Category Archives: Daily Bread Devotional

Daily Bread April 11

Receive the Holy Spirit
Arthur Smith, Council of Twelve Apostles


…the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”  -John 20:20-22

Not many, over the years, have breathed on me.

I have countless friends all over the world, and one of God’s greatest gifts is an ability to remember people. I recognize physical characteristics, facial expressions, mannerisms, and personalities. Apparently by divine design I get to relish in memories of shared experiences.

With hardly any effort my memory transports me again to the sights, smells, and feelings of Grandma’s un-air-conditioned kitchen with a canner on the stove, baskets of cucumbers on the floor, piles of spices, and jars of her famous dill pickles gradually multiplying on the countertop. In my mind’s network of neurons, the pungent plumes of fresh dill weed and pearls of perspiration of this Grandma memory are intertwined.

I’m not sure, though, that I remember Grandma’s breath on me. Maybe. Many smells of Grandma and of her home with Grandpa perfectly populate my memories.

I definitely remember my mother’s breath as she leaned in close to help free me from a stuck zipper on my snowsuit. It had teased out tears, trying to spoil an otherwise terrific early morning of shoveling snow.

I know my wife by her breath. Almost 30 years of intimate breathing is another gift of grace (God’s and hers). I remember the first breaths of my children, as well as burpy breaths and cuddling breaths ever since.

I just adore the idea that the first disciples got the Holy Spirit from Jesus breathing on them. Such intimacy is inherent in this image. These days there’d have to be trust for that to work. A virus might be transmitted!

What did his breath smell like? Was there a familiarity to its odor, formed over time in the intimacy of their close community? Was it still full of fish, bread, and olives from Palestinian living? Did it smell like some vinegar, choked down on the cross? Did it smell like death? Or was it unlike anything they’d inhaled before?

Prayer Phrase

“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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Daily Bread April 10

Stillness
Shirley Remmenga of Fort Collins, CO, USA


God is calling for a prophetic community to emerge, drawn from the nations of the world, that is characterized by uncommon devotion to the compassion and peace of God revealed in Jesus Christ. Through divine grace and wisdom, this faith community has been given abundant gifts, resources, and opportunities to equip it to become such a people. Chief among these is the power of community in Christ expressed locally in distinctive fashions while upholding a unity of vision, foundational beliefs, and mission throughout the world.  -Doctrine and Covenants 163:11a

Rather than make New Year resolutions, I decided a few years ago to choose a focus word for the year. This year I have chosen stillness. I wish to share with you why. I came to a Zoom Communion service with a heavy heart. It wasn’t a feeling of despair, nor was there a lack of the basic joy that I carry in my soul; I was just down! I was dealing with heavy family concerns as well as world-wide ones.

During the partaking of the emblems, my computer screen showed a moving picture of a waterfall. Water was flowing rapidly down, bubbling, splashing, moving, misty. I watched this water continue its journey, and then my eyes were drawn to the side of this scene toward a big rock. Behind it was a pool of quiet, calm, still water untouched by the chaotic happenings at the base of the waterfall. I responded to that stillness. The absence of noise and movement flooded my soul, and gradually my tension eased, my spirit calmed, and my mind was freed of unnecessary concerns. It was a “God Moment” for me, and I came away from that experience refreshed, enlivened, and blessed.

“Peace, be still” (Mark 4:31).

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).

“He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul” (Psalm 23: 2-3).

Prayer Phrase

“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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Daily Bread April 09

Don’t Worry about Missing Out
Steve Bolie of Clive, IA, USA


But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today. -Matthew 6:33-34

Recently I was fretting (in other words, obsessing) and getting down-hearted about not being able to spend time with our grandchildren, ages 9, 12, 14, 14, and 18, during this important time in their development. We have been fortunate, and a little spoiled, that they all live within 30 minutes from our home. So not being close to them in this time of pandemic seemed like a huge loss. I also thought about not being able to volunteer to deliver food to homeless and recently homeless because of health risks.

That morning I read Matthew 6:33-34 from The Message. In these verses of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus says, “Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out” (emphasis added). My first reaction was something like, “Wow! Jesus said this two centuries ago just for me, for us, to read in this time of pandemic.” Amid all the concerns about the virus, high-positivity rates, death counts, and community spread, we can be assured that in our life with God we “don’t (need to) worry about missing out” on what is important.

