There are very few treasures in life more important than a few good friends. Let's talk about how to be that good friend and how to find those good friends in today's podcast. Nicole and Sharon have some practical examples and also stories to share as we see what Proverbs says about friendship. Join us!
Speaker 1 (00:00):
Welcome to the Sweet Selah moments podcast. We hope this little pause in your day refreshes and encourages you friend. Let’s take time to know God through his word and love him more and more. The Sweet Selah Moments podcast is brought to you by Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome friends to episode 30 of the Sweet Selah moments podcast. Today’s episode is called How To Be a Faithful Friend. Sharon, finding a true friend is really a gift. I bet you could share some stories about some long lasting relationships. Have you had friendships that have lasted a long time?
Oh yes, I have. I grew up in the same town from age 4 to 18, so I developed a lot of close friendships and I’m still close with Julie and Kathy, my two best friends from high school. I met Julie when my brother was friends with her brother and introduced me to her when I was in the fourth grade and she was third grade.
And then I met Kathy at church when I was in seventh grade and she was eighth grade. So one was a year younger and one was a year older. And in high school, the three of us just hung out together all the time. It was awesome. Just good buds. And we still keep up and I love them both to this day. And then when Ray and I first got married, we moved away. We were stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, and I did not know a soul to start with and I made good friends there. And one in particular named Maureen is now really a big part of Sweet Selah Ministries as well, as well as Marsha, a friend that I met through Maureen. So Steve, Maureen’s husband, and Ray went to West Point together. And so they knew each other, but we didn’t know we were stationed together in Maryland. So one day Ray went to a wood shop class. The only time he’s ever been to one, Nicole, he doesn’t do wood shop stuff.
Oh, does he do wood work. I didn’t think he did.
He does none. None. We hire it all out. We’re really bad at it. We laugh to this day that for some strange reason, God sent him to the wood shop one time. And that was the one time Steve was there.
And they connected. So, through them, I met Maureen and Maureen decided that what she wanted to do more than anything was form a prayer group.
And she invited me and Marcia to join her. And we met every week. They both had children. I didn’t have children yet because I had a long period without children. They actually prayed Kathryn into existence for me.
Oh my goodness how sweet.
Because I would just be aching and they cared so much. But every week we would share our prayer requests and then we would link hands and we would cry out to God for each other. And we still do.
We still do. That’s 40 years of a friendship. We live miles apart. Maureen’s in Maryland. Marcia’s in Minnesota, I’m in New Hampshire. We still pray for each other. They are regular prayer warriors for Sweet Selah Ministries. They are such a gift to me. So, um, yes. What was I talking about…? Yes. I have had several lasting, lasting friendships that are rich treasures. So how about you?
Yeah. We moved a lot when I was little. We moved 15 times before I turned 14. So keeping track of friends when I was younger, I was not good at, so I don’t really have… Even high school, I think we all scattered across the U S but I think my longest standing friends have been from college. And mostly through my husband, his best friend and his group of friends, their wives have been lovely friends in my life. And then just more recently at our church, I have developed some of the best friends that I’ve ever had in my life, in the past I would say five to six years, and I had prayed as a little girl. Sharon, I prayed for years that God would send me a best friend because I loved people. I would meet someone, I loved them and then we’d move. And it just was heartbreaking. So I prayed and prayed. And now I have such an amazing core group of friends, like 10 women that constantly pour into me. And I’m just very blessed. They were worth the wait.
They were worth the wait! That is such a gift. And we traveled a lot of course, once we were married, but my closest friends came from church.
They always did. I liked the other officer’s wives I met, but there was a little bit of a feeling of, I need to look good so my husband looks good, which destroyed the kind of vulnerability you need in a really good friendship. So I found my friends in church.
Oh that’s true. Yeah, that’s good.
Yeah. Well, Proverbs has a ton to say about friendships. We are going to read through a group of Proverbs that detail how to be a good friend first. Then, we’ll take a look at some of the ways to be a bad friend. How to hurt a friendship., But we’re going to start with the good stuff. How to be a good friend. So podcast friends, this is our Sweet Selah moment. We hope each rich proverb is a blessing and inspiration to you as we read. So Nicole, why don’t you start?
