Blog Archives

Servant – Soldier

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Servant or Soldier

In worship this morning the phrase servant not soldier was used when describing those who follow the Master, Jesus. These words have stuck with me all day. Too often I hear colloquialisms; “fighting the good fight or fight for your personal rights, soldiers for in God’s army, fighting for those who cannot fend for themselves, fighting for your political party, fighting for (sometimes with) your family, fighting sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, racism, fighting for equality. The list could go on but I noticed there aren’t too many servant phraseologies we use.

I think we are more comfortable with the idea of fighting, exerting power, pushing back against something we feel is invading our worlds. Fighting comes from a place of strength. Being a servant make us more uneasy. We don’t like the possibility of being taken advantage, of someone being over us, of putting down our fists instead of raising them. We live in a time where standing up for what we believe in seems the correct and just path. I wonder where/if there is a balance between soldiering and serving? Is there a side which needs choosing, we should choose?

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Into the Light

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Into the Light

Today was a special day for our incarcerated fathers class. The men, who attended and participated, received a certificate of completion, a letter from me along with pizza and soft drinks. Our certificate ceremony isn’t fancy but it is a way to let the guys know how much I appreciate letting me be a part of their lives for the semester.

Getting in and out of the jail is rarely easy which is, I suppose, the way it should be. There’s buzzers, intercoms, thick steel doors and tempered glass to keep people inside. Usually, I arrive at each door, buzz the “door keeper” and identify myself. I then wait until he or she is ready for me to go through the door. Today, however, the corrections officer was especially attentive as I was leaving. He buzzed me out as I was arriving at each door. It was almost as if the doors were unlocked.

In one of our classes during the semester, we talk about action and acceptance. I tell the men; “If the doors of this jail opened and you knew it was okay to walk through you would leave immediately, no hesitation. The problem is this isn’t going to happen. You have to accept you are here until they let you leave. At the same time, you can take action on keeping your family together and connected with the ones you love.” This is the balance of action and acceptance.

I thought about the men in my class today, the lesson of action and acceptance and their decision to come to class, listen, ask questions, share their stories and finally receive their certificates. They are trying to bring balance to their lives and hopefully to those who are travel life’s path with them.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Balance

Balance

One of the toughest of Wisdom’s lessons is finding balance. We live in a world where we are encouraged to devour, to consume, to take and use up all we can. We are taught to chase after the treasures and trinkets of the world, to collect, hoard and protect what is ours as if our belongings were a part of us, a portion of our being.

I was speaking with someone today and they told me a story about their own lives and a choice they need to make. “What do I do?” they inquired. I explained to them the concepts of acceptance and action. Knowing what do and when to do it is key.

Acceptance is the understanding that some things cannot be changed no matter how hard we wish to impose our will upon it. There are ideas, situations, people, which we must accept in spite of our desire to change.

Action is what we can do. Once we’ve accepted the things we cannot change we then see what we can change and set about doing it.

It’s this balance that keeps us from wasting energy on the unchangeable and focuses our energies on what can make a difference.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Resistance

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Resistance

Earlier this afternoon, between rain showers, I took some trash to the dump and stopped to get some gas for the lawnmower. Afterward, heading home and stopped at a traffic light, my eye caught a large raindrop in the center of my truck window. My first response was to turn on the wipers but instead, I watched it slowly slip down my windshield. The light turned green and as I began moving the wind flow pushed the large raindrop back up the glass.

The faster I went, the more resistance, the further up it went. However, when the speed was too great the raindrop split into three, one not quite as large and two smaller ones. The two smaller one rolled up the window and disappeared. Another red traffic light requiring me to stop and the raindrop began to slide down again. Green means go and I did my best to keep my speed around 40MPH because this seemed to keep the droplet in the middle of the glass. I did notice that even though it was staying put it was still getting smaller. The wind resistance was wearing away the raindrop and eventually, it vanished.

The rest of the way home I thought about the raindrop and life. We too are worn down by resistance. Time, difficulties, tragedies, and simple everyday living. If we live too fast we fall apart, not enough and it’s a quick descent to oblivion. Finding the right pace, knowing where our balance is, taking care of this fragile gift called life takes mindfulness and patience. Even when we get these things right it doesn’t mean we live forever for resistance, wearing down, out and thin is part of existence.

