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Instead of choosing a New Year’s resolution and then forgetting about it in two months, I’ve decided to choose a word for the year.

I was listening to K Love yesterday as I drove away from Pyoca. They were talking about having a word for the year- one word for you to focus on. For 2010, one of the women who worked at the radio station had chosen the word “endure” which ended up fitting well because she had went through many hardships this past year. Someone else had chosen the word “beauty” and tried to see the beauty in everything during 2010. Someone had picked the word “dream” while someone else picked the word “present.”

Let’s say you are not very good at being charitable so you choose the word “give.” This is not the purpose of the word for the year. You shouldn’t choose a word like a new year’s resolution. Don’t pick something you want to change about yourself. Instead pick  a word to represent your year, something for you to focus on and to help you grow.

I’ve decided my word for 2011 is going to be SECURE. I’ve been reading a book called So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore. As I say goodbye to my insecurities, it’s my hope I can say hello to security. This year I’d like to focus on putting my security in God. I feel as though this year could hold many insecurities, many ways I could feel unsure. As I graduate and look for a career-type job, I want to feel secure in God even if I feel insecure in everything else in life. If I am truly relying on God and putting my hope in Him, I will be secure.

What’s your word for 2011?

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As she woke up and rolled out of bed, Elena noticed a note she’d taped to her mirror months ago. “God is going to use you in ways unimaginable.” The words “use you” stuck out to her the most.

In one of Elena’s classes her professor had talked about how Christians often say, “I want God to use me.” Why would you want Him to use you, he’d ask.  No one wants to be used. Instead, the professor said God wanted to join with us in unity.

“Let me explain it this way,” he said. “There’s a playground with a swing set, slide and jungle gym. God is out there playing and He’s inviting you to come play with Him.”

Often we are too busy or we see spending time with God as just another task on our to-do list. We get out the Bible and read a few chapters so we can check it off and make ourselves feel better. When we take away the idea that we must earn God’s grace, when we understand that He doesn’t want us to spend time with Him because we’ll feel guilty if we don’t—that’s when we can truly be united with God on the playground of life.

Elena and her mother went shopping one day. It was nearing Christmas time so they bought a few presents and then headed to the grocery store. People pushing carts filled the aisles. Everyone was out buying the ingredients to their secret recipes so they could share their treats with their families. It took quite awhile for Elena and her mother to finish and get to a check-out line. An older couple stood in front of them and were almost finished loading all the plastic bags filled with their groceries into their cart. They started to pay with gift cards and when those ran out of money, the man in a white t-shirt and brown jacket pulled out another card. The clerk at the cash register asked him to swipe it again.

“I’m sorry sir; it says you only have 65 cents left on this card,” she said.

She ran it herself but the card did not have enough money. The wife with short grey hair opened up her billfold and pulled out a credit card.

“See if this one works,” she said.

The clerk swiped the card and said, “I’m sorry ma’am; this card has expired.” The couple looked at one another with embarrassment on their faces.

“I guess we’ll have to put some things back,” said the man, quickly losing his pride.

Elena could stand there watching no longer. If that were me, I would be so embarrassed. I only hope someone would help me, she thought. She pulled out her credit card and took a few steps closer to the couple. “Excuse me, can I pay for the rest?” she asked. The couple turned and looked at her, obviously stunned by the question. The man quickly said no.

Elena said, “Please let me help. Consider it a Christmas gift.” The woman had tears in her eyes. Elena touched the woman’s shoulder and said, “Please, I want to.” Elena could tell they wanted to object out of embarrassment but neither said anything. She looked at the clerk and swiped her card. The clerk pulled out the long receipt and handed it to the couple. The woman hugged Elena. “Thank you,” she said. “We are just down on our luck right now.”

“I understand,” said Elena. “We all go through rough times.” The couple thanked her again and left with their cart full of groceries. Elena and her mother paid for their own groceries, loaded them in the car and headed home.

As they drove away, Elena looked out the window thanking God for the opportunity to help. The sun was shooting rays between the clouds down onto the Earth below. It was beautiful and in that moment Elena realized she had just been playing with God on the playground.

