Wednesday, June 23, 2010

in abundance and in need

Today is Ellie's birthday... I'm going to give her her own little birthday post once the day is done and pictures have been collected and sifted through. I just didn't want you to think, "What? No birthday post on Ellie's big day!?" Not to worry... it's coming.

Now I want to tell you a true story.

When I moved home from college, I had very few friends in the area. To be honest, I didn't feel that I had left college with many close friends either, like most women do. I didn't have a home church. I didn't have a small group. And for 3 years, leading up to my wedding day, I prayed for God to help me find somewhere to belong and a group of women who I could be friends with. I needed accountability and friendship and it was a lonely phase of my life.

Rob and I got married, and initially the adjustment took much of my spare time and energy. Eventually though, that strong need for other Christian women and community resurfaced, and I continued praying that we would be led to a church home that would also meet the relational needs I had.

Fast forward nearly 8 years from the day I first prayed for other women to come into my life after graduating college... and you would be amazed at the ways God has moved in my life to bring me to where I am today. I have never been one to submit easily or wait patiently, but waiting on the Lord to work these areas of my life out has been an amazing journey. I had to be patient, because with each step Rob and I took, God weaved His plan through every decision that we made. When we first moved to Wheaton, I reconnected with some high school friends and we immediately joined their small group. The group has since disbanded, but several of those friendships remain strong today and one in particular has been so special in many ways to me. Then we decided to make Wheaton Bible Church our church home, and became members of that church. We had Robbie and then Ellie, and have since found many sweet families with kids around the same age as ours. THEN, I decided to join the women's bible study that met once a week in the evenings.

And it was like the floodgates of God's blessings just burst wide open.

I met even more women who were amazing, and although our ages and stages of life varied, we connected in many ways spiritually. My small group leader was actually one of my junior high teachers at Wheaton Christian Grammar School (where she continues to teach to this day). She has been a major source of encouragement and wisdom. The studies we have done together as a small group have been powerful and life changing.

I hardly recognize the girl I was 8 years ago.

- I was without girlfriends. I now have more amazing women surrounding me than I have time in the week to get together with.
- I was without a church to call home. We are blessed to call Wheaton Bible Church the place we belong... where we worship, serve, and grow.
- I was unsure of my strengths and the gifts God had given to me. I prayed that God would show me how He could use me, even with 2 small babies, and He has opened my eyes to the needs around me that are great. I am involved.
- I felt aimless. I have clear priorities and direction now.

To say that I am spiritually blessed and thankful is an understatement. One of the things I am so thankful for, and was reminded of this morning, is the way God meets our deep need to be in relationship with others who are in similar stages of life as we are.

Enter Suzi. Suzi is a woman from church that I am still getting to know, but who has become a fast friend in the last few months. I think she will probably read this post, so I don't want to embarrass her by going on and on about how great I think she is. But I do want to say that God has blessed me through her, at a time that I have been wrestling with things that leave me feeling oddly lonely again.

Her son Eli is a big part of the joy that comes with knowing Suzi and her awesome husband, Matt. So this morning Eli came over to play while Suzi went to the dentist nearby. Who knew that this would be the day that a sweet friendship between Robbie and Eli would unfold!?

Eli was a little unsure of his momma being gone at first, and he shed a few crocodile tears on the couch. Robbie quickly came up to him, offering his 'brown' (cherished blankie) to Eli and a train, in hopes of cheering him up. After surveying Eli's continued sadness, he gently leaned over and wiped Eli's tears away and then gave him a sweet hug. It was enough to make ME cry!

After Suzi returned from her appointment, we continued to let the boys play together. Eli's spirits were lifted and he really started to get comfortable and let loose. Both boys began running circles together in the living room, tackling one another and giving tickles until they were belly laughing. They thought it was just the best each time they would run into each other and crash to the ground. Then Eli got brave and started sliding/diving head first off the kid sized chair, and Robbie of course followed his lead. It is the first time I've seen Robbie play with another little boy and be this happy. All they wanted to do was wrestle. Boys need to be boys, and that means roughhousing. They were such cute little buddies all morning, in their play and also in that little moment of sadness while Eli missed his mommy, and it was yet another way God has blessed me and shown me that He is paying attention to my (and my children's!) needs. This is a unique friendship with Eli that Robbie needs. And it is a unique friendship with Suzi that I need as well.

Praise God.

1 comment:

Abby said...

Ashley, honestly the beginning of your post could've absolutely been written by me. 100%. Now, I feel very much at home here and I have a fabulous group of girlfriends. But I appreciate this post as a (unintended) reminder that I need to continue praying about things: 1) while I have some incredible girlfriends, we have yet to go deep spiritually as we're all at quite different levels in that area. I recently made the decision to join a women's Bible study this fall to seek out that deep spiritual female connection. 2) we're still seeking a true church home. When Kyle and I first got married, he worked at a church and we had a true church FAMILY there. Two years ago, God made it clear that it was time for us to leave that church. We've settled at another one with incredible teaching, but don't feel that "family" connection yet.
SO...sorry for airing all MY stuff on YOUR blog, but it's because you've given me some things to really think about and pray about. THANK YOU! I'm so happy for your growth and the things God has brought to your life in the last 8 years. He is so good!