The Overflow! where souls are filled and faith is spilled

What Mud Puddles Can Teach Us About Friendship

 Hi, friends. I’m so glad you’re here.

If you’re stopping by from Proverbs 31, WELCOME! I know there are many places you could be today, and I’m thankful you’ve chosen to spend a few minutes with me. Whether you’re an old friend or a new one, I pray that you’ll be blessed as you linger in this place where faith is spilled and souls are filled.

d9.4 If you like what you find, please take a moment to sign up for your free subscription to The Overflow so you won’t miss a single post, or connect with me on Facebook or Twitter so we can get to know each other better.

 And speaking of getting to know you, I’d love to meet you face to face this year. I’m  scheduling speaking engagements for the 2015-2016 school year, and I’d be delighted to be a part of your next women’s retreat, moms’ group, or holiday event. 

Of course, I can’t promise I’ll comb my hair before we meet, because sometimes bedhead is a sign of true friendship! I’m talking about that over at Encouragement for Today, If you haven’t read my devotion, “When Bedhead is Beautiful,” I hope you’ll hop on over here and discover why good friends don’t need to have it all together to enjoy being together.

But before you go, keep reading for a little more encouragement and for today’s promised give-away.

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   I sat in my mini-van in her driveway and agonized over what I would say when she answered the door.

We had been friends for a while; ever since the day we’d met in the sandbox at the park and helped our toddlers make a “sand cake” together.

We went to the same church and sent our kids to the same school; enjoyed the same books and favored the same kind of coffee.

We laughed often and swapped potty-training tales. We confessed our less-than-perfect mommy moments and shared our first-day-of-school tears.

We shared a comfortable friendship.

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But this visit was different.

I could feel it in the flip-flopping of my stomach.I hadn’t planned to stop, but something my friend had said at the park yesterday kept running through my head like a doleful echo. She’d masqueraded her vulnerability with a roll of her eyes and a flimsy giggle; had blamed her allergies for those tears threatening to zig-zag down her flushed cheeks. But it was evident that she was hurting.

And then that quiet nudge in my spirit had pressed firmly on my heart as I’d driven past her house on my way to the grocery store.

Right on cue, the Bible verse I’d read in my hurried morning devotion had emerged in my mind–

A true friend loves regardless of the situation,
    and a real brother exists to share the tough times.

-Proverbs 17:17, The Voice

And before I knew it, I was turning into the long narrow driveway that led to the two-story-white house with the red door.

But as soon as I shifted into park and sat idling in uncertainty, my heart pounded and the less-courageous me began to think of a thousand reasons to shift into reverse and make my way down the road to the grocery store.

What will I say? I worried

Part of me wanted to catch a glimpse of my friend beyond the curtain, while another part of me hoped desperately that she was gone.

I didn’t have a counseling degree or any personal experience with the struggle to which she’d alluded.

I didn’t have a comforting word or a lifetime of wisdom to share.

I had five kids and an overworked husband, a maxed out life and a sleep-deprived mind. Surely I had nothing to offer.

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lil luke and josh

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I was ready to slowly snake out of the driveway when I remembered a simple conversation I’d had with my six-year-old daughter not long ago…

Hannah had come home from first grade with a bloodstain on her sleeve and a splotch of dried up mud on her backside.

I’d waited for the tale to spill as we sat at the kitchen table munching on after school snacks.

I’d figured my chatterbox would eventually tell me why she looked like a survivor of a playground war. But Hannah just prattled about the book her teacher was reading and the picture she was painting in art class. She described her lunch in detail and talked about the acorns she’d collected during science class.

Finally, I pointed to her shirt sleeve and asked, “What happened today?”

Hannah cocked hear head in confusion and then glanced at her arm and studied the stain like she’d never noticed it before.

She shrugged her shoulders. “Oh, poor Grace had a bloody knee at recess.”

My girl reached for an apple slice and stuffed it in her mouth, then cast me a lopsided smile with a cheek-full of food.

“And what about all the mud on your pants?” I probed.

“W—e—l—-l….” Hannah replied, her smile melting into a sheepish simper.  “Grace cut her knee when she tripped and fell in a puddle.”

