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What Do You Want To Be Known For?

What do you want to be known for?  A Habakkuk Bible Study By Dannah Gresh

Isn’t it interesting what’s revealed when our world is in chaos, going through extreme circumstances?  Somethings not so good, but there’s other blessings that come out of hardships one would never expect.  I’ve been studying the book of Habakkuk, what a perfect book for these unprecedented times.  It’s a book about uncertainty, feeling forgotten, wondering if God is ever going to intervene.  Sounds a lot like what we’re all going through right now.  

The meaning of Habakkuk means to ‘embrace,’ or to ‘wrestle.’  Seems appropriate in the times we are in.  We can either embrace our situations and make the best of them or wrestle with them and suffer.  In the beginning of the book, Habakkuk cries out to God and asks,

“O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?”  “Or cry to you, “Violence!” And you will not save?”  “Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?”  “So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.  For the wicked surround the righteous;  so justice goes forth perverted.”  Habakkuk 1:1-2, 4.  

In other words, ‘God where are you?’ ‘There’s a lot of messed up stuff happening right now, why are you allowing it?’  

Sometimes waiting for God’s response when he seems silent can be excruciating, and an arduous process.  We can question, why isn’t God DOING something about all the violence, suffering, and injustice?  But here is some truth while we wait for those answers.  God is an eternal, faithful, mighty, holy God who is good all the time (Habakkuk 1:12-13).  No matter what is going on the world we can trust He is coming back and there will be a day where there is no more pain, suffering, or death (Revelations 21:4).  

Something from the study CONVICTED me.  Dannah Gresh talks about the book of Daniel and how he chooses to be resolved in front of king Nebuchadnezzar and not partake in their feasts.  Resolved means to settle or find solution to the problem.  One of the reasons why is because their feasts partook in idol worship in which Daniel would only worship his one true King, God.  King Nebuchadnezzar’s tantalizing tactics to seduce Daniel into a life of worshipping luxury failed.  Was it because Daniel was more faithful than the rest of us?  I mean who wouldn’t want to indulge in some steak and wine nightly and engorge themselves?  But Daniel referred back to what had kept him grounded, God’s TRUTH.  

What we're known for and what we WANT to be KNOWN for can be two different things. #known #LovedClick To Tweet

What Are You Known For?

Have you ever heard of the 10,000 hour rule?  A book written by Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers addresses what sets people a part from being average to excelling at something.  The short answer is being disciplined.  They become experts by spending more than twenty hours a week learning their craft.   We are what we invest ourselves in.  What activities do you invest your time in?  I admit during quarantine there was a lot of Netflix binge watching, baking, and maybe even the mindless scroll through social media, because there wasn’t the other daily activities of life to keep me busy. 

Here’s the shocking reality of what on average other American’s invested their time in: Scrolling through social media per week (21 hours), shopping on-line (20 hours), watching Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime (20 hours), Eating, food prep, thinking about eating (15 hours).Click To Tweet  

This kind of makes me feel like a sloth!  

I’m also guilty of not being intentional during this time.  The shutdown highlighted areas of my life where I lacked discipline.  It was important as ever to stay in a workout routine even though the gyms were shut down, to keep eating healthy even though restaurants were closed, to stay in God’s Word (have no excuse for this one).  It was easy to get out of the routine when one wasn’t established.  I had all of these high hopes of things I would accomplish with my family.  Some got done others did not.  

Wherever you live right now we don’t have to stop gathering together just because things shut down.  We can still gather just in a different way.  I am excited to do this Bible study with other women in my neighborhood some of us through zoom and some are in person, but we are still studying God’s Word TOGETHER!  It’s so important to still gather (in the safest way possible), stay connected in God’s Word, and BUILD RELATIONSHIPS!    We don’t have to stop growing just because things shut down. 

I don’t want to be known for my bad habits or things I regret from my past, or how many hours of Netflix I watched.  Does it really matter how many miles I run, or how many sit ups I do?  None of that makes me valuable or worthy.  I want God’s love to be known in me and to others so they know GOD LOVES THEM.  I FEEL like I’m failing at that right now, I could do BETTER.  

Spending time in Scripture allows me to hear God’s voice for what He wants me to prioritize and how to be intentional right now.  In my prayer time I’m asking God, ‘how can I love others well right now?’  ‘What do you want to be focused on?’ ‘How can I serve you when things look so different?’  

What do you want to be known for? What are you known for?

Are you struggling with being disciplined in any area of your life right now?

One of the ways I can do better is to be apart of the healing of our nation/world by educating myself about the wounds of racial diversity and unity.  I’m reading the book “Be the Bridge” by Latasha Morrison.  How can I say I want to do better if my life doesn’t reflect that?  I can say the words all I want, but if my actions don’t support it, then I am just a hypocrite.  The only way to have unity in diversity is to LISTEN, show empathy and compassion, get to know others who aren’t in my circle of comfort and LEARN  from them.  If your desire is to do better consider reading Be the Bridge, or start studying God’s Word and make it apart of your healthy habits.  

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10 Bible Verses About Grief

With so much going on in the world, it seems everyday we wake up there’s something new we have to grasp about realities we don’t want to face.  Or we just want a break from what’s going on around us.  We are not in control and have no say in what’s happening which can be HARD.  We may not like what’s going on, but I know God is still doing a great work in us.  He still loves us, wants the best for us and will never leave us in all this mess.  He’s refining us and using this chaos for His greatness.  Even though we know all of this, being real with the heaviness of our struggles is a necessary process to go through.  We can’t pretend our struggles aren’t our struggles for them to magically go away.  Stepping into the pain of our struggles with Jesus is our best chance at healing and peace.

