Wednesday, October 30, 2013

On friends - a shout out

I don't know if this is a normal thing, but I think about relationships all.the.time. I am constantly trying to figure out how to hang out with friends, how to bless friends, how to love friends - life gets busy and I'm always trying to make awesome things happen with awesome people. 

I value my friendships a lot. When I was growing up I didn't have many friends and this makes me see friendships like gold. Losing friendships over the years has taught me how much work friendships are, and the good lasting relationships have taught me that that work is worth it. 

Now I am in a place where I have a lot of friends. More than I can reasonably spend time with - and yet my lost relationships still haunt me. Not much makes me sadder than that distance. I am so thankful for the relationships I have now - I am so abundantly blessed. It's actually ridiculous - ridiculously amazing. And despite how awesome my friends are now, I still grieve the loss of other friendships. 

This weekend was a weekend for friendships and for healing. I was away at a wedding (more on that later) in Portland. On my way there I stayed with a summer camp friend - Heather. I met Heather when I was 18, the summer after graduation in Washington at Lake Retreat. We clicked immediately. There have been years where the physical distance between us made a big difference - seeing as I lived on the island, there was an expensive 2 hour ferry ride, a four hour drive and a border between us. At one point she lived in Australia for a few years, and the distance stretched even further - since this was the time before facebook, the distance seemed impenetrable. But thankfully when I moved over to Vancouver she had moved back to Washington and the distance was much closer! I got to be in her wedding and she and her husband, Mark (now also my friend), came to our wedding in Canada. We visit them often and I am so thankful for that. 

Me and Madeleine - she's the baby that was in Heather's tummy in the above photo

I got to spent Thursday night and Friday with her - we stayed up talking. What a gift to have a friendship that you can pick up so quickly. We may live in different countries and have fairly different lives but there is a foundation of friendship and sameness that covers that. It is such a blessing to get to talk and laugh and know this friendship has lasted over time and will last over the years to come. Thank you Heather for your generosity and constant support. 

I left Heather's house and headed down to Portland where I would be staying with Rachelle Lazenby (and her husband Adam). Rachelle and I met quite randomely - in fact I'd heard briefly of her husband a year earlier without knowing who he was. Rachelle and Adam were a part of our Every Nation church in Calgary, U Church and at one point they were planning to move to Vancouver. Paul had met Adam a year prior at Harvest Institute in Calgary and since they were both from the same small area outside of Portland Paul had told me about him. Then Rachelle came to check out ENVancouver in summer 2011 when they were moving here - she came into the church, I met her right away and I decided we should be friends. I invited her to join us for dinner at the picnic at the park (I always have extra food) and that began our friendship. Rachelle and Adam didn't end up moving to Vancouver after all, they're based in Portland now but I have had the pleasure of having Rachelle or both of them stay with us now many times. I love that they just call to say they need a place to stay and of course they are always welcome. We have had hangouts in Calgary, Vancouver, Gresham and Portland. I love that!

[This is where I would insert a photo of Rachelle and I - but apparently we have none! Terrible]

Rachelle and Adam were so great to spend time with - we alternated between laughing and playing board games, and talking and having deep conversations. Rachelle and I always have the most amazing conversations - we talk about life and relationships and marriage and family and God and church and I love that we have never really lived in the same place and yet our friendship is so authentic and real. She always speaks truth and encouragement to me and always leaves me feeling like she was so glad to spend time with me. Looking forward to many years ahead, friend!

Next up is the reason for my Portland visit - my dear friend Stephanie. I love Stephanie for many reasons - one of the more silly reasons is that so often we will go to parties and end up there in the same basic outfit. This has happened many many times. It never ceases to put a smile on my face. When I first came to Vancouver and met Stephanie back in 2006 (!) I thought she was so cool and like such a good dresser. To think that we dress the same now, can only be a compliment. Stephanie is a strong, supportive, listening friend. I constantly feel blessed to get to know her and this was never more true than Saturday at her wedding to Nathan. 

Stephanie is now married to Nathan. She met him through her best friend (and Paul's cousin) Louanne, when Louanne was marrying his Dad. Their wedding was beautiful - it was a moment for everyone to hear a bit more about these two great people. Her amazing bridal party was filled with women I really like - Megan and Louanne did an AMAZING job of sharing about who Stephanie is and was - they gave such great insight and shared great stories. It was a blast to be a part of their big day and to get to know her even better through the stories of others. A year and a half before her wedding, we were in the same hotel for Louanne's wedding and afterwards Steph and I sat outside in the hot tub with Paul's family and the two of us got to chat. For some reason this final chat with a close friend before embarking on our big USA adventure meant so much to me, and I'm tickled that her wedding in the same spot was just as meaningful. Thank you for letting me be a part of this special moment, dear friend. Congrats, to the Miles'.

And lastly, for today, my dear dear friend Emily. Emily and I also met back in '06 and she quickly moved up the friendship ranks to become my best friend. Emily and I spent countless hours driving to and from church events together, we threw parties together, we had T&E dates where we ate junk food and watched movies and we loved people together. She is the first friend I ever had that would come to my house before I got home (she had a key) and do my dishes! She helped my sister and great friend Lyndsay throw me a surprise 25th birthday party and she loved me in so many ways. We have had many adventures together - rope course climbing, kayaking, skiing (I taught her how!), and so much more. 

I can't tell if Paul looks HUGE in this photo or if we all look tiny, but it's ridiculous either way

5 years ago we stopped being as close. Our friendship changed and while we remained friends we were never the same. This has been one of the biggest regrets for me - Emily is an amazing women and I missed our closeness over the years, especially at both of our weddings. This weekend at the wedding Emily and her husband Rob were also there - after the wedding they opened up their hotel room for a bunch of us to go hang out in - and we did, until 3am! During that time though Emily and I FINALLY talked about friendship and discovered that our lack of closeness was all a misunderstanding. We were both shocked when we understood what had kept us apart all this time - and how joyful we were to discover we both still cared about each other so deeply. I felt, in a moment, that I had my friend back. I can't shake the feeling that God gave us a gift this weekend - the truth and our friendship. I have my Emily back. I can hardly express how much this means to me. Emily is the sort of person you are lucky to have in your life and I have missed that. Ems I know you'll read this - thank you for being you, and thank you for being my friend. 

And this brings us to the end of todays post "Tara's awesome friends." But a post about these women wouldn't be complete without first issuing a sincere thank you to each of their husbands. My friends have married well. Their husbands are men who love and support them. Their husbands are men who become friends to their wives friends. I am thankful to see men who support and love their wives in a way that allows each of my friends to be all that they were meant to be. I know you don't do it for me (obviously) but I see it as such a gift in my life that my friends have rad husbands - thank you to Mark, Adam, Nathan and Rob for being who you are and loving my friends. 

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