Weekend in PA

“You’ve got a friend in me
If you’ve got troubles, I’ve got ’em too
There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you
We stick together and can see it through
Cause you’ve got a friend in me
You’ve got a friend in me”
~Carrie Norbury (oh, and Randy Newman, Toy Story)

Me, Melissa, Carrie (March 2009)

So I have this friend. Her name is Carrie.

We met eight years ago when our husbands were stationed at Fort Bragg, NC. Carrie gave birth to her daughter, “Gracie.” (I still have the baby shower pics!) We lost touch with each other when we moved away. 

A couple years later I heard that her sweet Gracie had been diagnosed with autism. After Rhema was diagnosed, I tried for months to get in touch with Carrie. I finally found her e-mail address… and we have talked via phone and e-mail almost every week for the past three years.

She has always led the way for me. When Gracie was born I watched Carrie blossom into an amazing mother. I took notes; she was the coolest mom I’d ever seen! She has four children now, and she mothers them all with calm and grace. I can call with my frustrations and hear her say, “We did the Poop Art years. I know. I get it. It gets better.” She and her husband Josh are purposeful in teaching their kids how to live, behave and treat others, but other areas they take a mellow, laid back approach. It has been so good for me to learn from them.

For example, Gracie likes to bake. Every day. She’s not particularly interested in eating her creations; she just enjoys the process. I would be concerned over wasted eggs and time, and messes to clean up day after day, but not Carrie. Every day she lets Gracie be who she is, she encourages her and applauds her creativity and imagination. Carrie’s children do well and live life to the full. They are happy and content, genuine and polite – the kind of children you just thoroughly enjoy being around.

She encourages me to take risks with Rhema, to not be afraid of failure. Sometimes she seems to know what Rhema is ready for before I do.  Only Carrie could convince me to pack up the girls and drive to Pennsylvania to visit her family…

A supposed six hour drive turned into a ten hour trip (gotta love traffic in NY), and Rhema did better than I could have imagined, weathering the whole thing with a smile on her face. The weekend was full, wonderful, refreshing – just what we needed. (Hope seriously expected that we were going to get pencils in Pennsylvania). Lots of pool time, Scrabble games, a Starbucks run, an iTouch discovery, good food and fun, a princess (Hope), a knight (Mark), a bad guy (John), and a handsome prince (Ben). The girls and I laughed and loved a lot. Loved being in their state and their space, loved being loved by this dear family.

One of my favorite posts of Carrie’s is Expecting the Unexpected. We’ve both often said we wouldn’t have wished for autism to touch our lives, but we are thankful for the unexpected blessings. Our friendship has been one of those blessings. She is my discerning, protective and faithful friend for the journey. There’s nothing like a friend who will go to God for you. I am blessed beyond measure to have friends that do. In Carrie, I see again God’s extravagant love and marvelous provision.

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