Grief is on the rise especially now with all who are sick and with holidays coming up.  I want to acknowledge your grief–I am so sorry for what you are going through.  I pray for God’s healing and hope to fill you and for your willingness to let Him walk you through your pain.  Losing a loved one is never easy nor is dealing with grief.  Holding on to God’s promises of what He’s able to do will allow more room for God’s HOPE to be working in our lives.

Here are 10 Bible Verses About Grief:  That will Provide More Hope and Healing

  1.  “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.  In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33- I love how this verse says we won’t have difficulties here on this earth but it is possible for us to have peace in Jesus despite what we’re going through.  No matter what happens in this life Jesus has overcome.
  2. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  Revelations 21:4-  This verse gave me so much comfort after our son passed away.  Grief can be so hard and painful.  One day there will be no more pain, crying, or mourning in heaven.  This life is so short compared to the eternal life we will have in heaven.  God is taking care of our loved ones and that is so comforting.
  3. “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”  John 16:22-  There will be times the pain of missing our loved ones is so great.  This verse is a great reminder there will be times to grieve and times to rejoice.  When we have Jesus to walk through this journey with us, nothing can take away our joy.

 

4.  “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:  a time to weep, and a time to laugh;  a time to mourn, and a time dance;”  Ecclesiastes 3:1,4-  I love how this verse depicts the highs and lows of the seasons of our lives.  There will be times we’re weeping then laughing, then mourning then celebrating.  The emotions and feelings we go through don’t limit us from being able to still experience the joys in life, but are necessary to go through the process of our new normal.  Learning how to embrace the roller coaster ride grief, instead of being in a constant state of wrestling is a good place to be.

5.  “When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.  The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and save the crushed in spirit.”  Psalm 34:17-18-  This verse has helped me so much.  When I’ve felt at my lowest point of brokenness I’ve repeated this verse to myself so many times.  I’ve never felt closer to God during my times of brokenness and heard Him so clearly.  He is with you in your times of hurting and will never leave you.

6.  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28- I love this Bible verse so much, our family had this verse engraved in our son’s headstone.  This verse reminds us there is no pain without a purpose.  God doesn’t waste anything.  He is always working for our good, no matter what.

7.  “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”. Romans 8:18-  Nothing that happens in this life can compare to the life that God has prepared for us.  He cares about every hurt, every pain, any suffering we go through.  There is nothing we go through, Jesus hasn’t been through already.  He would never allow us to go through what we go through without having a plan for our pain to turn it into something better.

8.  “In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the LORD. “If I cause you the pain, I will not stop you from giving birth to your new nation,”  says your God” Isaiah 66:9 NCV.  In the same way childbirth is painful, the birth of a new baby is worth it.  No one gives their baby back and says no thank you that was too painful.  The birth of something new, the joy you receive in the new birth, far outweighs the pain we go through to birth it.

9.  “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. Matthew 5:4-  It is so comforting to know God is with us when we mourn.  He is close to us and is there for us in our sorrows.

10.  “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is see, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18-  The struggles we go through when we are dealing with grief are hard, heavy, and painful.  God doesn’t want us to have pain, but knows the path towards eternal healing.  Any pain we go through He knows how to heal us!

Grief can be all consuming and overwhelming.  There is no pain God can’t heal.  Learning to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, focusing on what He’s able to do even when we can’t see it, allows for His eternal hope and healing.  God is able.  He is in the business of all things eternal.

Are you struggling with grief?

What Bible verses give you hope and healing?

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Why Is It So Hard To Heal?

Hello!  It’s been a while.  I’ve been taking a much needed break this year from blogging to concentrate on a deficient area of my life, self-care.  A moment of honesty–there were areas of my life I didn’t realize needed healing and attention.  I kept hitting walls that wouldn’t allow me to move forward or I would build walls to protect me from any hurts in my life.  There would be times I was losing a grip on keeping my sanity and serenity in a healthy place.  I had to ask the question, Why did this keep happening?

Well, nothing changes when nothing changes.  I had to be real with the adversity in my life.  I couldn’t ignore emotional scars from my past or traumas that trickled into the hidden corners of my relationships in my life.  Whenever a trigger or hardship evolved these past hurts hiding in the corners came out like a raging river.  Over these past months and years, I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research on how adversity changes the emotional landscapes of how we cope and heal.  I’ve had to look within myself and do some self-discovery of why am I the way I am?

Growing up a horrible lie was born into my life, I wasn’t wanted. Nothing my parents did make me feel this way, but it’s the message I received because of my circumstances.  My parents were very young when my sister and I were born, divorced by the time we were two, we lived with my grandparents for a couple of years until my father remarried and we moved back in with him in our new family and visited our mother on the weekends.  We didn’t talk about our problems or address them much because no one knew how.  My parents are a byproduct of my grandparents who grew up in the great depression where you don’t complain and you just kept going.  Problems or mistakes were to be hidden so no one knew our flaws.  No one talked about the fact there was mental illness and struggles with alcohol that affected our family.

“Am I a God at hand, delcares the Lord, and not a God far away?  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him?  declares the Lord.  Do I not fill heaven and earth?  declares the Lord”. Jeremiah 23:23-24.

No wonder why it’s so hard to heal!?!?!  No one likes to talk about their flaws and problems.  But it’s such a necessary step in accepting how God made us and how He will use our circumstances for good.  I became really good at hiding from what was hidden beneath the surface for so many years.  I was a people pleaser.  Helping others and pleasing people became my hiding place.  If I could please others and make sure their needs were met, I didn’t have any problems.  If I could fix, solve, save, or rescue others from their problems then I was good.  The problem with this method of dealing with problems was I wasn’t dealing with my own problems.  I wasn’t depending on God to mend my hurts, I was co-dependent on others to mend me.  This method will never serve anyone well in the end, because it bypasses Jesus and doesn’t allow Him to be the Mender and Healer.

