i love reading books that have a foreword from the author listing "thank-yous". sure, we read the simple "thanks, Bob, for your prayers and support" and skip right over it. but for Bob, that line probably means a lot more. Sure, Bob may not have been the chief motivation for the author, but Bob invested in the author and it made a true impact.
"I thank my God every time I remember you." -Philippians 1:3
this is one of the opening lines of Philippians - Paul's letter to the church of Philippi. the church in Philippi supported and invested in Paul in His ministry and he was very thankful for the investment they made in him.
so this is my "thank you" shout-out to those of you who have truly invested in me. know that you are amazing friends and i'm so proud to be able to call you my brothers and sisters in Christ! :)
first and foremost, i give thanks and all credit for anything and everything I've ever done to Jesus. He knew me before the world began. He knew the crazy little thing I would become. And He loves me anyways. So much so, to endure and conquer death so that I may have eternal life in Him!
secondly, i give thanks to my family.
- my parents.
they are amazing and i couldn't ask for better parents in the world.
talk about investing in me and praying for me -- they started praying for me like 2 years before i was even born! i believe my dad told me they started paperwork for adoption in 1987. i was born in 1989. and THEN, even after i was born, they still had to wait over 4 months to even see me.
...but once they did, they loved me. and they never stopped loving me.
i grew up fast (well, fast for them...) and there were long periods of distance between us, not physically, but in every other way. and now that there is a physical distance between us, i'm pretty sure i'm closer to them now than i ever was before :)
they taught me the basics - how to write my name. how to ride a bike. how not to push a child down a hill on the bike when the bike doesn't have brakes. (true story).
they taught me how to share. how to sacrifice. how to give. how to love. unconditionally!
i wrote my "thank you" to them in third person 'cuz i don't think my parents read my blog.
but just in case you do: I LOVE YOU, MOM AND DAD!!
- Joyann - my sister from another mister.
Joyann, i know you DO read my blog. so you're the first to get a personal 1st-person thank you ;)
But you are my soul sister. We've known each other since before the start of this millennium (crazy to think about, huh?!) i've known you for over half my life and i'm so blessed to call you my albino-asian sister.
you've been through me through thick and thin. and we've bonded and grown closer, through so much junk, even when we weren't physically together:
through three moves (two for you, one for me).
through break-ups (and the multiple make-ups i experienced with you-know-who).
through spiritual struggle and revival.
i admire your heart and spirit and love for Christ so much!
you may be three years younger, but you are definitely many many many years wiser than i am.
you've poured so much of your joy and grace (teehee) into my life and i'm so blessed to have you in my life!
you have an amazing heart.
and an amazing eye. (for photography...it'd be weird if i was just obsessed with your eye. and not both of them. just one. haha. think about that ;))
we're so alike in so many ways, so we share the same perspective on a lot of things. but i think the fact that we're different ages and in different stages of life give us the ability to see things from different lenses as well (you like the photography tie-in, there?? lol)
you put up with me through my "A-D-hey let's go ride bikes" moments (as you're experiencing reading this now), but most of all, you love me for who i am! you're an incredibly beautiful woman, inside and out, and i love you so very very much!
- Sharon West - my "other mom"
Sharon, I am so blessed to have gotten to know you at my time at The Peay.
it's crazy not being on campus and being in Ellington all the time, laughing and cutting up with you while we "worked"...
You truly were my "other mom" for a long time, since I wasn't at home. and I admire your heart for Christ so much! you poured into me spiritually at a time and place when most kids my age walked away from their relationship with Christ. and i was one of them.
whether you realized it or not, there was a period of about a year and a half where i was really away from God. but you were always there, pouring your unconditional love and spirit and strength into me :) you were such an amazing mentor to me through the period of reconnecting with Christ and getting my life back on the right track with Him.
these days, you send me frequent texts of encouragement, and while they're definitely not the same as seeing you and hearing your voice, they still mean the world to me. you've told me you admire me, but, girl, i guarantee you i admire you far more!