I raised my eyebrows and tried to imagine Hannah and her friend in the clumsy scene. “So you helped?”

“Kind-of….” Hannah replied. “I mean, I didn’t have a Band-aid or anything, so….”

“Did you take her to the nurse?” I interrupted, still trying to imagine what had happened.

“No,” Hannah admitted, “I just sat with Grace until the teacher came.”

I stared at my third-born, my mouth gaping open. “You just joined her in the puddle?”

“Yeah..” Hannah said with a tender tone. “‘Cause her leg hurt too bad to walk. And I couldn’t carry her all the way inside. And the recess teacher was trying to fix a fight with the boys on the soccer field….and…the fastest boy in the class said he’d go run for help…..”

Hannah sighed. “I think she just needed a friend to be with her while she waited.”  lizbeth

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When we have nothing to give, we can give ourselves.

When we can’t fix the problem, we can offer our presence.

When we can’t heal a hurt, we can hold a hand.

When we can’t find the words, we can render our with-ness.

Sometimes more than Bandaids or Bible verses, more than a rescue or a repair, our struggling friends just need someone who’s willing to sit with them in the muck. 

To offer our with-ness in the wait…

Like Ruth staying with Naomi while she trudged through grief.

Or Jonathan meeting with David when his life was falling apart.

Like Luke sticking with Paul when he was imprisoned and persecuted.

Or like Jesus coming to be with us when we were wounded and lost….

Emily P. Freeman reminds us of this simple truth in her beautiful new book, Simply Tuesday...

“The truth is, people need our with-ness. They don’t need for us to impress them with how spiritual we are.

They need to know they aren’t alone. People need us to embrace a relational smallness,

accepting we are not the star, the counselor, the convincer, of the fixer.

Instead, we are a companion, willing to keep company with the soul of another.”

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It had seemed to make perfect sense when my first-grader retold her tale— how the gift of just being with a hurting friend might be the greatest gift of all.

But as I sat there in the driveway, I wondered if it made sense for me.

If I knocked on the door I might mess it all up.

Say the wrong things.

Embarrass us both.

Wreck a comfortable friendship.

 Conflicted, I rested my head in my hands and talked to God in prayer.

And when I opened my eyes with a muffled Amen, I noticed a dried up splatter of chocolate milk stretching right across the knee of my favorite pair of jeans.

I knew that dingy splatter was just a battle scar from our morning breakfast chaos, but for some reason, in that quiet moment in the driveway, the unsightly brown blotch bore an uncanny resemblance to a chocolate brown mud puddle.

And with a giggle, I took a cue from a first grader who understands friendship a little better than her mama, and I finally surrendered to God’s not-so-gentle nudge.

Then I slipped out of the van and headed to my friend’s front door with nothing to offer but my stain-splattered self and my humble gift of with-ness.

*******************************************************************************************************************************************************************************Today I’m giving away thiframes beautiful silver frame in celebration of friendship.

I hope you’ll use it to display a favorite memory you’ve captured with a friend.

Of course, if you don’t have a picture yet,  maybe this frame will motivate you to plan a moment with one of your favorite friends and snap a picture while you’re together.

Remember, combing your hair is optional, but smiling is not!

To enter for your chance to win this gift, just tell me what you most enjoy doing with your friends when you are just being together.

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39 thoughts on “What Mud Puddles Can Teach Us About Friendship

  1. Sarah S

    I most enjoy just sitting and talking about real life and being able to talk about anything without any judgement! Love my bestie!

    September 4, 2015 at 5:23 am
  2. Pam

    My bestimate friend lives in Florida and I in South Carolina. We don’t get to see each other often but when we do it is wonderful to just be able to sit and talk about anything and everything. She is the best friend I’ve ever had and I miss the days when she lived here close by. When we could visit each other whenever we wanted to. And be able to get those best friend hugs!

    September 4, 2015 at 9:23 am
  3. Marcy

    My best friend and I have been friends for 38 years…..isn’t that crazy???? We met at college when we were put together as roommates…God knew what He was doing…..our lives have taken very different paths but the constant is our relationship. In the past 5 years we have taken 2 “girls” trips. Once to Florida to just rest and relax on the beach….and then most recently I flew to Texas where she lives and we drove to San Antonio for 2 days and then went to a Bed and Breakfast for 2 days….and boy did we laugh and shop! She is the one person I can totally be myself with…it’s such a blessing!

