Sunday, January 11, 2015

Treasured Friends, God's Blessings

I've always known that God blessed me with great friends. Even from the early years of elementary school God blessed me with good, solid friendships. Honestly, most of those friendships have stood the test of time and lasted over many decades now. Though life has taken us in different directions and we've not always been in the same city, state or even the same country (at times), somehow we have managed to remain dear friends. It's not something that "just happens", its really not even something that can be "created", its honestly more of a divinely appointed relationship that truly was orchestrated totally by God. As many of us have moved and had to start over with friendships in new places we've realized how special this group of women is.   Over the last decade and a half, I don't think any of us have been able to "recreate" the depth of friendship, spiritual encouragement and mutually challenging accountability.

(This was the only picture I could find with all of us together and its from 2002, girls we've got to find a time to get everyone back together!)

A lot of these friendships go back to kindergarten and second grade.  All of us definitely knew each other by fourth grade and by the time junior high and high school came along we were together regularly whether it was at school, cheerleading practice, youth group nights, or our weekly Bible studies.  All of us were tremendously blessed to have gotten to "live life" alongside one another.  There is just something truly sweet about friendships that have spanned the decades.  Getting to watch how God turned our dreams into realities, as we prayed for godly young men to date (and eventually marry), as we begged God to show us what our life's "calling" was (and still is), as we prayed through college choices and which sorority's to choose or whether to pledge at all.  As God saw fit, we prayed for wisdom in marriage and then came parenting (we definitely are on our knees in this arena).  We have literally walked the years together and what a blessing to have this deep history with such beloved people.

This was FSM's Beach Blast 1999 or 2000 (not sure which).

It's literally been 14 or 15 years since we were all together around the same table that we met around each Wednesday night before youth group, when Ann Parkinson and Jennie Allen led a Bible study our junior and senior years of high school.  We regularly ate cheese broccoli soup and called Mrs. P's house "the refuge on the hill". We'd meet over dinner and discuss what God was teaching us and how we were growing in our walk with Him.  We shared prayer requests and were truly "iron sharpening iron."

Well the stars aligned and more than half the group was in town last week so we were able to carve out a little time to reconnect and enjoy the deep friendships that God gave us so long ago!  (We certainly missed Jennie, Amanda, Katie and Lindsey, we'll have to try and get a another reunion planned soon!) But what a treasure to sit there and go around the table sharing the good and the bad, praises and sorrows.  Then to spend some time praying specifically for those things really was encouraging and edifying, literally we talked and prayed for more then five hours.  As each of us shared how God is still moving and working in us, I was overwhelmed with how good God is.  Mrs. P's verse for us when we all left for college was Philippians 2:15 which says, "so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life."  As each of us shared, it was pretty amazing to hear all the ways that each of us (by God's grace and in His strength) are doing just that, "holding out the word of life" to those around us---to those in our sphere of influence.  Whether its through a major world wide spiritual awakening and gathering of women through IF; or by using the artistic abilities that God has given another to shine a light into the art community here locally; or through a job at a well known corporation where one gets to share Jesus with vendors who otherwise might never engage in spiritual conversations; or another who interviews people and writes articles for a major social magazine; while another leads many women (young and old) to the throne of Christ as she speaks regularly into the lives of her small group as well as a large gathering of women each week at church; or the others of us who have 17 children between us who are in the trenches every day trying our best to teach God's word to the next generation of believers, trying to show them how to respond and react in a godly way, helping them memorize God's word and giving them a biblical foundation as a grid to live there lives through.  We are all in the battle, we are all engaged with God and doing our best to "work out our faith with fear and trembling".

We all desire to do what God has purposed for our lives and wrestle to do just that every day. We aren't perfect, we've made mistakes, we've doubted and feared, grown cynical at times and then been awed by miracles God's done in our own hearts as well as the hearts of our spouses, our children and others we come in contact with.  If we didn't engage, if we didn't remain in the battle, we'd miss out on the opportunities to see God moving and at work, so we keep the faith, we press on, seeking to "shine like stars in the universe".  I am blessed to call you all friends, I love you deeply!

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