I’ve previously written about delighting in God – and have received so many requests to follow up on those posts.
With a brand New Year, today is the perfect time to reflect on 2016, and to plan for making 2017 your best year yet.
Sometimes, when God places a specific topic on my heart, I’ll write a longer blog post than normal. Today is one of those days. I promise it’s worth reading, though, because today’s topic has the power to radically change your relationship with God and bring great treasure in your New Year.
Read it all in one sitting tonight, or read a little today and more tomorrow. I pray your heart will be greatly blessed!
To start off, I’ll share how I learned how to delight in God:
I learned how to delight in God after going through the wonderful life-changing experience of becoming a mom. Life at the time, however, was not so wonderful…and I was scared to death I’d mess everything up.
I had given my heart to the Lord as a child, but I became a sold-out, truly born again Christian the day I went into labor, and the very first night after I gave birth…as I was holding my fresh, brand new baby…I desperately pleaded with God to show me how to be a good Christian and a good mom.
I don’t think I understood God’s extravagant love before I became a mother. I grew up in a Christian home and attended church; even had loving parents…but I failed to genuinely appreciate or see the great value and blessings of God’s heart and my parents’ love.
After I had given birth, my doctor thought I had postpartum depression. I explained to him, I was weepy because I felt so lucky to be a mom…and I suddenly understood how much God and my parents loved me. I had put my parents through a lot during my teen years…I, sadly, was their worst child…so the day I held my son, everything “clicked” as I understood love so much better.
When people truly understand how incredible God’s love is for them, it absolutely transforms their entire being! It is no longer drudgery to follow God or His ways…it suddenly becomes the highest privilege you can have while on earth.
You discover God isn’t a killjoy…in fact, He’s better than any adventure you could ever hope to have. And you find He isn’t just merely “Love”…He’s love in action in everything He does. Everything.
You find how awesome He truly is: during the great times…the joys…the amazing adventures we have in life…but also in the super hard times when we don’t understand. He’s amazing!
Even when our hearts are shattered to the point we think we’ll never be able to pick up the pieces. Even when all seems lost. Even when absolutely nothing makes sense.
It’s a powerful thing to love God and to feel His love in return through each season of life..good and bad.
Deuteronomy 6:5, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
I am blessed to have attended a good church while growing up, to have parents who invested heavily in me, and to have learned a lot through various retreats and conferences. Each taught me a new perspective on how to grow closer to God’s heart.
I always thought I’d learn to love and delight in God during the good times in my life, when everything was going great. I’ve learned I have fallen more deeply in love with God not just during the beautiful times, but especially through the hard times, too…because it’s usually during the toughest times when you truly find the heart and provision of God.
When I’ve gone through the death of loved ones, and I missed them like crazy…I found God understood my deep pain because before He received my loved ones back to heaven, He was missing them while they were here on earth. God knew them before He gave them their heartbeat and first breath…Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” He knew how it felt to long for the same loved one when He was away from them from the very minute He graciously loaned them to live and do life with me.
When I went through deep marriage issues…He understood that same heartache. He had, and still does, experience deep hurt and betrayal – by His own people…including me when I’ve mistreated His heart. Marriage has taught me a great deal about Christ’s genuine love and commitment…and has been a great tool in cultivating my heart.
When someone close to me became an atheist…He understood the agony and heart-wrenching tears that fell from my eyes. I gained a much greater picture of how to empathetically witness to others who have been deeply hurt and wounded by the Church…and just as I was desperate for my loved one to find their way back to God’s heart, I gained a small understanding and glimmer of how God greatly desires for us to help His prodigal loved ones to come back to Him, too. He strongly desires for us to help those who are hurting: Jude 1:22-23, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment…”
When I went through both my son’s tumors and surgeries and my own illness – and felt so helpless…I found God is perfectly in control and His plans (even if I didn’t like them), are perfect and hold great purpose.
After my dad died…I learned God is very much a Father to the fatherless. He truly made provisions spiritually, emotionally, financially and physically.
I could go on and on. There are so many great lessons I’ve learned throughout the years about God and His great heart – especially after those sweet days of holding my newborn baby so many years ago.
