Ready Or Not, Here It Comes

I’m not ready!

I knew this day would come, but that was almost 13 years ago and just like that, “SNAP!” the time has come and I’m not feeling ready.

I guess I hoped that time would slow down and I’d be able to prepare myself for what lies ahead.  That’s the problem; I didn’t exactly prepare, so obviously, I’m not ready, yet how do you prepare for something like this?  When are you really ready?

It sneaks up on you and before you know it, your little girl becomes a…a…I can’t even say it!  GULP…This gigantic lump in my throat keeps getting in the way of me even being able to say the word.  If I say the word, then its like everything up until this point will disappear,vanish, change and I don’t want it to.

But, it doesn’t matter what I want.  No amount of hoping, wishing and praying will stop this train in motion.  That’s what it feels like; a fast moving train that’s picking up speed and zipping down the tracks, blurring the view and making me feel dizzy.  I’m heading towards a long, winding, tunnel of…”The Great Unknown.” Okay…I might be slightly over dramatic here…lol.

Honestly though, this parenting thing has got me in a heap again.  Another transition, another phase and another season of celebration and challenge.

On April 10, 2016, my girl is going to become (insert a deep breath here) a…teenager. There, I said it.  It shouldn’t be a big deal because I already have one teenager, phew, I said it again.  Somehow this is a big deal because its my daughter.  Don’t get me wrong.  I had some struggle when my son turned 13, mostly because it meant I was getting old😉 but this is time its different.  I know what its like to be a teen girl, not a teen guy, so I guess I feel more angst.  Perhaps its because my son wasn’t as keen on becoming a teenager as my
daughter is.  She can’t wait to be legit, 13, an official teenager…I, on the other hand, can wait.

Here comes the “It feels just like yesterday” comments.  Seriously, it’s true…it does feel just like yestejen_moved_these_over_115[1]rday when all she talked about were ponies, puppies and princesses.  Now, all she talks about are pimples, periods and prom dresses.

It seems like yesterday that I was teaching her how to tie her shoes, write her name and comb her hair.  Now, I’m teaching her how to do her laundry, text responsibly and shave her legs.

It feels just like yesterday that she sang silly songs, skipped through park and snuggled with me until we both fell asleep.  Now, she sings radio songs with her headphones on, strolls through the mall and…wait a minute, come to think about it, she still snuggles with me, but now I’m the one who falls asleep.

Maybe all won’t be lost.  Maybe this change won’t be so bad after all.  Maybe I should be thankful that she is talking to me about what matters to her.  Maybe she can teach me to do things I haven’t done before.  Maybe she and I can still have fun and spend time together.

I can gain encouragement from Mary, the mother of Jesus.  She knew that her baby boy would change the world, but she didn’t know exactly what was in store for him.  When Jesus was born, Mary experienced many wonders and felt great joy, yet at the same time, I suspect she knew those moments wouldn’t last. Perhaps that’s why the Bible says, “Mary quietly treasured these things in her heart and often thought about them” (Luke 2:19).

Even though I have to let my little girl grow up, I don’t have to let her go. Maybe I will just quietly treasure all these things, and let her be my little girIMG_8793l in my heart, while embracing the beautiful young woman that God is shaping her to become. Maybe I am more ready for this than I think.

 

 

Tyler’s Journey and Support Letter

 

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Compass DR Mission Team 2016

Dear Friends and Family,

During the March break of 2016 I’m excited to be returning to Los Alcarrizos, Dominican Republic with 11 other high school students and 4 leaders for Compass Community Church. We will be going with iteams Canada, a charitable organization that helps sends youth around the world to improve the lives of others. We will be serving at the lighthouse along with 4 other church groups.

In the DR we will be visiting a local church, and spending the rest of the week working on a local construction project. There will be times during the week that we will get the unique opportunity to spend time playing with the children in a variety of ministry options.  You can learn more about the Lighthouse by clicking here.

I would love if you could pray over this missions trip. Pray for the 16 of us as we seek to grow closer to Jesus as well as each other. Pray for the people that we meet down in the DR, and that we may have the opportunity to speak into their lives. Finally, pray for me… that I would stay safe and experience all that God has in store for me. If you can commit to praying for me and the rest of the team before… during… and after our trip, please let me know.

