Other than my family, I have lived with 17 people. 17 roommates. Om, that’s a lot. And it’s not over. More are coming. Soon.
The very first one was Rachel Reed (now Keys). We moved into our dorm room during CBU’s New Student Orientation week and became instant friends. I think what solidified our friendship was the bonding we had on our first trip to Target. I walked straight into a pole because I was talking (probably way too much) and looking at her instead of at where I was going. She stalled her manual car she had JUST learned to drive while getting on to the freeway (and made me think I was going to die). Awesome start. Awesome friendship. We became like sisters. She had a real one, but I never did. So, I learned a lot from this relationship. We drove each other crazy sometimes… I couldn’t stand her seriously annoying alarm clock that she never turned off quick enough. (It seriously sounded like dying birds in static – though apparently it was supposed to be a peaceful ocean sound.) She hated the way I opened wrappers to my favorite chocolate candies while she was trying to sleep. BUT we loved each other anyway. We loved borrowing each other’s clothes and going to Disneyland on “roommate dates” as often as possible… We had almost all of our classes together and even slept through a final together. Woopsy! AND we were terribly proud of the fact that we lived in the boys dorms and had a room that GLOWED pink all the way to the street. :)
Across the hall was Tawni Leigh (now Webster). Tawni and Rachel grew up together and had been best friends for a long time, but Rachel had moved away. They were DELIGHTED to be reunited and were instantly best friends again. Somehow, they let me instantly enter into that friendship… not as a third wheel, but as an equal… the third best friend. I’m not sure how I earned that privilege but, I must say… it was one of the biggest blessings of my life.
The next year, Rachel became an RA (on OUR wing) and Tawni and I were roommates. Tawni rolled right along with the obsession I had at the time for the color pink! We decorated our room in all pink and purple and had matching bedspreads and flowers and girly pictures. Tawni had to learn how to deal with my grouchy morning attitude problem and I had to learn to deal with her cheerful morning bubbliness. It was a challenge, but we worked through it… she quickly learned maybe she should wait to talk to me until I’d had a shower and I slowly learned to become a little less grouchy.
Sophomore year my heart began stirring for the first time about going overseas. Tawni caught me looking at a website about a particular summer program teaching in Asia. She asked what I was doing. I said, “I don’t know. I can’t stop thinking about this. But I would never do this. But I kind of think…” I couldn’t even say the rest. She said, “Shanda. If you are thinking about this, God must be working in your heart. You should do it. I think you’d be great at it.” I thought I was crazy for thinking about it, but Tawni saw in me what I was not confident was there… and reminded me that if I was willing, God would equip me. And that gave me the courage to try. So I went.
After we all graduated, Rachel was working at CBU. An email was sent to all staff and faculty about applying to lead teams overseas the following summer. She forwarded it to me and said, “You should do this.” She had seen a passion developing in me and knew I needed to further develop it. I told her I couldn’t apply. It was only for faculty and staff. She insisted that I was perfect for the job and that I needed to at least ask if it was possible. So, I did and they said yes and I went overseas for the 3rd time.
And THAT solidified it. This was not just something I did a couple times in college for an experience. This is what I was made for.
Rachel and Tawni stood behind me and PUSHED me forward to places I wouldn’t have mustered up the courage to go on my own. I would love them forever no matter what. But I love them in such a special way because of this fact.
You two gave me the courage to do what I do. I love what I do. I can’t say thank you enough for helping me get here.
Also, I’m pretty sure that the 15 other people I have lived with should send you thank you cards. You put up with the hardest parts of living with me and helped me to work out a lot of my kinks so that those to follow would not have to deal with them.
Oh… and… girls, I LOVE watching you grow as wives and mommies. I love seeing your passion for your jobs. I love how you show your love for Jesus in all of those things. I want to be like you when I grow up. Thanks for letting me play with and hold your little boys this week. It delights me.