My heart is full. Three of my best friends and I adventured this afternoon to a busy coffee shop for espresso and chocolate hazelnut cookies in the bitter cold of Valentine’s Day. Chicago blustered with roses, Eskimos in sleeping bag coats, and Hallmark cards.

The talk was replenishing — oh, the chatter and encouragement of sweet friends who have not been together since September. True, even though we all live on the same dorm floor and spend time individually one-on-one, the last time we managed our schedules to overlap was for Hannah the Traveler’s birthday last fall.

We are so different, yet there are strands of similarities; the Spirit has bound us in our creativity, hearts for the Lord, and passion for people. The love that joins us is unearthly, because we are incapable of loving out of ourselves and loving those so unlike us. Moments like these underscore the depth of God’s love, for while we were still in sin, the ultimate difference between us and holy God, he still died for us (Romans 5:8)! How can I not stand in awe of his sacrifice for me, to redeem me from the garbage can of darkness headed toward destruction? This is part of grasping how wide and long and deep is the love of God (Eph. 3:18). Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is one I’ve been praying and seeing an answer to in my life as this knowledge of his love fills my spirit and bursts joy into my vision.

The love of God isn’t a one-time deal. Gifts of friends like these and beautiful times to reflect on are proofs of his daily grace and love in life. Delighting in his goodness means walking in thanksgiving, recognizing and expressing our gratefulness for his blessings. The love of our Lord surpasses anything we can understand, for not only did he save me, but he gives me good things. I cannot possible begin to understand why.

I am apt to compare this season of my life to a train station, a metaphor I’ve mentioned before. I am waiting in line with these precious women, and soon we will be taken different directions, led by the Spirit and whisked away to diverse places to do his humble work. Yet, for this time now, I will bask in the love of God that shines so brilliantly through nurturing, incredible co-travelers such as these. I see Jesus in them, and that is what spurs me on to keep running.