A friend who walks through all the wildernesses of life...

"Joy and Sarah enjoying being pals.

"We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend." Robert Lewis Stevenson

Today, I am in Earlington, Kentucky. Those of you who have read my books and blog for a while, know that one of the graces in my life is that God taught me early how important it was to cultivate friendships so that I would not be alone. He also taught me that I am responsible to reach out and to nurture the relationships that come my way with those who make me want to do better and love God more. Gwennie is a friend who has been with me through all manner of wilderness in my life and loved me still. Sarah and Joy are my wilderness friends and companions.

I was on the phone yesterday with Joy for a little over a half hour and have been talking to Sarah (who is in Tennessee for a conference where she will be speaking), every day for about 20 minutes as we never have enough time to invest in each other's lives and tell each other what is going on.

I miss my sweet girls and they are ever going to be my own best friends, because of time and commitment shared deeply over the years. I love lots of people, but they are my inner circle.

But, many years ago, God gave me an angel friend who is like my very own sister that I never had. Today, I am at her house visiting, languishing, resting in a place where she knows all of my "warts" for so many years and loves me anyway. My soul needed charging and we each make it a priority to spend time together every year for 34 years because we made a Jonathan-David commitment to each other--to take care of each other and to love and help each other as family. So, today, I give you a little bit about my sweet friend, Gwennie, as we are spending our time today celebrating life together.

When I was a young single missionary living in Poland, I had my precious pal, Gwennie, to live with under harsh conditions. Poland was under the communist rule of Russia during those years. Not much in the way of food to be found--rarely could we find meat. Fruit was scarce except in seasonal times. (Remind me to tell you my banana story sometime!) Life was hard. We were living subversively seeking to lead people to Christ and share Bibles in a country where it was illegal.

However, Gwennie and I, being women created by God to be nurturers,  took care of each other. We spent almost every waking hour together. Walking a couple of miles to school where we struggled through the Polish language. Scouring the market square for some fresh food of some kind. Inviting girls from all over the country to stay with us to learn the Bible, we were partners in everything.

If one of us was sick, the other took care and made a cup of tea. Every night we would light candles on our little coffee table (didn't have a dining table), put on music, eat dinner (usually one more kind of eggs as it was one of the only things we could easily get), and have a lovely time of fellowship. After dinner, we would read a chapter of a book out-loud. It was where I first read, Treasures of the Snow, by Patricia St. John. What a delight to be with a sister-friend, over candlelight, entering the world of Switzerland, children, and a rousing story, with a cup of coffee and celebrate some moments together.

The single men missionaries, however, did not fare so well. Many times they got sick more often, they became lonely and often returned from the mission field earlier. Why? I think it was because men didn't nurture each other! Women did.

Years ago, I decided that women did better long term as missionaries because they were made to be help-meets. They knew how to take care of people--even their roommates.

I have had a theory for many years that women, nurturers, are better able to sustain life, as they were created by God to do so. Celebrate womanhood at its best--nurture another woman in friendship, love and memories. IMG_1435 My girls and I with Gwen in a "girl's club" memory last year. She is an honorary member! But for those of you who don't have sisters or daughters, I believe you can adopt them! I don't have a sister, but I have my sweet friends. I make time with them, meals, outings, phone chats, visits to far away sisters (Gwen!), because they bring affirmation, love, fun, care and nurture in ways that only girlfriends and sisters can. Sarah, Joy and I even have what we call "Girl's club" where we make time only for the girls!

So, plan to find a "sister"-friend that you can share life with. It will make you healthier and happier!