Isn't she lovely?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I just want to hum that Stevie Wonder song when I think of my BFF Laurie. And even more when I look at this picture of her beautiful face. This girl not only has some good genes but her beauty runs skin deep as well. In honor of her upcoming birthday (I'll let you guess the age) I wanted to share why this lady has a special place in my heart.

It all started back in early 2001. I had just moved back to the Northwest and the only friend I had was my college roommate who still lived here in Bellingham. She called me on a Friday morning clearly upset. She couldn't give me details right then but needed me to take care of her three kids that Monday morning. A former co-worker of hers had delivered a stillborn and she wanted to go clean the gal's house. I was happy to help with childcare but felt helpless to do more. I knew nothing about this woman but did know I wanted to do something to ease her pain. So I did what all Americans do in a crisis: made her dinner. When Janelle dropped off the kids, I gave her the meal and told her to convey my condolences to her friend. When she returned to collect her kiddos, she said Laurie really appreciated the meal and was doing remarkably well in spite of the circumstances.

Fast forward a month. I was sitting in my Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) discussion group when I noticed a new face in the room. Our leader introduced Laurie and told us how she took a break for a while because of some difficult times but she'd be sharing with us herself at the end of the lesson. When Diane gave Laurie the floor, she graciously and eloquently told the story of losing and having to deliver her baby at 26 weeks. She went on to share how God gave her his "peace that surpasses all understanding" in the midst of her pain. Her faith and completely calm demeanor was amazing to all of us surrounding her. All of a sudden it hit me: Oh my! This is Janelle's friend! Oh my goodness!! After class ended, I was racking my brain trying to think of how I could introduce myself without sounding like a total idiot and saying something like: "Hey, I made you that lasagna. Did you like it?" I approached her and said "I'm Janelle's friend. I watched her kids while she came to clean your house." She said "you're the one who made me that delicious dinner. Thank you!" and threw her arms around me. An instant and enduring friendship began.

The next week, when we sat together during class, she asked how many kids I had. She had two girls the exact same ages as my boys. I hesitated to tell her I was expecting #3. She made it easy for me when she said "are you going to have any more?" Ummmm, I'm actually 3 months pregnant. She was sincerely thrilled for me. As God would have it, she discovered her third was on the way just a couple months later and we waddled through the next few months together until our baby BOYS were born within two months of each other. I retired from childbirth but she went on to have another boy 16 months later. I honestly don't know how either of us would have survived the next 5 years without one another. We swapped childcare weekly and took turns doing the "Costco runs". We comiserated together when our husbands were traveling. We figured out how to occupy and keep alive 7 children until every last one of them entered elementary school. And, most importantly, encouraged and challenged each other to grow in our faith. I never thought I'd say it but I sure miss those days. It seems to be harder and harder to carve out time for each other now that the kids are older and busier. But we have always been consistent in celebrating our birthdays--which we did last night.

As far as our birthdays, we started this tradition of putting something on each other's cakes that represented a signifcant event from the previous year. One year her septic tank backed up and Roto Rooter arrived to determine the cause. Turns out that one of her boys had put an entire box of baby wipes down the toilet. That year I topped her cake with Tootsie Rolls and Kleenex. The picture below represents when her family went to Hawaii and due to an oversight in the planning, all 6 of them ended up squeezed in to a studio condo.

Earlier this year we were celebrating our other BFF's birthday when we got to talking about "what our license plates would say." In other words, what was your life statement? What phrase came to mind when others thought of you? Immediately she said "Buck Up". Perfect! She is a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of girl and gives this response quite often when she hears whining in others. I came home and "googled": replica license plates and, of course, found a company that made them for a reasonable price with a quick turnaround time. So this year I decided to forgo the cake in place of the plate. Because our state requires plates on front and back, she is planning to proudly display it in her kitchen.

Happy ## Birthday to my fun, forty-something, faithful and fabulous friend. I love being on this journey with you. Here's to many more!!!