There is only One Healer and He is Jesus.Click To Tweet

It wasn’t until I started counseling, I discovered I was a co-dependent.  I had developed unhealthy coping mechanisms to get my needs filled, to heal the wound I wasn’t wanted, which gave birth to other lies I was inadequate, not good enough.  I was a mess.  I had to unravel years of dysfunctional unhealthy behavior.  It has been very hard to peel back those layers, but so worth it and necessary in my healing process.  If I wasn’t willing to go beneath the surface and ask the question of why I do what I do, did things start to change for me?  I had to identify I wasn’t really putting my trust in God when I was going ahead of Him trying to heal myself through others.  I had to acknowledge there was a difference between just treating symptoms to get by or really do the work to heal.

We will never discover the fullness of our worth when we hide from God's healing.Click To Tweet

“Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;  save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise” Jeremiah 17:14

What you do isn’t who you are.  The effects adversity has on our lives is real.  Even if you don’t have a life born into adversity there still are stressors and hardships that make life difficult.  Being real with who you are in how God made you and learning how to maneuver through the adversity in your life is crucial.  I want to introduce to you the ACE score. It stands for Adversity Childhood Experience.  This score is on a 10 point scale, 10 being the most and 0 being the least. The higher your ACE score before the age of 18 determines based on statistics whether you are more prone to criminal activity, alcoholism, mental illness, and other chronic diseases.  Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, a pediatrician, and California Surgeon General has dedicated her life work to adversity and making it apart of integrative health, looking at the person as a whole, getting to the root of underlying issues, not just treating symptoms.

My ACE score by the time I was seven years old was a six.  My score put me into a very high-risk category or being susceptible to a whole slew of addictions and chronic illnesses.  Dr. Burke explains the neuroscience behind our stress, adversity, and why we do what we do.  She also explains why it’s so important to lower our ACE scores so we can leave behind a healthy legacy for the next generation.  I encourage you to take the ACE quiz to see what you score.  To take the quiz click here.

You are loved, my friend.  You are worth it!  You are an overcomer in Christ.  Your circumstances and adversity don’t define you, God does.  You are known in his love.  We don’t have to hide from who we are in Christ, praise God for that!

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Do you struggle with co-dependency(aka self-love deficit?  I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!

Self-Care conference

Need a Break? Do you feel like this world is getting more chaotic and you just want some peace and rest?

I am so honored to be one of the 50+ Women Speakers at the 2020 Christian Women’s Self-Care Conference.  There will be live workshops filled with lots of much needed goodness!  And get this, it’s FREE!!!!!! (But for a limited time only). Take advantage of watching this conference in the comfort of your own home.  Take time for yourself.  Learn what areas of your life could use a little healing and attention.  I am excited about my workshop:  You are Known:  Loving Yourself Well which will be on day three and I address the struggles of co-dependency.

To register either Click Here or on the image.  To view, a complete list of speakers and workshops click on the link at the bottom of the page near the registration button.  Make sure to join me over the next 12 days on Facebook and Instagram.  I will be doing LIVE chats and giveaways!  Let’s get the conversation started!

What area of your life do you need the most self-care?

 

I am so excited to see what God will do in your life through this conference.  Please share in the comments and start a conversation.  You are loved, my friend!

 


3 Ways to Have More Joy in 2020


 

“The best news in the world is that there is no conflict between your greatest possible happiness and God’s perfect holiness. Being satisfied with all that God is for you in Jesus magnifies him as the greatest treasure and brings you more joy—eternal, infinite joy—than any other delight ever could.”  John Piper

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s holiday.  I’ve taken a few weeks off from writing and it’s been nice.  We all could use breaks and rest to be able to recharge and be refreshed.  How has your new year been shaping up?  Have you set goals, made resolutions?  Whatever your aspirations are I pray they are blessed beyond measure and filled with joy.

I’ve been reading a YouVersion Bible Reading Plan by John Piper called 15 Days in the Word with John Piper.

He talks about the secret of invincible joy and how our greatest rewards are in Jesus.  This message is something I’ve heard before, but never had I heard joy described as rescued.  Nothing can destroy or take away our joy, even in our suffering when it’s anchored in Jesus.  It is possible to keep our joy protected and safe even in the most painful of times when heaven is the reward.

'Great is your reward in heaven. And the sum of that reward is enjoying the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ' quote John Piper (paraphrased John 17:24).Click To Tweet

Our greatest fulfillment will always come from what God can provide.  Nothing in this world could ever compete or compare to the eternal joy in which only God provides.

3 Ways to Have More Joy in 2020

1.  Give yourself the freedom to make mistakes and not beat yourself up over them.  To all the perfectionists out there write this down on a notecard and put it somewhere you can see it.  Say this to yourself everyday until this sinks in.  If there is one thing I struggle with, it’s being gentle with myself when I don’t make good choices.  I have a constant message in my head on repeat on how I could have done things better.

Thank goodness for God’s grace.  His grace was never meant to be abused to continue with bad behavior over and over but to help refine us and mold us through Him, not ourselves.  Joy will always be found in what God does in us.  Our mistakes don’t make us bad, they make us human.  God can do so much more with our mistakes when we surrender them to Him, then we could ever do ourselves.

2. Learn how to be emotionally honest with yourself.  Let’s face it, if we struggle with the ability to give ourselves grace when we mess up, we probably struggle with being realistic with our emotions.  Our emotions and mistakes don’t define us but what we do with them matters.  If we’re being honest with ourselves we’re able to own our own stuff and not constantly use blame or criticism to take the focus off ourselves.

