I just have to give a huge shout out to my friend Ray. We originally met a couple of years ago, swing dancing (it was both our first times) at the VFW in Colorado Springs. I invited him to the Tuesday night community dinner I attended and we soon became official friends. We only hung out a few times while I was in Colorado, and as far as I know, he never again went swing dancing. :o)Fast forward to my prep to move to Fort Wayne. Ray sent me a quick message telling me a)he was being deployed to Afghanistan for a year with the army and b) his family lived in Illinois, but his sister lived in Indy and would I have time if he stopped in Fort Wayne to hang out for a bit?

So my first day on the job at Saint Joseph and I ended up trucking off to the Art museum downtown (free on Thursdays by the way), and getting coffee with this friend about to go to a dangerous place for an entire year. How brave and courageous he is to serve our country, I am in awe.

Ray and I on my first day at Saint Joseph!

Ray and I on my first day at Saint Joseph!

And the year passed seemingly uneventfully, of course I wasn't the one in Afghanistan! Ray is the first deployed soldier I have had a personal connection to and I often found myself more aware of news headlines pertaining to the Middle East. Thankfully Ray safely made it back.Moving on to this Easter, and Ray again let me know he was going to be in the area visiting family. It just so happened to line up with Jess and I's trip to Chicago. Ray drove up for the day, and gallivanted around town on our "quests and adventures." What I love about Ray is his quiet strength and ease. We had all day to catch up on a year's worth of stories...of which mine may or may not have been a tad more dramatic. But he openly shared about his deployment, although to hear him tell it, not much happened at the base where he fixed and worked on helicopters.

I look forward to the next time Ray and I are in the same part of the country with available schedules. I love that God puts friendships and people into our lives to spend time with and to catch up with, even if years pass in between. I adore that when I am around Ray, it is a piece of Colorado, the wild frontier, touching this flat midwest landscape. He's a pretty cool dude.

Sorry Ray, you made the blog with your very own post!