Tag Archives: friends


A Used Car Christmas Celebration

Saturday. Thought the day might end at a Christmas concert. Instead, it ended at a used car dealership. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

It all started by saying, “Yes,” something I had just read about that in Chapter Nine of Bob Goff’s book, Love Does: “I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.”

Kate had texted earlier in the week and asked, “Could I come up and stay with you to look at a car this weekend?”

“Yes! And we’re happy to help you with the car hunt.”

And so Saturday unfolded. First, a not-so-great option with a bumper issue and door handle issue and clutch issue. . . .  Then John and I and Kate regrouped, did some research, had some food (what I always recommend in times of stress), and headed to a used car dealership to look at another option.

We shook hands with the salesman and introduced ourselves. “I’m Kate. “ John and I hesitated a bit. How do we explain our role in this unfolding drama? We’re not parents. Not Aunt and Uncle. Not Grandparents. “We are Kate’s friends.”

That makes me smile.

Kate’s mom was one of my college roommates oh so many years ago. A Storm Sister. When Kate arrived here for college. John and I welcomed her into our home, complete with a nickname: “Kate the Great,” and Kate accepted our dinner invitations and wacky humor and dog who licked her toes.

And so on Saturday we found ourselves sitting together at a used car dealership. We test drove, a car, sat around a table to negotiate, had an inspection done, ate some popcorn. . . .

And I felt soul-happy.

Helping Kate seemed like just a tiny pay-it-forward to someone who befriended me years ago and gifted me with his wisdom, direction, and joy.


“I see. I care. I’m doing something. I’m sending Jesus.”



Retreat? Or not.

To withdraw. To draw back.

My dictionary tells me those terms describe the word retreat. But, I wonder, do those words do justice to the weekend I just spent with four college friends? We called our days together a retreat, but we did anything but withdraw from each other.

Guess I’m really thinking of the noun-version of the word.

A place of refuge.

In reality my friends and I drew toward each other by spending time eating together, walking together, making airport runs, laughing, speaking honestly,  listening carefully, and praying for each other.

We focused our time together around three simple questions: What was the high point of your year? What was the low point of your year? How can we pray for you?

Each woman had a voice. And each woman had loving words of earnest prayer fall over her. (At least until Ringo started barking!)

We became a place of refuge for each other: “You can be who you are. Me too. You can say what you need to say. Me too. You can laugh. You can cry. Me too. Together.”

Perhaps you have had a similar weekend with girlfriends.  I would love to hear about it.


In Memory of Mrs. Sobie

Just two weeks ago on a sunny, crisp Colorado day, I entered St. Joseph’s Catholic church to the sound of bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace.” I gasped. Such a bold sound, Such a beautiful church. So fitting for a farewell event for a wonderful woman—Mrs. Sobie, Sally Ann Sobieszczyk.

Her daughter, Roberta, and I met in junior high and spent lots of hours together laughing, talking about boys, playing clarinet, making cookies. I logged so many hours at the Sobie house in my teenage years that it felt like my in-town house.

Long after those years, Roberta and I stayed in touch. But much to my surprise, I also stayed in touch with Roberta’s mom. Every year a card arrived on my birthday signed by Mrs. Sobie. And every July I sent her a card for her birthday. When she got email, we connected that way too.

When my mother died, Mrs. Sobie brought cookies to the memorial service. “Dirty Cookies.” She knew how I loved this recipe for chocolate chips handed down from my great-grandmother.

She also sent me this note after that service for my mom (p. 125 of Storm Sisters).

Dear Afton and family—What a lovely “send off” for your Mom—and aren’t you glad you were able to be with her during her final journey? Have no regrets. . . . Remember, I told you that the Hospice where you are, as well as the one here, offers a lot of help—just reach out for it.

So, now, I use this blog to honor Mrs. Sobie and honor her girls who loved her well, especially in her last sixteen days in the Cardiac ICU.

What a thoughtful service you planned for your mom. The beautiful soprano voice of the cantor spoke such comfort and hope. And the piece you wrote about your mom, including tales from her childhood, made me laugh and cry. What a challenge to sum up a life in just minutes. And the fireworks before and after the slideshow during lunch—perfect!

And now, as you miss this woman so full of life, may I send back to you the words she sent me: “Aren’t you glad you were able to be with your mom during her final journey? Have no regrets. . . . Remember, I told you that the Hospice where you are, as well as the one here, offers a lot of help—just reach for it.”

Thank you, Mrs. Sobie, for living your life well and allowing me to be a part of it. Grateful!


Life in the “Hood”

“On the bus ride home every day from elementary school, I would look at the neighborhoods we passed—houses close together without barbed-wire fences to separate them. What would it feel like, I wondered, to live so close to people?” (Storm Sisters, pages 19–20)

I know now. I know what it feels like to live close to people, to neighbors. I just have to tell you!

It feels like a belly aching from laughter. At least this week.  Two of our neighbors, Robin and Bryan, popped through the gate and into our backyard one night with great flourish. One assumed the role of crazed author groupie while her husband lurked behind her, camera in hand, posing as the paparazzi. They had just received their pre-ordered copy of Storm Sisters and came demanding 😉 an autograph.

These two neighbors many years ago held a book signing for my children’s book, complete with a cake that matched the book cover. They totally surprised me that evening and even invited my mentor from college days.

Life in the “hood.” Wow.

Life with people. Wow.

So much better than talking to sheep over a barbed-wire fence!

Birthday cupcake

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today would have been my mother’s 78th birthday.

I choose to celebrate this day and celebrate her by launching this blog about something she did well—develop friendships.

Mom proclaimed loudly to all who would listen, “I am an introvert.” Indeed, she did find her energy from time alone. And yet she also managed to connect with so many people. I remember opening her fridge one day during a visit home and seeing a stack of four or five take-home containers holding leftovers from lunches and dinners with friends.

As I wrote my book, Storm Sisters (coming in September), I remembered all the women, including many of my Mom’s friends, who surrounded me during her horrific illness and death in 2006. That experience so changed me; I saw firsthand how friendships between women can survive and even thrive in hurricane-strength storms.

So, in Mom’s honor, let’s start talking about friendship. Please let this blog become a place where you tell your friendship stories. I will be here every Monday and hope you will be too.

Let us honor our friends. And honor God who gives us all good gifts, including the gift of friendship.

Happy Birthday, Mom!