful to the core, lived with a father he never knew. The character and nature of his father was completely hidden from him.

Stubborn

He saw his father as demanding, stingy, and hard. Neither did he comprehend his own need for grace and forgiveness. The father did not wait for his oldest’s attitude to adjust; he went immediate to him.

“The older brother became angry and refused to go in.
So his father went out and pleaded with him.

“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.
But we had to celebrate and be glad,
because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.’”
Luke 15 :28-32

Too often we are not dissimilar to the older son. We settle for working and doing, rather than resting in the shadow of the Father’s love and acceptance. The Father simply wants us to be a son or daughter.

We settle for working and doing, rather than resting. Click To Tweet

We can be in the right place doing all the right things and yet be lost – separated from the Father’s love and character. Prodigals are not always easy to identify. Yet, the Father loves completely and generously, inviting each of us home.

Just like me for so many years, one can be lost and not even knowing it!

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The Grace of God – The River of God’s Grace is Wide!

The golden thread of grace flows through scripture like a river wide and deep, sometimes gently moving, often in a torrent. All touched by the river live!

“God saved you by his grace when you believed.
And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.”
Ephesians 2:8

A wise man reminded me that people “in the ditch” will argue contentiously. When it comes to grace, there has been much ditch walking and arguing.

One shouts, “It is the Holy Spirit who convicts and deals with sin. Stand back! Let the Him move!”

Responses stream in opposition, “We have an opportunity to show grace, while dealing with sin.”

Grace Along the Road

Neither ditch walker is willing to extend tangible grace to the other. The more we platform on a topic, it is usually an indication we ourselves are struggling in that area! God must be wanting to go deeper in my understanding of grace at this moment.

Sadly and with regret I remember that I have participated in such argumentative behaviour, dividing and wounding relationships.  I have had much to learn about grace over the years; much more remains to master.

Grace defenders often stand on Matthew 7:1-5. The passage actually speaks of judging rather than grace;

Do not judge, or you too will be judged.
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged,
and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in  your brother’s eye
and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?
How can  you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’
when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?
You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” 

The essence of the argument beside the road of grace, isn’t grace. Rather, it is a fear of judgment.

Plank

A plank is nothing to take lightly! A plank in the eye would be clearly visible to others and completely blinding to one possessing it. Rough and unfinished, it quickly inflicts splinters on anyone who would come close enough to touch it.

Plank Wood

The number of “planks” pulled from these eyes of mine is innumerable. Some have been so enormous it has taken a troop of brave comrades to remove them with and for me.

Jesus clearly commands each of us to take full responsibility for our “stuff”, our planks!

 “…first take the plank out of your own eye…”

Whatever I have in my life that is

hindering my vision,
damaging my relationships,
potentially hurting others,
discrediting my witness,
or discolouring my integrity
I must get rid of it!

Jesus doesn’t stop there!

Sawdust

Sawdust

Sawdust is not clearly visible. Yet the damage of sawdust can be severe! Not only will it produce irritation, tearing and inflammation of the mucous membranes, sawdust can also cause infection potentially progressing to the brain.

Unlike my planks that have taken a team of heavy lifters to remove, dealing with sawdust requires close contact.

By using a mirror or even magnifying glass, in good lighting, one must look on every surface and behind the eyelids themselves. Drenching the eye with exorbitant amounts of water may be necessary. For someone to help me, they need to get into my face and look intently for any offensive particle, before removing it with clear vision, a steady hand and great care.

God’s Grace

Grace is necessary in the removal of both plank and dust. I need God’s grace working in me and through others to remove the planks from my life. God’s grace is also necessary to remove tiny but painful things. Large or small, in me or others, both can and will cause irreparable damage unless removed.

Jesus invites us all to the way of grace. United we make an unbeatable team! Because our gifts are different, grace also will flow differently through each of us.

In the Holy Spirit, some demonstrate grace by praying, supporting, blessing, and encouraging the frail along the way. Others, through the Spirit, are vital in getting into comfort zones and shining the light on truth, while gently and with wisdom stepping into lives at a level many would dare never enter.

Grace Team

On God’s team, grace flows freely through each one, creating a safe atmosphere of hope and promise for those around us. It is a rainbow of diversity in action that only God could have initiated. His grace allows us to appreciate every diverse form.

In Progress

John Newton said, “I am not what I ought to be. I am not what I wish to be. I am not what I hope to be. But by the grace of God, I am not what I was.” He wrote the infamous hymn:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.”

God's Grace

“But by the grace of God I am what I am,
and his grace to me was not without effect.
No, I worked harder than all of them–
yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”
I Corinthians 15:10

God’s grace is actively at work, transforming lives and destinies. What joy to watch and be involved in this work of His doing!

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Further Reading: Grace Notes – The Extras that Matter! Supporting the Melody!

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Moses – The Defining Qualities of a Great Leader

Qualities of a Great Leader

What makes a mediocre leader great? What are the marks a great leader? As you can see I probably have more questions than answers! Join me as we take a very brief look at the life of Moses; see if you  can identify with what I have chosen as the top five defining qualities of a great leader.

Great Leaders Know Their Assignment!

