Friday, March 20, 2009

a new kind of connection

some people write and they write so passionately that you can't even help but be drawn in. over and over. time and time again. and their words effect the way you think. the way you give. and the way you love. especially the way you love. this is true of a friend of mine. her name is ashley.

ashley and i went to middle and high school together. i can't remember having but just a couple of classes together. i don't even remember really hanging out together. i remember ashley. i just don't have many memories of her. i would have said we were friends. i definitely always liked her. and always respected her. we had many mutual friends. but i don't feel that we ever really connected...not the way i connected with many of the girls in her "group" of friends.

through blogging...and through encouragement...but especially through Jesus, there is a sweet connection between ashley and me now. so many, every time after reading her blog or reading a sweet and witty comment she leaves me, i am left feeling encouraged and challenged in a new and unique way. ashley is unique. a blessing. her faith is like none i have ever witnessed. her vulnerability and honesty are rare. she has purpose. to bring glory to Jesus. to bring Him honor. that's what matters to her. it's all that matters to her.

i was in the same building with ashley every weekday, 10 months out of the year, for 7 straight years. since high school, i only know of ashley and i being in the same place one time (at our high school reunion...see pic below). but through the world of blogging, and especially through Jesus, He has given us a special connection. one that just wasn't there before. i am truly thankful for that. and i praise Him for that. just read ashley's blog, you will be encouraged. you will be challenged. and you will want to keep reading. i promise.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

peace. wisdom. humility.

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.~James 3: 13
wisdom and humility. what a perfect combination. these are two words...along with peace...i think describe my friend, marianne, best....

all the way back at the very beginning of 2004, rebecca and i joined a bible study. a bible study that would shape, challenge, and encourage us in ways like never before. marianne was leading the group. she is the wife of the joe, the then youth pastor of my home church in greenville. the other girls in the group, along with rebecca and me, were all (or eventually would be) volunteer leaders for the youth group. we were living life together and doing ministry together. marianne was our leader. teaching us wisdom and humility in the way she led and in the way she lived. i left greenville at the beginning of 2006, ashley left in 2007 to move to raleigh and teach in cary :), and then marianne and her family moved to texas last year.
(and emily is leaving for louisiana this coming june...check back in a few months with that story).

the third weekend in february, marianne flew to nc to visit us girls and some other friends. it is hard to believe that the last time we had ALL been together was last january at rebecca's wedding. it's hard to believe because we picked up like we had just been together...not that actually over a year had passed. marianne brings a sense of peace that is just not quite there when she is not with us. she brings wisdom. definitely wisdom about Jesus and His Word. but also wisdom about everyday, ordinary things. but maybe those go hand in hand because of her life of prayer and devotion to Him. marianne brings humility. just her virtuous spirit encourages our hearts to be humble before the Lord. marianne is the same marianne that left us almost a year ago. a little wiser. and a little more wonderful. because it's just like her to grow in her faith. or maybe i just noticed and appreciated her a little more. so, probably, it's a combination of both. marianne has been one of the most significant mentors in my life.
and she continues to be...
from texas to north carolina...
waco to cary.
peace. wisdom. humility... that's what she continues to bring to me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

happy birthday...sister

i love my sister. i am not talking about rebecca, although i do love her, too. beth is my brother's wife, and that makes her my sister. some of you may not know, but she has been hanging out with my family since she and rebecca were in sixth grade. rebecca's best friend...and to make a very long story short, she married carl. i honestly believe i loved her like she was a part of our family even before she and carl were very serious. i think we all did. (well, rebecca did most of the time.) God had a plan...a perfect plan to place her in our family. beth is thoughtful and silly. creative and sensitive. dependable and fun. beautiful and humble. she is my sister and my friend. she loves my brother in the most precious way. she teaches me about faith and love without even knowing. i thank God for her and praise Him for creating her. and i celebrate her life today. she is a blessing to me. today is her birthday. and i love her.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

being myself

truly being myself. that is what my friend, lauren, brings out in me. i think she just naturally has that effect on people. when i think about it, it is really quite amazing that we are so close. she lived with my sister in college. she was and continues to be such a blessing in rebecca's life. i thank God for their friendship...for giving my sister an encouraging friend in college. lauren is one of my sister's best friends, and over these years she has become one of mine. i am not quite sure how it happened...we lived in the same town for a couple of years when i moved back to greenville after college, but it wasn't until she moved to baltimore that all of sudden she became one of my closest friends. a friend i knew i would have forever. i would go with rebecca to visit she and brian. we talked on the phone and never ran out of things to say. when i say we had fun together, that doesn't even begin to describe it. lauren brings out a side in me that i love. and i think i bring it out in her, too. weirdness. ask rebecca. but most of all, i love that when i talk to lauren, all i can see is that she is one of the most honest and genuine people i have ever known. she isn't afraid to to share her feelings. and she's not too prideful to admit her faults and weaknesses, and i find that to be one of her strengths. she talks to me about Jesus. and she asks me to pray for her. she makes me feel important. and that is because she shares her life with me. the Lord uses her to encourage me and give me confidence. she reminds me of the One i live to please. that His love and approval is all i need. being who He made me to be. truly being myself. that's what lauren brings out in me.

