Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

we press on

When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
In Jesus' name, we press on

When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall
In Jesus' name, we press on

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
In Jesus' name, we press on

When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all
In Jesus' name, we press on

Dear Lord, with the prize, 
clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on


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to walk the path of a servant

Dear Lord,

As we ponder your coming to earth, we are mindful of the way that you came to us. You were born a king yet lived the life of a servant. You laid aside a heavenly throne to work as a simple laborer. In coming, you showed us the loving humility of your Father.

Help us to be like you Jesus. Give us hearts and hands that display heavenly love, compassion and humility. Teach us to walk the servant's path. And as we walk, cause our love for others to grow. That we might be like you.

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Draw near

Are you feeling lost and confused?

Are you going through the motions but not making any progress?

Do you feel lonely? Despairing?

Are you not sure what path to take?

If you are experiencing a rough patch in your walk with Christ, DRAW NEAR. 

If things seem to be spiraling out of control, DRAW NEAR. 

When you simply don’t know what your next step is to be, DRAW NEAR.

There is beauty to be found in drawing near to God. 

There is COMFORT. There is PEACE. There is SECURITY.

Let the Holy Spirit minister to you today. Allow His Presence to be very real in your life. 

Draw near… and allow His Power to work mightily in and through you.

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8)

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end of the year blessing

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that cam awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave of the wind
Pierced every sore with salt.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.


    (Adapted from At the end of the year in "To Bless the Space Between Us" by John O'Donohue.)
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Recently, I heard a well known preacher say his favorite Christmas Carol was "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"  If you read and meditate on the lyrics, you can understand why. Each verse is so beautifully and truthfully what Christmas is all about!  The message of the Angelic Host declaring who this infant child was ~~GOD incarnate, come to earth to bring the best gift ever ~ Forgiveness of our sins and a eternal home in heaven with Him.

Please read and ponder each verse and courus.  May this old Christmas Carol bring new meaning to your Christmas Season.

Father, thank you for those Hosts of Angels that declared Your birth in that little town of Bethlehem.  Thank You Father, that You brought forgivness and life to all who will believe.  We love and adore You.  Amen., song and image

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The Greatest Christmas Gift

“Your sins are forgiven.”  Luke 7:48 (ESV) 

Ephesians 1:7 (NLT) 
7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. 

Gracious Heavenly Father what joy fills my heart because of the greatest gift of Christmas, the forgiveness of my sins. This priceless gift is for all who will believe in your Son, Jesus. This infinite gift of forgiveness cost the very life of our Savior. "18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver.19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God." 1 Peter 1:18-19 (NLT) 

Father I so identify with the Psalmist David: "1 How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How joyful is a person whom the LORD does not charge with iniquity...."  Psalm 32:1-2   CSB Bible) 

Thank Father for the joy of Christmas and the greatest gift in Jesus our Lord and Savior, the forgiveness of our sins.

With eternal joy and gratitude, in Jesus holy name, Amen.

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let us rejoice

  Let the just rejoice,
  for their Justifier is born.

  Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
  For their Saviour is born.

  Let the captives rejoice,
  For their Redeemer is born.

  Let slaves rejoice,
  for their Master is born.

  Let free men rejoice,
  For their Liberator is born.

  Let All Christians rejoice,
  For Jesus Christ is born.”

— St. Augustine of Hippo

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that we may share in the song of the angels

Loving Father, 

Help us remember the birth of Jesus, that we may share in the song of the angels, the gladness of the shepherds, and worship of the wise men. 

Close the door of hate and open the door of love all over the world. Let kindness come with every gift and good desires with every greeting. 

Deliver us from evil by the blessing which Christ brings, and teach us to be merry with clear hearts. 

May the Christmas morning make us happy to be thy children, and Christmas evening bring us to our beds with grateful thoughts, forgiving and forgiven, for Jesus’ sake.

— Robert Louis Stevenson

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His name is Jesus…

Jesus made his royal entrance into this world in a dirty, smelly, animal stall. His first crib was a manger and that sweet baby, who was born to be King of kings, lay his head in an old, rugged feeding trough.

But even in all the noise of that chaotic time, God revealed His plan for us.

A dark world was sent the Light of Life.

A Savior who would bring sight to blinded eyes. Strength to crippled legs. Sound to deaf ears.

A Redeemer who would renew the hearts of those who would seek Him.

A Restorer who would turn rejection into acceptance and despair into sweet hope.

He would open prison doors and free the captives. He would wipe away the tears of the lonely and hurting.

When our hearts ache, He came that He might bring comfort to our souls.

When our spirits get heavy and burdened, He came to relieve us of our cares and give us rest.