In order for us to get down to the DR we need to raise, as a team $34,800. We cannot do this alone… we need your help. Compass Community Church covers 1/3 of the cost, we need to raise 1/3 as a team and, personally, I will need to raise a minimum of 1/3 of my costs, or $700 (more if we don’t raise enough on the team fundraisers).  Please consider supporting me financially.  Any amount is greatly appreciated. If you are considering this, click here, then click donate now.

One other way you can support the team as a whole, and maybe buy a few things as well, is to check out the silent auction fundraiser we are hosting this weekend (Jan. 30).  If you are not in the area, that is fine!  You can bid online for any item with a buy it now option.  There is even a week at Camp Kwasind up for grabs!

Thank you for considering supporting me in prayer and/or giving. This trip would be impossible without your generosity. I’m excited for this opportunity, and I’m looking forward to sharing about it with you when I return.

Thank you.

Tyler

Hannah’s Journey

Hello again.

As previously mentioned, Hannah will be participating in the Compass Community Church Windsor March Break Mission Trip for Junior High Students (that’s a mouth full).

This will be the first time Compass leads a junior high focused mission trip and there is a lot of excitement as the team has been created, details come into place and connections are made in Windsor.  One of the tasks the team members had to complete was a letter outlining the purpose of the trip and the funds needed to be raised.  Below is Hannah’s letter.

Enjoy.

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Hannah in Bolivia (2013)

Dear friends and family,

 

I am writing this letter to tell you about a unique opportunity. I have the privilege of participating in during the March break.

I will be going to Windsor with other junior high students and leaders from Compass Community Church.  The Compass junior high students and leaders will be serving alongside the Downtown Windsor Community Collaborative.

The purpose of this trip is to help children in an at risk neighborhood. We will be running a day camp for these children. This will tell them about God’s amazing love for us. Part of the trip will include making a meal to serve to these families, as well as planting a community garden. I pray that through this trip that I would become closer to God the Father. I have seen extreme poverty in Bolivia (2012-2013) and the Dominican Republic (2015) but I have never seen such poverty my own country. I know that God has called me to mission for a third time to Windsor because he wants me to know that there is poverty in Canada and they need his love just as much as the people in the Dominican and Bolivia as well as the rest of the world. This experience will stretch me and challenge me. I can’t wait to see how God change the lives of children and their parents.

In order to fulfill God’s purpose, I need some help! Prayer is a big part of this trip. I am asking for 15 people to be praying for me daily; before, during and after the trip. You can pray for things like health, safety, the rest of the team, the church in Windsor we will be partnering with, and finally for the moments when we impact others and be impacted for God’s purposes. Also I need financial support too! I need to raise $600 because that’s the cost of the trip. The church has already covered some and I have contributed too but I still need some additional money. All of the money, and any donation is be greatly appreciate

**Please know that all donations over $20 will get a tax receipt.**

Sincerely with love,

Hannah Vis

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If you would like to join Hannah’s prayer support team, you can email me and I will pass that on to her.  If you are able to support her financially, please do so via Compass Community Church (for a tax receipt).  Cheques can be mailed to, Compass Community Church, P.O. Box 86, Orangeville, Ontario, L9W 2Z5 (Put Hannah’s name and Windsor Mission Trip on the cheque).

As always, thank you for your time and support.  We are able to do the work we do only because of the generous support of others.

Missions

handsHere we are again.

To be honest, I don’t even know where to start this time… other than to simply say that Tyler, Hannah and I (Rod) will be participating in a March Break Mission Trips once again.  This time in very different ways, but still short term missions.

Once again, we have to surround ourselves with prayer support and raise some significant dollars.  More about that later.

The Ask

I’m not sure where to start in “the ask” this time because, to be honest, I know I ask often.  This has caused me to reflect and seek why God would once again ask me (and Tyler and Hannah) to participate again.  Doesn’t God know that people get tired of being asked to pray for and financially support others doing missions (locally or cross-culturally)?  Doesn’t He know that people are busy, our economy is battered, and people don’t want another thing to add to the list?

I was sharing this with someone the other day, someone I didn’t know well.  He said something that has echoed thru my thoughts since.  What he said was not new to me, but his conviction (I think) stood out to me.  He simply reminded me that, “God calls some to go and gives the rest the opportunity to support those that are called to go.”

