Six Word Story (113)

Have you ever come back to something or someplace from your past and found it just as it was before, but to your grief, you no longer fit there?

it can be a shock. We might even deny its ys that have changed and insist it’s everyone and everything besides us. Sometimes there is truth to that, but usually, we have changed far more than we realize.

This is a good thing. It’s a normal, and healthy thing to change. It’s also important to go through that release of what was and even grieve for it for a time if we need to. That pause is part of the adventure.

Let yourself look back, remember, even return to that shell and sniff around. But, please, never stay there. Realize that it’s important to move on again after that visit. Make note of those things you miss, and count them as blessings, for they helped you grow into what you are today.

Copyright ©2023 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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Sweet Little Toes

Little toes, ten in a row

Through fraying cloth, they peek
A wriggle, a giggle, off they go!
To dash and then to sneak

Those little toes will not be tamed
With cloth or shoes that reek
Always dancing even prancing
Shedding socks through grass to streak

Be blessed sweet little toes
Are you brave today or meek?
Your giving joy, despite being coy,
Spreading your unique mystique

Copyright ©2020 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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On Friendship: What is it?

Do we still know?

Last week we explored the meaning of the word ‘friend’ and how it has evolved, as all words and languages do. Now let’s explore what friendship might look like in today’s world.

The meaning of the word ‘friend’ has widened greatly over the past decades, so what friendships look like will also vary. Friendship is no longer something reserved for people who we get to know face to face but is something that stretches over great distances. I think there’s still one key element that links all levels of friendship, and this thing has not changed with the passing of time. That thing is the investment of time itself. If two people have not made that investment in each other, be it in person, over video calls, phone calls, texts, or some form of social media, there is no relationship. Therefore no friendship. Without that expenditure you may know of someone’s existence, but nothing beyond that other than perhaps a few surface facts they have shared publicly.

Last week we also talked about words in relationship to ‘friend’. These words help clarify the connection between two people. Let’s start with acquaintances.

  1. a person known to one, but usually not a close friend.
  2. the state of being acquainted or casually familiar with someone or something: As far as I know, no one of my acquaintance has travelled around the world.

These are just two of the definitions for the word acquaintance.

A second key component of friendship is an emotional connection of some kind. So is an acquaintance a friend? Well, some of them may be, and some of them are not. I think it depends on the individuals and how much care they generally offer to others on the first meeting. This emotional connection doesn’t have to be very big, but it does need to be something that sets a person firmly in their mind. If the interaction is forgettable, how can the seed of a friendship be planted? Every acquaintance has the potential to become a casual friendship, but we don’t always care enough to plant that seed.

If there was some kind of connection made, then comes the investment of time. Do we care enough about this potential relationship to water it by interacting again?

This is where I think we often fail each other in the modern world. We are so busy, we may not even have the energy to care after an interaction with a new person. Hurt might hold us back, and fear, anger, and anxiety. These barriers to starting friendships are by no means new, but I believe have become more concentrated. Friendship is work after all, just like any relationship.

Fast Friends:

Have you ever met someone and the connection was so strong that it felt like this person had always been in your life? Trust comes easily, you can’t wait to spend time growing whatever this wild friendship thing is. Friendships like these are treasures and have the potential to transform into something deep and long-lasting. But the truth is, very few of them do. Why?

They were not made nor meant to last. These friendships are beautiful moments and can refresh us like a cup of cool water on a hot lonely day, but there is only so much water in that cup. They can not sustain. Perhaps the two individuals find out they are too different and when a disagreement happens the bond is just not strong enough to withstand the pressure. Or maybe time can just not be found to grow the friendship. Perhaps one individual struggles with long-distance relationships of any kind, or the opposite, finding it hard to stay open while meeting in person. Maybe something hurtful is said or done and one friend chooses to walk away, unable or unwilling to mend the breach. It can be devastating when these friends are lost like lightning, just like they were found.

They can also be addictive. If we fall into the pattern of making fast friends and losing them in quick succession they can also be very damaging. We can become afraid to make those connections at all or think that lightning high is the mark of true friendship and if that spark isn’t there at the beginning a relationship isn’t worth tending to.

It takes great wisdom, and flexibility to know when to let go. But know that these friendships are worth having even when they are destined to end. If you never take the chance, you will never find the rare few that will transform into lifelong bonds.