    September 4, 2015 at 9:35 am
    1. We’ve arirevd at the end of the line and I have what I need!

      July 19, 2016 at 1:45 am
    2. felix:¡Qué risas! Si se crea un NPC Sex habría que crear otros tantos. NPC extrafriki (ya de por sí la página lo es), NPC Ocio o imaginad..Ronald, con aire de más se vuelve más joven, por lo menos 40 años más joven! 😀

      February 28, 2017 at 1:46 pm
    3. bravo. Not a boring story at all. And I totally agree with Susan- what a cool thing for you to do, pumping and donating. I have to admit that after breastfeeding for the past 9 months I have a TOTALLY different view of boobs in general. It's so natural here in Luanda- when I was in the states I really had to censor myself. I guess I still don't understand why it makes people squeamish. In any event, great post.

      February 28, 2017 at 3:18 pm
  4. Melanie Bradberry

    I love the silliness and laughter of being kids again, the honest sharing of life’s bumps and bruises and the tears that sometimes come with those, the love of each other’s being-thereness!

    September 4, 2015 at 9:48 am
  5. Joan Nissen

    My best friend and I have been best friend’s since high school, some 37 years! For all of that time, through a million discussions about everything, we mostly enjoy laughing. When we are together, we laugh til the tears are coming out of our eyes, and our stomachs hurt. JOY!!!!

    September 4, 2015 at 9:53 am
  6. connie

    I love just sharing a hot cup of tea and having a gab session with an old (or new) friend

    September 4, 2015 at 10:00 am
  7. Jacci

    With my true friends, the best gift is the truth. The truth about me, truth about her, reminders of God’s Truth, all regardless of what’s going on around us. Truth without strings or judgment or “stuff”. Just love right where we’re at, wherever that is. Authentic friendship is such a gift!

    September 4, 2015 at 10:08 am
  8. Wow! Your writing style captivates me! And, as for me and my friends, we do porch time. We joke around about how for the first 20 minutes after school, we just ignore our children and build each other up! 😉 But, in reality, we have prayed, been honest about struggles, got excited about babies to be born, laughed at the crazy antics we have done, even learned how to use power tools…right there on my crickety, warping front porch. God is good.

    September 4, 2015 at 10:56 am
  9. Jennifer F

    As a single mom with four busy boys (two older teens, and 2 littles that I adopted), making time for friends is always hard. I have struggled a great deal with having people over because my house is always a mess and I don’t want them to see that. But over the last year or so I have finally started listening when friends have said “I don’t care what the house looks like, I just want to see you! ” or “it’s supposed to be messy! It’s lived in!”. So I have started trying to make more time for friends without worrying about trivial things, and it has been such a blessing to me! My favorite thing to do? Just sitting and talking and LAUGHING! Such an important thing that sometimes in the busy day of working and motherhood I forget to do!

    September 4, 2015 at 10:58 am
  10. Lora Leftwich

    I just returned from an overnight with my dear friend and her precious family. You see, tragedy struck our family last week and my friend called and simply said come, we want to walk you through this and that is exactly what they did. They gave my family lodging, hot mugs of morning coffee, a steamy breakfast casserole they had prepared for us the night before followed by a delicious lunch to nourish us throughout the day. Their kids planned morning activities for mine to ease the pain of loss as we all prepared to say our final goodbyes to our loved one. They spent the afternoon standing by us through the visitation and funeral. After we said our goodbyes, they called later that evening as we drove back to the South Carolina to check on us. Never once did they ask or require anything of us in return. They were simply with us during these tough moments, by our sides, holding us up. This is what we do as friends, we hold each other up.

    September 4, 2015 at 11:27 am
  11. Loriann

    I have had many friends in my life, but there is one who always stands out when I hear the word friend. Believe me, our friendship has survived some messy. We shared many joys, such as the births of our 4 children (being the “first responders” for these events), day trips to parks, zoos and malls. We have also supported one another through many sleepless nights, waiting to hear from our policemen husbands who were called out from the safety of our homes to serve and protect. Sadly, I even stood beside this friend through the darkest days a momma can have when her 22 year old son died suddenly. My friend has never fully shared my faith, but when she is struggling, she always knows who to call, not because I have all the answers or even know the right words to say but because she knows I will stop and sit with her until the storm passes. And we have even learned to dance in the rain a bit along the way.

