I didn't speak at the celebration service for Summer due to my propensity to collapse in a heap in emotional situations. That's probably exactly what would have happened. Either that or I would have gone waaaaaay over my two minute allowance and gotten in trouble :) I thought Elizabeth, Lori and Chris Spradlin spoke beautifully, as did Pastor Chris. The service was exactly as it should have been. This blog is really where my voice is, for now, so I thought I'd tell you what I would have said, had I been able to stand before you on Tuesday.
First, I would have told you that she was the most amazing mom I've ever seen. My first indication of that was not long after I met her, with the end of the school year approaching. She talked about how excited she was to have her kids home from school all summer long. I thought, whaaaat?!?! That's just weird, right? Honestly, most moms I know sort of dread those summer months, because after the first two weeks the kids are bored, arguing and driving them crazy. That's why Staples has that back-to-school commercial where they sing, "It's the most wonderful tiiiiiiime of the year!" But, she loved every minute with her babies and always had positive things to say about them. It was her influence that began to change my heart toward my kids. I'm a better mother because of her. I've got a long way to go, but I'm not where I was. There's no telling how many other people can say the same thing.
Second, I would have told you what a great friend she was to me. This is where I would have fallen apart. She knew everything about me - my past, my fears, my successes, my dreams - everything. She always encouraged me and spoke words of life over me. In fact, there were times she would say things about me that I knew weren't true at the moment, but she was speaking to my potential. That's just what she did. She believed that if she said it enough, I (or whoever she was talking to) would begin to believe it and then become it.
Summer was also my PR person, at times, when others couldn't see past my awkwardness. If you have spent any amount of time around me, you know what I'm talking about. She'd say I was awesome, whether I was or not. Unfortunately, she put up with a lot from me, too. I had lots of insecurities and quirks, but she just kept on being a friend, spoke truth when needed and prayed faithfully for me. In fact, she prayed for me whether I had asked her to, or not. It always struck me when she would say, "I was praying for you this morning, and..."
The most precious moment in our friendship came at a time that God was showing me some things from my past that were holding me back. Some things I believed about myself that weren't true. I sat at the bar in her kitchen, covered my face and confessed things that I was ashamed of. She didn't even flinch, but said, "Ashley, uncover your face and look at me." She looked me right in the eyes and redefined me with her words..."That's not who you are. That's not true." Then she said, "Do you want me to tell you something I've never told anybody?" And she told me something I didn't know about her. There is nothing like being fully known, yet fully loved and accepted. That was Jesus in her, reaching to me. I'll never forget it. We had a lot of moments like that and it went both ways. Sometimes I was in need and sometimes she was. That's why God tells us to confess our sins to one another - that we may be healed!
Her friendship healed a lot of things in me. She was a gift and I'm so thankful I had the privilege of knowing her and calling her friend.
(Part 2 may show up tomorrow...I told you I would have gone over my 2 minutes!)