Tag Archives: girlfriends

Thank You for My Girlfriends

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It’s after eleven o’clock at night, and I’ve just finished watching the most recent episode of Grey’s Anatomy online. Typically, I’m in a dither. “What is the deal with George and Izzy?” I ask the universe. The universe doesn’t answer, and in the next second I’m dialing up my friend, Kathy, whose fault it is that my emotions are invested in the events of a fictional Seattle hospital in the first place.

“Hello?” she answers.

“What is the deal with George and Izzy?” I splutter, and without asking why I’m calling so late or what I’m talking about, she proceeds to explain in great detail exactly what the deal is. A lively half hour discussion of various characters and subplots ensues, followed by a conversation that touches on all our latest news and thoughts, and finally I hang up, a little enlightened and a lot entertained.

Girlfriends.

It’s hard to imagine life without them.

Today I’m dishing with Kathy over trivia, six years ago I was floundering around in the deep waters of personal crisis, and her hand was one of those that reached down and grabbed on to keep me from going under. A good girlfriend is equally at home in your life on your best day and on your worst.

It’s been my joy and privilege to enjoy the friendship of some amazing women.

Tracy. I met Tracy on my very first day of college classes. We were both freshman, and I knew from the first moment of talking to her that we were going to be life long friends. Her calm serenity and even temper were a balm to my flighty and fidgeting spirit. When we accidentally dyed our hair pink in a Clairol experiment gone awry, she was the one who helped me see the funny side of it. She’s spent holidays at my house, we’ve gotten tattoos together, and we’ve walked each other through the jungle of dating disasters. I confess, when she got married, I felt a little jealous. Not of her, but of her husband, Perry. How dare he step in and break up the team? I consoled myself with being her maid of honor, and a year later, she was mine. Our friendship has not only survived marriage, but grown over the years. Though she lives a thousand miles away, every time we talk on the phone, we’re roommates again, alternately cheering and commiserating in equal measure.

Regina. Regina, another college buddy, makes me glad that first impressions are often wrong, because it definitely wasn’t love at first sight when the two of us met. Where at first I saw a flirtatious, hairsprayed Southern cheerleader-type (to say nothing of what she thought of me), I soon learned to see an indispensable friend–and to stop making snap judgments! We’ve been through a lot–car trouble, boy trouble, and just plain trouble. Our friendship has run hot and cold, and we jokingly refer to the Three Day Rule (the period of time we can be together without getting on each other’s nerves) but she’s been around through thick and thin, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything. Every couple of years, she and Tracy and I get together to catch up, spill our guts, and eat good food. They’re the sort of girlfriends to whom time and distance don’t matter.

Kathy, Jen, Marci, and Kim. One December day, just after we had moved here to Idaho, I got a phone call. It was a big deal. See, we’d landed in Coeur d’Alene in a maelstrom of chaos and emotional struggle. I was hurting, and I was lonely, and even though we’d come here to visit Paul’s parents at least once a year throughout our married life, I felt as if I knew no one, and no one knew me. I was sinking. Then the phone rang. It was Kathy and Jen, and they invited me to go Christmas shopping with them. I said yes before the question was finished and they picked me up for a whirlwind tour of retail hotspots, lists in hand. There, in the middle of Toys R Us, unknown to my shopping companions, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the feeling that everything was going to be okay. Their asking me to come along was a simple gesture, and they probably didn’t know how desperately needy I was (or they would have run the other way!), but it was the beginning of some of the sweetest friendships of my life. Kathy is outspoken, honest, genuine, and funny. Jen is warm-hearted and gentle-spirited and one of my spiritual heroes. Marci is a devoted friend with a wry sense of humor who reaches out to draw everyone into her circle. Kim is quirky and fun, saves everything she’s ever owned, and can talk the ears off an elephant. One year somebody (I’m still not sure which one of them it was) wanted to plan a trip to Seattle for a girls only getaway. The invitation was open to anyone, and the five of us were the ones who ended up piling into a van and striking out for the coast. It turned out, somehow, that we had perfect chemistry, and the most satisfying weekend chick trip ever ensued, complete with getting lost, eating at a fancy restaurant, endless road trip chatter, and laughter, laughter, laughter. Since then, we’ve cried together, prayed together, faced health crises and marriage problems, worked side by side in ministries, and basically entered into each other’s lives at the deepest level. They’re dirty house friends, every one. Each of these girlfriends totally deserves her own blog post.

