There are four women in particular in my life that have been such significant influences in my walk with Jesus over the last 4-6 years, and they are the four people that I always make sure I get to see when I'm there.
(1) Annie. Annie has known me I guess since I was in middle school, but we really started getting close around my sophomore year in high school when I started baby sitting for her all the time. The Thomas's really became like my second family during high school, and during my angry/rebellious year(s), their house became kind of a safe escape for me. Annie loved me through some interesting times in my life... when I was straying from the truth, she just loved on me, wanted to invest in my life, and thankfully still trusted me in caring for her children. Haha. Annie was one of two people (I'll get to the other in a minute) who took me by the hand in a state of brokenness and confusion when I was seventeen and said, "I want to walk with you, with Jesus." And that changed my life forever. Annie, thank you for sharing your family with me, for always wanting me to come and spend time with you when I was in high school, and for speaking truth into my life even when I wasn't ready or willing to hear it. Eventually I did... and you had the perseverance to not relent until I did. Your house was one of my favorite places to be when I was in high school, because it was full of a love that I didn't understand but wanted to have.
(2) Adrienne. Adrienne came into my life during "the dark year" ... or what I like to refer to as "the year I was grounded." My junior year... I was bad news. Adrienne was kind of an adopted member of our family, and she was always around... and for some reason she really loved me. This was during a time that I had, in my irrational 16 year old mind, decided my family didn't understand or want to be around me, and I kind of shut myself off from them. It was a weird time in my life... I was angry and rebellious for a lot of reasons. And Adrienne walked with me through that year or so closer than anyone else. She watched me be an idiot, listened to me be ridiculous, and just loved me all the way through it. She was and still is like a sister to me. Adrienne, I'm not sure I've ever told you how much you simply taking interest in my life during that season changed my heart forever. Yesterday Eve said to me, "I don't know anyone who loves Jesus who wasn't first loved by someone who loves Jesus." You were that person for me. I am forever grateful for you because of that, sister.
(3) Eve. Eve was/is on Young Life staff with my dad. So I always knew her, but didn't really know her until she was my leader at camp the summer after my junior year. Eve led me through a week of dealing with a lot of the brokenness I had been living in during that year. She prayed with me through some of that, and spoke truth and wisdom into my life frequently over the next year as I grew away from that broken, rebellious kid and into the woman of God that I started to become during my senior year. Eve continues to be one of my favorite people to talk to... so full of wisdom that you really want to make sure you have a notebook when you hang out with her, because she's bound to say something profound that you'll want to remember and use later. Eve, thank you. Thank you for walking with me from that week at Windy Gap until now. Thank you for letting God speak through you in every conversation I've ever had with you. Thank you for taking me in as a member of your family last summer... it was one of my favorite summers ever. Thank you for continuing to speak truth into my life even in the few times I get to spend with you.
(4) Ellie. Ellie came into my life in the transitional period between my junior and senior year in high school. We met at camp, and really didn't even spend that much time together during the one year that we both lived in Nashville. It wasn't until my freshman year in college that we started to really get to know each other, as we talked before one of her & Drew's shows in Memphis. We had breakfast before both going to camp for a month that summer, and so began a really cool relationship that's been for the most part centered on prayer. We've kept in touch and involved in each others lives over the years by exchanging prayer requests often and staying updated mostly via email on each others' lives and all that God's doing for each of us. Over the last 3 years, Ellie has taught me what it means to truly be in constant communication with the Lord, praying earnestly and watching as He continues to be faithful. She's challenged me to write scripture on my heart and pray His words back to him, and she's encouraged me through some of the hardest things I've ever had to faithfully be prayerful about. Ellie, thanks friend. I hope you know what a huge role you've played in strengthening my faith over the last few years. You continue to do that every time we talk! I'm so excited about all that God is doing in each of our lives, and loving getting to pray with you through it all.
...what's cool about not seeing any of these four people very often is that every time I do, I get to share with them all that God's done in the last few months, and it's always fun to reflect on that. I left Nashville yesterday and just cried for a good 15 minutes because I was so overwhelmed and so humbled by the fact that God has been so good to me this semester, and I got to share His goodness with each of them as I spent time with them this week. It's so fun to go back to the people that have played such a big role in shaping your faith and share with them what God's doing in your heart and life as a result of the work that He began in you through them.
I hope all four of you know what a blessing you have been and continue to be in my life. I'm so thankful for you. Thanks for making Nashville feel like home.