I had the pleasure of introducing the chapel speaker on Wednesday. She needed no introduction since she's a bit of a celebrity in these parts, but I consider her a dear friend and used my 2 minutes with the mic to let the kids know what kind of friend Megan is: the kind that has a love for Jesus that seeps out of her pores. And the kind who convinces you to prank someone by peeing in their water bottle.
Many of the teachers at Valley had Megan in class and her science teacher and I had lunch duty together the next day so we were swopping Megan stories and he said something that stuck with me.
"Friendships like that make life rich."
I smiled when he said it because truly, I am one of the richest girls in the world. My life is full, overflowing really, because of the friendships I have. This journey has been immensly "rich" because of the girls who have walked beside me. Or run beside me, sat, skipped, and jumped beside me.
Everyone claims they have really great friends. The cool thing is, to us- they are just that: really great. Another's group of friends might bore me to tears but my group is just right for me. It's like they're my own personal flavor at Cold Stone. Others might think Vanilla and Chocolate with Reeses and carmel isn't perfect, that it's too plain or simple, but it is the perfect amount of flavor and texture for me, the perfect amount of laughter and accountability.
These friends have not only gone through life by my side; not only have they laughed with me and danced with me and sang, pulled pranks, and pranced in rain with me. They've molded me. God fashioned my heart and created me and He continues to shape and recreate who I am, but He often uses the hands of several hilarious, God-fearing girls to do so.
Two such girls played crucial roles in the remolding process while in college. They were teammates but much more than teammates; they became sisters and pointed me to God and to the straight and narrow path time and time again by their words and the ways they lived. We were reunited for Megan's wedding and though our time was brief rather than the concentrated days, weeks, and months we shared in college, I was reminded of they gift they have been to me. I was reminded of the years of laughter we shared but also how a bond was formed during those formative years that I doubt can be broken. Something about living so close, seeing each other every day, eating cafeteria food together and riding busses together; something about spending hours together in the gym or the weight room or airports or restaurants and experiencing life so closely together every day, seems to make that friendship bond infallibly strong.
The last time the three of us had been together was along with our quirky fellow teammate, Katie who I wrote about here, when we flew to Houston for Meredith's wedding 5 years ago. Megan and I had been introduced as, "Meredith's friends who can really eat." We were flattered. Megan wrote a remarkable song for the bride and groom which she performed at the wedding and I did what I do best and caused a scene without meaning to. I left the bathroom completely unaware that abnormally long strips of toilet paper had attached to each of my heels. I walked past a large group of men with strange facial expressions and turned to find Megan and Katie both doubled over laughing so hard they couldn't speak. We spent that weekend in Houston like we did in college, laughing and laughing and laughing some more. Now, five years later, Megan took her first steps on this same journey called "married life" and Mere and I sat side by side with mile-wide smiles and lots of giggles throughout the ceremony.
I had to leave early from the wedding to coach our game so sadly, I did not get pictures with the blushing bride, but if you are like me and enjoy seeing other people's weddings, watch this video. It's the best wedding video I think I've ever seen.
Today Megan speaks at high schools around the country. She is bold and fearless and filled with the Spirit. She is a gifted speaker and has an energy and passion that even Red Bull can't fathom. Like Red Bull, hanging out with this girl will give you wings. She is crazy and hungry for life and for fun but more importantly, for God. And her hunger is contagious.
In college though, her faith was still being refined. I marvel at the work God has done when I consider the wild and silly girl from 2002 who has become the wild and silly yet wise and focused woman of 2011. I have zero normal pictures with Megan from college. If we were on the bus, we were making faces and playing rock-paper-scissors, best out of 50.
Or if the team was playing in an out-of-state tournament, were playing in the hotel room and putting on surprisingly painful, self-heating facial masks.
Mere and I are two years older than Meg so we played our first two years together and didn't think we could possibly have any more fun or laugh any harder than we had. But then Megan joined the team. Megan is one of those girls who is known everywhere she goes because she is so bizarre and outragous and so dang funny. Mere and I got a glimpse however, that most of the crowds don't get. We got to know Megan's heart- to see her hurt and cry and struggle as she grappled to find her identity in those first years of college.
Megan was (and continues to be) a ball of raw energy in college. After hanging out with her it felt a bit like a tornado or the Tazmanian devil had swirled by: we were left exhausted, possibly injured, and with incredible memories. I already had a hunger for adventure in college but Megan fed that hunger. When I was tempted to hole myself up in the library and study, Megan pried my fingers off the books and convinced me to skateboard in the middle of the night or sneak into Steve Martin's backyard where we discovered treasures you cannot even imagine. Need proof? We found a guillotine, giant slides, fences made out of bikes and this giant rubix cube:
Megan has a knack for making ordinary days memorable. She is searching for fun and adventure around every corner and when it doesn't exist, she creates it. Her bachelorette weekend was as unconventional as she is and we got quite a few raised eye brows when we went to a fancy schmancy spa with our faces and clothes splattered in paint. She documented that little adventure here. She threw a second annual "Prom" for a New Year's Eve party complete with balloon arches, punch, a DJ, and a prom king and queen. Here are some pictures from that memorable night:
Me with Megan and Rachel, the two phenomenal prom planners.
