Tag Archives: meaning

Christmas Towns, Part 1

Take a walk with me through some of the towns where the story of Jesus took place. Along the way you will meet people who struggled to understand what God was doing. In each town we will learn something significant about what it means to believe God. I’m sure the individuals had doubts, yet they were certain that God had a plan and would carry out His plan.  As we walk through these towns, take notice, you may catch a glimpse of yourself and what God is doing in your life.

The first town we come to in the story of Jesus is referred to as “a town in the hill country of Judea.” (Luke 1:39) This unnamed town is where Mary, the mother of Jesus, went to confirm her belief in God’s power to do the impossible. The town was most likely Hebron, also known as the city of priests, but the most important thing is not WHERE Mary went but WHY she went.

Mary was seeking the truth. Truth can be unsettling and sometimes hard to believe. Truth by its very nature causes disturbance and raises questions. When the angel came to Mary and told her that she was highly favored and would give birth to Jesus it was a hard-to-believe truth. She had never slept with a man. Frankly, even now, 2000 years later, it’s still unbelievable. But she did believe that God could do the impossible and so do we. I love her response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38). Simple. Direct. Powerful.

We like to talk about Mary’s acceptance of God’s will as though the case were closed at the moment of her belief. Yet, Mary needed confirmation of what she had been told. This is where the story gets interesting. Mary sets off for the hill country, where her cousin, Elizabeth lived.  Why did she do that?  

Because, she needed proof that nothing is impossible with God. When the angel was talking with Mary he told her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was old and barren, was six-months pregnant. “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:36, 37)

Mary needed proof, assurance, verification; call it what you want, but God knew that it would be helpful for Mary to know that He was doing impossible things elsewhere too! Mary didn’t waste a second. She went immediately to see if Elizabeth would confirm the truth that she had been told by the angel. As soon as Mary entered her cousin’s house the indication is that she yelled out a greeting, just like we might do when we arrive after a long trip to visit family. What happened next was magnificent! When Elizabeth heard her cousin’s voice, her baby moved inside her, and she said:

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” (Luke 1:45)

Hit pause.

Now let’s rewind the story.

The angel told Mary that she was highly favored by God (Luke 1:28).  To be highly favored means “to cause to be the recipient of a benefit, bestow favor on, or bless”. It can also carry the idea of receiving unfair preferential treatment. Sounds like something everyone would desire. Yet, the highly favored becomes the greatly troubled. 

While you may find it difficult to believe, you are also highly favored by God. I am not making that up. The only other place in the New Testament where the word meaning “highly favored” is used is to describe Christ followers. (Ephesians 1:6). Just as Mary was highly favored, so also because of Christ we are highly favored or “made acceptable.”

“In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”

(Ephesians 1:5-8)

This unknown town represented a place where truth was confirmed. Confirmation to truth sometimes comes in the most unlikely places. It didn’t matter that Elizabeth lived in an obscure place, it mattered that God knew where she lived. When God calls you, it matters not where you live. God will find you and use you from that place. Be obedient to him wherever you are. Be Christ in your family, your work, and your town. 

What was confirmed about truth? It was confirmed that God was working out His will in more than one place at a time. God was at work through both Mary and Elizabeth. It was confirmed that God was working through them for the good of mankind. Mary returned home strengthened after her long visit with Elizabeth, able to go back to Nazareth and brave all inevitable suspicion. Here is a big thought: God still works through his people for the good of mankind.

Everyone experiences doubt. Just as Mary needed Elizabeth to confirm what she had been told, we sometimes need others to confirm truth for us. Mary did not seek confirmation because she did not believe God.  On the contrary, Mary sought confirmation because she DID believe in God! Sometimes we need confirmation too!

Read this out loud, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” God still does the impossible. Believe it. Believe truth. Believe God. 

