Lover of my Soul

On the long and winding road of my journey to belief and faith in Christ, I dabbled in some new age practices. One in particular was finding my soulmate. This practice was to first make known to the universe my desire to find my soulmate, asking for a sign to identify “the one” who I was meant to be with from the beginning of time. I was to keep my eyes open as I went through my day, and my special totem would make itself known to me.

As I was walking on my break at work, a large white feather entangled in the branches of a bush caught my eye. I knew the moment I saw it, this was my totem. From that moment on, I told no one about my white feather. My soulmate, some point after meeting, would give me a white feather, or something with the image of a white feather, signaling my search was over, my long lost soulmate found.

Fast forward several years, I am a baby Christian, newly baptized, praying sincerely, telling God I did not want my baptism to be an initiation into an exclusive club. I asked God to teach me about who Jesus is, and who He was when he walked the earth. This prayer opened the floodgates, and I began a deep, satisfying relationship with Jesus. I became a true follower. Over this early walk, the Lord asked me to rid myself of all remnants of my wandering on the long and winding road. In obedience, I
destroyed jewelry, video tapes and books, anything not in accordance with God’s word and the path of life I was traveling.

As I attended church and became involved in serving, I developed close friendships with several single women. I had given up dating, allowing God to show me a love beyond my wildest dreams as He promised when I entered into a covenant with Him, promising to remain celibate until I was married again. One of my friends wanted to go to a singles conference at one of the mega churches in our city and I agreed to attend with her.

As I got ready for the two day conference, I found myself praying God reveal my soulmate over the coming days by having this very special man give me a white feather. There must have been a remnant of desire for a loving relationship with a man. During the conference, we worshiped, listened to the featured speakers, and attended breakout groups specific to areas of gifting or interest. It was a wonderful time of fellowship, and I enjoyed spending time with my friend.

On the final night of the conference a young pastor was speaking on purity and God’s will for singles and those seeking marriage. He said at the wrap of his message the Lord had been showing him that many women are wounded from past relationships, and we are like doves with clipped wings, no longer able to fly as God intended. He declared the Lord was saying it was time for healing. The pastor then began to pass around bags of white feathers, telling us each to take one as a symbol of the healing the Lord is doing in our lives.

My eyes filled with tears and my hand shook as I took a feather. I knew the Lord was telling me that He was my one true soulmate, the lover of my soul. In Him, I am complete, my search was over. Peace washed over me, knowing Jesus loves me so much, He answered my ill conceived prayer with His amazing love and grace.

This was over twenty years ago and I still have the feather in my bible, a wonderful reminder Jesus is the lover of my soul. I am complete in Him, the search is over, and I am found. ~♡

I Shall Not Want

As I have journeyed this year, through all God is teaching me, the 23rd Psalm has played a central role.  Over twenty years ago as a new Christian, I fell in love this Psalm and committed it to memory.  I would, and still do, carefully recite it in my head, or aloud, and wonder at all God is telling us through this Psalm.  

About two months ago as I was praying to Papa God, I heard myself say the words “more than anything else, I want…”.  “I want” stuck out to me, and as I continued to pray, I felt the Holy Spirit continue to draw my attention to how much I use this as I cry out to God in prayer.  Immediately I began to recite the 23rd Psalm, The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want…(I shall not want, I shall not want).  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

As I commit myself and the rest of my life to Christ, what can I possibly want?  What has God not already provided for me as I walk through each day.  He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside the still waters, He restores my soul.  He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  I have more than enough to sustain me through each day and each challenge I face.  He assures me, as I walk intimately close to Him, following where He leads, speaking the words He gives, staying still and silent, He guides and directs me.  I am walking in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake. He has prepared this path for me. 

I notice when I declare what I want, it is often when I have rushed ahead of Him, rushed ahead of the Shepherd, away from the flock.  I am out in the wilderness in places my Shepherd has not intended me to travel. 

