Remembering a Brave & Godly Man

In 2009 I joined a Jr. High ministry team at Cornerstone SCV that was made up of people who would truly change my life. We helped start a new Jr. High ministry at our church and through that we became friends, confidants, and really a family. I am grateful to say that I am still close friends with several of those team members to this day and if the Lord wills we will remain good friends for years to come. Our time in ministry together was a special and cherished time and one of the most blessed times I’ve experienced serving in ministry thus far.

5029_100447011711_3604565_nToday I remember one of my dear brothers from that team. His name was Brandon Chandler. He was a kind, fun, and brave young man. But most importantly he was a godly man – he loved Jesus with all of his heart and he constantly challenged me to do the same. Today marks three years since he went home to be with the Lord and I’ll admit that selfishly there are moments when I wish he were still here.

ImageHis story is one of incredible faith, unbelievable challenges and deeply rooted JOY. The brief version is that he had three encounters with cancer throughout his 28 years on this earth and the Lord used Chandler to show what He can do with a man who would choose joy over any physical pain and emotional challenges that come with having a terminal disease – THREE TIMES! You can learn more about his story by watching the preview to a documentary called “Three to Six Months.”

Today I wanted to take time to reflect on the amazing person and wonderful friend that Chandler was. I still can’t believe how blessed I am to have been given the opportunity to serve in ministry with him, to spend Sunday afternoon lunches with him, to laugh for hours at games nights and to just call him friend. He was there to answer calls when I needed to talk about guy troubles, he was there to encourage me when I was down or anxious about things in life and he was there to cheer me on in the Lord when things were going well.

ImageI wish I could begin to express in words the kind of person he was, but my words and descriptions would never do him justice because he was such a beautiful and unique soul. But here is the kind of man he was in his own words; when Chandler received the news about his third cancer diagnosis he text a group of us and said “The doctor fouImagend tumors. Yes tumors in my lung. I’m not sure what happens next, other than God’s in control and He ALWAYS has a plan. Just keep praying. I love you all.” Even when I would ask him how he was during those last months of his life, he would encourage me to focus on the Lord and not his burdens and he would share verses for me to meditate on.

Though I only knew him for a little over two years my life will never be the same. I’ll always miss his laugh, his infectious smile and his generous spirit. Not a Sunday goes by that I don’t miss Brandon Chandler hugs, not a Wednesday goes by that I don’t miss playing crab soccer with Chandler and our Jr. Highers and not a week goes by that I don’t think “I miss Chan.”Image

I surely won’t forget the display of the Lord’s strength that he showed during the last months of his life. He truly believed and lived out the concept of “choosing joy” and I pray that I would follow Chan’s lead and trust God with a limitless bravery that doesn’t hold this life in such high esteem that I wouldn’t be willing to lose it to gain everything in Christ.

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An Unexpected Friendship. An Anticipated Reunion.

I’d like to introduce you to a dear friend of mine. Her name is Marla and I absolutely adore her. She is a friend I met in college and this fall will mark ten years that we’ve been friends  – ten years that we’ve been sisters.

Wow. A lot happens in ten years.374_38548461711_9741_n

Needless to say, she is one of my oldest , closest and dearest friends. But she is also a friend I never saw coming, an unexpected confidant and sister in Christ. We really were unlikely friends when we first crossed paths all those years ago and I’m so grateful for the role she has played in my life and the fact that God knows what He is doing when He brings people in to our lives – He has a plan for everything!

The Lord has used her to challenge me to love Him more, to truly see myself before Him and others, and to not take life so seriously all of the time. I learned so much from her in our time as college roommates, as spiritual life directors on campus and in our many travels together.

We’ve cried together. We’ve laughed together. We’ve matured in Christ together. We’ve plotted together (oh the prank stories!).

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We’ve gone on double dates together. We’ve gone through break-ups together. We’ve seen each other go through highs in our individual walks in the Lord and we’ve seen each other go through the lows  – and we’re still friends! 😉

Our friendship has survived living in a girls dorm full of drama, sharing a room, living in different states, being in different time zones and even living in different countries. (Thankfully we had Skype!) We’ve got a history of good times (great times really) and I am blessed to call this woman friend. The point is we’ve lived life together in the Lord, both in close proximity and across the miles, and our friendship has only gotten stronger.

1077046_10153050055125195_889413644_oSo why the sentimental blog you ask? Well, I received a timely birthday card from her on Friday evening and it made me tear up to think about the fact that we’re about to be reunited by living within driving distance of one another again! That’s right, watch out VA and DC because this duo is back and ready for the fun times.

How amazing is it that the Lord’s new beginning in my life with moving me to DC to be a part of a church plant also includes such a sweet reunion between kindred spirits? I didn’t see it coming and, yet again, I didn’t expect God to reunite us as He has chosen to.  Just like when He brought together a girl from Korea (Marla) and a girl from Baltimore (me) at a school in Boston to be unlikely friends, He is blessing us by allowing us to live closer together after such unpredictable events in both our lives resulted in us moving to those locations in the first place.  It’s really intentional and wonderful on God’s part and I love it.