I was in the mud. The metaphorical mud. The lowest place. Fresh out of high school and a fractured family situation, I chose Seattle Pacific University because I knew that I somehow needed to stay connected to my northwest roots, but I also needed to be in a totally new place…somewhere I could maybe spread wings into new skies and find healing for my emotional wounds.
She was the first person I met in Seattle. You would never know we had just met as the school year began, the way we were quickly ‘attached at the hip’ as they say. She shared my passion for Jesus and music, and in the first few weeks of classes, it was clear that I had made a true Anne-of-Green-Gables-bosom-friend.
In that season, I felt like a lump of nothing good. I was grieving my broken family in my own way, retreating into a reflective, desperate space, begging God to give me some hope that life could ever be really sweet. Healthy. Whole. I didn’t think it ever would be, but I sobbed out my prayers for hope anyway. She didn’t understand my brokenness at all, but she held me up. Prayed for me. Sat with me in the mud for several months while I cried and cried, and has stood by me in the years since as I have sorted out what it looks like to surrender to God’s plans for me at each new fork in the road.
One photo a week of our family throughout the year. 11/52
Sometime in our first weeks at school, she invited me to come home with her one weekend to meet her family. They completely enveloped me. I was initially overwhelmed by the size of their family, and the size of their love; six children in total, each with unique and lovely personalities, and a family dynamic that astounded me. Laughter, love, light-heartedness. At that time, I didn’t plan to have children, but if I did, that’s what I wanted my home to feel like. The thought of a having a home like that made me cry even more. I didn’t think that would ever be in the cards for me. How funny life is.
We have developed a cherished friendship that has endured many seasons. College. Marriage. Long-distance moves. Bumps and bruises and hard lessons. The arrival of (many) children. It’s a bit comical that we are both celebrating 9th wedding anniversaries this summer and have a combined 10 children between our two young families. I promise we are not competing. Knowing her and her extended family planted seeds in my heart years ago that are coming to fruition in my life now in beautiful and unexpected ways. She has taught me many things over the years, but it started with holding on to hope that the dark seasons do not last forever, and the discovery that in God’s upside-down kingdom, being humbled and acknowledging our weakness can bring about unexpected blessing. I am myself, a living testimony of how God restores, heals, strengthens, and establishes those who seek Him, and I truly have a debt of gratitude for this friendship in particular that carried me through some of my darkest days.
She continues to sharpen me. Inspire and encourage me. Support and uplift me. A rare and beautiful gem she is.
This past week, we had the opportunity to hang out with this silly bunch, and while they’re not related by blood, they certainly are part of our hearts and part our family in a special way. Thus, they have earned an honorary place in our family photo for the week.
2 Cor. 12:9 He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.