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For more inspiration read Your Life in One Day (click here): 


Dan’s book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle version. For special offers visit

“I’ve known Dan for over 30 years and this book is a beautiful watermark of his faith. It is an enlightening read that reminds you that God desperately desires to use you in EVERY chapter of your life. He skillfully communicates that trusting fully in God’s love and promises are the keys to successfully getting through the adventures he calls you to. This book challenges you to walk bravely into the arena of your life and to listen carefully for what God is calling you to do!” Kim Carbia – Career Coach and Author of “Faith And Unemployment”



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Your Life in One Day, Part 2

Your Life in One Day, Part 2

Thinking of my entire life in terms of one 24-hour day has brought me valuable perspective. Really, every day is a battle for perspective. 

That’s the point of my blog post Your Life in One Day, Part 1. Check it out here: 

I ended part one by saying: It’s time to move forward. Let’s take it one step further. Sometimes we may wonder if we are living our very best.

For example, maybe we wonder if things shouldn’t be moving faster and we may get the feeling that we’re somehow falling behind. Or we may worry that life has passed us by.  We may even find ourselves feeling discontent and saying things like, “When I get a real job, or maybe a different job, then things will be great.” Or, “As soon as I can afford to retire things will be great.” Or, “Things were great when…I was younger…I lived in a different place.” Before you know it you’ve lost perspective about the life God has given you. Whenever we lose sight of what God is doing, we can easily become worried about the future, regretful of the past or doubt ourselves in the present. 

As I worked through my life in one day, I came across a speech called Decade by Decade in which Bobb Biehl shares what we might expect at each decade or phase of life. Bobb is an author, speaker and executive mentor and has produced more than 65 tools for leadership, management, and life. I found this speech to be particularly helpful for giving me context for both my life as well as that of my adult children. I hope it’s helpful to you too! Here is my summary and if you care to watch his talk the link is at the end of the blog. 

To make it easier for you to think of your life in terms of one day I’ve matched each decade with the corresponding time of day from part one of Your Life in One Day.

Birth to 10 years old – 7:00am-9:00am

  • SECURITY is the most important thing for all children. Children need to hear “I love you” and “I’m proud of you.”

10 to 20 years old – 9:00am-11:00am

  • SELF seems to be the driving factor in the way 10 to 20 year olds view the world. If you have kids in this age range, one way he suggests to help him or her develop a healthy perspective of both themselves and others in the world is to send him or her on a mission trip to serve others. This could also be accomplished by serving others throughout your community in a variety of ways including such things as mowing a widow’s yard, visiting someone who’s lonely, or donating a blanket or coat for someone in need. 

20’s – 11:00am-1:00pm

  • SURVIVAL is the key word for those at this time of life. If this is you, you probably wonder if you can survive in the adult world. During this time decide what you don’t want to do. Spend this time of life learning about yourself and others. Start saving 10% of your income. Discover if you’re are a goal-setter, problem solver or opportunity seizer. Bobb says that only 15% of the population tend to be goal setters, 80% are problem solvers, 5% seize opportunities. If you’d like more context click on the link below to listen to his speech. 

30’s – 1:00pm-3:00pm

  • SUCCEED is the key word for those in their 30s. People in this time of life are driven to succeed, almost with a sense of urgency. At the same time that they are raising kids, they are working hard to get things done ‘before it’s too late’. It’s recommended that you schedule balance into your life and that you get a mentor. Also, embrace the struggle that’s likely to show up between the ages of 37-43 when you wonder, “Is what I’m doing making a difference?” 

40s – 3:00pm-5:00pm 

  • STRUGGLE and SIGNIFICANCE are key words for those in their 40s. Resist the temptation to define yourself by your life’s work. Understand that this is just a phase of your life and not your entire life.

50s – 5:00pm-7:00pm 

  • Now your hitting your STRIDE! Don’t waste the time! If you’re in your 50’s, Bobb recommends becoming a mentor to someone in their 30’s. Also, relax and realize that while you desire success, this will likely be the third most productive decade of your life. If you’re hiring for a position, you might consider hiring someone between the ages of 50-53 because they are just hitting their stride.

