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Posts Tagged ‘Forgiveness’

babybird_edited-1Three little birds, hungry, waiting, crying out in a voice nothing like a song. Their noise reminds me of the saying, “so hungry my stomach is gnawing my backbone.”

Unforgiveness is much like the hunger of those three little birds. The difference is that unforgiveness induces a deep, unrelenting, insatiable soul hunger. It’s not easily satisfied. Like those baby birds waits, so to waits the soul owner. The soul owner waits for the offender to come fetch their forgiveness.

Much like the hospitable hostess at the front door, a package on the door-side table wrapped and re-wrapped, waiting for the offender to come knock on the door, handing you a dish of I’m-sorries. After studying their I’m-sorries, the gift of forgiveness is then handed out.

Call this exchange a two-way street, or spiritual etiquette dance between two people. Each presents the prerequisite forgiveness requirements (the I’m-sorries and I-forgive).  Relationship is restored – Correct? The hunger caused by unforgiveness-waiting has been satisfied. Right?

That’s what I call the 7X7X7 forgiveness dance. Your brother slights, shows up at your doorstep and asks your forgiveness (Matt 18:22). No matter how many the slights or failings, you really, really forgive – his slight as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). Forgiveness-by-the-book. Everyone does what they’re supposed to do.

There’s another forgiveness dance, though. One when everyone doesn’t do what they’re supposed to do. The main partner doesn’t show up to do his part. Your forgiveness gift languishes on the receiving table. You can’t give it unless they show up to receive, so hunger gnaws at your stomach until you feel it scratching at your backbone. Your daily song sounds unsatisfied like the baby birds waiting.

It’s hard – this forgiveness when nobody wants it– big and little wounds made intentionally or unintentionally. A daddy walks out, or maybe it’s a spouse. Bullies in the bathroom. Lapses in the kitchen. Wrongs in the workplace. Breaches in the family room. Unintended slights. Infractions in the neighborhood, school, roadways. Even on a desert island.

Unforgiveness like hunger gnaws, distracting from every goodness. It dams up peace like a stream until there’s nothing but a trickle left, then dryness – and you find yourself parched of it.  It stands between you in a hug, a kind word, a hand reached out for fellowship. It’s creates a haze, diffusing the joy God leaves in your daily.

Forgiveness waiting to be given becomes a parasite to the soul, leaching the nutrients properties of salvation: the burden should be lighter. Forgiveness waiting weakens the soul, burdens it.

This waiting to extend forgiveness, waiting for the right conditions, the 7X7X7 forgiveness dance is starving your soul.

On the cross, in the midst of the greatest betrayal of all, stinging from the thorns and whip lashes, lips bitter from the tainted wine, Jesus forgave even before anyone asked to be forgiven.

His friends, his church, his government walked out on him, denied him, tortured him, killed him.

We need to forgive just like that: pre-emptively, whole-heartedly, still desiring to save each offender, each sinner.

First, we have to winnow the true hurts from the pride hurts. Pride hurts, like someone not treating you as you feel your position deserves. That could be anyone from a mom whose kid didn’t get a starting position on the football team, to not being included in a social event, to not being included in a group lunch invite.

There’s the little offenses, like the man who cut you off on the highway, fast-food getting your order wrong for the umpteenth time, misjudgment of those who don’t know you, unfairness and injustice in the daily. Those really are the easy ones. They’re really the practice ones that help us with the big ones.

The big forgivenesses – sometimes we have to recognize just how deep the hurts are to forgive – to truly understand just what the cost to ourselves was – in order to fully forgive – not nickel and dime forgiveness – but full-cost forgiveness.

I learned about full-cost forgiveness with my dad who had left my mom when I was 4. Sadly, he never benefited from the forgiveness gift I had for him. I forgave him long before he died. It was like a gift he had but never bothered to open.

God helped me through that – from the point where I asked for His help to the giving of forgiveness to also learning how to not take it back.

Forgiveness is an abiding thing. When He abides in us and us in Him, forgiveness becomes easier to give.

An  unforgiving heart hungers for I’m-sorries from the very human, fallible man. It hungers wrongly. A forgiving heart hungers for the ministrations of a very loving Father-God who heals the hurts, fill the soul up with good things that satisfy.

Are you waiting on some I’m-sorries?  Are you tired of the gnawing hunger of waiting for people to collect them? Maybe you should go ahead and forgive right now, just like Jesus did. Forgiveness isn’t given because someone deserves it. It’s given because Jesus forgave us, and we don’t deserve it.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32)

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BLUEnativity_edited-1

My boys, at some time in the scholastic career, have expressed daunting terror of something going on their permanent record.
They believed that this permanent record, in their minds, recorded every mistake – real or imagined – records beyond the ABCs of English, Math and History. . . and that it would negatively impact their future.

