Posts Tagged ‘SAHM’

It’s officially been 1 month since my last day of work.  Since then, we also welcomed Baby Ben into our family, so the time has been full.  Thought it’d be good (for me) to document some of my thoughts on how the ‘Not Working’ thing is going.

Answer: I LOVE IT!  Since I’ve been employed since I was 15, the closest thing I can compare ‘not working’ to is my maternity leaves where I took 6 weeks off work.  Which is pretty fitting because if I was still employed, I’d be on maternity leave right now.

But this is pretty different than my maternity leaves.  For a couple of reasons:

  1. I knew that my maternity leaves were temporary.  The time was limited and I knew that I was going back soon.
  2. I still continued to work during my maternity leaves.  Not full-time, of course, but I dialed in to keep my email Inbox as clean as possible and to respond to anything critical.  I had people doing parts of my job during each leave and I knew that I was putting a burden on them.

This time?  I can’t work even if I wanted to.  No access to any company resources.  Why?  Because I’m not employed there!  I might wonder what people are doing while I’m gone, but it doesn’t cross my mind often.  I don’t know what meetings I’m missing.  I don’t know what decisions they have to make.  I don’t know what software enhancements they’re designing.  I just don’t know.  I don’t have to worry about the work that’s waiting for me when I get back.  That makes it infinitely easier to not think about my past life.

Right after Ben’s birth, I had this thought: “Man, having Baby #4 sure is easier than Baby #1!”  I chalked it up to confidence brought about by experience.  But I don’t think that’s the cause of my calm nearly as much not having to think about work and what impact my absence is having on my co-workers.

I wrote about this almost 5 years ago, but so far, my experience is proving it out: Being a Stay-At-Home Mom seems to be emotionally great!  My attention isn’t divided and that is very freeing right now.



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Why I’m (Going To) Stay At Home

Ask 10 different moms why they stay at home instead of full-time work outside of the house and you’ll likely get 10 different answers.

For some, it’s financial.  It just doesn’t make sense, in their situation, for them to work.  Maybe that’s because their personal incomes are low.  Maybe it’s because the number of kids they have make daycare expensive.  Whatever the reason, it COULD be a financial no-brainer for them to stay at home.

For some, it’s emotional.  They really, really, really want to.  It’s where they want their focus to be.  It’s what they’ve prepared for.  Maybe they haven’t found a non-mom job that they really like.  Maybe home is just where they want to be.

For some, it’s just practical.  Maybe their spouse is military and moving is something they frequently do.  Maybe their spouse works long or irregular hours or have lots of travel.

For me?  Why am I deciding to stay at home?

It’s my influence.  I’ve lost too much of my influence with my children.  It isn’t that I have no influence with them, but my influence is too small.  When I was just working part-time, it didn’t bother me.  When they were really young and the major goal was keeping them alive and thriving, it didn’t bother me.  When my sister was my babysitter, it didn’t bother me.  When there wasn’t so many of them, it didn’t bother me.

But all of a sudden?  It started bothering me.  My kids are in a church-ran preschool and they do good things there.  They’re even thriving there.  In particular, Finn has done great with an established routine.  (Something that kid really needs!)

But I’ve realized that Mr. Jacob has more influence over my 3-year-old Finn than I do – by a long shot.  Mr. Jacob seems to be a good guy, but I don’t know him.  I’ve never had him over for dinner.  I haven’t met his wife or his child.  I don’t know his philosophy on teaching or discipline.  I don’t know how long he’ll be at that pre-school.  Same with Stephen’s teacher – she seems great, is a grandmother and is very kind.  Sammy is too young to have much influence on, but the same things apply.

Even though the decision-maker wasn’t financial for us, it still has financial ramifications.  And that does bother me.  I make a great income and it’d be financially worth it (on paper) to have up to 7 kids before daycare costs are more than my income — especially once you factor in that we’d probably hire an in-home nanny.

It isn’t that I want to be the only influence on their lives – grandparents and family are wonderful influencers.  And I like the idea of preschool a couple of mornings a week.  I like Sunday School teachers and Awana leaders. I’m just not ready to give up 50+ hours/week at this stage in their lives.  I’m excited to stay home for the major reason that I can start to have the influence on my kids that I want to have.  

