“A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
"Friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them.
And a friend will not say never, cause the welcome will not end.
Though it's hard to let you go,
In the Father's hands I know.
That a lifetime's not too long... to live as friends."
Michael W Smith
I have always had a lot of friends. As I share my "story", through this blog and eventually, my book, friends are a huge part of it all. Obviously, I cannot mention everyone of them here. I am mostly speaking to those that have ministered to me, recently. I have been blessed beyond measure with beautiful friends. With hearts of gold and fire. My God-given temperament lends itself to being open, inviting and fun. I like that part of me. I absolutely love people. Especially, now, I never want anyone in my presence, to ever feel lonely or unloved. I like to make people feel special. I cut myself off from most of them in my "bad" years. Unanswered calls and cards. Even, unanswered doors... Not any more! I am a good friend. But, I attribute much of that, to having good friends.
I have known Cindy Young since 1983. We met in high school, but became very close after that. She loves the Lord with a fierce passion. She knows every single thing about me. The good and the bad. And, she has never stopped loving me. Cindy was a part of the "intervention" process, my family did on me. And, she has filled in many blanks for me. Things in those years, that I cannot remember. She knows how bad it was...how "messed up", I had gotten. To hear her tell it....I was really bad!! Even though she was scared, baffled and confused, she had great faith. She always has. I could write a book just about her. There is not one self-serving thing about her. She is the opposite of me, in our personality types. I am a "sanguine". (I can hear you now! Yes! She is! Okay. Embrace the great parts of it. Please forgive the rest!) Cindy is a "melancholy". I think that's why we've never "broken up"! Ha! Much like spouse',... opposites attract! (More about temperaments, next year!) She affirms all of the good and beautiful things, in, and about me! She does not tell me everything that I want to hear. But, always what I need to hear. Her husband, Kurt, is like a brother to me. He is wise and I love his heart. Her children are like my own. Cindy is gold, to me. I know her. I treasure her. Trust her, implicitly. One thing that stands out is, she is what she is. No pretense. No drama. Very real! She is tried and true. I love her, deeply.
The red-haired gal, in yesterday's blog, turned out to be my Pastor's wife. When, I realized this, I thought, "Great, we will have to find a new church"! I had shared several things with Jerri Kersh, as a choir member.....I was not at all ready to "go out on that limb", with the Pastor! "Seeing" her grace made me know that he could handle my "stuff". He did.....he does. This friendship has been a surprising gift! Something unexpected! Something Beautiful! A "soul sister". In the first year of our friendship, we met frequently. She ministered to me in ways that will never be forgotten. We still do, and she she still does. Encouragement, mercy, support, tenderness and genuine love. I feel all of those, from her. She is this way with everyone. I am the better, for knowing her. Jerri has touched my life, and I have grown. I recently had a "chick flick" movie night with her, and another friend. (Ted was in Guatemala!) We curled up on her couch and laughed and cried....... looking forward to Ted's trip to Brazil! Ha! She is just so down to earth. Jerri knows my heart. She affirms what she sees God doing in me, all of the time. I am teachable because of her. I want to be a better woman. Always growing. I'd love to be more like her. And, I treasure any moment with her...
In June of 2009, I got reacquainted with a friend from college, Carol Collins Sommer. Jerri was her neighbor and had invited her children to SMAK. When she introduced us, Carol said, "Kari Kimberling!!"! !! I was struggling, in that moment, to remember how we knew each other. After all, there are many "blank" spots in recent years! But, she called me by my maiden name. Her face was familiar. I did not let on that I had no idea who she was. We laugh about this now. As it turns out, we lived on the same floor one semester at OBU. She loves to share stories about how I dressed at night.....let's just say, "fancy"..And, how I was the only one to take hot baths and sing in the tub! We quickly became fast friends. Sisters that neither of us had. Our first "date" was almost one year ago. I barely knew her. We had not seen each other or spoken but a handful of times, since that first meeting. She texted me, asking if I could come sit with her in the hospital. She was alone with her ailing mother. I went. It was a pivotal moment for both of us.... A beautiful friendship was birthed that night. Something that had ached from within both of us, for different reasons, was being given. God-given. I am going to be writing more about Carol and her family, in January. I can't write it all here, or people will stop reading. Yes, it will need it's own "page"! She is a unique, quirky, "hot", giving, Kingdom-minded, life-affirming, precious friend. We laugh alot! She has helped me tremendously, with Lexi! Read her blog, "Blessed in Bixby"! She is devoted-homeschooling-momma! I am so grateful for her and her family. Mark needed a friend....he got Carol's husband, Sean. ( This man needs his own page, too. My brother. My friend. A kindred spirit! Read his blog, "Secretly Shaken" You will be blessed!) My kids needed "family"....they got their children, Justice and Annaliese. This family was a beautifully wrapped "present". My entire family has thoroughly enjoyed "unwrapping" them! I believe that they feel the same!
