It feels like going away on a refreshing retreat every single year. As soon as autumn starts to peek through, Sarah and I text each other to set up a weekend get together in the stunning Oro-Medonte township where dwells. According to Wikipedia,"Oro-Medonte is a township in south-central Ontario, Canada, on the northwestern shores of Lake Simcoe in Simcoe County. The two neighbouring townships of Oro and Medonte were merged in 1994, under a restructuring of Simcoe County." We usually land on a weekend in October.
Photo by Bernd Schulz - @rappel
It was October 2006 when Sarah and one of her university housemates decided to go on the Brock Christian Fellowship retreat, which I also went to with my middle sister and a couple of other friends. Friendship seeds were planted. At the end of December 2006 a whole group of us travelled to St Louis Missouri to a University Student Missions Conference called Urbana. Then, in mid winter of 2007, during read week, my friend Becca, my sister Natalie and I were invited to spend a few days at her parents' beautiful house located in the middle of the woods in Orillia.
We were only friends at Brock for a year before she felt God call her back to her hometown after three years at the university instead of the four, she had originally planned to do. However, a group of us (Sarah, Becca, my sister Steph, Emily & I) kept in touch after she left. In the years that followed, we would attend bridal showers, weddings, baby showers, birthdays, and reunions. In August 2010, Becca, Steph, Emily, and I, visited Sarah at her parents' home. We even ventured on a fun trip to Muskoka together. The following winter the four of us returned to Orillia to check out Sarah's new cute basement apartment. After that, the group visits to Orillia ceased as all the girls (minus me) got married and eventually had babies.
Sarah and I established a new tradition. She came to visit me a couple of times in London, Ontario and I went on solo drives to see her every autumn. At first she was single. Then, she began to date Justin. With each new stage of her life (i.e. newlywed, first time mom, second time mom, and third time mom) I tried to be sensitive and asked if she needed a break from me going to see them. Each time she would respond with how welcomed I was in their home. Justin was so gracious in embracing this annual October tradition from the get go of their marriage. Ever since, I have looked forward to catching up with Sarah and Justin annually. I've had some of my most refreshing and honest conversations about life struggles, our Christian faith, food & cooking, books we've been impacted by and lessons we're learning with this dear couple. Flash forward to three kids later, six years of marriage for them and 14 years of friendship for Sarah and me. I have driven the three and a half hours every autumn for the last 10 years to spend time with sweet Sarah and her growing family. And, I have treasured every moment.
Photo by Alex Geerts - @alexgeerts
I mourned when they sold their first house as a married couple because I adored that tiny bungalow with the bright yellow door that matches Sarah's personality. Last weekend, I rejoiced with them as I walked inside the bright white walls of their new house. Each time I'm with them, I'm spoiled with delicious food because they are foodies. Justin makes the best homemade pizza (he even makes his own sauce!) I've ever had, and drinking his coffees are like drinking ones from a high-end local cafe barista. He has all the machinery for it. There is a section in their blog about coffee. Do check it out! :) They are generous people in how they give of themselves and their resources to others. They teach me so much simply by how they love one another, how they parent and how they care for their neighbour (i.e. everyone else).
Photo by David Nueschleler - @uncled
I named this blog entry October Rains because rain has played a significant part in my friendship with Sarah. I would say that most of my visits with Sarah have included October rains. One that stands out is when she drove us to Collingwood. We had a blast as we ran into the stores to avoid getting drenched. Another year, it poured most of the Saturday that I was in Oro-Medonte, so we stayed cozily inside her Bungalow. She was exhausted from having a newborn and I had a terrible headache so we both watched the rain from inside and her baby as he happily played while we laid on opposite ends of her long couch. That's probably one of my favourite memories of us together because it takes a certain level of comfort and knowing someone to just be without pretenses. She also got married to Justin in October on a rainy day. And if there is anyone that can make the most of a rainy day (both figuratively & literally), it's Sarah. Although, much of our time together has taken place in rain, Sarah is sunshine. And the older I get, the more I want to hold onto people like Sarah who infuse my own soul with sunshine by their mere presence and influence.
Photo by Hannah Domsic - @bananabear If you're looking for a blog full of fun, inspiration and meaning check out their amazing website at http://unitedanduntied.com/. And if you crave some doses of authenticity on Instagram request to follow Sarah @sarahvpiercy (I got her permission :)).