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Tindell Baldwin »

I am kind of sentimental… ok that’s a lie, I am sentimental to a fault. So when my mom told me she was cleaning out my old room and came across a giant box under my bed of high school crap I was scared. I liked to take way too many pictures, keep notes my friends wrote me in class, and save any and all journals. I was a super dramatic writer back then (glad I grew out of that…). She delivered it recently and it has been sitting in my garage for a few weeks (like 8 because I am also a huge procrastinator) until today. It’s Sunday and the kids are asleep and my husband doesn’t sit still well so he decided he wanted to clean out the garage. I walked outside to him trying to sort through said box. I assured him that this was in fact, the worst idea he’s ever had (and we’ve been married for 6 years) and told him I’d go through it. I quickly had a giant mound of stuff that belonged in a trash can. I have never been more thankful for two things, that Steve Jobs hadn’t created the iphone and that social media wasn’t a thing. Praise Jesus for my black and white screen Nokia that contained one cool feature, the snake game.

There in a mound on the floor lay four years of my life… very well documented I should add. Four years of Friday nights, proms, school events, a single picture from that year I did track to get in shape for swim suit season, a graduation cap, a Britney spears CD, and various notes. Years of memories and I held onto to about 4% of it. I managed to save a few notes from my family that are irreplaceable, a few pictures of friends that were sweet, one prom photo of me and my mom, and a few bibles that have very crisp pages from never being opened. Only one tiny pile worth saving from four years of memories.

Sitting in my house with my husband in the garage and sleeping babies upstairs I am reminded why I was so passionate about sharing my story with young girls, because one day you end up where I am today, sitting in front of a mountain of memories and asking yourself if any of this is worth saving? Here I was sitting in front of a box full photos that I have to ask my husband not to look through, beer bottles in hand and bully button ring loud and proud (which FYI doesn’t look so hot after growing babies… just something to think about). Mounds of memories I’d rather forget. Mounds of memories I wish I could throw away as easily as I did the box they came in. image (2)

I can clearly see it, this lie Satan has been feeding us since creation, “God is holding out on you.” The lie that lead me into years of searching, drinking, regretting, and believing that I could do it better. The lie that seems so clear now that I can hear truth scream from every part of this little walk down memory lane that living for yourself is not really living at all.

I wish I could go back and tell tiny tube top wearing me that there was a really great man out there that I would one day meet and marry so walk away from the pointless relationships that will cause huge insecurities. I wish I could tell her about the kids whose little face would line the walls and fill her heart. I wish I could tell her to walk away from it all and into the life God had for her (and for heaven sakes put a full length shirt on). I can’t though, but somewhere along the way I decided I can tell you. I can pray that one day you won’t be unpacking the same box full or regret and wishing you had listened to little voice that had whispered “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Psalm 34:4-8

4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;

he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.


We were at a wedding this weekend and when someone we hadn’t seen in a while asked us, “so what have you been up to?” It’s a normal question, we were at a wedding, and you do lots of small talk at weddings. However, suddenly I’m searching, what have we been up to??  I’m assuming they don’t want to know about the mound of diapers, or the fever virus that just went through our house, or the rampant body issues that have surfaced after birthing two babies… really close together. Suddenly I want to make stuff up. I want to highlight things that aren’t a big deal and lowlight things that actually mean a whole heck of a lot to me. Suddenly I’m searching for something that makes we sound, well… important. The thing about being a mother though (especially one that doesn’t leave the house all too often) is that important hardly ever feels important.

Like the 1 million conversations I have daily with Claire about respect, love, and obeying. Or walking through our neighborhood holding hands while she tells me about her favorite colors and loving geese. To the outside world these are mere days, the passing of hours, but I know in my unselfish heart of hearts that these are the days that matter. I know these are the days that mean something. I know I am helping form her little heart and praying God makes it something truly beautiful.  I know that I will never forget the way her tiny hand fits in mine or the way Briggs sloppy slobbery mouth kisses my chin in his tiny attempt to tell me thank you. I know that to the outside world these are not important but in my kid’s world and even in my world these are terribly important.

