But we need our friends in this stage of life as much as we did when our children were little. Countless times, my friends have given sound advice or made me laugh when I thought all I could do was cry. They've prayed for and with me and have helped me be a better parent while pointing me to Christ. As the Scripture says, "two are better than one."

During this new stage of homeschooling, there are several options to approaching friendship. Many of my friends have chosen volunteerism. One friend loves designing sets for the homeschool theater group her children participate in. Giving of her time serves her community while allowing her to follow her passion and hang out with other homeschool moms. But volunteerism can also separate friends. If you have younger children at home, you many not be able to keep up with those who put lots of hours into volunteering--or if you have several children involved in a variety of activities, you may need to limit your volunteer hours so they don't affect your family adversely.

I've had to make the difficult but necessary choice not to volunteer as much as I would like. Besides having younger children at home, God has begun to call me to write for Him. I simply can't do it all, but saying no to volunteering alongside my friends brought additional loneliness.

As I faced this situation, I again cried out to God. He showed me my life was in transition and that I was trying to hold onto friendships in a way that didn't fit this new season. He began to teach me how to love my old friends while letting them go so that we each could follow God's call for our families. Maybe you're in similar circumstances, or maybe you simply need to give yourself permission to put time into building a friendship you already have. Remember that even as we pour our energy into our children's needs, we also need to refuel by taking time for our own needs.

In my situation, the Lord helped me understand the changes of my friendship circle, then brought relationship with others on similar journeys. I found new friendships with writers who, like me, feel the isolation of a keyboard. They help me follow the writing passion God placed in me, and they understand the unique struggles that accompany it.

God also surprised me by putting together an intimate group of women that meets in my home. I can see how the Lord handpicked us for each other, weaving together five women who share much of the same spiritual and homeschooling journey.

Being part of a small group isn't easy in the busy season of parenting. We have had to make time to meet and be willing to pour into each other's lives. Besides prayer, there are some practical things that have made our group successful. We bring our calendars and search for two or three hours a couple of times a month when we can get together. With our children's schedules, we aren't able to simply meet on the same day each week. We schedule our time within the confines of the demands of our families. We also provide childcare by asking the older children to take turns watching the younger children. This group has ministered to my heart in unbelievable ways, further convincing me of a woman's need for community.

God Himself models community for us by living in perfect harmony as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One of Jesus' prayers for us in Scripture is that we will be one as He and the Father are one. While this passage has to do with harmony among the brethren, I also believe it addresses our need for intimacy with each other. The Lord knows we need meaningful relationships to help us along life's journey.

If you haven't made friendship a priority in your life, take a moment to ask the Lord what He has for you in this area. Pray that He'll show you how to be a good friend and open the doors for the community He wants you to have. It may look different than you expect, but it will be just right for what God is doing in your life. You never know--one day soon a friend might know you well enough to show up on your doorstep with your favorite ice cream!

**First published on May 28, 2007.

A homeschooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God's grace. She is published in magazines, book compilations, and devotionals. Paula loves hiking, cuddling her kids, good books, and walking barefoot. Her website, www.soulscents.us, offers homeschooling hints, book reviews, and a free weekly devotional.

Copyright 2007. Originally appeared in Spring 2007. Used with permission. The Old Schoolhouse Magazine. Right now, 19 free gifts when you subscribe. www.TheHomeschoolMagazine.com