When I first met Allie her two roommates were her best friends. Heather you have heard from, and now you get to hear from Renee, or as my kids call her Ne-Ne. When Allie and I were dating we drove out to Taylor to visit with all her friends. From then on I have had the privilege of calling Renee and Tony friends. We would see them several times a year and each time was a joy. Her is what she wrote.
Like so many have expressed, Allie is never far from my mind. I miss her…I miss her a lot. Admittedly, I was a little overwhelmed with the task of writing something for her blog. Each time I’ve started to write something, I’ve been overwhelmed with so many vivid memories, so many things that made our Allie so special, so many memories I don’t want to forget and things I wanted to share that I didn’t know where to start. My words seem inadequate at capturing the magnificent woman God made Allie. There are little things throughout each day that bring her to mind, things that speak volumes to who she was, things I don’t want to forget and that I love about her.
-Each morning when I wake up and head into the kitchen and pour my first cup of coffee I think of Allie. I think of her shuffling down her wood stairs early in the morning, turning on the Armstrong Bunn coffee maker (with plain, not flavored, coffee of course) and then pouring her first cup of coffee of the day. I can see her getting some cereal for whichever girl might be up with her (usually Paige) in a little bowl and then settling into the big green chair with the ottoman, pulling out her bible and journal and beginning the day reading and spending time with the Lord. I treasured this part of the day whenever we got the chance to visit after college. We’d make a point of getting up whenever the first one was up and we’d be mad if someone was up and didn’t wake the other(s). We’d all sit in the family room, have our first cup of coffee together (I’d always be excited when I got to use the “Big Hug Mug” ) and get to spend time in the quiet of the morning, sharing and learning more about Him and just being with one another.
-As I drive around town singing with a song on the radio I think of Allie. Allie loved music. Whether it was a short trip around campus or a long road trip, there was always music playing and singing coming from the car. I have vivid memories of driving around on warm days, windows down, Allie’s left leg bent with her foot on the seat and her just singing along with her sweet, pure voice. Many times certain songs would bring someone in her life to mind and she’d take a quick moment to call them and say that she was thinking about them and loved them. Sometimes the music she listened to might be considered “cheesy”, however, it was a reflection of her pure heart and desire to know and love God and others more each day.
-When I check-out at cash registers, complete a transaction at the bank or order a meal at a restaurant I’ve found myself asking “What would Allie have said to this person? How would she have made them feel known and loved today?” Allie loved people, she had a gift of being able to connect with them and, above all else, she wanted them to know that God loves and cares for them. She didn’t just say the common “hello, please, or thank you” to the people she’d cross paths with throughout the day. She’d learn their names, ask how their day was and then she’d figure out a way to speak truth and encouraging words into their life. Yes, sometimes we’d give her a hard time or giggle about this with her but, at the end of the day, watching her interact with a perfect stranger was really something special to see.
-When I make a list, see a list and, especially, when I get to cross something off of a “to-do” list I think of Allie. Allie packed a lot into each day…sometimes I thought she accomplished more in one day than a lot of people do in 1 week. She was a master at prioritizing and, as we got older, multi-tasking. In college, I have vivid memories of her lying in bed with her little five star pocket notebook writing down the schedule for the next day. Three things that would always be on the list were 1) reading—spending time in the word and with the Lord, 2) exercise, and 3) spending quality/intentional time with a friend or mentor. After college she graduated from her little pocket notebook to a calendar planner. She’d have the family schedule entered in, the bills, paperwork and often times note cards for any special event for that month stuffed in. She never missed the special days in our lives…no matter what was going on. In fact, I have vivid memories of visiting when she’d be at the kitchen sink putting away the dishes that had dried over night in the left side of the sink, cleaning the pile that had accumulated from the morning activities, putting laundry in, folding laundry and, somehow, at the same time sending a quick note card to someone she cared about.
-I loved to laugh with Allie and I loved to make Allie laugh. Allie laughed much like she lived her life – there was no polite giggle or semi-laugh, she was all-in…once she started she couldn’t stop and there was no going back. One of the best things about Allie’s laughter is you didn’t always know when it was going to erupt and, many times, something totally unexpected and random would set her off. Many times dramatic (hilarious) movements would accompany her laughter…there’d be legs and arms flailing, perhaps exaggerated running, funny faces and, sometimes, a snort or two. If she was laughing about something someone else said or did (probably me or my husband if we were with her) I can hear her saying in between laughs “you’re ridiculous”. I loved being carefree with Allie, loved her wit and loved laughing with her.
