I know.  It’s been a long time since my last post.  I just don’t have much left to say on this topic.  Christian guys should ask girls out more.  Christian girls should say yes to those guys more.  Singleness is hard but we serve in it with joy and a cheerful heart anyway.  Well-intentioned people say stupid stuff to us (they say it to others too), and we should respond to their well-intentions with grace.  God is good.

Thanks for reading.

I read an article a few weeks ago that has negatively resonated with me ever since, and then I received an email last night that sort of broke the camel’s back to push me to write out these thoughts.  I have avoided writing them (or many others on this blog) because I want to be positive and only say things that build up, and these thoughts feel negative.  But as this place serves as my only private Pensieve, here I am.  Please forgive the negativity, and may this serve to help those who don’t get it to take a few steps towards understanding.

Caveat: Perhaps everything I am about to write is a result of my unique situation.

  • I am a 39 year old woman who has never married.
  • I am an adult third culture kid, which means I grew up outside of the country of my passport…which means I never established roots in my home country.  I don’t have a deep community of friends there.
  • I moved back overseas immediately after school, and am still overseas.  My closest friends all live in other countries.
  • In a situation that is all in one unique to me and not unique to the expat life at all–all my of my good friends and coworkers here in my country have moved on in the past two years.

Perhaps all that I am about to write only relates to me because of those factors.  But I have a feeling some other late 30’s and 40something single women can relate, no matter where they live now or how they grew up.

The article I read listed “4 Things God says to Singles.”  In it, I found nothing God had ever said to me as a single about my singleness.  He has said “My grace is sufficient for you.”  He has said, “Wait.”  He has said, “Be holy as I am holy.”  He has said, “I gather your tears.”  He has said, “I desire to do good to you.”  He has said, “I am with you.”  While everything that was said in the article could actually be said to all Christians: married or single, it has not been my experience that God used those statements to comfort me as a single.

Point #3 of the article is especially what has camped out in my head for the past two weeks, and it states, “Singleness is hard.”  The {male} author goes on to say it is hard because “Single people are therefore likely to struggle with loneliness and sexual temptation.”  My {married} friend who emailed me last night said, “I think of you often and sometimes your life seems so lovely and romantic and purposeful. Sometimes I imagine you must feel lonely and uncertain. But always you appear in my mind as resolute, faithful, determined to walk out this life with your heavenly daddy who loves you and gave himself up for you.”

Singleness is hard for reasons more than loneliness and sexual temptation.  My life is lovely and purposeful, but it is far from romantic…in the normal sense or even in the exotic, exciting sense.  Here’s why…

1.  Prolonged singleness does bring loneliness.  That loneliness is more than hard, and it can be debilitating.  For the prolonged single, loneliness is more than just not having someone to talk to at the end of the day, someone to spend time with…it is years upon years of being alone.  It is facing the possibility of a future of more years of being alone.  It is considering the idea that you may have no one to take care of you when you are old, and not even having anyone to take care of you now when you’re sick or down.  It means not having help for all the hard things that life throws at you that you can’t do on your own.  It is being alone, most of the time, for a lifetime…and that thought can break the most resolute and faithful of spirits.

2.  Prolonged singles have few, if any, peers.  Everyone their age is married and usually with children.  Like joins with like, and the older single in your community is left out, or when joined in, still feels left out because conversations and life revolves around the children.  Should we marry later and have children later, we will always be in a different stage of life than most of the people our own age.

3.  Prolonged singles are often perceived as not-yet full fledged adults.  We have not experienced the rite of passage of marriage, nor the next after that of parenthood, and thus, we are seen to not have fully arrived to maturity.  In the Christian community, we are told that marriage and parenthood are the ultimate means of sanctification, so we are often perceived as spiritually immature as well.  Furthermore, because we are often not perceived to be full fledged adults, we are treated with surprise (or worse) when we express the needs and desires to have adult things like homes, independence, and settledness.

4.  Prolonged singleness can bring a crisis of faith.  Even the strongest, most mature Christian is going to struggle with God after a time, of why He doesn’t answer this prayer, why He gives this goodness to others–to those who don’t even honor Him–but He doesn’t give it to His faithful.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and the longer the hope is deferred…the sicker the heart can become.

