Continuing on with my last post. I have been thinking about the beauties I spent time with in Colorado last month. These are some things I learned from them. I'm sharing them in hopes that you'll be just as blessed by these girls as I am. They have taught me so much.
Angie- I've never met anyone so authentic. She is who she is and she won't pretend to be anything else. Few things are more refreshing than that... And few people have influenced my life as greatly as Ang has. So while I could fill a book with things I have learned from her... I will stick with the main thing I learned from our few hours together this trip... Shame is a powerful thing, but love is even more powerful. Shame makes us want to hide. The weight of our mistakes and the ache of our broken dreams can often lead us to resist things that are good for us. Things like counseling. Time with family. Godly friends. We recognize that somehow these things are good, but our shame is worn like a sunburn and every hug we receive is painful, even when we know they are motivated by love. Shame makes us run. Hide. Isolate. But love... Persistent, compassionate, gentle, selfless love will eventually draw us from our shame. It may take time... Sometimes years... But shame is like death and the Bible says that love is stronger than death. Angie teaches me that no matter our shame we can't give up. She reminds me to have grace on ourselves when we mess up, and to understand that though the church may turn up their nose at our mistakes, it was Jesus Himself that welcomed the woman caught in adultery... With the comforting words, "neither do I condemn you". Angie encourages me that no story is perfect and every story is another opportunity for God's love to shine forth. Ang reminds me how significant it is to encourage our loved ones and remind them of what we see in them... It's never safe to assume that someone else will encourage a person. It's likely that most people haven't been encouraged at all in a day... And even if they have, there is no harm in extravagant love.
Chanelle- Among the conversations I shared with Chanelle, I think I was most impacted by her desire to see people value themselves... Really i was impacted by her desire to see me value myself... Haha this mostly played out in her sending me consistent compassionate text messages that reminded me to slow down and rest. Its amazing the affect she had on me. Being someone who has mastered the art of "overdoing it"- I had managed to fill every hour of my day one week, and one of those hours was scheduled to be a date with Chanelle. But when she learned of my schedule she insisted that I stay home and rest... After a bit of reluctance on my end... I ended up on my bed listening to Coldplay on Pandora and exploring Pinterest. It was perfect. Chanelle said that proper rest is a way to reflect on what God has done. It refreshes us and gives us strength for the new things God is doing. She is a wise woman. Im so grateful.
Melissa Mikkelsen- Passionate. That's a distinctive mark of this girl. She has always been passionate- i remember seeing that in her when we first met back in high school. But in the last few years I have watched her direct that passion towards Jesus, and the power of God at work in her life has been undeniable. I guess what I learned most from her this trip was the importance of intimacy with Jesus. It is a message that she preaches without even speaking. To use a word that Taylor Swift introduced me to... Melissa is "wonderstruck" with Jesus. Watching her do life with Christ is like a watching a new bride adore her groom. She gets excited to pray, she is eager to read the Bible... And the joy she carries is testimony in itself of the Spirit living in her. Melissa reminds me that life isn't about what I accomplish, and success isn't found in the things I do... She reminds me that the most important thing in life is the relationship we have with our Savior. Everything else, though often good, is essentially meaningless compared to the greatness of living in love with Christ. And beyond that... Melissa helps me to remember that no "ministry for God" is as important as simply seeking Him. I'm so grateful for a reminder like that... Because its a truth that I often forget.
Alexa- What isn't Alexa teaching me these days? She is living proof that God really does take us from ashes to beauty. She has faced, at her young age of 24, things that most don't go through until late in life... if ever. Still somehow she has maintained a tender heart and a genuine desire to be the person God created her to be. She views her difficult life circumstances as a gift. She is always looking for ways to love and serve others, no matter how she is feeling. She lives with hope for the future and really believes, with simple faith like a child, that God can and will make everything okay. Her innocence is endearing and her work ethic is admirable. Her hope for life makes me hopeful too. She has grown so much in the last few years and the woman that she is becoming is one of sweet compassion and gentle strength. Alexa reminds me to laugh more and stress less... which is something I am working on... it seems like there is always so much to stress over... but sweet Alexa (actually I call her "Wessa"- its what her little brother used to call her) teaches me to pursue a life of simple pleasures and not to get hung up on things that are out of my control. She is a precious friend and I'm so thankful for the time spent with her.
|After a dinner date with Ang|
|Chik-Fil-A with Alexa|
|Melissa, Tara, and I last year celebrating my birthday :)|
|This is Chanelle. I couldn't find a photo of us together. But we both like coffee so this one will do :)|