#fangirlyourfriends: Angie + Angie (or, #angiesquared)

Guys! Can you believe we’ve had more than a month of these crazy amazing #fangirlyourfriends posts? Be sure to read them all if you haven’t already! And now let’s get to today’s post!

– – – – – – – – – –

Seasonal friendships are probably the most abundant friendships for most all of us. You switch jobs and BAM – those girls don’t have time for you anymore. You move away and WHAM – those people decided you aren’t available anymore. There is a falling out with other people and WHOP – you turn around and the friends you once had are just not there anymore. We grow older, more mature, get married, have families, the list goes on and on.

Then this happens. One day when you least expect it, and you aren’t looking anymore, someone walks into your life that you weren’t expecting.

This GIRL.angie1

I am on the left, she is on the right. This was Oct 27, 2015 after the Chonda Pierce Movie. Everyone was staring at us as if we were crazy. Really we just know how to have a good time, and sometimes that means making ourselves laugh, because that movie was rough and we were done crying for the night.

Let me give you my version of fangirling my BGF. We met because our boys were in a program together. God really gave her to me as a gift. REALLY. We have been through some STUFF. The short version is this – we have 8 kids between us ages 22-2. We have 2.5 grandbabies. Our husbands are friends – they mutually roll their eyes at us daily. Our favorite things to do are cook and share a meal together. And get into occasional trouble at the movies, like last night.

Our adult children make every effort to join us when they know we are all going to be together for some reason or another – it doesn’t take much. These people have become important to us – our family. We plan holidays together. We celebrate birthdays together. We celebrate nothing- just to get together. Our friendship started out as two mommas volunteering for their boys, and turned into a sisterhood that is unbreakable – and believe me things have happened and people have tried.

angie2

I have sat with this chicka when her family was in its darkest hours – her father suffering and passing on, calling the family because her husband nearly died due to a rare condition. Then there was that time she had a baby – her fourth, a boy – SURPRISE ! She in turn has showed up when my daddy had a major 12 hour heart surgery, when he had cancer surgery and when my girl lost her little one in the midst of a quiet pregnancy. And she always brings bagels and coffee. She is the second closest person to me – only in line behind my husband.

We know each others hopes, dreams fears. We aren’t afraid of holding each other accountable, or loving one another in a crisis. We aren’t afraid of what the other thinks- we pretty much already know.

We have celebrated, laughed, cried and screamed together. We have walked away from relationships with other people to preserve our friendship. We have made huge decisions and huge mistakes, yet we always have unconditional love for one another. We have taken the long road to lifelong friendship- and I am glad God prepared me to be a BGF to someone so opposite as myself. Its been such an amazing ride. As we both grow closer to Jesus our friendship bonds grow stronger. What a blessing.

As hubs and I turn the corner into a new phase soon – empty nesting – I am wondering how our friendship will take shape. She has a 2 year old. I wonder – but I do not worry. I am sure that as long as there is breath in either of us, we will always be #angiesquared .

– – – – – – – – – –

Angie squared, you guys make me smile so much! Angie D., thank you for honoring your friend with your words! You can read more about Angie D. over at her blog, angiedailey.com.

Advertisements

grieving friendships

I didn’t make friends until I was in high school. I moved more times than I can remember (that is a truthful statement, not hyperbole). So when I finally made friends in high school, I cherished them in ways I still can’t articulate nearly twenty years later.

They are that precious to me.

In fact, every friend I have ever made is that precious to me.

As the years since my first day of high school in September 1997 have passed, I have gained many incredible friend. Sometimes, when I stop and sit for a minute to think about the fullness of these relationships, it overwhelms me with gratitude for these people.

How are they mine?! What did I do to deserve them?!

(The answers: God. And nothing — it’s all God’s grace that they’re my tribe!)

Most of these friendships have flourished. My high school friends gave me time and distance when I needed it in college to figure some stuff out. My college friends helped me do a lot of the “figuring it out.” And my post-college friends helped me when I was lost between those who loved me in high school and those who loved me in college, when I was torn between two groups — and now they love me because I am strong in who I am. When I say I am who I am because of the influence of these women, I mean it with the whole of my heart.

But. And this is a hard but. Sometimes friendships end, or change in ways that hurt.