- Kim and Tristan - my "other" parents
when i met you, i was at a place where i really wanted to get connected at Grace and i needed people to invest in me and to pour wisdom into my life.
and God blessed me with you guys! Little did i know that that first small group at your house eating homemade potato soup would lead me down the path that it did - and ultimately here to this wonderful city!
you guys have been incredible, incredible mentors in my life and i cannot put into words what you guys mean to me! all the small groups, all the conversations, the encouragement, the job lead. God seriously poured the jackpot onto me when He was like "You need to go check out 'A Christian Conversation' at the Denleys. It'll be good for you - and a free meal ;)". LOL.
i absolutely love your hearts for Christ, for each other, for your beautiful daughters (who i miss very much, btw, so bring them to see me soon!), and for investing not only in my life, but the lives of us all in small group! You provide much more to us than a
goodAMAZING meal (which, as you know is essential in the life of poor-college kids) but also a great place for us to come and to open up about our struggles and to offer biblical advice and wisdom to us.
you've referred to me as your "dry-run" child (lol) and when i hear this verse, i think of you:
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." -Proverbs 22:6you guys sent me to charleston with great wisdom and advice. and i'm so thankful and blessed for all of it :)
- brenda and chad - my Costa Rica fearless leaders
Brendita and Yes-Really-Chad!
i'm sooo glad that i was able to serve with you in Costa Rica and to have you as the "fearless leaders" of my first mission trip.
you are such great leaders with such great hearts for Christ, for each other, and for your family! i love how you are still keeping in touch with me and still investing in me across two states and i can't wait to see your smiling faces when I'm back in Tennessee for visits :)
- Jennifer - my other Costa Rica leader/fabulous hair stylist who keeps me laughing
jen-jen - you are awesome.
you have been a HUGE blessing into my life (after all, it's because of your amazing haircut that i got my job, remember? ;)) i'm so glad Sharon told me about you and told you about me! She's pretty smart like that!
But Costa Rica was an amazing experience and I'm so glad that I got to share it with you. You are such a beautiful woman inside and out with an amazing heart and fantabulous sense of humor! You kept us all in stitches across international lines and you're still keeping me in stitches two states away! Thanks for investing in me and believing in me :) Love you!!
- Matt and Brittnye - my "other-other" parents
matt and brittnye.
i really do think i'm your long-lost-asian daughter. i'm so glad i met you guys and got to serve with you and sarah. hopefully we will all be able to go back on a team together again!
you have such amazing hearts for service and i thank you for investing in me, not only in Costa Rica, but even now that I'm in Charleston. i'm not sure who kept me laughing more in Costa Rica, Jennifer or you guys - it's a toss up! But whenever I think of Charlie the Unicorn (which is more often than you'd think), i think of you and whenever I pass by Magnolia downtown, i think first of food, and then of you ;)
Love you and miss you guys! Blilipiplipliplip!
- Pat - my "other" grandmother
Pat! Words cannot express my gratitude for all your love and support and all the wisdom you've poured into me over the last few months.
You truly are a godsend! I know that if i need prayer or a word of encouragement, i can turn to you and you will bless me with far more than a prayer! i'm so honored to know you and i admire your heart so much! thanks for investing in me, for believing in me, and for encouraging in my journey with Christ!
- brookeulus - ROOMIE! Wait, sorry, you're not my roomie. I'm confused, are you my roommate?
ILY! We could just write blogs and blogs and blogs about all the fun times we've had and all the memories we've made...oh wait, we already did!
But for real, I can't imagine a much more perfect first-year-at-college roommate than you.
i knew we were meant-to-be-BFFs when you cracked the first asian joke less than 48 hours after meeting me. fun times.
but on a serious note, you helped me truly encounter Jesus freshman year. all those trips to 24 church and then to a mexican restaurant of our choosing afterwards really impacted me. i thank you so much for that!
i wasn't always the best friend to you, but i know that the experiences and the lessons we learned from those experiences has drawn us so much closer. i'm so glad that we're still super close (and that i have a penpal again!) and i know that our friendship will endure through anything. it's already endured us being an ocean apart. twice. and now we're in the same country but states apart. and we're still going strong! lol. i don't like long-distance relationships, but with you i'll make it work. hahahaha!
you were there for me when i was at my lowest point in life. you may feel like you didn't "help" me much, but just having a friend when i needed it most was more than enough :) i miss our Thursday night woman club -- those were some of the most rewarding nights of my life -- being surrounded by friends when i didn't have or deserve a friend.
we've both experienced our fair share of heartaches and heartbreaks. but they've made us stronger and now we can face the world together, knowing we're strong, beautiful, godly women. and one day, some ruggedly handsome, strong, godly men (with great senses of humor) will love us too!! and we'll have kids and they can have playdates! lol.
