More Slidell family! Some of my best and worst years were lived in Slidell and New Orleans (more about the worst in the next post). I think God was very purposeful to allow me to live some of the worst years in Slidell. Never in the years that I’ve lived yet did I have so many wiser adults, couples, and families taking me under their wings and inviting me into their families. God knew I would need them to be my family. He knew there was no better group of people for me to lean on as I learned how to allow the Church to be my family and fill in all the gaps of broken family relationships. He knew these people needed to be surrounding me as I finally understood that someone loving you even when they don’t have to (chosen family) is as equally (and sometimes more) valuable as someone loving you because they are supposed to (blood family). In addition to so many of the other Slidell people mentioned (TWU, The Palmers) and more, Rosemary and The Ogeas are irreplaceable parts of my chosen family.
Rosemary, known by Roe to many of those who love her, is another one of those incredible spiritual mothers I’ve been blessed to know. This beautiful lady loved/loves me and so many others so fiercely. She is gentle, kind, compassionate, loving, funny, talented, wise, giving, and so many other things. She’s an amazing cook. She’s a savvy business woman. She’s incredibly healthy in all aspects of her life. She’s an amazing wife and mother. She displays so many characteristics of the Proverbs 31 woman – more precious than jewels, a trustworthy heart, strong, opens her hand to the poor, reaches out to the needy, strength and dignity are her clothing, she opens her mouth with wisdom, the teaching of kindness is on her tongue, she looks well to the ways of her household, she doesn’t eat the bread of idleness, and she reverently fears the Lord. She has such an incredible testimony and her love for Jesus is so real.
She took me in like I was her very own daughter! When I didn’t have a place to go for Christmas, she insisted I stay with her, bought me undeserving gifts, and showered me with love. She loved me in my brokenness and heartache. When I needed something, whether it was a counselor or a place to live or a bed and furniture for the places she helped me find to live, she did everything in her power to help me find everything I needed! She prayed for me and every need I have and then watched God provide just like she knew He would. She has an amazing ability to connect with broken people and I watched her do it over and over again. As I watched her live her life with abandon, I wanted to be like her. She spent time with Jesus everyday, rising many hours before the sun came up to pour her heart out in prayer and cling to God’s written word (and though I don’t see her daily life anymore I have no doubt that she still does this). She went to bed early and frequently couldn’t make it past 9. I loved that about her, and I knew she experienced Jesus in a way I didn’t. Frequently in those days I stayed up way later than anyone should, therefore clinging to every extra minute of sleep I could, and had many a conversation with her where I told her I wished I could be a morning person like her. She always told me I could, but I never believed her.
I now know that her ability to rise early and go to bed early had nothing to do with what I assumed it did. I do think as humans we lean more towards a time of day that we’re at our best, but I also think many of us night people use not being a morning person as an excuse. I now know, like she does, that there is absolutely nothing in life that is better than intimacy with Jesus. I now know there is obedience in giving our first fruits, the first part of our day, our first thoughts and affections and time, to our Heavenly Father before the rest of the world and it’s busy moments have time to distract us. I now know that rising early and going to bed early has far more to do with discipline and desperation for time with the Creator of the universe than it does being a morning person. Spiritual disciplines aren’t called DISCIPLINES because they are easy. Discipline is an ugly word. It’s a hard word. But the beauty of discipline is that before you even know it, even if the good thing you’re trying to obediently add to you life feels forced at first, it soon feels normal, necessary, life-giving, sustaining, and like you never want to live without it again. If spiritual disciplines came naturally then they wouldn’t be something every believer struggles with! But I now know, because I’ve watched people like Rosemary live it, and personally experienced it, that it’s worth it! It’s worth more than anything else. Spending time with your God, studying His word, praying, meditation, etc, is more valuable than anything you can have or experience. It doesn’t change God or our circumstances, it invites the Holy Spirit into our lives and changes us.
And the Ogeas! Andrew and Amy were two of the first people I met at our church other than Jason and Christie. Andrew is one of the most outgoing people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the most amazing worship leaders and vocalists I’ve ever been lead by! And Amy is my sister! She’s beautiful, hilarious, an amazing mom, and will forever be one of my best friends. When I first met them none of the above pictured adorable kiddos were even in the picture yet. Amy and Andrew were (and still are) my people. Their spare bedroom was basically my room. We chaperoned youth trips together, we ate LOTS of meals together, we laughed endlessly together, and we watched a lot of Drake and Josh and Jonas Brothers together (okay that part was just me and Amy). And you know you’re really friends with someone when you can spend the night at their house on Christmas Eve. Not just any friend can do that! Around the time that I moved from New Orleans to Slidell, they moved from Slidell to New Orleans to serve at another church. Even though it was just a short lake (well, it’s actually a pretty big lake) away, I was so sad! I cried so much the day they told me. I quickly learned though that Amy and Andrew were on the list of forever friends. Forever friends aren’t thrown off course by distance, long gaps between talking, or anything life throws at them. I never doubt the love and loyalty of a forever friend.
I rejoiced when I found out Amy, Andrew, and Macy were moving back to Slidell! My forever friends got to be my every day friends again. I was literally at their apartment almost every day after work. We got to walk with each other and love each other through some of the hardest seasons we each had to walk through. They loved me in the midst of depression, anxiety, intense and hard counseling days, and more. I got to see them love each other amazingly and show me what a Godly marriage looks like as they walked through a really hard season. I got to see the incredible power of redemption, freedom, accountability, and transparency displayed in their lives. For the first time in my life, I felt like I could be free of a sin stronghold because of their story. My hope was restored in the power and freedom of Christ. And then… God called me to move. And not just across the lake, but back to Mississippi! Amy, Andrew, Macy, and Rosemary were all a major part of the sole reason I didn’t want to leave Slidell – the people. Obviously you know from previous posts that I moved and that I was absolutely supposed to. My possessions have lived in Mississippi for 5 years now this month, but my heart has continued to live in Slidell and Mississippi.
These people (and all the others) are my forever friends, my chosen family, my people. They are in my heart forever along with the many things I have learned from them. I know that the the sweetest intimacy with Jesus comes from a life of discipline because of Roe. I’m a better minister to women and mentor to girls because of her. I know what forgiveness and unconditional love looks like because of Amy. One day I’ll be a better mom and wife because of the way I saw her live in those roles. I know what transparency, redemption, and authenticity looks like because of Andrew. I took the hard road of fighting through an entangling sin and inviting others to fight with me and found true freedom because I found hope in seeing him do it first. I’m a better version of myself because I get to call these people my friends.
This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.