Friends

Friends. It’s what God gave me for my birthday last week. He knew it’s what I needed most.

The past year has been very busy at work and home. Something had to give and I didn’t want it to be my family, so I cut back on my social life. A lot of what I do requires that I be alone and it can be very lonely. I feel God leading me to a better place of balance in my friendships. Wouldn’t you know, I am also preparing a message about friendships for a retreat I am doing in April. That’s often what He does, calls me to teach a message He wants me to learn again, and live out in a very new and real way.

So, back to my birthday. The Friday before, my close friends Jen, Vicki and Debbie took me out to lunch. I have known them for years through Bible studies and going to church together. Love these women to pieces!! They gave me a beautiful necklace and earrings that day. (Please note the sweater and white shirt Jen is wearing…you will see it again.)

I had an event on the night of my birthday in Charleston, SC. So I went early to spend a day with my dear friend Margaret. We met years ago when she invited me to speak at her women’s conference and we’ve been friends ever since. Spending my birthday with her was so much fun, but as Friday’s post explains, having this much fun was a surprise because I had started out so homesick. Here we’re having dinner at The Queen Anne’s Revenge on Daniel Island Sunday night.

We slept in for my birthday (Monday), got ready at a leisurely pace and headed to the church where I’d be speaking that night to do some set-up. That’s when we spotted Starbucks!! Here I am with my all time favorite – a Cinnamon Dolce Skinny Latte.

Our barista took our photo, but before he did, I said, “Hold on, I’ve got to make sure my white shirt under my sweater isn’t showing.” He said, “It’s okay, it’s not showing…I’m looking.” I’m like –You’re looking? I know you did not just tell me you are looking at my v-neck to see that my shirt is not showing. We both blushed. Maybe it was my beautiful necklace he couldn’t take his eyes off. Margaret surprised me with it and matching earrings to go with the sweater I had brought to wear that day. Love it!

We also browsed Steinmart near the Starbucks looking for this cute jacket Margaret was wearing that I just had to have!! They didn’t have any at that store, but when I got back to Charlotte on Tuesday, I went to our Steinmart and found the only one left, in my size and I had a 20% off birthday coupon!!!

After Steinmart we headed to downtownCharleston for lunch at the famous Magnolia’s restaurant where we had pimento cheese hush puppies, shrimp and scallops, country fried steak and fried artichoke hearts. Then we walked through the market and down Meeting Street, browsed the sales racks at Banana Republic. (We both got a sweater for $25 – originally $68. But when I got home I returned it for a new size and it was marked down to $15! Love birthday bargains.) We were getting sluggish so we popped into you know where, Starbucks for an afternoon Frappacino. Well, it was right there next to BR, so we had to go in you know.

Then we drove down Bay Street andEast Battery to see Rainbow Row and a few of the beautiful historic homes on the bay front Afterwards we headed back to our hotel on Daniel Island to rest and get ready for my event that evening.

We arrived at Sea Coast Church at 7pm for their Women’s Expo – A New Year, A New You! It was an amazing event. I got to meet some new sweet friends and worship God in the power of His presence – connecting our hearts to Him and each other.

The glory of His heart was reflected in the gifts and talents of these women and their desire to move into closer community. They had 500 women in attendance who flocked to sign up for small groups, the women’s retreat and volunteer opportunities.

Here I am with some of the leadership teams and women who were so sweet they felt like sister-friends when I left. L-R: Sherry (pastor of programming), Me, Debbie(a friend I knew years ago at a former church who recommended me for the event) and Betsy (women’s ministry director.) Notice what I am wearing…same kind of sweater as Jen in first photo. I have minimal fashion sense or time to shop, but who needs to when you can just copy your fashionista friends!?

Friendship. It’s what I needed for my birthday last week, and what I need more of this year. I needed a day to just have fun, to connect with my friend through laughter, girl-talk and girl-stuff. The funny thing is that God gave me a gift that matched the message He’d also given me to share at Seacoast, about our need to be known and to be loved by friends – and I didn’t even realize it until now.

I want to ponder this topic a little while. So, I’m looking for some bloggy friends to join me in some girl-talk about friendship. Will you be one of them?

