I am writing this post in this color in honor of my newest transformation. Today I went to my usual hair stylist and I told her I was ready for something new. It was then that I pulled out my "Celebrity Hairstyles" magazine and pointed to a girl with, you guessed it, red hair. Donna (my hair stylist) joked that people would be asking if my husband and I were siblings now that we have matching (sort of matching) hair. I promise to add some pictures as soon as I get a chance.
I have been feeling sort of down and out lately. The past 8 months have been extremely hard for me. I have ups and I have downs. I guess people assume that death is something that you just have to make yourself get past. I know, for a fact, that this isn't the case.
I spent Sunday night with Danielle's mom and my mom at La Esperanza. We reminisced about Danielle and her goofy ways. We talked about her fashion sense, her personality, her big heart, and most importantly, her faith in Jesus. I left last night feeling like I couldn't breathe. I know all the verses and promises of God. Those are the only things that have helped me to get through this extremely tough time. I know everything is fine, actually, WONDERFUL, for my closest Christian gal pal; yet I can't help but miss her voice, her personality, her big eyes and smile, her clumsy actions, her "walk out of a magazine" attire, and mostly our deep talks about our Faith.
I prayed for years for God to send me a Christian friend that I just clicked with. Don't get me wrong, I have plenty of good Christian friends, but it's almost like for some reason there were always obstacles that prevented the friendships from lifting off the ground to reach higher levels. I know satan works that way. But my friendship with Danielle was stronger than that because God sent us both down paths to meet each other.
We were friends in AP Biology in high school. She was a year older than me with long strawberry blonde hair that was curly. I was always your "good girl" in class. I didn't talk or get into trouble. I wasn't perfect, but who is? haha Anyway, when Miss Danielle and I ended up sitting together at a table with Jessica Helton and Emily Walker (all three were a year ahead of me in school), I quickly learned about getting called down for talking in class. She use to whisper to me the whole time and the teacher, Rebecca Lay, would call us down. But I always enjoyed her silly personality and it was worth getting called down over.
Fast forward 5 and half years to 2003. I had just broken up with my now husband Michael. I was completely lost. I had grown up in my church and I had worked in it my whole life; yet after this major breakup (provoked by God speaking to my heart and letting me know that it just wasn't the right time yet), I knew that I had to see where my heart was drawing me. I visited church after church. I enjoyed them all, but when I visited Binghamtown Baptist Church I just knew.
Preacher William Boyd Bingham was so humble and so eager to give God's word to the congregation. I knew God was speaking through him because he seemed to preach things that I really needed to hear, even if they were things I may not want to accept.
I really knew that I was in the right place when we started a Wed. night book study over a small hand held book entitled "Praying When Life Hurts " by W. Bingham Hunter. (Click here to see the book http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/code=89). Wow. You talk about God meeting your needs. I was amazed! Astonished! Enthralled! This book, this collection of scriptures and thoughts, was God's way of reinforcing the personal, intimate studies I had been sharing with Him in my devotion time. He was letting me know that I needed to continue to trust in Him and that He would meet my every need. If Michael and I were not meant to be together in the long run, He would provide the right man for me. If we were, He would work it out in His own time and way. And He did. He worked it out perfectly. Bless His holy name!!!
In the mean time, God was preparing me for a chapter of my life that had been put on hold for awhile in my eyes. He was preparing me for the good Christian friend that I had been longing for.
Enter Danielle Lily Bowman. I noticed this girl that looked so familiar to me one night at church. She was across the church (which is rather large) and I had yet to force myself to go to the eye doctor for a screening which would later affirm that I needed contacts and glasses. I saw her again one Wed. night after I rushed into the church and sit in a pew without noticing those around me because I was running late.
William Boyd asked us all to greet one another so I turned around and was face to face with the person who would impact my life, my world, and my soul forever. She had lost a tremendous amount of weight since high school. I was amazed. She, of course, was like "Hey Alesha! How have you been?" We didn't get to talk much because church began. Weeks later, we ended up hanging out with Brooke Welch and Ginger Johnston. We would later be known as the zany foursome. I was amazed Danielle, who hadn't talked to me in years, just acted like only a few months had passed. She filled me in with all the details about the drama in her life. The four of us had weekly hangout sessions after Church on Sunday and Wed. nights. We were all living up the single life, but in a good Christian way.
Fast forward to December. My beloved best friend talks me into going to Nashville with her, Ginger, and Kaci Thomas.