Moses was well along in years, 80 in fact, when God gave him his assignment,

“So now, go, I am sending you
to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
Exodus 3:10

That sounds clear enough! So why didn’t Moses resign after he made sure the people were on safe ground on the far side of the Red Sea. He had fulfilled the mandate, right? Check! He went to Pharaoh and he got the people out. Check!

Great leaders don’t quit! They keep going above and beyond the letter of requirements!

Egypt Pyramids

It would take 40 more years to get Egypt out of the hearts and minds of the people. These were excruciating painful years for Moses as a leader as his

authority and character was challenged
those closest betrayed him
the masses grumbled incessantly
other leadership challenged his adequacy to lead.

Still he persevered!

Great Leaders are Humble!

“Now Moses was a very humble man,
more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”
Numbers 12: 3

I can’t help but smile when I read this little line. Why? Because Moses wrote it! You would think that bragging about your humility would disqualify you from wearing the ‘humble’ badge. However, God would not allow this line to maintain its position in the Holy Scriptures if it was not completely true.

Great leaders know who they are, Who they belong to, where they are going and Who is getting them there! They know that in and of themselves they can do nothing! Moses didn’t have John 15:5 to remind him; he lived every day in the strength of God knowing that “without me you can do nothing.”

Great leaders don’t need to prove themselves, even when others rise up and say, “Who do you think you are?”

There is a quiet confidence that truly great leaders display. A confidence cloaked firmly in humility.

Humility

Great Leaders Show Grace!

More than once, God was so fed up with the rebellion and sinfulness of his chosen people. He make it clear that He was fully prepared to make Moses

“….into a nation, stronger and more numerous than they.”
Deuteronomy 9:14

Intercede Pray

Few leaders would resist that kind of temptation to greatness, especially when the One making the promise is perfectly capable of fulfilling it.

However, Moses falls on his face continually interceding for the people, reminding God of His promises. These was not a twinkle in insincerity within him. He loved and cared deeply for these stubborn sheep he was assigned to shepherd. A true shepherd he was proving himself to be!

Great Leaders Never Compromise!

Multiple times Moses was given compromising offers…

sacrifice to God here in the land
have only the men go
your women and children may go, only leave your flocks…

Great leaders know there can never be compromise! The mandate was to worship God with

“our young and our old, our sons and daughters, with flocks and herds…”
Exodus 10:9

Worship Together

The call to worship God is still the same…

for young and the aged
male and female
rich and poor
a worship for everyone
giving everything
to only One worthy!

Though there may be temptations to do things half way, great leaders never settle!

Great Leaders Have Great Faith!

Hebrews speaks of faith five times in connection to Moses. He resisted the easy road of self reliance because he was “looking ahead to his reward”. Moses persevered because “he saw Him who is invisible.”

I cannot fathom the dimension of faith it took on the part of Moses to follow the word of the LORD and then lead an entire nation so faithfully. A man “mighty in word and deed” who “received living words and passed them on.”

Certainly this faith was entwined with a deep fear of the LORD. We don’t talk much about fear today, but there is such a thing as a healthy dose of godly fear; and Moses had it.

“I am the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’
Moses trembled with fear and did not dare to look.”
Acts 7:32

Great leaders know how to draw on strength and wisdom beyond themselves – trusting in Him who is faithful.

Now What?

Consider the quote that sparked this whole thought process,

“I would rather die in the desert with the people,
than get to the ‘promise’ alone..”
Andy Mason

Andy Mason is a relatively unknown leader who inspires others to apply biblical principles to everyday business – to the places we live and work.

Independence is deep-rooted in each of us, especially me!  What goals are in our futures that we still hope to reach? What promise of God is waiting to see fulfilled? Everyone of us lives with unfulfilled destiny and calling – things we want to be reality in our lives, but are yet out of reach! Some may have to do with family, career, finances or levels of ministry.

I’m taking this challenge personally as I aim toward my goals reaching in the direction of my calling.

Destination

How sad it would be to reach my ‘promise’ alone, unable to share the journey or the destination!

Moses never entered the promise because of his own insubordination. However, he was faithful to raise up a successor to effectively carry it out. This young leader would have the privilege of entering the promise and fully seeing the fruit of all Moses worked for and longed to see. Joshua would be the one to lead the next generation into the full promise.

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Want more to read on walking in faith? Try these!

Nothing is Impossible – With God Your Problem is God’s Opportunity!

Faith or Fear? Which Will We Choose?

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Good Friday – Two Beams Intersected – The Arm of Love Reaching Down – The Arm of Grace Reaching All

Good Friday - Where Love and Grace Meet

I have always struggled with the title “Good Friday.” As I look with human eyes on the twisted tragedy of that day, nothing seems good. Greed, slander, jealousy, and compromise brought death to the Giver of Life. But on that Friday two beams intersected: the arm of love reaching down connecting heaven and earth while the other, the arm of grace, embraced all humanity.  That is very good!

Others can explain the implications of that day far better than I. But I have this confession,

“…One thing I do know,
I was blind but now I see!”
John 9:25

Although my “blindness” wasn’t physical, it was debilitating!

