Monday, July 7, 2008

The Friends Made By the Family That Went to Yellowstone

My brother Tony has a close friend from college. He stayed at my parents' house one summer when Tony and I were still single and living with our parents, after college. So I got to know him, and his friendship with my brother makes him family. Then I got married, and Tony got married, to Kimberley, and eventually Tony's friend from college got married too. The wife of the college friend became good friends with Kimberley.

A couple of years ago, Kimberley introduced me to blogging. At first, I only registered a blogspot identity so I could comment on Kimberley's site. But just for kicks, I set up my own blog and posted one post to it. My second post came seven months later. After that, I began to post more regularly, and now my blog has over 200 posts and I am totally addicted to blogging.

In fact, I'm somewhat embarrassed to reveal that I actually have nine blogs on my dashboard at the moment. (Ahem.)

But only two of them are public. The first is this one you are reading. The second is my ministry blog, Something Good.

Something Good began this past December. It was inspired by the Love & Respect marriage philosophy. I haven't done very much work to grow it yet, but that's okay. Its time will come.

Last February, I opened my email to discover someone had left 5 or 6 comments on various Something Good posts all at once. And her comments really clicked with me. She seemed funny and refreshing, witty and beautiful of heart.

I was having a busy weekend and didn't get a chance to put her comments up on the blog for a few days. Gathering laundry, I shot up a prayer: "Abba, if Something Good is going to grow, I'll need some help with it. Please send me a helper."

The next time I returned to my computer, I noticed my enthusiastic commenter, Holly, had subscribed to Something Good, which gave me her email address. I popped off a message to her, asking her who she was.

She said she found my blog through Kimberley's blog, and she'd found Kimberley's blog through her sister's blog. It turns out her sister is the wife of Tony's college friend.

She went on to reveal that she was married to the college friend's brother.

If you're completely lost, this will clear it up: two brothers married two sisters. Got it?

So. Remember what I said about people connected to my brother being family? So when I found out how I was connected to Holly, I wrote right back and said, "Oh!! You're family!!"

Holly said she really liked Something Good, and get this: she wanted to *help out*! I was so excited. Flabbergasted. Overjoyed. God had heard my multi-tasked popcorn prayer and answered it before it had even cooled.

I told Holly she was an answer to prayer. I'd prayed for a Something Good helper, and God had brought her.

Then Holly blew me completely away. She said she thought I was an answer to prayer too. She'd been praying for a friend.

Tears sprang to my eyes. That she would so courageously type such a vulnerable sentence, that her trust in God was so strong, that she seemed so lonely, and that *I* was God's answer to anyone's friendship prayer. Me?

Nevertheless, trusting God in the midst of my feelings of total inadequacy, I wrote back to Holly and told her she'd come to the right place and that I was honored to be God's answer to her prayer.

Since then, our friendship has grown and rapidly deepened in ways only God could orchestrate. We chuckle constantly at how many things we have in common. We've each seen opportunity to pray for and encourage each other through low valleys, we've rejoiced greatly together about mountaintop moments. A sea of blessings comes to those whose friendships are founded in Christ.

But alas, Holly and I are four states apart and we each lead very full, homey lives. Our chances of meeting seemed slim to none.

Well, this year, we scheduled a week-long trip to my parents' house. While looking at maps, I realized how much closer to Holly my parents' house would put me. I began to search for some kind of halfway point at which we might possibly rendesvouz. And AHA! Old Faithful was almost exactly halfway between Holly's house and my parents' house.

It was such a long shot that I didn't even mention it for a few weeks, but finally, I thought, "What's the worst that could happen? It doesn't work out? It's worth a try..." So I posed the question to Holly: how about meeting in Yellowstone?

As I'm sure you're by this time well aware, she said yes! :)

So you see, my first post about being at Yellowstone, with the elk on the path, was just a side note. And my second post about being at Yellowstone, with my family, was a very pleasant and God-given bonus. And my third post about seeing cool stuff and animals at Yellowstone was just a happy diversion.

But the REAL reason we went to Yellowstone was because it happened to be halfway... Holly.

This is Holly. :)

This is how Holly makes me smile.

This is my wise mommy, listening to Holly.

This is my handsome daddy.

This is my *incredibly* handsome husband.

This is Holly's dauther, Hannah.

This is Holly's son, Isaiah. My boys hit it off with him immediately.

This is my son, James. Check out his goose egg. Coffee table!

This is my son, Jonathan.

Here we are, around the campfire.

The kids had smoked pancakes for breakfast.

Breakfast buddies.

More breakfast buddies.

Left to right: Buffy, Wolfy, Midnight, and Morris.

Friendship shoulder to shoulder.

The three musketeers.

God's beautiful daughters!

My newest sister.

Group shot at Mammoth Hot Springs taken by passing tourist.

Isaiah the Mighty Adventurer!

Nothing like cold ice cream on a hot day.

You can say that again. Chocolate!

My amazing parents. :)

God's hand at work. :)

So *this* is the post I was so excited to post.
You can see why. :)