My second reaction was: I must remember this promise and be comforted by it. This has been a nearly daily blessing. I have felt confronted, too, especially those days when I would have preferred to wallow in self-pity for a while. Even then, the promise breaks through, and I can move on. It is a frequent reminder that we can be at peace as we trust that God will provide and bless.

Prayer Phrase

“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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Daily Bread April 08

God Holds You Close
Karen Anne Smith of Ludington, MI, USA


My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. -James 1:2-4

God holds you close.

I’ve shared these comforting words of affirmation often these last few months. I’ve shared them with all the love of my heart, praying for a blessing of healing and hope for those that read…

God holds you close.

Now it’s my turn to hear. Now I’m the one that faces a frightening unknown. Covid is in my precious son’s home, but Alex, his housemates, his wonderful helpers among the staff, are all precious.

God holds them close.

If I let my imagination run away with me, I can see all kinds of sorrow; but that is not faith. As I repeat my mantra every time fears wells up, I feel better. As I continue to remind myself of God’s presence, I actually feel God near. Fear is replaced by a deep-down assurance, peace. Whatever happens, God journeys with us; through it all, God holds us close.

Whatever happens in your life, you are not alone. Whatever happens, you are cherished by the Divine. Whatever happens, God holds you close. When feeling overwhelmed or afraid, remind yourself of that simple fact. Make it your daily mantra. Make it a breath prayer. Slowly breath in “God,” and then slowly exhale “holds me close.” Repeat it a few more times every time anxiety wells up, and remember you are loved.

God holds you close.

Prayer Phrase

“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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Daily Bread April 07

Ritual
Kat Goheen of Langley, British Columbia, Canada


Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will all be changed. -1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Grinding several days’ worth of decaf coffee at a time is a consistent ritual of mine-appreciating the consistency of the commercial-grade grinder, feeling gratitude for learning to enjoy the simplicity of decaf, anticipating the comfort I will receive in brewing these cups in the days to come. It is a ritual, not usually a spiritual practice.

But today as I filled the small container for a second time, I noticed the fluffy granules of coffee floating upward, attaching themselves to the funnel they had just traveled down in defiance of gravity. Like magnetism, like static, they clung with a kind of longing, and I saw myself in their motion. On the bright side, I am also drawn upward toward the arms of the Beloved, and against the assumptions of intellect; and I joyfully throw myself upward into space. On the shadow side, I sometimes long to return to where I came from and not journey into the next phase of my growth. I cling rather than allow.

This surprising movement of coffee granules moves me deep into my heart to contemplate its pattern and flow. May my movements be governed by grace and generosity, and may they lead to comfort for those around me.

Prayer Phrase

“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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Daily Bread April 06

Where Will Your Spirit Lead Today?
Chris Lasley of Vancouver, WA, USA


Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  -Romans 6:4

In our scripture study class that meets weekly by Zoom, we were challenged to start our day with the Mission Prayer, a prayer of Examen, at noon and then again before we went to bed. I completely forgot about the challenge until several days later. I offered the Mission Prayer at 1:00 pm and then went shopping.

The store clerk watched as I picked up a 3-ring, D-shaped binder. She asked, “Can you turn the pages easily with that shape of rings? My father is 98 years old, and he has dementia. I was going to make him a photo album, but he needs to be able to turn the pages easily.”

I told her I was sure it would work. She said, “My father is in a care home. My friend owns it, and she is taking good care of him, but she won’t let me see him. It’s a one-and-a-half-hour drive one way. My dad told her he didn’t have any children.” I told her about my father who had dementia. I said I felt like I had lost my father five years before he passed because he did not remember who I was. I suggested she put pictures in from a long time ago; people with dementia usually remember things in their early years. She had heard that but was glad I had shared it.

She said the next time she goes to visit she will have a police escort so she can take her dad from the home. She wanted to take care of her dad but didn’t know how he would do in the car. The last time she took him for a drive, he got violent with her. “I know this is just too much information,” she apologized. I looked at her, trying to hold back my tears, wishing I could hug her, but with Covid-19, we had to stay six feet apart. She looked so worn out, so thin and frail. I said, “No matter what happens, take care of yourself.” She thanked me for that and said, “You’re right. I lost 20 pounds this month. I do need to take care of myself.”

I love it when God uses me as a listening ear and a messenger. I would never have told a stranger these things, but I was the right person, put in the right place at the right time. Thank you, God, for using me.