Blindness

Church going wasn’t a regular feature of my childhood. I did attend enough for me to get the gist of a baby born in a manger and a man on the cross. However, I had no idea how that connected to my life.

It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I was told the full message of the cross.

All have sinned and are separated from God.
God is holy and just.
Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.
God is merciful and gracious.
Jesus’ death on the cross
paid the price for my sin.
By believing and confessing Jesus,
God accepts His blood as payment for my sin.

I still cannot get my head around the profound simplicity of this truth. But at that moment, my heart embraced fully the reality of such a gift of love.

Without support of other Christians and facing opposition, it didn’t take me long to choose the love and acceptance of others over the love of my Saviour. This wave of darkness swept in like tsunami, pulling me ever downward…

depression and suicidal intentions
alcoholism
twisted self-image and no self-esteem
self-harm….

It would take over a decade to surface from the whirlpool of death thoughts and actions. As a young mom, failing in every capacity of life, I left my home and little family with one intention – to end the onslaught of internal pain.

Walking Away

As I walked away that cold February night, God walked with me! No, not in a way I could physically see Him, but with me nonetheless. Though I had denied Jesus, He had not deserted me

not even in the darkest of moments
on psychiatric wards
in seasons of abuse
or violation.

Though I had been unfaithful, He remained faithful! Though I had tried to run from Him, His love sought me out!

There in the middle of snow bank, I laid down every broken piece of a life twisted and torn. I had nothing good to offer Him – nothing of value to give.

My simple confession, “Lord, I have nothing but broken pieces, but if You want me I’m yours….”

And He did! The Saviour of all wanted relationship with me! Tears still flow freely down aged cheeks as I come face to face with the awesomeness of such love. Who can explain it? Who can comprehend it? Can it be defined or measured? Yet, one thing is for sure; it cannot be denied.

Night Sky

My one request at the moment was, “Lord, teach me to love!”

Through the decades it continues to be my soul desire… to love each day a little more as He loves… with one arm reaching down to the broken pointing them up to Jesus… with the other reaching out to gather “whosoever will” on this journey of faith.

Nothing has been the same since that day! The process has been long – painfully long! Transformation takes time. But truly I am not the woman I used to be. “Once thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

It is all because of Good Friday when two beams intersected: the arm of love reaching down connecting heaven and earth while the other, the arm of grace, reaching me. Even me! That is very good!

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A Simple Prayer

Lord, I thank You for the cross
for the price You paid
for all of us
The Worthy for the unworthy
the Holy for the defiled
the Just of the unjust.

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Cross

More to read:

Jesus Christ The Sure Foundation – Building to Last

Custom Made or Special Order? This Could Be You

Custom Made

What do these few words conger up in your mind? Today the term “custom-made” relates to almost everything we see: homes, clothing, desserts, musical instruments, vehicles, cabinets, and on and on! People want something nobody else has… the original… something that is NOT mass-produced…

In Jeremiah 1 verse 5 (MSG) we read:

“Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,

    I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—

    that’s what I had in mind for you.”

Crazy, isn’t it? God thought of you and had you “custom-made” before even the world and the tangible things we see and enjoy. You were thought about, planned perfectly, and designed for something very special. To think God thought of you and me before the whisper or shout of creation began is awe-inspiring. In this truth, we gain a new appreciation for Him and for us.

“Before the world or even time began,
we were in God’s heart and in His plan.”
Olivia & Me

Before the world or time began, you were in God's heart and in His plan Click To Tweet

If you are finding this hard to believe, imagine for a moment it is true! All of you intricately planned out

height and stature
gifts and abilities
when and where you were born
serious or witty
sensitive or fun-loving
intro or extroverted
even that stubborn cowlick or twisted grin.

Just looking at me would make you question the very notion! Who every would think of putting these strange twists and perks of personality and mannerisms in such an unseemly container I call “me”! Or maybe that is the reason we should believe it to be true. God must have a wonderful sense of humor!

I know it makes the thought seem very far-fetched — beyond the boundary of any left field. Yet, He also reassures us that “… by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect…” (I Corinthians 15:10) In other words, if you think I am quite the piece of work, you will have to use a little more imagination to figure out what I would be without God’s grace imprinting my life. Or yours!

There is something steadying about the thought:
to be known
loved
appreciated
purposed
planned
no mistake
no accident!

So when I am frustrated with “me”, tired of “me”, or disappointed with “me”, I can smile (just a little smile), throw my hands up wide and say, “Look out! Here I come!” Even though mighty I am not and impressive I may never be, God smiles (an ear-to-ear smile) and says, “That’s my girl! She’s custom-made, one of kind, original!”

 


Prayer Custom Made

Lord Jesus, I thank you not just for the uniqueness of ‘me’
but of all You have made!
I ask for courage to live my life fully ‘me’
but also with vision and grace to embrace the You in others.
Lord, Your design is perfect in every way;
I delight in your incredible goodness and amazing plan.
Today may I live in You and through You to the fullest….

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Want to read more? Try these:

Psalm 91 – God Has You Covered

Don’t Give Up! Don’t Quit! Finish Strong!

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