60s – 7:00pm-9:00pm 

  • STRATEGIC is the key word for those in their 60s. This has proven to be the most productive decade in terms of the greatest income and influence. Rather than slowing down, consider how the Lord might use you in ways that take advantage of your unique life’s experience. 

70s – 9:00pm-11:00pm 

  • SUCCESSION is the key word for those in their 70s. This is the second most productive decade of a person’s life. If you’re here keep your estate plan updated. Take time to write out memories and advice for your family and friends. Keep mentoring. 

80s – 11:00pm-1:00am 

  • SLIPPERY seems to be the key word because so much can happen at this time of life. As I’m writing this, I just returned from visiting with Olive, who is 96 years old. Her mind is sharp, her faith is inspiring, her attitude is contagious. If I am blessed to live another 40 years, I hope that I am just like her in mind, faith and attitude. 

I’ll conclude with two thoughts from scripture that apply to all of us regardless where we are in life: 

First, “Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.” (Colossians 3:17, The Message) Regardless where you are, be thankful to God. Not necessarily FOR the circumstances, but while your IN the circumstances be thankful. Live for Jesus Christ. 

Second, “If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open.” (James 1:5-8, The Message)

My big take-aways from this passage are: FOCUS! Follow One Course Until Successful. Also, BE BOLD in your conversation with God beacuse he loves to help you do what he’s asked you to do.  


Click here if you want to make a difference:

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(Bobb Biehl’s Decade by Decade –


Dan’s book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle version. For special offers visit



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Your Life in One Day

What if your life was just one day long? 

What if your entire life was lived in the context of one 24-hour day? 

What would that look like? What would it feel like? How might your perspective about your life change? How might your outlook about the lives of others be different?

The average life span is 80 years. 

If you’re a 35-year-old man or woman, it’s difficult to envision yourself as an 80-year-old.  But visit with an 80-year-old man or woman and listen their stories about when they married the love of their life or when their children were born or when they served their country and you’ll likely hear them make statements like, “It seems like just yesterday.”  Memories have a way of bringing yesterday up close.  Time is like that; the far-off future seems like it will never happen, and the distant past seems like yesterday.  

Assuming you live the average length of 80 years what would that look like if it were all lived in one day? Your life would begin at 7:00 am and end at 11:00 pm. That’s your entire life crammed into one 16-hour day!

Mathematically speaking every 12 minutes of the day would equal one year of life. You would get to celebrate a birthday every 12 minutes. That’s a lot of cake…and gifts! Each minute represents one month of your life and every two hours represents a decade of your life. Here’s how it works out.

  • 7:00am – 9:00am (Birth to 10 years old)

  • 9:00am – 11:00am (10 to 20 years old)

  • 11:00am – 1:00pm (20s)

  • 1:00pm – 3:00pm (30s)

  • 3:00pm – 5:00pm (40s)

  • 5:00pm – 7:00pm (50s)

  • 7:00pm – 9:00pm (60s)

  • 9:00pm – 11:00pm (70s)

  • 11:00pm – 1:00am (80s)

  • 1:00am – 3:00am (90s)

What time is it for you?

Referencing the above chart, for me the time is 6:20pm. That means I have 4 hours 40 minutes left in my day before I turn 80. Maybe I’ll have less time but maybe I’ll have more. Either way, I am choosing to live all out using the gifts God has given me for the good of others and to HIS GLORY for the next 4 hours and 40 minutes! I believe that at the end of the day, when everything is taken into account, what’s going to matter most, both to myself and others, is whether or not I feared God and did what he told me.

How about you? What time is it for you? How are you using your time?

You get to choose how to invest your time.

Imagine the impact if you lived on purpose for the next “minute” of your life? You get to decide. If there are commitments you’ve put off, people you’ve neglected or projects that no longer deserve your attention then do something about it. Stop putting it off. Don’t waste the next “minute” of your precious life wandering.

