A few years ago, I was asked to step into a place of service that felt like it was more than a stretch…it felt like a dive off of the steepest cliff I have ever been on. By this time, I had already led a team of several volunteers and learned how to reorganize that team. I had traveled both internationally and domestically. In all those areas I was passionate about what I was doing. Yet, this time, the serving seemed more of a labor of love for my church and not so much a passion.
I really struggled with the choice. However, I did step in to fill the temporary need. I wasn’t sure how to handle it but I really felt God was asking me to trust Him and serve. So I did and what happened next still blows me away.
I met Ashley. At the time, we would connect briefly as I would walk into the room where she served. I knew I liked her and that she could be a good friend if I would allow God to cultivate the friendship. But trusting someone new as well as taking time to invest in someone new both seemed to be tasks I wasn’t sure I was willing to do. What I didn’t expect was that God would weave her so deeply into my life that she would become more than a friend but family. What started as casual ‘good mornings’ turned into lunches after church. Then it turned into some dinners at our house. Then it became lunches during the week. Now it is set dinners at my house with random lunches weaved with phone calls and text messages. My boys refer to her as ‘Aunt Ashley’ now. It melts my heart to see someone love them like family. And I call her my sister.
What surprises me most about this is that God took my family serving Him and gave us Ashley. I always believe that God rewards our obedience but I also believe just as much that we do not have a clue to know how or when he will bless us. I also believe that there is no formula for Him blessing us. Sometimes I do not see the way God has given us a gift but when it comes to Ashley, I can not miss it.
You see, I did not need another sister. I have an amazing sister who is one of my best friends. She is at times the complete opposite of me but it is what probably balances us and bring us together. She is the person who knows my heart deeper than just about anyone. She has not only seen the good, bad and ugly she has witnessed awkward teenage years, untidy rooms and emotional breakdowns of all sorts. She has been my biggest cheerleader and my honest critic when needed. She also lives states away now. We try to connect by phone but our schedules do not always give us freedom to talk. I miss her often and cherish the times she is in town and I can sit with her and catch up on life.
The gift of having both my real sister and Ashley is that God has given me two beautiful women that are deeply important in my life and each fulfill part of my need and desire for a sister relationship. I had no idea that I would want to have another sister. At first, I felt like I might be displacing my real sister to call Ashley my sister. But instead I realized that God had shaped my heart to encompass them both.
Serving for those few months changed my life. I gained a new perspective into a ministry that I had once always turned away from because I felt inadequate. I learned that when I follow God and trusted Him, He could strengthen me and give me His creativity. I also learned that sometimes, serving yields fruit….like a sister!