Last Friday morning my alarm clock went off at 4:40am and by 5:10 (ish) I was dressed and gone. My flight out of Pensacola left at 7:13 (on the dot) so that means your favorite night owl had to be in bed at a reasonable hour and set her alarm for 4:40am. My final destination? Austin, Texas. Why? I’m so glad you asked.
A little over six years ago my best friends from college (14 in total) decided we needed to all go away together for a weekend. It’s all but impossible to put us all under the same roof at the same time anymore, let alone for an entire weekend, but MLK weekend of 2014 we all found ourselves in Destin, Florida together. It was the best weekend and we vowed to make it a tradition. We are serious promise keepers apparently because this was our sixth year in a row to be together for MLK weekend! Occasionally someone misses for life events (a new baby and the flu got two this year) but it’s always understood the show goes on no matter what.
Austin was SO good to us! Alyssa hails from Austin originally and had planned an amazing weekend for us. We played Top Golf Saturday morning which was only partially humiliating for most of us. Our waitress brought us a bucket of their amazing doughnut holes and put a sweet message on the plate for us. Kristen and her pregnancy hormones cried over the doughnut holes and she just about didn’t stop the rest of the weekend. We drank delicious coffee at Summer Moon, shopped at The Domain Saturday afternoon, and ate authentic Italian food family style at Buca di Beppo Saturday night.
After dinner Saturday night we split in to two groups and busted out of two escape rooms at The Escape Game in downtown Austin! If you’ve never done an escape room I highly recommend going. It’s a lot like marriage counseling in 60 minutes, you get a really clear idea of how you might communicate in stressful situations. We all had so much fun we actually decided to go back Sunday night and do another one as one big group of 12! Obviously we are big fans of the concept. We broke out of the Playground in record time, but who’s counting?
For as many years as I can remember, as a group we had something (if not several things) to celebrate. Getting a front row seat to watch each other become wives and mothers thrills us to no end, which means we throw baby and wedding showers in all these random cities we visit.
This year we had FOUR babies to celebrate. FOUR. Keeley, Bethanie, Kristen, and Emily are all expecting this year and we had the world’s very first (I’m assuming) quadruple baby shower. Cara was a rockstar and handled a ton of the planning, and Alyssa made sure we laughed our way through several games.
My job? To get the pregos out of the house for maternity pictures while they set up! You know your girl was happy to do that. We found a local park that gave us all the yummy light we could want and I think we successfully documented their bumps. Aren’t my friends so beautiful??
They opened gifts, we ate delicious bundt cake, and made babies out of playdoh. It was the baby shower of the century and perfect in all the ways. And a major shout-out to our friend Hope Hickman who makes these incredible Man of God blankets! (Find her on IG at SincerelyHopeDesigns.)
All but one of our trips we’ve opted for having our own church wherever we’re staying. We’ve worshipped on a beach, we’ve prayed over each other in living rooms, and this year was no exception. It always gives me the feeling of what the first century church might have looked like. Simple in design and flow, but the presence of God so strong it’s palpable. A large part of me wishes I had a picture of these moments, but an even larger part of me is glad they are kept sacred and only exist in our memories. Only for us to know.
This year Gina led our discussion and the conversation centered around the Spirit in us. There is always deep, honest discussion. There are always hearts laid out, tears shed over the hard and the good things, the scary things, the things we are grateful for, the things we are struggling with. Words are said that give new life to minds and hearts that are struggling. We are a complex group, life situations sprinkled all over the spectrum. We are single women, wives, moms, expectant mothers, healing from miscarriages, teachers, lawyers, therapists, business owners, full-time mothers, fulfilled in our current situation, insecure in our plans, scared of the unknown future….that barely brushes the surface of the hearts that converge once a year. It isn’t a stretch to wonder, “How can you possibly all relate to each other and continuously maintain these friendships?”
The answer? Jesus.
For a group to be so spread out in life (both physically and in ability to relate) HOW does it still work? It’s Jesus. It’s what He did for us. It’s the Spirit that lives in each of us. It’s a gracious heavenly Father who put us in the right place at the right time all those years ago. It’s all of our desires to be in heaven together one day. It’s fairly simple, really. It’s Jesus.
We know this group is special. We can’t imagine a life without it, we simply wouldn’t want to. So until Jesus decides to come back for us we will continue to meet in random cities all across the U.S., throw baby showers, break out of escape rooms with one second to spare, worship together in living rooms, be the solid ground underneath each other when it feels like too much, and center ourselves around the One who gave us the ability to do so. I think it’s working for us just fine.