God, where will your Spirit lead today? Help me to be fully awake and ready to respond. Grant me courage to risk something new and become a blessing of your love and peace. Amen.

Prayer Phrase

“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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Daily Bread April 05

Pursuit of Peace
Linda Stanbridge of Lexington, MI, USA


The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:22-24

In a recent book club discussion on non-violence, a friend mentioned that although the Temple is dedicated to peace, they wished the Temple was dedicated to justice. As I considered for a moment the differences in how we understand and experience peace and justice, I remembered that the Temple actually isn’t dedicated to peace. Our Temple is dedicated to the pursuit of peace. Our Temple is dedicated to the longing, the work, the quest, the struggle toward justice. Our call isn’t only to pray for peace or to hope for justice but rather to willingly, frequently, and even enthusiastically pursue and create peace. Our call is to enter into the struggle of others and take on that struggle as our own.

As I think of the many individuals and groups of individuals in our world who long for peace and justice, I imagine what it might be like for us to unreservedly embrace our call to pursue justice. What would it look like if the church entered eagerly into the struggle of the LGBTQIA2S+ community, BIPOC folk, and the great number of poor among us? What if the church made the struggles of the marginalized the absolute center and purpose of what we do? What if we truly embraced our calling to not only hope but also to bring about justice? What if we truly pursued peace?

Christ’s mission for peace is often understood through Luke 4:18-20. Jesus proclaims good news for the poor, release of the captives, recovery of sight to the blind, and freedom for the oppressed. This, too, is an invitation! All around us, God is calling us to take notice of the great needs of the world and to pursue reconciliation for the purpose of justice. The Temple is a symbol that points the world toward the purpose of our faith movement; let it also stand as a symbol for the struggle for justice and for our commitment to remain in pursuit of peace for the sake of the world.

Prayer Phrase

“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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Daily Bread April 04

Risen
Ron Harmon, president of Council of Twelve Apostles


Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher)…Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her. -John 20:15-16, 18

I find it is in the very places that appear most desolate that the Spirit is most present. This often surprises us, but it should not. It is as though light is drawn to darkness, or water to desert. Scriptural images of “ways in the wilderness” and “streams in the desert” remind us of the thin space between present reality and God’s future possibility.

Mary Magdalene, just after sunrise on the first day of the week, went to the tomb, where she experienced the unexpected. Someone had rolled away the large stone protecting the entrance. Immersed in her grief she initially could not comprehend that Jesus had risen! Then Jesus called her by name, and she recognized him. She rose to tell the disciples the good news.

A homeless man in southern California rose before his congregation to share the good news of 114 days of sobriety. It was not his first attempt, but he found the courage to keep trying in a loving community that always encouraged and supported what could be.

Shannon Watts, a mother of five, rose to organize Mothers Demand Action the day after the Sandy Hook School shooting tragedy. She started a Facebook group with the message that all Americans can and should do more to reduce gun violence.

In 2019, a million students across the world rose to participate in the first Youth Climate Strike, walking out of school to demand that adults take decisive action to save our planet. They were joined by adult activists and workers in 150 countries.

As I write this reflection, I prepare to rise in solidarity with women across this country who will march for human rights, including women’s rights, immigration reform, health-care reform, the environment, LGBTQ rights, racial equality, freedom of religion, workers’ rights, and tolerance.

“He is risen” is more than a theological affirmation. It is expressed every day in men, women, and children, who-like Jesus-refuse to accept the status quo. They rise against all odds to march, speak, and enact God’s future of shalom into being. He is indeed risen!

Prayer Phrase

“Practice Resurrection” (Wendell Berry).

Spiritual Practice

Breath Prayer

During this Easter season, we invite you daily into a breath prayer focused on resurrection. With each exhale, respond in a word or phrase to the question, “What is dying?” (fear, anger, assumptions, etc.) With each inhale, notice a response in a word or phrase to the question “What is rising?” (love, courage, trust, etc.) You may choose to use the same word or phrase throughout this season, or let each day bring its own unique response to this sacred pattern of dying and rising that is central to our faith.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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Daily Bread April 03

Holding Vigil: Holy Saturday
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Spiritual Formation Ministries


After these things, Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, though a secret one because of his fear of the Jews, asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. Pilate gave him permission; so he came and removed his body. Nicodemus, who had at first come to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, weighing about a hundred pounds. They took the body of Jesus and wrapped it with the spices in linen cloths, according to the burial custom of the Jews. Now there was a garden in the place where he was crucified, and in the garden there was a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid. And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there. -John 19:38-42 

Sometimes, Jesus, the peaceful One, will lead here-
Into the darkness of the tomb,
The necessary waiting
The summons of lament
To feel what must be felt
To lose what must be lost
To grieve what is dying
Before resurrection joy

There is nothing more we can do
But gently release our striving,
Strike a match, light a candle
Hold vigil for the holy not-yet
To make possible the unfathomable.