Are you critical and judgmental of others?  Do you like to point out others mistakes in front of others?  Do you create chaos?  Looking within ourselves we might  discover when we’re critical of others we’re probably critical of ourselves.  Pointing out others’ flaws, doesn’t make your flaws as bad and then you don’t have to focus on yourself.  When you point out others mistakes, you probably aren’t secure with yourself and when other’s mistakes are magnified, no one is looking at your messes.  When patterns of chaos are created, then you don’t have to deal with your own problems when chaos is around.  If you want to have more joy in 2020, learn how to be emotionally honest, it’s the best gift you can give yourself.   Emotional honesty allows us to be emotionally available for others which is very enriching for relationships.

3.  Learn how to ‘BE’ instead of always doing.  Girl, if there’s one thing I could write to my younger self this would be it.  I’m ashamed to say how much of my energy has been wrapped up in doing, performing, and achieving.   Again if my focus was on the accomplishment I didn’t have to focus on myself.  Somehow my identity got tethered to these things and life became about doing.  God didn’t make human doings, he created human beings.  We were created ‘to be.’    We can be free in how God made us when we learn how to be.

We don’t always have to be the solution to every problem, the rescuer or savior (roles that were never meant for us in the first place).  Learning to be, means learning how to have balance when there are problems in your life.  Being means learning how to have more empathy for others when they are going through hard times.  Learning empathy allows for more compassion to be in our lives.  God wants us to learn how to BE love not DO love.  When we do, we put our own efforts into it and bypass God.  When we be, we allow God to work through and within us so His love overflows not the other way around.

Do you struggle with giving yourself grace when you make mistakes?

Are you able to be emotionally honest with yourself?

Do you struggle with being instead of doing?

Me too.  You’re not alone.  I struggle with every single one.  This is the beauty in our journey when we EMBRACE THE PROCESS.  It’s not about being perfect, getting it right all the time, it’s about learning to be well and allowing God to use EVERYTHING in His time.

How about you?  Do you desire to have more joy in 2020?  I do.  Learning to trust in the process God has put forth will always allow for His abundant joy to fill us, satisfy and complete us more than we could ever imagine.

Are you able to receive God's joy in your life?Click To Tweet

How can you have more joy in 2020?

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I will be taking a little break from blogging to be able to work on a project that God has been pressing on my heart.  In order to be obedient to what God has for me, I need to be realistic with my time.  I may post a new post from time to time, but it won’t be weekly.  I will keep you posted on what I’m doing and thank you all who read and subscribe to the posts, it means so much to me.  I am grateful.


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You Are Known And Loved

Are you getting ready for Christmas?  I don’t know about you, but every year I get caught off guard with all the preparation to get ready for Christmas!  It seems no matter how much I plan, there is always something to get ready for.

The busyness of Christmas can be distracting and overwhelming to our hearts because of all the extra stress the holidays add to our plates.   Before we know it we are missing out on the very reason why we celebrate Christmas.

You Are Known And Loved.

A prophet named Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of men?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (God with us)” (Isa. 7:13-14).

In the verse above, the Prophet Isaiah was preparing our hearts for the arrival of Jesus.

Have you ever felt not seen or heard?

Two thousand years ago a peasant girl named Mary might have felt this way until …….

Luke 1:26-35….”God sent the angel…to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David.  The virgin’s name was Mary….

Mary was just a young peasant girl who was about to be married.  Why would God choose her?  The angel Gabriel tells Mary, “Do not be afraid, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).  The Greek word for highly favored is charis which means grace.

God had found favor in Mary and bestowed a special honor on her.  God sent an angel to prepare Mary’s heart for God’s greater plan.

Gabriel, the angel prepares Mary’s heart, that she will be with child and his name will be Jesus.

Gabriel goes even further and tells Mary five things about her future son.

1.  He will be great.  Luke 1:32

2.  He will be called the Son of the Most High. Luke 1:32

3.  He will be given the throne of His father David.  Luke 1:32

4.  He will reign in the house of Jacob forever.  Luke 1:33

5.  His kingdom will never end.  Luke 1:33

“How will this be,”  Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  (Luke 1:34).  This is what I love about Mary.  She doesn’t question the fact that the Messiah is coming, but rather that she would be used as a vessel for his arrival, a young virgin peasant girl.

She didn’t doubt or question God’s plan, instead asked how will this even be possible since she is a virgin?

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…”  (Luke 1:35).  

I don’t know about you, but I want a heart like Mary’s.  A heart that is ready to trust and receive God’s promises. Mary’s heart welcomed the angel’s message, by submitting her heart almost immediately after hearing his message!

She didn’t let her doubts or fears get in the way of God’s plan.  She allowed for God’s greater plan to happen through her, by submitting her heart to God.

How wise was Mary’s heart to recognize this message could have only come from God Himself?

Mary heard the message of God’s promise, and her heart of faith was reassured by the words, “For nothing is impossible with God”  (Luke 1:37).  She even uttered the words, “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).  No wonder God found favor with Mary.  God already knew Mary’s heart before He chose her.

I want a heart like Mary’s.

Can you imagine if Mary didn’t allow for God’s greater plan to happen and allowed her doubts and fears to get in the way instead?

Have you ever allowed your doubts and fears get in the way of God’s greater plan?

I have many times.  I wonder how many times has God sent me a message I didn’t recognize was from him.  Letting me know I am known and loved and I just ignored Him?

Friend, you are known and loved by God who loved you first.  This Christmas before we allow busyness and distractions to take us away from the true meaning of Christmas, let’s stop and allow God to prepare our hearts for His greater plan.