 

So my friend did a social experiment on me and a couple friends. I loved it so I’d like to share it with you, oh faithful reader.

I have three questions for you. You can read my answers and then I’d like you to answer the question for yourself before going on to the next one.

1. What’s your favorite color? Name two reasons why it is your favorite.

My favorite color is purple because it is beautiful and I like every shade of it.

2. What’s your favorite part of nature? Name two reasons why.

My favorite part of nature is the wind. The wind is like me and God’s special thing. He talks to me using the wind; he grabs my attention with it. He uses it to calm me, to comfort me, and to give me joy. It’s like he’s hugging me! Secondly, I like that it can be extremely powerful or soft and gentle.

3. What’s your favorite animal? Give two reasons why.

My favorite animals are penguins because they are cute and funny.

Now you should have all of your answers. This is what they mean…

The first question: Your reasons are actually how you want people to view you. So that would mean I want people to view me as beautiful and I want them to like every aspect of me.

The second question: Your reasons are how you view God which is interesting since one of my reasons had to do with God. Also, I do think God can be incredibly powerful or gentle.

The third question: Your reasons are what you want in a spouse. So true! I even wrote in my How to Become the Man of my Dreams blog that cute and funny are in my top five! They are number three and four.

Did your answers describe you correctly like mine did? I thought it was very interesting and I definitely agreed with all of them. Please share your answers if you’d like!

As I think I said in my last post, my hardest week of camp this past summer was during Night Owl week but that is also the week I had some of the most memorable campers.

This particular week, I had a camper named Katie who has diabetes. This wasn’t supposed to be a problem. Her parents said she knew how to handle it and all we’d have to do was check her blood sugar on a regular basis and Katie knew how to do that. Towards the end of the week, Katie’s blood sugar was hitting extreme numbers. Once when we needed to bring her blood sugar down, I was told to get her active. We raced down to water front and then did water aerobics in the lake. When we got back to our cabin we checked her blood sugar again and it was still too high so we did jumping jacks and had a dance party. I got all the girls in the cabin to come to my room and we all danced and jumped around doing silly moves.

Thursday night right before campfire, Katie’s blood sugar was over 400. It was supposed to be between 70-120. Since this was night owl camp, our campfire was at about 1 a.m. I called my boss Rich and woke him up. He had me call the ER but they wouldn’t give out any information over the phone (which is so dumb I think). I walked Katie back to the lodge and we tried to give her insulin but it was still way too high. I wrote down everything Katie had ate that day and what her blood sugar had been before and after giving insulin. When Rich got there, we decided her pump wasn’t working. Allison, another counselor, was the one who had been helping Katie change her pump all week so she was the only one who knew how to do it. She was asleep at the staff house. Rich threw me his car keys and told me to go get Allison. I woke her up and we raced back to the lodge. They changed Katie’s pump but it still wasn’t working. We called her parents and they said we’d have to give her insulin through syringes. If you know me at all, you know I would not be able to do this. I pass out easily. So I walked away with my back to Katie as she gave herself insulin with a needle. This astounded me. This girl has been able to give herself a shot since she was 6 years old. My heart broke for her. This condition had stolen her childhood in a way. She wasn’t able to go on a hike that she really wanted to go on and had talked about all week. She wasn’t able to compete in water olympics with the rest of her family group. She had to watch what she ate constantly and often felt dizzy or lightheaded when her blood sugar acted up.

On Friday while the rest of the campers were out doing fun things, Katie and I sat in the lodge so we could check her blood sugar and give her insulin every so often. At one point, I brought her over to the piano and taught her how to play “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” (it’s the only thing I know by heart). She picked it up really quickly. I stood next to her, looking down on this little girl enjoying life even through the trials. Tears came to my eyes as her fingers swept over the keys. It’s hard for me to understand why some people have to deal with things like diabetes or autism. But Katie showed me there is joy even in the struggles. Katie won’t let life pull her down no matter what it puts her through. I hope to always do the same.

Enough about love and dating…

I was rereading my Top Ten Summer Memories blog and realized the best part about my summer wasn’t really given as much credit as it should have. This blog is devoted to all my campers. They are the reason I was a church camp counselor. They are the reason I had such good summers. I wish I could post photos of these amazing kids but I’m not allowed to for their privacy. So instead, let me share some stories with you.