My favorite lesson has been learning how to delight in God through the good times, and especially during the bad.
During my rebellious years before submitting my life to God, I thought people were crazy to love or follow God. I had experienced a lot of pain and heartache in my life while growing up…and the last person I wanted to delight in was God. Sad but true. My plan included rejecting God and the Church…and living independently of both. I didn’t even plan on becoming a born again believer – not even the morning I was saved. And I totally never had plans of becoming a Christian author and blogger. I just didn’t “get it”.
…Then God showed up.
I felt a tremendous pull to read the Bible my dad had previously bought me (the year he married my mom)…to those who are new to my blog and haven’t read my book, my biological dad died while I was growing up and my mom married again…giving me one treasure of a new dad. As my Bible fell open, it opened to a page that held the story of Jesus’ great compassion for a woman who had deserved death. Instead, He chose to give the woman great compassion and mercy. He became her friend. As I read the amazing story, I cried out to God and asked Him to save me and have compassion on me like He did for the woman. Jesus became my Friend and we’ve been friends for decades now. And He’s proved to be my closest, most treasured friend.
When you truly read God’s Word…and you read for yourself all of the great ways He loves each of us, it becomes incredibly easy…and sweetly and richly rewarding…to love and delight in Him.
Think about your life and your loved ones’ lives…
God could have just spoken each person’s existence into being. With one command, it all could have been accomplished. Look how incredible sunsets and sunrises are…the light is truly brilliant, gorgeous, and amazing. Yet, God considers each of us more glorious than sunlight itself. He spoke light into existence…yet He chose to personallycreate and craft each of us exclusively with His very own hands…knitting us together…establishing a relationship with us before we even breathed one breath. And that’s not all. Our breath? God Himself breathed into our nostrils the breath of life…just as He did with Adam! Genesis 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
If you ever doubt God’s intimate, extravagant, brilliant heart and love for you, you never have to doubt or wonder about your value ever again. Your value is beyond comprehension!
And the more you love and delight in God and submit to His great purposes for your life, the more you’ll experience God’s great heart. Through both good times and also bad times, you’ll uncover incredible treasure you never knew was possible.
And Jesus is a true friend. He isn’t fickle…He doesn’t ignore, hurt, or reject people. Jesus fiercely loves you and cuts through all of your sin, poor choices, past shame, or anything else you are dealing with…and He looks directly in your heart. He sees the best in you and all of your great potential. He’s a true friend, especially of sinners (and who isn’t a sinner?), and meets you exactly right where you are. He is exceptionally all in when it comes to His relationships.
One of my favorite Bible passages is John 1:38-39: “Then Jesus turned, and seeing them following, said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi” (which is to say, when translated, Teacher), “where are You staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where He was staying, and remained with Him that day (now it was about the tenth hour).”
How amazing is that passage? Truly think about this for a moment:
- Jesus first cared about their hearts, lives, and their needs by asking, “what do you seek?”
- When He could tell they were searching in their souls, He didn’t just cleverly come up with a well thought out cliche…He didn’t ignore or reject them…He wasn’t too busy for them..He didn’t tell them to come back later. What’d Jesus do? He invited them in – ALL in – so He could activelybecome involved in their lives as He simply – and adventurously – said, “Come and see.” Jesus was about to show them a whole lot more than where He was staying. He didn’t just invite them in for a day…Jesus was ultimately inviting them to experience the absolute adventure of a lifetime – and more importantly, into eternity!! He gave them new names…and brand new lives. They were about to see Jesus’ first miracle (of many) that He was about to perform. Jesus invited them to be ALL in because they were about to find that HE was ALL in too – all the way to death on a Cross for all who would love and accept Him.
Did you know Jesus wants to do the same for you? Do you realize He still asks, “What do you seek?”…He still wants to intervene in lives today; to give people new “names” and brand new lives? Jesus invites you in – ALL in – today…so He can show you the absolute adventure of your lifetime! Whether you’ve followed Him for many years or you are just beginning to take His hand, when you choose to love and delight in Him…and learn from His great heart, life will forever change and take you to a level you never realized you could go!
Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
So how do you learn from God and delight in Him?
There are so many ways to delight in God. It’s never a cookie-cutter experience…God cares enough to make your relationship with Him the most unique experience possible! God will reveal to your own heart special ways you can delight in Him, learn from Him, and grow your relationship and friendship together. Ask Him to make both the Bible and your relationship with Him come alive for you starting today. He totally will do it!
Does this mean I’ll never have troubles in my life again…or will it make my current problems instantly disappear?
If you have given up on God because of a trial that left you broken hearted, I hope this helps you find the One who is patiently waiting to help you and love you. God is crazy about you, adores you, and has great plans for your life! (Jeremiah 29:11)
God greatly desires to help (and even carry) you through all of life’s toughest situations. When you go through grief or loss, He will wrap you in His arms, and bring such an amazing comfort and strength, giving an opportunity to fall even more deeply in love with Him.
Life never becomes “perfect” – because people and this earth are still flawed and fallible – but it’s incredible to have a Best Friend with you at all times…in the good times and the bad…when your walk with Him is going great….and even times when you neglect your relationship with Him and are failing miserably. God’s unconditional love is amazing in experience. He doesn’t cut people off because He is all-in! He will never leave you or forsake you!
Life never becomes void of problems or grief, but as you grow close to God…you begin to see there is value in every life experience.
Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.”
So…do we delight in God so we can get the desires of our heart…or for what we can get out of Him?
Absolutely not. God loves giving good gifts – in fact, every good gift comes from Him – but God weighs the heart in all we do.
James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
1 Samuel 16:7, “…The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
We choose to love and delight in God because we love Him and His great big heart!
We don’t seek out His presents; we learn to thoroughly enjoy His presence.
I have found throughout the years that God – and a relationship with Him – is the truest treasure on earth. I’d choose Him and my relationship with Him over anyone and anything…even all of the money in the world. I believe that anyone who has experienced God would.
If you grew up in church and feel as though you were never taught how to connect to God, no worries! You can begin today! Growing up, we didn’t have the resources we have today. Literally, today, you have information with just a click of a computer button. Study your Bible, look at compelling Christian articles that are offered online, download the Youversion Bible app and read some great Bible Reading Plans, and ask God to come alive to you. He’s faithful!
So how do I begin to treasure and delight in God?
Here are a few of my favorite ways:
- Plan a special time when you can exclusively enjoy God. Every morning, I make some hot tea with honey and talk to God about my day. I pray for my loved ones, read the Bible, and listen to whatever He has to share with me.
- Talk to God continuously throughout your day silently in your heart..an ongoing conversation. Share every part of your day.
- Get alone and curl up on the couch with a blanket and your Bible at the end of the day and reflect on your day with God.
- Go on a nature walk with Him. Marvel at all of His creation. Breathe the air in deeply and thoroughly find refreshment in His nature.
- Go to a restaurant and talk to God silently while you enjoy a meal with Him.
- Pick a favorite activity and simply enjoy God and His presence…it could be playing golf or disc golf, swimming, running, leisure walking, lifting weights, or my personal favorite – longboarding. There’s nothing like getting alone with God and having the cares of the world melt away as you talk to Him about everything. God is everywhere so spend some time hanging out with Him.
- Ask God to show you areas of your heart and life that you need to change. Follow through with whatever change He asks you to do.
- Buy a Journal and write letters to God. Also write down goals He shares with your heart and prayer requests for your family, friends, church, work, leaders, life, and yourself.
- Seek to know the deepest parts of God’s heart and share the deepest parts of your heart and soul with God. Find out as much as you can about Him and tell Him all about you. He already knows everything about you but He loves when we pour our hearts out to Him and we seek to truly know Him. Francis Chan once said that if you take a thimble to the middle of the ocean and filled water into the thimble…that’s about our limit to what we can possibly know about God in comparison to the entire ocean. I hope God allows me to know Him as much as I possibly can…and then even more after that.
- Ask God to share with you the plans He has for you and obey those plans.