Old Family Friends:

These people have always been in your life, and maybe there has even been a family connection for generations, but they come with expectations. “Of course, we have to invite them to the Christmas party! It’s expected.” You might carry a deep love for these people, or not, but the interactions have been too many to count. Whether you like them or not these people are counted as friends, the time investment has buried those roots deep. They are more like family.

This breed of friend is something I see dying in modern culture. More people are learning boundaries and upholding them. For the first time in a long time, we are being told it’s OKAY to say no to people who are ‘toxic’, even if they are family. Social media has given us tools to stay connected but separated, blocking or muting people right and left. This can be good, but it also comes with dangers. No relationship is easy, and difficult people are still worthy of time and love. Again it takes discernment to know how to handle friends that have always been but might not always be wanted.

What kind of friend do you want? What kind of friend are you?

Surprise Gems:

These people, oh these people, they pop up out of nowhere and add value to your life in spades. Maybe they start as fast friends, or maybe they are old friends that never really got close to you until the time was just right. They might even be reluctant friends, or someone you never liked at all, but for whatever reason one of you reached out in a deep way and now you have no idea how you could ever live without them. When you find one of these friends, don’t ever let them go.

This holding on doesn’t look like a stranglehold though. Sometimes they even require vast amounts of space and time away, years even. But that space doesn’t matter, when you come together again it’s like you were never apart.

Do these friends still exist?

They have become rarer than ever. There are so many reasons for this and I would love to know why you think that might be. Have you ever had one? Been one? Or viewed a relationship like this from the outside?

There are so many different levels to each of these kinds of friendships. They vary from person to person and social media has transformed how they can begin and be sustained. But I am curious… Do we still take that time investment seriously? Do we know how to hurt people with, cry with people, and work with people? Or are we content to just be around for the smiles and then walk away with every disagreement, inconvenience, or misunderstanding?

It’s not possible to have deep friendships with everyone, and it’s also not healthy to try. But it’s imperative to true human happiness and health to have true friends. We won’t find those gems unless we look for them, and hold on to them when we find them.

Copyright ©2023 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Previous Post – On Friendship: The Word Friend

Previous Post – On Friendship: Introduction

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: The Word Enemy

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: My First Friend

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Hope like Cold Fury

She took my anger
And flew away
So now, I can finally pray

She was God’s Grace
Before I asked
He gave it through her winging blast

Hidden in
My seeking brush
Hope is His, my fears to crush

He knows my needs
Before I call
This is His story after all

©Mary Grace van der Kroef 2020

Hope like Cold Fury was written to accompany the painting by the same name. The original painting by Mary Grace van der Kroef is Sold.

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On Friendship: The Word Friend

What does the word ‘friend’ mean?

Language changes with time, ideas as well, and what we once thought of as a friend has also changed. When I looked up the word ‘friend’ and its definitions, I found something that highlights this fact.

The 6th example of the word ‘friend’ as found at

6. a person associated with another as a contact on a social media website: We’ve never met, but we’re Facebook friends.

I shouldn’t really have been surprised by the inclusion of this new definition of a friend, but I was. To friend, someone is also defined on the same page. So it seems it’s official, our whole modern concept of friendship has shifted. My generation was the first to think of people we’d never met in person as ‘friends’, and as someone who lived in a small community as a child and teen, it opened up my world in a huge way. I’ll talk about this more in a future post. The point is, this shift had been coming for a long time and it is here to stay.

A more traditional view of the word is still relevant.

  1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

Whether in person or virtually, this definition covers the surface meaning of ‘friend’. For you to be my friend I have to think well of you in some way, I have to care about you on some level. If there is no care, there is no friendship. So the word ‘friend’ is tied to human emotions, and not just physical proximity.

There are so many words associated with a friend, like acquaintance, buddy, partner, pal, mate, familiar, comrade, associate, and colleague. Each of these words adds a new layer to a relationship. Friend left alone, has become quite a veg term in modern English and part of me mourns this. But another part acknowledges the need for a wide term. I have personally experienced and held affection for people I’ve never met, and will never meet in person. They are in fact, my friends. But I also find the limits of the English language frustrating as I long for a friendship that sinks deeper, with no one word to describe what I feel we lack.

