Happy Birthday, Diane

40303_456269464273_1393125_nTen years ago today John and I were squinting at each other on a sunny deck at our wedding rehearsal. This is not what I’m blogging about today, but I thought it should be noted.

Today I want to bring a smile and maybe some blushing to the face of a very special person. Let’s call her Diane. This is a story about how small the world is, how hard life can be and also how incredibly wonderful at the same time.

Part one: Small world

Try to follow me here. Several pre-kid years ago my friend’s sister had some friends moving to DC who needed a place to stay for a while. The wife of the couple was preceding her husband until he got a job, my husband was deployed, we had a spare room, so we signed up to host them.

Shannon stayed a few months, we bonded over curtain hanging and decided to be friends forever. We met at a cafe one day a few years later, both with the intent to tell the other we were finally pregnant. We had those babies on the same day, boy for her, girl for me.

Three years ago, we had her family over for dinner to tell them we were moving to here (the magic Kingdom). Before we got to our news, they started telling us about some friends of theirs who we would just love with a daughter the same age as ours, and they really wanted to set us up, but alas they were about to move to (dunh dunh dunh) HERE! Seriously! Who moves here?

Diane and her family got here a year before we did, but we connected online right away, so we were blessed to get a year of insight into life here. A life that can be really hard and wonderful.

Part Two: Hard Life

I mentioned this in my post about Judson and maybe to everyone who asked me that first year how it was going, but I had a pretty rough start here. Now, I named this blog “Anna’s Joy” not “Anna’s Complaining” so I’m not trying to grey-cloud everything here. But, I also don’t want to be so vague to shame my high school English teacher and just keep using the words “hard” and “rough,” without giving any actual insight into what they mean for me.

(This IS about Diane, but hang in there with me, I’m getting there!)

Here is a list of the hardest parts of adjusting to life here: the relentless heat, not being able to drive and the whole subset of challenges that go along with it, making plans for doing anything around the closure of everything for prayer times and really just whenever they feel like being closed, working a job I wasn’t qualified for or good at, being far away from people who knew me and loved me anyway.

But God. (Aren’t those some of the best words in the Bible?)

Part Three: Incredibly Wonderful

But God, in His great mercy and love, sent Diane here a whole year ahead of me to help prepare the way. She walked through her own rough start, earned her courage merit badges and was waiting with arms, home and heart open for us as soon as we landed. She lavished love on all of us, speaking my love language of quality time and John’s of home-made cinnamon rolls. She showed me how to navigate not only the physical aspects of life here but quickly became a soul sister in the same pursuit of being a Godly wife and mother.

I choke up writing this. She is one of the precious and most life-saving friends of my life, one that God knew I needed– and gave– before I even asked. This friendship may not have grown to the depth it did in our previous lives. Beautiful things can grow in the desert, in fact, some beautiful things can only grow there.

Diane and I come from different family and church backgrounds and stand on different sides of some lines in Scriptural matters. However, the desert heat melted those differences away and left us with what’s most important; a desperate and daily need for Christ, the joy in hospitality and fellowship, utter reliance on the Word of God and the power of prayer. I saw Diane nearly every day for almost two years and saw in her a consistency and strength of character that still inspires me.

She set a standard for how to love and serve one’s family and community in this environment, with the unique challenges only people who live here can appreciate.  She used her gifts of music, cooking and hospitality (to name a scant few) to bring beauty to a dry place. She walked through the valley of the shadow of death, bearing as many others’ burdens as she could and kept her gaze constantly on the true source of her help. When you’re friends with someone like that, you can’t help but look in the same direction and be drawn closer to the heart of God.

She finished her time here a few months ago and is now in the first laps of another new race. This time with a new baby, she’s facing another new city, new house, new school, husband’s new job and the daunting/exciting possibilities of new friendships and community. And today, as you may have guessed by the title of this post, is her birthday.

Diane, my dear friend, I love you. I hope today and this year are full of gifts of loving-kindness from our Father; sweet smiles from your beautiful babies, new and deepening “really know me” friendships, and reminders (like this) from loved ones everywhere of how glad we are that you are.

I have hundreds of pictures of our children together, but virtually no photographic evidence of our being in the same place at the same time. Maybe she is my super-hero identity.
This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of Diane from when she first met Judson. I have hundreds of pictures of our children together, but virtually no photographic evidence of our being in the same place at the same time. Maybe she is my super-hero alter ego. Photo credit: Susan Danewitz