I’ve heard that said before in a variety of ways.  In the past I often cringed at it because for many it is used as an excuse to not go.  I would hear this most often when talking about our family’s ten month mission trip to Bolivia.  So many saying, “We could never do that!” would make me want to push back and say why not?  I agree, not everyone could, but to dismiss it without a look is not the right answer either.  Too many times we said the same thing before Bolivia… “We could never do that!  How can we take the kids out of school for a year?  What about our house, we can’t sell it and we can’t raise donations to pay the mortgage in our absence!  We have to raise $55,000?!  In four months?!  We could never do that!”

We had so many opportunities to back out of the Bolivia trip, but chose to seek God’s direction each step.  And, being honest, many times did not know how God was going to take care of some ‘big’ details till His timing.

Yet, here we stand, with our Bolivia trip already over two years behind us.  We still have conversations and ‘ah ha’ moments about the incredible impact on us individually and as a family.  We have a deeper prayer life and understanding for long term missionaries and our kids have an educational experience no school, public or Christian, could give them.

God is good.

Back to the earlier comment.  I felt as I was hearing it again, that maybe it’s ok to be the one called to go.  I feel, as I reflect back, I always wanted to be the one who supported the one called to go… that, in my warped sense of pride, there is something great about saying, “I financially support X number of missionaries!”  It just sounds nicer, again, in my pride, than saying “I have had to depend on $$$ of support.”

My new friend in the above conversation was unknowingly giving me, perhaps for one of the first time, a glimpse of that pride in my life and the reverse side of the coin.  You see, he also showed me that others were doing what I was doing to them.  While I was secretly wishing I could be proud that I was supporting a bunch of missionaries, he (as someone supporting missionaries) was secretly wishing he could be the one God called to “go” to the mission field and was somewhat envious that was the one going.

I guess, in all of this, I am saying that God seems to have it all figured out.  In His Kingdom economics, He has us where we need to be… that the real challenge is more about listening to his calling in our lives.  You see, I am confident in my call to “go.”  I am confident in our family’s call to serve others, locally and cross culturally.  Just as confident as my friends call to financially and prayerfully support those who were called to go.

One more thing before I wrap this up.  As I typed this, I ended up revisiting a bunch of our Bolivian posts.  Check out our Merry Christmas from Bolivia video here.  Our kids look sooo young!

A few Details

This year, Tyler will be going back to the Dominican Republic LightHouse Projects with Compass Community Church.  Hannah is joining the Junior High Mission Trip to Windsor to help with a VBS style week and some community work with at risk kids.  Finally, I (Rod) am leading the CBOQ (Canadian Baptist of Ontario and Quebec) Youth Mission trip to the LightHouse Project as well (Tyler and I will be on the same trip, but with different teams).

If you are able to financially support one of us, we thank you.  If you are able to support each of us, it is a bit complicated.  Because we are essentially on three different teams, you’d have to send three different supports.  If you have questions, please feel free to contact me via email at rod_vis@hotmail.com.

Lastly, but most importantly, we covet your prayers.  Our family is able to do missions because of the prayer support we have had over the years.  I know God has a reason for these rich experiences in my children’s lives and He will use them in significant ways as they become adults, so your prayers are needed.

TylerSupport for Tyler:

Iteams International – click here.

HannahSupport for Hannah:

Compass Community Church – Mail a cheque to (Put Hannah’s name and Windsor Mission Trip on the cheque), Compass Community Church, P.O. Box 86, Orangeville, Ontario, L9W 2Z5

Support for Rod

Iteams International – Click here.

 

 

Here we go again!

Her We Go Again

How many times have I said “Here we go again!” in the last few years?  Too many times to count, I’m sure.

Every time I visit the LightHouse Project in the Dominican Republic, I feel like it will be my last time.  Not because I don’t want to return, but because I’m not sure if God will open doors for me to return again.  The last trip was to introduce my church to the ministry and work of the LightHouse Projects and train new leaders to lead future teams.  So, in a way I was passing the torch.

 

I also decided that I could not do these trips anymore without part or all of my family.  Time with my kids is at a stage when I need to be present in their lives more intentionally as they enter their teen years.  Second, having gone to the mission field as a family, I have seen first hand the power of serving together as a family and I missed that on my last trip to the DR.  So, when asked about going back in a support role for the new leaders of the team, I was in if I could bring one or two of my kids.

