blessed

I thrive on relationships. I have a lot of friends, and the stories about how we became friends are pretty awesome. But today as I am reflecting on being blessed…I want to share one of those stories, so hang with me!

Fourteen years ago..whoa…fourteen years ago, I had just lost the friend that I’d written about in ‘water.’ Following that loss I went on my first mission trip. Three of those who happened to be going I’d been leaning on throughout my emotional turmoil. I felt safe, 3 people knew what was going on and knew I was intensely struggling, but they would help me when I needed it. I’d be ok.

Until one night while I was waiting to talk to one of the guys after his shower. I was sitting on the gym floor and one of our other teammates walked passed me.

She was funny, yet quiet and we’d found out on the drive out that when she slept, her eyes were creepishly open. It really freaked me out. No one really knew her, but looking back we were both on that trip for a reason.

As she passed me on the gym floor, she turned around and said, ‘Are you ok?’

I gave the customary, ‘Oh, yah. Just waiting for someone to get out of the shower.’

Then…she gave me this look. She is quite good at it, and still good at it because I just got it last week.

A head tilt, coupled with a long look squinting from the corner of her of her eye. ‘Are you sure?’ she said. She knew, just knew that I was definitely not ok and cared enough to push me on it. She has cared enough ever since, and now we always say to one another ‘What haven’t I asked that I should be asking?’

Somehow, I found it in me to trust her. It had to of been supernatural, because I was all trusted out at the moment…but my story flew out of my mouth. When my friend got out of the shower, he stopped and said, ‘Everything ok here?’ And when I confirmed it was good, he left us alone.

As I was gushing fountain of words and tears, she sat there…just listening and nodding and offering words of wisdom and encouragement.

Once all my words were gone, she quietly said, ‘I’m having a hard time right now, too, because it’s almost been a year since my mom died.’

My heart dropped. Partly because I knew my problems did not exceed the lost of a mother. And partly because she was the first one I’d run across at college who would know something of where I was coming from. Someone who could walk with me through the most trying time of my entire life. Someone who would be loyal and carry all of my secrets with her. Someone who would listen, and someone who would call me out in a productive way when I needed it.

For the duration of our college years it was a foundation built on a gym floor that blessed me with the most amazing friend who would drop anything if I called or showed up saying I needed to go for a car ride. Which was our code for I am completely emotionally unstable, and I need to get away from people or I’m going to lose it.

Her Ford Taurus saw a lot of tears, and a lot of happiness. I will never forget hearing when it came out on the radio, MercyMe’s song ‘I Can Only Imagine.’ We were in the car on the way back from volunteering with our church youth group. We both ended up bawling because we could imagine what it would be like to be with our friends and family members we’d lost, and wanted it more than anything. For a while when we were going on separate road trips, it was, ‘No car wrecks, and no dying because we have to be in the same car.’

We both had trust issues. We both were not your ‘normal’ girly girl. And we both were trying to do our best to walk in the path of Jesus. And still are…

We did a Bible Study one year that now results in our sharing a knowing look, and laugh when it comes up. It was on female roles in the Bible, and you could say we like to push the traditional boundaries. But we did it together, and whatever we did together we were able to make it through.

We road tripped to Montana one summer…middle of the night, screaming lyrics at the top of our lungs to stay awake.

That gym floor was holy ground. No one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. God created a friendship on that floor that has lasted 14 years, and will continue to go on and on.

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The last several years have been hard, especially since I suck at talking on the phone. I live in Missouri, and she and her husband have lived in Florida and now Utah.

But every. single. time. Every time, we are together, it is as if we have been next door neighbors the whole year long. She is one of the few people who truly know me…from the whole Jesus start through the mission call to now.

We were sitting at breakfast on Saturday morning before I left and her husband said something about ‘Steph doesn’t ever get mad.’ She burst out laughing and said, ‘What? You’ve never seen her lose her temper? It’s ugly. She’s good until people keep pushing her, but once you’ve pushed her too far…watch out.’ And she is completely right about my temper, because she knows me.

It is an absolute blessing to know and be known. I thrive in being known, because I can be myself and know others can appreciate how far God has taken me. I consider all of our adventures treasured memories, knowing that we have so many more to tuck under our belts.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. [Proverbs 18:24]

I am blessed beyond imagine for a lot of things…and I’ve hit the jackpot multiple times in the friend department. And for that I am incredibly grateful to the Lord I serve.

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happy

mar 11 - happy Strength

Today I am happy.

An unnatural happiness, actually.

It could be because a week from tomorrow I leave to go see my amazing best friend in Utah. (Photo on right from the last time we got together in Utah…expect greatness in a few weeks!)

Or because our church was so full of vibrant, beautiful life last night at the Bible Series viewing party.

Or I could be still on cloud nine from Duke beating North Carolina last Saturday. (If you missed that game…I’m sad for you. No really.)

Or because my friend just accepted a dinner invitation, and she knows how much I love being in community around tables.

Or because I am looking forward to meeting with the zaniest group of ladies who are on fire for serving others and spreading what I like to call the ‘propoganda’ tonight.

Or it could be because I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

Or maybe even because this slice of pizza I am eating right now has extra olives. It is always the small things, after all.

But today those things are just happy contributions to my Monday.

Today happiness comes from the pure, sweet Holy Spirit filling my soul.

Laughter bubbling easily from my lips.

Easy going nature fully restored.

Songs are heard through my office door as I cannot contain my worship. (I’m not sorry if I’m annoying you! Worship with me!)

This Lenten journey started 27 days ago…27 looooonnnng days ago.

Before this journey started I never imagined I could stick with blogging every day. It takes its toll, and at times I want to throw the towel in…ok A LOT of times. Then my stubborn side kicks in and I get my blog posted before I go to sleep for the night, which I count as that ‘day,’ by the way.

But over halfway through this Lenten journey there are so many amazing things happening.

I am in scripture more and I am LOVING being in God’s word again, with passion instead of obligation.

I am listening more. God still speaks…we just never make room to listen.

I am worshipping more, since I gave up ‘secular music’ for Lent. Check out the ‘Jammin’ tab at the top of the blog and you’ll see what I’ve been worshipping to this Lent season. I’ve actually been jammin’ today all by my happy little self. (My boss walked by and said, ‘Well, aren’t you the songbird today!’)

I am uttering prayers more consistently than usual.

I am being more intentional.

I am being more like the person God desires me to be…and that feels pretty damn good.

Endnote: I was going to find the ‘perfect’ scripture for the Rethink Church word today, ‘happy,’ but then I decided God’s people reflecting his joy is the best visual of ‘happy’ scripture out there.