When we wander aimlessly and without direction, He came to steer us to the right path and guide our ways.

The brokenness of that silent night so long ago was instantly made whole when the long awaited Messiah was brought forth…

When we are left wondering how and why, we have an answer.  Our brokenness was given a remedy in the form of a newborn baby.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

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the sacrificial root

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,     nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:1-4. NIV)

Lord Jesus,

Your manger was a veritable garden of grace, for there the Father planted you as the tender shoot of Isaiah's vision. Hallelujah, you are the root of life that has broken through the dry ground of our fallen world and fallen hearts. 

We are in awe of the sacrificial tenderness of your incarnation. You created beauty, yet you became the one with "no beauty" for US. You took the evilness and ugliness of our sin so that we might become pure and beautiful in you. Though you have always been the delight of the Godhead, you b became the despised one, rejected on, for us all. What wondrous love is this, indeed?

You became a man of suffering, and though you did not remain a "tender shoot" you have kept all tenderness. In taking up your cross, you took our sin and carried out sorrow; bore the guilt and exhausted judgment - once and for al. Wonderful, merciful Savior. 

Teach us to esteem and love you as you desire, Lord Jesus. May your tenderness grow in our hearts and be real. 

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Advent: Week 4

Jesus, we rejoice as we celebrate your birth and your coming as King. As we wait expectantly for your return, may we daily be about the business of your kingdom. Amen
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 Luke 2:14

Peace with God, peace with yourself and peace with others.  Three of the highest forms of peace'

PEACE WITH GOD;  "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have PEACE WITH GOD through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we also have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we celebrate in hope THE GLORY OF GOD.

PEACE WITH YOURSELF:  "The steadfast of mind You will keep in PERFECT PEACE, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever."

PEACE WITH OTHERS:  "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at PEACE with ALL PEOPLE.  Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God for it is written: Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord."

Gracious Father, our first desire is to bring You Glory.  Thank You for our salvation that brings us peace with you.  Thank You for taking our guilt and sin and being our substitute on the cross, that we could have peace with You.  Thank You that staying in Your Word and learning of You will keep our minds in perfect peace.  And Father, most difficult, give us your grace in dealing with people, and help us to learn to be peacemakers.  Glory to God in the Highest, and on earch Peace with whom You are pleased.  Amen!

*Thoughts taken from sermon of John Piper 2011 

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There is a Time

"...weep with those who weep." Romans 12:15 (ESV) 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 & 4 (ESV) 
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 4 a time to weep, and. ...a time to mourn..."

Heavenly Father we recognize that even in the times of celebrating Christmas and "...good news of great joy..."  there are tragedies that occur that result in great sorrow, mourning and weeping.  We recall your admonition   for us to: "Bear one another’s burdens."  Galatians 6:2 (ESV) and to bring comfort along with spiritual and material care to ease the burdens of such enormous loss and emotional suffering.

Father our hearts are heavy with grief for the agony of those, throughout the world, in poverty, brokenness, persecution, disease that seems to be unending. May we not only be bearers of the hope of Christmas but also, as followers of Christ, help in bringing renewal, restoration and recovery to all in need of relief. 

Lord Jesus may we be mindful that how we minister to those in need is a reflection on how we treat you for you said: "35 ...I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’  Matthew 25:35-40 (ESV) 

Thank You Father for the privilege of serving you through lifting the burdens of others and sharing your love with them. 

In the name of Jesus our great Savior. Amen.

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for joy in the longest night

Longest Night Meditation

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Only it's not.
  • Not for everyone.
  • Not when there is an empty chair at the table.
  • Not when your body is ravaged with illness.
  • Not when the depression is too much to bear.
  • Not without her voice joining yours on the Christmas carols.
  • Not when you feel all alone even in a crowd.
  • Not when you are not sure you can even afford the rent or mortgage, let alone the presents.
  • Not when they are trying their best to the best of you.
  • Not when another Christmas party means he will come home drunk again.
It's the most wonderful time of the year?

No, it's not.

And trying to smile and say Merry Christmas is more than difficult. It's pretty near impossible.

C.S. Lewis once wrote:
"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning..."
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Only it's not.
  • Not after he has died.
  • Not after the doctor gave you the news.
  • Not after they told you they would be downsizing.
  • Not after... you fill in the blank.
  • Not after September 11.
  • Not when there is so much violence and destruction in the world.
In truth, it has never been the most wonderful time of the year. Certainly not in the days surrounding that first Christmas so long ago. The story of the birth of Jesus is not to be told with a jolly voice and a merry ho-ho-ho.
It is the story of a teenage girl, pregnant with a child that is not her husband's.