I believe every woman’s heart longs for real connections with real friends. I also know it can be a sensitive topic because we’ve been hurt, rejected or without friends at times. I’ve been there.
I know it’s hard when life’s too busy for us and our friends, when kids are small and we’re balancing family and work. So, let’s let’s get real with each other and start some girl-talk about friendships, and make a few new ones here.

To make it fun, I am going to do a give-away of something “friend-shippy” like a Starbuck’s card, a book and maybe some jewelry later this week. ‘Cause I know girlfriends love to win free stuff! Please post your own thoughts about women’s friendships, or answer one of these questions….

  • Do you stay connected with your friends? If so, how?
  • If not, what do you think are the greatest obstacles for women to have good friendships?

Simply click the word “comments” below – and be sure to leave your email or come back this week to see if you’re the winner and to keep this girl-talk going. See you soon!

About Renee

Renee Swope is a Word-lover, story-teller, heart-encourager and grace-needer. She's also a wife, mom, friend, daughter and author of A Confident Heart, a Retailers Choice Award winning book that became a best-seller and has been published in six languages, with over 150,000 copies sold. Renee is speaks around the country at women's events and and serves on the writing team for DaySpring’s inCourage blog. For twenty years, Renee served in leadership at Proverbs 31 Ministries and as former co-host of the ministry's radio program, “Everyday Life with Lysa & Renee.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is very challenging to keep in touch with friends due mostly in part to the demands of being a wife and mother, not to mention work outside of the home. I am so blessed to have an incredible work environment in which I can nourish friendships; however, with the increasing demands there, it is becoming more difficult.

  2. I am so envious of your friendships. When I met my husband 17 years ago, I had just been through a divorce. He was very quiet and shy and liked to stay home and I shut myself off from everyone except my children and family. Now that I am a Christian I crave Godly women friendships and I don’t really have any. I just started attending a wonderful church and I am hoping that I can meet some women to share coffee with and matters of my heart. My children are grown and gone and my husband works very late hours. I am extremely lonely for friends. your story was a blessing Renee and I thank you for sharing it.
    Candy

  3. Heather@Mommymonk says:

    Renee, I linked to you today – talking about the Mining for Gold concept.

    Regarding friends, I wish I knew the secret to that one. It seems so hard to carve out time for friendship with demands of family, ministry and work. I went walking with a friend last weekend and it really lifted my spirits. I would like to do that more often.

  4. I did a speaking gig for a MOPS group on women’s relationships using different duos from the Bible: Mary and Martha, Ruth and Naomi, etc. The friendship part was the Synctyche and Euodia story. Had good feedback from the group. Gerry
    azsparkle@wbhsi.net

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been sitting here at my computer the last 20 minutes praying about the subject of friendship. God led me to your blog.
    The past 6 months I have just not wanted to take the time to develop new friendships. My two closest friends live out of town and I miss them very much. I find it hard to develop new friends-lack of energy with 2 younger children, busy schedule, enjoying being at home with my family when we have free time. In some ways I feel Satan has grabbed hold of these struggles and has been using them and I myself have given in to them and my ministry of friendship and encouragement to others is really suffering. Looking forward to God speaking on this subject.
    Cindy
    Texas

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am a leader of one of the Woman on Mission groups in my church. Each month someone picks a fun day. They decide the date/time/place. We have done many things. Eating out/shopping, botanical gardens,historical home, tea party and even a cpr class. Great fun and we do things we may never have done on our own. Our group helps others all the time. It is nice to just have a fun day.

  7. I have been so blessed with some very precious friendships (all who live MANY miles away), so there is still this longing in my heart to connect with someone in my immediate world. I am a homeschooling mom of 4, in the middle of an international adoption of 2 more precious children, and have a husband in grad school. God has called me first to Himself, second to my family. Sometimes there isn’t much of me (or time)left to give. Through this season, I feel God is trying to teach me to run to Him first (not always my natural tendency). But there is still this longing, which I am trusting Him to fill His way in His time. I hope I make it!

