I have been blessed by countless friendships over the course of my life. Some for a season, others for a lifetime. God has graciously crossed my path with many incredible people who have taught me life lessons, inspired me and challenged me…simply by how they live their lives day to day. To put it plainly – their lives have changed mine.
One such friend stands out in my mind today. I first knew of her casually during my time at Liberty University. She was the brown-eyed girl who always wore a smile. Everyone who knew her would comment on how amazing she was anytime her name came up in conversation. But it wasn’t until the fall of 2007 that our paths would divinely collide and begin what has grown into a sweet friendship. A friendship that I’m honestly humbled and overwhelmed to have.
Our story begins in September 2007. It was the month following Isaac’s death – a time when we were still shell-shocked and perhaps numb from all that had occurred during the 6 months prior. A time when we were surrounded by more love and support than I ever imagined possible by people we knew well and others who only knew of us through our blog. September was a month of learning a new “normal” and figuring out how life was supposed to move on as a family of two again. It was a time when God carried us moment by moment.
I received an email from an old acquaintance at Liberty – Nathan Lawrenson. He had served on one of the ministry teams at the same time as Jordan and I. All I remembered of Nathan was his incredible singing voice, constant humor, and that he had married the brown-eyed girl everyone spoke so fondly of during my time at LU. I read on to learn that he and his wife, Tricia, lived in North Carolina’s Outer Banks where he was a worship pastor and had just learned through a mutual friend that we had just lost Isaac. His condolences were so sincere. He wrote that Tricia had cystic fibrosis and they would soon be traveling to Duke to begin the process of qualifying her for a necessary double lung transplant. With Duke being a mere 40 minutes from us, they hoped to attend October’s First Wednesday service at the church where Jordan then worked and catch up with us a bit.
At that next month’s First Wednesday, we saw Nathan and Tricia. It was a wonderful service and we were so excited to catch up with these fellow LU alumni afterwards. I remember first seeing them after the service ended. They looked shell-shocked and tired. All I knew is they had arrived at the church immediately following a full day of tests and doctors appointments at Duke. With the late hour and their apparent fatigue, we made plans to postpone our catching-up date for the next time they were in town – just a week or two later.
That following visit, we met up at Coldstone for some delicious creamy calories to catch up with each other. And it was that day that a beautiful journey in friendship began with the lovely brown-eyed girl named Tricia. We reminisced over days at Liberty and memories from serving on ministry teams. We laughed as we realized just how many mutual friends we had from LU. We shared some of our story with the Lawrensons and how we were coping with the sudden change in our family. And then they caught us up with their lives, explaining why they looked so shell-shocked at the service a few weeks prior.
Tricia’s CF had deteriorated her lungs to the point of now needing to qualify for a double-lung transplant. It would be a rigorous process of tests, strict diets, and strong medication to ready her body for the new lungs should they become available in time. Their visit at Duke had been going smoothly until they learned shocking news that would forever change the course of their lives. Tricia was pregnant! While most cases of pregnancy begin with pure elation, theirs was a mix of shock, awe and fear. Terminating the pregnancy was NOT an option as they knew every child is a gift from God. But how could Tricia now qualify for the lungs she was needing with increasing severity? The drugs necessary would harm the baby. Would her body even be able to carry the baby to term, let alone survive a full pregnancy and delivery? They were smack in the middle of a rock and a hard place. This precious couple was facing impossible odds, however in the midst of the madness, had a peace about them that could only be explained by their faith in Jesus. I was so amazed by Tricia that day. Her very life was in jeopardy, yet she was so full of joy and gratitude for God’s working in her life. All the while, they kept asking how they could pray for us in our time of grieving! They were facing the impossible but were so focused on how they could still be God’s hands and feet to others. I left that afternoon completely humbled and amazed by this sweet couple, particularly Tricia’s grace and genuine love despite her circumstances.
This truly is only the beginning of their remarkable story of faith and overcoming insurmountable odds by the grace and power of God. Nathan gives a beautiful snapshot of their life since that October here on his blog. Please read it! My words will not do it justice. Even during our many visits to the hospital as Tricia’s health quickly declined, both she and Nathan would always ask how we were doing and how they could pray on our behalf. Since that day at Coldstone, my friendship with Tricia has grown into one I truly treasure. Every time I’m with her, I’m deeply humbled and challenged by her example to surrender my life more fully to Christ. She faces so many obstacles each day. She has nearly every reason to live a selfish, bitter or complacent life. Yet Tricia joyfully lives out the love of Jesus in each day, always seeking ways to serve others and display Him more. And to this very day, anytime we are with this precious couple, they still ask how they can serve and pray for us. Amazing.
Words completely fail me to describe the impact they both have had on my life. When I think of women I want to be more like, Tricia is always on that list. It is a joy and privilege to call her friend. She has recently begun blogging again – Faith, Hope & Lovebugs. I strongly encourage everyone to read it! You’ll fall in love with this sweet family as she both inspires and challenges you through the example of her own life and her written words. There are many beautiful things about Tricia (beyond the fact that she’s gorgeous). Truly beautiful in every way. But the one that stands out to me most: she never thinks of herself as inspiring or exceptional. Rather, she simply thanks God for the gift of every new day she’s given and out of that gratitude and love for Jesus, strives to live Him out however she can. She loves boldly, serves tirelessly, walks humbly and seeks to better the lives of every one around her.
Tricia lives every moment on purpose and because of it, my life will never be the same.