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I’ve come across so many articles lately about “How to Live on 1 Income!” or even “Why doesn’t America have mandatory maternity leave like other countries do?”.  I get it — it’s even something that I blogged about before — years ago.  But since then, I’ve kind of realized some things.  Such that now whenever I hear the question “How Can We Live On One Income?”, I mentally reply “As long as your income is Bill Gates’, then you’re fine.”  For a while, I thought of it as an income problem.  Or I mentally think “Just have the expenses of Mother Teresa, then you’re fine.”  I would think of it as an expense problem.

Okay, not really.  It doesn’t take Bill Gates income to support a family.  And you don’t have to have expenses of a single nun.  And while, at the end of the day, it does come down to expenses and income, I’m guessing (just guessing) that in my circle of friends, there are 1-income homes making $40K/year and they make it work. And there are probably also couples making $150K/year who struggle to pay all their bills.  So, it isn’t the amount that’s critical — it’s the decisions made that make all the difference.

But even that statement is kind of misleading.  Because, I’ve realized that:

  • It’s the decisions your parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions your spouse’s parents made when you were growing up that affect you today.
  • It’s the decisions that you made after high school that affect you today. (Student loans, rents, mortgages, car loans, etc)
  • It’s the decisions that your spouse made after high school that affect you today.
  • It’s the professions that you’re in that affect you today. (Income potential as well as other expectations like dress code, cars, houses)
  • It’s the professions that your spouse is in that affect you today.
  • It’s the part of the country that you live in that affect you today. (Particularly housing has a huge effect on cost of living)

It’s all kinds of things.  I’ve just come to realize that being/having a stay-at-home spouse is a complex issue.  It’s not SOLELY a function of the decisions that you make today, but it’s influenced by decisions made for the last couple of decades and decisions not even made by you.

Over the years, my mind has gone from “You just have to make a budget that only spends what you make.” to “You just have to have 1 income that makes enough money to support your needs.” to “I think people need to really be wise about their decisions and the decisions that they lead their children too because financial decisions can have a really long-term effect.”  Aka: It’s complicated. 


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SAHM and men

We’re almost at the end of our “SAHM” series on stay-at-home moms, we’ll finish up with talking about men and dating.

So, let’s say that you agree that the Bible gives men the responsibility of financial provision for the family.  Should it affect your dating life?  If so, how does that affect the men you would date?

My opinion:

It does affect who you’d date.  If that’s your worldview, you need to evaluate three things in the man you’re dating: desire, ability and timeframe.


The first criteria is desire.  The man you’re dating should have the desire for his wife to be a SAHM (should the Lord bless you with munchkins).  He may even have a desire for you to stay-at-home as a wife, even before children.  That’s excellent – if that’s something you’d desire as well.

As I said before, show grace and understanding to the single man who doesn’t yet have an opinion on this topic.  It really, really may not have ever crossed his mind to even think about it.  Give him time to think about it.  To process the idea.  To seek counsel from others.  You can’t make the decision for him – he needs to own this.  If he doesn’t “own” this, it won’t work.


The second thing to look for is ability.  You want a guy that can turn his desire for a SAHM into reality.  He needs to have the ability to support a family on his income.  He needs to have a plan for how he’ll get there.  Do not read that as “He must make $100,000/year by the age of 22.”  That’s unrealistic!  Read that as:

  • He’s doing what he can at whatever stage he’s in to prepare for the stage he wants to get to.
  • He has realistic expectations of what it does take to provide for a family.  It takes more than $10,000/year, but it doesn’t take $80,000/year either.

He should recognize that his degree in underwater basket weaving isn’t going to put food on the table, but his degree in Accounting might.  You also can do quite a lot to make his income possible to support a family on.


If you’re actively looking at getting married in the near future, then the third criteria is that he not only does he need the desire and the ability to turn a SAHM concept into reality, but he also needs to be able to do it in a reasonable timeframe.  If he won’t be in that position for another 20 years, then this isn’t a good time to date him.  It doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy AT ALL; he’s just not in the position to be married.

