I had the opportunity to return to Jonesboro this past week to see some precious sisters in Christ, including one who has been away in another country! I don't know if any of you have the privilege of experiencing real, heart to heart connection with other Christian women, but when you do you don't want any other kind of friendships! These women are lifelines for me. They are my sounding boards, my shoulders to cry on, and my source of refreshment during dry periods in my life. And they are NOT afraid to tell me how it really is or needs to be!:) Which I absolutely love and believe everyone needs in life.
These are women that have truly pushed me in my spiritual walk. We have grown up together in our spirituality, and our times of prayer and bible study are precious to me. It is because of these women that I can leave a life that I was comfortable in and face a new challenge in a new place... I know they are praying for me like crazy! I have been through some life changing stuff with these girls, and I have watched so many of them go through life changing stuff of their own. One has moved to a whole different country, with a completely different culture and lifestyle. Her whole-hearted trust in God and dedication to sharing his word with others is inspiring to me and I have so much respect for her. Another is facing down giants from her past with steadfast faith and repeatedly trusts the Lord when put into difficult situations socially and spiritually. She is the "Paul" in my life; although a believer as a child, she wandered away from Christ until he grabbed her on the road of her life and took the scales from her eyes. She has boldly stepped out in obedience to him from that moment on and refuses to compromise in a very compromising world. She is a dear friend and I couldn't be more proud of her! One of my oldest friends has experienced the same situation as I have. She has been moved from a life she loved to a life she would rather not be in, and she has determined to follow the Lord's will every step of the way by fighting the desire to be sad and resentful, instead seeking Him through the storm. Watching her face her situation inspires me to be more gracious in my own, without a doubt!
The list goes on and on...from a precious friend leaving her and her husband's family to help plant a church all the way across the United States, to another 's dedication to teaching children in Awana's every week without fail. These are the women that make change for Christ happen and I think of them and miss them everyday. But as I write this particular blog (with tears, of course!), there is one friend who has had a profound impact on me and my relationship with Christ. She has given me words of wisdom and scripture in every heart wrenching, knee hitting situation I have faced during the past three years. Time and time again without fail, God uses her to give me scriptures or words that give me exactly what I need when I need them. When my oldest son was sick and we were praying he didn't have Cancer as we waited for test results, she sat with me during one of the darkest moments of my life and cried like it was her own son. "God knows how you feel, Carissa" she said, "He lost his own son." I mean, profound. While I was on my face in my closet crying out to God who had not given me the baby I wanted desperately, she called and said, "God knows the plans he has for you, and they are good." That was it...the call took all of two minutes and it changed my entire perspective on my situation.
All the times she was right there for me is something I will never forget, but now it's her turn. She is facing down a giant bigger than I can even wrap my head around, and she needs all hands on deck for this one. Her daughter was diagnosed with a form of brain damage when she was six months old. All though it is not degenerative, it will effect every part of her life and she will have to fight for things that naturally happen to the rest of us. She is currently a beautiful one year old, who has made major achievements by lifting her head for periods of time and reaching her hand out to try to touch or grab things. This is one of the happiest babies I have ever met and has a sparkle to her that is indescribable, however doctors can not tell her parents if she will ever walk, talk or even sit up on her own. But her mom, and my precious friend, glorifies God and praises Him without ceasing. She thanks Him for her blessings, praises him for His faithfulness, and tells everyone she meets that He WILL show up for her daughter today and everyday. Watching her walk through this experience has truly been life changing for me. She has faith that only Abraham can rival and a spiritual maturity that is far beyond her years. I love her so much, but sadly, I cannot be with her. The short periods of time that we can be together is spent in laughter, tears and prayers...and they are times I will NEVER forget.
I believe that God made us relationship people to experience His fullness, but also to help us through a life that He knew would be hard for us. In a fallen world, true friendship between believers is a special gift from the Lord. Look at David and Johnathan, Ruth and Naomi, Mary and Elizabeth, Paul and Timothy, Jesus and Peter, the list goes on and on. I am so grateful for this gift and for the women, both near and far, that the Lord placed in my life. I will not take them for granted, I have prayed for them to come into my life for way too long.