Last night was such a perfect night. A night for me to remember. A night that will surely carry me through. We left our children behind with other capable adults and packed my childhood home with estrogen, girl talk, pizza and laughing.
I spend time with each of them often, but seldom together. It was a real treat.
Nora, if you are reading this some day baby there are a few things I want to tell you about life and friendships.
First of all, there will be many circumstances that lead you into relationships with people. When God intentionally places them in your life, allow Him to. Dig deep and receive from them what you will but give of yourself too. My friends came together last night in one room and as I looked around at the melting pot of personalities I realized, they are all so vital in making me exactly who I am. This is important, Nora. You want to grow, change and develop as the people around you challenge you. For one second let me tell you about each of them so you can see what they bring to my life...
Ashley has been my friend since we were 13 years old. We were drawn together because of really hard circumstances for teenage girls. I sat beside her on her bed for days after her brother died tragically and watched her diligently to make sure she was going to be ok. I was with her minutes after she delivered her first little boy, named after that brother and have never felt more honored to be her friend. I have loved her fiercely for many years and to this day, I still tell everyone that she has the best heart.
Becky and I became friends when we shared our last pregnancies together. Our due dates were just days apart. She has never said it but I believe her heart bleeds for me. I believe that when she sees Mabel there are times when it overtakes her to know that those precious days of pregnancy we shared together were the most anticipated, celebrated and sweetest of my entire life. Recently Becky's middle son was diagnosed with autism. Over the summer, as we got a diagnosis for Mabel, Jonah was regressing right before her eyes. She has a beautiful yellow button tattooed on her wrist and it signifies to me every time I see it, her loyalty and love for not only me but for our family. I pray that she knows every day just how much I love her and how powerfully I will fight for her if or when the time comes that I need to. Becky is pregnant with her 4th baby now. She is scared but we are praying and believe God has a sovereign plan in our lives.
Oh yes, and we hope that it involves a baby girl.
Aunt Rachel is my lifeline. She makes me laugh and carries me through. She knows parts of me that others won't ever know and she identifies not only with me but for me. Sometimes she is my voice when I can't find the words to articulate the pain and she has given me a freedom in myself that I didn't have before.
Carolyn has quickly become a great treasure to my heart. She is the mommy of many that I blogged about recently. She amazes me with her ability to give. And then give some more. She shows up every week with dinner for our family and although I tell her she doesn't have to, she ignores me and brings dessert as well. When I hear Carolyn's laugh, I have faith in my own. She brings joy to me. Simple, silly joy. She holds Mabel and cares about Braden in a way that is unique. I feel like she's been around forever and I pray that from this point on, she is.
There are things about Rachelle that many people don't know. But I do. I know this girls past, her heart, the pain, the triumph and her desires. She is gentle and loving and has always stood by me. We share the kind of friendship that is normal, natural and easy. There may be months that we go without talking because life is busy but we quickly pick back up where we left off and move on as if time stood still. She and I have a friendship that is far different than most and I believe she understands that. We share the love of good cookies and a sweet treat and when I need someone to listen, she is always there. She is a serious gift to my life.
Are you still with me Nora? Pay close attention babe.
I could cry writing about Abrian. I could cry because this girl swooped into my life during a time when I was losing some of myself. You see, Abrian doesn't know the Ramee that I used to be. She isn't an old friend that I share childhood memories with. Instead, she came along right when God knew I needed her. She has the sweetest spirit and the greatest little voice. There is never a time when she comes here that she is not happy. Many days, in fact countless times, I have felt like the end was near and suddenly Abie would show up in our driveway and walk through the door. She doesn't know it, but she has saved me. She has saved me so many times. Abrian was placed in my life for a really great purpose and she has taught me that this new 'me' is just fine. I am still worthy of friendships, I am still capable of loving and I cherish that about her.
Jen is my newest friend. She read our story right here on my blog and decided that she wanted to give to our family. In doing so, she has given to me in ways I can't explain. Jen and I found ourselves in a friendship that was easy and light. It turns out that she lives right down the street from us so we spent much of the early fall on blankets in our yard as all of our kids played around us. She has held me and prayed over me while I let myself go and the spirit moved during church. We have already spent many nights pouring over movies and junk food as we talk and laugh about life and men. God orchestrated this friendship, just like the others and I am so thankful that I have allowed myself room in my heart to receive all that He is still doing through her.
My very oldest friend is Lindsay. By oldest I suppose I mean that she has been around the longest. We met the very first day of Kindergarten and have been best friends ever since. Our childhood memories are etched together and as adults we have bonded over our own kids and the chaos around us. Lindsay's heart is like none that I know. When I was younger I never had to fear being made fun of or bullied because this girl would kill someone for me. She is still that way and she loves me greatly. I don't know if she'll ever truly know how much she means to me but I hope she does. Our hearts are connected in a way that goes unspoken but she is absolutely the most loving woman I know.
The story of Katie and I's friendship has been one that still amazes me. It tells of the deep love of our Father and how He works our the details of relationships for all people involved. Katie and her husband moved here after a hard time in their lives. We saw them and God spoke audibly to Katie about our friendship. A few weeks later I happened to walk to a park where they were and the rest is history. We could have ignored the cues. We could have went about our days and never paid attention to the plan that was before us but we didn't. We listened to God and pursued one another. It has been a journey for us that we will always share and I hope, like myself, that she will never forget that God-bond that we share.
The gifts that I opened were incredibly special. But I want to emphasize for you, Nora, just how little they matter in comparison to the people I had surrounding me last night and the relationships that I have built in them. The true gifts lie there, in their hearts and in our lives.
Like a new, unopened gift, there is something so special about the excitement and progression of a new friendship. It's unique and always has room to grow and change. It's boundaries are not set by that of who you once were or who you will become. It's flexible and allows you to bend and shape the way that life leads.
I also deeply treasure the comfort and the quality of an old quilt. Much like an old friend it brings warmth and character. It's aged and tattered and there are imperfections. That is true of any friendship. But the joy that comes with the quilt, and the friendship, is that of authenticity. There is nothing to hide.
Beyond friendships, there are other bonds that are natural because God gave you the same blood to share. Nora, God gave you Mabel as your sister and in her you will see yourself. There are parts of her that will compliment you and there are parts of her that will be completely opposite. You will look in her eyes and you will see your eyes. You may share the same smile or the same cheekbones but all in all you share the same foundation. You share the same mom and the same dad and in that there is a lasting calm that will be forever yours. She is yours, baby. Always cherish her because whether with you or with God, Mabel is your only sister. She is your treasure that you will breathe in. You will find peace there when all else around you fails. That is what I have in Aunt Jeni and it is the greatest gift of my life.
What I love about my friendships, among many things is that you all have found the ability to come together with people who are really nothing like you and love them. Despite our differences and our many different experiences we have all formed a respect for each other that keeps us coming back time and time again. I love you all in such awesome and powerful ways. You are my village and continue to lift me up when I feel like I cannot go on. Please know how special you all are to me. Please know that there is nothing about this life that I wish to do without you. When I write the memoir of my days it will quite literally be filled with stories of you. You make me, me.
I had the best birthday. Thanks to my wonderful mom for allowing us to invade the house and for sharing in the night with us. I love you so so much.