It was a spur of the moment thing and I am not usually a spur of the moment person. I went and I had a blast. She and I bonded by hanging out until 5am and heading to Wendy's before letting ourselves back into the hotel room where Ginger and Kaci had retired hours earlier. We got in our bed and were both knocked out.
Weekly, we shared moments similar to this. Everything was spur of the moment with Danielle. She was, correction, is the most fun person I have ever known. Strange how we can feel so lost when we are use to having someone like this in our lives to keep us "young" and they take up new residence with Jesus.
Fast forward yet again until the summer of 2005. We were planning, correction, helping her as she planned Brooke's wedding. She really went out on a limb to help Brooke out. She and Ginger both spent a lot of time and money putting together a wedding for Brooke because her father had passed away only months earlier and things weren't figured out. I helped with what I had, but they really put the effort in.
A lot changed after that wedding. Danielle and I became even closer, mainly because of things God revealed to us both.
We spent that time until the day she went home to be with Jesus constantly, and I do mean constantly) on the phone with each other. Every weekend was spent doing something. I was worn out! But I was so elated that I had been blessed with this wonderful person that I could honestly say was my best friend.
In the meantime, Michael and I had mended our relationship and gotten engaged. She was so excited for me. She offered to help me with the wedding, but this time, I wanted her to enjoy the wedding with all of us. She had been in so many weddings and done so much work. I wanted this one to make her, and everyone else involved, feel honored and important. Later, her Gran would tell me that she said that it was the most relaxing and fun wedding she had ever been a part of.
She laughed as I flipped out over dress sizes, she had me picking up makeup at Walgreen's for her, she had me help out at the Cumberland Mt. Fall Festival Beauty pageant (that ironically I use to codirect and she now did), also the John Anderson concert at the festival, etc. We spent a couple of hours at the mall letting Brooke try on her dress for my wedding on her lunch break at Belk's, looking at clothes, eating at Taco Casa, and sharing cookies (that she forced me to eat haha) at the Cookie Factory (the place where she held her first job). I remember our conversation while eating at Taco Casa. We discussed how we both had been raised to see the best in people and to always take up for those that other people looked down upon. We confirmed that it was amazing how God had let us become so close and how it was so astounding that we had all these things in common years before and never realized it. I realized that day that we had something special.
It may seem strange for some of you reading this to really grasp this friendship. Sometimes, satan tries to take away the depth of it all from me. But God always reaffirms to me in some way, shape, or form that our friendship wasn't a normal friendship. It was much more.
Danielle planned the most exciting bachelorette party for me. She decked me out in a sash and pearls along with a veil and headpiece. She actually made me walk around all night like that. We went to a wrestling match where she had arranged for me to be involved.
There were 4 guy friends of hers that had shirts made just for the occasion. The wrestlers were even involved. They came off the stage and hit on me and kissed my check.
I was beet red. She knew it would embarrass me too death. When it comes to that stuff, it doesn't take much. We went to Shiloh's for dinner and gifts and she handcuffed me to the waiter for a photo.
We went to Feltz for clean music, live band, diet coke, and dancing (which I don't do).
She managed to pull me on stage with the band and she, Pam, and I danced (I swayed) as everyone in the place stared. Embarrassing? Yes! Important? Most definitely!
This was the most significant moment of our entire friendship. I had an arm around Danielle and Pam and God gave me a moment. One of those moments that you don't receive that often. All three sweaty gals swaying on stage, laughing, smiling, having the time of our lives. I looked at her back and then glanced up and she smiled...at that exact moment I knew that I would NEVER have another night like this.
November 19th came. We had an amazing time at my wedding. So much fun. I called her every day that I was gone on my honeymoon and she got onto me for focusing on her when I should be focusing on Michael. I told her we just missed her and then we'd all 3 talk on speaker.
Thanksgiving break went by. My first day back to work as a married woman came. I drove to work from my new apartment and I called her, like I had so many other mornings (and evenings). We talked the entire half hour to work and then another 2o minutes while I straightened up my classroom. She talked to mom for a few and then we decided we'd email back and forth while we both were at work. (We did that daily also!) I emailed to see if she made it to work on time (we both always run late) and she wrote back and said she was a couple of minutes late but no one mentioned it. She preceded to tell me about eating tons of junk food and how she had to stop. That was the last email I ever received from her.
