I just returned from a nice long weekend back in my hometown, a quaint little town just south of Chicago, Illinois. It had been a few years since I had been back there, in the area where I grew up. The small town vibe is such a vast contrast from the larger, more urban metropolis, not to mention hot, city of Houston,Texas where I live now and have lived for the last 15 years. As I drove through all the little main streets that dot the way and connect each little town to the next, I could not help but notice how so many things had changed in my old stomping grounds. There were some of the same old buildings with new businesses in them, a new name plate, sign, awning or shingle, proudly displayed out front declaring the different sorts of trades each building contained. There were entirely new buildings where old ones used to be. Many things were still so familiar, it was like being transported back in time. I often took for granted the natural beauty that surrounded me as a kid. Just 3 miles from my home Was Starved Rock State Park,a huge tourest attraction with it's amazingly beautiful canyons and majestic waterfalls that have graced the earth for millions of years. The falls would freeze each winter and offer yet another breathtaking phenomenon to behold. There are miles of endless wooded hiking trails lined with beautiful trees. The canal with it's sandy bike trails that follow it's long winding river path bosts the most beautiful landscapes. Paddle wheel dinner boat cruises light up the river at night with music that echoes through the town. Then there was the local municipal swimming pool, where I was once a lifeguard still looking as if not so much as a blade of grass had changed in it's surroundings since I was a kid.
I had a wonderful time for those few days "back home" seeing the sites again and visiting with family and friends. I have some wonderful friends there, friends that I grew up with, friends that know me better than I sometimes know myself. One in particular has been my friend for over 40 years. We met in kindergarten, just a couple of 5 year olds that would begin a life long, invaluable, friendship, that is still priceless to me today. We have been through it all together, good and bad, elementary school, private, Catholic, where we got in trouble for calling boys on the phone in the teacher's lounge. We were cheerleaders together, there were slumber parties, sharing lockers, summer jobs corn detasseling, boy friend woes, spring break trips to Fort Lauderdale, french club trips to Paris, Belgium, and Holland. We were on the dance team together, there were proms, homecomings, and double dates. We went to concerts to see our favorite bands and heart throbs from Tiger Beat magazine. We took turns visiting each other's colleges for fun filled long weekends! We have been there for all the important events in each others lives, graduations, bridal and baby showers, weddings, new babies, divorce, and moving away. She is even my oldest son's godmother.
Of course we still talk on the phone often, but getting to see her and reminisce, see her children, her husband, her home, means the world to me. Just being together...laughing non stop about the ridiculous things we had done over that forty year span, things no one else would ever understand, you just had to be there, and she was! In all these years we have never missed each other's birthdays, you know you can always count on that call and the laughs to follow on the other end of the line.
It occurred to me how rare it is today to still have a best friend that long. Someone that knows you better than anyone else ever could. It's like family that you got to choose yourself! Friendships now a days often seem so fleeting, almost disposable. We take them for granted and forget or fail to give them the attention they so greatly deserve. I cherish all my friends each one different in their own ways, some you admire because they are all the things you are not and some friends you love for all the reasons you are the same. eitherway, getting together with family and old friends is one of the best reasons to always "Go home"!
Friends are like little happy gems the Lord doles out to us because He loves to see us happy! It's as if He pours friends into our lives like randomly spilling a giant bag of skittles out and watching the pretty colors roll and topple and finally land in their resting spot, right where we serendipitiously happen to meet them.
Friends are angels God gives to us ...plain and simple!
After the weekend of getting together with different friends, that just followed a weekend of visiting another great friend in Dallas. I realized how truly blessed we all are to have such dear friends in our lives. Whether close or far, a good friend will know your best treasured stories but a best friend has lived them with you! You will always know you are wealthy in this life when you have friends because without them your life would be vastly different! A friend knows you completely, inside and out and understands where you have been and knows where you are going and loves you in spite of all your flaws. A best friend is someone who walks in when others walk out. They are a constant presence, a cushioned landing pad when we are about to crash. A true friend will listen and not judge, keep your secrets and be there for you when you are either celebrating or grieving, laughing or crying , succeeding or failing. Friends will always hear what you say but a best friend will hear what you don't say...
( proverbs17:17) Loyal friends love through difficult times...
We need to take extra care of our friendships and never let the ball drop. Go the extra mile to visit, call, write! Let's keep our priorities in check and always no matter what, have each others backs. It's never to late to pick up the phone and rekindle a neglected friendship. You may make someone's day today by being that blast from the past that puts a smile back on their face or gives them the encouragement they've been needing to hear. I truly believe that when an old friend suddenly crosses your mind out of the blue, it's God's way of saying,"This is my gift to you, a friend that you need as much as they need you back, pick up the phone!" Do not let another day go by without letting your friends know just how much you love them... Life is to short, keep making and living new memories laced with all the stories that are only hilariously funny to you and of course.... Your bestie!!!!!
( Proverbs18:24) Faithful friends are a rare treasure...
Heavenly Father, thank you for all of the wonderful friends you put in our lives. Help us to stay connected and to always try to be the best friend we can. We praise you in Jesus name!