It Starts With One …

When I was a child, my parents enrolled me in Friends Association for Children.  Friends was a place that I remember fondly.  It was founded by Lucy Goode Brooks, a slave in Richmond, Virginia, as an orphanage for colored youth.   Friends opened its doors in 1871, and is still open today, with multiple locations and resources for young people of all ages.

A few years ago, Friends began selling the Lucy bracelet, a beautiful sterling silver bracelet that has a simple saying engraved on it, “Isn’t it amazing what one woman and her friends can do?”  I’ve been thinking about this statement for the past couple weeks.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m working on a project that is very near and dear to me. But I recognize that, while I believe the project will touch many lives, it isn’t a work of mine alone.  It is truly the work of “one woman and her friends,” because it takes some of my friends to complete the project.

I’ve thought about this as I watched the movie, “The Help.”  I read the book, albeit reluctantly, a few weeks ago, and saw the movie over the weekend.  I was glued to my seat, because it took “one woman and her friends” to step up and share their story in the midst of very real, very dangerous threats.  But it was through the sharing of that story that they gained freedom, freedom of self and freedom of mind.

And today, I thought about this quote as I watched, through teary eyes, our local news channel do its weekly “Acts of Kindness” story.  I was glued to the television because I knew the recipients of this week’s “Acts of Kindness” award.  They are #TeamBolton, who I’ve mentioned in previous posts.  They have spent this year, and the entire summer, dealing with their 4-year-old daughter’s diagnosis of severe Aplastic Anemia and enduring long hospital stays, a bone marrow transplant and many other challenges.  Yet, through it all, they’ve remained strong in faith, strong in spirit, strong in family and strong in love.  What was also touching, though, was that they were nominated by another friend, Frazelle Hampton, a single mother who had just gotten out of the hospital dealing with her own health challenges.  But she wasn’t thinking about that, she was thinking about how she wanted to be a blessing to #TeamBolton.  Frazelle did something amazing, with her friends.

“Isn’t it amazing what one woman and her friends can do?”  It doesn’t have to be a lot.  You just have to take a step.  Make a phone call, lend a helping hand, reach out.  There are so many opportunities to give to others, it’s hard to justify why you wouldn’t.  After all, you never know what impact you will have long term.

“Isn’t it amazing what one woman and her friends can do?”

Acts of Kindness Video

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A Lifetime

There’s an email I got years ago that talks about relationships with people. The opening line states, “People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.  When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.”  The author goes on to describe each.  Those who are in your life for a reason are to “meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly.”  Those who are in your life for a season are there “because your turn has come to share, grow or learn.”  Finally, lifetime relationships are there to teach you lifetime lessons.

Many who have read this email (or some version of it) in its entirety easily bucket people into the various categories.  Nine times out of ten, we read it and have  a hard time defining who is there for a lifetime.  After all, those who are there today may seem like they’re here for a lifetime, but, in reality, they are there for a reason or season.  But how many times do we take a moment to appreciate those who are there for a lifetime?

I’m blessed to have lifetime friends.  My oldest friend, Alicia, and I have known each other since we were two years old.  I’ll just say that our friendship spans more than 30 years.  We don’t talk often, and see each other even less.  But when we talk, we pick up where we left off.  Her family is my family. We’re there for each other when it counts, and I wouldn’t trade her for anything.

One of my other oldest friends is my “Twin.”  She and I have known each other since 1st grade (over 25 years).  We’ve had some gaps in our friendship; years going by when we didn’t really keep in touch, but we’ve gotten closer over the years.  As adults, we’ve shared laughs, tears and thought provoking conversation.  Our friendship is special; we truly “share a brain,” and have our quirks.  We have a lot of fun together, and we know how to balance that with the serious moments in life.  She inspires me and I am grateful for the way our friendship has evolved.

The last of one of my lifetime friends that I’ll highlight is Dre.  We met the first day of 9th grade (20 years ago).  By the end of that year, we had become BFFs, and were truly inseparable.  There was a period in our lives when we didn’t speak (early 20s), but eventually came back around.  She’s another one I don’t talk to enough, but when we do, we pick up right where we left off.  We both have lives and obligations to lead, but when we’re together, we can just be ourselves, without having to filter or consider much of anything.  I’m proud of the woman she’s become, and grateful for our friendship.

I have a few other lifetime friends, but these three are the oldest of them.  I take the time to highlight them here because so often we take for granted the opportunity to get to know others and to reconnect.  There are people in our lives who have influenced us in ways we may not even recognize, and we push them off to our “reason/season” friends.  But perhaps they are those that are there for the lifetime, just not in the way you may have originally imagined.  Friendship is special.  I’ve heard it said that friends are the family you choose, and I wholeheartedly believe that.  I’m grateful for the sisters I’ve chosen, because they each inspire me and encourage me in different ways.  But at the end of the day, they are lifetime friends, and I am thankful for their friendship and pray I can be that friend to them.

Take a moment today to inventory your lifetime friends, and let them know how much you appreciate them.