- kelsey - my healthy, active, motivator friend
we met my sophomore year in Hand Village (woop woop).
but we didn't really become friends until my junior year through AQUA when it was just getting kicked off and at small group.
God definitely blessed me with incredible people at that time and I'm so glad He blessed me with you :) since we had just kind of gone through breakups (very different ones, but breakups nonetheless), having you there to talk to was really nice.
i will admit, i was kind of intimidated by you a bit when we started connecting at small group with Meag, back in the day. you seemed to be so rooted in Christ and you seemed to have it all together. and at that point, i was so far away from Christ, that being around you was a bit scary. i was afraid of judgment and that you wouldn't want to be friends with me because of my mistakes. but that was totally NOT the case! you were one of the first people i opened up to from small group about my past and the mistakes i had made. i remembered sitting with you at Passion during one of the breakout sessions. and i remember you were like "those things don't matter now because God still loves you." you often quoted Romans 8:28 to me, which is now one of the most powerful verses i keep in my head.
not only have you encouraged me spiritually and emotionally, but also physically as well. you encouraged me when i started running and through boot camp. and even when i am lazy and don't feel like doing anything. haha.
you're one of the most encouraging people i know and i love you for it! thank you so much!
- jason hart - finally someone who shares my twisted sense of sarcasm and humor
the amazing thing about you is that you invested in me, even before we met.
i remember you friend requesting me on facebook and then messaging me about my blog and how you admired my faith in Christ. granted, i was still struggling with my faith a lot (and to be honest, i still do sometimes), but having someone who didn't even know me be as honest and encouraging as you were was a great feeling.
and to have God orchestrate our friendship at just the right time in my life was an amazing thing to experience! once again, you invested in me at just the right time and it led to some really fun times. plus, in the process of getting to know you, i realized that we have a very similar sense of humor and my love for Youtube and random videos was rekindled. lol.
you're an amazing man of God, with a great heart for Him and for His ministry and i'm so glad that i met you and that we became friends. i hate that i ended up moving so shortly after having met you, but so incredibly blessed by the time we did get to hang out together.
- Kerby and Jason
i love you guys so much!
i remember i had just started attending Grace regularly when Ron announced you guys would be moving to Costa Rica. i remember thinking "Good for them. That's what God's calling THEM to do." who knew that like a year and a half later, God would be calling ME to travel outside MY comfort zone to go to Costa Rica to serve with you guys!
You both have such amazing hearts and I love that I got to serve with you (and Lord willing, I will get to serve with you a lot more in the future!). You guys have been such great encouragements to me and such great role models! my move from TN to charleston was a hard one, but definitely not as hard as yours was. but your faith in God's provision and your trust in His plans for you was such a great encouragement for me in my move!
He's doing such amazing things in and through you guys, not only at the Abraham Project, but back here in our hearts and lives as well. I love you guys so much! Can't wait to see and serve with you guys again!
- Mel - my food buddy and SC BFF
one of the first people i met here. and so blessed by that!
i'm so thankful that you're investing in me and spending time with me. i love hanging out and enjoy eating at all the different restaurants with you. it's been great getting to know you and to have someone investing in me here, just like people back at home did. :)
You're such an amazing woman! Love you lots and I'm so thankful for your friendship!
...this took me much longer to write than originally intended, but i wanted to express my gratitude and thankfulness for all of you in my life! in the moments we were together, you may not have thought you were planting seeds of fruitfulness into my life, but you definitely were! i am so very thankful for you all and for all the blessings you've poured into my life! :D