One life is all we get but if we do it well one is all we need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannebsaint.com

Balancing Act

Balance

Life is a balancing act. It is a lesson I have been keenly aware of this week. To walk the line between the joy of being alive and the acceptance that one day everything, everyone dies takes careful, reflectful steps. If you veer too far one way or the other you fall into illusion and suffering.

We all want to live but not just live, to thrive. This is our desire for those we love as well. If we could we would protect ourselves and everyone we care about from disease, difficulties, and death. However, when we forget our place, our lack of power and lack of ability to make life safe and well, we become anxious, envious and desperate.

It takes a while to learn to walk through the narrow gate of humility and acceptance. The narrow path becomes more narrow but the paradox is the smaller the way becomes the more we open ourselves to grace and healing.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Ah, Interesting!

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Ah, Interesting!

Yesterday I arrived home worn out. It had been a long day. I had a lot of stuff to bring inside but wasn’t in the mood to make two trips. So, I grabbed everything  and stumbled, bumbled my way to the front door. Contorting and twisting I was able to open the front door and set down my leather work bag. That’s when I noticed that one of the items, an almost empty coffee mug with a cap, wasn’t as securely closed, or had become opened with all the twisting and turning I did opening the door, and coffee to spill into one of the other bags I was carrying. “Argh!” My frustration wasn’t at the coffee dripping off of the sweater in the bag but at myself for not taking the time to make two trips.

Wisdom teaches us that balance and not carrying more than we can handle is central to peace of mind. My refusal to live this lesson yesterday left a big mess. I sometimes wonder if I am the example wisdom uses to teach others how not to live.

I washed off the coffee stains as best I could, asked Beth to wash the sweaters, put on some comfy clothes and breathed out the irritation at self. Perhaps one day these lessons I write about will sink below knowing and become part of my being.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
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Cleaning

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Cleaning

Today was a wasted day or a restful day depending on how you look at it. It was cloudy, cool, started raining a few hours ago and hasn’t stopped. As someone who struggles with Major Depressive Disorder, a day when not much gets done is also a day filled with battling thoughts of worthlessness and not living life to the fullest. There is the worry that a depressive episode is around the next corner which is why you didn’t get anything done which causes my anxiety disorder to kick in which is exhausting and overwhelming. These days are when I’m at the greatest risk of spiraling into the black hole of depression.

All that to say I felt something had to be accomplished today so I vacuumed, folded clothes, washed dishes, got rid of the trash while Beth was grocery shopping. It’ll help her out but it was for me more than her.

One of the most difficult things to do, when you suffer from a mental illness, is keeping your thoughts free of the dark and dirty ones which lead to no place good. It’s not easy to always stay busy or struggle with your self-worth when things don’t get accomplished. There is a middle ground, a place of balance and order but some days it’s harder to find than others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Under Control

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Under Control

Last week I wrote about raking leaves and how this ongoing chore is a part of the changing of the seasons; “Leaving Tomorrow Be (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/10/29/leaving-tomorrow-be/).

Today I was at it again. Same sections of the yard, same rake, same music playing in my ear buds, the same piles, except different, albeit still brown, leaves. Again, similar to last week, the wind was blowing so even as I raked more leaves were falling on the ground. Still, it was therapeutic; raking and burning.

While doing the chore I thought about my week. Lots of internal changes have been occurring at work. Changes which cannot be avoided and are necessary for our team to continue helping the families and communities we serve. However, as noted by me many times on this blog before, I don’t like change. My severe anxiety disorder goes into hyperdrive when multiple changes occur in a short amount of time. My preference is rhythm, order, a familiarity, which helps bring balance to my life and peace to my mind.

As I raked the leaves today and watched more fall in their place, I was reminded that life is never controllable, never truly ordered, not actually familiar, we simply fool ourselves into thinking there is rhythm. We like to think we’ll get everything organized and under control only to stand powerlessly by as the wind blows, dropping more leaves on a briefly clean yard; a symbol that nothing in the life is ever settled, predictable and under our control.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Good Eye

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Good Eye

Last week I had an important meeting. During it, a woman walked into the room to give the person I was meeting with a message. As she delivered it the other noticed the woman was shaking. She asked; “Are you okay? You’re really shaking!” The person said she had a lot going on and was trying to fit all of it into a small amount of time. She then left the room and my meeting continued. Afterwards, I saw the woman who had been shaking and told her I hoped she had a good day.

