Let me start by saying that God has covered me in His grace long before I knew what grace was. My childhood was far from perfect, but whose is? I have never had strong family ties, even to this day. For the most part, I am okay with that. God has been so faithful to place me in strong spiritual family. He continues to take me by surprise with each new friendship that He brings into my life. The first part of Psalm 68:6, “God sets the lonely in families…” has been and continues to be a theme in my life. I honestly could not pick just one friendship for Kristen Strong’s link up post about a surprise friendship. So, I picked two of the most recent ones that have brought absolute JOY to my life.
In August of 2011, I attended a women’s conference at Istrouma Baptist church here in Baton Rouge. Kari Jobe led worship and Susie Larson was the main speaker. I could not for the life of me remember if I had heard of Susie before. Her name sounded familiar but I could have just been making that up! From the moment that Susie began to speak, I knew that it was God, that I was there. Between her powerful testimony, her sense of humor, her engaging stories and her deep revelation of scripture, I was wrecked! The Lord moved mightily within our midst that weekend! God was so sweet to allow us some time for good conversation. It was one of those conversations where you talk about anything and everything and nothing all at the same time. I felt very connected to her. After the conference was over I got her contact information because I felt in my spirit that I was supposed to be a part of her ministry in some way. I had no idea what that meant or what that looked like. We have stayed in contact over the past year and a half and it has blessed my socks off! She has been a “big” sister to me in more ways than I can count. She has walked with me through both highs and lows. She has given me words of wisdom, truth and encouragement. I know that she prays for me, loves me and wants God’s best for me. I have had the huge honor of being a cheerleader for her! She placed me on her Intercessory Prayer Team list so I get emails with updates and prayer requests. Along with the Prayer Team, I was chosen to read a copy of and write book reviews for her new book ‘Your Beautiful Purpose’! (which BTW is a must have!!!) I could not imagine my walk with Jesus without her influence and leadership.
Now, this leads me to my second surprise friendship, which was formed at the very same church in Baton Rouge. In December of that same year, Istrouma Baptist church had a Christmas concert. Their choir sang and they had a very special guest perform….AVALON! I have been a huge fan of theirs for well over a decade! The concert was amazing!!! It was a good mix of old, new and Christmas songs. I sang EVERY word. Greg Long even took my request for ‘Can’t Live A Day’ for his lovely wife Janna to SANG! I am totally that girl that likes to hang out after concerts to chat and get autographs. As it happened, the majority of the people left after the concert and I was able to have lots of hang out time with the group. The two most recent additions to Avalon are Jeremi and Amy Richardson. I was blessed to have some quality time with Amy and we hit it off! We have also stayed in contact for over a year. I have sent gifts and spoiled her three precious girls from a distance. I contributed to their Kickstarter project for their new worship CD, ‘Never Let Go’ (another must have!!!) She sent me Birthday wishes and even checked on me during Hurricane Isaac. There aren’t words to describe what her kindness has meant to me.
The fact that these amazing women have large platforms did not impress me. I was drawn to their sincere love for the Lord. That is what our friendships are based on…a devotion to Christ, to others and to furthering His kingdom. I love that neither one of them let having a large platform close them off from allowing God to bring a new friendship into their lives. They both have tremendous integrity, faith and are super intentional. These relationships BLESS my soul in ways that only God could have known. I am terribly grateful that He has joined our hearts together!!! Susie and Amy are not only friends, but I consider them family.
And this is the heartbeat of our God, to set the lonely in families.
What surprise friendship could be on the horizon if only you would be open to it? What are the things that keep you from being open?