In the time you have left why not do what you’ve always said you wanted to do. Maybe you’re right where you need to be doing what you’re supposed to be doing. In that case, keep going and don’t look back. But maybe it’s time to do something new and different. You don’t need a bucket full of courage to get where you want to go, only a drop or two is enough to take your next step.

Don’t be that person who wants things to be different AND nothing to change. To get something new requires doing something new. Why not go where you’ve always wanted to go. Do what you believe to be the next right thing. Spend it with people who bring you joy. It’s time to move forward.

To read Part 2 of Your Life in One Day, click here: 


Dan’s book is available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle version. For special offers visit


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Time Escapes


“Time Escapes” by Ashley Holland, Acrylic on Canvas

My dad was a preacher and my role model.  One of the things he modeled to me was coming up with a theme for the coming year.  This has proven to be a great habit that keeps time from becoming elusive and escaping.  For example, “Knees to the Floor in ’74” was one of dad’s themes.  He would then use that as the theme of our annual New Year’s Eve youth rally in Winslow, Arizona, where I grew up during elementary and middle school, to kick-start the New Year.  Then for the entirety of 1974 he focused on understanding and integrating prayer into his teaching and daily life.  It was a lot of fun even if at times a bit cheesy.  I have tried to follow his example of having a theme each year in my own life, albeit without his flare for rhyming.

Write Your Personal Theme for 2017

My primary thought for 2016 has been Solomon’s wisdom:  “Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)  That wisdom has captured my imagination because it means that the most important leadership tool I have is something other than my experience, knowledge, skill or network.  Each of those qualities matter for sure, but the more important and lasting concern is the health of my heart because that is the beginning point of everything else in my life.  I encourage you to write down your personal theme for 2017 which might be a word or scripture or quote.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”― Soren Kierkegaard

Think New Thoughts 

Let your thoughts be guided by your theme for 2017. According to Solomon, the beginning point for a new life is a new heart!  It stands to reason that when you learn to think in a new way, that you will start to live in a new way.  A person’s mindset is the beginning point for a new life.  Our mindset is the sum of our beliefs and thoughts.  Having a theme is helpful because it helps you to become an observer of yourself.  For example, does what you say and do reflect your new thoughts?

Be You 

Another reason I have focused on that verse is that what I feel and think in my heart is who I truly am.  That is what I need to pay attention to.  I am not what I am outwardly but what I am inwardly.  I’m not necessarily who others think I am but rather who I am in my heart.  I may put on a good face for others to see, but that is not necessarily who I am.  I am what I think, say and do in private.  Haven’t you noticed that what is private today often becomes public tomorrow?  And so, I’ve paid close attention this past year to the set point of my heart.  When necessary, I’ve worked to reset my heart in the same way that we reset the thermostat in our homes.  The temperature in our homes always returns to the set point.  That’s always been the case for God’s people.  God always does his part.  He just needs us to do our part by guarding our heart.

As 2016 comes to a close and a new year is on the horizon, let’s guard our hearts, hope in the Lord, enjoy the journey, plan well, apply wisdom and see what good things the Lord provides in 2017.


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As I consider my experience in Taekwondo the thing that stands out to me most is that in both Taekwondo and life we should always be willing to give a little more than might be required or expected. In order to do that you may need to learn to concentrate on what you know with your mind rather than what you see with your eyes. Let me explain.

taekwondo break Micah 2014

Action Photography by Micah Holland

One of the first real tests that a martial artist faces is the test of breaking a board. Each time a student begins to learn how to break a board we instruct them to kick beyond the board or to kick through the board. To help him or her grasp this concept we remove the board so that the student is able to visualize the point to which they should kick or strike. The goal of course is for them to concentrate their focus, energy, power and aim beyond the fictitious barrier.

