Sunday, August 20, 2006

You just never know about those random acts of kindness

A list was circulating around the Couples’ Sunday school class. Would anyone like to bring dinner for a “new couple” who had just had their first baby?

As the list went by, Sherri signed up. She’d been married about a year and didn’t have any kids -- she didn’t even know the couple -- but it seemed like a nice thing to do.

A few days later, Sherri arrived with her husband, meal in hand, to find the bleary-eyed new parents, who were completely astonished that anyone would go to so much trouble for a couple of perfect strangers. Over a pan of Sour Cream Enchiladas, made by someone who did not consider herself a cook, a friendship was born.

That was almost thirteen years ago. I was that new mom.

This weekend I got to spend some time with my dear friend Sherri and reminisce about where God has brought our special friendship.

Since food is often the currency of friendship, after the Enchilada Incident, we shared many more meals with Sherri and her husband (they grilled; we brought the sides and the chocolate chip cookie dough). We were in a couples’ small group at church, which they bravely joined, even knowing they were the only couple with no kids yet.

We were good friends then, but things really started to gel once Sherri became a mother, about four years later.

By the time we had about four or five kids between us, Sherri and I realized our desperate need for each other‘s friendship and support. Our earnest exchanges centered mostly on our struggle to come to terms with the fact that our lives now revolved around feeding and nap schedules.

We often called each other with, “I'm about to lose it. Can we get together today? Oh, and by the way, how are you?”

We piled all the kids into the car and met over Happy Meals or Goldfish, and tucked serious conversation in between moments of chaotic insanity.

But we knew there was more.

We wanted to do a Bible study, but neither of us could get it together enough (seems like there was always a sick kid) to commit to something weekly at our churches. So we decided to try one at home.

Our first study was Wisdom for Mothers. When we could pull it off, we huddled around a cassette tape and listened, all the while hoping the kids were not burning down the house from the other room. In between refereeing disputes, doling out snacks, and dealing with diaper emergencies, we prayed our first halting prayers together for our husbands and for our children.

At the time, we didn't feel like it was accomplishing much. We were interrupted often and frustrated repeatedly.

And yet it was through this humble, imperfect attempt to get a handle on the job of being a mom that we started to catch a vision.

We were just getting started on our journeys, but we were catching a glimpse of the kind of wives and mothers we so fervently wanted to be….and the kind of women we wanted to be: devoted followers of Christ.

Since then, Sherri and I have done a couple of other studies together, and, even though we have nine children between us now, and she’s lived out of state for the past four years, we call almost weekly.

Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve been blessed to have someone like Sherri in my life. She is a rare mixture of truth-seeker and pragmatist. I can still call her and say, “I’m about to lose it. Can we talk?“ She can ask a simple “How are you?” and somehow I find myself unloading so much more than my superficial to-do list.

She holds me accountable in my walk with Christ, and in my commitment to living a life that honors Him in the most vulnerable place on earth: my home.

I’m so glad Sherri took a chance thirteen years ago and performed a random act of kindness for a perfect stranger. We've grown so much together.

There is only one way to describe the way I love her - as my sister.

Have you taken a chance on a friendship lately?
Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother.
Mark 3:35


Beck said...

Oh, friends are such blessings. How lucky are you to have such a friend!

Code Yellow Mom said...

Sister-friends are so wonderful, and so needed. What a great post...

I've been the recipient lately of several people who have really put themselves out there to care about me...friends I didn't know I have, who I didn't even voice what I needed, and suddenly they were there. I will treasure them for taking that chance.

Susanne said...

How wonderful that you have such a strong friendship that has lasted thru the years!

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

What a beautiful post about a special friendship! One of my most treasured friendships began with stepping out of my comfort zone to invite someone I barely knew over for coffee and cake. Now I can't imagine my life without her. Thanks for this reminder, and for sharing about your friendship with Sherri.

Heather said...

How lovely. Isn't it wonderful how the Lord brings people together. For the longest time I had very few Christian friends, if any. I was married and the only Christians I knew were my husband's friends. I had to learn that He doesn't want us sitting on our behinds waiting for someone to come to the door. Once I got it and started helping others He stated opening doors to friendships that have lasted many years.