Summer 2008

Patrick was a junior high camper during my first summer as a counselor. He has autism along with other mental disabilities. He also has an intense obsession/fascination with deer. One day, we went on a very long hike to Mount Baldy. I was the counselor leading the hike and Patrick wanted to be my helper and lead the group with me. Eric was bringing up the rear and we both had walkie talkies so he could tell me if I needed to stop for awhile so the people in the back could catch up. Patrick really wanted to see a deer on this hike. He kept saying, “Shh! I think there’s one up there!” Of course we had a large group of kids so it was pretty loud. I’m sure all the deer out there could hear us coming a mile away. Patrick asked me to tell Eric on the walkie talkie to tell all the kids back there “to be quiet so we can see a deer.” Eric and I played along but unfortunately we never did see a deer.

There were a lot of ticks that season and we’d often stop during the hike to pull ticks off each other. Patrick was a bit paranoid of the ticks so he brought a big can of tick/bug spray with him on the hike. Every time we’d stop he’d try to spray more on himself. At one point, we stopped and I pulled ticks off Patrick and then sprayed him down with the bug spray for the tenth time. As we started walking again, Patrick asked me if I was married. “No, I’m not old enough to be married,” I said. “Do you have any kids?” asked Patrick. “No, I don’t,” I said with a muffled laugh. “Well, someday you are going to be a really good mom,” said Patrick as we started up another steep incline. That was the best compliment I’d ever received. Patrick really touched my heart that week and I’ll never forget him. In fact, whenever I see a deer (which is quite often considering where I live) I always think of Patrick.

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One week we had a special night for our junior explorers (the little kids). We had pizza and watched a movie in the common room of Poplar cabin. I sat against the wall in the back so I could keep an eye on everyone. A little boy named Victor who was the most adorable boy you’ll ever meet was sitting between Chelsea and I. About half way through the movie, he laid his head on my shoulder and feel asleep. It was precious, but the cutest part was that during an affirmation circle at the end of the week he wrote on my paper, “Your shoulder is soft for laying on.”

Summer 08-10

Since I worked at this same camp in the summer of 2010, I got to see some of my campers from my 1st summer again. It was eye-opening to realize how much they had grown up, which meant I had to have gotten older too.

During summer 08, I sat with a group of boys at lunch one day. When I asked them their names they each told me a fake name. Soon some of these names stuck and they had nicknames for the rest of the week. In summer 09, I volunteered for a week and two of these boys, Chase and Logan (Popcorn), were my campers again. These boys are trouble makers sometimes, but are good at becoming serious when they need to be. In summer 2010, I had Chase as a camper for the 3rd year in a row- he’s the only camper I’ve gotten to have for three years. I wish I could see these two grow up into the studly men of God I hope they become.

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In summer 08, during Gemini week, I had a camper named Riley– a red-headed trouble maker. We were in the same elective which was a lot like Bible quizzing. We’d sit next to each other and I often would secretly give him the answers to questions and once he even gave me an answer which I don’t think he’ll ever forget. He reminded me of it this past summer when I got to see him again. The neat thing is his younger brother, Conner, who looks just like him was my camper this year.

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Another camper I had during Gemini week my 1st summer as a counselor was a little girl named Kaylee. She was in my room and was quite the sweetheart. This past summer, she was back as a junior high camper. One night we had a dance in the lodge basement for the whole camp. At one point, I went outside to cool off and sat down to look up at the stars. Kaylee came out and sat next to me. We ended up talking for over an hour. She caught me up on what her life has been like since I last saw her. As we stared up at the million of tiny sparkles in the sky, our conversation turned to our Creator. It was beautiful having such a deep conversation under the stars with a girl who is beginning to see the world as it really is.

Summer 2010

Once I had a very rough week, but the worst part came after campers had left. I had gotten some bad news and was very upset. I began to question my reasons for coming to Pyoca. I didn’t understand why God had wanted me there. I went back to my room in Cedar to, well honestly, to cry alone. When I got to my bed, I found a note. It was from one of my campers named Sammie. She had left me a note thanking me for setting an example for her life. It was exactly what I needed at that moment. God used Sammie to tell me I was at Pyoca fora  reason- I was there for the campers.