My wants are often for the love of my own comfort, the fear of having nothing, or toward a life of worldly passions.  I know my Lord and Savior, my God, knows my heart better than I know my own heart.  He knows what I need as well as what I want, yet above all, He loves me and guides me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  I have tasted the goodness of God and all He has prepared for me. What more could I possibly want

The first time I heard the song “I Shall Not Want”  by Audrey Assad, I wept as I listened to the words “Deliver me O God, from the need to be understood, from the need to be accepted, from the fear of being lonely, deliver me O God.”   I wept because these are the things I long for most… I want most, more than anything else.  I wonder if God is asking me to look the wants I declare as things driving me to run ahead of His leading.  Are these wants driving me off the path of righteousness, the path He has prepared beforehand that I should walk?

I know Papa God knows my heart.  He sees my desire to be understood, accepted, and not alone as I walk through this life.  These are very human emotions and fears, yet He is asking me to trust Him and seek first to be filled by Him.  He is reminding me to be driven first toward Him, and if these things are driving me to run out ahead of His plan for my life, my desires are out of balance. 

All I can do with this revelation is to turn to Jesus, my Lord and Saviour, and lay it all down at His feet.   I give to Him all my wants and desires as a sacrifice.  I tell Him I love and desire Him above all else and I trust Him because He knows me, understands and accepts me, and has promised He will never leave nor forsake me. ~♡

“I Shall Not Want”

From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

From the fear of serving others
From the fear of death or trial
From the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

No, I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

When I taste Your goodness I shall not want

Written by: Audrey Assad, Bryan Brown

Lyrics © MUSIC SERVICES, INC.

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

Purple High-Top Chucks

I have wanted a pair of purple high-top Chuck Taylor sneakers for a while.  Maybe even as long ago as five years.  They symbolize a right of passage, moving from the norms and expectations for a “woman of a certain age”, and letting go of the need to please anyone but my Creator and myself.  God created me exactly how He did for His plan and purpose, and I know this includes the wide eyed little girl who ran when she heard the doorbell ring, sure her purple Chucks would be sitting on the porch!  Their arrival had her jumping up and down, barely able to contain her excitement.

Thoughts of paring them with a skirt, dress, or a pair of shorts had me giddy at thinking of the outlandish statement I would make.

I had this pair made using the customize option through Converse.com. I picked purple of course, and added “Only Love” text on the side wall, and “God is Love” on the outside lower heel.

Purple is the color of royalty and serves to remind me I am a princess, a daughter of the King.  I  stand firm on the truth that God is Love, and Love is all there is, only love, only God.  As I put on these shoes, they remind me as I walk in the world, I desire to tell the good news of peace, and walk in His truth as a representative of His Kingdom whose foundation is Love. ~ ♡

Ephesians 10 – 19

10 Finally, let the mighty strength of the Lord make you strong. 11 Put on all the armor that God gives, so you can defend yourself against the devil’s tricks. 12 We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world. 13 So put on all the armor that God gives. Then when that evil day comes, you will be able to defend yourself. And when the battle is over, you will still be standing firm.

14   Be ready! Let the truth be like a belt around your waist, and let God’s justice protect you like armor. 15 Your desire to tell the good news about peace should be like shoes on your feet. 16 Let your faith be like a shield, and you will be able to stop all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Let God’s saving power be like a helmet, and for a sword use God’s message that comes from the Spirit.

18 Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people. 19 Pray that I will be given the message to speak and that I may fearlessly explain the mystery about the good news.

Purple Chucks

 

Submission? Not for me!