  8. well, i sure do try to keep connected girl…..i text if i can’t email(lot cheaper?)or for those that don’t have email…i feel like if i don’t do one or the other i am so “lonesome” ya know
    🙁 i love my girlfriends!!! that is one thing i have always tried to maintain is “Girlships” yes!!! wether it’s my wonderful “sisters”, “mom”, or “sisters in Christ”….i have always cherished the relationships with them (each different)…some are very hard to maintain….and it has been a struggle and you know what it is mainly the “girlfriends that don’t stay in touch with God” i have never deserted them…(i want to be a light)…since my husband has asked me who am i texting….i will have to get back to the thing called the telephone i guess…but all my love ones are sooooo busy one with a husband she just lost to a brain cancer this past weekend, (i plan on us spending more time together now)…one that is a beautiful breast cancer surviver! these girls have such busy lives(as do they all) but ya know we always know each other is there at any time in our lives….now my sisters & mom (are always available for that call if they miss it they call immediately upon seeing it missed!) they are hardworking woman but we email even if we can’t talk and they have alwaysss been there for me….these are the “friendships” that will never lack time apart!!! it’s a pack that i guess “sisters & moms make”, it’s just this day and time…children, husbands & jobs, but we all know what we must do “DON’T WE” have a blessed day!

  9. I have friends and yet I feel so lonely. The busyness of life pulls with family, ministry work and responsibilities. There are many circles of friends and yet it is hard to get below the surface. So many seem to have deep relationships that it is hard to break into those circles.
    It is hard to watch other friends be sought after and I am on the outskirts. I appreciate your talking about this. Friendship brings so many blessings and so many challenges.
    Darla

  10. I am an introverted type person; I am no longer as painfully shy as I was in my childhood, but I still have only a very few close friends who have earned my trust. I am so grateful that the local homeschool group that I have just joined has so many welcoming and caring Christian women. I am looking forward to great friendships in that group. Also, I have been so encouraged in my recent entry into blogdom. It is amazing to me that God can use this medium to forge friendships!

  11. I have not kept up with old friendships like I wish I had. I find balancing family, work and friends difficult. My sister and I are very close and I have one friend that I am really close to. We find time to chat in the carpool line at school. Believe me, I try my best to arrive early enough to get some chat time in!! Although I consider my husband as my earthly best friend, sometimes the man just doesn’t understand everything I have to say or why I have so much of it to say! I would really like to put more into my friendships than I do and hopefully God will show me how.

    Thanks for your blog. It is a great encouragement to me.

    Blessings,
    Stephanie
    smjones@comcast.net

  12. I feel really blessed to have lots of friends but I guess out of those frindships there are 2 maybe 3 of those friends who are real, true close as close can be friends where there is a depth of honesty and love that goes much deeper.

    Moving around the country a lot as we have done in the past few years, I find it increasngly hard to keep in touch with friends. Add to that a husband in full time ministry and the dynamic that adds to relationships and it can be really difficult.This is simply because of time committments and distance and sometimes relationships just change.

    I was really helped when I heard someone say that some friendships are for life and some are for a reason and a season. It’s quite interesting to see how that works and sometimes it’s surprising which relationships last and which fade.

    I really thank God for my girlfriends, particularly those few who have walked with me through sunny AND stormy times and pray that I in turn am such a friend to them.

  13. I do have friends but don’t get out with them that much.I think the demands of being a wife and mom sometimes leave me too exhausted to get out as much as I used to. But, I have a wonderful husband who understands that I need fellowship of the over age 8 female kind and we are trying to work things out! I am a part of a book club that I LOVE and we meet once a month. I also have to say that my mother, sister, and my sister-in-law are my best friends! We try to do girls nights out once in a while, I’m sooo privileged to have them close by! I’ve also found that e-mailing helps keep me close to my friends who live far away. Friendship is very important and one can never have too many friends, you have encouraged me to reach out and make new friends and take some time out to have time and make time for them!

  14. Digging for Pearls says:

    This is an issue where I have had struggles through the years. I never seem to keep friendships for very long. I have a dear friend that God brought into my life a little over a year ago, but now she is moving far away. 🙁 One of the things we have done to have a close relationship was /is to meet once a week, early in the morning to walk for about an hour. During that time we share what has happened over the week, share prayer requests and then pray together. It has been a precious time.