To my boys, the purvayors of this permanent record were as omniscient as God, judiciously intolerant and unforgiving resulting in a figuratively wielded stick of punishment that closed doors on opportunties for current peace and future success.

We were never able to totally coax them out of this belief. Today, with young elementary-aged school children being suspended for gun-shaped sandwiches, playing cops and robbers on the playgound – and wielding finger guns, kindergarteners stealing an innocent kiss – tolerance of mistakes has resulted in a system in American that doesn’t forget – or let the individual forget.

Computer systems, despite the IRS inability to keep employee records, support error intolerance. Computer programmers design programs to catch every error possible.

Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable, wrote to encourage social reform in a country grossly intolerant of the mistakes of its populace – from stealing a loaf of bread to having a child out of wed-lock. Charles Dicken’s novels encouraged much needed social reform, too.

America’s own novelists encouraged social reform.

America, France and Britain have indeed achieved much in the lat 200+ years.

Yet, today one hand preaches tolerance while the other hand wields intolerance – and in the mixed-message of it all, our country risks repeating history.

Ironically, the mythical “permanent record” of students today are becoming a reality. Kindergarten hijinks follow a student through all 12 years.

The records kept are surely as damning to the individual as Jean Valjean’s passport that labeled him a former convict. This passport was required to be shown at every city gate he entered. Though he had served the time(over 20 years) for the crime (stealing a loaf of bread), society begrudged offering the same grace for redemption that was offered to them when Christ became man and died for our sins.

During December, let us, you and I, press in close to the Christmas story.

Let the mercy, grace and forgiveness of it seep into your soul until the very marrow of it is flooded by his Holy Spirit, all the debris of your failures and sins washed away because the magnitude of its power – the very power that raised Jesus from the dead.

God didn’t send his son to save us because our permanent record was  perfect. He sent his son because our humanity cannot achieve perfection without Him in us.

“He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him.And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins”(Psalm 103:10).

God gave Moses only 10 Commandments. The children of Israel had a tough time just following 10 Commandments. The U.S. Library of Congress can’t even answer how many laws America has.

Ron Paul said at least 40,000 new laws were added at the beginning of 2012.

Yes, our society is becoming increasingly intolerant of humanity’s failure when small things are treated as big crimes – and the permanent record-keeping of man-kind doesn’t want to forget – or forgive – which is at odds with the salvation heritage of our nation.

Christ came to redeem us – to deliver us from the bondage of sin – our own sin, our own mistakes and failures, our inability to live a perfect record.

He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2)

Christmas is a time to celebrate this priceless gift a loving Father God has given us.

God wants to remove our sins as far from us as the sunrise is to the sunset. He desires to remove that sin burden so we can rise with Him freed, able to soar. Only then can we live and become who he designed us to be.

“But now, this is what the LORD says– he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1)

Do you get that?

Shaddai has redeemed you.

Yahweh has called you to Him by name.

You are mine,” says the God who sees you – really, really sees you – the good, the bad, all of it. He has pursued you all of your life . . . . to give you this gift.

Gloria in excelsis Deo

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)

This Christmas season, live redeemed. Live forgiven.

Live the Merry Christmas gift He gave us over 2,000 years ago!

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butterflybushc2ccdd_edited-1

Sometimes, you need to live a quote – and by living the quote, you can smell the basil, the rosemary, lavender and thyme from the garden on your fingertips

and you can savor a half-dozen pairs of hands reaching for out-of-the-oven warm chocolate-chip muffins

or a smile thrown my way by one of my growing-up boys

or sitting, just sitting, with my aunt on a rainy day

or an early morning call with my mom

or brown smudge on my retriever’s nose from digging mole holes

or an encouraging note from a friend

and feeling the love from those God gave you – over a bowl of curry chicken, or a cup of honey-infused lemon sorbetti tea

the first-person story of a son pushing himself over a challenge to be who he thought he was

a to-do-nothing time with my husband – no outside challenges invited or allowed to crash in

and the first, second and third person story of my boys helping my husband build a dream

Yes, sometimes, you have to live a quote, in order to see yourself as God sees you, to be who God designed you to be – and know it. Sometimes you have to live a quote to let go of things we were not designed to carry.

“People are often unreasonable and self-centered,
forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives,
be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies,
succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you,
be honest and frank anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous,
be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow,
do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough,
give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God,
It was never between you and them anyway” (Mother Teresa)

Sometimes you have to teach yourself to recognize that what you do, how you live, the decisions you make, what’s really in your heart – how your children, your parents, your neighbors and everyone you walk by in the daily – their interpretation doesn’t matter a hill of beans – it’s only what’s between you and God in the living of it that matters.

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Lunging from his stance, the young football player – himself a kicker and defensive end –lunged toward the football before it could be kicked into an afterpoint.

The opposing kicker’s leg touched ball, rising upward impacting the player in red’s helmet, knocking it off, leg soaring to drop a double blow on the now bare head on the way down to rest position.

This player in red was my son, a sophomore player. It took a couple of weeks, an inability to remember classroom content, an anxiety attack before a doctor trained to identify and treat concussions diagnosed his concussion.

Initially, they thought he’d miss the rest of the school year. They sent him to bed for 2 weeks – no t.v., no video games, no computer – no media. Just rest.

It was the best sleep he ever had, he said later.

It took him at least a month to make up the work he did for those two weeks of school with the concussion + the two weeks of school sleeping the concussion to healing.

Remembering was like a kick in the head.

A few weeks ago, he said, “I don’t remember much from before the concussion.”

My heart dropped to my toes.

Not remember much before your sophomore year, before rebellion kicks in – all the sweet memories, the innocent times, all the love we had to give – living without those memories must be bleak. Dark. Lonely – not remembering the love before the rebellion of youth.

Being the problem solver, the fixer – I decided to create a 30 days of memories. Then, knowing me like I know me – I knew it would take a few months for this to steep in my mind – this vintaging of memories.

As the 30 Days of Memory Project (see – now it’s in caps so it’s almost official, almost at kick off now) – I thought how hard it must be, without a concussion, for a prodigal walking home to wade through the hard memories to find and pull close the sweet rememberings.

How many leave good memories un-vintaged because of the shame of rebellious memories, the hurt-inflicted-on-others memories? You pass those, in the walk back, taking ownership – before you walk far enough back to the good stuff.

Remembering the good-stuff, though, needs to be done. If he can’t do it right now, on his own, whether the concussion or the prodigal path stands in the way, I can help.

I can sort through and pull out the blessing rememberings. They were a gift to him – from God and his family.

Sometimes it takes others to help vintage the good rememberings.

The prodigals walk home retraces the steps that led him away. The retracing, the return is a coming face-to-face with regretful behavior, regretful memories. In remembering the regretful comes true repentance. With true repentance comes forgiveness, with forgiveness comes refreshing.

“Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, so that there may come times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord,”(Acts 3:19).

He will blot out your sin.

The blotting out of the sin will reveal the history of blessing.

It’s time to vintage the blessing memories.

True forgiveness does that – blots out the dark memories – sheds light on the blessing memories.

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barefeet

Mothering lays bare my soul, all raw and real to these arms, legs and toes with a soul born skin-bare. Life bare they grew, loved and wrapped little arms around my neck, unconditional trust to grow who God created them to be, some days barely graceful, some days barely adequate – and the memory of the imperfection bared is no longer than a sleep.

Imperfect me laid bare to little toes and legs that grow up into teen toes and legs with little tolerance, little forgiveness for a barely good-enough mom who misses it, missteps the daily dance with those toes and legs. And I am bared, in this teen reveal, the true brokenness of imperfect me. In the bareness of the reveal these legs and toes remember past the daily sleeps, remember and dress imperfect me in my own gracelessness.

The bare necessity of a mother’s life? It’s not the coffee, the hugs, the candles lit that symbolize hope for a peaceful moment. Not, it is hope and faith that here I am bare, alone, judged by these legs and toes – that they will one day take their soul fingers and peel away the imperfect memories, laying bare to the startling unconditional, hope-filled love that never gave up on either of us.

Once I got beyond the thought of how my boys used to, pre-10 unabashedly walk bare-naked through the house without any inhibitions  – well, such is a boys-only house – I realized that bare is a word that should come with “forgiveness required.”

While we can dress up our bareness when we leave the house –  but home and these boys and my husband and I – home is real, where we are all laid bare. It’s where tempers like a teapot give off steam. It’s where comfort is available like blankets folded, waiting to wrap around. It is a place where unexpected humor shows itself. It’s where daily wounds get tended and exacerbated. As a mother, it’s the place where I am more harshly judged than anywhere else.

Home is a bare-it all place where God is the foundation and forgiveness, faith and love frame it, cannot stand without it. When you enter or leave, please take some love and forgiveness with you.

 

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Forgiveness tastes salty. Sometimes, unconditional love tastes salty, too. The only thing I know to do when hurt comes, not offense, just hurt – is to call on the Father, maybe sometimes in a Knight in Shining Armor kind of way to save the damsel in me. Because sometimes when hurt comes, love and forgiveness are overwhelmed and need saving, He is the only one who can do it.

Prayer for when Love and Forgiveness feel Overwhelmed by Hurt

“Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
Take hold of shield and buckler
and rise for my help!
Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers!
Say to my soul,
‘I am your salvation!’”
(Psalm 35: 1-3)

Father, yes, contend against those who contend against me. Champion this damsel in distress. Let me feel your protection from the fight, the battle – you are my salvation. You are the only Knight in Shining Armour who can win this battle. But let your spear and javelin be the spear and javelin of truth that pierces hearts, lancing untruth, prejudice, negativism and applying the healing balm of your spirit.

“Let them be put to shame and dishonor
who seek after my life!
Let them be turned back and disappointed
who devise evil against me!
Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away!
Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them”
(Psalm 35: 4-6).

Father, if there is shame or dishonor, let it be only in the recognition of the truth and love of my heart. When turned back, let it be with peace and rejoicing in truth. Do no let them become like chaff before the wind, let not the angel of the Lord drive them away. Let their way become sure-footed, truth-footed, God-footed, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them for salvation, not destruction. Let your love and forgiveness be meted out by a heart embracing truth and love.

“For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life.
Let destruction come upon him when he does not know it!
And let the net that he hid ensnare him;
let him fall into it—to his destruction!”
(Psalm 35: 7-8)

The evidence is before you Father, the nets hid, a pit dug – all without merit. Yet, let not destruction come, let not traps ensare into destruction. Let Salvation ensare, captured by your saving grace. Let truth and love permeate  souls Father. Let redemption be found through your ways.

“Then my soul will rejoice in the Lord,
exulting in his salvation.
All my bones shall say,
“O Lord, who is like you,
delivering the poor
from him who is too strong for him,
the poor and needy from him who robs him?”

(Psalm 35: 9-10)

My soul rejoices in you Oh, Lord, exulting in your salvation. All my bones, from my toes upward cry out, “O Lord, who is like you” for you deliver me from situations too strong for me, from situations that seek to rob me, from situations I cannot comprehend.

“Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me of things that I do not know.
They repay me evil for good;
my soul is bereft”
(Psalm 35: 11-12)

 I try to love Father – in words, actions and thoughts. But my words, actions and thoughts are mis-interepreted, mis-used or lost in translation.  My soul is bereft: beggared, destitute, left without, impoverished, disinherited, barren, cast off, without breath.

“But I, when they were sick—
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting;
I prayed with head bowed on my chest.
I went about as though I grieved for my friend or my brother;
as one who laments his mother,
I bowed down in mourning”
(Psalm 35: 13-14)

Oh, father, I can only love the way I know how. Is there more? Is there a better way? I have tried every love language, tried to love your way, through you, sometimes graceless like a dancer with wounded feet, but always full-hearted, a no-holds barred loving.

“But at my stumbling they rejoiced and gathered;
they gathered together against me;
wretches whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
like profane mockers at a feast,
they gnash at me with their teeth”
(Psalm 35: 15-16)

At each wrong foot unintentionally placed, at each word imperfectly chosen, at each moment awkwardly loved – offense was taken, resulting in retribution that tore at me, constantly. Not forgiven or overlooked, like spilled milk at a feast where it is cleaned up and camaraderie continues – but my gracelessness, my imperfection stays center stage, judged, ridiculed, continual bruising and scratching of my heart, no moving forward, no loving forward, hurt that nips and pulls at my soul. Who cares but you, Oh Father, about these wounds? Who but you can heal them?

“How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their destruction,
my precious life from the lions!
I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.
Let not those rejoice over me
who are wrongfully my foes,
and let not those wink the eye
who hate me without cause.
For they do not speak peace,
but against those who are quiet in the land
they devise words of deceit.
They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, ‘Aha, Aha!
Our eyes have seen it'”
(Psalm 35: 19-21)

If there is something barring you from interceding on my behalf, open my eyes to it Lord. Is there a reason I am to walk through this Father? Please rescue from this destructive hurt. You have told me I am precious to you, a favored daughter. Rescue me,  Father. I will tell the story of my Knight in Shining Armour who rode out of heaven to lift me up, who saved me, healed blindness, healed embittered hearts, healed wounds – and restored.

Let restoration be true Father. Not a 6-year-old, “I’m sorry” to escape punishment – but real heart changes. Let there be change, deep soul-change: restoration where love flourishes, words embrace, peace flows from a Holy Spirit stream of heart – oh, Father, let us embrace each other inside the circle of your family with loving intent.

“You have seen, O Lord; be not silent!
O Lord, be not far from me!
Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
Vindicate me, O Lord, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!
Let them not say in their hearts,
‘Aha, our heart’s desire!’
Let them not say, ‘We have swallowed him up'”
(Psalm 35: 22-25)

Rescue me Father. You know the truth. Champion me, Lord. Ride to my rescue. Be. With.  Me. – be with this heart that strives imperfectly to live your cause, to live as your daughter, to love all your children. Vindicate. Exonerate. Defend me, Oh, Lord. You have said I am your daughter, a daughter of the King, the creator, the great I Am. You have pursued me, told me I belong to you, that every hair on my head is counted, that every tear is collected. In your mighty love for me Father, that is too much for me to comprehend, to big for me to fathom, in your mighty love father, rescue me, redeem me, restore me, save me from this battle.

“Let them be put to shame and disappointed altogether
who rejoice at my calamity!
Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor
who magnify themselves against me!
Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
“Great is the Lord,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long” (Psalm 35:26-28)

As I try to live love and forgiveness, Father, I ask for shame and dishonour to not be brought against those who hurt me. I ask that shame and dishonour be replaced with forgiveness and redemption, that hearts are changed, that souls are changed – and that love prevails. Thank you Father for surrounding me with those who encourage me, who know the righteousness of my heart, my intents. I thank you that they rejoice with me that you delight in the welfare of me, your servant, your daughter – and I will tell the story, the continual story of your Hero to my damsel in distress.

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There are times I want to be a fly on the wall in my kids’ lives. There used to be a time I wanted them to tell me everything.

School/work, friends, lunch, dreams, fears, beliefs, challenges, over-coming moments.

Encouraging dinner-table discussions, car-ride rhetoric of whys and hows – teaching my children as we come, go, sit and stand.

The communication-door-is-always-open approach.

My definition of everything has expanded. With that expansion has come the realization that I don’t want to know everything. My expectations of everything apparently have limitations.

There are some things a mom does not need to know. I never thought I would say that.

Until my son came home with a plate of scones one day – and declared them. . . . better than mine.

The grasshopper(yes, the grasshopper again) telling the teacher “I have out-done you.”

I stood there, on the other side of the counter, watching my son come in, from the outside coming in, with a plate of berry-something scones that he had baked with his then lovely-fiance-now-wife.

Maybe I need to establish our baking history. In 3rd grade, my boys learn to make box brownies. In 5th grade, my boys learn to make cakes from scratch. In 6th grade, this son made a better homemade lemon meringue pie than I could. I told him so. No ego problems there. Just a lot of mama pride.

This was different, though. Healthy communication boundaries respects, waits to be told by the teacher, “You have outdone the master (chef, teacher, do-er of laundry, healer of boo-boos, bed-time storyteller extrodinaire, stealth prayer-mama).

But grasshoppers  are jumpy things, catapuling – which is why they tend to get run over in roadways. A grasshopper can jump 10x its length – so it can really get ahead of itself.

According to the article “The Grasshopper’s Hop, “the grasshopper’s jumping muscles may lead to an effective insecticide.”

That day, standing on the other side of the counter, as he presented me with a plate of scones, I realized that if I had not unconditional love in my heart, that this young grasshopper might have jumped into a life-threatening situation.

Some days I wished we’d taught, “Children should be seen and not heard” but that was not our parenting-heart.
 
Our heart was to teach them independence, reasons for their beliefs, thinkology, how to seek God so they could seek Him on their own, how to pass down our traditions and make new ones, how to communicate fluently, to grab thoughts from the recesses of their minds, study them and express them.
 
My  heart still says, “Come on in, son, pull up a stool and tell me about your life.”
 
But as they get older, some things are better left between them and God. Some things are better left unsaid, like “My scones are better than yours.”
 
“I love you,” though, is always healthy boundary communication. “I love you,” is a Hail Mary Pass in a communication challenge. 
 
Because I love my sons, they can say things they shouldn’t.  Even saying their scones are better than mine. It’s just hard to swallow sometimes. 
 
Note to those whose children are not teens yet: You might not be ready for this message. You might not be able to fathom ever having even a whiff of the thought to not want to hear “everything:” You might even be birthing the thought,“I’ll never think like that.” All I can say is“I was once there, too – before I had older teens to college student children.” Everything changes as they grapple with growing into adulthood, especially communication boundaries. 
  •  Blue Cotton Mom’s Scrumptious Scones Recipe: Click Here 

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