As I went to my next appointment I thought about both the woman and the fact that I didn’t notice her shaking at all. I totally missed it. I try to be aware of people and their emotional, mental and spiritual states. I even try to notice new glasses, haircuts, and changes people make but not this time. I realized it swept by me because all of my focus was on the “important” meeting. The person I met with was at the same meeting but didn’t allow it to consume all of her attention and she was able to show concern to someone in need.

It was a good reminder that true awareness is finding the balance between paying attention to ourselves and others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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the Best

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the Best

Someone asked me today; “What if I can’t be everything I need to be? For me? For my family?” It’s an honest, humble and vulnerable question. Loving others means being concerned with the best person we can be for those we love and others who are a part of our lives.

I told the person who asked me the question; “The fact that you are asking the question, considering these thoughts, shows you are not a selfish person.When you are open to doing the best for people who aren’t you, considering other’s needs as much as, if not more, than yourself is the place to start and stay.”

When we are concerned with how our lives impact those around us our worldview expands. We move from selfishness to selflessness. We seek to be servants instead of expecting to be served.

Balance is key. We should continue to care for ourselves and be sure not to burn up or out. After all, if we can’t take care of us, we can’t take care of others. We must not expect to be faultless, but rather seek progression, not perfection in our pursuit of giving to others.

Being the best us we can be includes giving our best to others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Asking

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Asking

I could tell she needing something without knowing how to ask for it. Finally, she began to say a few words, jumbled, somewhat coherent, and then blurted out a need her husband had and could I help? Responding in an assuring voice with, hopefully, peace giving words I told her; “Yes” and “would she like a card?” She smiled affirmatively, took the card and said; “Thank you.” “Anytime,” I replied back. “I hope you have a nice weekend.” I don’t know if I’ll hear from her or her husband again but it was not my first time I’ve encountered someone looking for assistance and yet hesitant, resistant, to ask for help.

I reflect on our brief conversation and wonder; “Why is it so hard for some to admit need?” I think part of it is our; “Pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps” culture. Folks who need a helping hand often feel they are somehow “less than” others.

Maybe it’s the thought that; “Others are so much worse off.” It seems selfish to take food out of their mouths, clothes off their backs, a roof over their heads.

Might be, perhaps the darkest reason; “I don’t want to be lumped in with the people who ‘have their hands out.'” They are judged, looked down upon, seen as lazy, under-achievers, taking advantage of people, churches, community organizations and the government.

Being in need is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether its physical, mental, emotional or spiritual we all need each other to make it. A wisdom proverb states; “No one can navigate the road of life alone.” In truth, we are all needy, weak, impoverished and cannot do it on our own. Asking for help is not helplessness it’s having the right balance of strength and humility to admit we are flawed, defective, deficient, have shortcomings, imperfections, in short,we are all; human and to be so is to be in need.

Someone asked the great Master one day; “What is the gospel?” The Master replied; “The gospel is simply one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.” Wisdom Proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Balanced and Level

Balanced and Level

Last night the Mrs. and I continued working on an extension to the front porch. We are extending the roof about 15 feet and then hope to screen it in. The first step  was digging the holes which would hold the 4×4’s. I did this Saturday two weeks ago. The next step was to place poles in a hole and fill it with cement. Neither Beth and I had ever dealt with cement before but knew enough to make sure the poles were level before pouring the concrete in the hole. We did and then, slowly, mixed the cement and the water. We were using quick-set concrete which only takes 30 minutes to get firm so being sure the pole was level and balanced was utmost important. We spent more time adjusting the poles than permanently setting them in place.

This morning, I checked on the poles and they are nice and secure. I also reflected upon the foundations of our lives. Every person has something they anchor their lives in; religion, science, relationships, intelligence or a mix of all of these. There are many foundations we can place our lives into but the real question is; “Are we balanced and level?” A lot of ideologies, philosophies and people we use to anchor our lives can leave us uneven and unstable. The key to peace within is to make sure what we fix our lives upon doesn’t just secure us but gives stability and the evenness our spirits need.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not so Fast

Not so Fast

Liturgy is one of my favorite parts of worship. I like the rhythm, the movement, the flow of a service. Contemporary worship, for me, is lacking this undertone of structure and meaning. Yesterday, I wrote about a gentleman in a “Declaration of Independence” shirt   (https://thewannabesaint.com/2016/07/03/what-are-we/), but it wasn’t the only thing trying to disrupt the rhythm of the service.