IMG_0825So ben says so very honestly, “we are just in babyworld.” Oh babyworld, where the time moves slower and the emotions are bigger and the tears are frequent. Babyworld, where you say sentences that sound absurd and laugh at things you would have never thought was funny before. Baby world where you need prayers and friends but you learn more about “doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” than you ever really wanted to know. Babyworld. It’s not a real place and you always miss it when its gone (or so I’m told) but it will wreck your life with something awful wonderful if you let it and make you more into the image of our servant hearted Jesus than you cared to experience.

So my fellow babyworld friends, you are not alone. It’s ok if you don’t know what you’ve been up to when people ask. It’s ok if you start to sweat during normal conversation because most of your conversations are with a toddler and almost always involve animals or a Disney character. It’s ok if sometimes you don’t have anything to say that makes you feel important and it’s ok if no one gets that but you. Just don’t get trapped in the lie that I did and believe you aren’t doing something completely important. You are the most important person to however many little persons are in your home.  Don’t believe that just because it’s not quantifiable that it doesn’t make it completely worthwhile.

The guy kind of laughed at us, I’m sure he pitied us (he was older and didn’t have the joy of babyworld) and said, “Well enjoy baby world.” To which I later (ok much later) thought about and said to myself, oh I will.


  • Anne Gernatt Kerr - Sweet Tindell,
    I love reading your posts. My baby world ended all too quickly but you take me back to some of the sweetest times of my life and make me smile at God’s goodness to me by letting me be a mom. Thank you for being so real and freeing us up in the process.

I told my husband recently that Jesus was becoming a harder sell the longer I live. Because sometimes that’s what Christian writing and speaking feels like, it feels like being a traveling salesman with a really good product that you have to convince other people to buy. I know this isn’t true but sometimes I sit down pen in hand (or computer in lap) or stand on a stage with lots of eyes staring me down and it feels like someone says “lets see what you got.” It’s not God’s voice, it’s just the tiny insecure voice in my head that knows the longer these girls live and the more life they are exposed to the more pain they will experience. Its the voice that knows that we really like feeling good but real life rarely feels good. I think it’s safe to say most of us want a way to avoid pain, however, I don’t think that’s what Jesus is offering. I don’t think Christianity is our get out of jail free card, I think making good choices will ultimately lead to a better life but living for Jesus always has sacrifice involved and I’d venture to say if your faith doesn’t cost you just a little bit you might want to reassess (but what do I know… I can’t convince my two year old that pooping in her pants isn’t the best option).

The longer I am on this walk down the road called life the more I am confronted with the lie of “if God is good then why……” (fill in the blank) and if we aren’t careful life will squeeze the belief right out of us. If we don’t walk into Christianity believing the only good we are ever guaranteed in this life is a cross with our name on it then we might come out disappointed. I really believe God does give good gifts but I also believe that life has pain and hurt that is unavoidable. I believe God triumphs over evil but that doesn’t mean there isn’t evil. I believe God offers complete peace in the midst of life’s greatest storms but I don’t believe he takes away all the storms. I believe pain is part of the equation but I also believe that the hope God offers is the only way to make it through the pain.

So Jesus can be a hard sell because we like guarantees and back up plans and some kind of assurance. To which Jesus replies “take up your cross and follow me…..” (luke 9:23)  into the great unknown. Follow me when you have no assurance that tomorrow will be better. Follow me when you have no guarantee that the diagnosis will be good, your husband will stick around, or your money will sustain you. Follow me when you have no assurance of anything but a sinless man on a rugged cross. Follow me when your soul cries out “more” and I whisper, “it is well.” Follow me not because of what is guaranteed but because of what has already been done. Follow me because the only triumph over evil, pain, and loss is the hope that I will make all things new.

See here is the real beautiful thing about God, his goodness isn’t altered by humanities brokenness. He has already proven himself good when he bridged the gap and made a way for us to have eternal life (Romans 3:24). He has already proven his goodness by giving us grace and mercy and those are two guarantees we could have never earned.

Psalm 34:8 

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.

From five to seven pm in our house pretty much anything goes. I am normally trying to soothe one child while convincing the other one that her dinner doesn’t have poison in it. I can only assume she thinks I poison her food because she looks at all of it like it might kill her. If it’s not made in a factory she’s not interested. The littlest Baldwin is indefinitely teething and cries pretty much from 3pm to 7pm. Hes over tired, over hungry, and there just aren’t enough hands. I know that nobody with small kids can relate(wink wink).

