Mary is an amazing friend to me. We have shared many experiences over the 35 years of our friendship. We have done weddings, funerals, dog funerals, kids, grandkids and road trips together. She has “been there” for me in so many ways over the years. Mary and Randy are the kind of friends you call when you realize you are in labor with your daughter…they eagerly kept Justin while we were at the hospital giving birth to Jill, as we all awaited the grandparents to arrive.
When my daughter, Jill, and Mary’s daughter, Missy, were young, we hosted an annual Mother-Daughter Easter brunch together for years -- complete with live bunnies of course. We have prayed for our kids through multitudes of “growing up” issues – growing up for both our kids and for us! We have taken trips together, including: kids catching their first fish; kids throwing up in the car on the winding road; playing games; snowmobile riding and crashes; and go cart riding and wrecks. We have done kids’ surgeries together and “supper clubbed” together for 20 years. Mary and Missy drove 800 miles to Des Moines, Iowa after we first moved here in 2000, and Mary and I painted our den until 2 am one evening putting on a more decorative and “just us” touch to our new home.
We learned how to love, support and encourage our husbands together. Roger and Randy were actually friends before Mary and I were – first meeting each other at Boys State in high school, then both majoring in accounting at Texas Tech together and starting their first career jobs with Peat Marwick together in Amarillo, TX.
Whoa – a lot of history – memories of fun, growth, challenges, tears of sorrow and precious moments of joy together as well.
What you might ask is next for this friendship? We leave on Sunday for Bulgaria – Mary traveling from Amarillo and me traveling from Des Moines. Mary has a heart bigger than the size of Texas and has a passion to love and support orphans around the world and to advocate for their adoptions. You can check out Mary’s latest blog post here: caringforthefatherless.wordpress.com
I am thrilled to be going along with Mary on this journey. She is courageous and lives out so many principles that I deeply believe in -- principles of faith, vulnerability, authenticity and resilience. There is no telling what adventures we will encounter. I think all of our adult children are a bit nervous about the two of us traveling together!
This past January, Jill, our daughter, and her boyfriend Brent had the privilege of traveling with Mary to Bulgaria. They are developing a documentary project about orphan care and wanted to learn more. They both felt it was a powerful experience and were in awe of the beauty of Bulgaria.
Traveling to Bulgaria will provide a richness and a depth of understanding and “seeing” of the magnitude of needs which have stirred Mary’s heart and passion. “Love is a verb” is the heart of both of our journeys in life – both independently and collaboratively together. I often quote one of Mary’s mantras – “Love the one in front of you.” Isn’t that beautiful? What if each of us did just that every day?
And then there are new friends – as Roger and I were hiking in North Carolina over the holidays recently, we met Zdravko. He shared with us his love of his native Bulgaria and pieces of his story. What a delight to meet a fellow traveler along the road!
One of the privileges for me of going along this trip is to take pictures of the beautiful country and people of Bulgaria. Hopefully, the images will be an inspiration and encouragement for many.
We have this art piece of open hands in our home. To me, it is a symbol of “holding open”– representing having an open heart to what is next. It’s trusting that what is ahead is worth trusting. It’s holding open that an expansive dream can perhaps occur, without the limitations resulting from my desires to control.
A frontier represents uncharted territory. It could be a remote piece of land or a new field of study, but if someone calls it "the frontier," you are challenged to explore it. The challenge and opportunity of exploring alongside Mary is a frontier to me. A beautiful opening, a space of collaboration, a mystery, an awe of what might be discovered beyond the threshold, as demonstrated in this beautful artwork of my dear friend Nawal Ghali.