I am rich in fabulous women friends. Filthy rich. Like Fortune 500 and Forbes List have a baby named Oprah who marries Bill Gates kinda rich. Re-Itch. Today God sent a barrage of love notes to me in the form of these women.
During last night’s thunderstorm I raised the blinds, got a pillow, shucked my bra and watched the storms roll in. The lightening and rain were a glorious sight. The show reminded me of my Senior year in college when Jen, Gina, Stork and I would hear thunder, drop our homework, light taper candles in Clearly Canadian bottles and experience the storm. It didn’t take much to pull us away from the books and after a few moments of silence into deep discussions. Common themes covered were which one of us had the best shot at a Nantucket wedding with the Waspy J.Crew model and how Christie Brinkley could still look 18.
Our Senior year was all about cookie parties where we invited 50 guys and no girls and Scott Phegley’s guitar on the roof outside the storm-watching window. “Wow-this screen pops right out!” was my discovery the day I moved in and the screen wasn’t returned to its rightful place until the day I moved out after graduation. It took no time for us to designate the roof as the premiere hang out for us and 10 of our closest friends. We felt like such avant garde, naughty little hippie Baptists sitting on the roof of our condo drinking Purple Saurus Rex sugar free kool aid, singing and all. (and what I mean by kool aid is actual kool aid embarrassingly enough and not code for trash can punch. ) Our harmonizing at times warranted the broom banging from our first floor neighbors, a non-verbal request to ratchet our kum ba yah down a notch. There was a fleeting, unique texture to those days. Perhaps the texture of composite roofing particles embedded in our Umbro shorts.
I group-texted my three room mates last night as I remembered our roof times. Though once scattered half-way round the world, we now live within just 4 1/2 hours of each other. Last night’s message spilled over into today’s ongoing conversation: true status updates and prayer requests too personal to ever launch out there on Facebook. The disentangling of a relationships, concerns for our kids and the need for God’s specific intervention in medical conditions of friends we know. What began as a throw-away “I’m missing you women! I totally realized that I have a roof here and I want you to come sit on it with me when John isn’t looking” expanded into a deeper level of communication wrapped in echoes of encouragement.
I emailed my faithful 7th grade friend Colleen when sleep escaped me. I knew she would sew my concerns in the soil of God’s keeping and not leave them fallow in her Gmail account. Four years ago when tragedy struck, Colleen and each of my dear friends rallied around us in Jackson, Mississippi. When Colleen eventually returned home to Texas and we remained in Mississipppi, she stayed up praying for us all night long while I watched a ventilator breathe for my first born. She texted me Bible verse after Bible verse after Bible verse of hope. She said she was committed to go through this with me and she certainly did. Likewise just three years later I had the privilege of being with her in Houston the day her Mother died. I told Mary Grace that she looked sexy in her night-gown which evoked one of her last smiles on Earth. Colleen and I have walked down the intimate thoroughfare of loss with each other. We are sisters born for joy as well as adversity.
My friends are sweet enough to share their daughters with me. They encourage the girls to friend me on Instagram and engage in other potentially embarrassing-to-them behavior. They allow me to help with paint colors, encourage rainbow loom bracelet production and ask for my help with humorous monologues for acting competitions. One asked for prayer coverage for her daughter’s brain surgery and believed me when I said that God knows I can’t walk through this again so I’m sure she’ll be fine. And thankfully Kathryn has been.
As if this bumper crop of true friends slogging through the joys and pitfalls of life weren’t blessing enough, a brand-new friend came to help in Maggie Lee’s Closet today. Petite yet strong she hauled her weight in bags upstairs to Joe Cooper’s van. We get credit for the bags of pajama bottoms and leisure suits which kids cannot use but Goodwill can. This is a program my friend Tina made us aware of. Amy and I did the heavy lifting and then rewarded ourselves with a trip to Starbucks. She had my respect when she decisively picked a table outside while I aimlessly fiddled with my straw wrapper. I left feeling like I had been in the presence of an honest, caring woman the likes of which fill my life.
While we sipped passion fruit tea and solved the world’s problems, my phone was on silent. It so happened that during that hour I had missed calls from not one but two women asking if I still needed help with hauling Goodwill bags. Upstairs. Both of these women called between other obligations and told me that they could help on their lunch hour if I still needed them. These are women whose full plates do not outstrip their desire to serve the least of these. Both Peyton and Michelle stood ready to give of the little free time they had.
My day also included Lee carpooling Jack to football, a task which Stephanie, Ashley and I share. Mostly to eavesdrop, I’m not gonna lie. This freed me up to spend time with The Lighthouse Kids. Even though Jeremiah asked me disgustedly why I was wearing the same t-shirt I wore last week, I felt the love. After that I had an exchange of text messages with my wonderful Mom who is more tech savvy than I ever imagined. Let’s just say she’s got the selfie down pat and we rejoice that the era of the throw-away camera is a distant memory for Mimi. A second new player in my life, Emily, brought her two little girls to work in Maggie Lee’s Closet as well. Though her kids are only in second grade and pre-K, she wants them to be a part of something bigger than themselves. A virtue present in all of the significant women in my life.
I am ridiculously blessed with a group of secure and loving women, confident in who they are, faithfully living out the imperfect life which God has given each one of them. They voluntarily link arms with the likes of me down this yellow brick road which is sometimes flying-monkey-infested. They love me, correct me, believe in me and inspire me. And somehow, ridiculously enough, I do the same for them. Though life is not at all what I thought it would be on that roof 20 years ago, even still I am richly blessed with friends excited to watch the storms of life pass with me.