I can’t remember ever being away from the tinies for a whole day, but I drove to Idelette‘s house, with local peaches riding shotgun in their cardboard basket; the tomatoes, raspberry ice cream, baguette, and honey in my backseat, between the door and my laptop, a few papers and books stuffed in for good measure. It was a day for friendship, a day I had set aside for writing, for dreaming, for scheming with my heart-friends, on each other’s behalf. Kelley flew in from Burundi via Arizona, just for us, just for this, Tina was there, too.

In true introvert fashion, I was already regretting it. What if it’s awful? I’d rather stay home. Oh, man, they’re going to discover I’m just me, always just plain old weird me. Plus it’s hard to give up a day of your weekend for non-family people, let be real here. But Brian was supportive, shooed me out the door, the tinies gleeful at the prospect of a day with their dad all to themselves.

My friends opened the door, bleary-eyed from the late night of talking previous, and the first thing they did was open a bottle of sparkling apple juice, pour them into fancy champagne glasses and toast my good book fortune, they cheered me on, and we all cried a bit, I think.

(It’s nice to be with people that celebrate with you.)

Idelette’s house is just the right kind of chaos and homecoming, the kid-stuff scattered amongst the stunning artwork, just a glorious mish-mash of everything that makes her so true, it’s the house of passionate creativity and real-life family. There were pictures of women, every tribe, every tongue, on every wall, and so it felt like everyone here in the world was there with us, somehow, and a gigantic canvas on the stairs said: There is no such thing as small change, and the famous red couch at Idelette’s was worn out and comfortable, especially with Kelley sprawled on it, twisting her hair unconcernedly when she really got talking about the theology of adoption and Lord, yes, that woman can preach and teach in a living room beside a piano better than some preachers I’ve seen in thousand-dollar suits on a television show. Tina snapped a few pictures, and let me tell you, she’s probably the most beautiful person I’ve ever met in real life, ever, and we jumped from weddings to babies to travelling to inappropriate theology to publishing to prayer, and back again.

(It’s nice to be with people that are all over the same map with you.)


So we made coffee, and we talked about book writing, about stories that yearn to be told. We spoke a lot of truth to each other: here is what I see in you, I think this is the story underneath the story you’re talking about, have you ever considered doing it differently? And we cried a bit, we marvelled at the wisdom, we laughed and laughed and laughed, and it was revealed at long-last that I have a potty-mouth.

(It’s nice to be with people that don’t make you censor yourself.)

We ate leftovers for lunch, leftovers from Tina’s mother’s immigrant kitchen, and I may have groaned out loud, it was so good. We ate the raspberry ice cream in cunning blue bowls, and we talked about SheLoves Magazine, about community development and the big, audacious dreams. We laughed at our own ridiculousness, but it couldn’t be denied, we all want to love the world. I heard more of their intersecting stories, and when Idelette was done talking about her book, about her passions, I wanted to see her on every stage of every slick Christian conference, to bring some mama-truth, to preach the Gospel of Being With Each Other, but then I kind of had to shrug because part of Idelette’s power is that she’s outside of that system, outside of that church-marketing world, too busy living the truth of it to package it. We sat in that living room for nearly 7 hours straight, and it passed as quickly as an hour at a playground for a five year old.

(It’s nice to be with schemers and dreamers outside the fence lines. It’s nice to be with people of freedom and truth and love.)

I drove home, and I nursed the baby, kissed the tinies, put on my blue dress and my high heels. I waited on a bench outside of a bookstore, and I remembered being so lonely for friends, I couldn’t see straight. I remembered the seasons of my life when I felt completely crazy, like no one was caring about the things that moved me, like no one was questioning what I was questioning, like no one wanted a friendship that went deeper than “Oh, my God! Your hair is so cute! Let’s talk about potty training techniques!” So I was distrustful of women, suspect of motives, an island of hurt feelings and isolation. I kind of grinned at the sneaky goodness of God, the kind that tiptoes up behind you, because without a lot of fanfare, because in a rather haphazard and organic way, I have found my tribe. I’ve found my people without the striving and organizing, without the Official Sanctioned Church Programs, nope, we just all came into each other’s lives, right at the time when we were meant to be there, we stayed open to finding each other, a part of me was always watching for the hints of my people, and so when I found them, I recognised them, I did. It still happens, kindred spirits aren’t as rare as I used to think.