- Tell God your hopes, dreams, struggles, ideas, fears, joys, and failures. Seek to find what brings great joy to His heart.
- Share with God your heartaches and cry out to Him. He is the ULTIMATE best friend you will ever have the privilege of knowing. He’s the only Friend who is available 24/7 and truly cares about everything you experience and go through. Deeply consider – and be compassionate about – what brings His heart pain.
- Ask Him for His guidance and ask Him to give you the gifts of wisdom and understanding.
- Ask God to continue to “create and perfect” you. God is the ultimate artist….place yourself back on His canvas and allow Him to “paint” the rest of your life to what He wants for it. Ask Him to finish your picture in His time with the colors He chooses. There will be colors of joy…colors of brilliance…colors of beauty. There will also be dark brushstrokes and shades of sadness…heartache…suffering… BUT…God promises to take ALL of the colors and make the overall portrait something of great value, extraordinary beauty, and treasure. (Romans 8:28)…You can trust His most skillful Hand!
- Extravagantly honor and admire Him. Think about creation and of all the beauty He lavishes on us everyday-we are SO incredibly blessed!!! He creates sunrises, sunsets, flowers, trees, nature. When you feel the wind, think of it as a hug from God that envelopes you. When it rains, think of it as God giving you tiny little kisses. One of the things I love about God is how creative He is. Whether it’s nature, or how uniquely different He has made each one of us, or even the amazing variety He allows us in life, I always thank Him for it. Thank Him for making different seasons of weather or thank Him for all of the variety of foods and spices He has created. Look at all of the different animals and even look at all the different places you can travel to and experience. I love how God is totally not boring in anything He does. My absolute favorite is all of the people He has created. He is the greatest, most creative Genius ever!
- Have a Thank-fest: take the time to literally thank Him for each and every good person and thing in your life…especially Him! There is a tremendous amount to be thankful for!
- Truly get to know Him- Read your Bible and find out for yourself who God genuinely is. Don’t merely depend on what others have told you about Him. Seek out His heart and really pursue Him. I had a good friend who challenged me to get to know God for myself and I am so very glad he did. God wasn’t anything like what I had thought. Many Christians have given God a bad name and have pushed self-centered agendas on to others. Forget what you’ve been told and look up passages of scripture that reveal and reflect God’s TRUE character and heart. He is a beautiful God of mercy, forgiveness, justice, and compassion. Slow to anger and filled with grace. Yes, He does discipline, so it’s good to look up what pleases God and what He expects out of us, but once you truly know God’s heart, you’ll want to obey Him…not out of fear but because you truly LOVE him. Read Psalms. It’s a great book to find God’s heart. Look at Proverbs, it tells you the right way to live. Get to know God for yourself and develop a personal relationship with Him. And make your relationship truly special and unique…build it continually with authenticity. You can download the Bible for free on the YouVersion app…they also have tons of free devotionals/reading plans to enrich your relationship with God. Grief Bites has several reading plans on YouVersion too.
- Speaking of different books of the Bible…read all of the books of the Bible. I personally love Psalms, Proverbs and the New Testament the most because they are so applicable, but I also enjoy getting to know about God in the Old Testament. Every book in the Bible gives clues as to who God really is. When you read it, the Bible comes alive and you find treasures only He can reveal to your heart. Did you know God’s Word shares that only believers can completely understand and interpret His Word (1 Cor. 2:14, Matthew 13, Luke 10:21, Matthew 11:25)? If you believe in Him, the Bible is a complete adventure each time you open and read it! If you’re a believer and you’re not sure what to do in reading the Bible, start off by reading one chapter of Proverbs a day and five chapters of Psalms. In one month, you’ll have read all of the Psalms and Proverbs…and it is incredible how God uses many of the verses in a different way each month that you read them. Add one chapter of the Old Testament and one chapter of the New Testament immediately or after the first month. It will take you about 15-20 minutes per day. If your Bible reading becomes dry…ask God to bring it to life, to show you new truths, and then let the Bible fall open to wherever it falls to and read that chapter for the day.
