Journey 267: New Restaurant, Old Friend

I had a particular journey planned for today. My intention was to pick up my granddaughter Aubrey from school and that the two of us would have afternoon tea while watching the new Cinderella movie on DVD. However, that is not the journey that unfolded  this afternoon. On this gorgeous day, Aubrey and I ended up at a local park, where she was joined by a friend from school. It was a wonderful afternoon spent outdoors. I considered watching Cinderella this evening, anyway. What I love about my journey is living out the statement, “Open to everything, attached to nothing.” Before I left the park, Greg contacted me to say a friend was in town, whom we had not seen for 30 years. Would I want to go to dinner? Yes….yes I would!

After taking Aubrey home, we made arrangements to meet at Joplin’s newest restaurant, Texas Roadhouse. Perfect! A first, combined with the reconnection of a dear friend from my youth. My journey took care of itself. With high anticipation, Greg and I met Jerry at the hotel where he was staying, and walked across the parking lot to the restaurant that features hand-cut steaks, grilled pork chops and chicken and tender ribs, all in a friendly, western themed atmosphere. We had a 20 minute wait, but that was okay. There were ample places to sit while we waited. Snagging a bag of in-the-shell peanuts, we settled on a bench outside, and used the time to catch up.

    Gotta love a place where you can throw peanut shells on the ground!

I met Jerry in the little town of Noel, MO, when Greg and I were dating. I was 16 years old and Jerry about 19 and Greg 22. Jerry’s grandparents and an aunt and uncle lived in Noel. He spent the summer in that sleepy little community and then attended college for the next four years at John Brown University, in Siloam Springs, AR. Greg attended John Brown as well. That summer was a time of hanging out and talking about life and figuring out the next step along our paths. Mine was easy. I was still in high school. But I benefitted from my connections with these older friends and they were all great to include me in their activities. Alas, I was the only one with a curfew!

But what fun we had over the next few years. College and ministry and meeting new people, weddings and graduations, and embarking on new adventures. Jerry met his bride, Susan, while in school. The four of us got together often. Life took us in different directions eventually. Greg and I to Joplin, MO. Jerry and Susan to the Oklahoma City, OK area. Our families grew, as children arrived. And after a couple of impromptu visits, when Jerry and Susan happened to be near Joplin, we fell out of touch.

I’m grateful for Facebook, because recently we all connected there. A couple of weeks ago, Jerry contacted Greg to say he passes through Joplin, on business trips, occasionally. Tonight, he took the time to reach out and say he was here!

We began catching up as we sat outside, and then continued after we were seated at a booth within. We paused in our stories long enough to order dinners, which were delicious. I had a grilled pork chop that was so tender and seasoned perfectly. The staff was friendly and the service great.

texas roadhouse grilled pork chop

As wonderful as the meal experience was, the real journey tonight centered around friendship and bonds that never break. It was amazing to hear where life and the Divine have led Jerry and Susan, who have five grown children and five grandchildren. It’s been an exciting adventure for them, that continues on. I appreciated Jerry’s views on life and his great attitude. From our youth, I remembered his big heart, his charming smile and his beautiful singing voice. He still possesses all three. We finished our meals and walked back to the hotel, where we sat outside, enjoying the mild temps, laughing over stories, old and new, and joyfully picked up the threads of our friendships.

What a fun evening. I am grateful for Jerry and for friendship, for memories and new opportunities for growing those relationships. And I am grateful for the flow of life and Divine direction, which never fails to surprise and delight me. It’s all about trust. And staying open. I am loving this journey.