(It’s nice to be with people that feel like old friends from the very start.)

We went to a little bistro next to the river, sat outside drinking girly bevvies, and talked quiet about all of the other stuff, the stuff of sitting under the stars and secrets. I could listen to Kelley, and Idelette, and Tina talk all day. They have fascinating stories, the stories that leave me breathless with awe at my God, awe at the goodness of life in The Way, I needed to catch my breath a time or two, it was real. Pinch, pinch, pinch, Kelley, don’t mind me, I just want to make sure you’re real, maybe I can be more like you.

(It’s nice to be with people that challenge you, people that call out to a deeper and truer life in you, in complete humility and wisdom.)

And then there was that moment that rose up, I call them my Invitation Moments, the moments when you can sense an invitation from each other to go just a bit deeper, a bit more real, a bit more honest, and you can decide to stay where you are (and that’s fine) or you can take the risk of secrets-in-the-open, the risk of mask-removal. And, we all took it, one after another, mask after nice Christian lady mask, and I told my secrets, too.

Then there was that Between Moment. You know, that moment, a sacred moment in friendship, the pause between. It’s the time between the heart-cracking-open, the time between the secret-now-told, and the reaction. It’s the time when what you said is sitting out there, above all of you, floating there, and you wait for someone to say something, what are we all going to do with this truth? you wonder.

Sometimes that time is terrifying, other times it’s reassuring, it is always sacred.

(It’s nice to be with people that sit in that space with you.)

And here is the moment when friendship is sealed: they reach out for those words, those secrets, and treat it with such tender care, with such beauty and welcome and kindness, that you exhale a breath you’ve held for decades, and think, yeah, yeah, I did it, and you feel knit together, woven and spun. It’s in that moment that you move from friends to sister-friends.

(It’s nice to be with people that weep with you, rejoice with you, and show up in the big holy ways for the Between Moments.)

I drove home on the backroads, savouring it all. It’s not too often that this introvert comes home from full day of talking, scheming, laughter, and friendship feeling energized. (I’ll be honest, I usually go into a mild coma, and self-medicate with comfort reading or Pinterest, after even just an afternoon of this kind of thing.) But instead I felt heart-full, energized.

Alone in my minivan, out in the darkness, driving along the river, but it didn’t bother me.

I had left goodness behind me, but there was goodness ahead, you can navigate the darkness for a while if you know there’s a home, waiting, at the end of the road.

Instagram photo of Kelley and Tina on the couch was by Idelette

Photo of Kelley & Idelette from earlier this year in Burundi together was taken by Tina Francis.  

In which I get a new tattoo
In which he wouldn't do anything different (neither would I)
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  • HodeningOsmosis40
  • This? It made me weep, sweet Sarah. For what I long for, for all the “packaged church marketing” that is making me nauseated these days, for how real and beautiful God-loving women with potty mouths and laugh lines are all over this globe and I don’t know them but for their words on Internet pages (and how grateful I am, too, for having this at least). Love, love, love these words, as always.

    • The Internet has saved my own life, a time or two, too.

  • I’m so encouraged by this and so glad for you … friends who come along at just the right time and “feel like old friends right from the start.” YAY.

  • Holly

    The ones that pull you and your vulnerable self closer when everyone else would take a step back….those are the ones who really know you. And to be known, in all your beautiful, messy, slippery, questioning, heart-wide-open ways, THAT is to taste of heaven, don’t you think? The pictures and the smiles and the laughter were exactly as I imagined they would be when I heard of your gathering today…knowing, all along, that Jesus was fingering the edges, smoothing out the wrinkles, kissing your foreheads…ahhh, just beauty.

  • Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I, too have felt the Introvert-Sting where weeks can go by in the Church with not a word spoken to me that I did not initiate. It is so hurtful and lonely and, in many ways, has driven my husband and I away from The Church of the Stepford Wife. In our community (we’re in northern AB) it is hard to find a fellowship that values the deep roots of community, creativity, the voice and experience of women. This has given me so much hope to keep trying and keep searching. Thanks for all you’re doing for the sake of His Kingdom and for women like me. Maybe the friends really are just around the corner.

    • Thank you, Nikki – i pray that those friends are waiting for you, too.

  • Darling Sarah – I wish I had met more women like you 20 years ago. Now, at age 49, I am finally finding friendships through my favourite creative outlet – Knitting – that I had longed for all my life. Like you, I found the church-sanctioned acquaintanceships lacking. I felt judged and found wanting, never able to just really be me. Your post made me cry, but also made me happy that you have found true-ness and authenticity with your friends. God bless.

    • Knitting! Woo hoo! Thankful you’ve found your tribe.

  • helen

    Ahhhh…the gorgeous treasure of friendship. I can’t help but think of the words of Anais Nin: “Each friend represents a world in us, a world possibly not born until they arrive, and it is only by this meeting that a new world is born.” You four were meant for each others lives to intersect…so perfect! Can’t wait to see what you will birth together. xo

    • Beautiful quote, Helen, so beautiful! Love that.

  • Beautiful Sarah. I think sometimes in our Christian subculture, it’s easy to expect the church to be the place that close relationships happen. I’ve found real deep friendships often come in unexpected ways. You were the church for each other in the truest way possible. One thing I love about the internet is that it’s possible to run into those people who really are kindred spirits and connect with them across the miles. I love those people in my lives who encourage me to live with passion and who love the real me. I love that you all had a chance to be with each other. I’m sure all of you left that time with more of that fire burning inside you.

    • Yes, love that about the people of God. It’s not about the four walls, it’s about the heart.

  • I echo Cara. Spent this morning in church weeping like a baby while my pastor talked about Ezekiel and dry bones. I’m you, the one sitting on the bench outside of the bookstore and wondering if this kind of loneliness will ever go away. And the tears came when he said, “when things look the darkest, He is doing the greatest work.” His words, along with yours today, they give me hope.

    • We talked about Ezekiel, Shelly! That gave me goosebumps. Amen.

      • Oh my, goosebumps here. Your response felt like a holy moment. My mouth fell open at the reading.

  • Janel

    love love love this. Sarah, not only was I so excited that you had this chance to gather with your dear SheLoves sisters…but also that you could have those moments when your truths were laid bare before each other and you were knit closwer as a group rather then drawn apart. Ahhh the goodness of grace, the beauty of seeing HIM in each other. thank you for sharing. I pray for these friendships that that i will have eyes to see when God provides them in my life.

  • Mary Beth

    Consistently, I read your blogs and hope that, five years from now when I am in the stage of life that you are in, I can be in the place then that you are in now. And I know that exhaustion that builds after an afternoon with friends all too well, and I know how difficult it is to explain that exhaustion to others, so do know that you are not the only one!

    • Thanks for “getting” me, Mary Beth! And I pray for friendship for you, too.

  • This is Introvert Heaven, I think: the place where the social codes and locks and labyrinths that we wrap around our hearts for protection dissolve into a shared commitment to authenticity. Your heart has to be healthy to find it, I think. But the only way to have a healthy heart, is to find it, or at least believe in it… Prayers for all of your readers that we will have healthy hearts, too.

  • well this was beautiful, and it gives me so much hope. ”
    I remembered the seasons of my life when I felt completely crazy, like no one was caring about the things that moved me, like no one was questioning what I was questioning, like no one wanted a friendship that went deeper than “Oh, my God! Your hair is so cute! Let’s talk about potty training techniques!” So I was distrustful of women, suspect of motives, an island of hurt feelings and isolation.” This is pretty much where I’m at, so I’m so hopeful that someday that will change.

