A few months ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to speak to a group of women who are dear to my heart. The Heart and Home Ministry at New Castle Bible Church in Mackinaw, Illinois, encouraged me and provided a stress-free refuge once a month while my children were toddlers. I was able to drop my kids off with dependable volunteers and enjoy a brunch and inspirational message without whining, cutting up food, or spills. Best of all: uninterrupted conversation with other moms! And I was able to join them again, this time as the encourager.
The topic I was to speak on was friendship — a bit broad for someone who can make friends with anyone who will make eye contact with her. I decided to focus on the friends I have made since moving south and how those friendships were formed. Rarely after moving will women begin knocking on our doors, asking to be our friends. I discovered that friendship sometimes has to be pursued. Below are a few of my favorite friendships:
- Church family: Before we moved, we began researching churches online: doctrine, location, children’s ministry, etc. We even listened to sermons online. We chose three or four churches to begin visiting as soon as we moved. We found a church quickly and immersed ourselves by volunteering to teach in children’s ministry (and thus meeting many other young families) and joining a community group. Five months later when my daughter ended up in the hospital, our church family was by our side with visits, meals, and babysitting.
- Life-stage friends: Friends can be made at the park, at the library, on the soccer field, or at school. I began volunteering in my kids’ classrooms, and my husband coached our son’s soccer team. We met a family in need of a church home. We invited them to attend church with us and come over for lunch afterward. Several months later when experiencing marital problems, they had a new church family to fall back on. Another family we met through school is Hindu. We invited them to our children’s Christmas program and for dinner. They were able to hear the gospel for the first time.
- Neighbors: One family walked over to introduce themselves as we unloaded our moving truck, but moving on a hot Arkansas summer day is not conducive to having meaningful curbside conversations with the neighbors. So in the fall, I printed up invitations on pretty paper for “Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Chat,” loaded my young son in the wagon, and taped the invitations on the outside of our neighbors’ mailboxes (FYI: it is illegal to place non-stamped mail in others’ mailboxes). On a Tuesday evening, six women from the neighborhood stopped by, and new friendships were formed. One sweet lady was not able to attend because of her husband being ill. He passed away the next day. I visited with her the next week and am blessed to call this lonely widow a friend.
As I shared with the women at New Castle Bible Church and enjoyed sweet fellowship with them, I realized how richly blessed I am. My best friend, Jesus, was the glue that kept our friendship stronger than the miles that separated us. Once again, I left encouraged.