I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Monday, July 9, 2012

First time meetings? Friends you haven’t met yet

By Delores Topliff

Years back I learned that some people I initially viewed as homely (as in Abraham Lincoln homely), had such inner kindness and spirit, I soon viewed them as lastingly handsome or beautiful. I’ve learned to suspend judgment, waiting for God to show me what's inside and regard introductions as opportunities to explore. Stand and admire when meeting new people, as when entering an art gallery. Michelangelo looked at marble blocks asking God to show him the shapes imprisoned inside, awaiting release. Now when I meet people, I also ask God to show me what He’s placed there.

I initially met most  of the Ponderers at best-selling author Susan May Warren’s first Storycrafters Retreat and remember first impressions: 
  • Reba was wise but humorous. 
  • Heidi a spontaneous storyteller and gifted humorist. 
  • Ginger championed romance with hints of mystery. 
  • Alena conquered NYC and then Texas, producing vast material to write about. 
  • Beth was a professional and stylish doctor’s wife—maybe common ground since both my sons are doctors. 
  • Amy was local, I knew her slightly, but found there was much more below the surface. 
  • Jen was a nurturer and Susie’s friend. 
  • Melissa was the sweet girl next door with killer plots. 
  • Marie was a hard worker devoted to historic detail. 
  • Jennie was a master gardener and master plot-designer. 
  • Lisa was a tender-hearted romantic putting family first. 

I'm richer for learning to withhold judgment. Though my initial Ponderer reads were incomplete, God now has added much more. Is it because Susie asked retreat attendees to prepare the soil by praying for 30 days prior? Did anyone besides God anticipate what He would initiate there? Besides church camp at age 12 where I became a Christian, I haven’t personally attended any event so strongly impacting my life with lasting relationships. 

The best friendship formula? Common interests. Christ-centered lives seeking inspiration and expression through writing. Committed prayer. Yup, that sums it up—a perfect definition for Ponderer friends.

Now it’s your turn. What qualities do you see as essential to friendship? 


  1. Such a lovely post, Dee! I know my life is richer for having met you!

    For me, friendships have come in different shapes, sizes, and ages. I've connected with others through common interests and stayed friends when trust had been established and hearts exposed. It's tough to develop a deep friendship with someone who isn't ready to be real with another person. I'm so thankful for the friendships I have in my life.

  2. Great insights, Lisa. So glad you (& each one) came to that first Story Crafters.

  3. Delores--sweet and dignified on the outside but a warrior princess on the inside. (The warrior comes from being a prayer warrior.)

  4. I love this, Delores! And I loved reading your first impressions of all of us. And I love how our friendships have grown deeper and wider in the years since.

    Yeah, lots of lovin' going on. :)

    One of my favorite qualities in a friendship--being able to go for weeks/maybe even months without seeing each other, but then getting together and being able to laugh and talk and settle in like all that time never went by. Possibly this is because so many of my friendships right now are long distance!

  5. Wow, Teri, I'm honored by that.
    I had fun, Melissa, remembering each of you w/ 1st impressions & how much that has grown & deepended since. Yes, lots of lovin' and blessings going on.

  6. Love this post. I always wish I'd been able to come to that first Story Crafters! Bur I am so glad we met at Deep Thinkers that next February. My life is so much richer from knowing you.
    My first impression of you? Your beautiful skin and eyes that was matched by your kindness and peace.
    Happy Birthday!

  7. Delores--The lady that didn't say much but surely had a deep relationship with God, just listen to the wise words that come from her mouth!

    That's what I thought as a first impression.