5.  Prolonged single women can struggle {usually silently} with all the feelings that come with barrenness.  Christian couples weep over and pray fervently for the barren married couple in their midst, not realizing the double hurt that the single woman is suffering while she joins in the prayer.  She feels just as powerless to change her situation of no husband and no children as that couple feels to be able to bear a child…but in all my years, I have yet to see a church join together to pray change over the singles’ situation.  To weep over it as they do over infertility.  I’m sure it exists, I just haven’t seen it.  But I’ve seen the single women suffering their barrenness in silent dignity.  (I’ve written about this previously HERE.)

6.  Prolonged celibacy is deeply frustrating.  Our bodies were not meant to stay celibate into our late 30’s and longer.  Those of us who strive to honor God and future mates with our bodies struggle with temptation, but also frustration.  There is no healthy outlet except to cry out to God for help–and praise Him, He does.

7.  Related to #6, the prolonged single probably suffers from a lack of physical affection (the non-sexual kind).  If you are married, and especially if you have children, stop and think for a moment how often you are touched each day.  Just touched.  Now stop and think of the last time you purposefully touched a single person beyond a greeting (even if the greeting was a hug).  This may be a result of my conservative Christian culture, and the fact that I live in a Muslim culture as well…but I rarely get touched beyond the standard physical greeting and the jostling from the crowds in the city.  Human beings need purposeful physical touch and affection, and in conservative Christian circles, singles simply don’t receive it.  We fear that it will lead to sexual sin and so everyone avoids it: the married and the single.  And the single suffers for it.

8.  The prolonged single can be perceived (at times, even by themselves) as defective.  At some point, someone is going to think, “He/she must still be single for a reason.”  The reason is that it is the sovereign will of God, but as sinful human beings, we forget that and think of other reasons.  For a godly single to hold on to Truth and not allow the enemy win this particular battle of judgement is so very hard.

9.  The prolonged single suffers an odd loss of time that is difficult to grieve.  I will never be a young wife.  I don’t have a young body to offer my future husband…he’s going to get someone who already has grey hair and wrinkles and belly rolls and aches and pains and etc.  While others get years together before kids come along, the older marrying couple does not.  They go for kids while they still can and lose that time that normal couples had.  Or they don’t have kids at all and lose that.  I can’t fully put finger on how to define it, but I look at all the married couples that I know and something in me grieves because I know, even should I marry, my situation won’t look normal, like theirs, and something was lost.  I trust God’s goodness that my situation, while unique, will be good in its own right.  But I still feel grief over time lost that I wish I could have shared with someone.  (I’ve written about the grief HERE.)

Obviously, I could also write about all the goodness that comes with being single.  I’ve already written that, actually.  But the past year of my life has been exceptionally hard in my singleness, and so many times, married couples just didn’t get it.  They glossed over my pain, and this list slowly grew in my mind until today, when I couldn’t hold it in any longer.  I fully admit that as a single, I don’t understand the hardship and struggle of marriage.  I know it’s there, and I can imagine it dimly.  I don’t gloss it over.  Perhaps this list will help the marrieds to stop glossing over the hardship and struggle of singleness.

I am compelled to end by stating I still believe that this current state of prolonged singleness is God’s goodness to me.  I’ve written about the goodness…and today chose to wrote about the hardship.

God is still good…all the time.  I will ever praise Him, even in the hardship.

P.S.  I would like to add that I know many married couples who are awesome and supportive and try to understand and speak words of comfort and pray for me and do their best to love me.  The wife who sent me the email last night is one of them, as her words clearly show.  I’m so thankful for those people in my life.  May we all, including me, learn from them in how to be gracious and loving.

