Monday, September 15

You Gotta Have Friends...

I'm just going to come out and say it. If it sounds as if I am bragging, well... I am a little. I had a FABULOUS weekend. My weekend was spent with three of my closest friends. These friends have been friends for over half of my life. We've known each other since elementary school but have been great friends since junior high. Their names are Stephanie, Laney and Macy, and we called ourselves SLAM, each letter for the first initial of each of our names (before you cast judgement on the fact that we named ourselves, remember that we were in Jr. High).

We grew up in McComb, MS; however, three of us (Me, Macy and Stephanie) moved away by 11th grade. So, I realize that it is pretty amazing that they are still my very close friends. No doubt, we stayed so close, because Christ has always been the center of our relationship. We know that He brought us together at a perfect time in our lives and has sustained our relationship over the years so that we could encourage each other and lift each other up. We have been through a lot together. Our trials began immediately, I guess, with the normal peer pressure issues. It is much easier to make good choices in a group rather than all alone. I never stop thanking God for the strength I gained from these girls during that time. However, that was just the beginning. We've faced good times and bad since then and shared them all together. This summer, Stephanie's husband, Jason, died after a 7 month fight against leukemia. Stephanie has three beautiful children (ages 6, 3 and 7 months) that she is now parenting alone, and I would be lying if I said that I didn't regularly ask God, "Why?????" We haven't seen Stephanie since the funeral, so we were all looking forward to a weekend together.

I didn't really know what to expect. I got so emotional just waiting for them to arrive. But, let me just tell you we did a whole lot more laughing than crying. There were tears, sure. Sometimes I think about what Stephanie has to deal with on a day to day basis and my chest feels so heavy it is hard to breathe. But, God gave us the gift of laughter this weekend. We laughed at old stories (very old stories), we laughed at stories about our children, we laughed at humor on T.V.( Did anyone see the Sarah Palin/Hillary Clinton skit on SNL?), and we even laughed at some things that are just really not funny. Oh, and if you happen to read this and you are someone that knows us from Jr. High, we are still obnoxious! Laughter is good medicine. And, I love these friends.

There is really only one way that we are able to laugh in the middle of this very sad story. Jason was a believer, so we know where he is right now. By the way, Jason and Stephanie began dating in 11th grade, so he knew all of our stories and was such a good sport about laughing with us. I don't know what of Earth can be seen from Heaven, but if he could see us, I'm sure Jason laughed along with us. But, mainly we can laugh, because Christ has become Steph's very life through this ordeal. She is depending on Him more now than ever. So, it is through our TRUST in Him and His plans, that we move forward in the midst of great tragedy. Jesus said, "I have come that you may have LIFE and have it to the fullest." We experienced the fullness of life this weekend. And, I didn't want it to end.

Stephanie, Laney, Macy, I love you so much. I wish we could be assured that this is the end of our trials. Probably not. I will never stop thanking God for the gift that He has given me in you girls. To everyone else, if you have stuck with me -- I really tried not to be long-winded, experience the irony of life in the midst of death. Our world is FULL of struggles, darkness and death. And right in the center is Christ calling us to Himself where there is only LIFE. You don't have to wait for Heaven where these tragedies will be over. He gave us abundant life HERE. Receive the gift and live.

P.S. Many of my dear friends from Clinton were excited with me about the SLAM reunion. They thought about us and prayed for us during the weekend, and that made me feel very loved. And, thanks, Dee Dee, for Newk's chocolate cake. It was delicious!!


Dee Dee said...

Wow! I'm so glad you guys had a good time. I got emotional just telling Todd that y'all were getting together. I'm sure it was great therapy!

Much love, D2

Stephanie said...

A great weekend it was. Oh, if we could do it more often. I was thinking yesterday why the Lord didn't see fit for us to all live in the same town and then it hit me... He knew we are much to obnoxious to be in one town! Ha! No one would like us! Anyway, thanks for your hospitality. I love you much and looking forward to December! Love you much,
p.s. December is a MUST! No excuses...remember, my husband just died!

Macy Cross said...

I second all that you shared (and dido Steph's comment; especially the part about her husband dying) You girls are a treasure to me. I'm looking forward to basking in it again in December! Hopefully we can get a better picture next time! Love you, Macy