It is the story of a child born in a dirty animal stall.
It is the story of a family of refugees who had to flee their homeland so that their child would not be killed.
It is the story of one sent into the world in peace who was condemned to death.
It is the story of a light sent to shine in the darkness, which the world snuffed out.
It is the story of God's never-ending, self-giving mercy which was rejected and condemned.
In the great work the Messiah, Handel quotes the prophet Isaiah, proclaiming that Jesus was "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." One great theologian reminds us that we cannot come to the manger without acknowledging that it lays in the shadow of the cross.

It is not the most wonderful time of the year.

Only it is!

It is:
  • If we forget about the tinsel and the trees.
  • If we forget about the holly jolly tidings.
  • If we forget about the presents and the ornaments and the trappings.
And remember.

Remember the story.
  • Mary was alone and afraid.
    But God was with her and exalted her among women.
  • Joseph was disgraced.
    But God revealed in Joseph's cause for disgrace God's plan to save the world.
  • The world was in darkness.
    But God sent the light of life to shine.
  • The lowly were imprisoned.
    But Jesus set them free.
  • The blind wandered aimlessly.
    But Christ gave them eyes to see.
  • The lame were rejected.
    But through the Holy One they were made to leap and dance.
  • The deaf were confined to the silence.
    But the song of life unstopped their ears.
  • The sorrowful grieved.
    But God wipes away our tears.
  • We were alone.
    But in Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God is with us.
  • The people rejected God.
    But God embraces us.
  • The world crucified Christ.
    But God would not allow that to be the last word, and gave us the sure hope of the resurrection.
It is the most wonderful time of the year, not because you have to be cheery and happy and merry.

But because you don't.

You can have heavy spirits and shattered dreams. Broken hearts and deep wounds.

And still God comes to be with you.
  • To comfort you.
  • To redeem you.
  • To save you.
  • To restore you.
  • To empower you.
  • To strengthen you.
  • To grant you peace.
  • To be raised for you.
  • To hold you in the communion of saints with those whom you have loved and lost.
  • To store your tears in his bottle.
  • To offer you eternal life.
It is the most wonderful time of the year.
For Christ is born.
Love has come.
God is with us!
Thanks be to the Lord our God.

Rev. Diane Hendricks
16 December 2001
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as we seek and prepare for the holidays

Lord Jesus,

Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.

We who have so much to do and seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day,

We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.

We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.

We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.

We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.

To you we say, "Come Lord Jesus!'

- Henri J.M. Nouwen

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for light

Heavenly Father,

We praise you for the light, O Lord, which illuminates and guides us. 

Grant that our thoughts may be true light, finding their way into words we speak to others. May we never place our trust in empty light, darkness, driven by false desire. 

Let our eyes not be worn by surfaces that shine, with hunger made attractive...a hunger that will never be satisfied by the world. Fill us, Lord, with what will satisfy: your presence, your truth, your love.

May our eyes have the kindness and reverence of candlelight. Show us a love that would lighten our feet upon the waters as we discover a found world that only your light can illuminate and show us.

Reveal to us your one true light, Jesus.

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God became man:  the divine Son became a Jew; the Almighty appeared on earth as a helpless human baby, unable to do more than lie and stare and wriggle and make noises, needing to be fed and changed and taught to talk like any other child.  And there was no illusion or deception in this:  the boyhood of the Son of God was a reality.  The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.  Nothing in fiction is so fantastic as is thid truth of the incarnation.    ~J.I Packer (1926)

Angles sing over fields of light,
There is born tonight
A Son, a Savior
Joyful tidings are on the wing;
A newborn King
A Son, a Savior

Find this Christ, and share the joy
Of Mary's boy
A Son, A Savior
There's redemption within His hand
For every man
Heaven sent us a Savior
The Father has give a Son.
~Bill Barstone 1988

Heavenly Father, help us to meditate on these truths and fill our hearts and lives with the joy of knowing and loving You. the Son of God and Savior to those who put their trust in You.  Amen

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The Divine Vulnerability

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us...."  Isaiah 9:6 (NLT) 

Isaiah 7:14 (NLT) 
",,,,the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’). 

Father it is wonderfully amazing the purpose and plan you had to place into the gentle hands of Joseph and Mary your beloved Son. This divine vulnerability of exposing him to human weakness and danger, in which he lived all of his life, was within your protection until the hour of darkness would prevail. In that darkness Jesus would take the punishment and pay the penalty for our sin. (45 ....from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Matthew 27:45-46 )

Father it was Joseph's and Mary's priceless privilege of being Jesus' human parents, watching over him and caring for him. Under their guidance and example, He was: " 51 submissive to them. ....52 And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man." Luke 2:51-52 (ESV) 

Father how grateful we are that Jesus ultimately entered his ministry and finished his work of salvation. In all of this we see the divine vulnerability of infinite wisdom and the human responsibility of insightful parenting.

