God Ideas vs. Good Ideas

Over the years, I’ve been confronted by a variety of good ideas. You know, the “perfect world” scenarios we create, hoping that things will go our way, and ultimately we get exactly what we want.  Maybe it’s a the perfect job or a place to live that entices, and you pray so hard that God would give you “the desire of your heart.”  You begin to map out all of the things that need to fall into place to get you to your goal.  You make plans and ask God to bless them, and maybe even plead with Him to make something happen for you. I’ve done it time and time again. But what if your goal, wasn’t on God’s blueprint for you at all?

The move out west really solidified some things for me on this topic. Change wasn’t on my radar at all. I was content. Very comfortable. Very happy. Very established. Honestly, nothing about a cross-country move was in my plans or even remotely my idea.

Truth? When the Lord, instructed us to go,  I’d never even been to Colorado.

Our friends made the announcement at church on a Sunday night in late April (i think), and as Pastor Shawn spoke, I felt an influx of water pressure behind my eyes.  It was a touching story, the way he was inspired to launch out into the deep. I thought my emotion only to be a natural response to a beautiful story. After the service, we all high-fived in the parking lot and congratulated Him and the family on such an exciting new adventure.  We went on our way, with little thought about how that announcement would impact us over the next 6 months.

That evening, at 2:25am, I was awakened with an expectation in my heart. I recognized the invitation to pray.  In the Florida house, I had a bonus room with a small window office which I often retreated for prayer in the wee hours. As I began to inquire of the Lord to understand his heart, He began to show me that we did in fact have a part in the Western Adventure.  He enlightened this passage to me,

 Acts Chapter 6

In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them  and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.”

 This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayedand laid their hands on them.

So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

I began to see how Stephen was called and set apart to help. Overcome with the weight of such a huge instruction and change, needless to say, I was up praying the entire night.  Determined not to tell Steve that I knew the Lord was sending us to Denver, I asked him the next morning if he felt any “connection” to Denver project. He didn’t know.  I suggested He ask the Lord about it because I believed we “had a part.”  I shared with him the passage the Lord showed me. That seemed safe enough. After all, Steve would NEVER leave Lakeland, and I’d done due diligence to put the ball in his court. Funny, right?

I left the following Monday for a business trip in Philadelphia, keeping my thoughts to myself. There are, after all, lots of ways you can help a new ministry…you can sow seed, you can visit.  Unbeknownst to me, while I was away, my mother-in-law to had been keeping late nights and working through something significant in prayer.  That Saturday, Linda said to Steve “You’re not moving to Colorado are you?”  Beginning to understand that God was doing something here, I shared with Linda my experience in prayer the week prior. My experience was confirmed when she explained that she’d been on a prayer all week and that toward the end of the week God spoke to her “Steve and Aimee are leaving.”

Having that word, I suppose she thought she’d float the question to Steve, wondering if it was even our radar yet.  Amazing how that works.  It was that week we knew that God was really orchestrating something, but we wanted to make sure we followed his every instruction specifically and accurately.  We began to pray about timing, sale of a house, jobs, children’s’ schooling and our part in the church.

See, we didn’t just wake up one day and say…”That sounds fun, let’s go to Colorado.” Rather, God awakened us and revealed where to go. So many times, we get great ideas and ask God to bless them. We pray things work out.  But the truth is, it is imperative that we get the heart of the Lord and walk in the opportunities and instruction that he has laid before us.

Good ideas are not enough to sustain us in a race. The strength of our grand plans or adventures won’t be enough to gird us up on the days where heartache, hardship, or disillusion bear against us.  But if it’s God’s idea, you can look back to miracles he wrought to put you in position. You can look to the Word he released to you. You can rest in the assurance that what He’s begun in you and through you He’ll complete….if you KNOW that you KNOW it was His idea…his commissioning.

