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True friends keep our secrets. Tell us their secrets. Remember my birthday! They know who "Oma" and "Opa" are. They always make sure I'm included in fun things. They know when I'm sad and ask me why. When I am sick, they call to check on me. (From Daring Greatly, Debunking the Vulnerability Myths by Brené Brown)
Sometimes I think that, if I smoke one more cigarette, he'll leave me. But he doesn't. He stays, and works hard, and is kind and gentle with me. He sees me either with rose-colored glasses or with more clarity than I, preferring to focus on what is not my fault rather than what is.

Sometimes I think that, if I confess one more thing to my parents, they'll give up on me. But they don't. They stay, and help, and they're courteous and soft-hearted with me. They don't see the me I see: they see some other woman with far fewer faults and far more victories.

They welcomed me into their family with open arms, and shocked my socks off by standing right beside my parents when I went a little off the deep end. They remember every important date and celebrate successes instead of mourning failures.

They are a whole family of cheerleaders who jump in to take kids or offer a place to hibernate to or be there for those 2 a.m.-awake-on-the-porch moments to talk things out. They share the same positive traits with which they douse me in kindness, although my relationship with each one is different and marvelous in it's own way.

She and I have been doppelgängers since I was a child, and her spine tingles when something is going wrong in my life - medically or emotionally. I am thankful for her phone calls during those times, when I don't have to explain how I'm feeling. She already knows.

She and I have been smoking buddies for 17 years. I've lived vicariously through her travels and her singleness and her grandiose dreams. She always sees the good in everyone, and it's no different when it comes to me, struggling or not.

She and I have lived on opposite sides of the continent for almost all of our 12 year friendship, but loooong phone calls and letters and emails fill in the gaps, although there is always that ache for an actual in-person visit! She is my leader when it comes to homeschooling and parenting a family of little girls, and her sweet already there son shares the name Caleb with mine. She is willing to face my dark sides and my greatest fears, but is always foraging for a way out, a rescue, a redemption, trading my heavy burden for a light one.

They are the brothers I've always loved, just as mischievous, debating, and entertaining as they've always been. They brought me sisters when I had given up hope of ever having one, and each buoys me in a different way. They are present - physically, emotionally, in prayer - whenever emergency descends upon us. They are connected to me irrevocably: I feel that all of us in all our forms are bound together like the souls connected by a red thread in Chinese mythology.

Never mind that she is older than Grandma. If she has a day off, she often finds time to spend in my living room, folding laundry, hugging kids, and talking things out with me. It is her way of broaching a difficult subject: gracefully, tactfully always, she helps before she opens on the subject. She always has words of wisdom to shower upon me.

If nothing else, losing hundreds of "acquaintances" in my church "family" clearly identified for me who my true friends are - and demonstrated just how strong and resilient the bond between each of us is. Nothing I've done has pushed these people away. They're here to stay, here to love instead of judge, offer help instead of condemnation. I'm thankful for my tribe.

And above and beyond all else, I'm grateful for the close-knit little family He's blessed me with, despite my shortcomings and all the sins of my life known by Him for all eternal past and future. I'm thankful He is helping me work out my faith crouched down to connect with an injured child, sanctifying me grain by grain during this time of hard sanding. I'm thankful my husband is the lover of my soul - that I have two Lovers of my soul. 

My cup runneth over.