the door is always open

July 11th, 2017 | Posted by

“I no longer call you servants . . . instead, I have called you friends.” John 15:15 NIV

 

Tolkien and Lewis. David and Jonathan. Piglet and Pooh. What do these all have in common? Friendship of the most unique variety. The kind of friend that can say, “Oh, you too? I thought I was the only one.”

 

Greg and I came back from our honeymoon to a big, mission-style house on Ninth Street in downtown Riverside. This was 40 years ago when you could rent a huge house in a sketchy neighborhood for less than what a nice dinner would cost you nowadays. I liked that old house with its high ceilings, painted wood floors, and enormous screened-in back porch. I can still see the late afternoon sun, filtering like gold through thin sheers that hung at the living room windows. It was a good beginning for our life together.

 

But those early months of marriage were also marked by a loneliness. To quote A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh, “A day without a friend is like a pot without a single drop of honey left inside.”  I had Greg’s heart all to myself—but I missed girlfriends. There was a great team of guys our age working at the church, but most of them weren’t married. With only one car, I was mostly alone during the day. I could spend hours cooking, cleaning, and rearranging furniture . . . and still have time left. Time when the only sound in that big old house was my own footsteps.

 

I grew up in a big family. Five children, four of us were girls. We moved many times and I learned to adjust to life in different countries. New neighborhoods. New schools. And me, the new kid. But I was never alone. My sisters were there. Looking back, I’m grateful I never had a room of my own. I learned to make room in my life, in my spaces, in my heart—at times, even my bed—for my sisters. And I loved it. Maybe that’s why I’ve always wanted close friends. I first had sisters for friends. To this day we still like the same things . . . British television shows, old movies, good books.

 

Thank God, I wasn’t lonely for long. I made a first friend in Riverside. Robin had a huge smile, sparkly blue eyes and an easy laugh. Her Elijah and my Christopher were born ten days apart. She lived within walking distance of our house. We were both as poor as church mice, and we became good friends while folding sheets, bath towels and diapers on weekly trips to the laundromat. “Hey, can I come over? Let’s walk to Dairy Queen with the boys and get an ice cream cone.”

Her home was small, but I was always welcome. She didn’t fuss about jelly on the counter or bread crumbs under the table, or toys scattered across the green shag carpet. Sometimes the smallest gestures can take up the most room in your heart. Her door was always open to me.

 

Then there was Karen, Karen, Kate, and Leah. I didn’t find them, they found me. They wanted to know their young (and clueless) pastor’s wife. These friends became the nucleus, my inner circle who helped me to start this beautiful women’s ministry.

Together, we prayed hard and worked hard. They came early and stayed late. We rolled up our sleeves, kicked off shoes, set up and tore down folding tables for meetings. We decorated with whatever we had that fit the theme (no budget for things like photo walls and centerpieces). We just loaded up our cars with our own furniture and decorations from home.

We were the graphic designers, the set-up crew, the platform people, the tear-down team, the speakers. And when I was too terrified to speak, Leah and Karen would even sit beside me on the couch, onstage. They cheered me on, told me I did great, even when I didn’t think so. Their lives were open to me. We loved all the hats we wore! We loved each other and we welcomed more and more into our circle.

 

Now there is Shelley, Marilyn, and Sue. These are the friends who stood beside me as I grieved and cried over my Christopher’s death. They listened and prayed and let me pour out my heart in sobs. And when I couldn’t laugh, or even smile, for what seemed like the longest season of my life, they were there. Waiting patiently by my side, often with a pretty handkerchief when I needed one. I never seem to have one when I need it most, but they did.

Every day spent with them, whatever we are doing, is a new favorite day. A best-day-ever kind of day. Their hearts and souls are open to me.

 

Reflecting on these and others who have entered my life and soul, I am grateful for this incredible gift of friendship. As I write this, I’m sitting in a cottage surrounded by lush hills above our satellite church, Harvest Kumulani, in Kapalua. Rain is coming down in sheets, blowing the huge pines, scattering leaves and cushions across the patio.

I won’t be going for my early morning walk among fragrant guava trees and wild liliko’i vines. Instead, I am savoring the fragrance of friendship. It’s a good time to write. Beside me, a tall iced glass of coconut water to sip as I tap away on my laptop. By myself in this quiet place, but I am not alone. Suddenly the power goes out . . . here in the cottage and in all of Kapalua and Napili, so I call a friend.

Me: “Hi Linda! Hey, can I come over? The power went out and I need to work on my computer.”

Linda: “I’m in town, shopping for a new washer and Ricky is still surfing, but you’re welcome to come over. The door is always open, so make yourself at home.”

 

Ricky and Linda Ryan have been close friends for almost a lifetime. We’ve never lived next door—or even in the same town—but people aren’t friends because they’re close in distance. People are friends because they’re close in heart.

