You never realize how much you truly miss a person until your only way of communicating with them is through the lens of your iPhone camera.

My sweet cousin pictured above has worked her way into my heart as my sister. While that is one of the biggest blessings in my life, it's also pretty unfortunate because she lives about 17 hours away. In the past year, I have taken note and experienced what it's truly like to have a long distance friendship and how to maintain it well. Here are the things that I've learned, and loved in the process.

FaceTime was something I quite literally NEVER used, but now I use at least three times a week. Sometimes I'm fascinated that we have the technology that allows us to see each other from across the state with a click of a button.

Towards the beginning of my semester, I would have days where I just needed to be with someone when I studied. And while she's 7 years younger than I am, we would FaceTime and study in silence (at least we tried to). Having a long distance friendship means you still want to just be with that person, even if it's just sitting quietly on the other line of the phone.

I've learned that being intentional with talking to each other is so important. To the majority, asking how someone's day was is just a way to squeeze in small talk. But when you're trying to intentionally have a conversation with someone and want to truly know what's going on in their lives, asking 'How was your day?" is more than just a small talk conversation starter. It invites the other person into sharing details about their life, even if its just what they ate that day.

Having a long distance friendship means getting really sad sometimes because you just wish you could spend time with them. And its texting each other everything you WISH you could do together, but can't.

When you have a long distance friendship you also are ALWAYS thinking about plane tickets and potential dates. All of a sudden, you have emails from your airlines and flight alerts sent to your phone just to keep you in the loop on how much a plane ticket it is. What once was completely irrelevant is now something you want to keep a close eye on.

Having someone in my life that is like my little sister means I wish I could be there to help her get ready for her first dance. It means wishing I could be there to pray over her during stressful school days, help her make an after-school snack, and even talk about the drama of all that is 8th grade.

If you've ever had a little sibling you know how much your heart desires to be there for them in every season of their life. And when you aren't physically able to do that, it makes your heart ache just a little bit.

Some people seriously wonder how it's possible that in a short year how I could become so close to someone and even call them my sister. But friendship isn't based on time. It's based on communication, intentional togetherness, and quick bonding.

Being in a long distance friendship means you want to try new foods with them, have long movie nights, and have deep talks together — face to face.

But some of the best things of being in a friendship like this is that there is so much excitement when there's a FaceTime date. Phone calls become a true gem, and snail mail is one of the most fun things.

I wouldn't trade the depth of this friendship for anything, even if that means going through seasons of life communicating through letters and facetime. I am always thankful for this friendship and I already know its one that will last a lifetime.