This is Marianne. Marianne is Amy's little sister. I have known her since she was 7 and Amy and I were 12. That being said, I have seen her go through many seasons and stages. Witnessing her life and seeing her give it to God has been a blessing to me. And through every season, through every single moment we spend together, I am reminded of that blessing all the more.
I am always so thankful when friends or family are in or driving through the Raleigh/Durham area and make time to see me. Marianne was in Raleigh this weekend because she was in a wedding. Even though her weekend was packed, she made time to go to church with me this morning and have lunch with me afterwards before heading back to Greenville, SC. That is just like her. Rather than sleeping in or going ahead and getting on the road for a long trip home, she made time for me. She took time to invest in my life and just be with me...even if just for a couple of hours.
My time with Marianne today reminded me of one of my favorite seasons with her. It was during the Fall of 2004 to the Spring of 2005. Marianne and I were both living in Greenville, NC...Marianne in her junior year at ECU. Amy was engaged and living in Greenville, SC. During that time period Marianne and I made several trips...5 to be exact...from NC to SC and back to NC until Amy got married in April. That's a total of about 12 hours per trip....60 hours total of riding together...60 hours of talking and listening. This was an important time in Marianne's life. It was a time of tremendous spiritual growth. She had lots of questions, and I, of course, always have lots of questions. We talked and talked. But we listened even more than we talked. Our friendship grew, and this girl that once was "Amy's little sister" became my friend and like a little sister to me, too. Not that I didn't always adore her, because I did, but now God used this special time together to grow and secure a bond between us that wasn't there before. And that bond will be there forever.
I have told Marianne before that there is just something special about her that I can't even describe...something I don't think I have ever seen in anyone else...at least not to the same extent. When I think about Marianne, the first word that comes to mind is joy. I can just see her dancing around, her face bright, and her spirit soaring. I have seen her joy in the happiest of times...joy in the most frustrating of times...joy in the most "unfair" times. Joy...joy and confidence that comes from Jesus. She chooses joy every day in every circumstance. She chooses to follow Jesus. She chooses joy.