While these friends have been a huge part of my journey, in the last two years. I want to give a few "shout outs"!. Again, there is no way I can say thank you to everyone. I have way too many "peeps", and my fingers are hurting! Ha!! Please take no offense, if you are not on this list! I love everyone. Trust me, I do! Some were mentioned in yesterday's blog! These will be brief and possibly comical. Here goes: ( In NO order!) :-)
Denise Eldridge- I am grateful that Jerri saw fit, to "set us up"! You know how I love you. Love your heart. Your tears. You are a rock and I cannot wait to sit under your teaching next year. You are a wonderful teacher. A wonderful friend! You rock of grace!!!
Lori Robertson- There are not enough words, that can convey my deep love and admiration for you. Brookhaven brought us together, in the most abysmal of times. But, because we came back to our faith, we found each other anew. I LOVE YOU! Laughing and crying with you is better than any drug out there! Yes. I said that...out loud! Big huge hug!
Lorie Bell- You are enmeshed in my heart. And, well...you are stuck with me. Plain and simple. I always look forward to each time that I know that I will get to see your face! I have a huge affinity for Bells! Thank you for being so open...Loving, true, fun and giving!
Beth Wilkinson- You are a special gift! I love how you love, my Jake. Well, all of my kids! How you showed up and stayed with me in the hospital for Jake's heart surgery, speaks volumes to who you are as a woman!
My Aunt, Glenda Hamman- She has loved me since birth. And, prayed me out of "death". I love you!
Taprina Milburn- Although, we have not seen each other's faces, recently. You are one of the most authentic women that I have ever known. Full of integrity and generous in spirit. I love you, my sweet friend. I look forward to seeing you soon!
Paula Kaye Compton- I rejoice in knowing YOU! I know that are hearts are forever knitted. Precious, pure and plum cute!
Roxanna Grimes- I still reflect on our chats from years ago. You are one of the wisest souls I know. You are always, "spot on". If you had lived near me, I would have never gotten away with so much....Coffee and phone dates, soon!
Susan Gierhart- I hear you singing. Please sing to me. I hear us laughing. I see us crying. Crying in the joy of our lives. Let's do it again...soon!
Kathy Laster- You saw it coming. If only, we had not moved. I am proud to call you friend. But, if you weren't my friend....You would definitely be my doctor! Love you!
Becky Morrison- You are that rare gift, that few will ever find. Why, we lost each other? Who cares. We are found. Your note on the "Rochelle" post convinces me that we are all intricately woven together with His purposes and plans all along...May we laugh and cry till the mascara runs...again, soon!
Mary Beth Kissee- I still say things to people that you implored upon my heart. Tried to teach me. I have taken some detours, but I have found my way back to Jesus. YOU taught me how far I can love and worship Him....
Cheryl Ross, Amy Witt, Monica Mullins, Shelly Johnson, Diane Jennings- Friends really are forever, when the Lord's the Lord of them! Especially if you went to OBU! Each of you have encouraged and inspired me! I look forward to some girl time! Mon, and I are a few steps ahead! Muah!!
Kelli Belt, Joette Berry, Leann McKelvey, Rhonda Landreth and Stephanie Lennington- I still have unresolved hurts, regarding our departure from McAlester. ( Nothing from you!) But, I need you to know that knowing each of you. "Seeing" you, again. It has infused healing. I love you all. You were. Are. Precious friends.
Jill Carlson- I love you. You are a "Kimberling" to my family. I will cherish our families time with you all, last Summer. Looking forward to many more!
Shelley Wall- Thank you for getting Mark and I together. You are family. We love and miss you all~
Shanny Gelso- You were there for me in BIG God kind of ways when I got home.You had no idea...
Kara Lee- Thank you for letting me know that it's okay to be "real". I adore your whole family!
