31 Days of My People

31 Days of My People: Jamie {26/31}

She’s in another state this weekend celebrating her youngest daughter’s second birthday with family. She still took the time last night to send me a message answering some questions of mine. Then she spent a little more time chatting with me about some stuff I’ve been dealing with. Even from two states away, she’s showing up for me.

My friend Jamie (not this Jamie) and I have known each other for a few years now. She’s one of my divas. She and her husband Josh began hosting our home group a couple of years ago and it didn’t take very long to realize they were Our People, for sure.

Jamie is an amazing lady. Like most of My People, she would probably scoff at me saying that. But just take one look at her life and it’s pretty darn obvious. Not because she’s perfect–she doesn’t even pretend to be. She’s wise enough to know that is completely useless.

It's pretty simple.
It’s pretty simple.

Basically she just does what this simple sign says. And anything beyond that, she leaves up to God to figure out. And that’s about the best plan I can think of.

Jamie is a pediatrician. She works with two of the most amazing hospitals in the country, which just happen to be right here in our town. While she’s clearly a wonderful pediatrician, I don’t think anything can top what are, in my opinion, her best accomplishments of all time: Her two daughters.

She and her hubs sure do make some fine babies, y’all. Let me just tell you if they ever get tired of their kids, I will gladly take them. When I first met their family (back when they still had only one little one) I immediately fell in love with the way parented. I know everyone has their own style, and the wide variety of parenting styles is necessary, but there’s nothing I love more than mommas and daddies who keep it real with their kids.

When Jamie’s daughter asks a question, she doesn’t make a huge deal out of whatever it is, even if the topic is somewhat sensitive or potentially embarrassing. She just talks to her gently about it and moves along. Jamie gets that kids don’t need a dissertation to have their questions answered. What they’re really trying to figure out is if the people who love them can help them navigate the world, and that’s about it. She and her husband are patient and kind to their kiddos, firm when they need to be, and they don’t try to shelter them from every little thing in the universe. It’s just my favorite kind of parenting, and I watch them do this stuff all the time. Thank you, Josh and Jamie, for helping to add to the population of well-rounded human beings on this planet!

Jamie and I share a love for Indian food (possibly an addiction to it!) and we won’t turn away from a good wine & cheese situation. All of us ladies were just sitting around the other day talking about how if you put Jamie in a kitchen for a few minutes, something wonderful will be happening as a result. When it’s diva night, she makes us beautiful things like brie topped with homemade apple butter or some new salad creation that makes us all groan at how delicious it is. Good, beautiful food is a delight to all the senses, and she has an appreciation for that. She knows how preparing something wonderful for a person can make them feel special and cared for. She’s a natural at the hospitality thing.

We had known Jamie and her husband Josh for some time before we found out something about them that made us see them in a completely new light. We knew they were great people who shared our faith in Jesus, but we also discovered that they’d survived a tragic, life-altering experience together. In fact, one of the most devastating events in our nation’s history is forever part of their personal history.

Ten years ago, she and her husband survived Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

Jamie and her husband were newlyweds back in 2005 when Katrina made land. She says they learned a lot about themselves and life in general from that storm. I’m so thankful to her for sharing these thoughts about what they learned from the experience of surviving this natural disaster:

1.) Be thankful for what you have when you have it–because it could all be gone the next day. And it was for us. And I don’t necessarily mean material possessions–although that was the case for us as well. More about life circumstances in general. Katrina happened at the beginning of my fourth year of medical school. The fourth year is the last one, the one everyone looks forward to in medical school. All of the hard, required rotations are typically in the years prior to that. Not a lot of studying happens in the fourth year–it is used instead to travel, both on vacations and to potential residency locations, to relax, to hang out with friends, and just to re-enter normal life after the rigors of the first three years of school. Josh and I had looked forward to my last year as well–we were going to take a vacation (likely a cruise) at the end of it and had saved for that, hanging out with friends we hadn’t gotten a lot of time to hang with before, explore some areas of the city that we hadn’t gotten to. We had plans….. And then, in a short 24-hour period on August 29, 2005, our plans were gone, just like our house, most of our possessions, our church, the hospitals I trained in, my school itself–all underwater. The friends we were going to hang with–all spread across the country, some permanently re-located. The places in the city we were going to explore–most damaged or closed. Our cruise–never happened–we spent the money on new dishes or sheets or something like that. It was only after we made it through all of it that we looked back and realized that our life was pretty awesome even before my fourth year of medical school, even in the craziness of those prior years. I wish I would have appreciated them more at the time.

2.) We learned how to be gracious receivers. Up until Katrina, we were givers–our time (what we had with medical school), our talents, our money (the little spare we had). After Katrina–we were the ones in need–and it wasn’t a great feeling. We prayed to God, repeatedly, to provide for us–but it was a really bitter pill to swallow to learn how to actually deal with that. It took a few months to be able to sit back and trust God and other people when they gave us money, household items, prayers, etc.–when we had nothing to give back. Definitely still applies when He gives us blessings that we don’t plan on or think we need.

Wow. I cannot even imagine tomorrow waking up to everything I know being utterly destroyed. Having to start over and go with a completely new plan (or no plan whatsoever.) Every bone in my control-freak body wants to scream just thinking of it. I’m learning how to be a gracious receiver in my own life at the moment, and I see how hard it is proving to be.

Although I am sure none of us would voluntarily sign up to have our lives destroyed by a hurricane, I know now that Jamie and her husband wouldn’t trade who they’ve become because of it. We all go through things that seem impossible, things that humble us–even take us to the point of humiliation, and things that seem unfair and random. But I’m reminded by my friend Jamie that circumstances—all of our circumstances—can change at any time, but we still remain. And if our hope is in the right place, rooted in God rather than in what we have or what we can do, then our faith and resolve will remain as well.

Each time I hear this song, I will forever think of Jamie and her husband and all they’ve learned (and taught me.) It’s so perfect, whether you’ve actually had your life flipped upside down by a hurricane or not. It’s a beautiful illustration of how nothing on this earth can break us if we choose to bend under God’s grace in every situation.

He is jealous for me,

Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,

Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy.

When all of a sudden,

I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,

And I realize just how beautiful You are,

And how great Your affections are for me.

(If you’ve never heard this song before, I encourage you to watch a video of it here. David Crowder does a pretty good job. But I promise you, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard Jamie’s husband Josh singing this about God and to Him as part of his worship set at church. It’s a beautiful hallelujah.)

Jamie, I couldn’t be more thankful that God saw fit to make us each other’s People. You teach me all the time, friend. Todd and I love you, Josh, and the girls so very much!

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