one of my dearest friends lost her mom a little over six years ago. despite the fact that i spent a limited amount of time with laurie over the course of her life, i am forever grateful to have known her.

despite our physical distance i consider liz one of my best friends to this day. i love her to pieces, and i love her little family, and her entire family. each member of her family has impacted my life and my world. her mom was certainly no exception.

miss laurie was one of those people whom had a direct line to God. she inspired me, and so many other people because of that connection {and her awesome dance moves, among other things}. i went to indianapolis for her funeral. i met a guy there who met miss laurie on a plane and they started talking, and she impacted his life so much he showed up to say good-bye. good-bye for now.

liz was one of my freshman roommates in college, and i knew her family cared about me from the moment i met them - even though i was super grouchy at the time. despite my less-than-desirable first impression they still loved me well.

i cannot remember a time when i was around miss laurie and felt judged. not once. she cared about people and for people so very well. the love of God simply flowed from her.

she was also one of the most genuine and real people i've ever met. she was so rare in her vulnerability. she didn't buy into the lie that we're supposed to walk around wearing masks and hiding ourselves. we all have shortcomings, we all have failures, but God's grace covers it all.

she walked in light of that.
and perhaps because it's so rare - it was crazy-amazing to see.

of course she wasn't perfect, but she walked with God. she allowed God's grace to transform her, and overflow out of her life.

she didn't meet people and demand that they change. she met people and told them who God was. she met people and showed them how much God loves them because of how she treated them. she loved them where they were. she met them where they were. and she didn't make them feel like they were less than because of how they lived their life - mistakes, warts, and all.

she loved like Jesus. that's the simplest way to say it. she loved like Jesus.

liz's entire family has impacted me so much over the years. i'm so thankful for each of them. i'm thankful for how each one of them has spoken into my life in different ways.

i'm thankful for the time i spent with her parents - watching them love each other well. watching them invite people, and other people, and more people into their home and the generosity, genuine hospitality, grace, and outpouring of love that flowed from them just by having a meal with them. they loved people well, but there was no pretense of perfection either. they let others share in their gifts, and they let them see their scars.

i'm thankful for the time i spent getting to know her brother and sister-in-law, and how jon & natalie's  life and family spoke into my life and my family at a time when i desperately needed a boost. they have spoken life into mine at a few key times that i still point back to with a grateful heart.

i'm thankful for the time i got to spend with her sister, and the impact of heather's heart and vulnerability on my life - on how i want to live. she has truly allowed God to mold her, and change her, and she has done it with such grace. she has always been a beautiful person, and that was never more true than now.

and of course i'm thankful for liz and jd. i'm thankful for how i've gotten to watch their relationship develop from the very beginning. i'm thankful for what they've taught me by how they work together and hold each other up. their love for each other is so rich it's palpable.

and liz. i can hardly find words to express what liz's friendship has meant to me over the last 13+ years. she is truly a beautiful soul. she has seen me ugly-cry many times and has loved me through it. she allowed me space to be the best of myself and the worst of myself. in the times when i had doubts about whether peter and i would actually get married she comforted me {hence the ugly-crying referenced above}. when peter and i got engaged she was one of the first people i called. she stood up with me on my wedding day, and affirmed the relationship she saw from the very beginning. she let me be there for her too. when i went to indianapolis for her mom's funeral she refused to let me stay in a hotel. she had me stay at her house despite everything else that was going on in her world. we've shared a lot of moments of joy and of sorrow over the years. and despite the distance we can always pick up right where we left off.

i am so grateful for liz. i'm so grateful for her family and the impact they've had on me and my life. i'm thankful for how each of them has pointed me back to God by how they've lived - through their ups and their downs. greg and laurie and all of their children have shown me time and again what it means to have the grace of God wash over your life. of what it means to really know Him, and to really trust him both on the mountain and in the valley.

i pray that each of us will have a direct line to God like laurie did. i pray that we will know his voice well.

{the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (john 1:5 niv)}



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