Anyway just setting the scene for what took place at approximately 6:02. Ben was trying to soothe Briggs, I was trying to keep the dog from eating the poison meatloaf (its not really poisoned please don’t call your local defax.. unless they will send help from 5pm-7pm and in that case go right ahead) when I realized Claire was missing and quiet. When a two year old is quiet and unseen you should expect something to be broken or explode. So I walked upstairs to find her in the kids bathroom sucking the remaining Tylenol out of one of those syringes like a real addict. She looked straight up at me, syringe in hand, red liquid dripping from her mouth and says.

“I’m not drinking the medicine, I’m not”

To hold back both tears and laughter I sent her to her room where I promise one parent will come talk to her when one parent has enough patience and dignity to do so (I didn’t say all that but you can convey a lot with your eyes).

She walked off crying mostly because she had been caught but she also is one of those weird kids who really wants us to be happy with her (my husband’s genetics at play here). I wish I could tell you we had this great talk about lying and she repented and an angel flew into her bedroom and congratulated us on the stellar job we were doing as parents. But as I said it was between the hours of 5-7pm so we mumbled something about how the Baldwin’s never lie (which is a lie) and made her apologize.

As I was going to bed and thinking about her guilty little face I realized at just a little over two she already needs Jesus. I have heard a lot of people say that they believe people are overall good but make poor choices. I really could believe that until I started raising a two year old who only relies on human nature. Let me tell you about the beauty of human nature when its stripped down to its purest form.

We want what we want when we want it. We HATE to share. We lie instead of tell the truth when we think consequences are on the line. We want to be first and we want all the attention. That is human nature at its finest. I know because I live with this pint sized human who has no filter and doesn’t know what is and isn’t socially acceptable. That’s my job. I have to teach her that kicking her brother in the head isn’t a great way to release frustration. I have to show her that you have to let other people go before you, that loving others means sharing, and our current favorite that you cannot in fact poop in your pants your whole life. Luckily I have my expensive out of state college education to rely on for such lessons (sorry dad).

For some reason being caught in the act of disobedience and seeing her respond with a bold lie made me so thankful for what Easter truly means. It makes me thankful that I have Jesus to point her to and a cross that bears the weight of even her tiny lies. It gives me great joy that we are not hopeless and lost in our sin. Because I know she won’t outgrow her humanity but she can grow into God’s grace. I have really been struggling with how to share God with her, she’s starting to really see the world around her and ask questions and everything I say sounds too churchy or not real enough. I have said over and over that because of my past my goal is to make God real to her not just an answer she gives as to why the grass is green and sky is blue. However in the stage of life I am in it’s hard for me to see God as the personal God I know he is. So I just started telling her God loves her no matter what she does, just like mommy, and a few days ago she asked me..

“Mommy loves Claire no matter what?” and I said “yes baby no matter what.” And then she asked , “God loves claire?” and with tears in my eyes I answered, “Yes baby no matter what.” Because I don’t know all the answers but I know that’s true.

You know what I’m not good at? Loaded question, but the one thing I really embraced today… sewing.

Let me give you some back story. My son loves to sleep with a blanket at night but since people look at me like I said he likes to sleep with knives, I decided to try for a “safe” alternative and cut his blanket in half to make a security blanket. This way he gets his blanket and I stop getting judged (and worrying at night). I figured easy enough. I will just cut it in half and sew a ribbon on. Right? WRONG. This hour long process that ended in a security blanket that looked like it was made by a drunken monkey put some things in perspective. Who knew the ugliest blanket ever to be created would result in self-revelation?

See I don’t handle details well, actually that’s a gross overstatement, what I meant to say is that I don’t know what details are. I don’t like to take my time to do things (which is why after a horrific painting accident involving the misuse of that annoying blue tape I’m not allowed near our walls with a paintbrush). If there’s an option to just prime something through amazon I almost always take it. When it comes to cooking I’m more of a “pour until it looks like a teaspoon” type of girl. I have ADD which means the only thing I focus on well is whatever catches my attention. I remember people asking me if I was making my own baby food after Claire was born… I laughed (until I realized they were serious) and then told them I leave that to aisle 7 at target.