When scriptures, creeds, prayers and responsories are being read/said, I like to utter them slowly. I want to soak in the words, hear them in my heart, let them resonate with my spirit. However, behind me in service yesterday, was a woman who spoke loudly and quickly. She was often ahead of the priest as he was leading the congregants. It was almost as if she was in a race to see who would finish reading first. Because of her hurry and volume I found myself distracted and was having difficulty allowing the words to make their way past the surface. With frustration rising, I took a deep breath and did my best to let her pace not dictate my own. I focused on my breath, the words on the screen and allowed the voice of rushing, haste and swiftness to fade. It wasn’t gone but also wasn’t imposing its pace upon me.

On my was home I reflected upon the woman’s rapidity and how easily it is to allow the speed of others to set the tempo for our lives. It’s a difficult discipline to learn; to live slowly, purposefully at a speed where we revel in and soak up each moment. Every breath and experience can be worship if we’re willing to resist the rush, find the rhythm which leads to harmony, balance and peace.

“The wise person can find the whole universe in a single drop of rain.” #wisdom #proverb

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Run Over

Earlier this afternoon I stopped to get a cold drink. The temps today are in the 90’s with humidity close to this mark as well. I exited the truck and began to walk across the parking lot into the restaurant when a small white Chevy truck, moving faster than needed caught my eye. I stopped, he didn’t. I watched as he passed and he stared back at me. I was thankful to have looked before crossing and wondered why he was in such a hurry.

Following my close encounter I reflected on times when people had tried to “run me over.” Moments and seasons when someone had an aim, purpose, goal they wanted to reach and didn’t consider how it impacted those around them. Whether it was an over-powering personality, a self focused agenda, a spirit draining selfishness, their destination was reached at the peril of others.

I also thought about my own pursuits and how, at times, I was more concerned with the journey than my fellow sojourners. Finding the balance between getting where we need to go and being sure our passions and purposes do no harm is important and necessary to ensure we reach our destinations, together.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Urgency and Stillness

Stillness

This morning I woke up about ten minutes before the alarm was scheduled to go off and noticed my bladder was telling me to; “get up!” The bed however was giving me another message; “be still, stay, relax.”  I compromised. Normally I hit the snooze three times before dragging myself out of the bed but today, because of my bladder’s urgency, it was only twice.

Life is filled with experiences in which we try to find the balance between stillness and urgency. There are moments, times, seasons when urgency is not only needed but necessary. Emergencies, crises, or other situations may require us to be more hurried in order to avoid dire, serious or even grave consequences. However, mostly our days are filled with the temptation to turn ordinary, normal occurrences and happenings into times of great stress and anxiety. Instead of allowing the usual to become the urgent wisdom teaches us to take a breath and let go of that which is not truly critical so we can embrace the crucial.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Restoring Balance

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Argh! She gets on my nerves so much! Why can’t she just stop being so mean? I don’t deserve the way she treats me.“… This was part of an emotionally loaded conversation I had with a friend this week. Her relationship with a co-worker could be best described as strained and she’s at her wits end.

After the waterfall of words slowed to a trickle and my friend caught her breath we talked more about what was happening and why. She began to explain that she knew there was a lot of pressure on her co-worker outside of work, family responsibilities which might be taking their toll. “That still doesn’t mean she has to take it all out on me!” We agreed on this point but I replied; “Perhaps, the more aware you are of her pain the better able you’ll be to listen with empathy and grace.”

Working, living with, being around cantankerous people can be emotionally and spiritually draining. A willingness to open our hearts to them and their struggles may be the way to helping and restoring balance for both of us.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Balance

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Balance. Something we take for granted until we lose it. A wonderful skill that makes all we do possible. If it were not for balance most things in our life would be unthinkable.

On Tuesday I lost my balance and fell. It seemed in slow motion. A wrong step, at the wrong angle, at the wrong time and down I went, knowing it was going to hurt when my body came to an abrupt stop.

For a few moments I stayed down, trying to regain my bearings, assessing the possible damage and then slowly stood up and gingerly started moving again. Two days later I’m still quite sore but each day brings an easing of pain as I walk, bend, move.

