Just the title brings thoughts of grace, doesn’t it?  Recently, including the time we were at Oshkosh, I was blessed with the opportunity to consider the friends in my life.  There were/are so many reasons to thank God for bringing these amazing people into my life.

New friends…I know it was no coincidence that Gay and her family camped next to us for the week.  A simple conversation revealed a common “interest” that brought us together.  We share a journey – one that I have already been on, and one that she is just embarking on.  It will be a very sad journey, and I pray she will find the support, love, and strength that I was blessed with.  Even if we never make contact again, she knows that there is another person out there that is praying for her often, thinking of her, and sending healing, peaceful thoughts her way.  She also knows that she can reach out to me anytime if she chooses.

Old friends…We were absolutely delighted to renew an “old” friendship from our past life in Monroe.  Kevin came to Oshkosh, and let us know he was at the airshow.  We connected, and spent several days enjoying not only aviation, but renewing and catching up.  Brenda and Kevin joined the church we attended in Monroe, bringing their three beautiful girls into our church family.  They shared a youth ministry responsibility with Bill and me, what a wonderful time in our life.  We may have been the leaders, but I was the student – I learned so much from the kids of this special group as well as from the other leaders.  When we moved away, we lost touch with our Monroe “family”.  It is truly sad that is it so easy to let that happen.  Next week, we are going to go back “home” for a couple days and renew a few more of those friendships.

Now friends…I am so thankful for your presence in my life.

Some of you are virtual friends/internet friends.  I will admit that when social media introduced itself in my life, I did not put much stock in online friendships.  My very traditional self thought that friendships required face to face contact.  I have since learned that the internet provides a wonderful opportunity to find like-minded friends that I would have otherwise never met.  Yes, I know all the cautions about not “really” knowing who you are communicating with.  However, I have had the distinct joy of meeting many of these friends in person, to discover that they are indeed as wonderful and authentic in person – even more so in person.

My real, in person, friends – I am so thankful that God allows our paths to cross.  Just knowing you are there is comforting.  Each of you are so gifted and talented, I appreciate the joy and dimension that you bring into my life.  I love the fact that some of you in this category are family members.  For some, “family” is not always synonymous with friendship.  I realize what a blessing I have in this.

It always amazes me when, after not having seen or talked to a friend, within a few minutes of “catching up” that you feel you have never really been apart.  These are indeed treasured friends.  And you can feel the grace that gently envelops you, wrapping you in a warm hug of shared memories, pleasure in your friend’s joys that you may have missed, and that ability to share in the sorrows of their troubled times.  Grace is also in the warmth and joy of renewing and growing that friendship as often as the opportunity presents itself.

Celebrate your friendships, in whatever form.  Make the time, it’s that important!

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