    September 4, 2015 at 12:03 pm
  12. Sandra

    I just enjoy being with my best friend of over 20 years. We met in college and have remained friends despite numerous moves over different continents and time zones. I love sharing life with her, and do not need to worry that she will judge me in my messiness and disorganization.

    September 4, 2015 at 12:07 pm
  13. Debbie Schreiner

    Love how we just pick up where we left off reguardless of how long it’s been since we were together….truly connected.

    September 4, 2015 at 12:21 pm
  14. Jennifer

    Honestly, just talking and catching up! A nice meal is always great too 🙂

    September 4, 2015 at 12:28 pm
  15. Dede

    My bestie lives in California and I live in Oregon so we don’t get to see each other much. But we love to just sit and visit with no judgement. We just recently reconnected after not talking for nearly 14 years! It was like we had never missed a beat! It was definitely God that reconnected us! We are truly connected.

    September 4, 2015 at 1:39 pm
  16. Paola

    It’s all laughs… We are so silly!
    I love that my belly hurts so much after so much laughing. It’s a great medicine. 🙂

    September 4, 2015 at 2:54 pm
  17. Angela

    My best friend is my husband. He’s fun and funny! He has a wonderful heart and loves me the same … no matter if I’m all dressed up … or bedhead & t-shirt. We haven’t always enjoyed a wonderful relationship … but my husband has taught me to be committed (even if I didn’t want to) and ask for help (Christian counselor) and make “deposits” not “withdrawals” for each other. The effort has proven God’s richest blessings for us … and our children. (And wearing a sexy lingerie once in a while helps, too!) Keep smiling!

    September 4, 2015 at 3:25 pm
  18. Alli

    Some of my funniest moments w my BFF are when we just do normal stuff together with our families! She is a true friend!

    September 4, 2015 at 3:39 pm
  19. Laura

    I enjoy just hanging out with a cup of coffee and talking about every day battles and life with my friends! It does a world of good to know my friends are there for me to listen to me and pray for me, and vice versa.

    September 4, 2015 at 4:09 pm
  20. angie steffen

    I love how I can just let go. i have BEST BELLY HURT from laughing. one of my great friends, stopped by like in your blog, her son and my daughter date, but that was a very hard week. when I saw her kids I could not look at them without crying. they went home and told their mom I did not mess around with them, in which I always would give them a really hard time, I love her kids. so one evening, I was doing laundry, my daughter came down and said tracy is here. I knew why she was, and any excuse I gave or my daughter gave she did not believe. tracy gave me a hug, and asked if she did something wrong, I said no. she asked why my twins where not in school, she said don’t use the sick! lol
    well I asked her to have her kids leave because I could not tell them this life changing thing. she said ok they are gone, tell me.
    with my husband and one of my twins by my side to help me get through this I told her:
    I told her my daughter (her son’s girlfriend) took an overdose and tried to kill her self 8 days ago, do to being bullied.
    she got mad, but I told her, I was protecting my daughter and how do you tell someone this life changing information. I told her what happened, and where she was. she held me and cried, I am very thankful she took the bold move to see what was going on. it helped me, and I found out I had a great Christian friend that I can talk to, and who would be there for me in a drop of a hat. and she knows I am here and there for her.
    I kn ow this is long, thank you so much

    September 4, 2015 at 5:16 pm
  21. Andrea

    My sister shared your website with me because she knows your stories I would find encouraging. I have four kids and expecting another. Getting together with friends doesn’t happen often. My dad would say sisters can’t be friends. But that never stopped us.
    My husband works late in the evenings, so my sisters sometimes bring the party to my place. They bring pizza & ice cream. We usually plan to watch a movie if we get around to it. It’s just fun being together. Every visit begins and ends with a hug.