In a similar way there are seasons when our lives become out of balance. Pain, loss, death, chaos, confusion, doubt, fear come our way putting our purpose, faith, relationships, all things awry. Our first response may be to try and get back to “normal”, even things out, find our equilibrium as fast as possible. Though tempting, this is often a mistake and not attainable.

Regaining our footing again takes time, patience, assessment and an endurance of the aches and pain of being out of balance. However, take heart. Balance may not be easily found but it will not be lost forever.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Leveling Out

Tuesday evening I continued working on a project Beth and I started this weekend. Where we’re working is sloped so it can be tricky making sure everything stays level. The key is never going too far, building too much, getting so involved in completing the project that you don’t take time to make sure everything is level. It’s not difficult. It simply requires placing a tool which measures the angle of whatever its set on.

Not being a handyman, I get excited when the bubble on the level tool is between the two middle lines and frustrated when it isn’t. As I worked past sundown last night I kept checking the angle, the position, to make sure my progress was straight and stable. As I pulled out of the driveway this morning I looked at our project. “Sure seems nice and even,” I said to myself.

I began to reflect about our lives. Too often we’re in a hurry to get through hectic schedules. We’re focused on reaching the goal, accomplishing a feat, getting to the finish line. Stresses, demands, fears, expectations push us to go faster, harder while giving us more and more to do.

The problem is we can become so busy that our life gets out of balance. Without stopping regularly, being still long enough to make sure we are level, positioned correctly, our bodies, minds, emotions and spirits begin to decline.

Wisdom teaches us that one of the keys to a peaceful, contented life is being sure this life “project” we’re working on is balanced, even, on the level.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Traveling Well

Last week, driving on the 840 bypass around Nashville, TN, a fast-moving white SUV passed me. As it made its way around my little red truck I noticed its right front tire was very low. It was moving too quickly to sound my horn in hopes of getting their attention and I considered speeding up to catch the vehicle but it was moving too fast. As I watched it get further ahead of me I became concerned that the tire would blow, the driver might lose control, injure themselves and others. After a few minutes the SUV suddenly pulled over to the side of the road. When I arrived at their location the tire had blown and the vehicle was stranded. Another driver was stopping to help so I continued on my way.

I reflected upon the tire, the driver and the quick pace of our hectic lives. Oftentimes our days seem to be made up of keeping appointments, getting from one place to another, being in a hurry whether we have a reason to be or not. We are so consumed with our next destination we miss the warning signs, the words and actions of others who would caution us to slow down, take an inventory of ourselves, be sure we aren’t headed for a breakdown, blowout or burnout, that could hurt ourselves and those around us.

The road of life is long. Patience, mindfulness, maintenance, wisdom are some of the keys to traveling well.

blessings,
@brianloging (Twitter)
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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Letting It Out 

Yesterday, on my way out of Bedford, Tennessee, I passed a fire hydrant which was was shooting water several feet high in the air onto a drenched bush. A local water worker was monitoring it, enjoying the moisture spray on a hot summer day.
As I watched the flume of water I reflected on a conversation I had with a dad earlier in the day. We talked about a lot of things as we walked around his neighborhood and one of the topics was the importance of being able to find positive, constructive ways to release the pressures and stress of life. “Too often,’ I told him, ‘We let difficulties and hardships build up and if we don’t have a way of letting them go, cleaning out the gunk, dealing with them, they will take their toll on us and those we love.”

Even the strongest of us need support, the bravest of us; a safe place, the most patient; a chance to scream and complain, the ultra dependable; a chance to pass and let someone else do it.

Moments and seasons of release and relaxation aren’t for the weak but the wise and well balanced.

Blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

Chaos or Choir

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On my way into worship this morning I spotted a lady in the parking lot with two arms full of stuff.  I asked I if I could help her carry anything and she replied with a smile; “Nope, it’s all balanced.” I told her that’s the goal for all of us, to be balanced, centered. We walked and talked and then went our separate ways.

I often wonder how people with so much on their plate, so many things going on in their lives, can be balanced,  centered.  In reality some aren’t but certainly others are able to do an amazing job in keeping it all in perspective, being focused, purposeful, mindful in the midst of busy lives.

Balanced, centered, purpose filled lives come in many different forms.  What is a chaos of noise and movement to one is a choir to another.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
http://www.thewannabesaint.com

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