Once upon a time, I was a Texan. I lived in north Houston back in the early 80’s, and I was a secretary for a State Farm agent. And a young wife and mother. And pianist at tiny Greenridge Baptist Church in the Aldine area, where I played for worship and anything else that came along. We picked that church because it was only four blocks from our apartment at the time. We stayed because they became our family.

Just the sheer definition of the word means that, after nearly 30 years, I am still close to some of those folks who were our church family. The pastor and his precious wife took us in, being the parents we needed while raising young children more than a thousand miles away from our own. One son led the music, another sang, a daughter-in-law taught Sunday school, and their youngest son was my piano student.

BJ loved the music of the 80’s and we spent a lot of time with Steve Perry & Journey working on “Open Arms” and Bryan Adams working on “(Everything I Do) I Do it For You.” But he had (and still has) a heart for The Lord so we also worked on hymns of the church and improvising on those. We practiced and played through a pregnancy and new baby for me… And a chain saw injury for him, among other things.

Then abruptly, in the summer of 1986, I moved away. When we left Houston for vacation, I had no idea I wouldn’t be back in a couple of weeks. But God had other plans. I got a new job here, and could not even return to pack up the house. One of the hardest phone calls I ever made was to let those precious people know that I wasn’t returning. I grieved. They were my family, after all, and had helped us through new babies, cancer, death of a loved one, being homesick… So much.

A few weeks after our sudden move to the bluegrass state, I got a package in the mail. It was a framed piece with the lyrics to Michael W. Smith’s song, “Friends.” Again, I wept. And I knew that I hadn’t lost my friends, my family. It only meant that we were separated by distance.

I woke up with “Friends” in my head this morning. And, friends, I will tell you that a lifetime is NOT too long to live as friends if God is The Lord of them.

Friends are friends forever
If The Lord’s The Lord of them
And a friend will not say never
For the welcome will not end
Though it’s hard to let you go
In the Fathers hands we know
That a lifetime’s not too long
To live as friends.

I love how God can turn mourning into rejoicing! After I left the piano bench at that little church, BJ stepped in and sat down. And he was born to it!!!! He found a gift that he didn’t know he had, and went on to play at other churches, lead worship, write songs, and even had a contemporary Christian music group that performed all over the Houston area. I am forever grateful for his ministry and his family. They’ll never know the impact they had on me and my family. They taught me selflessness and love.

Click to listen to a lyric video version of Michael W. Smith’s Friends It’s an oldie now, but every word rings true.

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