There is a fullness of joy when we stay present in the presence of Jesus.  We can rest assured—that His peace will fill our hearts with JOY and will fill our souls with PEACE, when we allow for God’s greater plan to happen through us.

A heart prepared is a heart ready to receive God's promises of peace, hope, and joy. Click To Tweet

Do you struggle with being known and loved by God?

If God sent an angel with a message to you, “Do not be afraid.”  Would you go where God was asking you to go?

Prayer:  Dear Lord Jesus, thank you God for your greater plan.  Thank you God for Jesus and preparing a place in heaven for us.  We pray we will have a heart like Mary’s, one that is obedient, faithful and trusting of your plan even when we don’t understand.  Prepare our hearts Lord for your greater promises.  We pray we will not get in the way of your plan but allow your greater plan to happen through us.  We pray for your will and ways to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Help us not be afraid like Mary and allow for your greater promises to fill our hearts.  Help us stay present in your presence this Christmas and focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  In Jesus name, Amen.

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!  Would you like to know more about the Christmas story!  Join me next Monday as we learn more about what the Christmas story means to you.  

Martin, J. A. (1985). Luke. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 205). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Why Do Wise Men Seek Jesus?

Have you ever been behind the scenes to a concert or TV/movie set? Going behind the scenes really gives a different perspective of what actually goes into producing a live performance or show. You get so much more in-depth information and details about the performance going behind the scenes.

Prophecies in the Bible do the same thing–they give us a behind the scene glimpse of what is to come. The Christmas story is the fulfillment of many prophecies foretelling the birth of our Savior.

In Micah, we learn Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem.

In Isaiah, we learn Jesus would be born a king of the line of David and that a child would be born of a virgin.

One of my favorite prophecies of the Christmas story is in Psalms, when we learn Kings would bring him gifts and fall down before him.

Psalm 72:10-11 “The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.”

Over 2,000 years ago there was a lot going on behind the scenes of The Christmas Story. Baby Jesus had already been born in Bethlehem and the Magi had already set out on their journey following the star that had come from the east (Matthew 2:1-2).

Why do Wise Men Seek Jesus?

The Magi were a group of wise men probably from the area of Persia, who were some of the most intelligent men that existed during their time. They studied astrology, maps, and stars things most of us wouldn’t pay attention to.

Have you ever wondered how did the Magi a group of Gentile men, end up in Jerusalem in search of the king of the Jews?

Matthew 2:1-1 “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him”

According to the prophecy in Psalms, the kings were to come out of Tarshish, a land very far from Jerusalem. They merely had one single star from the east as their beacon to guide them to the location of Jesus.

It makes me wonder, how did the Magi end up in Jerusalem?

Did they have copies of Old Testament Manuscripts and closely follow the prophecies that a star shall come out of Jacob and a scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num. 24:17)?

Or did they have a revelation from God Himself?

It amazes me the far distance these non-Jewish men traveled, to worship the newborn King of the Jews and how they recognized the star as the announcement of Jesus’s birth.

The Magi’s question, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” caused the priests and Jewish scholars to provide the answer they were looking for. They referred to the prophecy in Micah, that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem.

Matthew 2:9-10 “….After they went on their way, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star they were overjoyed.”

This star from the east was quite the miracle, now leading them to the actual house where Jesus lived! Contrary to what modern day nativity scenes display, the Magi did not visit baby Jesus in the manger the night he was born. Because of the distance of their travels, they did not arrive until months later.

Matthew 2:11 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”

In Matthew, we see the prophecy in Psalms being fulfilled–kings will present him gifts, bow down to him and all nations will serve him.

Can you even imagine traveling for months, carrying the weight of these treasures, not really knowing where you’re going and depending on a star for directions? Click To Tweet

The Magi went far lengths to not just offer these gifts to Jesus, but to open them in His presence. These gifts were worthy of a king depicting the picture of what one day will be given to the Messiah. The Magi give us a wonderful example of what distance are we willing to go to worship and give God gifts the way He has given us.

Sometimes I think our intelligence can get in the way of facing our issues honestly.  We can rationalize and think we’re smarter and know best, preventing us from seeing what’s really in front of us.  Not the Magi.  They knew.  They recognized the miracle of the new king.

Even the wisest men were seeking Jesus the new king.Click To Tweet

How do you seek Jesus during Christmas?

What distance would you go to receive God’s gifts?

Has intelligence or wisdom ever gotten in the way of seeking Jesus?

Even wise men need Jesus. I hope you enjoyed behind the scenes of The Christmas Story! May you open the abundant gift God has given you this Christmas, the gift of Jesus! Have a very Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

I would love to hear from you! Leave your comments below!

Would you like to know more about the Christmas story and what it means to you? Message me below, “I want more information,” or message me privately. Merry Christmas!

Barbieri, L. A., Jr. (1985). Matthew. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 22). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Other posts you may like:

Jesus Is The King

With Christmas approaching, we may have certain expectations of how everything will turn out—baking cookies, playing Christmas music, sending out cards, wrapping gifts, hanging lights, decorating a tree, etc.  These things set the stage and prepare us for the celebration of Christmas.

Imagine if we didn’t decorate for Christmas, send out cards or bake cookies, would anyone recognize it’s time for Christmas?

Jesus is King

Two thousand years ago many were anticipating something great to happen, the arrival of the “Messiah the Prince”  of the “Anointed One, the ruler” (Daniel 9:24-27).  People were expectantly waiting for a new Messiah around 30 AD when Jesus was born, based on the prophecy of Daniel.

Jerusalem had a lot of preparation to do before the arrival of their new king.   The arrival of their new king, meant a new hope for their nation.