Bring oils to anoint the body of what was.
Bring grief and lament, the ache of loss.
Bring rage if you must, anger at injustice.
Bring the shock of helplessness
To change the course of events.

Stay as long as you need.
Wait and pray.
Hold this single flame
Into the dark.
Hold your last shard of hope
Into the despair.

Leave when you are ready.
Close up the tomb-
Roll the cool stone across the entrance.
Let the heavy exhale leave your lips
Emptying the deepest spaces within you
As you take one step, and then the next,
Into the lonely, holy night.

Prayer Phrase

Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?

Spiritual Practice

Gospel Contemplation (Mark 11:1-11)

Each week during Lent, you are invited to pray with a different gospel story from the life of Christ. Use your senses and imagination to enter the text. Allow it to come to life in you, observing details, noticing interactions, even engaging in dialogue. Notice where you find yourself in the story and how you feel about what is happening. Notice what it evokes in you or invites of you. Take time to journal or enter silent prayer to reflect on your experience and to sense where the Spirit may be leading you through this scriptural encounter.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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Daily Bread April 02

Good Friday
Katie Harmon-McLaughlin, Spiritual Formation Ministries


He was despised and rejected by others; a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity; and as one from who others hide their faces he was despised, and we held him of no account. Surely he has borne our infirmities and carried our diseases; yet we accounted him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed. -Isaiah 53:3-5

Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?

This question causes me to wince and squirm on Good Friday. I am tempted to evade it, hold it at a distance, let it collect dust in a corner of my soul.

Several years ago, we reflected on the meaning of crucifixion with our community. We printed images and stories of current events that are hard to confront. In our hands we held flimsy pieces of paper that contained statistics of child homelessness and global hunger, images of refugees on fragile boats in a violent sea. One by one, we came forward and reverently placed our images, news stories, statistics onto the wooden cross until it was full-a mosaic of the world’s brokenness. We confessed, raged, offered our lament. We prayed for resurrection and justice and peace. It was a stunning and troubling image of incarnation.

Thomas Merton took the incarnation seriously when he reflected on the ongoing crucifixion of Christ in the world today through acts of injustice and exploitation. “Murders, massacres, revolution hatred, the slaughter and torture of…bodies and souls, the destruction of cities by fire, the starvation of millions, the annihilation of populations and finally the cosmic inhumanity of nuclear genocide: Christ is massacred in His members, torn limb from limb; God is murdered in [humanity]” (A Thomas Merton Reader, p. 320).

What is this guiding question asking of us on Good Friday?

Is it suggesting that sometimes moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One, means moving toward the world’s suffering? Does it mean we are to keep our eyes and hearts open to “hear the pleading of mothers and fathers in all nations who desperately seek a future of hope for their children” (Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a)? What does it mean that our welfare resides in the welfare of those daily crucified through acts of violence, oppression, and exploitation? “As long as we are on earth,” writes Merton, “the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones” (A Thomas Merton Reader, p. 320).

Oh, Lord, hear our prayer. Rend our hearts. Accept our confessions. Hold our grieving. Stoke the fires of our anger at injustice. Grant us the wisdom and strength for the healing of the body of Christ in the world today. Give us courage to practice resurrection, to live in your peace.

Prayer Phrase

Are we moving toward Jesus, the peaceful One?

Spiritual Practice

Gospel Contemplation (Mark 11:1-11)

Each week during Lent, you are invited to pray with a different gospel story from the life of Christ. Use your senses and imagination to enter the text. Allow it to come to life in you, observing details, noticing interactions, even engaging in dialogue. Notice where you find yourself in the story and how you feel about what is happening. Notice what it evokes in you or invites of you. Take time to journal or enter silent prayer to reflect on your experience and to sense where the Spirit may be leading you through this scriptural encounter.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

Click here to comment or read online.

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