Bob Ball and Bettye Kane- One of our first "couple" friends. I look forward to many more dates! I am so thankful for your love. You are such a huge blessing to my life! Grateful for the love that you have poured into me.
Melody Campbell- You are precious surprise! I just think the world of you. I look forward to many treasured moments with you. You have a beautiful voice. And, your sweet spirit is contagious!
Anne Bray, Debbie Williams, Donna Chestnut, Betty Meadows, Dot Dietrich, Lori Brown, Judy Disch, Leann Griffin, Leanna Wyatt, Ronda Brown, Ann Holden, Sandra Ryan, Sherry Claybrook......( I will forget some! Forgive! Choir girls unite!) - You make my heart sing. My soul laugh. I hope I can do the same for you! I adore each of you!
Lori Milton_ I think we both needed each other! I love to laugh with you! You bless me.Your voice and heart are beautiful! I love you and your girls SO much!
Sarah Stephens- You, my dear, are a surprising gift! I love that God saw fit to put you in my "family" at Falls Creek! I look forward to many sit-in-the-driveway-dates! This ole gal loves you! I'm a "fan" of you!
LaiAnn Simmons- You are a strong woman. Loving and kind. Thank you for loving me. But, especially my boys. Curtis was a gift from God, to Jake. We all love you!
Debbie Steen- My feisty, fun-filled friend! You make life fun! Kiss!
Kristi Davis- YOU make me laugh often, love more and live full. You are a hoot! I love your surprise phone calls, texts and emails! Big fat kiss!
Ronda DeLaughter- You, my dear, are priceless. I look forward to seeing you soon.
Carol Graber, Georgeann Haney, Stephanie Farqhuar, Nancy Wadlow, Linda Groves, Diane Burtrum, Barbara Lepper- Mom's friends. My friends. Thank you, for your cards and prayers during those "troubled" years. You are amazing women of God!
Bill and Carrie Mulder- I am so grateful for your grace and generosity.
Ali Helt- You have been a true friend. We love you and your kiddos, so much!
Kelly and Gene Ann Kerr- Crazy Love. For you all. Nuff said.
Ana French, Tracy Largent, Lisa Bayless, Melissa Futrell, Peg Brush, Candace Baldin, Cindy Bender, Brandi Short, Sarah Sweaney- You are my sweet, precious encourager's! I hope that I can do the same for you! You are blessings!
Corey Lumry- Thank you for being a wonderful friend. So, glad that you answered the phone that day in '08. It meant a lot! LOVE your whole family!
Janna Allen- I always love to laugh with you. A gift that I treasure...
Blair Weatherford and Kori Dillingham- This best surrogate "daughters" that I could ever hope for! Beautiful girls! Beautiful friends!
My Brookhaven Sisters- Lori, Alyssa, Beverly, Ashley, Lauren, Whitney, Russell, Courteney, Mindy, Maureen, Raycene, Sara, Lori! One day at a time, sweet ladies! "Just for today!" I love you all!
Annabel Agee- a wonderful therapist. Jaqueline got it right, pairing us together. You stuck with me, even though I was cold and indifferent. You saw me to the other side. And, now I really have "bloomed"!
Dr. Marilyn Livingston, Grace Sensintaffer, Andrea Davis, Pam Chisholm, Julie Smith, Carol Sollars, Lori Bagby- These ladies sent me care packages and numerous cards, while I was at Brookhaven. Outside of my mom and Cindy, they were who I heard from. Who are they? They are the staff at Jenks Southeast Elementary. I was not in a church fellowship at that time. They blessed me so much. They watched over Luke and Lexi every day. I will never forget.
Yes, I "stepped through" this door of "open thank you's". It might be a mess. I am certain to have left some out. If you know me at all....I will make it up to you! I am going to pray before I push, "Publish". Hopefully, I will remember some more. Sorry, that this was so long. It had to be done! You should do one too! It is exhilarating to affirm those, that have touched your life. Who doesn't enjoy an accolade?
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for the priceless, beautiful gift of friendship. Bless each one of my friends ( mentioned and those in my heart). Bless their entire families. Protect them. Give them your wisdom and peace. Let them feel your passionate love. Amen
Tomorrow, is my parents. Wednesday, Mark. And, Thursday, my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Be blessed! It's Thanksgiving week! Surprise someone. Thank them, for something that they have done for you. You may never know how much they need it. You will be surprised how good it feels....