My life has been filled with special friendships. As most women have experienced, friends come and go depending on the season of life. Some friends leave you with the kind of relationship where you can be apart for months, see each other, then pick right back up where you left off. Some periods in life leave you feeling like you have a "friend drought", where you feel like no one relates to you and you don't have anyone to confide in. In the past two years, I've also experience many times like that.
Some of my extra-special friendships include (but are definitely not limited to): Missy-friend since birth (literally- I met her when she was born 3 months after me), Leslee (friend since 4th grade who has loved me unconditionally), Kelly (friend since 5th grade and we still get together), Sarah (best friend throughout elementary and middle school- thanks, Facebook, for keeping us in touch), Gretchen (friend from high school and college and we now we are fellow homeschooling mommas who meet regularly to chat about our children), Melissa (best friend as an adult, and though she moved away, we pick up our relationship as soon as we're together- she GETS me), Karen (friend from work in the past who now I still see on a regular basis, she's always authentic and trustworthy), Monica, Sheri, Shari, and Stephanie (the kind of friends you can call in the middle of the night and they'd run right over). There are many more friendships that have meant a lot through the years. God always knows what I need and when I need it.
There have been school friends, church friends, work friends, and adoption friends (Paige and Katie). Of course, then there's my frister (frister = friend + sister), Ginger, who will always be my best friend and know things about me that no one else will ever know. I am grateful for each and every relationship.
I could say that I spent 3 months being lonely in a third world country, but that would be a lie. God blessed me with an awesome woman to walk this African journey with. Her name is Natalie.
Natalie and her husband, Scott, have 2 biological children, and just adopted 4 more through AWAA. They arrived in Addis Ababa 2-3 weeks before we did. We lived with them in the Selah Guest House for the first month we were here, then moved within walking distance. Our families experienced practically the same timeline of referrals, court dates, and Embassy appointments.
Natalie and I laughed together, cried together, got frustrated together, vented together, exercised together, and generally commiserated with each other over every stage of this process. There literally is no one else on the face of the planet other than my husband that knows exactly what I have experienced here. She's it. For that, I will always be thankful. Thankful for our common ground. Common ground in Christ, common ground in families.
Our families took a picture the last Sunday at church together:
We went to dinner together their last Saturday night in Addis, at our favorite restaurant, Top View:
The Putnams have 6 children and we have 5 (when we go out to eat, it's a party of 15). Together, we could have our own football team, soccer team, or 2 basketball teams. We played Putnam vs. Kicklighter mud soccer:
I never want to forget how much I was blessed with her friendship. Thank you, Lord, and thank you, Natalie!
It's a long story, but due to passport mistakes and plane changes, my friend from Plant City, Sheri, arrived the same day that Natalie left. Once again, God's timing was perfect. I was so sad to see Natalie leave. But Sheri was with me at the same time. We are having adventures together. Sheri's daughter, Hannah, is Jayde's best friend. Rob, Sheri's husband, was gracious enough to let the two of them travel all the way across the ocean to experience Ethiopia for themselves and serve here as well.
Sheri and I have gone to Zumba together-
eaten together, driven in lots of traffic, and served together. I'll post some pictures in coming days to show what we've been up to. (This pic was with our "America" shirts on, which we all wore on Embassy day to celebrate our newest Americans.)
But for now, I am thanking God for ALL my friendships, past and present.
*Thank you to ALL my friends, you all know who you are. I could not possibly name everyone in this post, but please know that I love you.
“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”- C.S. Lewis