Jumping for joy with my brother Travis and sister-in-law Emma.
Emma and I had quite the afternoon shopping at thrift stores for our dresses since we don't have our original prom dresses. We also had quite the time doing "shake face" pictures.
I also dragged my poor roommates to this random adventure. They might not appear thrilled about it here but they loved wearing these disgustingly poofy and sparkly dresses.
Every time I see Megan these days I am guaranteed two things: I will laugh and I will think. Yes, she is hilarious and wildly random, but she also is intentional and insightful and asks great questions, the kind that don't allow you to be fake or surfacy. My last two years of college were made wilder and more memorable because of this wonderfully unique friend.
Then there's Meredith.
Meredith and I have a friendship and a closenss that might confuse those who know us both. She is classy and lady-like, fasionable, and sophisticated with such a soft femininity that it truly is odd that she and I, a girl who wears sweatpants more often than jeans and makes "that's what she said" jokes probably a little too often, would become such inseperable friends. She was offended when I told her brother's girlfriend that she is high maintenance but she can't deny it. (although high maintenance people always seem to do just that) Meredith brought out the "girly" inside of me. She taught me how to wear jewelry and convinced me to shower after our games and wear normal, cute clothes every once in awhile. (Normal and cute in 2000 ironically meant overalls)
I still remember the day we both accidentally dressed as twins and I refused to let her change because I found it so humorous. While she brought out my "softer" side, I brought out her wild and "inappropriate" side and made her laugh at things like horse poo:
We rubbed off on each other in beautiful ways and I see now how God was using the both of us to mold us into the women we would become. She taught me that joy is a choice and when I was angry or frustrated in a game and most people were terrified of me, she would call me out on it and tell me to choose joy. She is brave and bold and I hope a little of that rubbed off on me as well. She taught me about accountability and honesty in friendship and she freely shared her Texas-sized opinions with me when I was being foolish so I freely shared my own when she was dating the wrong guy. We connected on a spiritual level and though we talked about boys and basketball a lot, we talked about God much more. We were on similar spiritual journeys, both seeking more of Him and struggling with complacency and insecurities, and thus we became partners on our journeys to know and desire God more. We had a common love for basketball and getting tan but it was our common thirst for Him is what bonded us. We made countless memories together but it was our mutual love for Christ that differentiated our friendship from the other girls we'd laugh with.
I still remember the first time I ever heard the song, "I Can Only Imagine." I was in her parent's home in Houston when she played it for me and I cried and cried and we talked about our longing for heaven. Meredith was always doing that- she was always pointing me to heaven. When I had played terribly and was feeling discouraged, it only took a brief walk to the locker room with Mere to cheer me up. She would say something, just the right thing, to make me laugh and remind me why I'm on the planet. She was like my own personal compass, constantly pointing me back to God and my true purpose when I tried to search for my identity in basketball.
After college, despite my efforts to convince her to stay in sunny southern California, she moved back to Houston- that hot, sticky city full of big hair and big trucks, and well, big everything. She has two absolutely adorable kids, Jake and Olivia, who both have big eyes and big smiles and she has a third on the way. She is a marvelous mother and clearly is living in a VERY different stage of life than I am right now. I hadn't seen Mere in about 2 years. However, when she came into town for Megan's wedding, we curled our hair together and chatted and laughed and confessed and encouraged like we were still "bus buddies" travelling home from a basketball game together. (I have lots of matching pictures with Mere. This one was from Midnight Madness and Mere, always trying to be taller, was on her toes and me, always being a punk, went up on mine as well so she'd still look short)
We've both changed remarkably since our college years. We laugh about how if we had to do it all over we would have worn sun screen and hats and we wouldn't have frequented the tanning beds. But as my wrinkles begin to emerge, I hope I don't grow self-conscious. Rather, I hope I see them and remember all the hours I spent laying on the beach with Mere, or at the pool, or by the library. I hope I laugh about the time a girl hit on her while we sunning. I hope I smile as I think about how we were "burning off our zits" in the tanning beds. Because it wasn't just the sun that left unchangable marks on us, we left marks on each other; we are permanently changed by our years together. And even now, 6 years after our graduation, we still tend to dress oddly similar.
Both Megan and Meredith played critical roles in the formation of who I've become. Both pointed me to adventure and fun but also to Jesus. Both have made my life rich. Deliciously rich, indeed.