This means if he’s a 20-year-old college sophomore, it’s probably okay that he can’t support a family today as long as he has a plan for how he will in a few years.

My cautions:

Your timing

These are things that will be good topics in your early(ish) days of dating.  I wouldn’t ask a guy for his 5-year plan before agreeing to a cup of coffee.  But I wouldn’t also invest a lot of time and energy into a relationship with someone who I’m not compatible with long-term.

His motives

I’d also be wary of men whose motives are wrong.  Men can desire the right thing for the wrong reasons.  And that’s bad. (Women can too.)  If a man desires a SAHM for a wife to enable a great home life for he and his wife, to give his children the best possible upbringing, to give the whole family ample opportunity to share the gospel with friends, family and neighbors, that’s wonderful!

But if his motivation is to have a SAHM so that she can be isolated from the world, easy to control, unable to ever leave him, then that’s disastrous.  I honestly don’t think I know any such men.  But I am sure some exist.  And there’s nothing God honoring in such situations!

Your fear

Don’t be afraid of being poor.  There’s nothing that makes being wealthy better than being poor (prosperity gospel).  And there’s nothing that makes being poor better than being wealthy (poverty gospel)!  Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church says there are 4 kinds of people:

  • Righteous Rich
  • Righteous Poor
  • Unrighteous Rich
  • Unrighteous Poor

Make sure you’re righteous – whatever income you have.  The Bible says we should want to have just enough.  You need to be able to provide for your needs. If you can afford some wants in there too, great! It’s okay to not have a vacation every year or a fully funded 401(k) or to wear hand-me-downs.  You (likely) will struggle financially, especially at first.  It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to eat.  It means that you’ll have the opportunity to lean into each other, trust God for His provision and see some miracles in your checkbook!

The fact is that it is much harder to be financially independent than it was for our parents when they were our age.  It can be done, but it is harder.  Houses are more expensive.  Student loans are much higher.  Incomes are lower.  Expected standard of living is higher.  It is tough.  It will take both of you to make this lifestyle happen – without a doubt.  It can be done, but please don’t make it any harder on yourselves.

My final advice:
Consider these things. Be open to God’s priorities, not the world’s. Don’t think your value to anyone (God, your family, your friends, anyone) is the money you’re able to make. It’s not. You are not defined by your income, however high or low it is. Know that being a stay-at-home wife/mom is a financial decision. It’s an emotional decision. It’s a spiritual decision. Take Laura’s advice: “Live as if you are never going to get married, just don’t spend your money that way.”

May God give us His wisdom and discernment as we navigate all of these tricky waters!

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SAHM: What If?

Whenever the idea of being a Stay-At-Home mom comes up, I hear objections.  The sentences always start with “But what if…”.  Today, I’ll tackle some of the most common “What If” questions that I’ve heard (or said myself).

What if…my husband dies?
What if you’ve been married 10 years, have 3 little ones and your husband dies?  It happens.  It happened my mom, in fact.  And if it happens to you, you have options:
1) Use that life insurance policy!  There is a reason that most financial advisors tell you to have life insurance when someone is dependent on your income.  Dave Ramsey recommends 10 times your annual income, probably for this very reason.  Adequate life insurance ensures that you can continue on as a stay-at-home mom for quite some time.

2) Remarry.  It happens.  I don’t think you’re required to remarry, but you’re certainly free to.  But you also won’t be remarrying immediately.  Get life insurance.

3) Go back to work then. If your spouse does die and if you do go back to work, you’re about in the same position as if you wouldn’t have been a stay-at-home mom.  You can consider yourself blessed to have stayed-at-home for the time that you did.  But get life insurance.

What if…I do go back to work someday?  Won’t I be behind?
It’s quite possible that you will go back to work someday.  Maybe when your kids are in school during the day.  Maybe when your kids are all grown and left the nest.  And it’s a fact: your career will not be the same as if you had continued to work during the 20 years you stayed-at-home.  It just won’t.  You will have a harder time finding a job.  But…it’s also likely that your interests have changed.  The job that interested you when you were 20 probably isn’t the same as the job you want at 50.  The job you want now might not have even existed 20 years ago!  And your income needs probably aren’t as high.  If you’ve been living on one income smartly for 20 years (expensive years of raising kids), then return to work, you’re probably not needing a $100K job.  Your income is most likely to be “play money”, not “grocery money”.

