Celebrate Women’s Friendships Month

I’d like to name April Celebrate Women’s Friendships Month!  I’ve just had an extraordinary April.  It was full of rekindling old and forming new friendships.  And by April 30 I was running over with gratitude to God for all it brought me.

Abby and her friend Danielle

The month began with a bridal shower for a close childhood friend of my daughter, Abby.  It’s a joy all its own to see your child and their friends reach maturity—some single, some married, some pregnant, etc.  When we used to get together, the moms would enjoy coffee and conversation (and, of course, chocolate), the girls would be off running and giggling.  This day we were all together, enjoying one another’s’ company across generations.  Picking up where we left off, I had as much fun catching up with the girls as their moms and I noticed that was happening all around the room.  Female friendships that have endured.  A special blessing.

The next weekend found me with another group of young and older women sharing our hearts with the same healing transparency.  Only instead of the lovely china, tea sandwiches, presents and bunches of flowers, we sat at metal tables in a sterile room—the only touch of home the homemade cookies we brought with us to the prison baked by loving friends who gave unlimited hours helping make this time for us as special as possible.  But we were indifferent to our surroundings, so moved by the power of the Holy Spirit who pierced the loneliness of prison walls and brought hope to hopeless, healing to emotional and physical pain, and salvation to those in real imprisonment—the imprisonment of the soul.  The highlight was seeing friendships form between women of different races, generations, economic classes, types of offenders.  By Sunday they were sisters. Words fail me trying to describe lives changed and redirected before my eyes.

Priscilla, Cyndi, Maggie, Julie, and Tamara in Williamsburg

From there, I spent three lovely days in Williamsburg, finally getting to meet, in person, four women I’ve shared my life with in an online Bible study for the past year.  (Again, chocolate played a major role—a staple in any healthy woman’s diet.)  We studied the life of Jesus—our lesson was on “Oneness/Intimacy” from John 17.  Only fitting we shared in person this time—nothing intimate about Skype.  We spent a day enjoying the historical aspects of Williamsburg, including the outlets!  A significant stop for me was lunch at a church with a group of women who had just completed a study on my book.  Again, the instant friendships that form when Christ breaks through the externals and takes us deep to His heart, letting us share in the intimacy of the Trinity.  Such a humbling experience and totally fun, too!  And that night, completely tuckered out by our gallivanting, we watched together Enchanted April, a poignant story of women off on holiday together.  Perfect.

Scenes from the Delaware retreat

One last stop.  A retreat on the coast of Delaware.  When I arrived, I only knew one woman, the one who had invited me to speak.  Twenty-four hours later, I felt at home.  I was renewed.  I got as much as I gave—even more.  We all arrived with our own set of circumstances we would love to control.  I had that special joy (which is why I love the women’s retreat setting) to watch women mentoring women, young and old, listening, encouraging, praying, loving. The teachings of Jesus and the overwhelming love of His Father encouraged us.  We are not alone.  We are loved by the One who created our surroundings, even ourselves.  Nothing can separate us from that love.  Nothing is too difficult for this lover.  No one loves us more and has our best at the center of His heart.

The most interesting thing I discovered was that, regardless of the setting, “inside or outside”, we shared much of the same experiences, concerns, heartaches, struggles, and joys. The risk—vulnerability. ~Fear that someone might not like you if they really knew you.  ~Forgetting about yourself long enough to really listen to and love someone else.  ~Longing for what someone else has (I found myself toying again with Confession #1I care too much about what people think of me  – as I met women my age who in retirement were comparing exotic travel plans. We spent our money on education, music lessons and food!)  ~Taking a real look at your own heart so as not to judge the heart of the person you meet. Transparency brings vulnerability. But, oh, look at all I’d have missed without it!  I’m deeply indebted to those women God brought across my path and for their transparency.  It brings living to a whole new level.

I’m exhausted, but I will never forget April 2013.

Comments

  1. JoAnn Hohenberger says:

    It always encourages me to see (or read) how God is continuing to work in your life. He is so good. There is hope for us all. Thank you for sharing.

  2. what a beautiful post! I greatly enjoyed reading it! 🙂