A nasty virus slammed me last fall—left me in my nightgown and kept me coughing for weeks. I don't have too many fond memories of that time, but there are a couple of things I'll always treasure from the experience. Both of them came through the loving hands of friends.

While under the weather, I whined to my husband, "When someone else gets sick, I make chicken soup. When I get sick, everyone just asks, 'what's for dinner?'" He laughed and ordered a pizza, but I craved homemade soup for my aching throat. The next day my friend Niki showed up at my front door with a huge pot of steaming hot soup! She didn't know about my conversation with my husband; she just knew I was ill and wanted to help me out.

My friend Wendy knew that, when I was a girl, whenever I was sick my mom dropped me off at my grandparents' house so she could manage her work schedule. Grandpa often drove to town and returned with a carton of orange sherbet to cheer me up. Guess what Wendy did while I was ill? Yep. Popped by one day with a carton of orange sherbet.

My heart is full as I think about the friends the Lord has given me. Only a few months before my illness, I'd been crying out to the Lord, asking Him what had happened with my friendships. Just as good friends make life sweeter, a lack of community can cause a lonely heart to weep.

Scripture tells us to pity the person who has no friend to help him up when he falls (Ecclesiastes 4:10). It gives us examples of friends--like David and Jonathan or Paul and Barnabas--who encouraged each other when the going got tough, and it addresses our need for fellowship with other believers. As homeschool moms we need godly women in our life. We need mentors as we raise our children, companions who'll listen on those bad days, and friends who'll remind us to play. Yet, in the sometimes overwhelming task of homeschooling, taking time for friends often gets shoved aside. Even if we seek to make community a priority, we can struggle to find a fit with other like-minded women.

When my children were small, I was adjusting to being at home with babies instead of going away to work every day. Working women filled my previous friendship circle, but my schedule no longer meshed with theirs. I often felt overwhelmed while caring for little ones without much adult interaction, and my friendships from MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) never deepened. Part of it was simply the season. It is difficult to have meaningful conversation while chasing a toddler! But I think it was something more. Looking back, I believe the Lord withheld more intimate friendships from me while He drew me into closer relationship with Himself and taught me to be more content at home.

I prayed for a few years for a good friend. After the Lord grew me up, He gave me Karla, a fellow homeschooler and lover of Jesus. Karla and I spent many wonderful, lazy afternoons together. While the children built forts and performed impromptu circus acts, Karla and I would sit in her living room and visit. She held my babies and poured me cup after cup of tea while she imparted her homeschooling wisdom and offered me her heart. This godly mom, who believed in lots of love, consistent disciple, and natural learning, shaped much of my philosophy of homeschooling while filling my longing for intimate friendship.

Karla eventually moved out of state. I grieved, but her friendship and heart for the home had given me a good foundation to build on. I joined a homeschooling group and for many years enjoyed good friends. Then, one day, I was lonely again. It wasn't as overwhelming as those early days, but there was a definite void in my life.

Maybe you, like me, have experienced the surprise loneliness than can accompany entering the high-school phase of homeschooling. Suddenly, you feel you can't take time off to visit with a friend while the children play. After all, the Algebra book is waiting. On top of that, your teens need more time with their friends and you find yourself driving them to social events instead of attending one yourself! While you pour time and energy into helping your youth find and pursue their passions, your friends are doing the same, sending you in opposite directions.