Most students do well in this exercise. Then comes the actual test. Everything changes the moment that they see an actual board standing in the way. At that point something happens in the mind of the student. Rather than concentrating on kicking beyond the board their full attention is captured and placed on the board itself. The board is suddenly obstructing their perfect view of their goal. What seemed possible now feels impossible. 

Why does that happen? Why will a student agree to concentrate kicking to one point, practice kicking to that point and then suddenly and somewhat unconsciously completely lose sight of their goal? Why do they suddenly become in danger of fixating on the board? Is it that the student doesn’t trust their instructor? I think the explanation is a rather simple one. This change of focus happens because the board is real. Breaking the board was a nice goal and thought but actually breaking through the board is another matter entirely. What the student knows in their mind and believes in their heart is hijacked by what they see with their eyes. They believe their instructor, but then they begin to think and that is the problem. It seems that the more they think about the board the more they stop believing they can actually break through the board.

Action Photography by CI Roy Reid

That is a powerful lesson in life itself. You may know that there is more then what you might be able to see in this life and so you make your goal to live with faith, courage and determination. Yet, sometimes whenever you face physical, relational or financial obstacles (to name a few) hope, faith and joy can suddenly be hidden from sight. And then what happens? You focus on the problem rather than beyond the problem to the solution. You focus on what may become a source of pain rather than the joy that lies just beyond it. In some instances you may find that you have been fixated on the “board” in your life for years!

Now, because you have lost sight of the goal, you may continually and courageously kick against the very real obstacle and it hurts again and again. Why are we suddenly afraid of the trouble we face? While there is no simple answer I would like to submit that it might simply be due to a loss of sight. It seems to me that in the same way that a student might be suddenly afraid of seeing the board, although he or she knew that there would be a board to break, that we can suddenly be afraid in life.

We fear the board because we do not want to suffer.

We certainly don’t want to cause ourselves unnecessary pain and suffering. And so we do everything in our power to avoid the pain we expect. In other words, we want to break the board, but we don’t want it to hurt! We want to move through each challenge without suffering in any way. Yet suffering leads to perseverance, perseverance leads to maturity / character, and character leads to hope, according to scripture.

Something powerful happens in the human spirit whenever we focus our attention and belief on something that is outside of ourselves and beyond our trouble. For me, whenever I focus my attention on Christ and eternal life that is beyond anything on this earth, I also find exceptional joy and abiding peace. And when I focus on joy I am better able to break through obstacles that life presents. Not always without pain and not always on the first try. But that’s life.

Not accomplishing something the first time is ok.

Hurting as a result of trying is ok. Pain does not mean that you are doing something wrong; sometimes it’s a result of breaking through something. However, it is not ok to give up just because you are tired. There is no valid reason for not trying again: if you fall down seven times, then get up eight.

Back to the board-breaking…I learned to focus on a point beyond the board. All was well until I was required to face the more difficult challenge of breaking through concrete. First degree required that I break one 2″ concrete cap with my hand. Second degree black required breaking through two 2″ concrete caps with my foot. The lessons I carried into breaking concrete were things like: Don’t overthink it (huge lesson)…It’s been done before…You are well prepared…Trust your instructor to put you in situations that are both challenging and sometimes difficult…Always give your best.

Having said that, times of testing in both Taekwondo and in life can be useful markers along the journey just to confirm that you are experiencing progress. I like that I am always learning and always teaching.

Why did I pursue 3rd Dan Black Belt?

Once the testing was over, individuals were allowed to ask questions of me in a public forum. One of those questions came from my wife. She asked me why I did it? She said, “A lot has happened in the year leading up to this point of testing. At any point you could have decided not to move forward. Why did you do it?” After thinking for a moment I answered to the audience, “I decided to persevere because I knew that if I did and was successful, it would allow me to work toward a fourth degree. But if I didn’t, it would be the end. I didn’t want it to be the end.” 