Thank you, Father, for your wonderful plan and the personal promise of John 3:16 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. " Amen!

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for inner peace

Dear Lord,

This month, as we approach Christmas, can be the most stressful time of the year. Grant us the ability rest. Help us to find times for self care. Teach us to tune out the commercialism and all of the secular noise of the season.

We commit ourselves to you anew that we might find that inner peace once again. To seek you. To trust you. To love you and those all around us. This is our desire and our passion. That we might know you more.

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to walk in your ways

Sweet Holy Spirit,

We come to you asking for your leadership. We are often confused and find it so hard to know what to do next. Lead us Lord. Open our eyes that we might see the ways that you are working in our midst. Reveal your will in our hearts and give us courage to act accordingly.

We confess that Jesus is our Lord and our desire is to do the will of the Father. We are thankful that you love us and want the best for us. Help us to walk in a manner that proclaims your love to all around us.

In the name of Jesus we say amen.
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Just as you sent John the Baptist to prepare the way for Jesus, clear a path in our hearts. Show us the distractions in our lives that keep us from focusing on you this Advent season. 

Lord, we await Your coming! As we prepare to celebrate the first Christmas––the first coming––we look toward the day where we will see you face to face. Give us minds to remember the ways in which you have already done great work in us, give us eyes to see how you are presently working in the world right now, and hearts that long for your return in the future .

Help us to live our lives constantly aware of your presence. Awaken our souls to the truth of your grace, and prepare us to joyfully receive our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes again in glory.


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Advent: Week Two

Jesus, your people were tired and oppressed when you came to them. You came for the least of these. As we go through the days leading up to celebrating your birth, may we remember that you have commanded us to love those around us as you loved. Amen
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Week One ~ Christmas

Men overlooked a baby's birth
When love unnoticed came to earth;
And later, seeking in the skies,
Passed by a man in workman's guise,
Only children passed to stare,
While God Incarnate made a chair.
~Mary Tatlow

Come, Thou long expected Jesus,
Born to set Thy people free;
From our sins and fears release us;
Let us find our rest in Thee.

Israel's strength and consolation, 
Hope of all the earth Thou art;
Dear Desire of every nation,
Joy of every longing heart.
~Charles Wesley (1744)

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The Contrast of Christmas

Numbers 24:17 (NIV) 
".... A star will come out of Jacob; 
a scepter will rise out of Israel....."

Matthew 2:1-12 (NLT) 
1 Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 2 “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” 

3 King Herod was deeply disturbed when he heard this, as was everyone in Jerusalem. 
4 He called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?” 5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they said, “for this is what the prophet wrote: 6 ‘And you, O Bethlehem in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you who will be the shepherd for my people Israel.’” 

7 Then Herod called for a private meeting with the wise men, and he learned from them the time when the star first appeared. 8 Then he told them, “Go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him, too!” 

9 After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! 11 They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. 

Father what a contrast between the joyous hope of the Wisemen who sought to worship the newborn King and the jealous hatred of wicked Herod who sought to destroy the true King of the Jews. Yet Father, in your love, you sent your son filled with grace and truth, to bring the light of love and hope to a world totally shrouded in the deepest darkness of hostility and division. As the Scriptures so compassionately reminds us: "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him."  John 3:17 (ESV) 

Father what a contrast Christmas exposes between light and darkness, love and hate, hope and fear, faith and unbelief, reception and rejection, life and death. 

Thank you, Father, for the contrast of Christmas which reveals the grace of your love and the mercy of your forgiveness to all who believe in your beloved Son, Jesus our Savior and King.  Amen.

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give us wise hearts

Father of All Wisdom,

We come to you asking that you might grant us to be wise people. Give us hearts filled with wisdom and understanding. In all of our ways, we pray that you would guide our steps that we would act wisely and honor you as we walk.

We pray that you would open us up to living and seeing differently. We repent of stubbornness and an unwillingness to change. Each day we ask to have softer hearts. We commit ourselves to you and your Son. Come Holy Spirit and guide us in wisdom. Amen

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make us peacemakers

Dear Father,

Your Son is called the Prince of Peace.
Help us to be people who bear his image.

Teach us the ways of peacemaking.
That we might bring blessings to others.

Lead us by the Spirit to see the other side.
That we might see with inner eyes.

Open our hearts to love people not like us.
That the world might know that we are yours.


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