On March 13th, Tyler, Hannah and I will (with the team from Compass Community Church), head down to the Dominican Republic for one week to serve with International Teams and The LightHouse Projects.  We will have a variety of opportunities to join in some construction work, help in the school(s) and simply love on the people living in Los Alcarrizos.  This will be an opportunity for Tyler and Hannah to see, first hand, the community that God used to stir my love for the mission field that ultimately led to our time in Bolivia.

I am not oblivious to the fact that we now have to raise funds for 3 people, so this is an exercise in faith for us that God will provide.  I believe without a doubt that God has called Tyler, Hannah and I to be on this trip, so my confidence is in God to provide the resources.

A few Sundays ago we heard a sermon about praying with persistence.  To pray audaciously. To pray specifically.  One of may favourite examples was when funds were needed to keep a seminary open, a prayer was voiced, “God, you own the cattle on a thousand hills.  Please sell a few so the funds can keep this school open.”  The next day, someone showed up from the cattle auction with a cheque saying, “Someone just sold two trailers of cattle and felt compelled to give you the cheque.”  God hears our prayers.

I invite you to join us in prayer over the next few months as we prepare for this trip.  Pray for the team from Compass Community Church, the LightHouse Projects in the Dominican, and for divine moments to impact and be impacted for God’s Kingdom purposes through this experience.

If you are able to support us financially or would like to track our progress, you can go to the International Teams support page by clicking here.

Be Blessed!

Third Voice

Awaken-The-Third-Voice

I never thought it would come to this!

Honestly the thought never crossed my mind.  I was so busy making sure they were fed, clothed, clean, safe, educated, and socialized that it never occurred to me that one day my voice would begin to fade into the background.

After all, as their mother, I am the commanding voice, the head honcho, the captain of this ship called the Vis family….along with their father, of course😉

On a day to day basis, my level of involvement and influence in their lives is off the charts, and as a stay at home mom, I am the person that speaks the most into their little ears and hearts.  Here’s the beauty of how this has played out in our home up until now….they listen!

Kids are sponges and they absorb everything you say. (For good or bad)

I  love it when they take my word at face value and just believe me.  When I hear one of my children persuading their siblings with these words, my heart just melts, “…because Mommy said…” They simply trust me and my words.  They soak them in. I don’t have to fight anything else to have my voice be the one they hear the loudest.

I always knew that as a parent I would be their number one influence.  What I forgot was that I wouldn’t be the ONLY influence.  Sure, I knew that friends would have their share of input, just like media, school and other things, but I convinced myself that I would stand out among them and that my kids would in the end, always weigh my words as the best.

My husband and I have been in youth ministry for over 15 years and we know the power of influence that another voice can have in a kids’ life.  We desired to impact youth for Christ and we wanted a place at the table in our student’s lives.  We are grateful for those parents who have let us speak into their kids lives especially concerning the things of God.

Now I am finding myself in the reverse role as one of those parents. A parent of preteens.  I know, I actually said it out loud….scary!

I need someone to be a “third voice” for my kids.

We have seen the positive impact of what we like to call, “a third voice” in kids’ lives and we as parents have been intentional to set our kids up for success in this area.

A third voice person is someone who you want to speak into your child’s life, sometimes saying things even without words.  This person has your child’s best interest at heart.  Like you, they want to see your son or daughter grow to be all that they can be, in every aspect of life.

A third voice person is someone that you as parents partner with and intentionally involve them in your child’s world.  We have specifically asked people to come alongside us to help influence our children.  We have given them permission to invest in our kids with their unique perspectives and personalities.

The goal of a third voice is to have kids hear the same message their parents say but through a different voice.

We’ve chosen friends who we know hold the same moral and more importantly spiritual beliefs as we do and have allowed them to have a place of influence in our kid’s lives.

As parents, we have to begin with the ending in mind and envision who we want our children to be.  Starting at the end is a great way to be parenting purposefully.  Keep the goal in the forefront of your mind as you raise your children and find ways to leverage the positive influences around you so that they can become evident in your child’s life.

A third voice doesn’t necessarily have to stay with your child all through their lives.  Just like scripture says, there is a time and a purpose for everything under heaven.  It may be that a third voice stays for a season and then moves on.  Our purpose as parents is to always be looking for positive third voices and putting our children in their way.  This can be accomplished in very obvious ways and/or subtle ways.

We have, at times, asked specific people to partner with us, and at other times we have simply put our kids in situations where we know they will rub shoulders with great third voices.

Currently, I am facing a new season of finding third voices for my older kids.  My voice is becoming less appealing to my son and daughter, BUT I have a few tricks up my sleeve, and you can too.

Think about the people around you who can speak the same message to your kids that you do, but say it with a different voice.  Is it a youth group leader? A day care worker?  A neighbor?  A camp counselor?   A coach?   A teacher?  A babysitter?  An aunt, uncle, or older cousin?  Now, those are cool, relevant and interesting voices to kids.

I’m sitting back and watching my kids cozy up to camp counselors this summer, and I’m not worried at all.

We’ve positioned our kids, and at this point I don’t even think they’ve clued in😉 to continue being molded and shaped into the people we want them to be.

Of course, I’m not saying this approach will guarantee that your kids will turn out perfect.  But I will guarantee that if you DON’T give your kids the opportunities to have positive third voices in their lives, they will listen to someone, or something else and it may not be the ones you want them to listen to.

I know this parenting thing is turning out to be more than I signed up for, but I wouldn’t change it for the world and I’m so glad that there are other inspiring people to help me and my kids along the way!

Be on the lookout and prayerfully consider who you can partner with to be a positive “third voice” for your kids, for the better!

Vacation Recipe To Feed Your Soul

recipe-cardAhhhh….summer vacation. The time of year when I get to hang up my ‘work hat’ and put on my ‘play hat.’

I can feel the stress of life begin to lift the further away I drive from the city. As I make my way toward my oasis, a care free attitude sets in, and a different mindset takes over. It is freeing to let go of the regular demands of life, to exhale the exhaust of the schedules and deadlines, and to inhale invaluable time of rest and rejuvenation.

My recipe for the best summer vacation is quite simple….An equal ratio. 2 parts ‘fun and frolic’ with 2 parts ‘reflect and renew’’.  Mix together and enjoy!

They say that “laughter is the best medicine,” and I tend to agree with that. There is nothing more satisfying than a deep, long belly laugh that leaves your sides hurting and your cheeks aching. I like to make sure I include a lot of laughter on my vacations. Give yourself the opportunity to live on the lighter side of life. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Do a running cannon ball jump off the end of the dock…you’re kids will die laughing, trust me😉 Have an impromptu karaoke contest with your friends, worst singer wins! Tell jokes around the campfire, yes, even the corny ones. Throw your head back and let the laughter burst out. Let it ring through the forest and trees, let it lift your heart and feed your soul.

I like the word ‘frolic.’ It has an airy, breezy sound to it. That’s how we need to spend our vacation times, with a lot of space, free flow, and breeze. We have to put away the crisp, rigid, and narrow way of doing things and stretch ourselves, be flexible and allow for frolic and fun.The definition of frolic is ‘to gambol merrily; to play in a frisky, light spirited-manner; to romp.”  We can take some pointers from the kids around us. Follow their lead. They know how to do frolic well. Get in the game, dig a sandcastle, go for adventure, and why not skip along the way? Let go of fretting and focus on frolic. Play hard and rest easy!

I believe God has a sense of humor and without sounding irreverent, dare I say, a playful side? We often don’t appreciate the gift he’s given us through laughter and play. I have a picture in our summer house that says, “Live well, laugh often, love much.” Give it a try!

To complete my recipe for the best summer we can’t forget to add some of the most important ingredients. Reflect and renew. There is a time for everything, scripture says and after you’ve put in a good day of fun and frolic, it’s time to slow it down and add these essentials.

We live in a fast food, gotta have it now, society, not to mention the overwhelming pressure to always push ahead and build our future. It is good to have goals, and to invest time, energy and resources into the future. We are told to be good stewards of what we have. But, every now and then I get a sense that we can’t wait to get out of today, let alone look back at yesterday. Yet, reflection is crucial to the Christian journey and there’s no better time to it develop this practice than on vacation.