Well, this was once how I felt.  God continues working with me on the issue of obedience and submission, and has for many years.
I have a very rebellious nature and have had to face this in my walk with the Lord.  God’s word equates rebellion to witchcraft, which was quite an eye opener for me.  (I Samuel 15:23 nkjv).
Through this realization, the Lord walks with me, teaching about submission and obedience. He is helping me understand true freedom is found when I am in right relationship with Him.  Right relationship is where I willingly yield to Him and obey without questioning.  In this posture, I acknowledge Him as sovereign over my life.  I seek Him, and only Him as my source of love, self-worth, and approval.
I know many women struggle with the concept of submission and obedience, and we all prickle a bit reading Ephesians 5:22, instructing women to submit to and obey their husbands.  They see this posture and position as weak and powerless.  Yet are we  missing the truth?  True power and freedom come from God.  As we turn our lives over to Him, follow His plan and seek wisdom from His word, He will give us the desires of our hearts.  The thing is, most of us do not even know the desires of our own hearts.  We get caught up in pride, the political issues and social mores of the day, and we let these guide us.  However, God sees past our facade and blustering words.  He knows exactly what our hearts long for; an intimacy that touches both body and soul.
God has been using the image of a wild, untamed horse to show me the condition of my heart.  Over the years He has used this image again and again to lead and guide me in a process of healing my heart.  He is my personal horse whisper…the one who in peace and gentleness whispers to my heart until all I desire is to chase after Him.  In this chasing, I am completely free and unrestrained, yet no longer wild.~♡

Extravagantly Loved

Remember the feeling you have as a young lover, realizing there is someone who sees you as perfect and perfectly suited to them? This is also the experience you have when God allows you to see yourself through His eyes.  He sees you as beautiful, perfect and perfectly suited to be His bride. He shows you all those wonderful and unique things about who He created you to be and how all of this is fulfilled as you become one with Him

I am extravagantly loved and blessed by God.  He is so intimately beside me each day as I walk with Him and continue to grow in my love for Him and obedience to His will and way.   He has brought incredible teachers into my life always, and this year,  I am awakening to this truth more each day. Amazing…

I journal as a way of praying and talking to God, and before I write, I review what I have written months or years in the past.  At the end of this year I found an entry from May 29th 2017, which has become an amazing exploration of true intimacy with God.

Through this process I began corresponding with a wonderful godly man who I believe was a God led encounter to help both of us grow in our walk with Him.  I was asked to serve as a co-leader in a life group serving with a wonderful godly woman who continues to inspire me with her commitment and courage to become intimately involved in the lives of the women we were entrusted to lead. Our church began a series exploring the book Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  We were doubly blessed to have him visit our church as a guest pastor.  I was invited to become a prayer partner at my church campus.

Each of these I treasure as very special teachers and opportunities, brought to me by God, answers to my desire and prayers to walk more closely in true intimacy with Him.

This year started with correspondence from my dear friend, in which we exchanged our thoughts and impressions of what true intimacy with God looked like, using scripture as our guide.  I pulled from Song of Solomon and spoke of the intoxicating, all-consuming intense desires of young love and how our hunger and desire for God should drive us to seek Him fervently and relentlessly.  My dear friend took an altogether different approach, speaking of how a mature love, born of trials brings true intimacy with God.

I wrote, “Remember the feeling you have as a young lover, realizing there is someone who sees you as perfect and perfectly suited to them? This is also the experience you have when God allows you to see yourself through His eyes.  He sees you as beautiful, perfect and perfectly suited to be His bride.  He shows you all those wonderful and unique things about who He created you to be and how all of this is fulfilled as you become one with Him.

From this place, you are filled with a light shining for all the world to see.  You see everyone differently, you enter their presence, even in their sin and disgrace, and you see the beautiful child God created and longs to become one with, just as he became one with you.  Returning to your first love, being filled with that light shining for all the world to see, will draw all men unto Him.  Good works flow from this.”

He wrote in response, “I believe to experience a level of intimacy and intoxication is first required a level of maturity. Noticed that David went through a lot of trials and difficulties to experience intimacy with God, just as the apostles experienced those as well.  Even Jesus grew in stature and wisdom (Luke 2:52) before his ministry began.
I believe that when you love someone the way Christ called us to, and you respect and accept them because of who they are in Christ, and both of them are lovers of Jesus and lead by His Spirit, then something magical and beautiful takes place and that is when Eliza loses control and becomes spirit driven.

