One of those huge blessings was in the form of an amazing friendship with Sarah Kristine Nichols (whom I am lucky enough to share the same middle name with same spelling, very proud of that. Thanks mom!) =) This past Sunday after fighting a second bout Cancer for several months Sarah was called home.
Sarah was amazing in so many ways, I can't even begin to cover them all, but she had this special way of being so many things to so many people. She was a mentor, a mother figure, a sister, a friend (the wise friend, the serious friend, the good advice friend, the artsy friend and the silly friend all in one.)
Sarah mastered inter-generational friendships better than anyone I know. She cared so much about so many people, young and old, introverts and extroverts alike. She had a special gift for asking just the right questions and drawing out even the most reserved person. When I think of good listeners I think of Sarah, and that's it. She was the ultimate listener (though many of our mutual friends have taken some good lessons from her as well, some that I need to work on sometimes!
Sarah loved worship. Organic natural, spirit led worship lifting up Jesus and giving him thanks and praise. There was something so pure and honest about the way she worshiped. Unashamed.
Sarah was not afraid to call a spade a spade and yet even when being called out on something you could not help but go away feeling encouraged - how is that even possible?!? I think it is only possible because it was truly done out of love. Unconditional love that has no selfish ambition, no second agenda, but simply wants God's best.
Sarah was human, and all humans make mistakes, but I think she would like to be remembered as one who did what she saw the father doing and loved as Jesus would have loved, and this she did. I don't know anyone who would argue that you could truly see Jesus in her, and in this life (at least in my opinion) that is the greatest compliment you can receive.
I know there are many people who could say (and have said) a lot of these same things about Sarah, for they are things worth saying as she is a woman worth remembering and who will be remembered and missed greatly.
Some of my favorite personal memories of Sarah are of her hiking 50 miles in one day for her fifieth Birthday (I cheered her on, but barely made in 23 miles - she was truly an amazing walker.) Playing pinochle with Kev and Seth against Sarah and myself. We won some, we lost some, but it really kills me that we lost the last time we played a few months ago. What a bummer.
Skinny dipping with Sarah (she's the one who introduced me to this elusive "sport." And getting married at her house in Amity, Oregon. Of course everyone has a special spot in their hearts for their wedding day, but that whole property and the love woven through it by the family that lived there still makes me smile.
But I rejoice that she is home with the father and I will see her one day again, though missing her now. She leaves behind a truly amazing family which I am so grateful for. Seeing her children have such good relationships with their parents even through the challenging "teenage years" gives me hope as a parent myself. I will quit my rambling now and end with a verse that Sarah really lived out, all the way to the end. Something that I hope can be said of me when my time comes to go home.
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also all who have loved His appearing." 2 Timothy 4:8
Thank you Sarah. For everything.