Little was known of how their new king was going to arrive or what he’d look like.  Was he to arrive in a chariot of gold, or on a cloud from heaven?  Was he to be surrounded by royalty and clothed with robes and riches?  A worldly expectation would be for a king to be surrounded by all these things.

The Israelite’s only had the prophecy of Daniel to prepare their hearts for God’s timing and that their Messiah would be a descendant of David (Matt. 1:6, Luke 3:31).  They were not given a description of what their new king looked like only His titles of what He was to fulfill when He came.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6 NIV Click To Tweet

The Israelite’s weren’t looking for some lowly figure to be their new king, but someone of great importance such as a great military leader or a mighty politician (MacAruthur p. 130).  They were not expecting or looking for a baby to fulfill God’s promises.

The Israelite’s didn’t know, their new king would not meet any of their expectations. Because they put their own worldly expectations on who their new Messiah would be, they didn’t even recognize their Messiah when he arrived.

Luke 2:11-12 NKJV
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be the sign to you:  You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manager.”  

Their new king didn’t make a grand entrance announcing his arrival by riding on a horse, being surrounded by royalty, wearing a crown or holding a septer in his hand.  Instead He was born of two peasants Mary and Joseph.  His birth was announced by an angel to shepherds and born in a stable amongst barn animals.

God fulfilled his promises of a king, but the only Israelite’s who recognized and “understood that Jesus was the Messiah at His birth were Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna,” people of no significance (MacArthur p. 130).

Can you imagine waiting for your king to arrive and not even recognizing him?  

God’s plan wasn’t to have Jesus raised up on a pedestal and be brought into this world among royalty (even though he was a king), but be born among the humble and to dwell among us (John 1:14).

God has the most amazing plans ever. He used a baby to change the world. Click To Tweet

God was fulfilling a greater plan for His greater purpose.  Imagine all of the Israelite’s who missed out on the birth of their Messiah because they were expecting something different. They inserted their own expectations and definitions of a king, not allowing for God’s greater plan to unfold.

Have you been in the presence of Jesus and didn’t even recognize Him?

We don’t have to wait, our king is here.  We can rejoice because, our “Savior has been born!” (Luke 2:11).  He is our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace!

Is Jesus your King?  If He is type Hallelujah below!

Praying your Christmas will be filled with all of God’s greatness and glory of our king, Amen!

 

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I would love to hear from you!  Please Leave Your Comments Below.  Have a Blessed Week!

Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur by Thomas Nelson Publishers


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Letting Go and Letting God

I will never forget when my family and I went on this one camping trip.  We had a golden retriever named Ginger.  My dad handed my eight-year-old sister the dog leash and gave her the instructions, ‘don’t let go.’  I was standing next to her and a squirrel ran across the parking lot up a tree.  You can only imagine what happened next.  The dog chased the squirrel, the only problem was my sister was holding on to the leash.

My sister was then drug across the gravel parking lot holding onto the leash.  I yelled, “Let go! Let go of the leash!”  I couldn’t believe it.  If a dog who weighed as much as me ran across a gravel parking lot, I would have let go of the leash.  But for some reason my sister held on and endured scrapes and injuries from the gravel as a result of holding on.

This picture of my sister holding onto the leash shows me this is what a lot of us do in life when we are going through hard times.  We think we have to hold on so tightly to what God is allowing in our lives, and just take the injuries along the way.  In reality we have a choice to let go of what we’re holding onto so tightly and allow God to handle it or keep holding onto it and endure more suffering.

Recently,  I was in a group discussion about what it means to “Let God and Let God.”  This phrase is used all the time but what does it really mean to be able to accomplish the task of letting go and letting God?

According to Psychology Today, Letting go means, being willing to allow life to carry you to a new place, even a deeper more true rendition of self. Holding on means trying to push life into the place of your making or be damned

In our group discussion we determined letting go meant, trusting in God that things will get better, to accept the things we cannot change and having the courage the courage to change the things we can.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep holding on and hoping for the best.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep walking around your problems hoping God does his part.

Letting go doesn’t mean sit back and wait for God to do all the work.

Which part do you struggle with, the letting go or the letting God part?Click To Tweet

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28 NIV

Letting go might feel like you are walking away and don’t care, but in reality it’s the exact opposite.  Letting go allows God to do his job of what he was intended to do in the first place.  When we hold on, we just get in the way.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”  Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Letting go might mean to let go of expectations or resentment.  Letting go may even mean one needs to forgive to be able to let go of un-forgiveness.  We may even have to let go of the outcome.

One group of people who learned the epitome of letting go, were the Israelites.  They had expectations God was going to deliver them from Egypt into The Promised Land.  God is a God who ALWAYS keeps His promises we just might not agree with His timing.  God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt but not immediately into The Promised Land.

“Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the congregation and their livestock were able to drink” (Numbers 20:11).

At this point the Israelites had been wandering around the wilderness for 38 years.  Over the years God had provided food, protection, etc. for them time and time again.  This time they were groaning for water complaining they were surely going to die if they didn’t receive it.

Moses and Aaron went before God with their request.  God instructed Moses to take the staff and TELL the rock to yield water.

As you can see in the above verse, this is not what happened.  Instead Moses took the staff and struck the rock twice.  Although there is only a slight difference in what God told Moses to do and what he actually did, this caused a BIG difference in the outcome.

I can relate to Moses.

Maybe he was frustrated the wandering was taking so long.  Maybe he couldn’t handle the Israelites complaining anymore.  Or maybe he held onto pride, let it get in the way and wanted to deliver the water the way he wanted instead of how God intended.

Whatever the reason, we can see God honors our obedience. God says to them, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them”  (Numbers 20:12).  Ouch.  That consequence had to hurt.

