#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!
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“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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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!
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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!
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