I love today's topic with Andrea - mainly because I think I hit the jackpot when it comes to tribes.
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 it.
I was given two brothers by birth... but God decided that I needed a sister, too. I met Jenni in kindergarten but we became besties in the first grade. We were both in Mrs. Sadler's class (seriously the best teacher ever) and pretty much from that year on, we were inseparable. We took cheerleading and dance together. We had sleepovers. We shared secrets. We played dress up. We lived life in pure bliss. 30 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.
As time went on our friendship just grew. And soon after, our Moms became best friends, too (because they basically had no other choice). How awesome is that? My best-friend's mom is my mom's best friend. For 30 years, they set an example to us what it really means to be a friend - there is no greater gift than that. We lost Dee almost three years ago and not a day goes by that my mom doesn't miss her friend. I love their friendship. They took such great care of each other, made each other laugh. Loved and fought just like sisters. They celebrated each other through the good and supported each other through the tough.
Dee, Mom, Me and Jenni on my wedding day!
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
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 meeting" (ehm)... I was introduced to one of my roommates 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 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.
These women are my day to day. 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. Jenna calms me down, Krista makes me think, Jennifer lets me cry.
And y'all. If that wasn't enough, because MERCY, how could that not be ENOUGH? He gave me more. Shelly and Holly were women behind a screen that, turns out, lived right here. Holly lives less than a mile away from my house. In a crazy twist of fate, we met in real life, exchanged phone numbers and they have become women that I turn to for advice, for laughs, for help, for inappropriate jokes... for whatever life throws at me. They accepted ME into their sacred circle of friendship and I am better for it. These women show up in big and small ways. They reminded me that friendship is worth taking the time for. They don't just say, "let's grab a drink" they make sure it happens. And - 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 welcome all parts of me in - the good, the bad, the cray cray... and they love me for it. We've known each other a year, but we've got a lifetime to go.
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 my girlfriends.
They are my tribe.
And to quote my friend, Mel, Nobody's Cuter than Them.