June 23rd marks the two year anniversary of my marriage to Mr. Mark Collie. The Lord has blessed me with His exceeding abundance in Mark and I am so thankful for him in my life. Although we were living in Scotland at the time, we were married two years ago in my hometown, back in Washington, North Carolina. The wedding was indeed a splendid event, and I am so thankful to our parents and many others who were a part of making it happen. My Mom survived, and now both her daughters are married! God is good!

One moment I look back on with extra thoughtfulness is the bridesmaids’ luncheon I enjoyed with my bridesmaids (and my delightful sister/maid of honour) the day before the wedding. The luncheon itself was wonderful, but there was one tiny hiccough that has been on my mind. Although it’s not a hard and fast rule — perhaps it is in the South? — it seems a lovely and delightful tradition that the bride makes a speech at this event, in thankfulness to the hosts, and of course to her bridesmaids. I did have gifts and thankfulness to pass along to my girls, but my words were a bit lacking. If the excuse that I had never previously attended a bridesmaids’ luncheon, or that I was preparing for the wedding from 3,500 miles away is not sufficient, well, I have no other.

At any rate, it is in my heart to take the opportunity now to say a few words to the girls without whom my life would be a completely different story — and not nearly as beautiful or sweet as it is. The world is so much a richer place because there is such a thing as friendship. I am grateful! Without further ado…

Shelley — My friend, I am so thankful for you. If it weren’t for the Lord putting you in my life, I might still be a double agent — confessing Christianity while walking in rubbish and darkness. Praise the Lord we met in Senora Powers’ Spanish class! You have always encouraged me toward the Lord, and so much because of you I began to truly seek Him and find Him. Our laughs and tears are so incredibly precious to me — from the time we forgot to pay our phone bill and had our service cut off to the time we wept that the cow your grandmother named after me died. Our story is too good to be fiction. I am thankful for you and looking forward to the pages ahead. SO much love.

Brittany — What a woman of the Lord you are. Your faith and the depth of your love for the Lord is incredibly inspiring. You are such a constant presence – a voice that I can count on. It never ceases to amaze me that we can be together after months and months — or longer — and it feels as if we’ve hardly been apart. I treasure your friendship, your ability to simply listen and be present, and your love for life and for laughter. You are a priceless one of a kind. I hope we can inspire a scarf night at the Durham Bulls again some day. In the meantime, please know I love you so much!

Heather — Now Mrs. Colley! I could not have survived my first year in Scotland without you. What would I have done? How the Lord blessed me, as I was so far away from home, to bring a little bit of home to me in you!  I am so grateful we seized the day and had our adventures in Europe together before your departure. Although I hope I never leave my purse on a train in a foreign country again, I look forward to more adventures with you in the days ahead. You are such a voice of reason and peace and I am so thankful you were here as the Lord brought Mark and me together. Again, what would I have done without you, my ninja biscuit?! I love you!!!

Camden — If it weren’t for our friendship, I might be a terribly serious person. I am so thankful for the love of laughter that I learned from you. I want to continue to live in the days ahead as we did in days gone by — looking for a reason to smile, or giggle, and enjoying moment after moment unashamedly. I look forward to celebrating the incredible gentleman the Lord brings into your life — and I can’t wait to see how funny he is! The delightful (mis)adventures of our youth are framed in my heart always. My grassy C-Dawg Spartan Cheerleader, it’s okay I’m a limo driver… call me! I love you. Buh-bye.

Julie — My word, my dear, what a gem you are!  I am overjoyed that you came all the way from South Africa to be a part of this special time in my life. Your friendship is an incredible blessing — I honestly don’t know how I would’ve made it through those first few days in Edinburgh without you. A friend who is willing to stay with you in a freezing cold flat and sleep cuddled up to the kettle — that is a friend indeed! Your heart and passion for following Jesus is so inspiring. You challenge me in my walk with the Lord, and have encouraged me to trust the gifts God has put in me. I look more like Jesus because of you! I look forward to times ahead with you, in the country I’ve come to consider the most beautiful on earth — our beloved South Africa. I will rejoice to be there with you again soon. To Table Mountain and back…stax of love.

Amiee — As iron sharpens iron, so one friend sharpens another! Thank you for being such a Barnabas, and sharpener to me during our wonderful days together in Greenville. Thank you that you are still a friend and sharpener to me now! I hold on to the dream that we will see each other regularly years and decades from now, and send each other gifts from the nations where the Lord sends us. How amazing that the Lord has already begun to bring those dreams to pass! Praise God for you, sweet friend. I hope we will continue to dream together — big dreams of doing incredible things for the glory of our incredible God. You are so special and precious to me. LOVE YOU!

And last but not least,

Dodi — my sister in blood and in Christ. I am so thankful the Lord chose us to be knit together in family for all of our days. Even if you say I’m adopted! 😉 You are such a beautiful person, inside and out, and your service to the Lord is such an inspiration to me. You took the Lord at His word and began to give up one thing after another to follow Him — and you set an example for me and for many others to follow. I trust the Lord’s word that when you seek Him first, He will add everything else to you — and I rejoice with you at seeing some of that come to pass just now! Thank you for rejoicing with me at this special time in my life. I am so thankful that we will continue to rejoice together, and even weep together, again and again for the rest of our days. You mean more to me than I can express. In His Blood and Ours, I love you always.

Well, blogreaders, thanks for giving me a moment to share those thoughts. Seize the opportunity to say how much people mean to you whenever you can — even if it’s the second time around!