I am humbled by the fact that while many began this race, few (by comparison) have come this far. I am thankful for each person who invested time, energy, suggestions, training and encouragement. While I am so grateful to each instructor and students, I am especially grateful to Kwanjangnim David Turnbull and Sahbumnim Wendy Turnbull. I hope that there will be many opportunities to help others experience breakthroughs to their dreams and goals.


Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Goal Setting, Leadership


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The Reason

Reason02Why do you do what you do?  And…why do you do what you do the way you do?

I serve as a pastor of Real Life Christian Church.  Real Life is a serving and growing place.  Everyone serves and everyone grows.  That’s how it works.

Fortunately, I get a front row seat to witness the lives that are being changed and impacted through this ministry.  On one particular weekend after services, our team met to pray and to celebrate the changed lives.  I complimented one of the team leaders about the excellence and intentionality of his leadership.  His response was more than a “thank-you-for-the-compliment.”  His response to the team and me summed up his reasoning behind his leadership.

I thought that, regardless of your profession, you might appreciate and be motivated by his reason for living and leading well.  Here is what he said:

“One of the reasons that I am so detail oriented when it comes to the presentation and operations of Real Life UCF/Oviedo is because we only have 90 minutes to let God do what he does best.  My objective is to eliminate as many distractions and hindrances as possible in order to let God have full access to a person’s heart. 

I am blessed to work with such an awesome crew that is willing to do whatever it takes to make the Sunday morning experience the most inviting and least distracting environment for our visitors and newer members.”

Three take-a-ways to apply immediately to your life and work are:

Eliminate distractions from your environment.  Anything that interrupts or disrupts the flow of your life unnecessarily might be considered a distraction.  Also, consider others so that you do not become an unwanted distraction in their life.  It is easy to underestimate the power of changing your environment.

Eliminate hindrances from your life.  Anything that obstructs or sabotages what you do can likely be dealt with if a little forethought is given to your day.  Identify those things that were hindrances yesterday or last week.  Write down three possible options you have to remove, or at the very least, minimize the impact of the obstacle?

Surround yourself with an awesome crew.  Pay close attention to the people to whom you choose to entrust yourself.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.”  Ephesians 5:15-16


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The Tortoise and the Hare


Have you lived long enough to know the value of patience and perseverance?  Do you believe that the good stuff in life comes only through endurance and long-suffering?

We like the story of the Tortoise and the Hare because in the end the improbable happens…the tortoise wins!

The slow unimpressive turtle won against a much quicker, more impressive opponent rabbit.  He didn’t win because he was slow or because he was entitled to win.  He endured, didn’t quit and eventually crossed the finish line…in first place.  He won because he applied the principle of steady plodding. 

Leaders generally agree with the importance of persistence and grit.  Yet how often have you looked for another way?  Is there another way?  Of course there is.  There is the way of the Hare!  However…

Wisdom teaches us, “Easy come, easy go, but steady diligence pays off.” (Pr 13:11, The Message).  While the principle of steady plodding applies to all of life the context uses wealth to illustrate.  This is more obvious in the NIV:  “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.”

Little by little?  Frankly I would prefer “a bunch by a bunch.”  What about you?  However much you may prefer quick growth, the change that is produced usually isn’t sustainable.  The tortoise won because he used the principle of steady plodding and because the hare loses focus and interest.

Did the hare want to win?  Of course he did!  Everyone wants to win.  But because he was fast he knew he could easily win.  So he started out fast and impressive but soon grew tired.  He could not sustain the pace.  Not true with the turtle.  Mr. turtle started out at a speed that was sustainable and simply didn’t stop walking.

Where have you behaved like the hare?  Where would you like to be more like the tortoise?  Do you have areas of life where you would like to win?  Your health?  Your money?  Your energy level?  Your friendships?  Your marriage?  Your children?  Your spiritual life?  Your education?  May I suggest that you pick a direction and start walking!

Take a life lesson from Solomon: “…steady diligence pays off.”

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Posted by on August 24, 2013 in Leadership, Uncategorized


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