#1,765 Real Friends.

I was sitting at my desk in the middle of typing a sentence to one of my brides when I got a text from Lisa. It said:

I knew it was for me. Her loving husband calls me Pretend Friend, because we’ve never actually met in person. And I was disoriented at the sight of our church in her message. I did not understand. And then I understood. And I called her, frantically. And she told me she and her family were in the pumpkin patch. They had made a surprise detour on their way home to Indiana from the beach.

And y’all. My heart exploded.

Here’s the thing—we’ve been friends now for almost 2 years. We write, we call, we text—almost daily, certainly weekly. She’s my greatest faith mentor—always swooping in at the moment I’m worried the most with a message straight from the heart of my Father. She’s been a comfort to me in ways she can’t imagine, a few years older than me, a few steps ahead of me in the life journey—shining the light for me to see that it’s wonderful up ahead. I’ve always felt like she’s maybe this cousin who just lives far away so we never get to see each other. I always figured we would talk like this forever, and maybe by the time one of her beautiful daughters gets married I’ll make that trip up and meet them all in person once and for all. But that still doesn’t feel real, does it?

And all of a sudden, it was real. Lisa was here! She could throw a rock and hit my shop! I hung up and raced down the stairs. I left everything. The email, my purse, the unlocked door. I just ran. I bumped straight into the mayor as I rounded corner from Oak Street to 5th Avenue, and I laughed at the fact that he had no idea where I was going or why I was nearly in tears with a huge smile on my face. I found she and her 4 precious children and Doug there, in our pumpkin patch. They had tiny pumpkins in their hands—souvenirs from their trip through Mississippi. We ran to each other with hugs. She introduced me to everybody, even though I knew them long before they knew me.

We walked around the neighborhood, to my house for the kids to meet our dogs. Meg, the littlest one, held my hand everywhere we walked and I felt like “Well, I must have done something right.” Ben finally arrived and gave everyone their first-ever round of peach Nehis. We played with the dogs, we walked over to the museum to see the world’s (second) smallest handmade basket. We stepped inside the pretty episcopal chapel, which Meg felt sure she’d seen in the movie Frozen. Soon, they had to get back on the road, and we were no longer pretend friends.

There was nothing awkward about finally meeting Lisa. Like I said, it seemed like we’ve known each other forever. And now, we’ve got to plan our trip north to visit them in Hoosier land.

Today was the best surprise ever.