The first time this happened, it was not long after I graduated college. I didn’t know what happened. (It’s been years, and I’ve come to understand what most likely happened, and knowing the cause of the ending? That sucks, but at least I have an idea.) That friend and I went our separate ways, and I was bewildered.

How do you just cut someone out like that? Someone whose life you invested in? I felt so alone because what happened is that it forced mutual friends to pick sides, and it cut me off from moments in my friend’s life that I was sure I would be a part of. When I found out she was getting married, my heart just ached with sadness:

Yesterday I saw her picture on her wedding site. I see her face most days, because in most of my college pictures, she’s there, one of the four of us. There are too many pictures of her and I and them to cut out her face, so I am reminded daily that she’s gone. For two years… I have seen her face staring back at me and it’s never hurt like it did until yesterday. Yesterday her gentle ache became a pain that nearly brought me to tears. Because as she prepares for her wedding, I should be there, and I’m not. I should know what her wedding dress looks like, and how she will wear her hair, and the color of her bridesmaid dresses, and her honeymoon destination. But I don’t know.

Instead, I am reduced to finding out the small details of her life when I run into her family around town.

I should be there on that day to tell her that she looks beautiful, to not be nervous. I should be there to get her food when she’s lightheaded from nerves, to help lace up the back of her gown, to bustle her dress and smile for countless pictures. I should have been one of the first people she called when he proposed, and I should be there to help her pack up her boxes as she moves off with him and starts her — their — new life. I always thought I’d be there, helping hold any babies that came and painting the walls in her new homes and laughing together on holidays when our families got together.

But the truth is, I’m not and I won’t be there.

I bottled up that sadness and hurt and put on a brave face. I talked about it with some people, and slowly the years went by and I was sad when I thought about it, but the hurt lessened a little.

And then it happened again. Another close friend just disappearing. A few years later, a friendship dramatically changed with a third friend. Literally overnight things went from fine to horribly not fine.

The third time, I sat lacing my running shoes in my bedroom because I needed to get out of my house. I could feel the sadness radiating off my body and I needed to be outside where I could move fast and hard and pound my feet into the cement. Tears ran down my face because my heart was broken.

I felt broken. All of me, it felt like a giant failure. Like I was someone no one could be friends with. The lies jarring my mind were remnants of the things I believed as a little girl, that I wasn’t lovable and that no one wanted to be friends with me and I wasn’t good enough and that everything was my fault.

After sitting in that hurt for a few days, and reminding myself constantly “You are a good friend — you are loyal and you make others laugh and you make them feel special and you celebrate them and you value them and you tell them you love them and you are there whenever they need you” I realized something about friendships, both the kind that you make as a child and the kind that you make as an adult:

Sometimes your environment is controlled and it makes it easy to be close friends.
Sometimes your interests dovetail perfectly and it makes it simple to share your lives.
Sometimes, those things change, and friendships end.
That doesn’t make you a broken person.

I looked at the women around me and realized that they had experienced the same kinds of loss, felt the same kind of sadness that I was feeling. One thing I also noticed is that I had to ask others about when friendships ended. It wasn’t like any one person had told me previously that she had experienced the loss of a friendship and I knew I could turn to her for advice and support. It was always something spoken about hypothetically, and that didn’t help me when I wasn’t living the hypothetical but the reality. People don’t talk about friendships ending, other than cliche quotes like “Some people come into our lives for a life, and some for a season, but everyone for a reason.”

BARF.

Reading stuff like made me feel negative amounts of better. It was salt in the wound, and I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

All these strong, intelligent, amazing women around me kept these broken, ended friendships close to them like they were ashamed of them.

We talk about breakups with men. But we don’t talk about breakups with friends, and sometimes, I think those can be far more damaging than men because we often have our friendships far longer than we have boyfriends and husbands.

Eventually I put the pieces together and came to the understanding that I wasn’t just hurt and sad, but I was grieving.

No one told me that when friendships end, we experience real grief.

image1

I thought my sadness was stupid. I thought I shouldn’t feel that sad over it. I was actually embarrassed to feel sad. That’s why, even though my insides were devastated, I kept telling everyone on the outside I was fine, that I wasn’t sad or hurt.

