Surprised by Joy!

Thursday morning I enjoyed a two hour plus conversation with an old friend that I had not spoken with for years. Ginnie and I became best friends when we were about 13 years old–give or take a year or two. She lived just down the street from me and next door to The Salvation Army van driver who invited us to attend the youth services at the Army; and the rest they say is history. But oh…the memories…the memories that have been popping up since our conversation this morning. How awesome it was to discover, and be reminded, how much we still had in common and how easy it was to engage in conversation. We had so much to say to each other as we tried to catch up a bit. Our lives have been so full and filled with love, pain, and above all else, blessing as we each recognized God’s providential care. We both feel especially blessed that we are still happily married to those amazing guys that swept us off our feet lo those many years ago!

In fact, one of the memories that came to mind today was how we used to talk about our wedding days and the plans for them. As I recall we used to fill reams of paper (steno pads?) with all those plans! I particularly remember when Ginnie met and fell in love with George. O my goodness! When I say, “fell in love” I mean that she fell head over heels and then some. From that moment on it was George this and George that! I also met and fell in love with my fella at about the same time. But unlike Ginnie’s beau who lived in town, my beau lived 150 miles away. As often happens, life circumstances began to separate us, sigh. Then in 1969, in the course of a few months, we both married the love of our lives and went very separate ways. George entered the military and she went with him to Germany and Don and I went off to the Bronx to enter SFOT. From that time we have only seen each other a very few times over the years so it was such a blessing this morning to hear about her life with George these days as I shared mine with Don.

As memories of my youth have been tumbling through my mind I have been reminded again and again just how blessed I was and still am because of the dear friends that I have made, particularly when I was young. Remember that I mentioned The Salvation Army van driver that invited us to attend the Army youth programs? Well, we took him up on the invitation. It was in the Army that I met the love of my life as well as two very dear friends who have remained close, well, relatively close as one can do as Salvation Army officers, over the years. (Sorry about that last sentence!) Anyway, Debbi came to be friends with Ginnie and me. It is interesting how our paths came together and then began to separate as circumstances shifted a bit. Debbi and I became very close friends I think when my mother had to be away for a couple of weeks and I stayed with Debbi so that I could attend Star Lake Music Camp. We grew so close that we were almost reading each others minds. It was also Debbi who helped me learn to read and sing the alto part in choral music. We used to sing and play duets at every opportunity. I won’t even mentioned how she used to school me in my grammar….well not my grammar per se but my bad pronunciations caused by my southern accent.

My second dear friend, Karen, I knew as one of the youth of our division but never really met until Don and I went to our first appointment out of Training. Karen and I became fast friends. Karen and John were also in their first appointment but had been officers about two years longer so Don and I looked to them for answers to questions that would come up as we were learning about Corps Officership. We discovered a mutual love of camping and would try to take some vacation time together. In fact our kids consider their kids cousins.

Friendship. What would life be without friends? Not just friends but those individuals that become so close that, as someone has said, “true friendship is when two friends can walk in opposite directions, yet remain side by side.” I can testify to the truth of that statement for over the years when my friends and I have not seen or spoken to each other for awhile we just pick up where we left off and move forward together for a piece.

Now how blessed am I that in retirement I am once again living close to two of my dear friends. Hey, Ginnie, how would you and George feel about moving to Myrtle Beach?

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