Friday, August 6, 2010


I don't think I've ever used that word before, except when referring to the senior citizen group at our church, which is called "Heartstrings." But all week I've been feeling those proverbial heartstrings being tugged at—that sweet and sad mixture of memory and present-tense.

This past week our friends the Johnstons came to visit from Iowa. They were our best friends during our five years there when we were in graduate school. We attended the same church and were part of the most phenomenal small group ever there. It wasn't hard to leave Iowa—after all, we were coming to our dream job in our dream location— but it was hard to leave our small group friends, especially Kris and Del.

You don't have the chance too many times in your life to connect at such a level. Double soulmates, I think of them as, because the four of us connect so strongly, not just Kris and me. And the minute our younger boys spied each other, they were like magnets. Neither Duncan nor Will were born when we left Iowa, and they were only 18 months old when we saw them last. I'm pretty sure they were together all but two hours this whole week —and that was only because Duncan didn't want to go horseback riding. Our girls got along great, too, but the boys just really hit it off.

We made the most of every minute they were here. We did all kinds of fun touristy things that are so much more fun when you have someone who can not only appreciate them, but laugh at them. We drove around Cades Cove and saw two bears and a bunch of tourists taking pictures of them from 5 feet away, played in the river, picnicked and swam at the lake, went horseback riding in the mountains, shopped the outlets in Pigeon Forge, and went river tubing. The weather was absurdly hot, but we all survived. The kids played about 10 hours of the Wii and stayed up outrageously late every night. We ate great food and had great conversation.

I missed them before they even pulled away this morning. Our house feels empty, and we're all kind of moping. I have this same sense of sadness with other friends who visit and leave: why can't we all live near each other? How sweet life would be to be able to gather in all our soulmates in one place. Well, and it would have to be here in Tennessee, of course.

And so now I'm returning to my regularly scheduled life, which is so very good right where I am. We just need one good day of moping and reveling in the gift of good friends.


  1. I feel exactly like that every time I get to visit with my best friend and her family. We both married very similar kinds of guys and the two of them hit it off the first time they met. She has been my best friend for 24+ years. While we were close to each other geographically when we were younger, now she's in Georgia and I'm in Ohio. We all so wish we could live in the same town!


  2. This is the type of friendship I'm dying to have. I want a family friend that our kids can play and all of the adults like each other. If only, it was an easy thing to find.

  3. Sara Groves has a song about friendship, and the second verse reminds me of your and your Iowa friends:

    And I wish all the people I love the most • Could gather in one place • And know each other and love each other well • • And I wish we could all go camping • And lay beneath the stars • And have nothing to do and stories to tell • We'd sit around the campfire • And we'd make each other laugh remembering when • You're the first one I'm inviting • Always know that you're my friend

    I am so glad God made us to be with others, and not solitary islands on our journey here on Earth...

  4. I know exactly what you mean... what a profound gift it is to share a family friendship like that... We left those type of friends behind in California when we moved to New York. And even though it's been four years, we can pick right up where we left off. But it makes the parting so much harder!

    Thanks for sharing your Joy last week... I hope you're back in the swing of things!


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