Because Moses wasn’t able to let go of frustration, resentment, pride and/or expectations, he acted out because of it and received a heavy consequence.  When we hold on to what God is asking us to let go of we aren’t trusting He is able.

Letting go may be one of the hardest things we do, but allowing God to have whatever we're holding onto is trusting He is able to accomplish anything.Click To Tweet

Letting go will never pull us into a direction that will intentionally hurt us.  Letting go will allow room for God’s original plan in our lives to fill us with His joy, peace and freedom.

What does letting go and letting God mean to you?

Do you struggle with letting go and letting God?

What has God asked you to let go of?

Did you enjoy this blog post? Please share with others! Want more encouraging messages sent right to your inbox? Subscribe to my blog and receive a weekly Monday Message or like my Author Facebook page to catch the latest posts.  Have a blessed week!

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Why We Should Let Go of the Miracle

Have you ever prayed so hard for something, for someone a situation for weeks, months, years and the outcome still hasn’t changed?  What if that miracle, that outcome we’re praying for isn’t what God wants?

Of course we all WANT good health, our families to be SAFE, our kids to make good choices and not fight, our spouses to love us unconditionally even when we mess up.  Lately I’ve been seeing so many families going through so some hard devastating circumstances–their child has cancer, dad has cancer, there’s been an accident or a death.  There is a desperation for God to come through to resurrect our devastating circumstances.

But, what happens when God doesn’t come through and grant us the Miracle we’ve been asking for?

Doesn’t God care?

Why wouldn’t God want to heal a child whose about to die?

Why wouldn’t God want a family to stay together and heal the person with addictions?

Why wouldn’t God want to fix this unbearable, horrendous situation that will only lead to more destruction?

In the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), there is a pattern of a message from Jesus and then a miracle to follow.   Behind every miracle lies a deeper message.  There is nothing wrong in wanting, hoping or praying for the Miracle.  Not to sound depressing, what if the miracle NEVER happens?  Where does that leave us?  

Why We Should Let Go of the Miracle

Here is the point I want to breakdown.

God is capable of anything, any miracle beyond what we could ever ask of him. What part of the miracle are we putting our hope in? The Gift of the miracle or the Giver of the miracle?Click To Tweet

When a Miracle happened in the Bible, they all started one of two ways–without any expectation/anticipation of the miracle or with a believing person or crowd who was seeking the Messiah not the actual miracle.

When Jesus healed the official’s son (John 4:46-54), the official sought out Jesus for a miracle to heal his son.  He traveled a far distance to find him.  The man believed Jesus had to be present to perform the miracle, but in this case his mere spoken words healed his son.  The official sought out the one who was able to heal and Jesus granted the miracle.

In John 5, the handicap man sitting by a pool was not expecting Jesus to approach him and ask, “Do you want to be healed?”  Jesus merely instructed the man, “pick up your mat and walk.”  This man had no expectation to be healed and simply followed his instructions and was healed.

When Jesus fed the crowd of the 5,000+ people in John 6, they were seeking more of the Messiah and what he was able to do.  When they were seeking and following him, they had no expectation he would feed the entire crowd with just two loaves of bread and five fish.  They were seeking what Jesus was able to do, wanted more of Him not the reward of the miracle.

When We Let Go of the Miracle-

Letting go of the Miracle is HARD.  

When we hold onto the Miracle, we put our Hope in WHEN or IF THE MIRACLE happens, we’re then seeking the GIFT.

Letting go of the Miracle, puts our Hope in what God is ABLE to do and TRUST He knows what’s BEST, we’re then seeking the GIVER.  

Sometimes we have to ask ourselves hard questions and sit in the reality of the truth.  What am I putting my Hope in the GIFT or the GIVER?

I’m not saying let go of the miracle and lose your hope.  I’m saying let go of OUR expectation of WHEN the miracle WILL HAPPEN.  We can’t put God in a box and DEMAND, ‘God, I want this miracle to happen, DO IT!’  We can’t EXPECT God ‘to FIX it‘ the way we want it.  When we do, we’re putting a limitation on the miracle of what He’s ABLE to do.

Behind Every Miracle There’s a Deeper Message

Sometimes the deeper message isn’t God changing our outcomes, isn’t ‘fixing it,’  or even the miracle–it’s changing our perspective and changing our hearts.  Sometimes God is waiting for the Breakthrough or the Miracle to Happen within US.  If our hearts aren’t in the right place, we will never be able to receive the greatest miracle God has for us–Peace and Freedom.  Eternal peace and freedom resides in God’s outcome of what He’s holding in His Hands not our circumstances that fall in this world.

There is PEACE and FREEDOM when we stop displacing our hope in things that may never happen and TRUST IN GOD'S OUTCOME, what he has for us is ENOUGH and more than we'll ever need. Click To Tweet

Jesus NEVER  performed Miracles to PROVE Himself or give another sign He was ABLE.  He is ALWAYS Able and CAPABLE of the IMPOSSIBLE.

Are you praying for a Miracle?

Where Do you put your Hope, in the Gift or the Giver?

Is there an unsettling struggle in your life and you can’t put your finger on it?  I challenge you to sit with these hard questions and be truthful and honest with your answers.  We will never regret pursing the truth.  Join me next week when we discuss, “When God’s love is the outcome.”  Your are loved my friend!

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4 Easy Ways To Simplify Your Health

This week is a guest post from Jen Roland, who is owner/blogger of Faith Fueled Fitness.  I love faith and fitness and am excited to have Jen guest post and share her insights of making health simple and easy.  Make sure to check out her recipes and fitness workouts!  Have a great week!