    I also have been enjoying lately having bloggy friends. It opens up a new way to develop relationships.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hello Renee! I’ve been meaning to visit your blog for sometime now,I am sooo glad I did…If I read correctly your b-day is the 14th, that’s my birthday too!!! Yea! a new b-day friend… I met you at She Speaks a few years ago..(I still have my notes from your talk!) I am blessed beyond measure with friends, and treasure them all. I have felt the Lord reminding me to be more delibrate in taking time to tell them how special they are..I don’t want them to enter the presence of our Lord without me telling them how very thankful I am that He allowed our paths to cross.
    Blessings!
    Teresa
    Braden, TN
    ps I haven’t used my SteinMart b-day discount yet..I’m saving it for this weekend for a girls trip to Chatt.heehee

  16. Hey Friend,
    Christian friendships are so important for many reasons. We need someone to hold us accountable (in a loving way), we need someone we can vent to, we need someone we can share hurts with both past and present, and someone to have fun with! The list could go on.It is simply amazing how God brings some of these awesome frieds in our lives.In reading some of these comments I wish we could all go get some Starbucks together and enjoy some girl talk! I will be excited to hear your message on Friendships.
    Blessings.

  17. I still talk to my best friend from college every day. I have a lot of fiends, but a few that I really invest in on a deep level. It takes effort, energy, and lots of multitasking. Lisa and I have been known to talk while walking on the treadmill, grocery shopping, cleaning bathrooms, or making beds.

    I make time because I need that girl time. And my hubby needs me to share some of my words with others!!

    It’s not easy. We’re in ministry, I have 4 kids and she has 2. And we live 9 hours apart. But it is a treasure and necessity in my life.

    Makes me want to sing a little Michael W. Smith, “Friends are Friends Forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them…” Sing it girls!
    Blessings
    Laura
    mikelauraok@yahoo.com

  18. i now realize what an importance christian friends can have in your life… The ladies of my church were doing bible study and i joined in… WOW! These are the best ladies i know, i can call them anytime with anything and know they will be there. We have been meeting at the Golden Corral the first saturday of the month for breakfast, to catch up, in addtion to all the things we do at church. What a blessing to have awesome Godly friends!
    To all the gals who left comments or reading this who feel lonely, i say- just open up to the ladies at your church and you will realize that they too are longing for that connection-that sisterly bond that we all need. i promise that there are women out there just longing for friendships with others. They have the same issues, problems, aggravating husbands – you know… You just have to reach out!!!
    Ashbbam@aol.com

  19. One of my favorite topics Renee! Friendships can be so challenging yet extremely satisfying. I’ve seen friends come and go over the years. I could go on and on about girlfriends – the good, the bad, and the ugly side of it all! I am so blessed to still have 11 very close friends from high school…24 years ago! Long time friends are great b/c they know so much about you.
    I am pretty particular when it comes to my close friends…I won’t share much about myself unless there is a huge level of proven trust. My closest friends are great listeners, loyal, and love me unconditionally. I am a relational person, so I love the comfortable connection that comes along with a close friendship. They are a daily dose of joy for me!

  20. Renee
    I was just thinking about this today! It was only a few years ago, I was very sad because I had only 2 friends and we rarely saw each other due to our families’ busy, conflicting schedules. This was unfortunately also a time in my life when my relationship with Christ was not my top priority! Because of that, I was very needy. If I went very long without hearing from my friends, I would be worried they didn’t like me anymore. It was so silly. And it made them feel awkward! Eventually I became passionate about my relationship with Jesus Christ, so this took the pressure off everyone else! I found such joy and contentment in knowing Him, that it didn’t matter too much when friends were busy. My security came from HIM not from any other relationship. (And I don’t think it is any coincidence that when I starting tending to my relationship with Christ first and foremost, I became a much happier person and felt confident enough to “put myself out there” and make friends with others–instead of waiting on them to come to me! 🙂
    Today my life is richly blessed with several girlfriends who are also my partners in prayer. To answer your question, that is how we stay connected…we may not get to see each other as much as we would like, but we contact each other several times a week via email or phone to pray both for and with each other. I have never experienced anything like it. What a blessing to have people in your life who will be faithful to cover you in prayer. God really does do immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine…over a year ago I asked Him to send me a prayer partner and I now have about four! And that is how we stay connected–through our passion for prayer and our love for God. 🙂

  21. Oh, I am so glad you wrote about this. I feel so challenged to stay in touch with my girlfriends and I miss them so much!

    I said that this year I would make more of an effort to nurture these relationships and each week so far, I find myself buried in the tasks to take care of my family and ministry.