the second weekend in february i got to go visit lauren and brian and their two boys, Carter and Greyson, at their beach house in topsail island. brian and carter even got me flowers and a card for valentine's day. the card had a sticker that said, "2 cute, 2 talk, 2 you"and then the inside says, "it's valentine's day, be picky." isn't that great!? lauren is also a wonderful cook, and she cooked for us all weekend. we sat around talking a lot...we always talk. it's one of my favorite things about our friendship. i edited a lot of pictures while i was there. (aren't you proud of me, rebecca?) and i helped lauren start a blog. you should definitely check it out. she draws beautiful picture portraits. she is selling them. you should buy one. i am.

i also took lots of pictures while i was there. for christmas, my parents got me this really cool new flash. i am still so sad because i forgot to take it with me to my grandpa's party. but i did get good use out of it at lauren's, as you can see in my first collage of pictures above. i think it makes my pictures look a little more professional. i love my new flash. and i love lauren, brian, carter, and greyson...i told lauren while i was there that she and brian really are a team. they work so well together in parenting and in their marriage. i loved being reminded of that in my weekend with them. i am thankful for a weird, fun, and encouraging weekend.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


February was a busy month. I went out of town every single weekend. I hope to blog about each weekend, but given my track record in blogging lately, I am not making any promises.

The first weekend in February my Grandma gave my Grandpa a 75th birthday party. Grandma and all their children, grandchildren, and spouses wrote letters for Grandpa...we put them all together into a scrapbook. My Grandpa is the most sensitive man I know. We put the scrapbook on his chair that morning of the party while he was out taking care of the farm. We all went to decorate for the party, so when he came back he had time to read all the letters. He said as he was reading the tears just kept flowing. I am posting my letter. I love my Grandpa...

Dear Grandpa,
I celebrate your life everyday but especially today. I praise Jesus for the way you live, the way you serve, and the way you love. I praise Him that you were born to my sweet Grandma Jean, that you married my beautiful Grandma, that you are the father of my precious mother, and that you are my my gentle and faithful Grandpa. I praise Him for all these blessings. I praise Him for the gift of you.
I have always loved your relationship with Grandma. It has inspired me, comforted me, and given me so much joy. I love the way you love each other so deeply and so purely. The way you take care of each other is very special. I love to hear your conversations with each other. I love to hear you laugh together and speak truth to each other. I love watching you dance together. I love that you go on trips together, making fun memories and strengthening your bond because of memorable experiences. I love that you go to church together and learn to love your Lord even better together. And I love the way your love grows.

Over the past almost thirty years, some of my most treasured memories are the ones spent with you. Thank you for teaching me to ski, hydro slide, and ride horses. Thank you for teaching my friends to do the same. Thank you for welcoming so many of my friends into your home and into your life, making them feel special, too. It means so much to me to know that many of my closest friends know you and Grandma. Your house and the farm are so special to me. Both places are filled with fun times and bring peace to my heart when I am there. This is because of you. You are one of the most peaceful people I know. That is one of my favorite qualities about you. Peaceful people bring peaceful memories and peaceful blessings. Thank you.
Some of the things I love most about my mom, I think she inherited or learned from you. Peacefulness. Gentleness. Integrity. Quiet Faith. Sense of humor. Wisdom. Selflessness. Self-control. Patience. Goodness. Love. Thank you for teaching these things to my mom. I am thankful that I have been given the opportunity to witness these qualities not only in my mom, but also in you. I think you and my mom are very much alike. And that is blessing to me.
There are so many things I have learned from you....just watching you live your life. And there are so many things I love about you. You have given me the example of living a life of responsibility, specifically with money. You have shown me how to live a life of patience, in EVERYTHING you do. You do not complain and in difficult times, your faith does not falter. Your faith in Jesus is strong, but it also continues to grow. You love and serve your wife in the most special way. You work hard, harder than anyone else I know. You take care of important things and people. Your sensitive heart and respectable nature show those that love you most that you are a man of integrity...a wonderful man of God. Thank you for teaching me, in the most humble way.

You are my role model. You are a source of strength in my life. A source of peace. You are one of the few men in my life that, if it be the Lord's will, I would want my husband to be like. You are my precious Grandpa. I am honored to be able to say that. I adore you. And I love you...