You know what makes me feel sad today? That I ever felt like I shouldn’t be disappointed in a friendship ending!

I have been spared a lot of grief in life. I have only known a small number of people who’ve died, and other things that grieved me have been minimal. It isn’t — wasn’t — an emotion I could easily identify in myself because I had so rarely experienced it. So it was almost shocking when I realized what I was feeling with these friendships ending or changing in the most painful of ways was, indeed, grief.

Suddenly, I had a name for that shaking-have-to-move-my-body-want-to-scream-and-wail-and-say-the-f-word-on-repeat feeling:

It was grief, and it was ok to feel it.

What I learned as a friendship fizzled, or dramatically blew up, is that all of those feels I kept trying to deny to others were valid.

I learned that crying myself to sleep because I missed someone was ok.

I learned that when I wanted to punch a wall because I wanted to call my former friend to share something with her but couldn’t, I wasn’t wrong or bad.

Through all of this, I have come to the realization that I have these feelings because these people mattered to me and they matter now.

That is what grief teaches me — if they didn’t matter, it wouldn’t be this hard. Although that’s so hard to swallow, there’s also a beauty to it.

Even with these friendships ending or changing, even with the grief washing over me, I can still say with no hesitation that these friends loved me well until the end, and hopefully until the end I loved them well, too. Although the pain of losing them is still very present for all three, I wouldn’t undo our friendships. Not for one second. I wish I could undo the things that went wrong, but even knowing that they’d happen, I would do it all over again.

I cannot picture my memories without their faces and laughter and text messages and group emails and stories in them. Some day, these memories won’t be as clear, and the feelings of grief will be less visceral, but they will still remain in my heart, and for them I will choose to be thankful for the time we did have and for the beauty is what was created.

Today, I grieve.

#fangirlyourfriends: Stefanie + Krista

Late edit: Krista here! Stef is the very best to write this for me while I was on vacation. If you haven’t had a chance to read all of the #fangirlyourfriends posts yet, please let check out the entire series because they’re all so encouraging to read!

– – – – – – – – – –

Hi,

This is Stefanie. :)

Krista is my friend, in fact, she’s probably your friend, too, so that makes us like cousins or something! Maybe. I’m not really good at math.

11951429_405908296268971_2718105360496858077_o

Krista is the type of friend who would love me in spite of my bad jokes, snoring, and persistent moodiness. She is a ray of light, a kind heart, and also a safe place. Whenever I need a laugh or pick me up I can always count on her. Though we met just a few months ago she and I became instant friends. We were both on Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love book launch team. Through that amazing community our friendship deepened in the most beautiful and unique way. I truly believe that God put this experience in my life so that I could meet people like Krista.

Krista is a beautiful soul with a honest and vulnerable heart. She has shared parts of herself with me and others in a way that is both healing and inviting. She brings brightness to the darkest ugly parts of my life. She fights for her friends and speaks truth to them. I have voiced my fears to her and she has always, always, always, been there to quiet them with me. I know that I am covered in prayer because this girl does friendship like no one else.

In Austin we both got chicken tattoos. I held her hand while she got her nose pierced. I love that I got to share this time with her. I love that when I look in the mirror and see my tattoo I am reminded of God’s love because of Krista.

11950153_406442492882218_2481399977029518177_o

Chicken twins with the great mother hen, Jen Hatmaker. 

Few people in life impact us in such magnificent ways. Krista’s spirit of love, kindness, generosity radiate through every encounter. Her empathic heart is so dear and precious and is rare to find in a world of selfishness and surface-level friendships. Her infectious laughter and humor is warm and witty. People gravitate to her. She is a gift, an absolute treasure to know and to call a friend. I know that God is using her and I am so proud to be a part of her journey.

I love that I got a chance to #fangirl my friend Krista and surprise her with this post while on her trip to Hawaii. Surprise, chicken! I love you. :)

– – – – – – – – – –

Stef, I love you more than words can ever say! Thanks for being my friend. If you want to learn more about Stef, check out her blog Book of Stefanie!