There is a song by Kim Walker called ‘Where You Go I Go’,  and in that song there is a part that expresses what I believe intimacy is:

Jesus only did what He saw you do,

He would only say what He heard you speak,

He would only move where He felt you lead,

Following your heart,

Following your spirit.

I believe that intimacy with God is a Spirit lead life where complete transparency, complete dependency and complete obedience is found.”

This concept of letting go of the need to control, and taking a submissive and obedient role next to Jesus, the lover of my soul, helped me to see how submission and obedience is an incredibly intimate posture.  This is only born through trials, suffering, and the maturing of a love relationship with Jesus.

As our love grows, deepens and matures through the trials and storms we walk through with Him by our side.  Through this we come to trust and lean into Him.  Then, submission and obedience is the fully expressed union of two becoming one flesh.

From here, we no longer rush out ahead, trying to figure out and predict the outcomes, we simply go where He leads, following His heart and Spirit because we are so in sync.  We are in right relationship with him as the head and we as a fully submitted bride.

As I continue to meditate on this new insight, I find myself saying yes to opportunities to serve in my faith community, as the Lord leads.  It is no longer an obligation, but it is a joy and instead of draining me of energy, it energizes me.  I show up expectant and excited to see where God will lead through these experiences.

It continues to be an amazing and wonderful journey and He continues to teach me so much about His love for me and for all His children, for His beloved.

 

 

Inspiration

We view success as the money we earn, the possessions we acquire, the titles we hold, and the accolades we receive from the world around us. Yet God’s view, opinion, and ways are so far above the ways of man. We struggle to shift from this world view to the Kingdom view of our Father in heaven.

I was just thinking about a conversation I had with a  dear friend.  He was talking about how schools bring in speakers to inspire the seniors each year do great things with their life as they move on from high school and in adult life.  There was something unsettling to him regarding these lofty, grandiose goals being presented on our youth.

If I understood him correctly, I believe what he was conveying, is a need to acknowledge and encourage a life of sacrifice and a sense of peace for those who do the small things in life.  The dignity and honor of what one does to daily care for themselves, their families and their communities.
This brought to mind the sermons from one of my pastors who said that some of the greatest saints will meet in heaven be people we had never heard of who lived humble lives in complete obscurity out of the public eye.
So much of how we view success is based on the material world in which we live.  We view success as the money we earn, the possessions we acquire, the titles we hold, and the accolades we receive from the world around us.  Yet God’s view, opinion, and ways are so far above the ways of man.  We struggle to shift from this world view to the Kingdom view of our Father in heaven.

A few scriptures come to mind as I think about this concept.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.”
Proverbs 14:12

Several things I have heard and read over the past week have been stirring my thoughts of this conversation I had with my dear friend.
The first is the following quote from Victoria Erickson…

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In the past several weeks I have been watching my dear friend make a life altering  choice, which from my worldly, fleshy perspective, ends all hope for a happy joyous future for his life.  Yet when I consider God’s words and His ways, I start to see his sacrifice as Christ’s call for those who wish to be His disciples.

Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.  Luke 9:23

As I prayed for my dear friend,  I broke down weeping as I felt the weight of his circumstances.  I felt a sadness thinking about how unfair this seemed.  Him paying a price for another’s missteps and errors.  Then I thought, how ironic – as we seek to walk so closely with Jesus in true intimacy, only saying what He says, going where He leads, why wouldn’t we also willingly pay a debt we did not accrue?  Love those who have been unloving toward us?

I know my dear friend is sacrificing a lot, denying his own needs and desires to serve and care for someone who is unable to give anything in return, and from a worldly perspective this makes no sense.  But I have great respect for him and his decision.  He is an inspiration, and a true disciple of Christ.

