So, a few weeks ago, my friend, Melanie (yes we are friends... why would I make that up?) (I mean she knows my name.) (If I were on fire in front of her she would DEFINITELY try to put the fire out.) released her video promo for her new book about friendship. The video featured portions of her book while showing pictures of friends from all over. Cindy and I had submitted a picture and then I honestly forgot about it.
(What you don't see us?)
(That's ok, because...)
This is our favorite picture of us of all time and we were in the slideshow!
Clearly besties with Mel.
(Who had nothing to do with picture selection).
So as the days leading up to the book release drew near, Melanie's (real) friend was making these adorable pictures to post. My favorite featured Coach T of the Dillon Panthers. I loved it so much that I just **had** to comment on it.
She loved my comment so much that she just **had** to respond.
Then, dear readers, our books arrived! Oh wait... and Melanie thinks we are the cutest.
I read books about as fast the the tortoise crossed the finish line, but I finished this one in about 3 good sit downs. And you will, too. And if you went to A&M, you will text all of your friends throughout and laugh and retell stories and relate to so many of these words and stories.
And if you were in a sorority, you will want to know which one Melanie joined to see if you are sisters. Because, clearly.
I am so grateful for the women in my life. My first true loves. Nothing can replace or take away from Ryan and what he means to me and how he fulfills my life... but nothing can replace or take away these ladies either. I have been given such a treasure in the women in my life. I love them so fiercly that it's scary.
I would walk through fire, swim through freezing cold water, eat a bug, or fight a giant for any one of them and they would do the same for me. The beauty of our friendship is the grace in which we love each other. We all mess up. We all make stupid stupid choices and we are not afraid to love each other through our mess.
I was given two brothers by birth... but God decided that I may need a sister, too. So in the first grade I was seated right next to Jenni Tuley. And then my family was complete. 29 years of loving someone and being loved in return is more than a person could even begin to ask for. I could write an entire series of books on all that we have done, seen, heard and lived. Boyfriends and breakups, junior high angst, high school drama... love and marriage, death and babies... we have done this all together. Side by side. Through prayer and patience - she has loved me. She keeps it real. Annoys me with her goodness and grace, keeps me honest, keeps me sane, and makes me whole.
Lyndee and Charis complete my childhood crew. They are the friends every girl needs in her army of women. Fierce. Funny. Freaking awesome at fixing hair and makeup. Honest. Strong. And they will defend the heck out of you - even if they don't know the whole story. They don't need to, because they are on your team. They are your family. They have your back even if you don't ask them. They love. They laugh. They complete the foursome. A foursome I miss. A foursome I pray to be reunited and rekindled. A foursome that can't be broken by time, by distance, by mistakes or misunderstandings. We four are the Ra Ras... and if you would believe it... we even have a creed:
We stand by each other through thick and thin
We support each other our forever friends
We love each other in good times and bad
We say “you look skinny” to make you glad
We toast to successes and failures, too
We celebrate our friendship in all that we do
We laugh and we cry through hellos and goodbyes
We live for the moment whatever that may be
The Ra Ras forever, the Ra Ras are we!
And just when I thought God couldn't give any more... that I didn't deserve anymore... he had another set of women waiting for me, in my home that was yet-to-be. Because, at 17 I had no idea that this little ol' town of College Station would stick. That I would stay. That I would even need more women to make me whole.
But He did.
One random fall day in 1999, when my roomies and I were having a small(ish) Saturday night prayer party (ehm)... I was introduced to one of my room mates girlfriends. We were anxious to meet this "Cindy" person that Josh had been spending so much time with. Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would eventually spend half of my life with her, too. Ha! (She likes to say that I was mean to her, but I contend that I was just being protective of my basic 3rd brother.)
The years went by, we survived graduate school, weddings, first babies, work, deaths, second babies, third babies, more work, more death and everything in between. We have let our guard down, sometimes put fences up, been brave, been vulnerable, been hateful, but forgiven. She answers my phone calls, replies to my texts instantly, loves my kids, and reminds me that being a friend is as simple as responding with "how can I help". She reminds me that it's not that hard to love someone. To help someone. To be brave for someone.
We have managed together, to create a village because He knew we needed one. And yet again, he brought me women. Women that love and laugh. That cry and pray. That yell and cuss. And defend and support. And text me 1000 times a day because Lord knows that Ryan doesn't reply in a time that is conducive to my needs. (Something about work) (blah blah blah). Women never let work get in the way of reality.
These women are my day to day. My village. My people that live life next to me. They are not replacement friends. Because NONE of my friends are replaceable. These women challenge me in my work. Support me in motherhood. Bring me cookies. Pick up my kids. Share recipes. We do dinner club. Jenna calms me down, Krista makes me think, Jennifer lets me cry. They bring me wine, which is clearly the signs of a true friendship because what else do you need when your husband is gone four nights a week and you are responsible for the care of your children than alcohol?
They are the women I pray for when I close my eyes.
They are the women that I hope my daughters think of when choosing friends of their own.
They are the women that I carry in my heart.
They are who I want to make proud.
They make me love stronger, feel deeper, and pray harder each and every day of my life.
They are my answered prayers.
They are girlfriends.
And Nobody's Cuter than Them.
Thanks, Melanie... for a beautiful reminder of the blessings of friendship.