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DIY Friend Map

DIY Friend Map


Brighten Your Space with a visual Gratitude List, Friendship Map, Prayer Wall, or Whatever You Want to Call It


Isn’t There and App for That?

We live in an era where remembering and keeping up with your friends is easier than ever before. Dissolving “distance” in long-distance friendships is literally at the power of our fingertips as we thumb through the gaggle of social media platforms that not only tell you that your long lost friend recently got engaged, but that she also had a rose latte and a pastry 27 minutes ago.

Yeah, there is an app for that, but if you are like me and get distracted by blueberry muffins and cat videos, this might be a better option:

What if we made a visual representation of those “long lost friends” on a real-life map where you can be reminded of the people in your life sans distraction?

I’m an American. I have too many pairs of jeans (even though I hate jeans) and Geography is my worst subject. I probably can’t tell you the capital of most countries (and, well, some states too…) but I do love maps and I have always been completely intoxicated by the idea of The World. I spent the first half of my life barefoot, down a dirt road about 2 hours from civilization. My idea of “travel” was to go to the Western part of the state where trees actually have leaves on them and flowers grow on more than just the alfalfa fields.

Missionaries from all over the world used to come to our little Rural-America church to raise support and share about their adventures on Sunday mornings. They showed photos of far away places, with colorful, strange foods, sparkling cities, and beautiful people. I drank it all in with wide brown eyes and a massive sense of longing in my chest. We had an antique globe that I spun around and tried to locate with my fingertips the places our friends described in their presentations. Places where the sun shone for 20 hours a day, where horses ran with black stripes down their backs and people made fine jewelry out of bones.

I’ve doubled my years and since had the opportunity to trace some of those places with my own footsteps, and no matter where I go, it’s the people that stir my heart. I love to go where I can stay with someone who calls that place home and I want to learn the things that make it so for their hearts. No matter what continent we live on, we all have grandmothers who tell their mother’s stories and we all have one dish that can sum up an entire childhood. We ride bikes, and/or horses, and/or planes for the first time and have an enormous capacity for love and connection. We experience loss and know how to read it in the lines of our faces. We are the people who map each border, and for me, it’s the people I have been lucky to meet, learn from, and love, who shape my image of the world like one big ever-growing and beating system of highways and cities.

There are so many places that I still want to experience someday, but I carry the stories of those who have like sub-memories to my own stories. My friend Imene once told me about her grandfather who lived as a nomad in Africa. I can see his long beard as clear as the wisdom in my own grandfather’s eyes. My other friend, Estrada, wrote down the recipe for her mother’s plantain pancakes on a napkin for me to keep. I can taste the ground cinnamon and feel the bricks under my feet where her family ate together on their farm in Ecuador almost as sure as the memories of my own shared family meals in Oregon. Those shared stories are my favorite gifts, heavy and glittering like bracelet charms that one may collect in their travels.

I’ve had an “itchy foot” for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never liked being in the same place for long without going on an adventure. My health has kept me from traveling in the past couple years and it’s been hard on my heart. I miss the people.

So I brought the world to me.

I don’t have my little antique globe anymore, but I decided to order a map for my wall so I could be reminded of the people who have charted the world for me and so that I could be reminded every day to pray over their lives and be thankful for the way that they’ve shaped mine.

There are dozens more faces I mean to add, and dozens more I have surely yet to meet, but here’s my map and the faces that color my world. It’s no instagram — it doesn’t tell me what they all ate for breakfast or how many reps they got in at the gym. It’s a mural in the hall that I walk by over and over that shows me smiles that require no words and joy in being alive and loved no matter where you are or how you feel.

What would a reminder like that look like in your life? Maybe a notebook by your bed where you record what you’re thankful for at the end of the day. Maybe a whiteboard in the closet where you list a few prayer requests where you can pause before tying your shoes in the morning. Maybe it’s your own rendition of a friendship map — whatever it is, I think it’s a great way to bring a tangible outlet for gratitude and prayer into your space that can really brighten your day.

Make Your Own:


  • Mural-sized, Laminated World Map

  • Printed out mini-photos of the people you want on your friend map

  • Scissors

  • Beads

  • String (I used embroidery thread)

  • Glue (I used tacky glue, but plain ol’ Elmers will work)

  • Double Sided Tape

  1. Check out some of the wall-sized maps on Amazon. I got this one.

  2. Choose the photos you want to use and size them down in a word document or photoshop. I used a clipping mask in adobe photoshop to get mine round, but you could also use a large round punch or forehand it.

  3. Tie a bead to the end of a short piece of string and use double sided tape to secure the string to the photo.

  4. Stick the photo and string onto the map and trim off the excess thread.

  5. Use glue to get the bead to stick to the city on the map you want to use.

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