Alright. Proverbs 24:26: – “An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.”
Proverbs 17:17: – “A friend is always loyal and a brother is born to help in time of need.”
Proverbs 27:9 – 11: – “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Never abandon a friend, either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It’s better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.”
Proverbs 27:6: – “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.”
Proverbs 27:17: – “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.”
Proverbs 18:24: – “There are friends who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.”
Proverbs 12:26: – “The godly give good advice to their friends, the wicked lead them astray.”
Proverbs 17:9: – “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”
Proverbs 20:6: – “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one who is truly reliable?”
Well, there’s a wealth of information here, Nicole.
I think we should dissect each one of these one at a time and glean from them how to be a better friend. I’m so thankful for my faithful friends and I want to be a faithful friend to them too.
So why don’t you read the first one over again and tell us what it teaches you and then I’ll do the next and let’s just go back and forth and study each one out.
Yeah. All right. So Proverbs 24:26: – “An honest answer is like a kiss of friendship.” So I feel like this verse is saying that flattery may feel nice for a while, but it only hurts us in the long run. I have found that my core group of friends now are truly honest with me. I crave that in friendships now. The shallow relationships that dance around truth are exhausting and not fulfilling at all. Like you were saying with some of the wives you feel like you have to put up this front or this guard, and there’s just no intimacy or ability to get to know someone really, if you always have that guard up. So it’s hard to be honest and tell the truth, especially to a loved one, but it’s always the path to better friendships and a closer relationship to God if that friend is gently pointing out a sin in our life.
Yes, yes, indeed.
So for our list, I’d say a good friend is honest.
Absolutely. And they’re real. Honest and real. I totally agree with you. And that was the problem with being in a situation where I was with wives whose husbands were all competing for the next level up. Not every second Lieutenant made first Lieutenant, not every first Lieutenant made Captain. So it was like a narrowing funnel as you got higher and higher. And I could remember sometimes just putting out there something vulnerable, like, you know, I really struggle with something hoping that I’d get vulnerability back and I wouldn’t, I would get back, Oh, well that’s too bad, no we never had that problem in our house. And I’d be like (cringing) So you ended up with sort of this veneer and you know, I’m sure there were times when I broke through, but there were too many times when I think all of us young officer’s wives were trying too hard to look good. And so we weren’t real and honest.
Oh yeah. And that’s so exhausting to constantly have to put that out. And just kind of stuff those real life struggles, you know, you can’t just be yourself.
Right. Right. Yes. Yes. Let people come over and see your messy house sometimes.
You know, that kind of thing. And that’s what a real friend does, they accept you the way you are. So good. All right. Next one, Proverbs 17:17: – “A friend is always loyal and a brother is born to help in time of need.” So now we’ve got loyalty here. And I think loyalty means for starters, not bad mouthing a friend at all. When they’re not present, if people are saying things about them, we defend them, a loyal friend defends. They don’t, they don’t keep their mouth shut if someone’s saying, and sometimes people misunderstand, you know, they can say something about somebody and you know, it isn’t true. And loyalty demands that you say, no, no, no, no, no. The reason she didn’t come to the meeting wasn’t because she didn’t like it it’s because her child was sick.
So part of loyalty is not bad mouthing them and defending them. I think that’s really important. And part of loyalty is also showing up. When I say I will, for the important things for the, you know, when your daughters get married, you should probably go to your best friend’s daughter’s wedding.
And showers and birthdays and things like that, showing up is so important. And then another way of doing loyalty is harder. And that’s helping in times where they have a need. So I’m seeing loyalty in three areas here. Loyalty in defending them and not bad mouthing them, in what I say to them, loyalty and being there for the big events of their lives. That’s not so bad because usually they’re planned in advance and I can fit it into my calendar.
Yeah. And they’re fun.