“Is it okay if I use your wifi?”

“Sure, here’s the password.”

“Would it be okay to use your shower too?”

“Of course! You’ll find clean towels in the bathroom.”

“How about a hairdryer?”

“Well it’s yours if you can find it. Stay as long as you like. By the way, help yourself to the sliced watermelon in the fridge.”

 

Friends. What would we do without them in life?

When the rain comes down….when the power goes out….

I hope there’s a door unlocked and left open for you.

I hope there’s a heart that will carry your deepest hurts.

I hope there are hands to help and cheer you on.

I hope there’s a place at the table, nevermind the sticky jelly at your elbow.

 

And when there are no words, I hope you know someone is praying. You are never really alone. For what is friendship, if not a taste of the loving bond we have with our God and Savior? For He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 




29 Comments

  1. Rosie Flores says:

    Dear Cathie, Thank you for sharing this article which deeply speaks to my heart. Coming from a family of seven
    it was difficult to transition from the life I had before marriage to the life after marriage 34 years ago . I can identify with the loneliness you wrote about. Loneliness sometimes still exists in my life but I’m thankful I can go to the word of God, pray, and be encouraged. I’m thankful for V2 Learning groups, however terrified I was of it initially. With God’s help, I’m looking forward to becoming all that God had planned me to be and in all of that my heart’s desire is that I can be a good friend to others with all my faults and failures. A few days ago I purchased a wall hanging that says:

    You are the kind of friend who would overlook my broken gate to admire the flowers in my window.

  2. Adri says:

    Oh Kathe,
    Thank you for this, I always enjoy your posts. thank you for the encouragement you have given me today. Love, Adri

  3. Terri says:

    Dearest Cathe,
    You are the easiest person to befriend. I am blessed to include you as friend in my life. Your encouragement is always appreciated. Can’t wait to see you soon…

  4. Kelly says:

    This is a beautiful article! It is encouraging. I found you because we (my family) is going through your husband’s series “Tell Someone” and I decided to explore his website. I’m excited to come back to your page. I love the quote from Rosie. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  5. Patti says:

    Friendship has always meant so much to me. I was a catholic in my younger years and turned to Christian life after my husband left me and the catholic church didn’t treat me well. 21 years later, I remarried and moved to PA. In my new state and my new Christian life, I started looking for a church. I found what I thought was the “one”. In the past 19 month I have went to service almost every Sunday, I went to two sessions of women’s bible study. Needless to say I was very disappointed. The Lord and his word brought me to tears daily. I longed for acceptance from this church but did not. They were very nice in a church way but I didn’t receive any kind of real friendship. I knew no one in this area but was never included or invited to the local events. It was very disheartening. I won’t let the “people” turn me away from the church as I did in the past. But I really pray for friendship like the kind you have found. Thank you for all your words

  6. Rosie Flores says:

    Dear Kelly,
    In response to your post of July 16, 2017 at 7:14 pm,
    I found my wall hanging at Tustin Assistant League.
    Have a beautiful day Kelly! I don’t know who you are
    But God does, and he smiles warmly.❤️

  7. Linda Thesier says:

    Cathie,

    I so appreciate your writings, so beautiful & pictures. Thank you.
    Love In Christ.

  8. Lisa Borrell says:

    Beautiful, as always Cathe, God bless you and your family for everything you do…….

  9. Tawnia Welch says:

    I wanted to like this on Facebook so I could easily share it with friends. I am not as eloquent or able to put my feelings into words, so was going to share yours. I was unable to, which is probably why you only have 3 likes. Technical issues. The enemy at work trying to tear you down. Thanks for keeping it real, and know that you are a blessing.

  10. Sandra Martinez says:

    By far, the best I’ve read from you. Thanks Mrs. Laurie!! I loved this!!

  11. Wendy says:

    I so enjoyed reading this today! Thank you so much for sharing!

    May God bless & keep you!

    Smiles,
    Wendy

  12. LInda Thomson says:

    Thank you for sharing. I will miss you as we (my husband Kim and I) move up to the Central Coast. We have been a part of Harvest for over 30 years! “My friends have made the story of my life. In a thousand ways they have turned my limitations into beautiful privileges…” by Helen Keller. Harvest has been the story our lives. In a thousand ways they’ve turned our limitations into beautiful privileges! Oh the beauty of a Christian walk growing and flourishing under great teaching for our congregation and our women! What a joy to have served in the children’s ministry, women’s/men’s ministry, prayer ministry and at the crusades! How grateful we are for you and Pastor Greg. Thank you Cathe for showing what godly friendship looks like over all these years. Sweet blessings!