Plus, you don’t have to go back to work.  Maybe once your kids are in school or grown up, you use that time to minister to others.  Be a secretary for a homeless shelter.  Be a regular visitor at a nursing home.  Mentor young moms just starting their mothering days.

What if…my husband loses his job?
It happens.  Quite a bit recently, too.  Of the 8 million jobs that were lost in last year’s recession, 75% of them were held by men.  I’m guessing a good chunk of them were married.  If your husband loses his job, he finds a new one.  Even if it’s less than what he’d want.  It is possible that you going to work will help the situation (that’s a call you both will need to make), but if you’ve been living on one income all along, you’re far more likely to weather this storm that if you’ve been dependent on two.

What if…my husband leaves me?
You’re thinking “I know were both Christians, but divorce happens just as often in Christian homes as is non-Christian homes.  My odds are still 50/50.”  No, no they aren’t.  Or at least they don’t have to be.  There are things that, if part of a marriage, make your odds of divorce drastically low.  Drastically. Like pray together.  Attend church together.  Have a budget and agree on it. In fact, the benefits that a SAHM provides would help divorce-proof your marriage.  Besides, if divorce is an option that you’re considering in your marriage, you’re working from a position of fear OR maybe you have a hint that marriage to this man at this time isn’t the right choice.

The thing to remember in all of this: God is the Ultimate Provider. He will provide the necessary funds if your husband dies, leaves or is laid off or He will provide the ability to live without them.  We should be wise and plan for certain events (like death!), but even that wisdom and the ability to plan is God-provided.  It may be that you’ll have hardship financially for a time in life.  Is that so bad?  It may be that others will give to you out of their surplus.  Is that so bad?  It’s the Gospel in action!

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SAHM and the Mommy Wars

There’s this battle being fought.  But it’s not full of UN sanctions.  There aren’t any nuclear bombs.  There aren’t any weapons of mass destruction.  There aren’t organized sides, really.  But it’s still being fought.  People are crying and feeling defeated.  People are whooping and hollaring and considering themselves winners!  It’s called the Mommy Wars.

It’s the concept that moms are fighting with each other over what’s better: to stay-at-home or to be a working mom.  Take a look at any number of blogs ran by moms and you’ll see evidence of the war.  Look at articles on msn.com and cnn.com and you’ll quickly see that many have an opinion.  One article says “It’s better to stay-at-home because your kids will know they’re loved” while another article will tell you “If you make your husband earn all the money, he will be so stressed out that your relationship won’t be good.  You’re putting yourself and your child ahead of your husband.”  Everyone has an opinion.

At first glance, there seems to be 2 sides.  But really, I think there are 4 groups of women in this battle:

  • Working moms who are glad to be working
  • Working moms who are miserable and would rather be working
  • Stay-at-home moms who are glad to be stay-at-home moms
  • Stay-at-home moms who are miserable and would rather be working

Engaging in this battle just makes the already miserable ones more miserable.  And it makes the content ones question themselves.  And, really, it’s ridiculous.  But it’s a battle none-the-less.  And it gets really fuzzy in my mind.  How much ‘work’ does one need to do to be classified as a working mom?  Some examples are obvious.  But many of them aren’t.  Are you a working mom or a stay-at-home mom if:

  • You have a paper route in the mornings
  • You babysit your sister’s child a few afternoons/week
  • You clean houses a few times a month while your kids are in school
  • You sell Tupperware
  • You go to a job for 10 hours/week
  • You go to a job for 40 hours/week
  • You work from home selling craft goods in an etsy shop
  • You volunteer for a ministry 20 hours/week
  • You keep the books for your husband’s business

There’s the commercial that asks “How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Roll pop?”  This is just like that.  How many hours a week does it take to turn a stay-at-home mom into a working mom?  10?  20?  40?  Does it matter if some of them are in an office?  Does it matter if some of them are in your office in the basement?  Does it matter if, while you’re working, a daycare worker is watching your child or if a public school teacher or your husband is?