Back at Thanksgiving, I posted a challenge, mostly to myself, about being thankful for being single.  I said I would count reasons for being single every day from Thanksgiving to New Year’s.  Confession: I didn’t do it every single day.  Life got busy.  But I did do it to the best of my ability.  Here are things I thanked God for that are a result of my singleness:

  1. Being able to host single women in my home for weeks/months who need a place to stay while in transition.
  2. I have the whole bed to myself.
  3. I only have to go through emotional intimacy with God, and not the scary, possibly painful process of going through it with a person.
  4. I can be spontaneous without having to check with someone first to see if it will disrupt them.
  5. I have more time for ministry.
  6. I can (and do) sleep horizontally in my bed.
  7. I don’t have to ask permission from anyone to eat out when invited.
  8. I get all the time I want to do things I want: read, quilt, bake, watch movies, etc.
  9. I can stay in my pajamas all the live long day and not feel frumpy because I didn’t make myself look nice for hubby.
  10. I have time to read every single night.
  11. I can bake all day long and not have to stop to spend time with hubby.
  12. I get to sleep in when I want to and not have to get up to make breakfast for anyone but me.
  13. Being single teaches me to believe and trust in the sovereignty of God.  His wisdom, which I don’t understand, has deemed singleness as best for my life at this moment.  While I don’t understand that, when I choose to believe it, my faith in His plan is strengthened.
  14. I’ve been able to go through my maturation and sanctification process alone and thus not hurting my husband (and myself and our marriage) along the way.
  15. God gives strength to do everything required to be here (overseas) since I don’t have someone to share the responsibilities with.
  16. On the nights that I come home so exhausted that I don’t have any words left…I don’t have to talk to anyone.
  17. My faults are my own, and not caused by someone else’s.  (This stemmed from a wife waiting on her husband so they could leave together, and she ended up being late because of him.)
  18. I can watch sweet girly movies like the Sound of Music and it doesn’t bother anyone.
  19. Making meals is so simple.
  20. I can minister to singles from experience.
  21. My life is pretty simple and routine because there are no regular interruptions from anyone.
  22. As an introvert, I get to have delightfully quiet, still time at home.
  23. When I toss and turn all night long, I don’t wake anyone up.
  24. I get all the alone time I want, and not just when my husband leaves.
  25. (I suffer from chronic back pain.)  I don’t have to push through my physical pain in order to serve my husband, and I don’t have to inconvenience him because of my pain.
  26. My house doesn’t get as dirty as it would with another person (especially a man), living in it, and I thus get to keep it clean as I like it.
  27. One of the ministries I get to do (and I love), I get to do because the married woman on our team (who was supposed to do it), didn’t have time due to the ministry falling on her “family time day.”
  28. Everything in my house is just how I like it.  I don’t ever have to compromise in my house to someone else’s wishes.
  29. I get to take awesome vacations to amazing places that as a couple/family might be too expensive at double the price.
  30. I can afford to give gifts (something that blesses my heart) to many because my salary is for just one person.

Here are some things that really stood out to me from this exercise:

  • At first, I felt slightly guilty from being thankful for getting to be so self-focused.  Then I realized that I should just accept it as a blessing.  Families get the blessing of family, and lose the blessing of time to do all that they want.  Singles get the blessing of time to do all that they want (and how they want and when they want, etc), while missing out on the blessing of family.  Both statuses have good sides/bad sides.  I shouldn’t feel guilty about the blessing that comes with my status (time for myself).
  • Once that was learned, I realized that I should guard my blessing.  Families guard their family time.  But for some reason, Christian singles are often expected to use all their time ministering until they hit burn-out.  If families should guard their blessing (family time), then I, too, should guard my blessing (alone time).  I learned that in order for me to serve best, I need to sometimes say no…even though I have more time to serve, it doesn’t necessarily mean I should fill all that extra time with service.  I’ve learned in the last two months to not feel guilty about the time I spend doing things I enjoy, because that’s the blessing God has currently given me instead of a family.
  • I would trade in an instant.  Getting all the time in the world to read a book or getting to use up every single inch of my bed just cannot compare to sharing life with someone.  Even for an introvert like me.

I’m clinging to gratitude for the singleness.  I have to trust that God knows this is best for me and daily asking Him to help me to enjoy it, because it’s what He’s chosen to give.  Otherwise, I’d go crazy from the grief.

What about y’all?  What are some things you found to be thankful for in singleness?  Maybe you’ll help others (me) see gifts in solitude that we couldn’t see before…so leave a comment and share your gift!