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One day I took my family group canoeing on the lake. It was obvious a few of the girls did not know how to paddle. They were getting no where. A couple of the boys had switched to a paddle boat. They paddled over to the girls and a little boy named William grabbed their canoe. The boys began pulling the girls around. The lesson that day had been on friendship so as I canoed by I said to William, “That’s very nice of you, William. You are being a good friend.” William said, “No, this is what should be expected. This is what God would want us to do.” What a smart kid!

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Claire was one of the little girls in my room during Gemini week. Claire never wanted to go to polar bear swim because she likes sleep just as much as I do. She was the only girl in my room who was always ready on time. She also wasn’t boy crazy.  One night during cabin devotionals, we got fairly serious considering the age of the girls. At the end, I asked the girls to go around and say what they’d like prayer for. Everyone went around and said things like, “My grandma has cancer” or “My dad is in jail.” When we got to one girl she said, “For God to tell me which boy I should go to the dance with.” That was quite the moment! But anyways, Claire was not that girl. She wrote me letters for awhile after camp and always wrote, “Dear Best Counselor Ever… From Best Camper Ever.”

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I’ve noticed that my toughest, most exhausting week of camp this past summer is also the week I had the most memorable campers. One of those is a girl named Hope, fitting for the girl who strengthened my hope that week. Hope was the ultimate camper. She was enthusiastic and joyful about everything we did no matter how insignificant. She cared about the other campers and had many insightful things to say during Bible time or devotionals. She was full of team spirit and I’ve never seen someone so excited after winning water olympics. Before she left, I gave Hope our family group flag and she almost cried. I knew she deserved it more than anyone. That flag is hanging up in her room. I know because she told me in a letter. Hope and I have been writing back and forth for almost 6 months now. Needless to say, Hope is still giving me hope.

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There are many, many campers who have touched my life. These are just a few. If I told you about each of them, you’d be reading for days.

Thank you campers. You may think counselors are the ones influencing the campers but you have no idea what kind of an impact campers make on the counselors.

In my last post, I talked about how all girls want to be worth the risk. Well we all want something else too.

Girls want to be worth keeping. It’s all about commitment. I know, the big “C” word, scary! It reminds me of something my friend asked me. She was in a long distance relationship and she asked if I thought it could work or if she should end it. My view is always that it can work. If both people are willing to put in the commitment and work towards the relationship then it can be healthy and beneficial.

On another note, girls want to be worth fighting for. We want to be pursued. And if things end, and you tell us you want us back… show us. Sometimes words lose their meaning. It really is true- actions speak louder than words. So fight for us. Chivalry should not be dead. Most of us have a deep down desire to be that damsel in distress while you fight off the dragons to rescue us.

We all just want to be worth it. Deep down we long to be worthy.

Sometimes my generation disappoints me. In this blog, I’d like to talk about a couple of things many guys from my generation do that disappoint me.

Back in the day, when we didn’t have all this technology, a guy would ask a girl out on a date face to face. Whatever happened to that? It’s like all the guys have turned into cowards, so scared of rejection they must use texting or Facebook to ask a girl out. That is, if they even have the guts to ask her out.

So many guys have told me, “The girl has to be the one to make the move.” Guys, FYI: EVERY girl wants to be worth the risk. If you can’t even ask her out then you are basically saying, “You’re cool and all but I’m not interested enough to actually do anything about it.” And because of that, you will miss out on meeting some really awesome girls who could potentially be the girl of your dreams. Life is short, take some risks. You’ll never fall in love if you never let yourself be open and vulnerable.

To all you guys out there who are the ones taking the risks and doing it in person- THANK YOU. Keep it up! Even if you keep getting rejected, because one of these days it will all be worth it.

In my Intro to Family Science class this semester we learned about Sternburg’s Triangular Theory of Love. Basically, it helped me see why all of the relationships/almost-relationships I’ve had have never worked out.

