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My one friend and I – giggling in church like little girls, when we should have been holding our heads up and singing like respectable pastors’ wives – had lost touch. But a couple months ago we reconnected, and re-bonded fast and furious, like we’ve been friends all our lives. And that’s why we sat on the front pew whispering. Knowing our time together would be too short – we squeezed in as much conversation as we could!

This summer road trip refreshed my soul in so many ways. I can’t remember ever spending hours and days – strung one after the other like treasured pearls – in the company of my closest friends and some of my favorite women in the world – my mom, my sister, an Arizona friend I’ve known almost twenty years who feels more like an older sister, my other friend (from paragraph above), and another AZ friend I’ve known almost twenty years (whose youngest daughter is my daughter’s best friend; the girls were in the church nursery together, and then in AWANA Cubbies and Sparks and… you get the picture).

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I came home after that week and-a-half, revived – my heart overflowing, affirmed and grateful.

We talked, we laughed, we thrift-shopped, we ate, we asked family questions and personal questions and deep, theological, philosophical questions, and took turns listening… and we laughed and thrift-shopped and ate some more.

In the company of even just one or two individuals who care enough to get to know me, and then open themselves to share their hearts and lives, allowing me to get to know them, I am made better.

Infinitely better.

Friends bring out the beautiful things in each other, that no one else looks hard enough to find.

Back home on the following Sunday, I reconnected and caught up with my California friends – and found myself refreshed again.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Years ago at a high school reunion, a class-mate told me she didn’t have any friends. None. Her only friend had been her mom, and she had passed away. All through her childhood and during high school, she felt awkward and alone, always on the outside looking in.

Her parents’ marriage didn’t last, and neither did hers. Then her mom died. I’ve never forgotten the lonely sound in her voice or her deflated spirit.

We don’t live in the same state. But if we did I would take her to lunch and get to know her better. And invite another friend to join us. To draw her in. The two of us, befriending her. And we’d introduce her to other women. And meet for lunch to celebrate birthdays. To lift her spirits the way my friends lift mine. It’s what we do, my friends and I.

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

Toward the end of the trip there was the one memorable afternoon when, my one friend and I drove all over her side of town, in search of (sugar-free) FroYo.

Yeah, it sounds like Frodo, but has nothing to do with Lord of the Rings. In case you don’t know, FroYo is short for frozen yogurt.

After wandering through a Goodwill store, on a sweltering Arizona August day, our conversation turned to dessert. The cool, creamy kind. She knew she had seen a fro-yo shop somewhere near there.

For some reason her GPS was no help. Which is why we kept driving, and stopping at ice cream shops to ask. Finally we walked into Cold Stone.

The Cold Stones in CA don’t have sugar-free anything, I told her. But she insisted, Let’s go in and ask anyway. You never know…

What a friend.

And – surprise – they did! Sugar-free vanilla frozen yogurt! In a tub next to all those tempting sugar-laden, chocolatey, gooey, creamy ice creams. But hey, at least it was something!

Then my friend mentioned to the girl behind the counter how we had spent the last 45 minutes driving and driving, in search of FroYo.

The girl said, There’s a Yogurtini right across the street.

We looked at her. Then at each other. And then we looked behind us, through the glass doors and across the huge intersection. And I saw the sign. Tucked behind a little, but…

There it is!

She didn’t have to tell us that, and we thanked her.

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A few minutes later we sat across the street, taste buds in dessert-Heaven. Yogurtini had THREE sugar-free flavors – chocolate, strawberry and vanilla! Neopolitan Fro-Yo!

~  ~  ~  ~  ~

On the way home, I drove while my girl scrolled through Pinterest, in between napping.

The Arizona Meteor Crater, only six miles off I-40, is literally a big hole in the ground. But it sounded exciting, and it was a summer road trip after all.

About five miles in I saw the Visitors Center. My heart sank.

Of course. We’ll have to pay to see it.

Tickets were $18 apiece(!)

Never mind. We used the restroom (for free), where another mom and I debated over the price.

For the record, I would have paid $10 apiece.

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We stopped at the Whole Foods Market in Flagstaff and ate lunch on the road: Baby Bel cheeses, crisp veggies, gluten-free chips, nuts and some kind of healthy frozen desert made from coconut milk.

By the time we hit the Central Valley and the 99 freeway, it was late evening. I don’t remember ever being so tired, bored, sweaty, and beyond ready to just be home. (The temps hit 118 degrees in Kingman, AZ and Needles, CA. And after leaving Flagstaff, the scenery got left behind, too.)

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So much for your idea of a road trip, I said. You haven’t been any company at all. I thought we’d talk and laugh and catch up on things.

I know. I’m sorry. I could tell she meant it. Riding in the car this long is more boring than I thought.

Well, I’m glad I found it out now, instead of four hours into a two-week drive across the southern states.

She pulled up Tim Hawkins videos on YouTube, and we laughed away our boredom. French fries from In-n-Out revived us for the last eighty miles.

We got home an hour later than I planned, but the Lord kept us safe the entire way. I got a much-needed break from responsibility. And I hung out with my mom – a rare treat.

And came home with a suitcase full of “new” clothes.

I always regret not taking more pictures of my trips. Must be I’m too busy and having too much fun making memories.

Oh, well.

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