    September 4, 2015 at 7:12 pm
    1. This is stunning, Bev:O) Love the soft greens, and all the added glitter looks amazing! Beautiful design, and your colouring is ous!natdingtHugs, Nancy;O)

      July 19, 2016 at 2:49 am
  22. Steph Vander Molen

    Hey Friend! The years fly by so quickly! I think it was 1995. Is that 20 years of friendship??? It has been a joy to do life with you!

    September 4, 2015 at 8:39 pm
  23. andrea

    I enjoyed this story, I am in my mid 40’s, could you please pray that I would find a friend/mentor like this? Thank you! God bless!

    September 5, 2015 at 2:36 am
    1. Is Foqsauurre the next big place to advertise? I’ve heard some noise about it myself, and a post from Small Business Search Marketing also asks the questions. There are some coupons going around for those who are mayors of Starbucks, but surely ad space will be for sale soon – will it be PPC based?

      July 18, 2016 at 11:19 pm
  24. Jen L.

    My two besties and I love to drink coffee with flavored creamer together and eat chocolate or some other “mommy treat” as we call it. We usually have a million interruptions w/ all of our kiddos there, but we still come away refreshed. And once in a while we get to go on scrapbooking retreats w/out the kids! 🙂

    September 5, 2015 at 4:28 am
  25. Lori

    I most enjoy just talking honestly and laughing. What we’re doing or where we are doesn’t matter so much as who I’m with, but going out for dessert or dinner where we can talk without interruptions is wonderful.

    September 5, 2015 at 1:21 pm
  26. Tammy Bruner

    I have 2 Besties…who are very different until it comes to love. They both love with their whole being, and they’re both “Jesus Girls”. We call ourselves TFC- Three Fold Cord. We lead a women’s life group together and our favorite times are spent at the weekend retreat during the life group at a remote little camp, sitting crosslegged in our PJ’s on a bed, knees touching, talking about the exciting way God is moving! We’ve walked thru many surgeries together, of our bodies and of our hearts, having things that cause us pain cut away. We laugh, we cry, we talk, and we’re silent. When we’re together, somehow the world fades away and it’s just us three.

    September 5, 2015 at 3:06 pm
  27. Vicky

    Just being together, joyful or broken, is the best. At this time in our lives we have lots of both and the best times are when we laugh together, or we sit and help each other cry. Words are not the most important thing. Just “being” is.

    September 5, 2015 at 12:30 pm
  28. Halona Luna

    We just love setting watching movies together, sitting back laughing together.

    September 5, 2015 at 10:24 pm
  29. It’s the best offering of all…our stain-splattered selves.

    ps Thank goodness combing my hair is optional.

    Smiles, girl.

    September 6, 2015 at 3:08 am
  30. Maggie Greene

    I am blessed to have two friends who make us one happy trio. We are amazed often about how long our friendship has been, how we seem to mesh in all situations, (even with different understandings)’ and how, even though I am a “Yankee transplant”, we share our histories as if we were from the same womb. I see that womb as the God in me and the God in each of them that brought us all together. We have shared mishaps and mayhem, children and grandchildren, heartaches and blessings, laughter and tears. I don’t even try to imagine my life without them. These are friends, not for a season, but rather for God’s reason. I believe from the pit of my being, the Lord put us together for Him glory and each other.

    September 6, 2015 at 12:03 pm
  31. I love to sit and sip on a cup of tea with my bf…and just listen to her chatter on. You see, I’m a good listener, and not so good at talking – although I’m learning the art of communication slowly but surely by listening. Learning with a bf is full of grace and I’d kind of like to think God uses them to teach us and sharpen us in our weak areas. 🙂 I love my bf and thank God for her presence in my life. I am blessed.

    September 7, 2015 at 3:33 am
  32. In my house, we love to eat together and play board games. Great ways to just BE together.

    September 7, 2015 at 5:15 am
  33. Oh my how I love this post and your daughter just sitting there with her friend – how precious! Two close friends and I try to get together once a month although it doesn’t always happen. Oh, we see each other for a quick hug at church or through a phone call or even text but the face to face is just SO needed. We talk and laugh, often pray, and always a hug. Sharing hearts and homes we are what one of them calls it, “friends until the end”, there through good and bad, sweet and sour, grief and joy. They are a true gift to me.

    September 12, 2015 at 11:39 pm

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