    • I didn’t have much hope or faith in that season, to be honest, so you’re already ahead of me.

  • Linda Stoll

    the sister-friends are oh so rare. and when they leave or fade away, the grief is substantial. and we wonder, yet again, if He will be gracious enough to send another on to our path …

  • I love this for you, so so much. What beauty in life-giving, soul-restoring friendships! We need our tribes, we need those people who handle our mess with grace and reverence. I’m so glad you’ve found your people and that you allowed yourself to be found in them.

  • Lovely. Made my heart swell up a bit.

  • Miz melly

    I’m gonna write you a letter. To let you know that however far you’re willing to travel, you have a friend who sees your heart and celebrates!

  • Sarah Silvester

    Oh boy. This just makes my heart ache, I want this so much. And gives me hope, that one day after the seasons of being lonely you eventually find, in the words of Anne of Green Gables, a kindred spirit. So happy for you 🙂

  • A group of friends and I passed this post around today, smiling and wondering if you were spying on us last week and stealing our story 🙂 After connecting via the internet, earlier this month we all converged (Me from Western Canada and the other four scatter across the USA) in Orlando for a week of laughter and communion that had just exactly all the moments you described here. So beautiful to have those moments. So glad you had some too.

  • Enuma

    lovely lovely lovely. Friendship with heart-women. Such gift. you make me want to do this too. And to have been with you all even more than I already desired. Lovely. How much we need one another to dream. Lovely. Lovely. lovely.

    • Someday we’ll add you to the red couch, Enuma, don’t you worry. xo

  • Diana Trautwein

    Perfection. Beautifully told. And this that you’re picturing with your honeyed words? Do you know how rare it is? Oh, that it were not so! Alas, it is so. Please treasure these heart connections – they will carry you far. Far.

  • Mari

    This is beautiful. I want this, too.

  • This was a little bit of what I felt going to the STORY conference last fall and then meeting up with some writing friends at Festival of Faith and Writing. Lots of my own insecurities at first and then lots of moments where I could breath, knowing I’d found my tribe.

  • Erin

    Oh goodness I am so tired of conversations that don’t go deeper hair cuts and potty training. That is full on where I am right now (and I don’t even have kids yet…just in a group full of people who do). I want friends who care about deeper things and talk about important things. And like so many other people said: this give me hope.

  • There’s something so moving about that precious time together, it is holy ground, and it makes God delight just SO MUCH and I can hardly contain it all in one measly comment box. I feel this sense of pain and beauty because of it, longing for it myself, grateful for what I do have. Thank you for shining a light on all those things. And now I feel like I must meet you and these ladies in Burundi someday.

  • stephsday

    I am thankful that I have a handful of good friends here in Tucson. That said, I find it hard to get to that deeper place of conversation and care with them – in part because we always have a group of babies + toddlers running around us, tugging our hands and hearts. 😉

    Curious: Did you meet these women via blogging/writing?

    • Yes, and no. 🙂 Tina & idelette are locals, I met them through my work at Mercy, but then we started to write together at SheLoves and because of kids/life, most of our interaction for a while was all online. Kelley is friends with Idelette, and that is how I met her, but then we began to get together and hang out a bit more, until we finally decided we needed a whole day just for the time together.

  • love. we need friends who get us. it’s all grace.

  • Nancy Rue

    Oh, Sarah, I don’t know you nor you me, but I know two things about you. One is that you are an incredible, authentic writer. As a veteran author in the often heartbreaking, confusing world of Christian publishing, I offer you any help you might need in navigating it. Two, you are an incredible, authentic person. I, too, look for kindred spirits. Out here in the impersonal, virtual world I see one in you. I hope our spirits come together some time.

    Nancy Rue

  • Pingback: My Canadian Girlfriends | Kelley Nikondeha()

  • Loved this post! I came via @megateer who knows I’m always into posts about new friends, old friends, looking for new friends, trying to lose a friend, etc.