  13. Kelly says:

    Thank you for this post. What a great reminder of the blessing of friendships. I’m usually the one in the corner with a book and tend to be on the shy, goofy side, but feel the Lord calling me out of that quiet, solitary comfort zone lately. Praying for courage and confidence in group situations and praying that God would send some godly women into my life that share a love for the Lord and have an excitement for his Word. I really need to spend more time in prayer on this – thank you for bringing it to mind today.

  14. Sommer Tolley says:

    Thank you for these beautiful words.

  15. Sheryl says:

    Beautiful insight into your heart. I love this.
    Thank you.

  16. Donna says:

    Cathe,

    Thank you so much for sharing and encouraging me to reach out to my girlfriends… I am desperate for girlfriends these days. I relocated back to Phoenix 3 years ago, after being in SoCal for 9 years. I left all my girlfriends, and am still so lonely here. Thank you for the reminder that ‘people are friends because they are close in heart’. My ‘besties’ are just a phone call/text away… And Rosie, I love the quote on your new decor! Thank you all for sharing. God Bless you!

  17. Brianna De Casas says:

    My fiancé and I will be getting married this Saturday and to read this three days before the wedding was much needed. Finding friendships like yours is a blessing from God. I pray that He bring many friendships and sisters in Christ not only in my life but the other ladies that need friends. I pray this Sunday that the Riverside location becomes our new home church and that the Lord may use me and my fiancé there.
    Thank you so much for this article and God bless you Cathe.

  18. Debbie Zamora says:

    Hi Cathe, it is always good to hear from you. Thank you for sharing about your sisters. I have two sisters, one is in heaven and my other sister I love her so much. She is my friend we talk a lot; when I feel down her encouraging words mean so much to me. She says keep your head up, don’t let anyone get you down. She always spoils me and make the best food My Sissy! I have a co-worker that is my friend and is a believer. She teleworks so we are not in the same office or same state, but her encouraging words mean a lot. Thank you so much this means a lot to me. My Jesus and His awesome words. Hebrews 13:5… that is beautiful!

    Thank you, hugs to you! Have a good day and good weekend! Talk to you soon. :0)

    “People aren’t friends because they’re close in distance. People are friends because they’re close in heart.” Ah…this is beautiful! Thought about my friend who teleworks…

    Debbie.

  19. Robbyn Tucker says:

    Hi Cathe, Thank you so much for your inspiring words today. I appreciate you sharing yourself and your life. Even though I don’t know you personally, I feel like I do. I love the women’s ministry at Harvest OC, it is refreshing and new to me. With all the great guests and ladies there, I am learning to trust again and to understand that no matter what I have a father who loves me very much. I am looking forward to every event coming as well as participating in V2 this year. Thank you for all that you do and for the beautiful ministry you have created for women of God. May God bless you always. ❤❤

  20. sheryll says:

    I love reading this article. This is a glimpse into your tender heart, and your wisdom on how we should care for one another and be there rain or shine. We need to have friends who love like our Father loves. Friends who help turn the rain into sunshine. Your love for women and women’s ministry is wonderful.
    Thank you and love you

  21. April Stinson says:

    ❤️❤️❤️ From one pastor’s wife to another

  22. Karen Brandtman says:

    Cathe, I love reading what you write. It is music to the ears. Your descriptions you use and emotions that you express is truly beautiful. God Bless you.

  23. Ramona says:

    Dear Catherine,
    It is 11:20 p.m.
    Can’t sleep so going through my reading and always a delight seeing your post. I had to leave you a comment,I never ever do this, I just love reading your post and hear what is going on at Harvest. But this really hit home,especially tonight as I reflect on some issues going on personally in my life at this moment. I truly do my best to leave it at cross and I know God has got this, but your story on friendship does hit home tonight. While I sit in my dark room, thinking praying, and really trying not to have a pity party of one, my phone goes off, one text 2 text, after 5 to 6 texts. They’re my friends,thanking me for a awesome weekend, and thanking me for invite. But it was God’s invite. The encouragement and beautiful words touched me like your story touched me. Friendship is a gift of God. Thank you for sharing your story. God Bless, and thank you Lord for the reminder that we are never alone in time of need. God bless you.

  24. Elizabeth says:

    beautiful and encouraging, sweet and precious as ever … thank you for sharing

  25. Kelly Duncan says:

    I am someone my friends call Doug the Dog from the movie “Up” “squirrel”. That’s me. I am easily distracted and not held easily by anything both movie or book…but Cathe…that was the most beautiful, heartfelt peep into your life!! It moved me so much. You wrote that soooooo well. I think you might want to try your hand at book writing. Very eloquent. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Rosie Flores says:

    I agree with Kelly Duncan’s post of August 2, 2017 at 1:55 pm
    word for word. Wishing Cathie/Everyone a HAPPY FRIENDSHIP DAY!❤️ (Today August 6th).

  27. Tiffany says:

    I am not sure how I am just reading this but it’s beautiful Cathe. Love you.

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