#fangirlyoufriends: Jen + Jodie

Can you believe this our fourth #fangirlyourfriends posts? Be sure to read the rest if you haven’t already because they’re so fantasticand it’s so much fun to see women supporting women!
– – – – – – – – – –
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are my friends.  I have no notion of loving people by halves.  It is not my nature.” – Jane Austen
If I could start this post out with a SOUND, I would.  It would start with high-pitched complete joy-filled baby squeals and giggles, and smiles so big that my cheeks are sore, and end with tears streaming down my face, in pure utter happiness… simply for all of the LIFE that my BFF and I have walked through together.  I have so much to say about this beautiful, infectious woman of God that I could fill seventeen books, and yet at the same time, no words seem adequate enough to describe the gift that she is to me.  So #fangirlyourfriend ? Um, yes, please.  I’m a BIG fan.
Shall I start from the beginning?
setting: Bogota, Colombia, South America.
Altitude: 9,000 feet.
date: fall 2002
Jodie: Pastor of our church, leader of our entire missions team, preaching & teaching in the nations, changing the lives of thousands…very important and completely amazing.
me: 25 years old, starry eyed in a foreign country for the first time, can barely dress myself, and speak intelligently..basically, a hot mess.
IMG_2836
One rainy afternoon while walking along the streets of Bogota, this crazy important beautiful girl, who preaches in the nations, walks along beside me, and says, “Want to share my umbrella?”  Me: (awkwardly) “Sure!”  Jodie: “Want some of my almonds?”  Me: “YES!”     And right there, in the mountains of Colombia, was the start of a crazy & beautiful forever friendship.  It is also this moment, forever cherished in my heart, that also sums up hers. Jodie Marie, despite being given great influence into the lives of so many worldwide, has still always been about the ONE.  Everything she does, and everywhere she goes, she has always been PRESENT with those God has placed in her hand for THAT moment, whether that is a crowd of a thousand, or just one on one.  I had no idea what God was up to on that rainy afternoon with a friendship that formed over umbrellas and almonds, but wow.  I just cannot imagine my life without her now.
10685523_10204713294733567_2896261367988548778_n
Over the past 13 years, we have been privileged to travel together many times, serving God and making Him famous from the mountains of Bogota to the rice patties of Cambodia.  We have swam in water falls, hiked mountains, and laughed and sang and pinched ourselves in joy.  We have also held each others’ hands, and stayed up all night on several occasions crying deep sorrowful tears together, as we have also walked through GREAT tragedy together….the unthinkable happening in each others’ lives.  We have raised fists in anger at injustice and held each other up when we couldn’t hardly breathe and prayed together until there were no other words, but the name of Jesus to pray.  Friends, this is where words fail me.  The sum of all these moments together, the glorious to the not-so-glam 4am tears sobbing moments, leaves me speechless, and little tears form in the corners of my eyes in such gratitude for her.
And as if this sweet friendship weren’t enough…. God takes it one miracle further.
The miracle:
My husband and I have struggled to have children naturally, for basically the entirety of my friendship with Jodie.  She has watched us cry and pray and believe through years of waiting.  We eventually turned to international adoption, inspired largely by Jodie, of course. After almost five years of failed matches and other crazy stories, we still had no children at home.  This past winter, though, a crazy miracle happened, and God brought a birth mother TO US who wanted to give life to her child and chose us as the adoptive parents. (We weren’t even looking!)
My husband and I were so worried and cautious about this domestic adoption, wanting to do the right thing FOR THE BIRTH MOTHER, and also wanting to guard our hearts as well.  As we started to walk through the difficult and emotionally taxing process, it was just so hard to balance our own feelings as well as take great care of birth mother, who had found herself making the brave and selfless choice to give her child LIFE.
IMG_2484
BUT as ONLY GOD would have it, my best friend in the entire world…. Jodie was there.  OH, DID I FORGET TO MENTION that my ONLY BEST FOREVER FRIEND DID THIS BEFORE?  YUP.  It just so happens, that through no fault of her own, years before we were friends, she had found herself pregnant and making the choice to give birth and give her baby away for adoption.  YUP.  MY BFF.  The one who shared her almonds with me, HAD DONE THIS VERY THING…. AND GOD brought us together so that in 2015, THIS. COULD. HAPPEN.
IMG_2182
NOT ONLY did Jodie walk side by side with us, she has walked with birth mother through her pregnancy as well, helping her along at each point, coaching her, and loving her in tangible ways.  On April 22, our daughter was born, and Jodie jumped in the car and drove 2 hours to the hospital… And did she come to see me first?  Nope.  She went straight to the birth mother FOR HOURS, talking, caring, and loving her, and held her hand as she gave her daughter away, speaking life into her.  Yes, she eventually came to see me and baby, too, of course.  AND now, five months later, she has continued to help birth mother through the obstacles of everyday life and it has meant the world to us. And now today, the adoption is finalized and we have a beautiful baby girl.  Auntie Jodie is so proud!
IMG_6527 touch up
You guys, I can’t say enough about my sweet, LOUD crazy BFF Jodie. There’s just no doubt that God brought us together.  This girl, who has traveled the nations and spoken to thousands, (and did I mention started her own non-profit called Reach International and still does speaking regularly at events (www.youcanreach.org) has also taken the time to look into the eyes of ONE and love them with everything she has.  And I don’t even have time to say how profoundly she has taught me and grown me up in the things of God.  She is just ALL IN and loves others presently, with her whole heart.  Selah.
1011001_10202998075414156_811756977_n
To my fierce, passionate, silly, loud Jodie Marie: I can’t imagine what my life would be without you.  I wouldn’t trade one single moment of all we have been through together, for the fire has certainly burned away the chaff and now we have seen the Glory.  I can never speak enough words for what you mean to me. You’re integrity and authenticity are just magnetic and you have an uncommon joy of living each moment to the fullest potential, even if that includes making tent cities in airports.  You never do anything in halves and I love it all!  I hope the next 15 years are just as much of an adventure.  I love you forever!
– – – – – – – – – –
Jodie, what an inspiring friend you are. I am so honored that Jen chose to fangirl you today and that I get to share it. Thank you for loving fiercely and loving others well!

