Gut laughter: one of life's most delicious morsels. Gut laughter is more than a giggle and different from a hearty chuckle. It bubbles up from a whole other place in the body. Gut laughter starts way inside the depths of the innards and fills up one's whole stomach, chest, and throat. It's an overwhelming joyful response that travels north through the body … up, up, up until one's eyes overflow with tears of bliss.

I love to laugh from my guts. Last weekend I did so for two days surrounded by the loveliest ladies in all the land.

It had been 12 years since we'd all been in the same place. And then, like magic one Friday summer evening, we were all together on my deck. Erin, Emily, Angie, Amber, Sarah, Katie, and Gina: my seven Wartburg College sophomore year roommates. Waverly, Iowa was our college home for four years. Now they live all over the world. From East Africa to Oregon to Nebraska to Iowa to Minnesota.

Last winter we decided that we'd gather together in the summer for college roomie reunion weekend. I volunteered to host, knowing that while my house would be short on beds and chairs, we'd have plenty of space to catch up.

After everyone arrived, we ate outside and shared life updates until well after the bats began eating the bugs around us. The next day we woke up and the conversation continued. The weather was perfection. At about 11 a.m., we went to the Farmers Market. Then we wandered the grounds at Assisi Heights and spent time barefoot in the labyrinth reminiscing. After an afternoon of crafting, we got dolled up and headed to La Vetta for a rooftop dinner. Those dear sweethearts surprised me with a bachelorette party! Dinner, ice cream from Flapdoodles, silly games, and cookie decorating. Doesn't get any better than that.

Our time concluded with breakfast outside the next morning under blue skies. The birds sang us morning hymns. We took turns sharing a special memory from the weekend that we'll carry with us until we get to share another grown-up sleepover in a few years.

As my roomies pulled out of the driveway and headed back toward their homes, I waved them goodbye and noticed a subtle soreness in my middle. It was like I'd done dozens of sit-ups over the weekend, which I certainly had not. "Why am I so sore?" I wondered.

Then I remembered. Gut laughter. I had laughed until my insides hurt. What a perfect form of exercise. Laughter-induced muscle aches … a sweet reminder of the gift of friendships that stretch across time and miles.

We may not see each other often, but when we do, we laugh and cry and love, and that builds up our soul-sister reserves which tide us over until we meet again.