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Saturday, August 13, 2011

"We're all a little bit of you."

our matching bracelets
In 2008 when we revived our youth group's annual camping trip to Santa Cruz, all the girls in my tent decided to buy matching bracelets at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk -- you know, the beachy souvenir kind that come in several different colors. After each of my girls picked their favorite single-colored bracelet, I chose one that was multi-colored. One of the girls (my dear friend Jessie) proclaimed, "We're all a little bit of you!" Haha! I actually loved that concept, and it is one that has been on my mind a whole lot this past week...

(L to R) Megan, Jesse, Mackie, TJ, Jake, Ben, me, Judy, Jessie,
& Ashley at the Century Sparks Theater after seeing "Ponyo"

I came across the picture to the right a few days ago and it suddenly dawned on me that I've had pretty much the same core group of friends for two whole years now. This picture was taken on August 18 (my birthday!), 2009, and at that time it was an extremely random gathering of people... It was one of the first times I had hung out with about half of these people outside of youth group activities; yet in the months that followed most of them became my "regular crowd." Over the past two years we have shared movie & game nights, taken road trips, been to concerts, seen movies in the theater, worshiped, prayed, attended each other's performances, celebrated birthdays, served our community, LAUGHED, occasionally cried, fought, made up, and ultimately grown together. I have come to LOVE and CHERISH these friends so very much that I'm in awe when I look at this picture and think that I barely knew some of them when it was taken!!

Jesse (left) in his "punk" days...
Granted he WAS helping Cassidy & me
move out of our apartment in this picture!
I gotta give him credit for that! =)

Tonight I attended a going-away party for one of these treasured friends. Jesse is moving to Vacaville tomorrow to participate in a ministry internship. When I very first met Jesse, he was, in my opinion, a little punk kid in our youth group who had long hair and an attitude with which none of us youth leaders knew what to do -- definitely not someone around whom I cared to spend a lot of time. (Sorry, Jesse!)

I'm not sure when or how it happened but somewhere along the way God captured this young man's heart and began a transformation in his life I never would have imagined in those early days. (Shame on me, perhaps, for having so little faith in our God's power to change lives!) I never would have expected to see him not just playing drums or guitar but actually leading worship with a sincere heart. I never would have expected to hear about him making bold claims of faith in front of his classmates. And I never, NEVER would have imagined him becoming one of my closest friends...

I am glad God chooses to surprise us.  =)

Jesse & me at the youth group's
Birthday Party for Jesus in December
Now don't get me wrong, Jesse is not perfect, just as I am not perfect and you are not perfect. But God has definitely done a number on this guy!! Tonight as I reflected on the transformation I've been so blessed to witness over these past several years in Jesse's life, I shed some tears and felt completely humbled and overwhelmed with gratitude. It would have been marvelous enough to have watched God change his life from a distance as a youth leader; it is even more marvelous to have seen & heard what God was doing in his life up close & personally as his friend. I have been SO sad this week thinking of him leaving Reno and not being around for movie nights, etc. anymore. But I am thrilled knowing God has his heart and is leading Jesse in this new direction because He has more good work to do in his life.

Tomorrow I am celebrating my birthday a few days early with some of my dearest friends, and I regret that Jesse won't be there to celebrate with us. In a few weeks, Jake will be gone as well, attending school in Oregon, and thus another member of my core group of friends will be gone. I'm recognizing a certain season of my life is coming to a close. It is so bittersweet. I know we will all remain friends, and it's not like anyone is moving to Abu Dhabi... We will all still be within a decent road trip's distance from each other! But the fact of the matter is it will probably never again be like it has been for these past two years. While my heart grieves that loss I am also grateful that God leads us to new places and into new seasons as we follow Him. Each season has its own blessings (and, of course, its own challenges). But we can't stay where we are now forever!

Jesse, Alex, me, Ben, & Jake at Senior Recognition Night
These are four SPECIAL guys, let me tell you!
I'm thankful Ben & Alex aren't going anywhere!
I look back over the past two years and thank God for putting these special people in my life for this season -- "for such a time as this." Some of them will continue to play central roles in my life for more seasons to come (and I am so glad for that!), and God will also bring new people into my life in as seasons continue to change; but for those in this core group of friends that has meant so much to me for the past two years who may no longer be playing as central a role in my story, let me say this:  You are not simply people with whom I will look back and remember sharing some fun times. You are key characters in my life's story who have made a lasting impression on me. To borrow what Jessie said about my multi-colored bracelet three years ago, "you are all a little bit of me!" I love you all and you will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart!


Beth Stone said...

It's always bittersweet to move on to the next stage of life... nice to have the memories though - and exciting to know that, for believers - we'll have eternity together. :o) Sweet post....

Kaysi said...

Thanks, Beth! I was thinking as I drove home last night about how sweet it will be to be together with ALL my fellow believers someday and never have to say goodbye (or be separated by 2400 miles). =)