Why the battle?

See my point?  It gets so fuzzy and convoluted!  Why is it such a battle?  This is just my opinion of course, but I think it’s a battle because: We’re insecure.  Women compare themselves to each other. 

Not all women do this and not all women do this over every issue, but enough of us do this enough times that it makes a difference.  We want to know that we’re measuring up.  We want to know that we’re being good enough at whatever-it-is.  It starts in grade school with kickball.  Then junior high with makeup and hair and accessories.  Then high school with getting boyfriends and good grades.  Then college with internships and job offers.  Then onto post-college and wanting (and getting) a husband.  Then with raising children.  It’s dumb and self-defeating really with how much we compare ourselves to someone else.  But we do it.

So when women make a choice different from that which we would have made (to stay-at-home or to work OR to find out the gender of their unborn baby or to be surprised OR to buy a brand new car or buy a used car OR to vote Republican or Democrat OR whatever the decision of the hour is), we question if we’re right or not.

The Proverbs 31 Woman

The Proverbs 31 woman is a hardworking gal!  There’s no doubt about it!  When talking about being a stay-at-home mom, I’ve heard men and women say: “But the Proverbs 31 woman didn’t stay home. She traded.  She sold things. She bought real estate.  She worked!”

My answer: she might have.  And that’s okay!  Great, even.  I’ve mentioned before that no one can do all the things the Proverbs 31 woman does every day.  You just can’t.  There are seasons in our life.  A season to work outside the home.  A season to stay at home.  A season to make our own clothes.  A season to visit JC Penney’s.

The key is that the Proverbs 31 must have had her priorities in the right order: God, then family, then working.  She served God well.  She served her family well.  She even worked well.  In fact, her working well is how she served her family well.  It’s how she was able to bless the needy.

But she shouldn’t have worked if it would’ve negatively impacted her ability to serve her family.  If her working would be a big drain on her family, it wouldn’t have been the right thing for her to do.  At that season of life.

The Right Standard of Measure

So, let’s go back to the only standard of measure that really matters: What does God say?  What has God told you and your husband to do?

Fact is, I don’t see any Scriptural commands that a woman 1) must be a wife or 2) must have children or 3) must be a stay-at-home mom.  I don’t see them.  I’ve studied the issue of “Must I have children” quite a bit and I just don’t see it anywhere in the Bible that every woman must have children.

So, if you have children, let me be clear: You do not have to be a SAHM.  I’ve already laid out all kinds of reason why you might want to and why it might be best for your family and why you should prepare in case it’s in your future, but you don’t have to do that.  Don’t feel guilty if the Lord leads you in a different direction.  (But please, let it be the Lord who leads you in a direction, not someone else!) What the Bible does command women to do:

  • Manage our homes
  • Help our husbands, if married
  • Raise our children, if we have them

I just don’t want you to get down the path of life, have children and realize that you want to be a SAHM, but can’t.  Better to prepare and head that direction even if it doesn’t happen that way.

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SAHM: Mothering in general

Okay, so I spent lots of posts on the value of a stay-at-home mom, the benefits of it and how you can help yourself get there.  What I haven’t done is to give you a proof that mothering, in general, is good and of value, even without being a stay-at-home mom.  It’s not like you’re really only a mom if you stay-at-home.  It’s not like you don’t influence your children if you’re there 24/7.  There’s no magic “well, I stay at home, so I bless my children” cutoff where 20 hours/day at home is good, but 19 hours day/is bad.

Kids are good.  The Bible calls them blessings.  But we live in a culture that emphasizes their costs – financially, emotionally, spiritually.  Women are told to:

  • Delay having kids til your career is established.
  • Delay having kids til you’re done having fun.
  • Have as few as you can.
  • Get your body back into shape as soon as you can after delivery.  All the better if you can have a c-section.

The implication is that kids will just bring you down, suck any and all fun out of your life, ruin your career and your body, so you should limit the number of kids you have, if you have any at all.

The problem is that no one is telling us nearly as loudly that:

  • Children are blessings
  • Godly families (including children) are one of the best ways to demonstrate the gospel to believers AND unbelievers
  • Your fertility is declining.  You can always have a career; you can’t always have a kid.
  • Children are used by God quite often to help us grow spiritually.
  • Raising godly offspring will have a huge impact on the future generations.