Sewing, pinterest projects, and baby food making almost always leaves me feeling like a failure. Its just not who I am. I actually took sewing lessons, have spent far too much money on fabric (sorry babe), and the only thing I have to show from it is a sewing machine collecting dust and a pretty funny picture of our dog in homemade pj pants. I want to be crafty but about the only thing my personality does well when doing crafts is making a mess and ruining said craft.


I used to be kind of sad that my kids would never have adorable homemade clothes or perfect pinterest birthday parties but what made me even sadder was not using the gifts God had actually given me for my kids. I love to communicate and have talked to Claire since she was a baby and now at 2+ we communicate pretty well. There are a few things I feel like God has given me to benefit my family and until I stop harping on the things I can’t do I’ll never see the gifts he gave uniquely for me.

No matter where you are in life there’s pressure to fit into a box. The world and even sometimes church says, this is what you should enjoy doing, exceed at, live like, drive, etc… now climb in that box and suffocate. When our gifts and talents start excluding other people from our life then I think we need to reassess. I think it’s awesome if you are the perfect Pinterest mom, I envy you. Your kids are probably dressed cuter, your dinner taste better, and I bet your house is cleaner (I pretty much use a magic eraser for every household chore). Either way we can learn from each other. Either way let’s not let our hobbies or even beliefs get in the way of loving other people. Let’s not let our lives become one big ugly baby blanket where you spend all your energy trying to be gifted at what other people are. Lets put away the sewing machines and embrace whatever gifts God gave us (unless its sewing… then you can keep yours… or have mine).

Sophomore year of college Kristian told my parents he wanted to drop out, get married, and become a singer/songwriter. They could have so easily freaked out and told him to fit into the box 90% of people fit into, instead they saw his talent and his love for Kerri and said “we believe in you.” Four kids and many albums later there’s a lot of people who are glad he made his own box.

bblog                                                                   (He didnt even care how ugly it was)

  • Kory McDaniel - Love this story…. I can so relate!!!!ReplyCancel

I was a horrible performer growing up. What I mean is that I didn’t do a great job at being a “good kid.” My parents learned early on that I was a horrible liar and even worse at faking it when I didn’t want to be in certain situations. I told my grandparents friends who owned waffle house that I didn’t want to eat at waffle house because the food was gross (to be fair I was 10 and how was I supposed to know they owned it.. I have since changed my tune). I asked my mom when I found her wedding dress why it looked like something from little house on the prairie. When my parents put Andy Stanley sermons on during road trips when I was a teenager I blared bone thugs through my Walkman (sorry Andy… I listen to all your sermons now). I guess honesty is a good characteristic to people but there is a delicate way to share opinions and I just have never mastered it.

Ben- “babe do you like this shirt”

Me- “no”… moving on

As a parent now I love when my kids perform… I mean behave. I love when briggs smiles at strangers, I love when Claire acts all happy in front of other people, and I love when she says please and thank you. I pat myself on the back and think “I’ve really mastered this parenting thing… I don’t know why people say this is so hard.” (I never say that…. Ever…ever.) Then Claire growls at a target employee, briggs yells at me for a straight hour because he only speaks baby and I don’t know what he wants, and Claire throws a toy at her brother because its Monday. Then I reevaluate my calling, my life, and my decision to not drink during the day (its a joke people).

It’s all small stuff right now though, and I pretty much get a pass at most things because they are toddlers/babies and those words are synonymous with tears and tantrums. But what about when they get bigger and it’s not about the Elsa coloring book it’s about clothes that are too tight, cell phone usage, and God forbid dating. What will I do if like my mom I have to hear others critique my parenting skills because my kids are bad performers?

IMG_0269Today is my mom’s birthday and each year I reflect on the woman and mom she is. Pretty much every year I feel more grateful that she parented and loved me the way she did. This year, as I struggle to remind myself that I am raising two tiny imperfect humans, I am reminded of the first time I realized that my mom had to say she cared more about a relationship with me than what her friends thought of her. She cared more about me experiencing the love of Jesus than she did about what others thought of her parenting skills. I am so glad she chose me over her reputation. I’m so glad she listened to what God said about loving me rather than what others said about how to raise me. I am so glad she didn’t care about her image. I’m so glad she threw it all aside and loved me back to a relationship with God.  I’m so glad she was able to grasp that my performance wasn’t tied to her ability to be a good mom.