-When I walk outside to the amazing fall weather we’ve had lately, Allie instantly comes to mind. She loved the sunshine and she loved being outside. Whenever we’d be heading outside and it was a nice day she’d exclaim loudly “It’s beautiful” or “What a glorious day” or “It’s soooooo nice out”!!!!!! As long as it wasn’t raining I could always count on a nice long walk (or run, if Allie could talk me into it) together. In fact, if we were going to be spending time with Allie the first thing I’d pack would be appropriate outdoor workout clothes . I treasured this time together…conversation always flowed so easily, she’d know just what to ask and would always encourage and challenge me to continue to grow and follow Jesus in my daily life.
-Each day when I face a new adventure with my two-year old son, I am reminded of what an incredible mother Allie was. She loved being a mom and, like most things in her life, she did it with so much confidence and grace and joy that she made it look easy. Paige, Hayleigh and Mollie you were the joys of her life…she was so proud to be your mom. She wanted nothing else than to devote her life to raising and loving you. It was so special to watch her pour her love into your lives. When each of you were tiny babies and she’d be up late at night with you she’d tell me about how she’d spend that time to talk to God about you. She loved you and covered your life with prayer from the moment she knew about you.
-My heart and mind are flooded with thoughts of Allie when I get to worship in, as Allie called it, “The Lord’s house” each week. When the music is playing and my church family around me is singing songs proclaiming the powerful truths and love of our Lord, Allie seems so close. I close my eyes and can hear her sweet confident voice singing along side us and I think about how, at that moment, she is worshipping our Lord with me…she just gets to do it in His full presence. Everything that made Allie unique and beautiful and remarkable was a result of the love and unwavering devotion she had in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. She loved him, pursued a relationship with Him daily, talked to Him, listened to Him and followed Him no matter what. No matter how challenging, or disappointing or painful the scenario, she always put one foot in front of the other following Him and doing what He told her to do. She was remarkable.
I think I could write pages and pages filled with memories about Allie. I loved living life alongside her for over 13 years. Even though we were separated by hundreds of miles after college, she remained a constant presence in my life. Between all the phone calls, e-mails, texts and visits throughout the year, it really felt like she was just around the corner. She was more than just a friend…she was family. She lived life fully and she lived it well. She was authentic, loving, intense, devoted, disciplined, funny, honest, sweet, sincere and, above all else, a daily example of what it is to live a life fully focused on and dependent on God’s love. She’d be the first to tell you that everything she did, everything she endured, the grace with which she lived her life and extended to others was all because of Jesus Christ. She knew what it was to live in the freedom of Christ and to be led by Him completely. As I’ve reflected on her life and attempted to summarize some of the beautiful and unique aspects of Allie, 1 Corinthians 11:1 kept coming to mind as I think it captures the person she was and the role she had in so many people’s lives. It says, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Allie followed Christ wholeheartedly and set an example for all who knew her.
I miss my friend… I miss her a lot. I am forever grateful for the blessing of her life, for her friendship and for the way she loved me. She was everything that’s been said and written about her and more. She loved fully and she did it well. She was by no means perfect but she sure was special and did so much in this life with such ease and grace and true maturity in the Lord. I’ve felt myself being drawn to being still more often…to read more, to talk to the Lord more and to just sit and allow Him into my life more each day. She’s with the Lord now, we know that for sure, and so I feel a little bit like I’m closer to her when I get to be close to Him. I’m sure this statement is flawed in many ways philosophically and I know, ultimately, that I want to be near God because He is the one who comforts and provides a peace amidst the sorrow of her not being here physically with us. I love her and, as a mutual friend so beautifully put it, I am finding comfort in the reality of heaven each day.
Taking the time these last few weeks to focus on my memories of Allie and reflect on the extraordinary woman God blessed my life with was really special and a true privilege…thank you Adam for allowing us do this. You are a blessing and a remarkable man…what a dynamic duo you and Allie were together. Thank you for loving her so deeply and leading her and your girls with such grace and unwavering faith in Him alone.
We love you all so much.
Renee (Nay-Nay) (and Tony and Sam too)