During the craziness (but awesomeness!!) of my recent St. Jude’s Sessions at Pottery Barn Kids, I found myself with a ten minute break and a cup full of happiness.. I mean Starbucks…
I was aimlessly meandering around the mall embracing the lull when my heart lurched and I felt a jolt. I’d found myself in front of the Free People store. The only time I had ever been in one was with Allie. And I think about her every time I pass it. How she good-humoredly chided me for never having shopped in one before. “Don’t you love their stuff now, though??” I remember she asked me as we headed on to the next store. I actually really did, but thrift-shopping Jessi didn’t think it would ever be in my budget. When my mom stumbled upon a Free People shirt at 80% of at Lord & Taylor (side note: my mother possesses a crazy bargain finding gene. For real.) I texted Allie straight away. And then rocked that awesome shirt until it wore out.
All this to say, Allie is on my mind constantly. I don’t think I will ever stop ‘seeing her’ in my daily life. And I’m glad of that. I'm sorry I've fallen behind on these posts but I want you to know- she is on my heart <3
(read to the end for one of my FAVORITE memories of her)
'My' Youth Group Kids : Matt, Mel + Courtney <3
I’m not your average youth leader. I’m not cool. That’s obvious right?? I’m hyper and goofy and awkward and unathletic and a little bit shy. Not the greatest resume, eh? But I LOVE people, and relationship-building, and pointing kids to the Lord. And thankfully, that’s enough.
When I started as a youth leader at Huntingdon Valley Presbyterian Church I was thoroughly intimidated by my fellow youth leaders who WERE cool. And athletic. And Bold. And and and.. (you get the picture? Haha) The first few Youth Group meetings I awkwardly tried my best to be like the other leaders (this is never a solid choice by the way) and would walk away wishing I were more athletic and bold and and and…
But one day I started to chat with the group of kiddos who were awesome in their goofiness, funnier then you could imagine, and who also (gasp!) hated dodgeball with a fiery passion. (Matt actually once kicked his own cup over to get out of cup dodgeball hahaha!!)
I adored them. Still do. While I eventually built warm relationships with many of the kids, there was a solid group of kiddos that became ‘mine’. (Is that creepy? I don’t mean it creepily. See? I told you I was awkward!!) Of that group a shining trio still stay in touch, they even drive the six hours from Philly to come visit me and my family. They danced at my wedding, snuggled my babes, and made me laugh SO hard every step of the way. I am incredibly grateful the Lord placed them in my life. From New Orleans to Niagara Falls, you all are some of my VERY favorites, I am SO PROUD of the people you are becoming!! <3 <3
One of my favorite memories of Allie was when she convinced me to take her ‘water aerobics class’. Basically it’s when a bunch of older ladies pile in to The Purdy Center pool and dance around. When I asked Allie was structure she follows for leading the class she said “Oh, I just make it up! Watch- they will follow whatever I do!” I kid you not Allie stood at the edge of the pool shouting out random appliances and creating ‘moves’ for them while a pool full of old ladies tried to mimic her. I still remember the ‘typewriter’ where she had them zip sideways across the pool yelling “Ding!” when they got to each side. AND THEY DID IT. They ALL did it. And they LOVED it. Because Allie made it fun. Allie always made it fun.
It’s especially hard typing these funny stories because I can’t tell if I’m crying because I’m still laughing so hard about the memories, or because I’m missing her so bad. Either way I am SO grateful to have had a friend who makes me feel so much. I miss you.
Behind the Lens:
Jessi lives near Rochester, NY with her handsome hubby and their two 'Lovebugs'.