hawaiian dreaming

I have felt so many things on my mind lately it’s been kind of overwhelming. You think I would have come back from my Texas vacation refreshed, and I was, totally (which surprises me because on paper that weekend was anything but restful — it was go go go for three and a half days and I was definitely tired when I came home — tired but refreshed!)… But knowing that I was going on another super long vacation just a few weeks after coming home from Texas has kept me “nervecited,” as Charisse would say, for the last five weeks.

I’ve been living in that “I’m going on vacation soon!” mindset. I cannot wait to go visit Hawaii on Saturday but I’ve been trying to get as much as I can done before I leave so the people I’m leaving behind for nine days won’t feel my absence too much, try to kind of forget that I’m going to Hawaii(!) so I can actually remember the tons of things I need to accomplish before I leave work at 5 pm on Thursday.

Now that it’s less than a week away (108 hours until my plane departs!), I can’t stop obsessing over it, though. Hawaii! Never in a million years would I have imagined I would go. We will be staying at the Aulani Disney resort for the entire week, plus we will have a car so we can visit the island and see other things. I know we’re going to Pearl Harbor and to a luau for sure, but other than that I am trying not to be a major type-A scheduler. I want to lie in the sad, relax and a read a lot, and make memories that will carry me through the rest of my long life.

I’ve got my big-girl camera packed in my carry on (because by some miracle of miracles, I’m 85% packed already!). Yesterday I had some extra money come my way (a couple whose wedding I coordinatedrecently very generously gave me some extra money as a thank you and I did an easy dog sitting job for the day), so I decided to go grab the few things I still needed. I thought I needed a lot, but my list was so short. I found some sunglasses on Amazon (super cheap Wayfarers which I love, have owned already, and lost!), I got a neck pillow at Ross, and I grabbed sunblock at Target. Tonight I got a few other odds and ends (which I’m sure you’re just dying to hear about) — gum (SO MUCH GUM. I chew a lot of gum!), a hair buff things (like a crazy awesome headband but a thousand times better), hair ties (I was down to the last one and any girl with longer hair knows that’s a dangerous position to be in), and bobby pins, because the bobby pin monster constantly steals mine.

My suitcase, in uncharacteristic fashion, is nearly full. I’ve probably overpacked (yes, I am using my giant yellow luggage for a seven-night trip) but I will be comfortable. I’ve got my carry on full (yes, it will contain my laptop and my DSLR because I’m not stupid enough to pack those in my suitcase!). It’s got my nook and more gum and lip balm. It’s got so much. I am ready to go.