In the book Ann of Green Gables, Lucy Maud Montgomery used the term ‘bosom friend’. I always loved that term, picturing someone I would be unafraid of embracing and holding close to my heart. It is this that I feel has vanished from modern culture. As we can see, a friend has become a term we use to describe people of little if almost no interaction, yet we still hold threads of affection for these people or we wouldn’t care to scroll through highlights of their lives on social media.

The origins of the word ‘friend’ are fascinating and I encourage you to read this short post on the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language on its root words and the Old English verb frēon, “to love, like, honor, set free (from slavery or confinement).” Who would have thought such an everyday word could be so deep?

These rich roots are something I wish humans were better at remembering as we wonder about the paths of changing communication. What do you think?

I hope this short look at what the word ‘friend’ means and how it has changed over time has been enlightening. It is my hope that by trying to understand this word, it will help each of us find that bosom friendship many of us seek but find elusive. Words are important and their meanings are important, for they represent deep emotions and ideas.

Copyright ©2023 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Previous Post – On Friendship: Introduction

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: The Word Enemy

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: What is it?

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: My First Friend

Websites referenced in this post:

American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language

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Six Word Story (112)

Some years it’s easy to appear in early spring as the winter snows have already fled. But in other years, it’s hard. A cold crust might form a canopy that only the strongest sun rays push through. Whether it’s easy or hard, it still happens. Nature still forces growth in the hardest of conditions.

Don’t those early, brave few, stand out as all the more beautiful for their start surroundings? In reality, they are not much different from all the others that bloom through the summer, but because they dared to just be, they are our reminder of hope. Spring is coming, and yes, it’s already here.

Copyright ©2023 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo sourced from

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Wake Up

A tap
         To test the clockwork
Beneath the pointer
          Test failed

           Compressed lips
                                                Searching for the spark
That lingers deep within
           Determined heart

Expelled breath
           Across the nodules of
Wake up
           Tickled thought
                                                 Don't stop

Copyright ©2023 Mary Grace van der Kroef

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On Friendship: Introduction

There has been something on my heart for a while now, but I couldn’t decide how to express it until now. That thing is friendship and the lack of it in today’s modern society. This lack is not something new, and it may not be something everyone experiences, but I’ve felt it and seen it creeping like a shadow over my social circles and family for years.

What has happened to true friendship?

What is it? Do we still know?

Is it worth it in today’s society?

Has it changed over the years?

Can we find it again after losing it?

These are a few of the questions I would like to explore for the next few months.

The plan is to do this slowly, taking time to mull over the word ‘friend’ itself first and what it means. Then moving on to related words and personal experiences I’ve had. If there’s anything in particular, you would like to me write about, drop a comment below and I’ll do my best to add it to the list. Got a question about friendship? Ask it and we can explore it together.

Do you have friends? Many? A few? Just one?

Are they good friends, or do you consider them fair weather?

Are YOU a friend? A good one? A bad one?

Do you want to learn how to be a better friend?

I won’t profess that I’m any kind of expert on the subject, but I also won’t shy away from the fact that it’s very important to me and I have learned how to be a good friend. I’m one of those people who love very deeply. If I make a friend in person I will never forget them.

I believe friendship is one of the most important things to build within human relationships. We all crave the intimacy and connection that it holds. So why does it seem like it’s becoming harder and harder to find in a true, or strong form? Or am I perhaps mistaken and friendships are thriving, but it’s me who has for some reason become blind to it? This is also a possibility.

What do YOU think? Is friendship on the decline?

Copyright ©2023 Mary Grace van der Kroef

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: The Word Friend

Forthcoming Post – On Friendship: The Word Enemy

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Six Word Story (111)

Contrast, we view it every day without realizing how important it is.

What would happen if all contrasts were whipped from the world? Every stark line blurred until we can no longer tell where one thing ends and another begins? I find that thought terrifying.

Depth and meaning would be lost…

This Good Friday I am thankful for contrast, the shadows, the lines, and the ability to tell the difference between good and true evil. I think we need those defining contrasts regardless of how hard they can be to view or experience. I think that is part of the reason why God allows them to exist.

Have a blessed weekend.

Copyright © Mary Grace van der Kroef

Photo sourced from

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