My friend Gina is our youth pastor's wife. Over the years, I've come to understand that being a pastor's wife is a full time job with absolutely no pay...at least not monetary payment. I'm pretty sure she's going to have a crown loaded with jewels to give to Jesus some day, though. She loves her teens as if they were her own children.
The first time I saw her, we were in an evangelism class at church, and we were both pregnant. All I remember was that I was standing next to her, and we were singing a beautiful hymn, and I was thinking the following things:
1. This girl can SING!
2. She can harmonize too!
3. She can play the piano.
I realized right then and there that she did, indeed, have all of the qualifications needed for being the perfect pastor's wife!
Shortly thereafter, several of us young moms decided to get together to have a time of fellowship for mothers, and a play date for our kids. Deep friendships were formed during those years, and somehow our group became known as the "Fab 7". All of us remain close friends to this very day, and I praise God that our circle of friends has multiplied extensively since that time into a large network of treasured sisters in Christ who we love and adore.
When we found out that Gina was moving, we knew that we had to get together for one last evening of fun and fellowship with the "original" group of ladies whose friendships started all those years ago. We wanted to gather together one last time to share a good laugh and reflect on how much we've all grown from those early years of nursing babies, changing diapers, and potty training kids.
We were so fortunate to be able to go to a gorgeous Country Club nestled high up in our mountains for the evening. The Clubhouse overlooked the frozen lake outside, but inside it was warm with the sights and sounds of laughter and memories.
We gathered together at this table to have one last conversation before Gina goes off to make new buddies in a new state. I feel blessed to have friends that are so genuine and honest that we can talk about anything. Our conversation can freely flow from dialogue about stretch marks to discussing the deep truths of the Bible. We rejoice over every small blessing, and cry together over tragedy. We've clung to one another during diagnoses of cancer, and rejoiced over new life. We've held each other accountable in tremendously difficult times, and cheered each other on through weight loss attempts and hairstyle changes. Our friendships have remained solid through hormones and mood swings, and seasons of discontentment. We have a true love for one another that chooses not to be offended. We choose to look past the imperfections in one another, and see each other the way Christ sees us...as new creations. That's the mark of true friendship!
After appetizers, we exchanged gifts and I was so excited for Gina to open her new apron that I could hardly contain myself!
Here she is with her apron on....and no, she's not doing the hula dance. Gina ALWAYS talks with her hands. It's one of the things I love about her. If you chopped her arms off, you'd only get half the meaning of what she's saying because the other half would be lost without her hand gestures. :)
More hand gestures.
We also gathered several pictures from throughout the years, and one of our friends put them all in a lovely frame made from an old window pane.
Here was the picture I contributed:
That's me with Gina and Dawn.
Here's a picture of her taking a picture of me. She's a great photographer, and takes beautifully artistic pictures.
After one last group picture, we had a delicious homemade Italian dinner, topped off with a decadent dessert.
The evening passed far too quickly, but I savored every moment of it. I love making new friends, but I really treasure the old friendships that have stood the test of time.
We're all going to miss Gina, and it's going to feel like something's missing when we get together, but I'm thankful that God allowed her to be a part of our lives for a season. She's been a true blessing to each and every one of us.