I’m finally starting to let my mind focus during the day on Hawaii. I try to keep my focus at work as much as I can, but more and more my mind keeps going to luaus and sunblock and clear, warm water and gorgeous hikes and delicious food and laughter and so much warmth. I can’t wait.

I am going to Hawaii, y’all!

(And yes, I plan on wearing my GIANT and amazing earrings by tiffany wade [I got these in medium but I wish I’d gotten these because I love the layered look]. Get yourself a pair. Be cool like me and Jen Hatmaker and Jamie Ivey.)

#fangirlyourfriends: Rebekah + Amy

This is another #fangirlyourfriends post! I’ve written a few before this one (well — I’ve shared a few I should say. These lovely friends get all the credit for the writing!). Click over here to catch up if you haven’t yet. It’s pretty incredible so see the love flowing from these ladies. I’m so glad my dear friend Corie had this genius idea about how important our very immediate friends are! This week Rebekah is here to fangirl her friend Amy. Check it out below! (And come back next week. I’ve got a few other posts brewing in these here blog waters!)

– – – – – – – – – –

As cool of a position as I try to assume at any given moment, let’s face it — #fangirling is just not all that hard for me. I mean, at nearly 40, I still belt out every pop song within days of its debut and get excited over shiny objects. (Literally.) So when Krista asked who’d like to #fangirl a friend, within three minutes I was all, “Um, can I do more than one?” Cool as a cucumber, I’m telling y’all.
When it came down to it, though, as many great people as I have in my life, I kept going back to one special, unique gem.
Amy O’Neal and I first met when we worked together in communications for a hospital. As endearing as her kind, quiet nature is, her occasional insert of quick wit is even better. (This wit is always there; don’t get me wrong. Amy just doesn’t speak up that often.) I quickly learned that with Amy, what you saw was what you got… plus some. Never one to promote herself or pretend to be anything she isn’t, Amy more often than not puts herself last. This, among many other traits, continues to show me what Jesus really would do much more than any bracelet from the 90s ever could.
When it comes to family, she is the most devout. With the sweetest of smiles, she’ll listen to my Whine Of the Day, then kindly remind me everything ebbs and flows. If things are too crazy, she’ll share a story that has me laughing until all is well again. Though I’ve yet to hear her actually complain about her duties as a mom and a wife, as with other areas of her life, Amy certainly makes it clear that she is constantly striving to be better, reminding me without saying a word that it’s only just begun for me, and I have great role models to learn from in so many areas.
oneals
I could wax on about Amy’s work ethic, then rave about her spirituality, but I can already promise you that the ratio of my gushing is in direct proportion to her embarrassment that I’m even #fangirling her.
amy-aiden
So I’ll say this: my sweet friend who avoids the spotlight like we gingers stay out of the sun, who constantly underestimates your own value, who will never see the incredible talent you are and you have: please let me #fangirl you today.
Otherwise, you may never truly know that you are an absolute hero to me, and that would be tragic.
You work hard, you adore your family, you love to give and laugh and show adoration, you have honored your parents in the sweetest of ways, and your love for our God is purer than a child’s.
You may think you have a long way to go, but this #fangirl knows you are worth more than riches, and I adore you.
amy-rebekah-brsocme

– – – – – – – – – –

Amy, you are awesome. Truly! I love reading what Rebekah had to share about you. (Actually, this post has made me kind of sniffly because you guys sound like the sweetest of friends, and there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing women love each hard and out loud!) Know that you are loved and honored and so special! <3 And don’t forget to #fangirlyourfriends this week!

#fangirlyourfriends: Katie + Heather

This is my second installment in my #fangirlyourfriends series! If you haven’t read the other post yet, take a second to pop over and read it to get some background. Then come back and hear about how Katie is fangirling her friend Heather this week!

– – – – – – – – – –

When Krista presented the idea of a series of #fangirlyourfriends posts, I knew immediately that I wanted to participate. And I also knew who I wanted to write about. I have this friend who I’ve known for more than 6 years now. In that time, we’ve only lived close to each other for a total of 18 months. Nine months after we met, she moved to Oklahoma for two years. And nine months after she moved back to Pennsylvania, I moved to Georgia.