In the Arms of a Loving Father

When I feel particularly small and vulnerable, I run to my Papa, knowing I can find rest in His arms.  I go to His word and pour over scriptures painting this picture of a loving Father who is always there, kind, gentle, and waiting with open arms.

When I feel particularly small and vulnerable, I run to my Papa, knowing I can find rest in His arms.  I go to His word and pour over scriptures painting this picture of a loving Father who is always there, kind, gentle, and waiting with open arms.  He enfolds me.  I see Him protecting me, lifting me up on His shoulders, singing over me as I fall gently to sleep in His arms.

…The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders. Deuteronomy 33:12 

‘The Lord thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. ‘Zephaniah 3:17

This is the image I have of God, my Papa, and have always seen Him as a safe loving place because of my earthly father.  My natural father struggled with depression and anxiety all the days I knew him.  He wasn’t able to do a lot of things many fathers do because of debilitating mental illness.  None of that mattered to me as a little girl.  All I knew, was if I was afraid or needed to be reassured, I could run to my Daddy and he would speak softly to me, enfold me in his arms and instantlypapas hug I would feel safe and cared for. 

I thank you Papa, God for blessing me with a Father who helped me run to you with no fear or reservations, knowing I can find rest, complete acceptance, and breathe, free from fear, judgment and condemnation.  You are my safe place. 

I recently found the song “Lean Back” performed by Worship Mob, which brought up all these wonderful images of Papa God, and how He used my natural father to teach me about His love.

Lean Back

You will never leave

Your love sustaining me

Me & Dad
“Lean Back” is this image of me and my Dad. 

 

Before I even knew what love was

You’ve brought me here to rest

And given me space to breathe

So I’ll stay still until it sinks in

I will lean back in the loving arms

Of a beautiful Father

Breathe deep and know that He is good

He’s a love like no other

Now I can see Your love is better

Than all the others that I’ve seen

I am breathing deep all of Your goodness

Your loving-kindness to me

YouTube Video of Lean Back

 

Falling in Love

God pursues us, longing to bring us to a place where we are lain bare, vulnerable, true and honest with Him. No pretense.  It is in this place we press in, coming closer to Him, closer to His Heart.

I saw two lovers in the park, sitting by a pond.
He leaned in to kiss her, and when she saw my approach, she pulled away and blushed, embarrassed to be discovered with her love.
I smiled, as I saw myself in her.

God is taking me through a journey showing me so much about love, human expression of love, and His love for me.  I have thought a lot about the parallels of the intimacy between a man and a woman, and the intimacy we are to have with God.

The Bible shows us in the Song of Solomon a very intimate picture of two lovers.  Here as we read the sensual experience between the Shulamite and her beloved, we see a yearning desire to be together and experience each other in the most intimate ways.  One might ask how such a sensual book becomes a part of the Holy scriptures?  What does God want us to learn from these two lovers?

Think about your own human experiences with falling in love and being married.  Does anything you have experienced in human relationships compare to those portrayed in Song of Solomon?  This book is a part of the Bible for a reason.  Great Scholars and mystics know the spiritual experience we have with the infilling of the Holy Spirit is akin to the deeply intimate physical experience of a man and a woman in love.

God pursues us, longing to bring us to a place where we are lain bare, vulnerable, true and honest with Him. No pretense.  It is in this place we press in, coming closer to Him, closer to His Heart.  This intimate experience with God both soothes and ignites a deep yearning to know Him more.  Differing from the human experience, one is never left feeling diminished or insecure about His intentions.

The language in Song of Solomon, rich with images of two young lovers, stir the heart and senses.

Here are a few of my favorites…

Song of Solomon 2:4‭-‬6 NKJV

He brought me to the banqueting house, And his banner over me was love.  Sustain me with cakes of raisins, Refresh me with apples, For I am lovesick. His left hand is under my head, And his right hand embraces me.

Have you ever felt this love sickness wash over you as you worship the Lord?  The deep longing for more of His presence and the desire to sustain this feeling?

