You’ve probably seen that popular holiday sign says that “Some of my best friends are Flakes”. Usually it refers to snowmen, but for my two sisters, the Flakes are a group of friends in the Atlanta area who have shared life together for almost 20 years. The have done the elementary/middle/high school/prom/graduation phase of parenting together and are now onto the college/wedding/baby-grandma stuff.
Through the desert years of mommying they had each other’s backs.
They got the name, The Flakes, from one of the husbands in the group who noticed that most of the Flakes had blonde hair and he referred to them as “The Frosted Flakes”. They shortened it to just “The Flakes” and the name stuck.
I am not a true Flake…I am one by relation of my sisters to this amazing group of gals. I refer to myself and another gal from Denver, whose sister is also a Flake –as Flake HO’s (hang ons). While the Flakes meet monthly in Atlanta for dinner, she and I rarely miss a trip to 30A beach area in Florida with the group.
When the Flake’s kids were small, they started a once a year 4-day beach trip to Florida at the end of April to gather courage to tackle the last crazy month of school days. Over the years, as kids got older and more self-sufficient the trip grew to a whole week. 12 years ago, I got invited to the beach week to surprise one of my sisters on her 40th birthday. Then I was hooked.
The first year I was there with them, one of the gals had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had gone through a couple of treatments. One afternoon, her long blonde hair started falling out, carried away by the ocean breezes as we sat in our signature circle on the beach.
I got to see such love and tenderness being heaped on their dear friend at such a traumatic time. Every woman desires to have deep friendships like these. Friends that move into the realm of sisterhood and know what you are thinking before you say a word.
The Flakes have a catch phase for those times when they accurately predict how one of them will react or what she will say: “Good to be known.”
Isn’t that every woman’s heart’s desire? To be known and understood for the lovely, complex creature she has been designed to be.
I think it was seeing the love these friends had for each other, the way they had of keeping each other accountable to pursuing goals and ministering to which ever of them that was in crisis at the moment that made me want to keep making the yearly trip with them. Aside from the obvious bonus of having time with my precious sisters, I feel like I have been given a front row seat to the evolution of the friendship of these strong willed, opinionated women.
Oh, the estrogen. Or these days, the lack thereof!
Over the years they have weathered marital issues, wayward children, loss of parents and employment, divorce and crisis’s of faith. These gals have walked through some of the most joyous/grueling/dark days of womanhood together. They have applauded each other for starting new careers, relearning skills like riding bikes so they will be ready for grandkids, still being able to do cartwheels on the beach in midlife, college acceptances and for just for knowing when to keep their mouth shut when dealing with adult children. They have celebrated milestone birthdays, shared recipes and favorite Bible Studies that they have done and prayed over each other in times of despair.
In the morning, it’s not uncommon to find several women sitting alone with a cup of coffee doing their daily quiet time. This is the place where I first learned about the writings of Brennan Manning and Henri Nouwen-I spent one morning out on the wicker porch swing devouring The Furious Longing of God by Manning letting God’s grace wash anew over me. Sitting around our beach chair circle I heard about mission trips to every part of the world and in all things was reminded of God’s faithfulness in their lives.
This beach trip refreshes the body and soul. Today, as in years past, we will all return home a little stronger, new recipes to try out on the family, books to read and most of all feeling kinswomanship with these amazing women.
It IS good to be known.
All that and a tan.