another gift for counting

The first time it happened, I was shocked speechless. I handled the gift my new online friend had given me with a mixture of awe and terror. It was a priceless gift, one to be treasured and cared for carefully. She had given me her trust. "I don't know why I'm telling you this. Somehow, I feel as if I can trust you." I was stunned, speechless. Why? Why would this dear friend, one I haven't ever met in person trust me, a faceless name on the computer screen?

Oddly enough, a very short time later, another online friend emptied her heart, spilled her emotions. She too didn't know why but felt safe sharing with me what she couldn't entrust to others. Me, yet another faceless name who chatted via email amid children and life. God? God? What is this? These women. Their hearts? Their fears and dreams? God. This is big. Really big. Am I old enough for this? Are you sure I'm going to do this right?

Completely unexpected here they came. Friends. Friends I've never met personally and those I have. Women from different locations, cultures, and ages all sharing our hearts. We only opened the door a little at first, but with time the doors have been opened and hooked back to keep the wind from banging them shut. They don't know it; I haven't told them yet, but God sent them to me. You see, He was just starting to teach me about being instead of doing. The lessons on real had only begun. He knew that being real is learned from someone else. It can't be taught. So, to make me real He gave me real. Real friends.

Just two at first then another and another and then, still another. Friends. Real, live, heart-to-heart spill your guts friends. It still counts, even when you haven't met face to face. Doesn't it? So here I sit, still in awe that God has done what seemed undoable, (is that a word?) God brought friends clear out here in the country to a busy mama. Honest to goodness, laugh at the kids, cry your eyes out, pray your voice gone with friends. We don't live next door, not even close. Some of my friends aren't even in the same state. One is a world traveler. She takes me - via email - to grand European cathedrals and on walks in Korea. God brings the warmth of friendship through the internet right into the home of a cattle rancher's wife.

To someone surrounded by people, neighbors, and friends too many to count, my wonder may seem strange. Yet to me, this is gift, rare and precious to be treasured. Thank You God for another gift on the way to 1,000 - friends strong and true and another - sharing our hearts still more - trusting God as we learn of faith.

Visit www.holyexperience.com to join in the counting.

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