Amber. A sister is girlfriend and family all rolled up into one. Amber and I are five years apart in age, and our relationship has gone through different stages as she’s grown from pesky little sister to cherished friend. She’s lived with me, fought with me, borrowed my clothes and checked out my boyfriends. She’s seen my bad habits, my temptations, and my disappointments up close and still she’s there for me. Not all sisters turn out to be friends, but mine has become one of the best.

I am blessed with other wonderful girlfriends, too. Girlfriends from my Bible study group. Girlfriends I call when I want to go shopping. Girlfriends who like the same movies that I do. Girlfriends who watch my kids, and ask me to watch theirs. Girlfriends who are up for an adventure. Girlfriends I exercise with. Girlfriends who are just easy and fun to be around. Even a few girlfriends I only know from the internet, whose encouraging words and shared emotions are no less real for our having never met in person. Some of my girlfriends I’ve known for years, and some I’m just starting to know, waiting and watching the delightful and gradual intertwining of experiences that makes up friendship’s rich history.

Even one good girlfriend is a gift of inestimable worth, and I am blessed with many. I only hope I can bless them half as much.

Thank You, Lord, for my girlfriends.

Dirty House Friends

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“Company’s coming!”

As a child, I knew what that meant. My mom would put us to work picking up clutter, vacuuming the carpet, and cleaning the kitchen, while she ran to the pantry to survey our stores and choose ingredients for a meal worthy of visiting dignitaries. The house took on a shine that it never wore when it was just the five of us, and we gathered around the table to marvel at the pristine tablecloth and the regal centerpiece looking like some foreign piece of art sitting there, where, on normal days, we folded laundry, did homework, and played with Legos.

Now, as an adult, I also love to invite people over for dinner, and the ritual is much the same. I press Paul and the kids into service to clean the apartment from stem to stern, trying to see it through a stranger’s eyes and discovering dirt in places I usually overlook, like on the baseboards and inside the stove’s fume hood. I scrub the toilet, sweep the floors, eradicate the rapidly reproducing dust bunny population, clean the tub (as if dinner guests are going to take a shower while they’re here), and order all the kids’ toys confined to their room for the duration. I even light candles to make it smell as if I bake.

Then, since I used up all my time cleaning instead of cooking, we order pizza. But that’s another post.

The point is that while I enjoy special occasions and inviting new friends and acquaintances over to showcase my masterful housekeeping and pizza ordering skills, when it comes to socializing, my favorite moments are those I spend with my Dirty House Friends.

Dirty House Friends are the ones you call up on a whim to ask, “What are you doing? Come over and watch Phantom of the Opera with me!” And they come, despite the fact that you’ve made them watch Phantom of the Opera six times already (rewinding all the good parts with Gerard Butler.) They sit on the couch next to your unfolded laundry with their feet resting on the wooden blocks and puzzle pieces and Happy Meal toys that are scattered around the living room like shrapnel from an explosion in Santa’s workshop, and they don’t see a thing. You never say “Sorry about the mess!” to a Dirty House Friend, because they don’t care, and when you’re with them, neither do you.

Dirty House Friends let you glimpse their clutter, too. I always rejoice when a friendship crosses the boundary of company clean into the intimacy of Dirty House-ness. When I walk, invited, into a friend’s house to see crusty dishes in the sink and stacks of papers scattered over the dining room table, I smile inwardly, knowing that I have stepped into the inner sanctum of my friend’s genuine living space, her real and disheveled and authentic life.

And that’s what I love most about Dirty House Friends. A friend who’s not put off by my messy house won’t be scared away by my messy life. A friend like that can take it when you lose your keys, lose your temper, lose your mind. A friend like that will be around when you’ve really screwed up, passing over recriminations in favor of a much needed hug and some help in picking up the pieces, knowing that you’ll be there when the pieces are hers. A Dirty House Friend won’t think you’re a bad mom when you drop the kids off at her house just to get an hour or two alone. She isn’t freaked out when you burst into tears, and the word “overshare” doesn’t apply to her. She’ll take you seriously when you tell her to call anytime, and the resulting conversations will cover everything from peanut butter brands to deep spiritual struggles.

A Dirty House Friend sees the clutter in your home, in your mind, and in your life, and loves it all. Loves you, the you that lies beyond your Yankee candles and your clean baseboards.

So if you’re thinking of inviting me over, do me a favor. Don’t bother to clean. Let’s just clear a space in the mess, pull up some chairs, order pizza, and talk.

Let the dust bunnies live to see another day.

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*Dedicated to my own dear Dirty House Friends. You are such a blessing to me!