Whether you’re a stay-at-home mom, a work-from-home mom, or a work-at-a-job mom, being a mother is a great and glorious work, even though it’s hard at times.  (Maybe even most of the time!)  Even though it restricts your choices.  Even though it costs money.

Why is it that we think children are bad simply because they cost money?  A law degree costs money and no one says they’re bad.  Same with a car or a house.

Why is it that we think children are undesirable because they are hard work at times? Learning to walk was hard, but we still did it.  Learning long division was hard, but we conquered.  We learned to communicate, we learned to swim, we learned to drive, we learned to be nurses and teachers and doctors, and all of that was good.  Even when frustrating!

Don’t just accept what the world says about children and mothering.  Mothers have a huge impact on this world.  Think of the impact your own mother had on you.  Good or bad, it’s hugely shaped who you are.

That said, we should have an accurate picture of motherhood.  Motherhood is NOT the best thing in this world.  At most, it’s tied with a bunch of other things – one of which would be fatherhood.  It’s not higher than any other calling that God would put on us.  At best, it’s tied with other things.  Many women think that their life doesn’t begin til they have children.  They wouldn’t say that, but it’s a subconcious thing in their head.  (And I’ve been there, so any condemnation comes right back at me!)  From what I’ve heard, raising children is probably one of the hardest things you’ll do in your life.  But hard doesn’t mean that it’s not any higher of a calling than anything else God will call you to.  You aren’t of less value to God because you aren’t a mother.  You also aren’t of higher value to God because you’re a mother.  But, through the ministry of motherhood, you have a fabulous and unique opportunity to shape current and future generations.  Many women find it one of the most rewarding things they do.  Many women find it very difficult and the rewarding moments few and far between.  That doesn’t impact the value it has.

Example: The renowned pastor, Jonathan Edwards’ wife, Sarah didn’t have nearly as public ministry as her husband did, but let’s look at the legacy she left behind.  Together, they had 3 sons and 8 daughters; she bore most of the load in raising them because of her husband’s schedule.  Historians have researched over 400 of their descendents.  Of those 400, they have:

  • 14 college presidents
  • 65 professors
  • 100 ministers
  • 100 lawyers and judges
  • 60 doctors
  • many authors and editors

Sarah could have chosen to just do her job (keep the kids alive and fed), but instead, she raised godly children who raised godly children who raised godly children, etc.  They didn’t just have doctors, lawyers, and judges. They raised children who became godly parents who became godly parents.  What an impact on the world she’s had!  That could be your legacy someday!  Pray for that to be your legacy!

Some Desiring God articles that I want to highlight:

Motherhood Is Application

Mothering is a job that is full of difficult moments. Diapers blow out in stores when you have too much in your cart to just walk out. Sudden carsickness can leave you pulled over on the side of the road wondering just how much can be done with half a bag of wet wipes. You need to take what you believe and apply it to these difficult moments. Does the Bible teach us that God is disgusted by our frailty? That he doesn’t want to carry our burdens? That he doesn’t have the energy to deal with us?

The good news is, you don’t need to have been through some elite mother’s training camp to apply the gospel in your life. You need to believe. Trust God, give thanks. Laugh. Believe — and that will feed your children. Rest in God, and your children will learn to. Extend God’s kindness to you, to them. Forgive them the way God forgave you. You have everything you need to spiritually nourish your children, because you have Christ.

Motherhood as a Mission Field

There are a number of ways in which mothers need to study their own roles, and begin to see them, not as boring and inconsequential, but as home, the headwaters of missions.

At the very heart of the gospel is sacrifice, and there is perhaps no occupation in the world so intrinsically sacrificial as motherhood. Motherhood is a wonderful opportunity to live the gospel. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Motherhood provides you with an opportunity to lay down the things that you cannot keep on behalf of the people that you cannot lose. They are eternal souls, they are your children, they are your mission field.

Look at your children in faith, and see how many people will be ministered to by your ministering to them. How many people will your children know in their lives? How many grandchildren are represented in the faces around your table now?

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