And so it is with me…

on days when I miss my family so much it aches,

when i worry about my kids settling in and making new friends,

when I think somebody far more talented should be singing,

when I don’t know how I’m going to maintain all my responsibilities,

when i don’t have a friend next door,

when I’m weary and mom lives across the country,

when I look around and everyone is a stranger,

when I haven’t had a date with my husband since October,

when Owen asks for his cousins,

when I hug an Iphone on FaceTime instead of a neck,

when I’m starting over…

In all these things, I’m sustained by the confidence in God’s word. I’m comforted, that for once, this wasn’t one of our  great ideas. It was a true God idea, with great signs confirming even down to name of the buyer of our Florida home. His name was “Steven Goforth.”  We know we are here because He asked us. It’s a joy to serve Him. Pioneering is not a cake walk. It’s certainly no Pollyanna story. But it is rewarding. It is necessary. The church is growing. People are encountering Jesus. The power of corporate worship is increasing. Everyday I ask for more grace, a lot more courage, and the strength to love people like He does.

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The Sitting Chair

On my way home from work, I tip-toed into Target partly on a craving for M&Ms and party because I’m always scouring the seasonal home accessories. I’ve been on a decorating project (first one in about 7 years). Interior Decorating is a lot like plastic surgery. Seriously,  you see one enhancement opportunity and the instant you engage it, another problem area mysteriously pops up. And so it has been for me with various areas of my house. Dangerous, I tell you. Dangerous. For the most part, I’ve been moving things around within the house until I get the proper placement.  Through the most recent aesthetic poking and prodding of my furniture a cute reading nook was born.  Initially, I chose an awkward corner in my living room to place a chair holding significant emotional real estate. By natural measure, the seat could have been sold in a yard sale years ago, and really never fit in our Lakeland home either. But, it was my first piece acquired and reupholstered as a newlywed. Nevertheless, will probably travel on with me for some time. Not much to look at, it never seems to fit in. Rather, it always stands out. Perhaps that’s why I love it so much.

Beauty rests in unintentional arrangements.  Joy can be found in the most unusual and inelegant places. Repurposing is far more powerful than replacing.  

I suppose, I ‘m not just talking about furniture anymore. I have no idea why life, as I see it, is often an object lesson.  But, I am encouraged today through the silent story of a old sitting chair.  Target did help me with the slouchy sweater and scarf  instead of house wares. Less than $20 and I feel like a million!

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DMV FOR ME

Ranked up at the top of life’s unpleasantries somewhere between stabbing your own eye out with a fork and birthing a child without an epidural, is visiting the DMV.  Every time I go it occurs to me that I must have missed the sign stating a “3 day no shower minimum before being served.”  As my friend recently pointed out, it’s also a good idea to make sure that your tetanus shot is up to date before entering the building.  Nothing worse that contracting a communicable disease when all you’re trying to do is get your license renewed.

Today I made the trip to the Colorado DMV to have a license transfer. To my surprise, it was very clean and extremely efficient. I was in and out in less than an hour and without an appointment. However,  a moment of embarrassment sought me out when the clerk asked me to verify my height and weight,

“Well, it’s the same  as it’s always been. See there on the card”, I responded.

“Yes, miss I see that you are about 5’5, but how much do you weigh? It’s not represented on the Florida license.”  I looked around, the gentlemen to my right and left  staring.  Was it really necessary that we make this declaration for everyone to hear?  I mean, I already agreed to donate my organs and disclosed that I’m a republican in the same breath. It’s a blue state for goodness sake.  I leaned over the counter beckoning the clerk to give an ear and whispered the number. I also offered a disclaimer around the frequent fluctuation and how I can’t be responsible to maintain the record.  He nodded. I breathed a sigh as they snapped my mug shot and then scurried away to hide in the corner.

While waiting, a man approached me,

“Hey, I heard the guy ask you about your weight!  What an awkward thing to have to answer in a room full of strangers. So you’re new to the area? ”

“Yea. I am and actually, in Florida they didn’t ask for weight. ”

He went on to welcome me to the state, sharing that he moved from Florida himself about 5 years ago.  He was curious about what brought us here, so I told him about the church. “How cool is that!”, he said.  At the point I was going to share more, I was summoned to finish the license process.  As I walked out the man said. “Hey…have fun on your venture. It’s going to work out for you.”