Tuesday morning I grabbed my phone to call her but I had forgotten to charge it and my car charger was missing. I called Tuesday evening and we talked for about 2 minutes before she lost reception and said she'd call back. She was in TN. I hadn't heard from her, so that night I called and left a huge message on her voicemail talking about how I knew God was going to send her someone to fall in love with. We had discussed that a lot in the previous months and I wanted to lift her spirits.
Wed. morning I called her cell and it went straight to her voicemail. I immediately had a feeling that something was wrong. She had probably overslept and was gonna be late again. I went on to work and decided I'd email after breakfast. My mom came into my classroom with a stressed look. I asked what was wrong, she said for me to stay calm, I kept asking and finally it hit, "It's Danielle isn't it?" She said that Tina (my bestest pal and Pam's mom) had received a call from Pam. Pam was crying so hard she couldn't talk. She had heard Danielle had been in a car accident. I asked if she was ok. Mom just looked at me. I said "She's dead isn't she?" She preceded to tell me that Pam had been told that but they weren't sure if it was true. I grabbed my phone and called her house. Hannah, Danielle's sister, answered the phone screaming and answered no when I asked if she was ok. I didn't even say bye, I hung up the phone, grabbed my head and walked into the hall. I couldn't breathe, think, or make sense. Ms. Risner, who had watched Danielle grow up in church and in school and had spent time in Prayer with her mother, asked what was wrong. I told her and she got upset as well. We paced the hallway just crying and praying.
Shortly afterward, we had prayer with our principal and left to be with Danielle's family. Ms. Risner sat with Verna and tried to comfort her while I went to Danielle's room. There was her clothes, her tan pants from the bachelorette party, the boots, the big rings, etc. I ran across a book that she had been reading. I picked it up and went downstairs to the kitchen table to sit with my mom. God had sent us there for a purpose because we really came together and worked to plan her funeral. I worked on the obituary. I asked for them to put that she had gone to be with Jesus and I gathered all the clubs and organizations that she had been involved in. I also put together the eulogies from her friends. The hardest thing I ever had to do was to get up and attempt to keep my composure in front of thousands of people in order to honor her the way she deserved. God blessed me so much and really helped me. I made it through. It was the very least that I could do.
It's been 8 months. Some days it feels like it has been every bit of 8 months and others it feels like 8 days. It's been hard, especially being a newlywed (I was married 11 days before she went to Heaven). I feel like I haven't been myself in 8 months. So many things to do, so much left undone. But when God says, "Come home child", nothing else on earth takes precedence.
Verna (Danielle's mom) gave me Danielle's chunky silver ring to keep. It was my borrowed item in my wedding. I wear it on any necklace that I happen to be wearing that day. I also designed a ring with a cross. It says "Alesha and Danielle Eternal Friends" and contains 2 pink stones because she loved pink and 2 blue stones because she had beautiful, big blue eyes (even if they were from her contacts).
So, I detailed all of that for this purpose; today I changed my hair color. I am now a redhead. All day I've been excited. I love red hair! But all day I've had a longing. A longing for a friend that would help me figure out just what to do with this new color. The thing is, I have this longing quite often. Sometimes when I'm sad I wonder how she'd be cheering me up and when someone we know is going through a life changing even I reach for the phone to inform her. So many times I have the longing to see her. So often I wonder what would Danielle say?
Monday, July 24, 2006
(NOTE... I HAD EMAILED THIS POST TO MY BLOG AND IT NEVER WENT THROUGH SO I AM REPOSTING THIS WAY. THE DATE SHOULD BE FRIDAY JULY 21, 2006. )
It is currently 2:18 am and I am lying in bed alone. This is the first night that I have EVER spent the night alone in my life. I'm such a baby haha. It's nice to have solo time, I just don't like to be alone in the dark. So, here I am using my laptop in bed until I am so sleepy I can't hold my eyes open. That's the theory anyway : ) The best part about spending alone time is the fact that its not really alone time, rather time spent with just Jesus and I. I can talk to Him without interruption or intrusion. I can meditate on His word and His will for my life. I love you Jesus!
"He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." Malachi 3:3
B.I.B.L.E BasicInstructions Before LeavingEarth..... Thanks for this one dad!
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Friday, July 07, 2006
Hi all! After discovering an old friend of mine's blog space on here, I felt the urge to give birth to the creation of my own. Granted, I can't promise I will be as in depth as some of these, (especially after work starts up again and my classes are in full swing!) but I'll try. So here goes...
Love to All,