    I wonder if God calls us to ministry and we have families with young children, then how do we balance our friendships, too. It just seems like it can’t all be done.

    I try very hard to keep in touch via email and by phone. I have a monthly book club, my bible study and weekly time with friends, but it still seems like it is not enough. There is always a friend I need to reach out to or a friend that I know could make me feel better and laugh.

    I am blessed to have so many wonderful friends. I wish I could spend time with them every single day.

  22. Mocha with Linda says:

    This is a sensitive and close-to-the-heart subject for so many of us as women. And so many of our experiences – positive and negative – in friendships as adults are rooted in our experiences as a child.

    I read Dee Brestin’s book The Friendships of Women years ago that was very insightful.

    For me, I take friendships very seriously; it’s just my personality and how I’m made. Once I’m someone’s friend, I am loyal to the core and they can count on me for the long haul. The downside of this is that I can be (too?) deeply hurt when someone moves on from the friendship. I, too, am learning to let go of the “friendships for a season”, but it can be very difficult.

    It is very difficult today for women to find time for friendships. I have also been in situations where I was the one who always took the initiative to get together. The other person always enjoyed getting together and seemed happy to do it, but when she never could “get her head above water” and make it a priority to call me, it did affect my self-image. People want to be wanted

    Today? I try not to over-analyze it and just accept where I am. While I’d love a “bosom buddy” or two, I’m grateful for the sweet friendships of women at church and know that my self-worth needs to come from Him, not from how many coffee & lunch dates I have!

    And blogging is a wonderful connection. I’ve “met” and developed a heart-link with several sweet Christian gals that has truly been a blessing from God.

    Sorry this is so long! My email should be visible when you receive the comment; let me know if it’s not!

  23. BeyondBlessed says:

    I have not kept up with old friendships like I wish I had. I find balancing family, work and friends difficult. My sister and I are very close and I have one friend that I am really close to. We find time to chat in the carpool line at school. Believe me, I try my best to arrive early enough to get some chat time in!! Although I consider my husband as my earthly best friend, sometimes the man just doesn’t understand everything I have to say or why I have so much of it to say! I would really like to put more into my friendships than I do and hopefully God will show me how.

    Thanks for your blog. It is a great encouragement to me.

    Blessings,
    Stephanie
    smjones@comcast.net

  24. Amy L Brooke says:

    Some people say that friendship is “never having to say you’re sorry.” I don’t think that is the case. Recently (August)I had to do some MAJOR confessing to a friend. I hated doing it and even though she knew we were meeting to talk because something was up, I started talking about everything BUT . . . . Finally did it. Though it was hard and trust needs to be built back up, its sweeter to know that she knows the worst about me and choses to love me anyway.

    My top 10 things friendships are list:
    1) Forgiveness (see above)
    2) Stepping into someone else’s world. One of my friends and I are so different. Married to single. Major extrovert to major introvert. Mom to 5 & mother to none. But we do have Jesus in common and maybe that is everything!
    3) Girly days even if they only happen once in a blue moon.
    4) Someone to feed your cats, children, dog, husband, or whatever else needs feeding when you are gone.
    5) Someone to call with good news.
    6) Someone to cry with.
    7) Someone to hold your hand.
    8) Someone who can take a nap even when you came to visit because they know you’ll understand and even watch the kiddos so you aren’t interrupted.
    9) Someone who lets you borrow their majorly big tub when you need it.

    Last but not least, number 10:
    Someone willing to clean the ABC (Already-Been-Chewed) gum off the bottom of your purse when you notice it while driving and are so digusted that it’s totally distratcting you!

    (Some are things I’ve done and some done for me!)

    Sorry. I guess that was a little long-winded.

    I keep in contact through email and occassional snail mail and phone calls and the like. But everyone is so busy that it makes it hard. So, I just try to be patient but persistent in my frienships. I try to see what they need and meet that need in someway.

    But I am not a friendship guru. Really, I’ve only just begun this whole friendship thing the last few years. My family was a mess growing up so we never had anyone over and I never saw my parents relate to anyone and well, it just wasn’t all that healthy. In someways, I feel like I’m still in the first grade with it all!

    Here’s a question: How do you go about making friends?