It was so interesting…the choice of words.  Not “I hope it works out”. Not  a simple “Good Luck.” I could sense the confidence in his remarks and I couldn’t help but wonder….Did I just entertain an angel unaware?

I smiled.  Reassurance and encouragement are all around us, even when we least expect it. As for the DMV… I rocked it.

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The Awesomeness

Is there no end to my awesomeness?  How’s that for a catch phrase! All jokes aside, I felt today, at many times, an urge to indulge a self proclamation of my bad-to-the bone-ness. The first was when my children and  I ran for cover scarcely escaping an air raid from at least 3oo Canadian geese.  If you don’t know, let me just say that during this time of year in Colorado any park or field is blanketed in pellets of….well, you know. So when you see them coming in their v-formation, you know to retreat quickly to the nearest shelter, play fort, whatever. So that’s what we did and were heroically spared. Medal of Awesomeness received.

A little later while picking up the house, I noticed, for the 272nd time since we’ve been here, my bed skirt laying on the floor…STILL. Despite my efforts to subtly suggest to Steve that we might at some point need to put it on the bed, I found myself tripping over it. In another moment of super power, I wrestled the new 300 pound Tempurpedic mattress all by myself and put that bad boy back where it belonged. Pay no mind to the torn bicep or the fact that I had to dig my way out of being all but buried alive between the foam and box. The point is, I conquered.  Sometimes if you want things done (ah hem, MOST times), you have to tackle them yourself. In this case, the tackling was far more literal than expected.

Finally, in a faint moment of desperation, I resorted to a huge furniture super center, which also houses a Subway, to feed and entertain my children.  They get a cookie and the chance to treat the bunk bed section as an obstacle course and I allow myself to look at all different types of decor and arrangements. For those of you who don’t know, I have a little knack for interior decorating.  I actually don’t know how I got it because we didn’t have furniture growing up. Seriously, we didn’t.  My Dad would buy, let’s say, a new couch (which took an average of 3 years to decide upon and execute purchase), and then he’d be over it and purchase nothing else. We never had like a fully furnished room, that I can remember. Right, mom?

That being said, a Futon is going in the basement at some point because the crazy kids who accompanied me on the shopping trip demonstrated that an area for solitary confinement will be necessary on this grand journey. Thank you Jesus for our basement.

And now, I’m retiring to bed. I’m exhausted and looking forward to more work training, fulfilling my volunteer requirement at the preschool. Wait…volunteer “requirement”. Isn’t that like an oxymoron?  That’s another post, I guess. This is life and we are living it….goose poop and all.

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The Mailbox

Olivia and I have something in common….well several things, actually, but I’ll focus on one: We love mail.  One perk of this move is that I continue to receive Christmas cards. Today, 4 that were forwarded to me finally arrived. It’s amazing how seemingly small things have become so magnified in my recent yearning to connect with people and pieces of home.  A card…a note…a text. Each one seems to come at just the perfect time. I continue to be perplexed by the way in which I miss friends and family so much, yet feel so settled and peaceful here. We are finding our new normal. Yet, change seems to greet me at every cross-road. For I’ve found myself doing unusual things (at least for me) like making fresh healthy meals, suiting my kids up in cowboy gear , and slowing my pace. Tomorrow we’re going to a stock show with cows and bulls and horses and stuff like that. Yee Haw.  Is this crazy or what? And, I kind of like it.  I like mountains in my daily commute, and the whisper of the wild.  I love hearing my boots crush snow and  the glittery reflection of the morning sun upon it.  I love my family and that we are doing this together. And most of all, I adore the opportunity of tomorrow….the life that God is breathing upon us and on those we encounter in this season. He knows how to read our mail.

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And I did mention that we had a few things in common, right???

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Whipped.

In the spirit of full transparency, let me just say…I’m whipped. I’m told that I should blame any and all things out of the ordinary on the altitude. So, let’s just go with that. And I will blame the lack of interesting content and babbling on it as well. A few things I’ve learned this week include, but are not limited to, the following:

People here have unusual survival stories: cattle goring (need I say more)

Every city has a ghetto. If your GPS if off, you will undoubtedly find your way to it.