Let me explain each a bit. Intimacy is not like most would assume. It’s not physical/sexual attraction but instead companionship/friendship/commonalities. Passion is physical attraction and sexual “intimacy” if you will. Commitment seems fairly self-explanatory. Each of these (intimacy, passion, and commitment) make up the three corners of the triangle.

Each side of the triangle equals two of the above. For instance, Companionate Love is the side that equals both intimacy and commitment. I think I have companionate love with Brennan. He’s one of my best friends and because of that we have things in common/get along well and also have commitment to the friendship.

Here are some examples of each type of love: Liking=friendship. Infatuated Love= “puppy love.” Empty Love=stagnant marriages. Romantic love= affair/fling. Companionate Love= many long-term and happy marriages. Fatuous Love= “love at first sight.”

And what everyone is striving for: CONSUMATE LOVE which includes intimacy, passion, and commitment. It’s hard to find and hard to keep.

So to have a good/healthy relationship folks, here’s what you need: Friendship. (Which is why I’d like to be friends with a guy before dating him, if possible) Passion. (Which is why I think it’s important to be physically attracted to your significant other) Commitment. (Which is the hardest to find sometimes I think- blog about that soon to come)

I think it’s interesting to look over your past relationships and see what they were missing. Then you have that “aha” moment where you think, “Wow, of course that never worked out.” It’s also a great thing to look at for future relationships. Do we have intimacy? Do we have passion? Do we have commitment? If any of these are missing you can bet your bottom dollar (where the heck did that saying come from?) that it won’t work out. And better to get out sooner than later.

Top Five Ways to be the Man of my Dreams

  1. Love God. Have the same beliefs as I do. Be strong in your faith. Constantly be striving to grow in your relationship with God.
  2. Be good with kids. Want children someday. Make a good father someday. Love children. Be a family-man.
  3. Have a good sense of humor. Make me laugh. Think I’m funny. Enjoy life.
  4. Be good looking. This may sound shallow but I won’t kiss you unless I’m attracted to you.
  5. Enjoy the country. Be willing to live out in the middle of nowhere.

Other ways to win my heart:

  • Be honest.
  • Be a man of your word.
  • Be trustworthy.
  • Be hardworking.
  • Like my family.
  • Be supportive.
  • Don’t get mad easily–be able to laugh things off.
  • Sing during church.

How to receive bonus points:

  • Drive a truck.
  • Look good in a baseball cap.
  • Like to dance. (Even if it’s just being silly and making up dumb moves)
  • Like country music.
  • Be a Colts fan.
  • Don’t be obsessed with Harry Potter.
  • Play basketball.
  • Be taller than me.
  • Be my age or older.

Disclaimer: I’ve been wary to writing this note for fear of all the creepers out there pretending to be the man of my dreams haha. But on a serious note, to all my male readers: You should never have to change yourself to win a girl. If she doesn’t like you for who you are, she’s not worth your time.

Disclaimer #2: You could fit all of these things but if you don’t give me that giddy/butterflies in my stomach feeling it will never work. Stay tuned for another blog about this topic!

I thought I’d share some of my writings from the past (hence the title).

Drawing Hearts (December 07)

As we drove to the theater, I drew a heart on the window in the condensation. The heart was just the right size, with no ridges or mess ups. As we drove, I stared through the heart and realized how beautiful it was. But when we got out, the heart was left… all alone in the darkness.

Coming back, the heart had faded. It was gone. We had left for too long and the heart had given up on us. However, in the shimmering lights as we drove down the street the heart had left it’s mark. It was there only as a memory.

The heart couldn’t be drawn again. It would never look the same. If you were to try, it would be a changed heart and wouldn’t match the old one, the perfect one. You are only able to draw a completely new heart that will look much different, it will make you happy but it will never be your first.

Escape (November 08)

She sat in the dark, surrounded by 40 other students watching a history video. She was glad her American Civ. prof had decided they would watch a video; she felt too spacey to take notes that day. The video showed beautiful landscapes and began to talk about Native Americans. Soon wild horses ran across the screen. Black, brown, white, paint. She decided she’d ride the black one, strong and muscular with a long, thick mane.

