“The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control…” –from the Apostle Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

Our travels over the last month took us hundreds of miles both north and south, east and west. We are home now, back to abnormal life, and I have had some time to think about the lovely and generous people we stayed with and visited while the boat was hauled out. I am finding it hard to write about the supportive and loving people in my life, because there aren’t enough of the right kinds of words. If only I could get these beautiful friends all in the same room—what fun! But part of my joy is getting to visit one everywhere I go. Who gets to have a close friend in every city? Why am I so fortunate? It is a gift for which I struggle to express thanks.

In listing their names and why I love them (for thank-you notes that may not actually make it into the mail…sorry), I realized that their attributes taken together mirror the above quote. As friends feed the spirit, it makes sense that they would embody these words. At the risk of sounding like an academy award-winner, I would like to thank the following girlfriends by name, in the order in which I met them on our trip, for teaching me important life lessons and for showing me depth in each of these areas:

My sister-in-law, Robin—courage and hope
My aunt, Barbara—hospitality and faithfulness
My cousin, Heidi—perseverance and faith
Ellen—kindness and faithfulness
Julie B.—gentleness and peace
Amy—love, joy and teamwork
Sadie—selfless love and thoughtfulness
Marina—goodness, faith, and perseverance
Kim—love to the nth degree, joy
Tracy—faithfulness and self-control, the pursuit of excellence
Tarin—prayerfulness, goodness, and joy
Julie Z.—love of life, optimism, and spontaneity
Kristin—enthusiasm and perseverance
Josie—patience and hopefulness

There are others, of course, too many to name here. Becca, for example, supported me on the phone in an anxious moment and told me to keep driving west (to California) so she could give me a hug. That’s love. Sometimes we have to settle for compassion and prayer, but that goes a long way. Some of these friends I have known my whole adult life, others I have just met. But they (and their precious families) walk with me through all the trials and triumphs of married life and motherhood. Thank God for friends!