Do you remember your eyes popping open on Christmas morning as a child as you realized what day it was? It had finally arrived! Magic was in the air. Gifts awaited you under the tree!
I treasure those memories. My parents made Christmas feel magical. They knew how to give good gifts, and it was obvious that the gifts were chosen and given because of their great love for us.
Now that I’m grown I have experienced time and again how my Heavenly Father gives me good gifts. I want to tell you about one of His good gifts to me: my friend Kristi. We met a year ago on February 22, 2018. And the way we met had God’s love written all over it. It was special. It felt like God reached down and touched us. It was better than magic.
Jennie Allen is my favorite author, and a year ago she was speaking in Salem one evening at an event called Freedom Project. I attended with two of my best friends.
Towards the end of the night, Jennie Allen said she was inviting anyone who wanted to surrender something to Jesus to come forward to pray near the stage. She said to kneel there at the altar and then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER. It seemed like every woman in the room was on her feet heading forward. Because we all need to surrender our struggles to Jesus, right? I went straight towards the stage and knelt in a crowd of women I didn’t know, and I began to pray. I cried and told God I was exhausted because I was just too busy. I told Him I didn’t know how to fix it, but that I knew He did.
I felt a gentle touch on my back as the woman next to me began to pray aloud for me. She asked God to help me with whatever I was struggling with. Our eyes were closed and I couldn’t see her face, but I felt her deep love for the Lord and her compassion towards me.
Then I prayed aloud for her too, and I don’t remember what I said, but I remember I felt nervous. Praying for someone aloud is an intimate thing. And of course God knew that. After we said Amen, she and I looked at each other and wiped tears off our faces. I said, “Thank you! My name is Christi.”
Her eyes lit up and she said, “I’m Kristi too!”
I told her that the struggle on my heart that night was Busyness. She said sympathetically, “I struggle with that too.”
Then she admitted that the prayer on her heart that night was Fear. She said she had fears about what people think of her and about failure. She wanted to surrender the Fear to Jesus. I nodded and said, “I struggle with that one too.”
And we smiled. And I felt God’s presence. It was a powerful moment. And she asked if she could pray again for us, so we bowed together to talk to Jesus. She thanked God for what He was doing in our hearts that night, and asked Him to help us in our struggles, and I remember she said, “We're two Kristi’s who struggle with Fear and Busyness.”
Then Jennie Allen came back on stage and spoke to us. A couple of months later, a photo of the event was emailed out to all of us that attended. This photo was taken during those minutes right after Kristi and I met and prayed together. I spotted myself and Kristi in the picture! How cool is that? God captured the moment for us.
When Jennie Allen was done speaking, we all stood up to go back to our seats. Kristi and I hugged and parted ways…and as I walked back towards my seat my heart tugged on me. Was I just going to let her walk away and leave this room and never see her again? Was that it? It was over? Something just wasn’t right about that option. This could not be a COINCIDENCE. It was too powerful. We shared too much in common, and I somehow knew in my gut that God had a purpose for our meeting like that. The intensity of it. The beauty of it. I felt there was more to the story for us!
So after the evening closed in prayer and they bid us goodnight, I went forward to where Kristi was seated with a friend in one of the pews.
She looked up, surprised.
I honestly don’t remember my exact words, but I know I told her we should keep in touch, and I handed her a slip of paper with my name, phone number and email address on it. She looked delighted and gave me hers too.
And the next day she found me on Facebook, and our beautiful friendship began.
We began messaging about our faith and our churches and the things we were dreaming of doing in the future. She wrote that she didn’t normally open up to people so quickly, and we both wrote how grateful we were to be in touch with a new friend!
And I have a big, happy grin on my face as I write that. God knew I needed her.
I didn’t know when I met Kristi that the coming year would bring such changes for my family. Kristi was such a good listener as I told her about Seth interviewing for jobs at other churches. She prayed with me about God’s will for my family. She strengthened me in my resolve to leave my job at the preschool when most people in my life hoped I wouldn’t. Kristi has so much faith in Jesus and so much wisdom. I’ve learned so much from her.
I don’t have a lot of time for lunch dates or coffee dates, (Busyness, remember??), so we have only had a few of those in the past year. But Kristi introduced me to the Marco Polo app several months ago, and suddenly we were able to send video messages back and forth all throughout the week.
This is her pretty face.
Via Marco Polo she helped me process what I believe God wants for my future and what job He wanted me to take for this next season. We share a passion for Women’s Ministry and discipleship. We dream together about how God wants to use us to impact the world for Christ. We even wonder if somehow we will be used together in ministry.
We get very real, even sharing tears in our messages.
She tells me I have helped her just as much as she’s helped me, and we continually marvel at how God brought us together. What if I hadn’t attended Freedom Project that night? What if I had knelt in a different spot by the stage? What if we hadn’t had the courage to pray together? What if I had left that night without telling Kristi how to stay in touch?
We would have missed out on so much. But God knew we wouldn’t miss it. He’s cool like that.
A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
God’s timing for this friendship was perfect. It has been invaluable to me that Kristi doesn’t know anyone else in my life. She is impartial when I share things about my church or my family. For my birthday she gave me Jennie Allen’s new devotional book called Made For This.
We each have one and we are able to discuss what we’re learning. We pray for each other. We challenge each other. Isn’t this one of God’s sweetest gifts in life? I feel like words fail me in describing the bond that Kristi and I have. It’s like magic.
God was there when we met, and God infuses every conversation we have. I stand in awe of how God gives His children such good gifts!
I’ve been feeling led to write about this gift God has given me. My reason for sharing is so that you, my readers, will see how marvelous God is. He is a good, good Father who knows how to bless His children. My desire is to continually be obedient to God so that I won’t miss out on any of the gifts He has planned for me!
My prayer is that you will seek His kingdom first and expect Him to provide whatever you need, even when you don’t know you need it!
I asked Kristi yesterday if I could write about our friendship, and she sent back a Marco Polo in response. Look at her lovely smile as she talks about our friendship!
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Kristi said, “I would love it if you wrote about our story. I think it’s one that should be shared, for a couple of reasons. First, because you’re right, God provides exactly who we need when we need them. Even when we don’t know… that we’re going to need them. I’ve had that happen multiple times in my life. And secondly because it’s a lovely story...And it just speaks to God’s goodness and how He orchestrates good things for us. But also that He has a sense of humor. We’re both named Kristi!” She laughed. “I mean, I love that!”
“…As far as what I remember about that night [that we met] I think Jennie said to us that there’s no way that her staff could get to everybody, so she said, ‘Just reach out to the person next to you and pray together.’ And so that’s what I did. I looked over and you were right there. And I have no doubt that God placed us there next to each other.”
“I’m so glad that [afterward] you reached out and took that first step [to stay in touch], because it’s been exactly what we both need. And it’s not that one of us needs more than the other. It’s been really good because we both need each other for a lot of the same reasons in this season. Which is why it’s so obviously God!”
The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy.