Quiet and common notions...shared here...with you! Of life ~ our hearts and our home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Blessing

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***
It's a quiet here, this evening.  The lights are low and twinkling on the little Charlie Brown.
The littles are (soon) sound asleep... ;)
The kitchen is cleaned up after a quick and hurried dinner and from the whirlwind and flurry of cookie baking during the day.
The cards are sent and we're enjoying the ones that trickle in through our door.
It's time to "wrap up" the shopping and begin the gift-wrapping and any other last minute details... that still need to be tended to.

Not forgetting the reason for the season, in the least.

So far, we've enjoyed caroling...crafting...
get-togethers...
and a Charles Dickens play/production... of the "Christmas Carol".
With more activity still to come.

We're also wishing, so badly, for some snowflakes to land our way...
That'd be really nice!!

In time.  They'll come...
~
Knowing this was coming, but never being fully prepared...
Our hearts are heavy.  The last day and a half have found us thinking of more the celebration of heaven than anything else.  Our landlord, Mr. A has entered his eternal home!  We're sad, but happy that he is free of any pain and suffering anymore.
This man - our friend - will be greatly missed.
We're grateful, we got to visit with him as much as we have.

This could also mean some really big changes for our family, in the upcoming year!
In fact, it will.

We thank you for your thoughts and prayers, in this regard.

I'll leave you tonight with this Christmas Blessing!
***
“Let Every Day Be Christmas”

Christmas is forever, not for just one day,
for loving, sharing, giving, are not to put away
like bells and lights and tinsel, in some box upon a shelf.
The good you do for others is good you do yourself.

Peace on Earth, good will to men,
kind thoughts and words of cheer,
are things we should use often
and not just once a year.

Remember too the Christ-child, grew up to be a man;
to hide him in a cradle, is not our dear Lord’s plan.
So keep the Christmas spirit, share it with others far and near,
from week to week and month to month, throughout the entire year!

written December 17th 1976
by Norman Wesley Brooks

***
Until next year....

Emmanuel - God with us!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Joy is never perfect!

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Yesterday, I decided I wanted to add a little touch of JOY to a corner of my kitchen.

Pulling out an old barn board, from when we visited Kaitlin and her family, back in April, was just the piece I needed...
I threw some white paint on there and handpainted the letters.  Not perfectly.

Joy is never perfect!
But how it results... is!


I like how this piece adds its touch to brighten our little corner of the kitchen.

But what I like even more... is this.

Jesus and Others and You!
What a wonderful way to spell JOY!
Jesus and Others and You.
In the life of each girl and each boy.
J is for Jesus, for he has first place.
O is for others we meet face to face.
Y is for you. And, for all that you do, 
Put yourself last and spell JOY!

A reminder for me, my children, for us...
as a family!!

***
May JOY brighten the corners of your heart and home this Christmas!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Toffee Bars

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Everytime I serve these Toffee Bars there is a request for the recipe.  I know why, too.  They are so yummy.  A soft and chewy toffee center, smack dab in the middle of a delectable shortbread cookie crust and a chocolate coating on top.

Very simple to make, as well.

TOFFEE BARS
1/2 cup butter, plus 2 Tablespoons
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla
Chocolate Chips (semi-sweet are best!)

In a mixing bowl, beat 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), sugar and salt.  Stir in flour, mix. (Actually, I just cut the butter into the flour - to make coarse crumbs.. do this!!  You'll love the flaky texture.)  Remove and press into a (lightly greased) 9x13" or 7"x11" baking pan.  Bake at 350* for 15 minutes or until edges are browned.  NOTE:  If you have a pampered chef bar pan (medium/small, 7'x11" size), you'll want to use this.  It makes these bars so awesome!!!!!!!!!!

In a saucepan, heat milk and 2 T. butter, just till bubbly.  Stir in 2 tsp. vanilla.  Pour over hot crust and return to oven for another 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and sprinkle (a handful or your preference) chocolate chips over the top.  Let the chips "melt" nicely before spreading over the bars.

**These can be stored in the fridge or freezer.

***
One of my favorite bar cookies to add to the tray - for the Holiday's!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Christmas Kisses

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I want to share something, with you,  Something that I heard on the radio the other morning.  A story that certainly brought a tear to my eye. Of course! This is a thought provoking, but beautiful story.  I have to tell you, I don't remember it word-for-word, so this is my paraphrased, colorfully added to and close-to-my-heart edited version, as it came to mind...as best as it could.

Please enjoy... Christmas Kisses!
***

This wasn't an "easy year". His life had turned a furious upside down.  Money was tight.  There wouldn't be much of a Christmas this year.  Tension mounted, in his soul, with every passing day. Could he feel any more scrooge-like?  It's not like it mattered.

When he noticed the empty cardboard roll from wrapping paper; last year's only remaining roll - lying on the floor with snips and shreds of gold paper by its side, he became infuriated at the thought of this completely wasted paper!!

Taking it out on his darling soon-to-be four year old, the obvious guilty party... he noticed the gold box tucked in and under the branches of their scraggly Charlie Brown.  He fumed.  Sending her to bed, that cold Christmas Eve, leaving her in tears and hard, harsh words in her ear.

He sat in fuming silence... angry.  Angry that life had taken such a turn and that his life and dreams were unraveling to a tangled mess, like any string of lights always do.  This year? Poof, his lights were out! He was doing his best, but he had nothing left.  He hardly cared any more and why should he?

The dreaded Christmas morning came and he woke to the pitter patter of his girl's bare feet.  Through sleep deprived eyes he observed she held in her hand the fated gold wrapped box, wrapped as best as any near four year old could do.  Embarrassed by last night's overreaction - he tried his best to muster a smile for his girl, especially as he realized the effort she had made to grant this gift to him. Rising from his bed, looking as disheveled as he felt. He took the gift from her hand...amazed at once by its nare rattle and lightness.

No surprise, here, that is anger mounted once more- when he opened it to find not a single thing was inside the box!

"ELLIE, YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO PUT SOMETHING INSIDE", he yelled.  "You don't give empty boxes as gifts..." he continued in a degrading huff.  "Don't you know that when you give someone a gift you're supposed to actually put something inside the box?",  and he tossed it to the floor.

His little girl looked up at him with spilling tears in her eyes and said, "Oh, Daddy, it's not empty".  "I blew kisses into the box.  Lots of them! Until the whole box was filled up - all the way to the top". Her voice trembled... "all of them are for you, Daddy!" - wiping her eyes and tucking in her lip, cringing at what might come next.

However, This time the father was crushed.  He put his arms around his little girl and sobbed. Begging her for forgiveness he picked up the box, with its crumpled gold paper and held it near, almost crushing it between them as he embraced his young girl's tear-stained face again and again. His own tears failing to subside...

Later that night, as he settled his little one into her bed, he sat by her side for a long, long time. Till her sweet little breaths began to even out into deep and peaceful sleep.

How could such a little one have this great a love for him, despite his constant shortcoming and rage... a love like this?  When he was such a mess?  Christmas.

  Christmas isn't Christmas - till it happens in your heart!

He sat to his thoughts a humbled man.

Time moved on...

And for each Christmas thereafter, the father and daughter, continued to exchange that one "empty gift box" - wrapped and rewrapped in gold paper as a constant reminder of their gifts of love and forgiveness that they had for one another.  You see!  Just days before her eighth birthday - his daughter passed with an unforeseen, unexpected illness that took her so young a life.  It could have been yet another twisted turn to his already unsettled past.  But love and time had changed this man. Nothing could steal his joy!  His joy of Christmas!  Nothing.

The story goes on to relate that this forever-changed man kept that box by his bed for the days and years to come, as a ready reminder. Whenever he felt down or discouraged by life's continued unraveling - he would take out an imaginary kiss - and remember the great love of the child, his child, who had put it there.

To this day, those kisses have never run dry.

Love has come at Christmas.  
Love for us, Oh LOVE divine! 
He was born at Christmas.  
Love be yours and mine.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Let's decorate... for Christmas!!

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Let the decorating and the re-decorating begin! :)

***
Christmas
My goodness, my goodness, 
It's Christmas again.
The bells are all ringing.
I do not know when
I've been so excited.
The tree is all fixed, 
The candles are lighted,
The pudding is mixed.
The wreath's on the door
And the carols are sung,
The presents are wrapped
And the holly is hung.
The turkey is sitting 
All safe in its pan,
And I am behaving 
As calm as I can.

~ Marchette Chute

This re-decorating part... I have a feeling this will be done again and again.  Thanks to my little stinker who is behaving as calm as she can. :)  An appropriate poem for today!


Have a wonderful week!

** Linking this post with Tuesday @ Ten - Finding the Grace Within

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Seasons Come and Go :: Five Minute Friday

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"Mom!" He complained... "these really hurt", speaking of the new expander appliance he has in his mouth, which only happened to be a few hours old.  "I want to rip em out", he said, with passion!!  And - to my reply - he asked..."what's a season?", as if what he's been through has been an eternity already!

"A season is like the start and end of baseball.  The start and end of football.  The start and end of racing... the first day through to the last day of hunting season!
 Me trying to speak his language... 
"The start and end of spring, summer, fall and winter.  Here for awhile and then it stops.  On to another."

"This mouth thingy - it, too, is just a season.  It will have an end!!  Don't worry!

"The deal is - we've got to be patient in and through the season.   Sometimes we wish for it to end already and other times - we wonder where it all went?  Why did it have to end so soon?

Are you in a season of waiting, wondering and why?

I can relate to my son.  Sometimes the beginning and ending get muddy and it's hard to see or know clearly from one moment to the next... where you're at in the said season of your life.

Personally, I don't always like change, but I do enjoy the fact that seasons come and seasons go!

Update on my son:  he's already pretty much adjusted to this change in his life and riding it out with ease... for the most part!

 Ecclesiastes 3:1-11, comes to mind.. I hope you don't mind that I share these verses with you.

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
 What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?
 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

****

Joining up with Kate from Heading Home for Five Minute Friday
 The prompt was: season

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tuesday @ Ten :: Determined

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Determined.... or relentless?

I have a precious four year old daughter who I so badly want to refer to as Relentless Jayne!  I don't think the name would bless her, overall; I mean, what kind of name is that?  And - yet...this is what she is!!!!! If you look closely, her picture is in the dictionary under such said word. :)

 Honestly - I don't call her this to her face but I have referenced this endearment to others, in the moment.  Because, I really do love this little one.  Her "gift" to the family dynamic is strong and powerful like a falling rain that won't stop.  I say endearment because it is true... an endearing reminder that for every time this trait emerges... I should think to pray.

I do.  But, not enough, I'm sure.

My prayer for my young daughter is that this spirit of will - will not depart from her, but only grow in a more sanctified direction.
That this will ultimately be a blessing in her life.

A determination to overcome!  A will to surrender.
A temperament that will only soften but remain strong in the face of trial.
A relentlessness in prayer and petition to a loving and Holy God!
This is a beautiful thing... in the right way and context.
That these moments for her will not be for self-gain but for the blessing of others and giving glory, ultimately, to the Lord.

Oh Lord, I pray for my little one that you would continue to soften her heart...
And Lord,  I want this for me!

How can I learn from my own daughter?  What can I learn from this?
I do know my response, to her, isn't nearly as patient and sanctified as it should be - in these moments - and that right there is what and where I am determined to makes changes - and so with prayer and petition I humbly ask for help!  Lord, I so need you in this...

I found a semi-humorous quote the other day that speaks to this...

Some people think they have a strong will when rather what they have is a strong won't.

How true!

Why do we often think this all as a negative - when really it is and can be an ever more important positive aspect in anyone's life?

May the teaching moments continue...
***
Linking today's post with Finding the Grace Within - Tuesday @ Ten

Monday, November 30, 2015

Living the Life | Salt of the Earth

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In anticipation of the season to come, gift-giving is obviously on the mind.  We've just come from a season of giving thanks - to what we now think of as a season of giving gifts.

Please enjoy this lengthy excerpt (I know..) and may it be something for us all to consider.  For certainly all of us have room enough, to grow, in our hearts, of putting ourselves aside and to think of others...instead.
 Even if it requires more than the usual bout of sacrifice, which we may already graciously give!
***

At the busy intersection of Ginza and Z streets in downtown Tokyo was a small wooden box fastened to a post.  The box, like a neatly built birdhouse, had a slot underneath it's slanted roof and miniature door in the lower right hand corner.  At intervals during day or night, people would open the tiny door and take out several coins.  Then they would shuffle off into the crowd.

At least once a day a well-dressed Japanese gentleman dropped coins or paper yen into the slot beneath the slanted roof.  Without glancing to the right or left he, too, disappeared.

This "give-and-take" caught the imagination of hundreds of Japanese.  They called it the "Salt of the Earth" movement, a unique adventure in anonymous charity.

It began on September 10, 1956, when 46 year old Shinichi Eguchi nailed the first box to a light-post near the Hagoromo Bridge in Chiba city, a Tokyo suburb.  Eguchi, who wrote inspirational verse, was convinced that the most worthwhile line he ever composed was the one on that first box,

"Whoever is truly in need is free to help himself to the money inside".

A desperate man gave Eguchi the idea for the venture.  The man had told Eguchi that life had dealt him so many bad breaks that he was determined to kill himself and his family of five.  Eguchi responded by getting the man a job and moving this man and his family into his own home.  The wages the man earned, however, were so inadequate for his family that his eldest daughter, aged 15, became a prostitute.  When Eguchi heard of this he blamed himself for not having done more for this family.  Poverty, he declared, is everyone's sin and everybody's responsibility.  He vowed that he would give 1,000 yen (about $3 a day) to charity for the rest of his life.

He recalled a legend about a money box in the Swiss Alps, in which villagers claimed was watched over by the Lord.  People put money into the box to help the poor, who took out what they needed and without abusing the privilege.  When things were better with those who had been aided, they sometimes replaced what they had taken.  But the donations always exceeded the demand.  Even thieves never pilfered the box and everyone in the village became more generous and brotherly-minded because of it.

This story of the Swiss Money Box became associated in Eguchi's mind along with a Scripture passage he had learned as a boy - when he had first become a Christian.  "Ye are the salt of the earth, but if the salt hath lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted?"  And thus began his ministry...

Eguchi converted a discarded milk box into a "Salt of the Earth" box and wrote on it a message to the needy.  He fastened it to a post near the Hagoromo Bridge.

As he was "salting" this first box with a handful of yen, an official came along and asked what was going on.  When Eguchi explained, the official thought it preposterous, but to show good will he too dropped some money into the box.

During the first six months, the boxes were destroyed fourteen times.  Sometimes it was juvenile vandalism but often adults wrecked the boxes - just the same.  Eguchi took these setbacks as a test of faith and kept replacing the boxes.

One day Eguchi found a scribbled note in the box from an unemployed laborer.  The laborer had said that at one point he contemplated suicide but that the box  had made him change his mind.

Later other notes appeared.

One woman wrote that the few yen she had taken had kept her family from starvation.  A thief confessed that he had been on his way to rob a house, but as he was about to take some money from the box, it seemed he heard a voice.  Withdrawing his empty hand he decided to go straight.  Later, when he was helped by a friend to find an honest job he gave credit to the "Salt-of-the-Earth".

One day a well-to-do merchant, who had often seen poet Eguchi "salt" the box, decided that he too would like to put up a box of his own.  Inquiring how to proceed, he was told that there were no rules governing the size or construction of the box or where it should be placed.  However, there was but one requirement: whoever put up a box would have to promise that they or an associate would place some money in it  every day.

Readily agreeing, the merchant installed his box.  When a typhoon struck Tokyo and hardly anyone dared venture out, a policeman spied the merchant fighting his way against the roaring wind to put money in the box.  This so impressed the policeman that he, too, set up a box in a different section of the city.

Eguchi began publishing a small bulletin for free distribution, placed in a receptacle beneath each box.  The four-page pamphlet contained testimonials, essays on the power of faith, and poetry.  One issue carried these lines: "Wounded pilgrim, take help from this box; Rich or poor, wounded traveler be filled from this box.  Be filled."

Eguchi eventually distributed over 14,000 copies of the bulletins each month and placed an additional 6,000 under the boxes at his own expense.  Publishing the bulletin and supporting the boxes was such a drain that Eguchi frequently pawned personal belongings to keep his "pact with the Lord."  His wife and two sons, aged 13 and 19, cooperated with him in the adventure.

The movement grew and soon there were over four-hundred "Salt of the Earth" boxes in Japan, along with others scattered throughout the United States, placed there by tourists who learned about the movement in Japan.

"When you join the 'Salt of the Earth' movement," said Eguchi, "you are uniting with an unseen fellowship.  A person who makes and supports a box becomes a changed person.  In the past if he had been reluctant to trust people he begins to have faith.  If he has been tyrannical, he mellows.  If he has been idle, he becomes industrious.  The greatest mission of the the boxes is in the new outlook on life they bring to the donors and receivers alike."

Changes took place in others, too.  One Japanese townsman testified that he used to spit at the box whenever he passed by.  But he became so impressed by the loyalty of the man who kept the box "salted" that he constructed a box of his own and pledged to support it.

Eguchi's theory was that a person should give and then forget about the gift.  "We should not mind," the poet insisted, "if a hoodlum takes money out of a box to use it for his alcoholic merrymaking.  No one ever knows what the final outcome may be."

In another issue of one of Eguchi's bulletins, he shared a story of a drunkard who confessed he had been taking coins from the box for drink.  One morning, however, his conscience bothered him so much that he put some yen into the box instead.  This act of restitution so filled him with self-respect that he decided to stop drinking.

Shinichi Eguchi felt that any hard-and-fast organization would rob the program of its selfless spirit. So the project had no president, no directors and no one to solicit contributions.

"What we are trying to do," Eguchi said, "is get a box in every village and city in our country.  Then we can dare approach and challenge other nations.  And only when every nation is inspired by selfless love and service will the true meaning of the 'Salt of the Earth' program be realized.  It is not merely a matter of giving the money - it is, the most of all, a matter of living the life."

~ selected piece taken from the October, 2015 - Fishwrapper.  The original story by Marcus Bach, 1961, condensed and edited.


***
I've never seen a box like this in real-life!  I'd be curious if anyone reading here, has... or perhaps you know of something similar - in action.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Father in Heaven, We Thank Thee

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We're spending a quiet day at home today - just our family, and we're thankful for that!  With hopes and plans for gathering as a larger family - on Sunday.

We have so much to be thankful for!  If I could only begin to count my blessings!!!
This simple prayer came to mind today, as I think of Thanksgiving Day - and all that means for me!

We Thank Thee
by Ralph Waldo Emerson

For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,
Father, we thank Thee.


For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.


For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee.

For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee

Pumpkin Dip

For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

Amen!

***
Enjoy your family and friends today!  And remember, if you think thanks... you'll live thanks!
Count your Blessings!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I just thought I would close this post by sharing with you this simple recipe for Pumpkin Dip.  Something for you and yours to enjoy over this holiday season...

:: Pumpkin Dip for Gingersnaps ::

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
3/4 cup pumpkin (canned)
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spices (combo of cinnamon, cloves and allspice)
1 Tablespoon maple syrup

gingersnaps

Using an electric mixer, whip together the cream cheese, powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream for about 2-3 minutes.
Add the pumpkin, spices and maple syrup - whip again for 2-3 minutes (the longer you whip, the more fluffy it becomes).
Add a drizzle of maple syrup and crushed gingersnaps crumbs on top for looks.  Dip with gingersnaps or apple slices.

* I've also found this dip to be a delicious topping for pancakes or waffles.. enjoy!!!

***
I'm sharing this post with Tuesday @ Ten

Monday, November 23, 2015

{Bags by Bevy} Ladies Breakfast and sales update...

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“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside."― Stephen R. Covey
I've been quiet here - lately - on the blog, in this little space,  I know.  Simply because life has been happening the way it should be!  Busy, sure!  But - living it well... saying yes to different things!!

Some of that busy involved this...

Several of you have been wondering just how that Ladies Breakfast and Home Goods sale went this past Saturday... for me, with Bags by Bevy!

To answer your question - I would have to say it went pretty well.  I mean, I feel pretty good about it. ;)

Several items never got updated into my etsy shop and well... a majority of them sold - first thing!!!

Listed below are the items that sold.


:: Smoke and Mirrors ::
Classic Medium Tote
Sold to Kathy M.

****
:: Autumn Bloom ::
Classic Medium Tote
Sold to Julie B.

****

:: Tea Wallet ::
holds two tea bags
Sold to Gwen K.

****

:: Black Lace ::
Overnight Bag
Sold to Lori H.

****

:: Tea Wallets ::
 both hold four tea bags each - can be used to carry business cards, etc.
One sold and one as a gift (given away)!

****
 :: Figgy Pudding ::
Pocket Pouch
Sold to Julie B.

****

::Homemade Goodness::
Cookbooks... for sale on behalf of my sister, Gladys - with proceeds of cookbook sales 
to Bald Eagle Boys Camp
Total of 3 sold - with two more sales pending...

****
Here is my table display, for the morning!!


****
We were asked to sign up to bring a dish - if we desired.
I chose to make an Overnight Caramel French Toast.  No photo, though. :( Sorry!

Albeit to say - there was quite the selection and yummy goodness...all around.  
No one left hungry, for sure!!  If they did - it was their own fault. 


I wish I had a few more photos of the time together... the fellowship of over 50 ladies, in attendance, was so sweet! And so was the "message" truly shared from the heart!  A message on  God's Faithfulness - through some really difficult seasons in one dear sister's life.  The worship time was moving - with the songs chosen - and I, for one, could have kept on singing.

There were tears and smiles and many hugs of affirmation, throughout the time, with many of us being able to relate with one another...

It was wonderful!!


I'm really thankful to feel this sense of belonging with these dear ladies from our local church!!

My prayer is that it will only continue to grow and strengthen in the years to come!
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