Sunday’s Blog Every Day in May prompt was to publicly profess my love and devotion for a blogger friend. I decided to go with someone who does write a blog– an authentic, humorous and expressive one at that- but I don’t call her a blogger friend. I simply call her friend.
And today is her BIRTHDAY!
So let’s throw a little online birthday party for her! She has been struggling lately and is currently in the hospital. Let’s use today to encourage the heck out of her!
The first time I remember meeting Lizzie was at a youth lock-in, which I’ve tried to block out of my mind forever—the lock-in, not the conversation. I was standing behind a check-in counter in the church gym and a small brunette started up a conversation about my friends. I don’t remember exactly what she said about them (probably that they’re awesome because they are), but I’ll never forget her last line.
“I just hope I have friends when I get old.”
I looked past the fact she had just referred to my then 25 years as old and responded as anybody would.
“Of course you’ll have friends! I don’t think you need to worry about that.”
It never crossed my mind that in the next year cancer would become Lizzie’s new normal and might prevent her ever from growing old. With all the surgeries, chemo, conversations and emotions she’s been through in the last 18 months, I think it’s safe to say she’s officially an adult. How does it feel to be old like me?
The first three pictures posted above are images of how we could think of Lizzie—before, during and ‘after’ cancer. It’s easy to think of her as how she was before her body started attacking itself, how she coped during treatment and then remission, and how she is responding now that her cancer is back and taking its toll.
BUT I’m choosing to see what this second set of images reflects. How Lizzie is and always has been. Lizzie is and always has been joyful with a zest for life and adventure. She makes people laugh and laughs at herself. She’s transparent and authentic putting those of us around her at ease. We know we are welcome in her presence. She makes time for people- even to watch Dance Moms with two old twenty-somethings. She smiles. She includes everyone and excludes no one. She’s a servant leader who actively lives to be the change she wants to see in the world. She boldly and honestly displays her faith in all situations, whether it be in fervent trust or understandable doubt. She is Lizzie- then, now, always.
I think back to the lock-in as I began watching the all-nighter enthusiasts arrive. There were youth I was trying to get to know, parents I hardly knew at all and a husband who would be running around making sure no one was making out. I felt like like an outsider. Alone. And then that little brunette initiated our conversation. She made me feel welcome, encouraged and loved. With the few steps it took her to seek me out, I all of the sudden wasn’t so alone.
You see, that’s who Lizzie is and always has been. To all of us. In a word of encouragement, a goofy joke, a simple conversation and deep heart to heart, a friendly smile or an honest blog- she has sought us out and she has found us. And she’s made us feel we are never alone.
So today on her birthday, let’s do what she always has and always will do for us. Let’s seek her out! Let’s find her! Let’s let her know she is never alone!
Find a way to tell her what you think of her. Facebook, Twitter, this blog, her blog, text, call, whatever! I encourage you not to throw random Bible verses at her or tell her that God has a plan (she already knows that). Don’t focus on her situation; focus on who she is as a person. Tell her what she means to you and what you’ve learned from her. Tell her how proud you are of her. Say what you’ve always wanted to say but never took the time, got a little scared or didn’t think of in the moment. Write thoughtfully. Write authentically. Write boldly.