Friendships are important to life. To a healthy life. To a life of hope and grace.

This week Christie and I got to reignite an old friendship. We met an old friend — some of you know Kathy Swanson from the development of our Employee Handbook. We met for dinner in El Segundo before she moves to Maui next month. Maui? Yes, her husband took a job at Maui Memorial Medical Center. He’s been working on the facility side of hospitals for decades. So, he’s already there and Kathy follows at the end of March. This week was our last chance to touch base before the big move.

If you look at turning points in my life — Kathy Swanson is somewhere there. I grew up with Kathy in a small Covenant church in Downey. It was her mom who taught me in my later elementary Sunday School class. Side note: I was often alone in that class but she still showed up each week and loved me. You never know the impact of being faithful in the life of a child. Kathy’s mom instilled in me a love for travel and Israel and stamp collecting. And then it was Kathy who alerted me of a job opportunity in Rancho Mirage, where Christie and I served for nine years and where all our children were born.

To spend an evening together was a reminder that true friendships don’t really require a constant presence in each other’s lives. We can survive the gaps of separation. That’s really not a problem. But, when you do get together, you’d better allow enough time. We could have talked all night (we did close the restaurant). We had stories to tell of shared times together and we had to catch up on family matters and then just swap some stories of life.

The hugs were long. The laughter deep. Those mature friendships are the sweetest. But what deepens them even more is a common bond in Jesus. That is often the glue which holds long term relationships together. That common Savior overcomes so much.

I had an encouraging week. And now I suppose Christie and I will have to get over to Maui at some point. We now have cheap housing! And I know many of you head over that way — and if you are ever at Maui Memorial (it’s now a Kaiser facility, but independent, by the way) you’ll have to stop in and meet Mike Swanson, head of facility development. Just drop my name. I have friends in high and tropical places!

But seriously, it is my prayer that we might continue to develop long-term friendships based on Jesus. May our love for Him and each other deepen our bonds. And, maybe even more importantly, let’s not forget how important it is to build faithfully into the lives of the children of Peninsula. I do need a replacement some day — and maybe he’s in your class or Breakout group. You never know the impact of your love on a child 20 years from now. Kathy’s mom is with Jesus, but her impact remains in my life. Who will remember you?