I’m working on the counterpart to the other day’s post about what married people can do to help their single (girl) friends at Christmas…what singles can do to make the Christmas season better.  In the meantime, good ole Jon Acuff wrote a great post about being single at Christmas time.  Hop on over there for a good laugh, and then read the comments for some pretty funny St.Wips.

Thanksgiving is next week, but I wanted to write this post ahead of time for two reasons:

  1. To give all of us some time to think through it before that day arrives.
  2. I’ll be too busy next week to write a post. (The awesome part about being an expat during thanksgiving season is that we get to celebrate whenever we want, and teach it to others.  Thus…I’ll be baking about 43 different pumpkin pies next week as I teach my friends about the gift of being thankful.  How awesome is that?!)

Scripture is clear that we, as those who have been born again to a living hope, are to be grateful people.  We are to give thanks.  It’s not to be on one day a year, but a lifestyle that we live.  We should be thanksliving all year long.  For all things: family, friends, protection, salvation, church, job, home, health, small blessings, big blessings, good moments, bad moments, joys and tears, marriage, children, and thus…singleness.

It’s so easy to be thankful for so much, and yet be ungrateful for this current status as single.  Notice I didn’t say “grumbling,” or “bitter,” or “sad,” or “whatever.”  I said “ungrateful.”  As in, opposite of grateful.  If I haven’t given thanks for it, I haven’t been grateful for it.  If I haven’t said, “Thank you, Lord, for keeping me single this long; thank you, today, that I am single; thank you…” I’ve been ungrateful.

  • Ephesians 5:20 tells us to “[give] thanks always and for everything.”
  • Philippians 4:6 tells us to “not be anxious about anything [including singleness], but in everything [including singleness] by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [including for singleness] let your requests be made known to God.”
  • The book of Colossians tells us four times to be thankful (1:12, 2:7, 3:17, 4:2).  “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything [including being single] in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 takes it so far as to say that it is God’s will that we be thankful in all circumstances, and this has to include the circumstance of being single.
  • Lastly, 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us that “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”  Whatever we do…that has to include being single.

Does it give glory to God when I am not grateful in everything, including being single?  Wouldn’t it glorify Him, and testify to His goodness in my life if I oozed gratefulness for everything–even singleness?  Like the man born blind, in John 9, that through my gratitude, the “works of God might be displayed in” me…and my singleness…through my singleness.  What if I, while continuing in steadfast hopeful prayers for a husband and children, added daily thankfulness for my singleness to those prayers?  What if I acknowledged His incomprehensible wisdom and thanked Him for what I don’t understand?  What if I embraced that His grace is truly sufficient to carry me through this and I danced for joy at that truth?

There is an obscure verse that makes me tremble.  Deuteronomy 28:47 says, “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things…” Hasn’t He been abundant towards me in all things?  Even in this singleness?  Have I been serving Him with joyfulness and gladness of heart in all things?  All things?!?!  Even this?!

Even this.

I’m an avid fan of Ann Voskamp and her campaign to count gifts to become a generation of grateful people who serve the Lord our God with joyfulness and gladness of heart.  I want to thank God for everything–including this current singleness.  And so I propose a challenge to myself, and those of you who are willing to join me: to count gifts of singleness.  Count one thing every single day from Thanksgiving to New Years to be grateful for in your singleness.

  • Like being able to sleep on every single inch of my bed and not have to share blankets and be woken up by snoring.
  • Like having my house clean the way I like it and not having to clean up someone’s toothpaste in the sink or socks off the floor or dried on cheese on plates that didn’t get soaked.
  • Like being able to invite young singles over spontaneously who are feeling alone and need company and play games with them and feed them cookies and bless them because I get it.

Things that happened each day that may not have happened had I not been single.  I already have photo albums full of memories that I got to experience because I was single.  Like this one:

10891-1219063770-0And this one, which is my current favorite:

IMG_3447But I want more than photo albums of memories.  I want notebooks filled with lists of absolutely little moments of grace.  Because I am convinced that they will add up to a life of gratitude…of thanksliving.  And people will look at me and find me to be surprisingly satisfied with singleness…

…even while still desiring something more.  I think that’s what “being thankful and content with the manna while waiting in hope for the milk and honey” must look like.  I’ve been trying to figure out lately how to get there–being thankful and content with singleness–and the only solution I’ve come up with is to daily count gifts.  It’s worked in other areas of my life, so I’m hoping it’ll work in this one.

