Some of my greatest blessings in this life have been the incredible friends I’ve collected along the way. Even friends from my childhood came to support and care for me the week my husband died. It was like looking at a life-sized timeline of my life. All schools, jobs, neighborhoods and social circles were represented. The outpouring of love was and still is overwhelming. They reached out to me, covering me in love, grace, prayer and sympathy. And a whole lot of delicious freezer meals. They’ve been with me for the joyful occasions like new babies, new homes, birthdays and new jobs. But they’ve also been there through the dark times; illnesses, job loss, and death. They show up when I need them, even when I don’t realize that I do. They show up every time, like the other day.
My friend Kate came by to take me to lunch. I haven’t talked to her since the funeral, so I was excited to see her. She’s one of the most lovable women I know. Full of joy and enthusiasm and so smart! My goodness, she’s smart. And she is fully of extra grace. I don’t even hide my mess in Rubbermaid tubs when she comes over, guys – she’s that good!
She arrived bearing gifts and frozen lasagna. (Thank you, Kate!). Kate is my sister in suffering. She’s also my role model, because she’s found purpose in her pain. I want to do that too. She’s taken her suffering, the devastating and heartbreaking loss of her infant daughter, Emma Kate, and transformed it into a beautiful and important global mission to help other Mommas save their babies. She co-founded Healthy Birth Day and launched Count The Kicks, a public awareness campaign dedicated to saving babies. The organization’s goal is to improve the chances of delivering a healthy baby and prevent unexpected birth complications and even late-term stillbirth. They’ve even developed a free app to help Moms track their unborn baby’s movements. I told you she was smart and lovable!
Although I’m confident her heart still aches (and always will) for her baby girl, she has chosen to rise up and use her suffering to help others. She gets out of bed every day and works to prevent stillbirth and infant death through education, advocacy and support. She’s amazing. She’s brave. She’s a bright light. And she’s my friend.
So you can imagine how excited I was to share my lunch hour with her. I wasn’t surprised by the amount of laughs we shared over our chopped Asian salads and diet cokes. I wasn’t surprised to hear about all of the amazing things Kate has been up to lately. But I was surprised to learn the purpose of the lunch invite.
Do you know why Kate asked me to lunch? Besides the lasagna delivery, she wanted to hug me and tell me how proud she is of me. She wanted to encourage me, compliment me and tell me she believes in Extra Grace Required. I am so humbled by this love. I’m overwhelmed and beyond grateful for her support. I feel unworthy of friends like Kate, as is the case with most of my life’s greatest blessings.
It’s my sincere prayer that each and every one of you has at least one Kate in your life. I pray you’ve found your “sister(s) in suffering” to hold your hand, make you laugh until you cry, encourage you to turn your pain into purpose, and to bring you lasagna. If you haven’t, then know you are welcome here. I’ve saved a spot just for you.
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