I didn't know it until I entered college. Funny how you can spend 17 years of your life and never know it. During the fall of 1994, I started college and I discovered the truth. I was not a girl's girl. So while my female peers were traveling in jean-skirted herds to Wal-Mart, chapel, dinner at the cafeteria, Branson, etc., I was hanging out with boys. It was fine by me. I liked boys way better than I liked girls. Boys were easier to get along with. They weren't catty. They didn't criticize my hair behind my back. And sometimes, they would buy dinner. Girls never did that. This seemed like a great plan, mainly because I was 17 and ignorant.
The years after college introduced me to my first close girlfriends. Don't get me wrong, I had girlfriends in college, but I wasn't yet to the point where I knew how much I needed them. I wasn't that mature. But eventually I learned that all girls were not gossipy and hateful. Some were fun and friendly and honest and kept secrets.
Fast forward to 2004. I had been married exactly 9 months. No, 10 months. I just did the math. I have been telling people 9 months for years, and I have been lying. Sorry about that. I was starting a new job at Heritage and Hope Academy, teaching K4. Three days before in-service started, I found out that I was going to be a mother. Through a complicated family situation, my husband and I had agreed to take in my sister's little boys for a few months. The day of in-service came, and I found myself seated between a foster parent raising five children and a mother of triplets. These girls became my new BFF's. They knew what it was like to get multiple children at once. I instantly discovered the value of girl friends.
Four months turned into three years, and those years of my life were filled with baby formula, car seats, play dates, fish sticks, Happy Meal toys, and pediatrician appointments. I had piles of dirty laundry. Sleeping past 7 a.m. on a Saturday was a luxury, and my girlfriends were invaluable. When I couldn't get my two year old nephew to eat anything, they had the answers. They told me about the best brands of generic diapers. They gave potty training advice. When my husband left me with four kids, the girls in my life were at my house helping me get school clothes ready and packing lunches. They were delivering grocery store gift cards with encouraging notes attached. They made casseroles and helped me clean my house. They cried with me and prayed for me. When my children went back to their mother and when my marriage fell apart, they were there with coffee and packing boxes and newspaper, helping me arrange my new life and grieve the loss of my old one.
With every life change, God has brought just the right girls into my life to speak the truth, to encourage, to walk with me. Sometimes they live just down the road, but for the time being, He has most of them spread over the world. It makes it a little difficult to have a cup of coffee and sit down and talk about life, but we find ways to do it. We text, use Skype, Facebook, and take trips to see each other. I know plenty about their lives, and they know about mine. I see pictures of their babies, even if some of them have settled for having the four-legged, barking kind. We pray for each other's families. My girls are on Facebook, laughing at my dumb jokes. They are overseas, raising a house full of children. They are across town, ready to meet for lunch and listen to my latest life drama. They are in Washington, Indiana, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, Texas, Idaho, and dozens of states in between. And if you are one of them, I thank you.