Pretty much every time I talk to parents they want to know what my parents could have done differently. They want to know what would have “cured” my rebellion. More grounding? Stricter rules? Dad answering the door with a shotgun when guys came over? Sadly I have to inform them I don’t believe anything would have helped me (although the shot gun thing sounds promising), but I know what wouldn’t have helped, my mom thinking of me as an embarrassment. I always knew they loved me, its probably why I came back. Unconditional love is contagious.

So fellow moms, as we struggle down this road called parenting lets surrender to the fact that we cannot control our kids. Lets accept that we will screw up. We will fail. Our kids will be lousy performers. But our love can define us. Our love can change lives especially the little ones down the hall. Lets drop the act, if you see my kids looking all cute and acting just right then you caught me on an off day. We are all lousy performers.

Happy Birthday Mom! Thanks for always being the mom my imperfect heart needed!


If anyone is like me and grew up in Sunday school they remember hearing, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” I used to cling to that, pretty sure I had it written on my trapper keeper, but then life came and I found that I had far more than I could handle. Hurts came, loss came, lies came, and the words in cursive letters on my middle school notebooks didn’t hold up. I had far more than I could ever handle.

I’m not really one to ask for help, I like to tell everyone about my life but I don’t like asking other people to step into my mess. Independence has always been my mantra, most likely a product of being the third child in a house full of boys but relying on others has always felt scary. So I liked the idea that God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle because then I could keep my faith and trust in myself.

Then I became an adult.

I don’t know when it actually happened, it’s a lot like puberty, it sneaks up on you one day at a time. It was probably somewhere between the marriage and two kids.  I realized that while the Sunday school answer looked really pretty on my binders it wasn’t true. Blame it on God or just life but we constantly have more than we can handle. Our worlds are full and busy and a lot of time they are full of pain and burdened with worry. I have come to learn, after many a break down, that the point isn’t to be able to handle it, the point is to rely on our heavenly father to get through it all. Now I know, that sounds equally as churchy but there is something beautiful about realizing you need help. When we stop trying to hold all the pieces of our life in place we accept the beautiful surrender of a life full of God.

When I started this whole writing bit I was 23… I was newly married, in a town where I knew no one, and worked part time. I spent most of my time writing at Starbucks and snuggling with the dog who now lives outside. I was so anxious for God to use me. My schedule was wide open and I pretty much spent two years waiting on a Yes. Then the book happened, babies happened, sleep deprivation happened, and all the sudden I had plenty of people asking me if I would say yes. However all I wanted to do is stay in my yoga pants and drink copious amounts of coffee and hope it inspires me to get out of the house.

Right now, I am in a season of not being able to handle all that comes across my plate and I am constantly asking God why. Why not three years ago when I didn’t have kids and had an open schedule? Why now when I have so little energy and emotion to give? Why now when all the good babysitters seem to have vanished (joking)?

His answer always seems to be the same…. Because you need me now. And its true. Safe in my cozy pre kid life, I was ready to do ministry… for me. I didn’t have bad intentions or dreams of fame but I wanted to perform. Now I just want a solid night’s sleep… kidding… what I really want is a faith that will change my family (and a solid nights sleep). I honestly don’t care at all if my “ministry” fails as long as my need for God doesn’t diminish. I might have started with a slightly skewed view of what my future held but, in my new reality, I have come to accept that I can’t do this thing without God. Any of it. I can’t be a good wife, I can’t be the mom my kids need, and I have no message to give without his grace, love, and mercy pouring out on me. So each day I’ll offer up my desperate prayers and thank him for knowing that my life will only be as great as my need for him is.

