Michelle from Australia

Today I cannot stop smiling. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for:

Michelle and her family. They are currently on a delightful adventure across America. My entire family was smitten after sharing a few hours together.

Michelle and I first met when we were 14 at Rift Valley Academy, in Kijabe, Kenya.

Rift Valley Academy

Rift Valley Academy

We soon became roomies. I had always lived in the United States, so Michelle was my first introduction into many things international… my first taste of vegemite (bleh), Abba’s Voulez Vous, and a love for Tolkien. Evidently, I introduced her to The Beatles (how cool is that?!!).

Kedong Dorm

Kedong Dorm

We went on long walks together, singing praise to God along with monkeys high up in the trees. I am not sure if she remembers, but on one unfortunate night, I thought I killed her when my top bunk-bed crashed down on the bottom where she was sleeping. I think I woke up the entire dorm as I ran out into the hall yelling, “I think I killed her,” over and over.  Eventually I returned to dig her out of the rubble. She was unscathed. What a blessing!

One of my most poignant memories is how she gave me new eyes to see myself. Up to the time we met, I had moved almost every two years, worn ancient hand-me-downs, and never really fit in. Always the new girl, I was perpetually the brunt of jokes, often cruel in nature. At age 14, I believed I must be the ugliest girl in the world. Then, we moved to Africa.

She and I were standing in front of the cafeteria. I wore my totally 80’s red stirrup pants with an oversize red and white striped blouse. Michelle asked me the craziest question. “Are you a model?”… Wait… what? Just a flicker of a moment… the beginning of a long journey in learning to love myself.

Now, today, I watched our children play. Our daughters, nearly the same age as we were, spent hours becoming new friends. Our husbands went shopping for real Texas boots. Our sons blasted aliens on video games. A shivering ride on the motorcycle. Hanging out with Houston Gypsy’s, Truck (my husband) and Big Jew. Michelle and I taking it all in. Remembering the struggles and joys of life in boarding school so many years ago. I look at my girlhood friend and see this amazing woman. She has a fantastic sense of humor, is a gifted mother, and an exceptionally talented photographer.

I am incredibly blessed by the gift of knowing her. Grateful joy!

What are you thankful for today?

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