But somehow, despite the distance… and maybe even because of it… we’ve managed more than maintaining our friendship. It’s deepened and strengthened into something beautiful and life-giving. And for that reason, I’ve chosen Heather as the friend I want to fangirl about.

I decided the best way to do this would be those acrostics we all did as kids. You know—the ones where you take each letter of your name and pick a word that starts with that letter to describe yourself.

Here’s mine about Heather.

H – Human
Right now Heather is married, raising two kids, working as an in-home caregiver, and pursuing a nursing degree. Yet even with all those things happening, she’s the first to admit that she’s human. There’s no attempt to be Super Woman. She simply works hard to accomplish what she can get done in a day. She has her priorities set: love her husband, love her kids and keep them alive, care for her clients, get her schoolwork done. There’s a lot of craziness in this season which means dishes and laundry may not get done as regularly as she’d like. Meals may not be as healthy or gourmet as she’d like. Quality time with her husband may not come as often as she’d like. But it’s ok because that’s the reality of being human. And Heather lives in this reality quite well—not perfectly, but well, because that’s what it means to be human.

E – Encouraging
Heather is probably the most encouraging person I know. She sees and calls out the good stuff in everyone she knows. In the hundreds of conversations we’ve had over the years, she’s helped me see countless times where I’ve grown and changed for the better. Which is good because I suck at seeing those things for myself. I know I am who I am today in part because of Heather’s encouragement. In times when I would have given up, she’s spurred me forward with Spirit-filled truth and love. I know I’m not alone in being able to say that about her.

A – Awkward
I’m not sure I can count the times I’ve heard the phrase “I’m awkward” come out of Heather’s mouth. And she is awkward… in the most endearing way. It’s a huge part of the “being human” thing I talked about earlier. She delights in being who she is and makes no attempt to be anything else. It has the most freeing effect on the people around her because it means we can be ourselves, too. Her awkwardness creates a safe space.

T – Tenacious
Despite hearing the word ‘tenacious’ a lot, I wasn’t totally sure what it meant. When I looked it up, I discovered phrases like “holding fast” and “holding together” along with words like “persistent” and knew I could use it about Heather. Her life has not been easy or smooth-sailing. But she’s been persistent through it all, pressing forward through grief and set-backs and discouragement. More importantly, she’s held fast to her faith in a God who loves and cares for her. It’s a faith that has grown with questioning and doubting and conversing about the hard things. And because of that, it’s a faith that holds her together even when the rest of her world seems to be falling apart.

H – Humble
Heather might be the most humble person I’ve ever met. And it’s a real humility that invites you in and makes you feel safe. She’s real and transparent in ways that allow others to be vulnerable and open with her. She’s the first to admit she doesn’t have it all figured out. She apologizes when she doesn’t get it right with the people in her life. She doesn’t expect perfection from her friends because she knows she isn’t perfect herself. She can admit to, laugh at, and learn from her mistakes. That is true humility.

E – Enthusiastic
When Heather gets excited about something, you know it. Her enthusiasm is palpable even over the phone. And the list of things she gets excited about is long: her family, Doctor Who, gatherings of her friends, Fall, vacations at the beach, Game of Thrones, phone calls, Hunger Games, baking things. You can’t help but get excited with her. I love it.

R – Remarkable
The dictionary says ‘remarkable’ means “notably or conspicuously unusual; extraordinary; worthy of notice or attention.” Heather is all of these things. She is unapologetically unique which makes her unusual in this world of people wanting to fit in. The way she lives and loves is extraordinary. The grace she pours out on the world around her is most definitely worth of notice. She is a remarkable woman and I’m glad to call her my friend.

Me & Heather celebrating my 30th birthday

Me & Heather celebrating my 30th birthday

– – – – – – – – – –

Heather! You sound like an amazing friend and I love seeing you come to life through Katie’s words. You are so special and the kind of friend we all should have at least one of. Keep living live in such a remarkable, wonderful way! <3

You can find more of Katie’s writing over at her blog, Beauty Restored. May her words encourage you to fangirl your own friends!