Randi said...

This is a great reminder that it is the small things in life that make a difference. I think that we can get too focused on the big, seemingly important things to do and neglect what really matters--like a meal, or a hug, or a phone call!

voni said...

"food is often the currency of friendship" So true:)
I do have friendships that have been sealed with tears, joy and food though. The best kind.
I needed to be reminded of this. I recently had a good friend who got mad at someone in the church and decided to leave. I didn't want the friendship to end but it did. I felt hurt. Its making me a little nervouse about reaching out again. Silly huh.
What a blessing you are thanks for sharing!

Amanda said...

Thanks for sharing your sweet story of friendship. Growing up watching Anne of Greene Gables I always wanted to have my very own "bossom buddy". I have found her and can't imagine life without her!

Robin said...

We moved about three years ago to a place where we knew no one. There were a lot of difficult "life circumstances" bombarding us at the time, and there were many times I'd be in a crowded room and feel more alone than I thought possible. Friends, family were no where near.

Those were precious years I would NOT want to relive; I see them as a time where God was beginning an amazing work in my life (it continues). The beauty of "now" is not one but several wonderful women in my life...I met one for coffee this morning after school drop off, 3 hours later we parted for lunch:).

As I sit here and tap out these thoughts, it strikes me that several of these "wonderful women" came into my life over baby showers, shared meals and study in the Word.

Jennifer said...

I'm constantly on the lookout for new friendships but there doesn't seem to be any so heart-warming as when an older, wiser Christian woman takes me (or any other young, struggling woman) under their wing to guide and help us on this road. There seems to be power in numbers, doesn't there?!

Bethany said...

What a sweet story! Friends are such a blessing!

Tammy said...

katherine, I'm in tears.
This was such a wonderful, heart-felt post.
You are indeed blessed with this kind of "forever" friendship. I so yearn for more of this in my own life.

This also reminded me of the "Sisterchicks" books by Robin Jones Gunn...a series of light-hearted, funny yet sometimes moving stories of women that the forever, sister- kind of friendship. I highly recommend them!

Anyway, thank you for a wonderful story of your endearing friendship, all started by an act of kindness. What an inspiration!

MicheleinNZ said...

Over the last year I have developed a friendship with another mom that is developing into one of those life-long friendships. Our kids are the same age (young to very young) and we meet each other at 6 am, four days a week, to walk. We both want the exercise, but even more we want the conversation. 45 minutes in the morning does wonders for our mental well being and our husbands notice the difference! She urges me on to a stronger relationship with Christ and holds me accountable to grow and learn to be more like Him.

Christine said...

What a beautiful tribute to your friend! I, too, had a friendship begin in unlikely circumstances. I invited a woman I recognized from church who had a new baby the same age as mine over for lunch when we ran into each other at the grocery store. We are the closest of friends now and our two boys are best buddies! You never can guess when those chance encounters are actually gifts from God.

Blackeyedsue said...

You are truly blessed.
I haven't taken any chances lately, but you have inspired me.

Girl Raised in the South said...

I have a special group of women coming to my house tomorrow for the day. A good reminder how blessed we are by those who choose to join us in the journey we're on.

Laura said...

You are so blessed. I really can't imagine life without my dear friends in it but for days now I can't stop thinking about your last line "have you taken a chance on a friendship lately". I can't get it out of my head and I've not commented on this post hoping that by the time I did I would have figured out why. I'm thinking God's trying to tell me something. I just wish I knew what it was.

Rachel Anne said...

Thanks for the inspiration to pick the phone and "take and chance!" I have a new neighbor and I think I can see a good friendship in my future if I'll take the time. But YOU'LL always be my BEST friend!

Katherine@Raising Five said...

Rachel - Of course, you will always be mine, too! How blessed I am to have a sister-friend AND a friend-sister!

Julie said...

Friendships like those you write of are such a blessing.

There have been seasons in my life where they run deep..

There's nothing like a good talk with a good friend who knows your heart well.

Thanks for sharing.

I too have 5 children.