Friday, June 27, 2008

You've Got a Friend

"I Found Joy in a BIG God" Part Four

(Over the next several days I want to share with you a bouquet of friendship. Treasured friends who the Lord has beautifully allowed to bloom in my life and leave their fragrance of Christ forever on my heart. I pray that you will be able to inhale the aroma of His love as you read and may it encourage you to thank Him for the special, precious friends He has blessed you with as well.)

Almost four months ago now, my heart was feeling very discouraged. I had just finished reading the most miraculous account of God showing up in someone's life in the most amazing way, and I was longing to experience Him likewise. I wanted an unbelievable God story to share and I was questioning why He didn't demonstrate Himself in my life like He seemed to be doing daily for this other friend. I poured my heart out right here on this very computer screen, in this very blog, and someone did more than read the comment I wrote to this other friend, she responded. She heard the unspoken cries of my heart and reached out with His love to encourage me. Her words of understanding brought hope to my heart and a friendship was birthed.

This is why, upon arriving in North Carolina, there was one person I wanted to see before all the others on my list of special new friends. I was so warmly greeted in the lobby of the hotel by Luann Prater, who by the way so quickly endeared herself to me by her welcoming smile and then later with her concern for me in finding my roommate - bless you sweet friend. She directed Lorie and I to the "She Speaks" registration and reception area. With each step my heart was repeating one name.

We became friends before I registered for the Conference, but once I took that step of faith, I'm sure I heard her screaming across all these miles that separated us. Her messages of hope and encouragement continued. Some of our sharing was fun and silly, other times much more serious as we shared life together over cyber space. She became a prayer warrior on my behalf and a treasured confidant. She even sent me her cell phone number so that when fear and panic threatened, if needed, I could send an S.O.S. for further support. When her name appears in my in-box, I can't help but smile - she is just one of those people who brings life, joy and God's love and presence wherever the Lord places her.

Her name means "bee", and she certainly often seems as busy as one! Yet, in all her doing, it is her "being still" and knowing that He is God that attracted me to her. She is a woman of God who follows Him hard.

As I approached the information area, my eyes were scanning the faces behind the counter. I felt my heart drop like led, with no visual sighting of this gal who I was certain I would recognize beyond a shadow of a doubt from seeing her picture on her blog; hearing her voice on the phone; and sharing her heart through correspondance.

I gave my name. Received my registration packet. Turned to go. Suddenly a breath of fresh air breezed past my disappointment and with it came the face I was longing to see. Her exclaimation of excitement matched mine as she came hurrying out to throw her arms around me and we embraced face-to-face as friend-to-friend.

Melissa, do you really know how much you have impacted my life? There have been days when I just needed to know that someone cared and God would send His message through you. I wish so much that we could have spent more time together, but now that I've got this plane thing down pat (ah...well, maybe not completely overcome....), I'll just have to come back for a visit! Your sweet and passionate heart for the Lord is blessing many. You radiate His love and draw others to follow hard after Him. My life has been enriched through your friendship and I thank the Lord for you. You were my first picture in North Carolina, and my last, surrounding my visit with His presence through your self-sacrificing life as you served others all weekend. You are touching the lives of many. I am so blessed to be just one. Thank you for being obedient to God several months ago and welcoming me into your bouquet of friends. I leave you with this verse, Melissa. "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Romans 12:11
Love ya tons!
Hugs, Joy


Renee Swope said...

Oh, what a beautiful tribute to our beautiful Melissa. I can't agree with you more. She is truly a gift to all who come in contact with her - whether it's a simple smile, a quick hug or a long conversation, when you've been with Melissa, you've been with Jesus. I am SO glad you got to spend time with her and that you two have a special friendship that outlasts all the miles between NC and Canada.

You, too, are a ray of God's love - a beautiful reflection of Joy and peace. I just loved meeting you this past weekend in person. I so wish I could've spent time with you at lunch or dinner. With me leading the leadership track I wasn't in any of the blogging, writing or speaking sessions. I loved the leadership sessions, but I wish I could've been everywhere - with everyone!! Oh, how wonderful Heaven will be!!

Hope to see you at She Speaks 2009!


Marilyn said...

I have so much enjoyed reading how God "showed up and showed out" as Beth Moore likes to say! Indeed He did more for you last weekend than I could ever have thought or imagined! I feel privileged to have been one of those at home praying for you!
Keep those posts coming! We want to hear every detail of the blessings of the conference!
Thanks for sharing!

Your friend in MS,

Melissa said...


I humbly thank you for your kind words. I feel exactly the same way about you! Renee said it well when she said we have a friendship that outlasts all the miles between NC and Canada. You are ingrained in my heart! I consider it a major privilege and honor to have met you.

When I first saw you, it was like seeing a vision. You have been such an inspiration, encourager, and good friend to me, it seemed too good to be real that I was actually meeting you.

Thank you so much for being Jesus with skin on to me. You are such a blessing. Such a "joy"! I love you sweet friend!


Amy L Brooke said...

Great story. Meeting Melissa was a highlight for me as well.

I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful vacation.

Catherine said... that's your wonderful friend Melissa! What a treasure she is and it's neat to hear of the friendship and encouragement you are to one another! Knowing you Joybells, you have been a wonderful ministry in her life too!

So glad you were able to meet at the beginning of your weekend, and spend time together at the end too. Good took care of each and every detail. Cool!