In Him,

Heather


4 Easy Ways To Simplify Your Health

There are two words that every new mom dreads.

Bathing suit.

While not explicitly stated, when my sister-in-law asked me to be a bridesmaid – in Florida and by the beach – those two words were exactly what I heard.  Holding my one-year old on my hip, I envisioned stuffing my post-pregnancy belly into a strapless bridesmaid dress.   The mental image was less than flattering.

I needed a way to simplify my health especially with a baby.

But, I was determined.  I vowed to lose the rest of the baby weight, get in amazing shape, and do whatever it would take to get my pre-pregnancy body back.

For the next five months, some might say I was a little “obsessed.”  I worked out for over an hour a day and followed a strict meal plan.  I cut out all refined sugars, eliminated caffeine, and passed on the pizza at parties.  When her wedding day arrived, I received lots of compliments about how “amazing” I looked.  My husband must have agreed, because I came home from that trip pregnant with baby number three.

Two weeks later, after experiencing heavy bleeding, I was diagnosed with a subchorionic hematoma, deemed a high-risk pregnancy, and directed to halt all physical activity.  At 33 weeks, I went into labor, was hospitalized to stop the contractions, and sent home on strict bed rest for the remainder of my pregnancy.

When I was given the green light to exercise three months after my son was born, I was starting from ground zero.  This time, God showed me that I needed to approach taking care of my health differently.  He taught me that if I wanted to change my habits, I would need to start by changing the way I think about them.

It began with renewing my perspective from fitness and nutrition as vehicles to achieve the perfect body to fitness and nutrition as opportunities to glorify God by caring for the body He gifted to me.

As I started to view my body as a temple of the Holy Spirit, I began to treat it that way, focusing on life-giving foods that helped me operate at my best without counting every calorie that went into my mouth.

God revealed that in letting my thoughts and actions revolve around when I would work out or what I would eat, I had made my body an idol.  I needed to break free from the obsession so I could focus more on Him.  As I put Christ at the center of my health journey, it became less about perfecting myself and more about living to please Him.  This shift in mindset has had a tremendous impact.

In the words of Beth Moore, “The ultimate goal for most of us, however, is freedom from obsession so that God rather than the body can be glorified.  This goal is most often realized through recapturing the lost art of moderation.  This means learning to do what we need to do (to keep ourselves healthy) and then getting on with living.”1

When we seek our self-worth, personal fulfillment, or happiness in something other than the Lord our God, we’ve allowed that thing to take an inappropriate position of power in our lives that should be reserved for Him. 

1 Corinthians 6:12 tells us “I have the right to do anything,” you say – but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything” – but I will not be mastered by anything.”Click To Tweet

We have the “right” to eat anything we want and we have the “right” to exercise.   However, while something may be permissible, it may not be beneficial.  And while something may be beneficial, it may be unnecessary – even unhealthy – if taken to extremes.

Caring for our health shouldn’t feel like a burden – it should feel “free.”  We can choose to let go of the diet mentality and focus on life-giving choices.  We can choose to let go of obsessing over every bite of food, becoming slaves to a number on a scale, and constantly chasing perfection.  Doing so is an obsession and is actually unhealthy.


4 Easy Ways To Simplify Your Health:

  1. Have a strong WHY for improving your health that is about more than physical appearance. Consider how positive lifestyle habits will allow you to operate at your best so you can give your best to God and others.
  2. Exercise regularly, but not obsessively. Start small with a few minutes a day and build from there (download my FREE GUIDE for short, simple workouts).  Focus on progress, not perfection and consistency over performance.  As you build new habits, focus on what you will do, not what you cando.  Daily wins build momentum and fuel you to keep going!
  3. Focus on consuming nutrient-dense, life-giving foods (not pre-packaged or highly processed).  (Download Living Giving Foods List.)
  4. Adopt an abundance mindset that is focused on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, such as more energy, decreased chance of disease, a closer relationship with God, and improved quality of life.  Shifting our focus to what we are gaining and our health as an opportunity to glorify Him sets a foundation for sustainable change.

As we begin to make small steps toward a healthier lifestyle, we must not neglect the importance of regular quiet time for our emotional and spiritual well-being.  (Check the Resource Guide in my 7-Day Jump Start Plan for some suggestions to get started.)  We can commit our plans to the Lord, asking Him for the strength to keep going when we’re lacking in motivation.  Then we place our eating, exercising, and everything we do before God as an offering, honoring Him through caring for the body He has given each of us.

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 Click To Tweet

Properly fueling our body, mind, and spirit is a means to live with purpose to pursue God’s plan for our lives.  When we keep that perspective, we can rest in the fact that our priorities are well-aligned.  We can stop obsessing over things this world says make us happy and focus on the one thing that brings true fulfillment.


Call to Action:   Download 12 Strategies to Simplify Your Health.  Choose one habit that is doable in your current season of life and which would have the greatest impact on your health.  Share it below or in our private Facebook group, along with your WHY.  Why is this habit important to you?  How will it allow you to operate at your best so you can give your best to God and others?

Additional Resources:
FREE 7-Day Jump Start Guide
Life Giving Foods List
FREE Recipes, Meal Plans & Workouts

Related Posts:
Chasing Beauty (Focusing on Where True Beauty is Found)
7 Strategies to Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating
An Ode to Junk Food Cravings (and How to Beat Them)
7 Strategies for Achieving & Maintaining Your Weight Loss Goals
More Energy, Few Cravings (5 Simple Ways to Pack More Nutrients Into Your Meals)
32 Tips to Get Motivated to Workout

To learn more about Jen and her mission of faith and fitness Click Here.

References:

1. Moore, Beth. (1998). Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit. Nashville, TN: LifeWay Press.


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