  • Susan Peterson - Such beautiful truth Tindell! Oh how I need Him!!ReplyCancel

  • Rebecca Doster - Amen, I am feeling the need big time during this season of motherhood. So hard, yet so amazing, we need Jesus!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Miller - Tindell, What a blessing you are! My daughter and I attended Boys, booze, and Jesus in Cartersville. She is 18 and about to graduate high school. She really was not thrilled about going, but I told her it would be good. She has finished the book (in about 2 days!). She shared some with her SS class the following Sunday. Her ‘story’ is a beautiful one right now. I pray it will stay that way. She really listened and has loved your book. I, among many others, are so thankful that you chose to share your ‘story’. We are thinking about having a ‘girls weekend’ at our home and using your book and study guide as our bible study! Thank you again for all that you are doing! Blessings to you and your family!ReplyCancel

  • Deb - Such a good word. Thank you for sharing this.ReplyCancel

There was a saying in my house growing up, “if one person tells you that you are a horse ignore them, but if three people tell you that you are a horse buy a saddle.” So whenever I was being a brat but insisting that I was not in-fact being a brat my brothers would all start saying “saddle up Tindell, saddle up.” It was really infuriating because, despite my best attempts to annoy them by stomping around and exhaling loudly they would just yell “saddle up.” I like to think I’m a better person because of incidents like this but in reality I think it just made them grateful they didn’t marry dramatic women.

Anyway back to the saddle, there is this epidemic going on where honest feedback is no longer welcomed. In fact there seems to be a new policy, I won’t tell you that you’re being a brat if you don’ tell me I’m being a brat. Let me just go ahead and say we all need a good talking to every now and then. Honest feedback is the breeding ground for real change.

There are so many times I have looked back in life and thought why did no one tell me?! Like when I was wearing a skirt to my oldest brothers rehearsal dinner that looked like I was taking a lunch break from hooters. Or when I was dating a guy in college who was all wrong me and yet I wasted a lot of time, energy, and journal pages wondering if it was just “part of being in real relationship?”  Or when I got a dog in college after another broken heart and he was a terror to my roommates and now terrorizes my current home (he is currently seeking a new home to terrorize… interested?). I looked back and asked WHERE WERE MY REAL FRIENDS? To which their response was always the same, you weren’t open to real feedback. In my dad’s words I was a “porcupine that needed a hug.”

As Christians we have to stop thinking we are all this separate entity that can function just fine on its own and if we fail, oh yea… grace abounds. Do we have to listen to every voice that comes across our social media accounts? No! But if your entire small group is saying don’t date him maybe listen. If your best friends are warning you that you might not want the dog in 10 years when he is STILL peeing on your carpet, maybe take that into consideration. And if the skirt doesn’t come past the top of your thigh… ok that one should be common sense.  In the words of my brother’s…saddle up. There are things we need to hear from people that love us. There are things we can’t see when we are emotionally involved. There are times when we need to hear while grace does abound, there are consequences.

However, you have to be willing to ask along with willing to listen. You have to come humbly before God with your questions instead of pretending to have all the answers. Because sometimes in the midst of our greatest turmoil there is a quiet voice beckoning us to look honestly at the role we play in our own disaster.



  • Sherri Helmich - I first want to let you know that this is the first comment I have ever made to any one in internet land. . I just had to let you know how much I enjoy your writing and how much I appreciate your perspectives.

    I have read your book and in some ways have learned from it more than I ever wanted to know. I have four daughters and your book helped me become aware of things I needed to know. I am especially praying for my sixteen year old daughter who professes to be a Christian, but seems to be treading on shaky ground in some of the ways she is choosing.

    One thing that is so apparent from your writings is your love for God and your commitment to Him. Thanks for your humility, humor, and wisdom. I would like to extend a hug and a thanks to you, and a prayer that God will continue to bless your writingsReplyCancel

  • Gloria Butler - Very well said. I guess pride rears it’s ugly head at times.ReplyCancel

  • Tracy - You make some very good points and I think most of us can relate. Like you said, the key is to be open and ready to listen to others. There was a point my parents tried to tell me some things I needed to know and unfortunately I just dismissed and possibly resented them for it. Hindsight is 20/20, right? It takes some growing and turning to The LORD to be able to see our errant ways. Thanks for your insight on this blog. You are very wise for your age! It is clear that you have turned to The LORD. :). God bless!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle Garrett - Love this Tindell! Very well written.ReplyCancel

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