This morning I met with my Bible Study group and, as so often happens, I come home feeling high as kite. I love these friends so dearly. Most of us have known one another since our oldest children started kindergarten. We mostly met through the Mom's Group at our church which is called Time Out For Friendship. A few of us started as members, served as board members through the years, and we all gained so much from the fellowship that we shared twice a month, with other stay-at-home-moms of young children. At that time in my life, that group was my saving grace. I learned so much, shared so much, and felt a part of something that helped me see that staying home with my children was not just a choice and a privilege, but my ministry. As our children grew, we decided to form a paryer group to support one another through the new challenges and phases that come with raising older kids. We've been meeting for eight years now, once a week, and while the location and day of the week has changed to accomodate the group as people have gone back to work or had other changes in their lives, the comaraderie in the group remains the same. Sometimes there are all nine of us meeting together, sometimes it might be three or four. We have supported each other as our kids have grown, through two of our members losing their husbands, and through one member's chronic illness. We've made meals to feed one another's families, carpooled each other's kids and prayed one another through. Some of our children have become one another's best friend. Some of us have formed good relationships with each other's children so that, when Mom just doesn't get what's going on in this kid's head, our friend can offer some insight. One woman in our group is my son's Confirmation sponsor. We've shared the seasons of marriage with one another and some are already preparing to face the challenges that come with caring for aging parents. When our kids were younger, our convictions were strong and we were more certain as to how they would be raised. We read books, looked at older kids and felt confident that if we just followed the right advice, the right path, our kids would stay on the straight and narrow, no matter what. As our kids have grown and we have the knowledge of experience, we've loosened our grip, accepted that nothing goes according to plan and prayed all the harder, knowing that sometimes that's all you can do as your children follow their own path. We laugh about how, someday, we'll be in the Purple Hat Society. Some think it's silly, others think it would be kind of cool, but we all agree that the friendship we share is lifelong and that we couldn't be who we are without our girlfriends. I'm reminded of a passage written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh. I can't remember if it was in Gift from the Sea or one of her other books. But, she talks about the importance of girlfriends in your life, those that know you so well. They remind you of who you are, that person deep inside, the core, the "stick straight" of you that holds the rest up. I love that. Because, after I've been with my girlfriends, so often I return to my family and I feel I have something more, something better to offer them. I feel renewed.