One of the easiest ways to look back from year to year is to keep a journal. I know, some of you would never claim yourself to be a ‘writer’ but here’s the good news, you don’t have to be a writer to journal, you just need to know how to put letters together to make words. Here’s the secret, no one ever needs to look at your entries, just you, and there’s no editor!

This habit creates the perfect setting for you to be able to reflect. If you journal, you are able to capture your feelings, events, dreams, fears, to mention a few. We like to think we will remember lessons learned, special moments or feelings, but the fact is we forget. Journaling helps us to encapsulate them, so that when the time is right, we can open it again and feel the exact sentiment that was there the moment we experienced them.

I can’t tell you how much this practice has helped my spiritual journey. The times I have spent journaling and reflecting on what I previously wrote (TRUE FACT: it doesn’t take THAT much time to write, and it doesn’t have to be pages and pages, or everyday either) have allowed me to see God at work, around me and in me. This has increased my faith, and has brought me closer to God.

As I just alluded to, I don’t just journal, but I reflect on what I wrote. Vacation time is great for making new entries, but it’s also a fantastic time to read some of the old entries. This is where the “magic” happens. From your current vantage point you now have hindsight and perspective from the time you wrote those words. That’s powerful. You can begin to remember, ponder, meditate on what you have learned about God, yourself and others. You can see how you’ve changed and where you still need to. You can recount the blessings in amongst the thorns even, and deepen your gratitude attitude. You can relive the special moments that you’ve experienced with loved ones.

Word to the wise, reflection does take effort and some time, but that’s why it’s a perfect opportunity for you to do this on vacation. Slow down, sit down, write down, and you will see yourself from a different point of view. Begin to see your life through the rear view mirror and experience the beauty of reflection.

To complete the recipe, we need the often overlooked ingredient of renewal.

Once you have had sufficient time to reflect, you can begin to ask God to renew you. Essentially the process of reflection allows you to lay open your heart and mind and the process of renewing allows you to realign yourself with God’s plan. With the help of the Holy Spirit you will be able to see parts of your life, behavior, attitudes that need to be recentered, refocused or renewed. Sometimes, we lose our way with one huge mistake, but often it happens bit by bit.

Take this interesting fact about flying, for instance. “For every single degree you fly off course, you will miss your target landing spot by 92 feet for every mile you fly. That amounts to about one mile off target for every sixty miles flown. If you decided to start at the equator and fly around the earth, one degree off would land you almost 500 miles off target.”

Just like this story shows, it doesn’t have to be major decisions that get us off course. They can be subtle, slight changes, small compromises, all of which push us adrift. The beauty of reflection allows us to get on track again, to renew our hearts and minds according to God’s purposes. Romans 12:2, tells us transformation will happen when we renew our minds.

Ephesians gives us a process for change in chapter 4 teaching us to:1) put off your old self. 2) be made new in the attitudes of your minds. 3) put on the new self.

Even our beloved King David knew this practice of renewal. After he reflected on the personal sin that had enslaved leaving him tangled in a web of lies, murder, and denial, he journals his heart’s plea. It reads,”…renew a steadfast spirit within me.”

Sometimes we need God to create something new in our hearts, giving us a fresh vision or direction. Other times we need him to renew something that has overtime faded into the background. Still, there are times when we need him to restore something that has been broken, perhaps a dream or a relationship. Nonetheless, all of these things will not happen on their own. There’s no magic pill. Sorry no fast food menu for this gourmet dish.

As I was recently reflecting and reading my previous journal entries, I came across this. “Reflection takes time. We can’t ever begin to have a fast food, hurried approach to reflection. Think about how calm the water has to be before you can see yourself in it. The waves are not crashing this way and that. A real ‘pause’ needs to be put on one’s life before they can reflect, a clearing of the desk, so to speak. The canvas has to be clean to allow your heart and mind to pause. Get rid of the clutter. Still the voices and listen to the silence for a while. They will draw you to a place of reflection where you can hear the inner dialogue between yourself and the Spirit of the living God.”

How will you make the most of your vacation this year? I hope that beside the scrapbook of pictures and memories that you capture with your family and friends will be a journal, full of God moments. Don’t leave God behind when you take your vacation this summer. Bring him into the fun and frolic and allow him to help you reflect and renew your life.

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