- Memorize and personalize scripture and God’s Promises with your name in it. For example: Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for Susan and her family,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper Susan and her family and not to harm Susan or her family, plans to give Susan and her family hope and a future.” You can memorize and personalize any scripture. You can personalize it with just your name or you can include others in it (such as family members or friends) like I just did. You can also put a loved one’s name in it if you’re praying for someone.
- Do an in depth Bible study on a certain topic and find out everything you can about it. I did one about suffering and it was amazing what I found. I had no idea that God saves each of my tears that I have cried in a bottle and writes down each and every one of my heartaches in His book. It is extremely interesting what God has in store for you if you’ll just seek to find Him, His great heart, and His plans. My sister helped teach me how to make the Bible “come alive” for me personally through studying specific topics and I have never read the Bible the same way since. God (and His word) is super exciting!
- Confide in God and ask Him to purify and soften your heart. Nobody cares more about your heart than God. Nobody. Like I previously said, I LOVE what Psalm 56:8 says- “You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear placed into Your bottle, each ache written in Your book”. If God cares enough to document every pain I have ever experienced, then He is who I want to expose my complete heart to. Trust Him with your heart and ask Him every day to change, purify, and soften it.
- If you are going through a time of suffering…ask Him to heal your heart and ask Him to show you His purpose for whatever trial or suffering you are currently or have previously gone through. If you have gone through a major trial, don’t be scared to talk to God openly about it. If you’re mad at Him then respectfully tell Him. He’s big enough to handle it. There have been times, to be honest, that I have been angry at God. It was very hard having loved ones die and watch my sister lose not only one fiance but two fiances in death and see the affects of those situations. Seeing my son go through multiple surgeries for ongoing, inoperable tumors was very difficult to watch…that has been one of the hardest trials I have been through…but I am SO grateful God is in control and He hears my heart, my fears, and comforts us through those hard times. There are other things I have gone through that have been very hard, but I have seen how God can take a horrible situation and turn the bad into good for His purposes that are too great for me to understand. I am forever grateful to the person who showed me that God has a purpose for EVERYTHING. It’s been during times of suffering that I grew in my relationship with Him the most. I like what Rick Warren says, “God never wastes a hurt”. Ask God to truly heal your heart and show you how to bring purpose out of your pain. He’s faithful.
- Look for ways to do something awesome for God and seek to build His kingdom. God loves for us to minister to and love others as unto Him- Matthew 25:40, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.‘
- Surprise someone for God with a secret gift to cheer them up when they’re down. If you’re at a restaurant and you can tell your waiter/waitress is struggling, leave an extra tip-make sure the tip is really good! Do something super sweet for a family member, friend, pastor, or neighbor.
- Share your testimony with someone and tell them how God is working in your life.
- Invest in your church, pastor, and church leadership by regularly praying for them.
- Give God an extra offering above your usual tithe. If you don’t already tithe, start to give what you can.
- Do a kind favor for a family member or a friend without expecting anything in return. Help family you know who are in need if you are able to.
- Have friends or family over for dinner, a Bible study, game night, or a fun movie and serve others with the hospitality and resources God has blessed you with. God loves when we’re hospitable!
- Forgive anyone you hold something against. Take them off of your hook and place them (& the situation) into God’s capable hands.
- Encourage someone with a kind word or a note. Give family and friends genuine praise and bless them with words of affirmation.
- Write God a love letter and share with Him all you love about Him.
- Buy a new Bible and read through the entire Bible and make notations on the sides of each page of what God has spoken to your heart and then give that Bible to your child/future child/niece/nephew/family member as a readable legacy.
- Make a special commitment to God and after you accomplish the commitment, celebrate with Him.
- If you know the date of your salvation, plan an evening with God on that exact date. Go out to dinner and celebrate with God (and family or friends) or take lunch to the park and spend time with Him.
- Turn on some praise music and spend time wholeheartedly worshiping Him. Music is such a phenomenal gift from God…thank Him for it!
- Look for God in the details. He is there. I am constantly amazed how God orchestrates daily lives. I love it when he surprises me by turning a bad situation into a good one, or how if I’m out late, he always gives me an up front parking spot. It’s fun to see how God works through daily life as well as the people who I know.