And they’re fun. Yes, they are. There is that, but also loyalty when it’s not convenient, like if a friend breaks their leg, you might not want to go over and do their laundry for them, or do their shopping for them or doing something for them. People don’t break their legs at convenient times. It’s not like, you’re like, Oh, perfect timing on breaking your leg. I have nothing to do for the next five days. And I could just serve you. That’s not the way it happens. Nope. Usually you have to squish it in, which is why Ray always tells me, don’t fill your five pound bag full. You’ve got to have less in there so that when your friend breaks their leg…
You can squeeze in that meal for them.
You can squeeze in that meal for them. So there needs to be loyalty in that too. Can we always do that? No. When Dad Gamble lived with us, I think one of the hardest things for me was my lack of time to serve and help others. I had a friend going through cancer at the time. I didn’t take her to any appointments. I, I couldn’t, I was barely keeping my little nose above water myself. And it hurt because loyalty says be there, you know? But there are circumstances when you can’t be. So loyalty for me at that time to her was writing her emails, giving her phone calls occasionally saying, you know, I could stop by and we could, you know, go out for lunch or whatever, just keeping touch in small ways but not the way that I would do it normally, but it was only for a season.
But I wanted to kind of mention that because otherwise somebody listening can be like, I can’t be loyal every time they have a need.
And you can’t, which is why it’s nice to have more than one friend.
Absolutely. Because then when you’re, well, that’s what I’ve found. Two things with that, Sharon, is when, what you were doing was perfect. You were sending her emails, you were keeping up communications.
There’s been so many times when close friends of mine, we’ve both been going through crisis times and we can’t really help each other, but instead of just giving up on it and either being hurt because they’re not there for us or feeling guilty, still reaching out, like, Hey, you know, I love you and I’m praying for you, but I can not do much right now. And I’m sorry, but you know that I love you.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And I think that communication touch, right. I think that helps.
Yeah. And that’s loyalty. You know, cause even that takes time, if you’re exhausted and you’re going through a crisis.
Oh yeah, it’s hard.
It is. Right. So, wow. Okay. So here’s our list so far. Honest, loyal and helpful when needed. As one can be. Your turn.
All right. So Proverbs 27:9-11: – “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Never abandon a friend, either yours or your father’s. When disaster strikes, you won’t have to ask your brother for assistance. It is better to go to a neighbor than to a brother who lives far away.” So this seems like a trust has been built here. By never abandoning your friend in times of need you won’t have to go looking for help when it’s your turn. You’ve been there when they broke their leg, you’ve been there when they’ve had their babies and brought them meals. We’ve been there to cry with them. You’ve built that relationship of trust. So I don’t have to go, Oh, I hope my friends are around when I break my leg, I know they’ll be there because I’ve tried to be a good friend to them. And that’s a beautiful thing to have. So it’s nice to be able to pour out my heart to a trusted friend and have them lift my troubles up to Jesus in prayer. Or to have friends who have been ready to respond to me when I’m in crisis with ready help or just a shoulder to cry on. And I pray that I’m always that friend for them as well.
Yeah. You know what I was fascinated by “never abandon a friend of your father’s”.
Isn’t that an interesting little piece. And I’m like, Oh, okay. So, I guess that means I need to value my parents’ friends to some degree too. And I do, actually, my parents have had friends that have become friends of mine. In fact, a couple of them, Larry and Nella Coates who listen to this podcast and might hear their names, drove all the way up from Massachusetts and came to one of my book signings to see me. And so that was just sweet.
How sweet. Yeah.
So to keep in touch, I think what it says is friendship is a valuable thing and not just our own, but also to notice it in our parents and to just see the connections that can be closer than a brother. Right?
Because you’re living in the same area together. And my girls are deeply loved by my friends, deeply loved, especially the ones that prayed for them. So sometimes that would really be almost overwhelming for my girls because they’d be like, you know, they’ve been praying for Mary, let’s say in college and they’d see Mary who doesn’t know them that well, saying, Mary, I’m just so happy you got a good grade on that last test. And Mary’s like, it’s really weird mom, that your friends know more about me.
Oh, I love that.
But they have loved, loved my kids. And I’m sure your friends love your kids too.
I was going to say, we say all the time I am so glad that I have godly friends in my life that if my daughter doesn’t feel comfortable coming to me, she can go to my friend and I know that my friend loves God and will point her back to Jesus and send her back to us. So it’s like having this little village that I don’t know, just helps. It becomes like adopted aunts and uncles and surrogate mothers and just a beautiful thing.
Right. And that is Christian family at its best. Isn’t it? It really is. We have brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. I don’t always live near my family. You didn’t live near your extended family at all, but when you find a church home and you find those Christian friends, you’ve got the friend that sticks closer than a brother.
Yeah. I like that.
That’s really cool.
So for our list, I’d say a good friend is faithful and ready to help in times of need.
All right-y, I would agree with you. Okay. Here’s a harder one. Proverbs 27:6: – “Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.” Hmm.
All right then. Talk about truth-telling. When I wound a friend, I need to know so I can fix it. So they need to be able to tell me when I’ve wounded them.
When I am speaking derogatorily of somebody or derogatively, they need to tell me. They need to tell me. And they need to let me know that I have wounded them. I need to be pulled up short sometimes. Sometimes I speak not nicely about Ray to others. And I have good friends who have said Sharon, that wasn’t nice. And even though that wounds you and you’re super embarrassed, you’re also reminded by your friend that that’s not the way you speak.
You know, and I would rather have the honest friend who says, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa. We are walking down a self-pity lane that is going to get you in trouble.
Then kisses from an enemy who play all smarmy and nice. But really don’t give a flip about me, about my character, about who I’m going to be in Christ about my giftings for the Lord. I want to surround myself with friends that will wound me rather than let me walk away from truth, really.
And that’s why I love belonging to a church because when I put myself in a church, what I’m saying to my church is, I give you permission. I have joined with you. I give you permission to set me straight, if you see me walking down a path, I shouldn’t be on. So I think we should value that kind of friendship. And I would say for our list, a good friend is someone who’s passionate for you to walk with Christ. That’s the best kind of friend and a truth teller in your life. So I want the friend that’s going to help me be the best I can be for Christ.
What a true friend that would be though, for them to really care about your relationship with Christ. Like that’s a beautiful friendship. You’re not gonna stay shallow and surfaced with that kind of relationship.
No, ma’am you’re not. And the only person that can get to me would be a faithful friend to do that. Cause I have to know they love me.
Exactly. Right, cause it doesn’t feel good to be reprimanded.
And I have to know that they have my best interest at heart.
And a good friend of mine would do that. They’d say I love you so much. And I have listened to you telling me about how hard your life is now for about a month. And I’m not saying it isn’t hard, but I’m saying that what I’m seeing in you is a spiral down into just looking at the hard and I just want to challenge you to look at the good. That’s an example.
Right. And don’t we need that sometimes though. That’s so good.
We need that. Okay. Your turn.
All right. Proverbs 27:17: – “As iron sharpens iron so a friend sharpens a friend.” So I think this verse is similar in meaning to the one you just read, Sharon. I think this is referring to things that happen as we do life together, learning from each other’s godly habits and actions and learning to give grace to each other as we see those faults pop up with more time spent together. But more importantly, being willing to be willingly corrected by a friend, things that are said by an acquaintance or a stranger would really hurt us or just be dismissed. Not always pleasant, but Oh, so needed. So for our list, I would say that a good friend is one who helps make us better people.
Yeah. Yeah. I think part of that comes from praying with friends too. I have found that some of my closest friendships are the ones that when I’m in a self pity party or when I’m angry or when I’m anything that, that could walk into sin quickly, it says, can I pray for you? And then they pull me back and they, and we center ourselves again in coming to the Lord with a problem. They make us better people.
You’re right. Oh my goodness. Good friends are such a treasure.
Yeah. They really are. It’s about finding good ones.
It is. It is. Yeah. Keep looking if you don’t have them yet. Nicole prayed since she was a small child.
Yes. Many, many years.
It took many years.
It’s worth waiting.
It’s worth waiting for.
Okay. Proverbs 18:24: says “There are friends who destroy” each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother.” So when trauma hits, sometimes it’s hard to know what to say and what to do. Sometimes you need to just be there. Sometimes you need to say something, you don’t know what to say, and you just need to give space with love. I have had the hardest time I think being that good friend that sticks closer to a brother with people that are suffering grief than any other time, Nicole, because they’re so wounded that I can say something that will hurt without my even knowing it.
I know. Yeah.
You know? So it’s really, really challenging, but those friends, some of them that I’ve even hurt inadvertently have stuck close to me anyways. They have not allowed it to destroy relationship at all.
That’s good. Yeah.
I think a true friend understands when words are spoken, that were meant well, but just aren’t exactly what they wanted to hear.
I think they give grace.
Well, they know us. They know the intention of our heart is not to, we just, we just know we are awkward and don’t know what to say. And they know that. Hopefully.
Exactly. Exactly. Yeah, and then on the other hand, you know, one of my friends really pulled away from me in her grief.
And I just stuck with her, you know, and called and did the little things until she was ready to be friends again, and stuck it out. And I’m so glad I did because we’re so close again.
Oh that’s so good.
She just was so traumatized that there was no way to, to bond at that time. So I think we have to give our friends grace in hard times and not run away from them and just stick it out, stick it out, being there in non-intrusive ways until they’re through whatever it is that’s made it hard.
Yeah. And to give them grace, if they’re not able to reach out when we’re trying to stay close and they’re pushing us away.
I mean, be aware of like, they need the space, but not to take it too offensively. Like just the gentle little things. I’m still here.
Exactly, yeah. Depression can do that too.
Friends can push away and just because they’re depressed.
Yeah, it’s hard to understand.
And you know, a little note in the mail, even that’s such an unusual gift nowadays.
That’s true, yeah.
Things like that can make a difference. I’ve sent flowers, you know, to somebody that’s just so down that they can’t get out of their own way.
Yeah. It’s just something to kind of spark a little bit of joy.
But we stick together.
So, a good friend is one who has staying power, even when it’s hard, even when it’s hard. And sometimes it is hard to be a good friend because they don’t want you.
It’s hard not to take that personally.
All right. Proverbs 12:26: says “The godly give good advice to their friends. The wicked lead them astray.” I think this verse is encouraging us to be faithful in our relationship with God and making sure that we are spending time with him in the word. We can’t give godly advice if we aren’t filling our hearts and lives with scripture. It comes much more easily to us to give advice from our own experiences or opinions.
True, true, true.
I have lots of those. So we need to be sure we are gathering the right kind of advice before we try to give it to our friends.
So check our own hearts before we go after them.
So for our list, I’d say a good friend is grounded in the word of God.
Yes. Absolutely. I want, if I’m going to go for advice, I want to go to someone that knows God’s word.
And not just opinion.
I think that’s so good. Proverbs 17:9: – “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”
I love that.
Oh boy, can we dwell on things? Can’t we? And we can let them fester and build, and then they can color a friendship.
We have to be able to forgive and let go. We really do. I, once a long time ago, betrayed a very good friend and shared a secret.
It was awful. It was horrible of me. There is no way to make it sound better. I was wrong, period. I confessed it to her and she forgave me although it wounded her deeply, it really did.
That’s so tough.
Her love for me, that overlooked what I had done, to this day moves me, Nicole, because I didn’t deserve it.
That’s so sweet.
Betrayal is one of the worst things you can do. And yet she forgave. She didn’t dwell on it. She didn’t let it become a stumbling block. She valued our friendship more than the wicked thing I had done.
And I have never done it again. So yeah. So anyways, I’m so thankful for her. So I would say for our list, a friend, a good friend is a good forgiver and not easily offended. Willing to overlook insults.
Yeah. That’s not fun to have someone that gets angry at every little mishap cause I’m always bumbling something silly.
Being not easily offended is good.
All right. Proverbs 20:6: – “Many will say they are loyal friends, but who can find one that is truly reliable?” There’s nothing better than knowing you have someone you can count on. It just gives you that extra boost of strength to tackle the harder things in life. Knowing that you have friends behind you to support you and love you. That is truly a valuable gift.