Perhaps in learning to be thankful for little things like not cleaning up someone else’s toothpaste while grow into a woman who will be a wife who is grateful to get to clean up someone else’s toothpaste.  Perhaps learning gratitude in this will prepare me in how to be thankful later when things are different.

So I’m determined to be thankful this thanksgiving for the one thing in my life that I wish was different.  I’ll post my list here at the New Year.  And I’m wondering…

Does anyone want to join in with me?  Would you consider counting daily a gift/blessing you found in your singleness, from Thanksgiving to New Years?  If so, leave a comment saying that you’re in, and keep a list of your gifts written down somewhere (in a notebook, on a blog, in your journal, on the 1000 Gifts app, etc).  We’ll start the New Year together celebrating what He has done.


Extra reading: THIS and THIS and THIS.

  • …you’re least expecting it.
  • …you’ve finally learned to be content in the Lord.
  • …you move [somewhere where there are lots of Christian singles].

And while it doesn’t fit the formula, the sentiment is the same, and it’s the most classic.  You’re at a wedding and someone says…

  • …you’re next!

The snarky, still-unsanctified part of me responds in my head, “Oh yeah?  God appointed you a prophet to my life?  You know what He asked other prophets to do?  Isaiah had to walk around naked for three years.  Ezekiel had to lie on his side for 390 days.  Jeremiah had to wear a yoke around his neck.  Ezekiel, poor guy, had to cook his food over a fire of poo.  John the Baptist had to eat locusts while living out in the desert.  You…you got off easy.  All you have to do is predict when I’m going to get married?!  Wow.  Lucky you.  Thanks for the info.”

The trying-to-learn-to-glorify-the-Lord-with-the-words-of-my-mouth part of me doesn’t ever know how to gracefully respond to those statements.  So far in my life, not a single one has come true.  Every person who has said them has been proven wrong.  A false prophet.  (And false prophets make me snarky.)  The thing is, there is hardly no way to actually respond gracefully to those statements.  I usually just end up smiling and then making some awkward change of subject about college football.

I believe and trust in the sovereignty of God, and that I can’t understand it.  Isaiah 40: 28-29 tells me I can’t understand His ways, and Romans 11:33-36 backs that up.  When I don’t understand stuff, any stuff (not just my prolonged singleness), I remind myself that His ways are so much higher and bigger and more awesome than my ways.  I think about Job and how I really don’t want God to put me in my place the way He did Job and his friends at the end of that book.  I’ll acknowledge and worship all that I don’t know and understand in Him and leave His wisdom and His ways and His timing to… Him.  He can let me know that it’s time when He’s ready to tell me and He’s the only One I’ll hear that from.

What if, instead of quoting clichés to one another, we started quoting truth…scripture?  That’d be much more encouraging to me, anyway.  Like Lamentations 3:21-26.  And Isaiah 40:30-31.  And 2 Peter 3:9.  Interestingly enough, the last verse there, in English, says that “the Lord is not slow in keeping His promise.”  But in the local language here, it says that He is “not late in keeping His promise.”  I’ll take both versions.  Not slow, not late.

Just on time.  His time.  Not mine, and not any prophet’s.

I know I disappeared from the blog for a good long while.  Part of that was just busyness with life.  Another part, however, was that God was doing a work in me during that time.  As an introvert, I need time to allow deep thoughts to mull in my mind and I can’t talk them out before I’ve written them out…and sometimes I can’t even write them out until I’ve thought on them for awhile.  So I disappeared because I was mulling.

Here’s the deep thought I was mulling: God is the Manna and the Milk and Honey.

I have long struggled with verses that talk about God not withholding the good, and giving what we desire.

  • “…but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”  Psalm 34:10
  • “For the Lord God is a sword and a shield; He bestows favor and honor.  No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.”  Psalm 84:11
  • “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4

I currently really struggle with the story of the persistent widow.  Jesus taught that story so that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.”  The more I pray persistent widow prayers, asking for a husband, the more I feel that I am losing heart.  Why, after 20 years, is He not answering?  Why does He not give the desire of my heart?  Why does He, apparently contrary to Scripture, withhold the good of marriage from me?