    I’ll be back, but my email is alb02@msn.com

  25. I think the some of the biggest obstacles for not maintaining friendships is that everyone is too busy…working, raising kids, etc. that by the time you get home at the end of the day you are too tired to pursue calling someone to go out for coffee or a movie. Weekends are hard too with housework, errands, church, etc. I used to have best friends but one moved away to Missouri and the other one made some serious life changes and we don’t talk much anymore. There have been a few women at church I have wanted to be closer friends with, but they were always busy with work, kids, etc. to get together much. I have been praying about this subject of women friendships for awhile, asking God to bring a good friend into my life..someone who has similiar interests and loves God. I do have friends at work where I spend most of my waking hours, and we do have a bible study there once a week which is nice. But I think a lot of women are lonely for a real heart to heart friend they can be real with, pray with, and just have a great time going to coffee, shopping, etc. with.
    This is a good topic to discuss.
    Kelly

  26. Regarding Friendships, I think you have to practise the discipline of “opening up”- taking the steps to get to know someone, sharing, at cost, a bit more about yourself than you otherwise might have, risking the pain that sometimes comes when you do open up.

    Many of us are reaching out to others through our blogs but even there we are always asking, “Am I sharing too much? Am I sharing enough of myself?” It’s a wonderful journey, but it’s a bit of a rough one.
    Yet Friendship is SO in the will of God for us. I’m convinced the more we seek godly friendships, the more we are maturing, stretching, and God is smiling with pride at His children as they connect in loving friendships.

  27. LAUREN at Faith Fuel- says:

    Regarding Friendships, I think you have to practise the discipline of “opening up”- taking the steps to get to know someone, sharing, at cost, a bit more about yourself than you otherwise might have, risking the pain that sometimes comes when you do open up.

    Many of us are reaching out to others through our blogs but even there we are always asking, “Am I sharing too much? Am I sharing enough of myself?” It’s a wonderful journey, but it’s a bit of a rough one.
    Yet Friendship is SO in the will of God for us. I’m convinced the more we seek godly friendships, the more we are maturing, stretching, and God is smiling with pride at His children as they connect in loving friendships.

  28. Dawn Ward says:

    This is a topic near and dear to my heart.

    When I attended a women’s ministry leadership conference, one of the things they made certain to stress to those of us in attendance is that women were created for fellowship. I find this to be so true in my own life.

    When my daughter was a baby, my circle of friends revolved around other women from church who also had small children. However, I lived about 25 minutes away from all of them so getting together was not so easy. I became quite lonely and depressed. I remember one time lamenting this fact to my husband and his solution was for me to call his mother who had moved closer by to help us out with her first grandchild.

    Please know that I am not talking against my husband as he is a darling man, but this just wasn’t the right answer! We had had this same conversation several times before, and his answer was always the same. On this one occasion, I remember shouting at him that he and his mother were not my entire social circle! Being an introvert, and perhaps because he is a man and created differently, this simply did not register for him. And while he still doesn’t really understand it, he does recognize my need to have time out with my girlfriends and supports my efforts to do this.

    And…it IS an effort. I have to make time for it. It requires planning. Sometimes LOTS of planning between everyone’s schedules. But it is SO worth the effort. I need my girlfriends. We laugh, we shop, we cry, we talk about what God is doing in our lives. These relationships are invaluable to me.

    Just to clarify, I only have a few close friends with whom I get together on a regular basis, but because I love these ladies, and they mean the world to me, I make the effort to maintain the friendships as do they.

    The time I spend with them encourages me, strengthens me, and rejuvenates me. And when I return home, I’m even happier to see my wonderful family!

    Blessings,
    Dawn

    psalm4511@gmail.com

  29. Over the years I have had many aquaintances, but few friends, few real-share-anything-and-they’ll-still-love-you friends.
    I can count on one hand the number of women in my life who would stay by me through thick and thin. I am a stay at home mom with 5 children at home, I would love to spend time out, getting to know other women and cultivating relationships, but it is hard to have deep meaningful conversations at the McDonald’s Play Place.
    As I read some of the comments that others have left on your blog, it seems like there are many lonely women out there. I don’t mean to sound whiney and complaining, but I too am among the lonely Moms and women out there who crave deep meaningful relationships.
    I look forward to reading more of your friendhip series, I’ll be back.

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