So making sure that we’re not just saying we’re loyal, but it’s that it’s (being) truly reliable. So I think this is saying the actions, the showing, not to say ‘I’m here for you girl. You’re my best friend’, but showing with our lives that we are there.
Right. Yeah. I love that.
So I’d say for our list that a good friend is truly reliable.
Well, here’s our list. A good friend. Oh boy. Honest, loyal, helpful, faithful, ready to help in times of need, passionate for you to walk with Christ, a truth teller. One who helps make us better people. One who has staying power, even when it’s hard, grounded in the word of God, a good forgiver, not easily offended and truly reliable. Well, the goal!
That’s quite a list.
It is. We’re not always going to succeed at these which is why friends need to be good forgivers.
But these are the goals.
Friendship costs us and it’s worth the cost. Even if we can’t always do the most for our friends, we should be able to avoid doing the bad stuff anyways.
So we’re going to finish by looking quickly at a few things a good friend should never do. We’re going to look at three ways to be a bad friend and what we should avoid. Proverbs has good advice here. The first thing not to do is to speak unkindly in friendships. Let me read you two Proverbs that relate to that. Proverbs 16:28: – “A troublemaker plants seeds of strife. Gossip separates the best of friends.” And Proverbs 11:9: – “With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous.” I never want to destroy a friend with my words, Nicole.
No, absolutely not.
So that’s the first one.
Yeah. Gossip is so toxic and it’s so easy to fall into. I think that’s why God calls it out in so many specific lists in the Bible. It seems to always make it on those big lists, do not gossip.
It does. Yes.
We need to be on guard against that one for sure. The next one, the next thing not to do is to be argumentative. Proverbs 18:19: says “An offended friend is harder to win back than a fortified city. Arguments separate friends like gates locked with bars.” There’s another warning about being a poor friend. I think it would lead to an argument for sure, Sharon, if someone did this to me. Proverbs 26:18-19: says “Just as damaging as a madman shooting a deadly weapon is someone who lies to a friend and then says, I was only joking.” What a comparison, but how deadly to a friendship and how hurtful like a weapon to have a friend lie and then laugh it off or try to make it a joke. Definitely not a good friendship builder.
And our last one, the third thing a friend should never do is be a user, basically being a friend only for what they can get out of a relationship. Proverbs 19:4: is kind of sarcastic I think. “Wealth makes many friends, poverty drives them all away.” I can’t imagine what it would be like to be so wealthy that people flocked to you just because of your wealth.
Oh I know.
I don’t have that problem because I’m not that wealthy but you don’t want a friend that’s using you to get a job or like if you are single to get to your handsome brother.
Friends should not be users. So let’s not do that. So we must never choose to be a fake friend for something we can gain.
So, well, we’ve covered a lot of territory today. And you know, it’s really made me excited about going out there and being a better friend.
And it has been awfully nice to be your friend, Nicole. Getting to know you. We’re so different in age and stage, but because we’re sisters in Christ we’re friends.
And I love that. So, well, let me pray. Oh Father God, I thank you so much for good friends. I thank you for Christian brothers and sisters who love you and who become family to us. I thank you that you have shown us so clearly in your word, what it takes to be a good friend and a Christian friend who wants their friend to walk with you Lord Jesus, more than they want to be liked. So Father help us to be that kind of truth telling friend. And thank you Father that you even call us your friends. What a privilege. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Amen. Well, we covered a lot of territory today didn’t we? We hope that you have at least one friend who is reliable and faithful. If not, we hope you will set out to be that kind of friend to others. Friendship is a true gift from God and Christian friends who share the love of Christ between them as well, have an extra special bond. We are glad that you are our podcast friends listening to the podcast each week and hopefully finding nuggets to apply to your own lives. And please come back next week as we talk about when to work and when to rest and what is laziness anyway. Episode 31 is up next and it’s titled Work Well, Rest Well.
Speaker 1 (30:34):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. This Sweet Selah Moments podcast is a co-operative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah ministries. More information about this podcast can be found @sweetselah.org. Thank you for joining us.
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