A wordsmith is very rarely found without words. Word's are my kind of my thing. Written, spoken and calligraphi-fied, I love them. Words and I go way back. Yet, this weekend leaves me fumbling, searching for the right words as I try to communicate the lesson learned.  

The tendrils of Hurricane Matthew are casting a gloomy day over Charlotte. My pumpkin spice latte, duck boots, and flannel are keeping me cozy as I sit in the Gordon Conwell library and watch the rain engulf the forest behind my school. Feelings of sleepy days and home sing a sweet melody around my person as I type. It's here that I find myself waking from the dream that was this past weekend to a hopeful future. 

Last weekend nine of my dear ones gathered in Panama City Beach, FL, after five long years of being apart. I basically cried and laughed for four straight days. We were all college friends, alumni of UAB (yes, we gave Janell an honorary degree), who spent our college years in absolute friendship bliss. From 2009-12, give or take, our little crew did life together. In our ranks we were black, white, asian and hispanic. We came from the poorest homes and the wealthiest homes. Our common bond really was Christ alone, but that bond melted away our differences and we became one family, one people. We lived together. We had worship and bible study nights that happened nearly every night of the week. We celebrated life and death together. Everyone was in a band together and played around town as the Prayer Furnace moved from place to place. We led the Alabama Campus Prayer Network together. We sought the lost, sharing our food, our home, and our very lives with one another. Baking bread, caroling during Christmas, and Erica saying, "dude, we've got to study" during overnight sessions at the library. There are so many stand out moments that resound from that era of my life. When my cousin went missing, it was this group of friends that tracked all over Montevallo's campus, hours away from our own, in the woods and in the rain, to look for him. When we never found him, it was this group of friends who held me while I cried in anger, pain, and loss. A few years later, when Daniel and I got married, it was this group of friends that camped out at my parents house for a week, making wedding decor and suiting up as our bridal party. When Janell left to travel the world, it was this group of friends that packed her bag and dropped her off at the airport. These people showed me what life in God's family look like, and since moving on from their ranks, I have been left wanting, lost in the thoughts and memories of yesteryear. 

But the wind did change. Some moved, some married, some took jobs, some started businesses. We looked up and years had past. Wanting so badly to revisit those wonderful days, we set aside a four day trip to be together once again. It was time travel. For four, perfect days we shared our hearts, cried, prayed, sung, played, and were together once again. God's beautiful family.

To my student readership: What do I want you to learn? Make good friends. Friends that love Jesus. It's through friendships like these that I have most experienced 'the kingdom at hand' in my own life. 

Here's a glimpse at our weekend together: