You've probably heard the term before..."she/he is heaven sent, a treasure from above." Well, I have been blessed with several "heaven sent friends" and they mean so much to me. I try not to take them for granted. I realize how much they mean to me, especially at this time of the year, and how blessed I am to have them in my life.
I have friends like Shannon, whom I've never met, only corresponded with via email but feel like I know her and Lord willing, one day I will. She found Tori's story back in the beginning and has followed it daily, praying for her and encouraging me along the way. She has met others through my blog and even attended a Bible study done by of one of the ladies on my blog, Angie (the Beth Moore, Stepping Up study I did this past summer) and I know she was blessed through that.
Tori's legacy didn't stop with people who heard and were impacted by her story alone. Her life, and me being able to share it with others, led those people to other people, and they were then touched down the road long after Tori was gone. That is so awesome to me. It encourages a grieving mother's heart in ways words can't express. Shannon sent me the most precious ornament last week that I will cherish always. I want to publicly say thank you, Shannon, for it meant so much to me when I opened the package and really thought about the meaning. You can see the ornament below:
It reads: "You may miss me, but I'm spending Christmas with Jesus this year." WOW- is all I could say for I was speechless when I opened it. Someone who has never met me in person, saw this and said they thought of Tori, and then took the time to mail it to me. It made me stop and imagine the greatest Christmas ever- when we will stand face to face with Him and celebrate Him all day long. Wouldn't that be THE best Christmas ever?? How sad it is for me some days and I get down in the dumps, but it's things like this that lift my spirits back up. Again, thank you from the bottom of my heart for your encouragement so many times, Shannon.
I have other friends like Jill, whom I've known since middle school, and she can always make me laugh! She wrote "Tori's thoughts" to add a little smile to my updates on caringbridge and so many people were able to smile, too. She is definitely the ideal HAPPY person, easygoing (as well as outgoing), and encourages me with her positive outlook on life. She always listens to my negatives, any venting I need to do, and never criticizes me in return. To have the gift of JOY like she does, I would think by now she would have gotten tired of hearing my disappointments, hurts and fears, but she never complains, just helps me smile and laugh through it all! Thank you, Jilly, I love you!
I have older friends where age doesn't matter to me AT ALL. Not all my friends are in their 20's, in fact, the majority of our friends have always been older than us. Our kids are not the same age, we're not at the same stage in life, and the fact that they are wiser and more experienced probably helps me a lot. Deborah, (whom I blogged about, her and her family, on Thanksgiving), is like a second mother and yet a friend to me of the truest kind. I have never known a better servant's heart nor kinder spirit than hers. The list could go on here with friends in this category. I have several older friends, yet they are very close to me until age means nothing. I am so blessed to have all of them in my life.
Why did I blog about this? Am I trying to get brownie points with these select few I mentioned? Heaven's, no! Let me get to my point...there are friends that we may not have ever met if you've been in a situation like me...but they are someone who has prayed for and with you, a kindred spirit; there are friends you've known since you were a kid, and you can tell all your deepest, darkest secrets to and be accepted anyway; then there are friends that have come into your life more recently than others, some that may be at different stages in life than you, but you still have much in common. Why do you think the Lord puts each unique, individual person in your life? Is it coincidence? Does it happen by chance? I don't think so.
I have always had a lot of acquaintances, but only a handful of good friends. Good, loyal, true friendships are hard to build and even harder to keep...and if you guard your heart like I have, it's even harder. It's not until going through what I've been through with Tori and the aftermath of it all, that I've realized who my true friends are. Reminds me of the country song, "You Find out who your friends are." If you can stand a country song, listen to the lyrics below.
My point is that I cherish the friendships that the Lord has placed in my life (all of you!!), and more importantly, I see what I want to be to others in a friendship. I'll never be the perfect friend. I may forget to send a card for their birthday, be in a bad mood some days, not return their call until a few days later, or even make them upset about something, but I want to be aware of these things and take good care of the friendships I have. Kind of like taking care of my car. I want to make sure I get the oil changed and the tires rotated and balanced to keep it running good. The same thing with my friendships.
I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for being my friend, no matter what level or type of friendship we share. I am thankful for you, and your friendship is one of the greatest gifts I treasure at Christmas!
"A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity." Proverbs 17:17