- Pray for specific things for your spouse, children, nieces and nephews, parents, siblings, and family members. I love praying for my family! It’s super cool to pray for them and not tell them what I’m praying about and then hear them tell some story of how God did something or provided something…and it was exactly what I had been praying for them. I love how God is in ALL the details! I had been praying for one particular prayer request everyday for 14 years and God finally answered it in 2008. It has been incredible to watch God work out the details of that prayer request and He answered it in a way that only He could have fulfilled. Trust God with the details of your life and your family.
- Learn a new skill you can use for God. I know a guy who learned how to paint gorgeously with chalk. He’d use his talent to share life stories of how God was working in his life. I also know a young lady who learned how to teach dance lessons. She offers discounted dance lessons through her church.
- Start a ministry for God. Everybody has the ability to start a ministry. Look for a need, think of what you’re passionate about, ask God to show you what He’d like you to do and where He’d like for you to serve, and then go out and change the world.
- Focus on God on every holiday: Celebrate with Him throughout the year. Start New Year’s Day by dedicating your year to Him. In February, thank Him for being the Love of your life. On Easter, watch The Easter Story or The Passion and really try to comprehend what He did to have a relationship with you. Now that is GENUINE LOVE! On Father’s Day, thank Him for being the ULTIMATE Father. By the way…if you are fatherless, you have an extra special place in God’s heart! Use Father’s Day to celebrate God the Father. On 4th of July, pray for the men and women in the military as well as their families, thank God for your freedom that other people have sacrificed for you to have, and most importantly thank God for giving you true freedom in Christ. Thanksgiving is a hard holiday for our family because my sister died on Thanksgiving Day. I used to dread it and cried to God about how painful that day was. God placed in my heart a true gratefulness for Him and the rest of my family that is still here on earth. Use Thanksgiving as a way to show your thankfulness to whoever God has allowed in your life and thank Him for every blessing. Thank Him also for everything He has brought you through all year. Christmas is super fun, it’s His birthday. Make Him a birthday cake and sing Happy Birthday to Him on Christmas Eve or Christmas. Throw God a HUGE birthday party and then as His birthday present, invest your time in prayer throughout the year for each person that comes. Think of something special you can do for God and celebrate with Him.
- Show family how special they are to God and you…treat them like royalty! When a family member has a birthday, make a special birthday card or a slide show for them with pictures set to some great music and watch it as a family. Then when you pray to God later that night, thank Him for creating that family member and ask God to bless and protect them. Say a special personalized blessing for them. I do this for my family. It’s a lot of fun to honor someone in this way to celebrate their birthday.
- Speak verbal blessings over your loved ones- Ever since my son was a baby, I have always spoken a blessing to him. I always say it on his birthday, but there are times throughout the year I’ll go up to him and say it out loud to him. Pick out a special scripture and speak it to your family members. For example, my blessing for my son is Numbers 6:24-27, and I speak it out loud to him…even though he’s an adult, “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace”. Take the opportunity to invest and celebrate in your family’s lives.There are tons of ways to celebrate with God, for God, and because of God. God is a God of celebration so celebrate with Him in all things.
To sum it all up: Make God your life. Include Him in everything. Make Him your everything. Day by day, share your life with Him. Find new ways everyday to fall more in love with Him and fully delight in Him.
This list is just some ideas I came up with, and I’m not the most creative person, so I’m sure you can definitely come up with some better ideas. If you have a special way you delight in God, comment to this post so everyone else can see your idea. We’re all here to help each other love God and love others more.
Hope you each have a super awesome, blessed, and fantastic New Year overflowing with God’s love!
Deuteronomy 30:20, “…that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…”
Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Thank you reading this! Hope you enjoyed it and got some new ideas for how to love and delight in God more. I pray He richly blesses you as you delight in Him and make Him your heart and your life!
More on delighting in God:
Happy New Year!!!🎉⭐🌺
Gratitude & blessings,
©2016 by Kim Niles. All rights reserved.
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