As often as I’ve moved around these last few decades, I’ve been blessed to meet some great people who’ve become lifelong friends. Some of these friends have known me since before I was married to my soldier, while other great battle buddies I’ve only met in the past couple years.

I met Debbie Strange many years ago, when we were both still single. One afternoon I was driving my 1984 Ford Escort with Debbie sitting in the passenger seat. There was a light rain falling as we left the Columbus, Georgia mall parking lot. The driver in front of me was merging into traffic, or at least I thought she was. She instead slammed on her brakes and I bumped her minivan with my own set of hot wheels.

I was shaking, nervous, and didn’t know what to do. The driver in the minivan called the police. A nice, young policeman showed up. After talking with the minivan lady, he walked back to talk with Debbie and me, as we sat on the hood of my car. He wrote me my first ticket.

I think we were flirting with him, or he was with us. I remember something about nicknames, but fail to remember the details.

Anyway, the nice policeman told us that the lady in the minivan and her daughter had both started rubbing their necks, complaining of pain from the accident. He then pointed out that the only damage to her vehicle was rubber from my Escort bumper on her back fender, so he was therefore writing the ticket as an accident at less than 5 mph. He said I shouldn’t worry about her claiming any injuries.

About a year later Debbie was one of my bridesmaids when I married my soldier. Debbie and I went our own separate ways after the wedding. My soldier and I went one way, and she went another, eventually marrying a soldier of her own.

Over the years Debbie and I may have sent each other a few Christmas cards, and shared a phone call or two. While we’ve called each other on occasion, we didn’t really catch up with each other until we both started using Facebook.

Debbie and I started our friendship many years ago in a Bible study lead by mutual friends. Lately, as our friendship has rekindled, she has become my prayer buddy.

It’s a great feeling to talk with someone who understands the chaotic life as a military spouse. Debbie also remembers who I was before I married into the military, what I’ve struggled with in the past, and memories we’ve shared with other friends. I’m very thankful for Debbie’s friendship.

More recently I’ve developed a friendship with another Army spouse, Becky Sisemore. She is an adventurous spirit, and the driving force behind our day trips of hunting down wildflowers and local history in the Texas Hill Country region.

We talk about a wide range of topics on our drives from town to town. After saying good-bye to my U.S. Army Band friends in Virginia, it has been fun to hear about Becky’s band adventures in college, and about her son’s own high school band competitions.

Recently Becky and I have been talking about “blooming where you are planted.” While we are fortunate to have lived in some neat places, we realize we have to take advantage of what our current posting has to offer. We realize that if we spend our lives pining away for other locations and friends and family far away, we could miss some fun times and special people standing right in front of our noses.

Becky is already researching the bluebonnet growth in Texas, and making sure we’re on track to chase the blooms from San Antonio to Ennis. We both have Texas bucket lists with things we need to check off before we move on to different postings.

To quote Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The only way to have a friend is to be one.”

Lately I’ve felt like a tired, worn out mother who could easily hide in my house all day and read books. In the quiet moments, though, when I’m flipping through last month’s Christmas cards or posts on social media, I’m reminded of the friends I’ve made over the years. I’m also encouraged to keep trying to reach out and make more friends, too.

Karin Markert is a Herald photo and writing correspondent. A military spouse, she lives at Fort Hood.

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