On Tuesday of this last week, this appeared in my Facebook Messages:
Hey girls...I know this is more than a long shot. But Lydia is coming to Portland Sat morning for her birthday and I thought it would be sooo much fun to surprise her with all of us. I then thought how crazy with life and schedules but I am still throwing it out there. I would love to see you all too. If this doesn't work lets plan a time. It has been a crazy wonderful emotional year. LOVE YOU ALLL. ME
Oh Gretchen. (aka "ME"). Gretchen is what could only be described as the "ringleader" of my group of closest friends from my days at Western Oregon University - and particularly, our time working together to run Campus Crusade for Christ at our college. We have tried to keep up and have reunions over the years, but it is so hard to work our schedules in alignment - so, generally it doesn't happen but every other year. In fact, it was 18 months ago that we saw each other last - Whitley had just been born, Michele and I met up with them after visiting her at the hospital.
So, when this message arrived, I think we all just sighed and thought...."For Lydia - can I figure out a way to make this work?". Lydia is such a faithful and loyal supporter to us all - the idea of surprising her and potentially "making her day" by getting us all together was indeed a huge draw.
It was obviously a "God thing" to make it all work, as it turned out to be a day that we could all carve out a few hours. Not a perfect day choice for any of us, but one we could work with. No one was traveling, no tournaments were taking place - no family priorities - really a rarity and definitely orchestrated by God.
As a result, at 11:15, I met up with Lisa, our friend that lives in Creswell, we carpooled up to meet Michele just out of Salem at 12:15, and we arrived on the dot at 1pm at the Lake Oswego Olive Garden.
Within five minutes, Lydia, Gretchen, and Kelly (and Lydia and Gretchen's daughters) walked around the corner. I'm seated next to Lydia in the picture on the right, and my carpool buddy, Lisa is seated next to Michele in the pic on the left.
In this group picture, Kelly is on the far left - and the blond is "ME" - (Gretchen) =) between Lisa and Michele.
The couple of hours we spent together was far too short of time to catch up on each other's lives. We barely got the "Cliff Notes" versions. But, we got enough to know that with each of our own very unique ways of approaching life, God has softened all of the differences so that now, more than ever, we can relate in ways that are so real, authentic, and transparent. Not one of us is immune from grieving over the hurts our children have faced, family medical scares, or husbands who have struggled with feeling successful/finding satisfaction in their career. We all LOVE the Lord, but know more than ever that following Him is not going to be an easy path - though it will always be worth it.
As short as it was, it was my favorite visit yet. Love these ladies - and am so thankful for the friendships that have lasted for over 22 years. Happy Birthday Lydia - and thanks for being the reason we all made time for each other!