Day Eight: I’m Thankful For…Friendships.

Preface: I thought it was fitting to express my thanks during the month of November for something new each day, as so many others have done before me. I’ve never taken the time to do this, and it will be a challenge to blog each day, but it’s so important to recognize the blessings God has given us! 🙂 These are in NO particular order…

Friendship is one of the greatest gifts that God has bestowed upon us. In the past eleven years, He has brought the most incredible people into my life–some for a season, some for a lifetime…all for a purpose. I am SO very thankful that He has continually provided women (and men) who are willing to live life with me…to laugh together, cry together, explore together, and worship together. This post is fairly lengthy because God has so richly blessed me…and I didn’t even talk about all of my friends! I decided to focus mostly on the women who were in our wedding.

I had 22 roommates before I got married, and each of them impacted my life in some way. While I don’t keep in touch with all of them, I do think about them all often because of the memories that we shared. Allison, Sara, Leslie, Jessica B., Alli, Katie, Rebecca, Johanna, Jen, Brianna, Kori,  Jessica E., Erin B., Courtney, Kait, Erin, Ananda, Mindi, Molly, Christy, Laura, Lena. I learned so much about living with others and I became a better person as I was sharpened by each one of these women in different ways. We made so many memories together–especially my freshman/sophomore year… 🙂

There are so many other women in my life who I spent hours and hours with though we never lived together… Cara, Christina, Amberly, Jessica B. and Kim, to name a few.

In Northern California, there are several friends from camp years who are still some of my dearest friends…too many to name. We try to see at least a few every time we visit NorCal, but it doesn’t always happen unfortunately. So thankful for all of my years attending church camp with these people.

In Southern California, I was blessed to have two friendships that will last a lifetime: Kevin and Dannylle. The three of us hung out all the time between September 2006 and July 2008 (when I moved). We watched The Office and 24, we cooked/ate, we went on adventures (sailing to Catalina was the one that started our friendship), we celebrated holidays together, and we spent hours talking. Hours. Dannylle even donated some of his hair along with me when I did it in 2007 for the first time.

Those two men are two of the most godly men that I have ever encountered and I love how they sharpened me. There was such freedom in our friendship to be honest and to confront when we saw an issue. We walked through rough times together and we walked through great times. We served the Lord together through missions and youth ministry. They were like the big brothers I never had. Now we all live in very different places, but we will always be family. When I moved to Pennsylvania, the hardest thing about leaving was knowing that I would be leaving those two.

 

But, God was faithful and He has brought me incredible friends here in Pennsylvania, as I knew that He would.

Before I moved here I met Ashleigh through a mutual friend and our friendship deepened even further once I moved here. She helped me so much with applying for jobs within the House of Representatives and offered advice during my job search. When we both worked in downtown Harrisburg we would meet for lunch at least once a week, and we still try to get together regularly. When I began dating Brennan she was always there to offer wisdom and advice, all biblically based and practical. She is someone with whom I can be completely honest (and she with me) and she has been by my side through so much since I moved here. We are so alike in so many ways, yet very different in others…and both have worked to strengthen our friendship. Ashleigh was a matron-of-honor in our wedding and I was so thankful to have her by my side throughout that process and the years that have followed. 

Through the same “young adults ministry” where I got to know Brennan better, I also met Shannon. From our earliest meetings I just knew that we’d become great friends…and I’m so glad that the Lord has brought us together. She has taught me so much about things ranging from autism to jewelry, and I have helped her with various things as well. We NEVER have a dull moment together. We share a love of photography and I have loved watching her grow in her God-given ability to capture moments. I know that when I have a problem, Shannon can help me solve it. Her counseling background is invaluable as she always knows the questions to ask to get me thinking. Shannon also stood by my side at our wedding and I know that our friendship will be lifelong.

Shannon, Ashleigh and I meet regularly (or at least attempt to) for coffee, dinner, whatever, and our friendships continue to grow. I am very thankful for the discussions that we have (though it’s hard to get a word in sometimes!) and for the ways that God is using us in each other’s lives.

I met my “sister” Cheyenne in June 2002 when I lived with her family in Williamsport for two summers. It has been so amazing to watch our friendship grow, and I am so thankful for her. We don’t see each other as often as we’d like (we are both TOO busy! :)) but there’s always a sense of picking up right where we left off. She was instrumental in my decision to move to Pennsylvania and was so excited about me being only a little over an hour away! She was a matron-of-honor in my wedding and I am so thankful that she was there for me throughout the entire wedding/marriage process. I have learned so much from her in the past few years about marriage and love, and I’ve always admired her for her dedication to–and excitement about–learning about marriage. She introduced me to the “Love Languages” books years ago and she has offered many other words of wisdom over the years. She is always encouraging and challenges me to be a better person through her example. I am very thankful that this woman (who I met on a dark, stormy night with no electricity 🙂 ) has become a sister.

I gained a sister when I married Brennan, though I actually met Kelly before I met him. I had always wanted a sister, but God gave me a brother instead 😉 Now I have two sisters! Kelly is a blessing to me, and I am so glad that I get to live life with her forever as family now. She is so kind, patient, funny, and loving. From the very beginning she welcomed me into the family with open arms. I loved having her by my side during the wedding process, and I was so honored to stand by her side as she married Angel this past June. I really look forward to deepening our friendship as the years go on!

Kristin is my first cousin, and we have always had a special bond. Out of seven grandchildren on my mom’s side of the family, we are the only girls. We also grew up a mile apart, so we spent a great deal of time together until I moved to Southern California. Whenever we are in our hometown at the same time (she lives in San Diego now), we get together and go on photography adventures. It was actually on one of those adventures that I shot my “famous” truck photo (the rusty truck with the mountains in the background). I love spending time with her and I’m very thankful that God made us cousins. 🙂

My most uniquely formed friendship to date is with Victoria. She and I have been friends for 20 years but we didn’t actually meet in person until 2002. 🙂 In fourth grade (we think…it might have been third), we both happened to write in to be matched up with pen pals from American Girl magazine. We were matched up–me in California and her in Ohio…and we’ve been writing ever since that time! Granted, our methods have changed over the years (I really should write more letters these days), but she is still a dear friend. We have spent time together in person four times now in the past ten years (in Ohio/Kentucky, Pennsylvania, California, and Tennessee), and I can’t wait for more adventures with her. We are so similar and have the same love/passion for music. She is a talented singer/songwriter and I love watching her grow in that! God uses such amazing ways to bring people together. I was so thankful that she was able to stand by our side at our wedding…she has definitely enriched my life over the past 20 years.

(Shannon, Kelly, Cheyenne, Lesa, Ashleigh, Victoria, Kristin)

So many other friends that I could mention…but I’ll just leave it at that since this post is so long already. These women were not only by my side for my wedding, but they have been (and will be) my friends for life. 🙂

God is SO gracious in His blessings to His children.

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