Monday, September 5, 2016

Beautiful, precious life.

Jen Hatmaker's For the Love:
hilarious and insightful
This time last year, I couldn't imagine life getting much better.

Disembarking from a cruise ship where Michael and I honeymooned, I immediately flew to  Austin to meet 500 of my closest friends. (So that may be an exaggeration. It was more like 200, I think.) But I really did go straight from our honeymoon, which sounds as weird now as it did then. But Michael was all for it, and it was a rare opportunity. What a way to start a marriage, right?

In the spring of 2015, my sister excitedly let me know about Jen Hatmaker's new book and a chance to be on her launch team. Pre-read the book, share quotes on social media -- this is all right up  my alley! Except I had just gotten engaged and was planning a wedding. And a purge-and-merge with Michael. And my manager was on maternity leave, so I was essentially doing two jobs.

A few of my peeps: Amanda (who just
got engaged!), Carey, and Brenna. 
With all that in mind, I let the application slide off my radar and kept at my life. Then Kim reminded me about the application during a rare moment of quietude, and I thought, all right, sure. What are the chances, anyway? So I applied.

I was pretty surprised when I was asked to be on the launch team (with 499 others - lol), but not as surprised as I continue to be that this community of women (and #bandoffour guys) are as often my sharing ground as my own family and close groups of friends.

Over the past year and a half, our relationships with each other and Jesus have strengthened as we have watched each other bloom, grieve, learn, have babies, put closure to old relationships, start new ones, put a ring on it, grow in our careers, take some scary adventures, and go through literal hail and high water...not to mention tornadoes, wildfires, and plenty of other natural and unnatural disasters.

Chatting it up. With
one of my favorite authors.
In her backyard. As we do. 
When I was looking at a job change, they prayed with and advised me through it consistently. When I (often) do the wrong thing as a newlywed and a daughter and a friend and a sister, they counsel and laugh and help me through the down days, encouraging me toward the better ones. When I need a recipe, they're my go-to! And whoever thinks speed dial is outdated in 2016 hasn't seen my iPhone Favorites list increase with #forthelove after several key names. (But obvs we text instead of calling.)

We make it a point to see each other when we're traveling through each others' towns or states. (Shout out, Michelle, Terri, Andrea!) We text before big events and outfit purchases and new makeup adventures because that's what real friends do and the fun shouldn't stop in high school. (Hey, hey Amberly.) And we comfort and console the biggest and smallest of woes, because WWJD, right? (Love y'all, Gwendolyn, Shannon.)

My girl, in our own Buda, Texas, Stars
gazebo. This Ohio soul
sista, Amberly, makes me smile daily.
One year ago today, some of us were able to meet in person at the author's house, but even that nice little time wasn't the real peak of this group.

These people, whom I met because we all love God and like to have fun, have become quite the community of fashion advisers, exercise coaches, relationship therapists, prayer warriors, meme extraordinaires, keepers of the hashtags, prompters to write better, and so much more. The best part is, they love my husband and dog as much (or more than!) they love me. How's that for amazing?

Now, a year into marriage and three weeks after a historic flood ruined the majority of our belongings, I can't imagine life getting much better.

Sure, the Maricellis of Baton Rouge have seen calmer days, and we have certainly had more to our names than we do at present. But along with our in-real-life church, families and friends, both Michael and I could not be more grateful for the launch team, #the500, this community. We have experienced support and love from total strangers long before this devastating event, but since then, even when the future is uncertain, the love has been astounding.

I am grateful to get to do life with these women and #bandoffour men, and I am proud that they are part of my beautiful, precious life.

(And obviously, I fully acknowledge to my sister: you were right. Always!)


Throw me sumthin', mister!