About the time I graduated from college, I reached a crossroads. I had just spent four years growing accostumed to life away from my family that was back in Wisconsin. I missed them dearly, but I had made great friendships in Arizona that eased the pain of being away from family. However, now that college was over, all of us were going our separate ways. I always thought that someday, after I finished college, that I would move back “home” to Wisconsin. Then I met Joe…
I was in my senior year of college when we met. Joe had just moved here from Oregon after getting his masters degree. He had a “real” job, had just bought a house and was setting down roots in Arizona. I, on the other hand, was longing to go back to Wisconsin and start my life there. I soon realized that being with Joe was going to mean staying in Arizona. My heart was so torn. On the one hand I was so smitten and so sure that Joe was the one I wanted to spend my life with, yet my heart longed for the community of my family. I knew that God was calling me to be with Joe and start our life together as husband and wife, so I committed to started a life in Arizona.
It wasn’t always easy. In fact, there were days when my heart missed my family so much I would just cry and cry. I longed for genuine community and prayed that God would bring deep friendships into my life.
Throughout our marriage, God brought some amazing people into our lives through our church. Three years ago, Joe and I began leading a small group and it changed our lives. The community I longed for all those years was being fulfilled through these amazing people. These people have seen us through some of our darkest days, have sat with us in the midst of great pain, celebrated with us during times of joy and given us a glimpse of Jesus. These friends challenge me, grow me, encourage me, correct me, and push me to be more like Christ. They are my family; my brothers and sisters in Jesus and I am beyond grateful to God for answering my prayer for genuine community.
Last weekend we did our first annual FriendsGiving in our new backyard with our small group and it was a dream come true. When we decided to buy our new house, we prayed that it would be a place where memories would be made and fellowship would be experienced. We hoped that the walls and outdoors would be filled with laughter, good conversation, food and drink. We prayed our new home would be a place where we could welcome others in, like Jesus welcomed us. Seeing our yard filled with our dearest friends enjoying food, drink and friendship filled my heart and soul.
Thank God for your friends today. They are a gift!