Soon she was no longer in a classroom but riding through a never-ending field. Riding bareback she felt the horse and herself as one. They had a connection she’d never felt with any human. He ran faster and faster, her thighs tightening against the hide as she clutched the mane. Her hair blowing in the wind and the sunshine on her face made her want to never let go. She could hear the hooves against the ground and smell the wild flowers through the wind. Faster and faster. She could finally escape. “Okay, you’re dismissed. I’ll see you Monday.” And there she sat, back in the classroom, back to reality, watching the beautiful black horse ride off without her.

The Carnival (February 10)

The carousel’s carnival music traveled with the wind, down the boardwalk and through the crowd to the small bench they sat on.  They had finally given in to the smell of fried foods.  Jia and Kylie sat behind the Ferris wheel sharing a funnel cake and talking about the adventure they had just had on the swings.  The heat of the day had taken away all their energy; they needed this break from the rides, needed the fried dough to give them an extra boost so they could carry on.  As they finished the last few bites, they pointed out the cute boys walking by.  Aaron, a naturally tan and good looking guy from their school, seemed to be walking their way.  They had spotted him earlier in the day while standing in line for the bumper cars.  But now as he moved through the crowd towards them, they became giddy with excitement.

“Is he seriously coming to talk to us?” said Kylie.  “I’m not even going to look.  Is he looking over here?”  Kylie turned her head and pretended to be amused by the water gun game.

“He’s still coming this way,” said Jia.  “He’s looking right at you!”  Jia quickly looked away as Aaron got close.

“Hey girls,” said Aaron with the smoothest voice either of them had ever heard.  They both looked up with smiles on, trying to look surprised by his presence.  “I thought I saw you guys earlier but then I lost ya in the crowd.”

“Yeah, we saw you too but we were line so we couldn’t say hi,” said Jia.  She noticed when he talked he focused on Kylie more, or was it just her imagination?

“We just decided to sit down for a little break,” said Kylie.  “Want to join us?”  Jia could hear the anticipation in her voice.

“Well, I actually came over to see if you’d want to ride the Ferris wheel with me…but if,” his voice began to trail off, he was hoping for a quick response.

And that’s exactly what he got. “Sure!” said Kylie.  “We’d love to.”  Jia felt awkward.  Had he asked both of them or just Kylie?  Kylie stood up turning to Jia with a big grin, trying to hide the excitement from Aaron while still expressing it to her friend.  Jia stood up and followed behind the two walking side by side.  To Jia, waiting in line seemed like it took an hour.

When they finally got a inside the small box, Aaron and Kylie sat next to each other leaving Jia to sit by herself on the other side.  They looked good together with their blond hair, blue eyes and tanned skin.  They would make a good couple as much as Jia hated to admit it.  Kylie was all smiles as she sat next to Aaron.  He joked about winning her a prize in one of the carnival games.  She teased him saying he’d never be able to knock down the milk jugs.

“Oh, you wanna bet?” he said with competition and desire in his eyes.  Finally, their small box made its way back down to the bottom.  Jia was the first off.  Aaron got off second and took Kylie’s hand, helping her down.

The girls took a bathroom break while Aaron waited outside next to the Fun House.

“That was so much fun!” said Kylie once they got inside the bathroom.  “What do you want to do next?”

“Actually, I’m pretty tired,” said Jia as they stood in front of the mirrors.  “I’m ready to call it a day if you are.”  Kylie’s face froze as if her mind was racing for what to say next.

“Oh,” she said.  “Well, I kind of wanted to stay a little bit longer.” She looked back in the mirror, fixing her hair.  “Aaron and I wanted to play some of the games.  Do you mind?”

“No, I…” Jia paused.  “Well, I think I’ll just head back on my own.  That way you two can stay longer.”

Kylie smiled.  “Great.  Just be careful, I’ll call ya tonight.”  They both walked out of the bathroom and over to Aaron.  When they told him Jia was going to head home, he didn’t look disappointed at all.  Jia waved goodbye and turned the other way.

She walked slowly through the crowds of friends and families, spotting more and more couples holding hands or sneaking a kiss than she had earlier in the day.  The smell of fried foods had made her mouth water, now it made her stomach turn.  As she got to the end of the boardwalk, the laughter and upbeat music began to fade behind her.

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