When you are the only representative of your family both immediate and extended available to nurture your children, well, you do a whole lot more nurturing.

Nurture=exhaustion.

You burn more calories in cold climates (which would be great if your body didn’t realize what it was doing and stopped demanding snacks)

Gymbucks are awesome.  I never shopped for my kids at Gymboree, but I do now.

Ramen noodles are still cool.

It was 51 degrees today.  I felt warm. Could it be that I’m becoming truly Coloradian?

Always, Always, Always wear sunscreen, sunglasses and moisturizer.  It is beyond bright.

 

Yes, things are going really well. So well, in fact, that my husband felt perfectly comfortable  jetting to the slopes with friends leaving me at the helm.  What a vote of confidence! yea right.

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All Choked Up.

My day started and ended choking. I choked in the accounting office of my kids’ new school, where my new-found commitment to annual fees and tuition  left me needing to borrow Owen’s inhaler. Education is worth it. My kids are worth it….and I continue to chant this while high-fiving my reflection in the mirror.  That same mirror, which needs desperately to be bathed in Windex , also reminds me that I’m the  head resident cleaning lady. Excellent.  Let me just squeeze that in sometime between a potty break and a chug of morning coffee. Should work out fine.  I’m learning QUICKLY how to make and keep appointments with myself and all of the responsibilities that come with living in a town where you know 5 or so people..and no mommy to call for reinforcements.

Later, I choked on a fudge covered cinnamon gummy bear; my solution to frostbite in the 13 degree element. I did not know it was possible to have your esophagus  incinerated while your hands shiver clutching the steering wheel. I found out today that is, in fact, possible.  Have you ever even heard of fudge covered gummies?  It was a first for me.  And on the fashion front, I realize that the uniform of the area is something A La The North Face.

For me? It’s rubber boots with obnoxiously fluffy animal print socks and a bright orange sweater. A nod to wild animals certainly must be good in the west, right? Well, it makes me happy…sort of like my new living room that fits my piano perfectly. And who says the Big Guy doesn’t care about the details???

And that being said, I’m just choked up….again. Happy, Happy.

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I Am New.

Happy New Year.  It’s been awhile since I’ve surfaced onto the blogosphere and much has changed for me. For one, this is the first time in a few years that I’ve bagged resolutions. Perhaps it’s because over the past 6 months, I’ve learned just how easily the best laid plans can fall to the wayside.

Everything in my life, presently, is new. New life. New home. New State. New Jobs. New Church. New Community. New Culture. New Schools. New Doctors. New Friends. A New assignment.

It was a spiritual call that changed everything for us. In the past, I formulated every belief i had upon my wants and desires. But a few years ago, I was confronted by the Spirit of Grace in regard to the mediocrity of my faith..a lukewarmness in trust and commitment to the cross.  Did I really believe the principles for which I was called and committed to walk out? Did I really embrace the sacrifice of His cross?  What did it really mean “He who loses his life will find it?”  Over the course of several tear-filled hours, I began to inquire of the Lord…to search Him…invited Him to search me. I began to repent of my half-hearted affection. I asked him to transform me…inside out.  And, something changed that day…a renewed passion…uncompromising affection, unrelenting surrender to Him was cemented inside my heart. It was a defining moment in my walk with God. Not my way, Lord, but Yours.  That day, I told the Lord that He had me. I’d follow Him no matter the cost. That was in July of 2010.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve been doing what normal families do. Steve and I enjoyed our days in sunny Florida, raising our kids and hanging out with family. We’d built solid careers and had the kind of comfort that you dream about. Neither of us are quick to seek adventure or make rash decisions.  So when the Lord prompted us to help our friends plant a church in Denver, Colorado, we were in unchartered waters. Prayerfully, and with willing hands, we petitioned the Lord to make His direction clear. We trusted Him to orchestrate every detail.  Over the course of this blog, I will share in more detail about this, but for now, I’ll suffice to say that in less that six months, we sold our home in Lakeland. Steve retired from Publix after 21 years to take a fabulous opportunity in the same field of work….his new company fully relocating us. I was promoted to a vaccines position with my company and able to continue my career. The children are enrolled in a terrific Christian school and enjoying the novelty of winter sports. We found a beautiful home to share with all of the wonderful people we’ll meet here. Hospitality is something I’ve always enjoyed.  At the moment, I’m snuggled up, reflecting upon the wonderous ways God made provision for us to be a small part of this exciting season. I’m thankful for the gifts He’s granted and also for those that have been revived in our hearts. In many ways, I’m still amazed that He moved us clear across the country…and certainly anticipate understanding more about that.

So, I’m back to blogging, but with a different goal in mind. I want to connect with you. I appreciate your prayers and support. I hope that in this new year you will join me on this adventure, as I do my best to share the greatness of our God. I hope that you will be inspired to follow Him with all of your heart, and without reservation.  I hope you will dare to believe big….that you can be everything he’s called you to be….that it’s never too late. If you don’t know Him, maybe I can help you meet Him here. He truly is making all things new.  I believe that I am now new so He can be known.

Love from Colorado,

Aimee

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Hiatus

I’m taking a break from blogging. I have to. I really need a break. You understand, right?  Life is happening. And happening fast. I’m capturing the details one by one. Just not recording them here. Not yet. Not now. And may I just say, to those who read, thank you.  It ‘s always amazed me that people care about my little slice of life.

A special friend recently shared something very significant (and quite accurate) with me.

“Aimee, your life is a paradox of wanting to be safe and secure and then yearning for adventure. You are moving now into a dimension of adventure.”

I know one day I will write again. I think the expression will look very different from the stories I tell today. Love you all.

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Neither Saucy, Sexy or the Like.

These pictures absolutely crack me up. Who says I have to blog with pictures anyway? I scarcely see how what I’m wearing has any bearing on my content.  Part of the reason I began featuring pictures is because somebody told me I needed to.  And, such is the story of life…some one said you just needed to do it.  Been there?  People, generally, are always eager to give opinions on what may be best for you. Ever notice that?  Lately, I find myself offering less commentary, but instead, a rather provocative question. “How can I help you?”  Of course, never delivered in a “You want cheese on dat?” kind of way.  That would be awkward. Jokes aside, I find myself desiring to understand more about the people I encounter everyday.  Whether it’s work, family, friends, people for whom I subscribe to services, whoever…  How could our interactions become more meaningful? What is my role in that?

As for needs analysis, these pictures indicate to me the only thing of immediate necessity is two inches of extra fabric and good photographer. But now let’s not get crazy.The first frame (although probably mistaken for a serious shot) is deer in the headlights. I didn’t know the camera was firing. The second ( also mistaken perhaps for some sort of J.Crew-eque high fashion pose) is actually me tripping over my own feet while conveniently being blown over by a gust of wind.  The jury is in….sexy, saucy or serious? NOT guilty. I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. Cheers!

Dress: Judith March (available at Hattie’s Branches), Boots: ZiZi Girl (available at Nordstrom), Shades: Tom Ford

Peter Piper Picked A Pumpkin…And Monogrammed Her

I have a bad habit of treating inanimate objects like people, especially if they’ve taken on some form of cuteness. Today, it was a pumpkin. She was delightfully adorable dressed in her herringbone ribbon and polka dots. Of course as the newest member of our family, I also felt inclined to properly designate her with our family initial.  Polky Pumpkin Reed  as she is called sits fully monogrammed, on my front porch nestled near a basket of mums. I love fall.

Speaking of the fall, let’s discuss how in L-O-V-E I’ve fallen with Mayzie’s new storefront. The gals have moved uptown (or up a few feet) into a much more spacious new home.  You MUST stop by for a visit. Bring your pumpkin, and they’ll give her a makeover.

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Scarf: Lilly Pulitzer (Mayzie’s), Blouse: Loft, Jewelry: Stella& Dot/J.Crew

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Pumpkins & Paisley

We had a snap of cool air this morning that compelled me to bust out the boots.  And because boots weren’t quite enough to thrust me into a fall full swing, we decided to make a trip to the pumpkin patch.  When I think about things that are so so Lakeland, First United Methodist Church’s annual pumpkin patch, perched hillside overlooking lovely Lake Morton, ranks in my top 10. I love this pumpkin patch. I’ve taken my children every year since they were born.  Likewise in the manner that the kiddos grow, so does their crop selection.  Today, we got big ol’ pumpkins, one of which required his own seat belt on the ride home. Hilarious.

I’m totally in love with my kids.

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Dress: Loft, Boots: Sam Edelman, Sunnies: Tom Ford, Belt: Tar-jhay.

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Pose Workshop for Top Buttons. Oh, Yes I did.

A team of young ladies and I are helping our friend Sarah Powers launch a movement to inspire our youth around modesty and Godly living. Top Buttons, a non-profit organization focused on modesty in fashion, aims to reach a generation of ladies who want to showcase creativity and grace more than skin; young leaders who refuse to be relegated to a culture of less is more when it comes to their dress. Trailblazers in the area of creative style, they are redefining fashion in a way that brings glory to God. I am honored to have been invited as a contributing stylist on this project. Today, a couple of the girls and I conducted a photo shoot for the November 2nd launch of the blog.

The funny thing about the girls is they love to be photographed but feel awkward striking a pose.  I shared a couple of my go to secrets:

1.Wear big sunglasses for added drama and to save yourself eye makeup application.

2.Forget the formality.

3. Relax. Don’t take yourself so seriously…even with those serious look shots.

4. Have fun!

When you see my photo tutorial on striking a pose (pictured below), you will understand why the ladies experienced bellowing laughter. I wish I could share their images. Classified stuff. wink wink. Hop on Facebook and give Top Buttons a like!

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Shorts: Mossimo (Target), Blouse: Kenar (TJ Maxx), Necklace: Stella & Dot, Sunnies: Tom Ford, Watch: Michael Kors, Shoes: Joan&David

Downtown Stroll

Denim/Blouse/Scarf: The Loft, Shoes: Franco Sarto, Sunnies: Tom Ford

 

Tomorrow’s Friday People!!!! Are we happy or what!???

 

Because I Need To Remember.

Blogging, for me, is a bit of an emotional processing tool. It allows me to give breath to thoughts in a very organic way. Most of the time they are quite fresh, frighteningly raw, and almost always unrehearsed. I do not write for the sake of being heard ( I yell to accomplish that). Nor do I write as an effort to assert intellect or to gain applause. I write because I feel so deeply and unashamedly. And to be honest, my audible voice lacks in expression, I want desperately to remember defining moments through my own imagery of words. Some moments, like the ones I experienced this weekend, illustrate beautifully another reason why I journal. I love my friends. When I was growing up, I remember my Dad admonishing me about the risks of such deep loyalty in friendship.You give too much. You don’t listen to reason. You forgive too easily.”  In a sense, he was right. I understood what he meant, but struggled, “You can never give too much.” As a young girl, I eagerly dropped things in a heartbeat to hang with a friend. I would spend hours on the phone sorting boyfriend and parent drama, taking up causes, loaning my stuff, whatever….because that’s just what you do. Right? He saw an optimism and devotion that made him nervous. “2nd and 3rd chances only leave you hurt.”  To this day, I disagree with him about this. Why? Because God didn’t call us to disposable relationships. He called us to love. And guess what? The hope to always discover the goodness of others, the treasure of reciprocal companionship has rewarded me immensely. Today, I have a handful of comrades who rival me in deep devotion, heart connections and genuine friendship. They love me and I love them. They understand me and I understand them. When they weep, so do I. When they celebrate, I dance in public (scary if you’ve never seen it.) They are really more than friends. We are sisters.

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This weekend, I celebrated with one of these. Love you, Ainsley.

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Dress: Romeo & Juliet, Shoes: Christian Louboutin, Jewelry: Stella & Dot