So months ago I asked myself, “Do I believe the Bible is true?  Really, truly, every.single.word, completely TRUE?”

If I do, then I have to believe the hard parts.  The parts I don’t understand.  The parts that don’t feel good.

The Bible says that He has not withheld any good thing from me.  What I have IS good and what I do not have is (currently) not good for me.

Singleness is good.

I currently don’t have a husband.  Thus…a husband (and children) are currently not good for me.  Singleness is.    When He gives a husband (and children), those will be good at that time.  But they aren’t right now, or He would have given them now.

The Bible says that He is my portion.  In His goodness, He gives me enough of what I need.  He hasn’t yet given a husband (or children), and thus I must not need them yet.  When I do, He will give them.  Now, and then, He is (and will be) my sufficient portion to fill me up.  The Bible says to receive all that He gives (sunshine and rain, singleness and marriage, barrenness and quivers full, health and sickness, etc) with thanksgiving.  To do all things (singleness and marriage, barrenness and quivers full, health and sickness, etc) to the glory of God, and without complaint.  The Bible says His grace is sufficient for this difficulty.  And that I can boast and be content in this difficulty.

Can I live out my belief that the Bible is completely true and thus live out the truths that I just typed?  If I cannot see singleness (or barrenness or a gaggle of children or cancer or sucky jobs or terrible neighbors or whatever) as God’s good gift, am I really seeing the Bible as true?  If I can’t suffer with Jesus, how can I learn to be like Him?  How can I know Him, if I can’t suffer with Him?

And so I get on my face and I weep into my carpet.


Because I really do believe God’s Word is true.  I believe it to my core.  Sometimes believing it is really hard.  And hurts.  And brings so many tears.

I want to be married and have a gaggle quiver full of kids.  I want my friends to not miscarry ever again and have every baby catch.  I want to never hear the word ‘cancer’ ever again.  I want men to stop using women and children for their pleasure and financial gain.  I want this insanity in Syria to stop.  I want…



But while I moan and groan and wail and cry into my carpet on this earth, I do not lose heart.  All of this is producing something in me.  “For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”

During Lent this past winter, I fasted from meat.  At every meal (and other times throughout the day), I prayed that He would teach me during that time to rejoice in and be thankful for the Manna that He has given to me during this prolonged period of singleness.  He certainly taught me that, and I found myself fully satisfied in the good (current) gift of singleness.

But He also taught: HE is the Milk and Honey goodness of the Promised Land.

  • A husband is not the milk and honey.
  • Children are not the milk and honey.
  • Perfect health is not the milk and honey.
  • A good job, home, car, life, etc., is not the milk and honey.

HE is the Milk and Honey.  In the great conundrum that is our God, He is the Manna (what is it?) that comes daily from heaven to fill my soul, sufficiently provided enough for each day.  AND He is the Milk and Honey that I long for even while I have the Manna.  When I delight myself in the Lord, HE becomes what I desire, and thus, He does give me the desire of my heart. (<—If you click one link from this article, click that one there.)

Maybe tomorrow the Manna that sustains me through singleness, (and marriage and barrenness and quiver full and health and sickness and etc) will stop and He will give milk and honey.  But today…I know there is manna.  I will not be like the Israelites and be ungrateful for it.  I will thank Him for the good He has given today.  I will be creative with the good what-is-it? that He has given.  I will glorify Him with this gift He has given.  And I will be mindful of the lesson in the what-is-it? that He has given: He gives to each the portion they need, and He is that Portion, and it is sufficient.  He is sufficient.

“I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from You, I have no good thing.”

And so part of my quietness in the past year was pondering this deep thought, that singleness is for my good, and finding joy in it.  Watching as He daily catches my tears in His bottle until I am weeping for the goodness He has given me in my life instead of what He hasn’t yet given.  Then I get up off the floor, throw my 27 crumbled tissues away, and attempt to make something useful from the manna He gave me there on the floor, on my face.  Daily creating something new with the newly given each day manna.

And you know what?  This year hasn’t just been good.  It’s been wonderful.  Joy abounds for no other reason than God is GOOD.


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