This is Part 2 in a series about my closet. (You can find Part 1 HERE) And because I am so long-winded, there will be a Part 3 in a few days. Who knew I could talk about old clothes for so long?
God often speaks through His word, through sermons and nature and music and people. But lately, He’s been speaking through my clothes. He’s been reminding me of His truths and His faithfulness through shorts and dresses and tank tops. Here are items # 6-8 in my closet that God has used to point to Himself.
6) My lacy summer shorts
On this, the first official day of my summer, it is only fitting that I tell you about my “summer shorts.”
Over the past few years, a plain-colored t-shirt paired with these shorts has become my official “summer uniform.” Does anyone else wear the same outfit 3 or 4 times a week during the summer?
Heidi originally bought them for me from Wet Seal. Yes, that Wet Seal- the store for 13-16 year old girls. Stop judging. You can do karate kicks in these shorts without fear of ripping them. You can eat a pint of ice cream and never have to unbutton your pants because they have an elastic band- perfect for a girl who gets monster food-babies. They are basically maternity shorts for the non-pregnant girls who love to eat.
All my shorts get packed away during the winter, so whenever I pull these shorts out of the closet, it means one thing: summer is coming!
This past teaching year was my easiest and most enjoyable year, but there have been other years when I start a summer countdown in January. Some years are hard. Some seasons of life can be frustrating or disappointing or sad and might feel like they’ll never end.
But they will.
They always do.
In the middle of those seemingly endless winter seasons, these shorts remind me we must cling to the hope that no season lasts forever. Psalm 30:5 says, “…the weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Or in my translation: “….the crappy times may last for a while, but grab your lacy shorts because summer is coming!”
7) My Iron Well tank top
That picture was taken 5 years ago. Since then, there have been moves, marriages, and babies. Lots of babies. But while our families have grown and life-stages have changed, one thing has remained the same: the seven of us are still committed to each other.
Yes, we are that group of girls. The group that proudly wears matching shirts, laughs obnoxiously loud in public places, and has a thousand inside jokes.
These girls are one of God’s greatest gifts to me. Lesley recently was cleaning out her garage and discovered a tub full of our old love letters to each other. We were creepily infatuated with each other in college and were determined ours would be a friendship that would last.
Our determination has paid off.
Because we’ve been so intentional about our friendship, we’ve remained close. Almost every year since graduation we’ve had an annual Iron Well get-together. This can be expensive and difficult (especially since there are now 15 Iron Well kiddos!), but we decided long ago the expense was worth it.
Lately we been using the “Glide” app, where we leave videos for each other every week. Even though we’re spread across 3 different states and 7 different cities, we know what’s going on in each other’s lives.
We know when someone has a sick kid, a bad day, a theological question, or a good book recommendation. We’re currently in a discussion about the upcoming Supreme Court decision concerning gay marriage. But we’re equally invested in the conversation about whether or not jean capris are still in style. (Are they? Aren’t they? Feel free to weigh in.)
If you don’t check your phone for a few hours, you might miss 37 new videos from these girls. So while we fold laundry, dry dishes, curl our hair, cook dinner and lay in bed, we watch our friends. And we laugh. And cry. And ponder. And it’s almost like we’re back in the dorm rooms.
Paul has only met these girls once or twice but recognizes their voices and their laughs. He knows their personalities and the names of their husbands and kids. Because he overhears our endless videos to each other, he feels like he actually knows these girls. I love that.
Every time I slip on my Iron Well tank, I am reminded that God has LAVISHED His love on me through these girls. We may not live down the hall from each other any more, but we continue to invest in each other’s lives from a distance, and have learned that friendships like these are far too valuable for a price tag.
This dress is one of my favorites. Not only is it super cute, it also has one of my favorite God stories behind it. At Chris and Lindsay’s rehearsal dinner, I gave a toast and cried as I shared the story.
Then Lindsay moved home to Texas and I moved home to California. We called each other on occasion, but the calls became fewer and farther in between, and it seemed we would lose touch over time. It appeared ours would be a friendship for just one chapter in our lives.
But God had other plans.
Because while we were in Mozambique running together, laughing with orphans together and eating raw cookie dough together, He was doing something wonderful behind the scenes. He was setting up the foundation of a friendship which would become crucial for both of us in the next stage of life.
A year after we returned to the States and life was back to normal, I got a call from Lindsay. A relationship had ended abruptly and her heart was broken into a thousand little pieces. Coincidentally, the week prior, I too had lost a relationship I had thought was going to be long-term.
We cried together and then I had a stroke of genius. “Why don’t you come out here? Get on a plane and come stay with me this summer.”
So she did.
And God did something special that summer. He began the healing process in each of our hearts and used each other to do it.
Lindsay came out every summer for the next few years:
Together we hiked and shopped and explored just about every single strip of coastline in southern California. Our hearts were mended and we began the waiting game. “Okay, God. We’re ready to meet our husbands. Now where are they?”
We both finally tried online dating and both failed miserably. We called each other after terrible dates and talked about potential set-ups. We were two girls in their 30’s, still living at home while most of our friends were married and turning into baby-making factories.
And then one day I got another call from Lindsay. She had met someone.
She was behind him in line at Subway but didn’t say anything. However, since he had on a name tag and they live in a small town, some quick online-stalking revealed they had a mutual friend. The friend called Chris. Chris called Lindsay. They went out the next night. Crazy talk.
Three weeks later, I met Paul.
Even crazier than that? Both boys were 26. Lindsay and I laughed at our cougar status and marveled at the fact that the previous summer we were both single and now we both had 26-year old boyfriends.
A few weeks later, I called Lindsay to tell her things were getting serious. Paul had dropped the “L” word. Five days after my call, she called me giggling, to tell me Chris too had said, “I love you.”
On May 12, Paul popped the question.
On May 14, Chris did too.
Paul and I were married on September 20.
Chris and Lindsay said, “I do” on November 15.
As I told this story of bizarre timing at Lindsay’s rehearsal dinner, I talked about how cool it is that we serve a God who cares about us so intimately. Only He knew Lindsay and I would need to wait for years to find our husbands (perhaps because they needed time to grow up!) So during those years of living in the scary unknown, God provided for us in a way so like Him- He gave us each other.
His word and His presence provide amazing comfort, but sometimes you need flesh and bone. Sometimes you need a shoulder to cry on, ears to hear you, and arms to embrace. So God comforted us during our single years with each other. He used our shoulders, our ears, and our arms to be His.
God entangled our stories and made it very clear He was behind it all. I mean, come on, both of these guys are 26 and we meet them just days apart?!? Then we fall in love, get engaged, and tie the knot on nearly the exact same timetable?
Maybe it was just coincidence.
Or maybe it was the work of a sovereign God who has perfect timing. Maybe it was the work of a Father who loves to provide for His children and bless them in ways they could never imagine.
I’m inclined to believe the latter.
(Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series.)