Song of Solomon 8:6‭-‬7 NKJV

Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is  as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it.  If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

Here I recognize the intensity and single minded focus on the state of love, state of worship to our Lord…begging to be marked forever, sealed to the One you love. God’s love for us burns eternal and is not quenched.

I cannot say that I have personally experienced falling in love with someone, though I am deeply in love with God, with Jesus. I relate very much with the feelings expressed in the Song of Solomon as it relates to the times I spend worshiping our Lord.

My experiences with human love have never taken me to a place where I felt outside of myself or deeply loved.  I have loved people in my life.  I loved a man and I was married for a time.  There are many people in my life I have as close friends, and I respect them and love them dearly.  But there is no intimate love.

I have always been embarrassed or ashamed of any feelings resembling romantic love.  I feel incapable of getting outside of my head and listening to my heart’s voice.  I analyze every aspect of starting a relationship with someone.  There is always a point of elimination, convincing myself it would never work.

God has been challenging me for the past six months or more to really look at these feelings and actions.  I question whether my relationship with God also mimics this behavior.  Being overly cautious in taking those steps forward and acting like a person who is head-over-heels and madly in love with the One who is a lover of my soul.

I see this in my reluctance to witness to people about the relationship I have with God, reasoning it is private and personal.  This is despite what His word tells me, and I know His heart is leading me to do:  Step out of my comfort zone and tell people about all I’ve experienced with Him, how great His love is, and share the things God is revealing about the person who’s in front of me.

I wrote the poem at the beginning of this article several months ago.  I think how I look like the young girl pulling away, embarrassed by her love.  It is how I appear to God when I am faced with an opportunity to lean in and share God’s great love.  He is so patient, loving, and kind.  I feel Him coaxing me to trust and let go, to fall deeper in love with Him.  Everything I was created for and how I am to walk in the world will be fulfilled when I let go.

A Stirring in My Heart

Almost a year ago, I began to feel something stir within my heart, something I hadn’t felt or thought about for nearly twenty years… 

Almost a year ago, I began to feel something stir within my heart, something I hadn’t felt or thought about for nearly twenty years…  I began to journal and process my feelings, praying and reaching out to God to help make sense of it.  I will share some of my journal entries, prayers, and experiences God has used along the way, to speak to my heart and teach me about His love.

May 29th 2017 ~ Journal entry

Song of Solomon 8:6‭-‬7 NKJV

Set me as a seal upon your heart, As a seal upon your arm; For love is  as strong as death, Jealousy as cruel as the grave; Its flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, Nor can the floods drown it.  If a man would give for love All the wealth of his house, It would be utterly despised.

Papa, I know you know me, know the desires of my heart, and hear all my prayers and cries for help when I feel frustrated and confused.  I feel like something that has long been asleep has awakened in me and I am struggling with it, what it means and if it is something I need to push down and overcome, or something I need to explore and walk through with You.

It is the thought of, and the chance for romantic love in my life.  I don’t know where or how this can fit into my life, and feel it would be a distraction that could derail parts of my life I don’t want derailed.  Yet I feel a longing to be desired, loved and cherished by a special man.  There is not anyone this is directed toward or causing these feelings, just a certain loneliness for touch and to feel special to someone in a romantic way.

The funny thing is, I don’t want to “put myself out there”.  I don’t have any desire to date or expose myself to a slew of single available men.  Is what I am experiencing a final dying off of the last phases of my “youth” (I use this term loosely).  *Deep sign*

Oh Papa, I love you and know you are with me always, keeping me safe and on track.  Be with me through this and help me to feel how deep Your love is for me.  Drown out any delusions or deceptions that would lead me down a wrong path.  Help me to reconcile the loose ends in my life, the open unanswered questions.  Heal the old wounds keeping me stuck in a holding pattern.  Give me the courage to step out when you call me to come out of the boat.  Help me to feel your peace, and your forgiveness as I stumble through these feelings and desires.  I pray this in Jesus name, Amen!

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