Our little girl was turning five.

It had been a big year for her. We moved to a new city over the summer and she started a new school this fall. We felt like the best way to celebrate her was to throw her a really fun 5th birthday party: A RED RIDING HOOD BIRTHDAY!

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We were able to rent an authentic thatched roof cottage to host the party (one of the perks of living in Northern Ireland). Several friends pitched in and helped make buns, scones, and sandwiches. Interns from our church offered up their face-painting services and helped decorate the cottage for the party. My husband even agreed to to dress like BIG BAD WOLF who was disguised as “Grandma.” All in all, it was a wonderful celebration of very wonderful little girl.

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One of my favorite activities we did at the party was to make a “BIRTHDAY QUILT.” We told the girls at the party that “Grandma” needed their help to make Olive (our daughter) a quilt for her birthday.  Each little girl at the party was given a 10” x10” inch square of off-white cotton. We laid out some fabric markers and told the girls to draw any picture they liked on their square. It was really precious to watch our daughter’s friends take their time to decorate their “piece” of the quilt.

The next day, we put the quilt together. My husband possesses the sewing skills in our family, so he did most of the work. The end result was beautiful and our daughter was absolutely thrilled! She wrapped herself up in her birthday quilt and exclaimed, “ I love this lovely quilt that my friends made! It will keep me warm!”

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Friendship does keep us warm. On the days where I struggled to find any warmth of joy or sunlight in a dark season, it was the friends who surrounded me that kept me from letting my heart turn cold. Their words, their comfort, and care for my life reminds me of the Lord’s goodness and love.

Each friend we are blessed with is a piece of the beautiful patchwork of fellowship that the Lord gives us. Though one friend may look different from the other, I need each of them woven into my life. Their gifts, their perspectives, and their lives make up the cloak of encouragement that I need. Without this covering, I am vulnerable to the harsh winds that blow through life.

Ecclesiates 4:9-12: Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.

But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm.

But how can one be warm alone?

A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.

Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

Our five-year-old daughter sleeps with her birthday quilt every night. She loves to point out the different squares made by different friends. As I watch her snuggle in to her quilt, I smile as I think of all the friends in my life who have kept warm. How wonderful it has been to be surrounded by such a quilt of beautiful friendships!

Your friend,

Noelle


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Noelle Rhodes is married to her best friend, Troy, and 'mama' to two of the most hilarious human beings to exist: Silas and Olive Pearl. She and her family reside in Derry/Londonerry, Northern Ireland, as missionaries. When she is not wrangling her children or beating her husband in a game of Scrabble, you would probably find her doing laundry. Noelle blogs at Coffee with Noelle.

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