I have a crazy story for you.
It was lunchtime a few weeks ago on a workday. I was chasing the last of my food with my fork when I got an odd text from my friend, Macie.
“Cherise, have you ever been to Pine Cove?”
And then, two seconds later—“And did you ever live at [insert address]?”
Um…yes. I had been to that family camp many times, but not since I was in high school. And that was my old address.
Immediately, my mind started running through bizarre explanations for why she might be asking. Did the camp release some ancient video online that showed pictures of me? Did I lose something at Pine Cove that had my old address in it? Why would she have it?
The truth was stranger than I guessed.
Macie is the kind of girl to whom encouragement is like air: she breathes it in eagerly and then exhales it to everyone around her. Just standing near her is like a fresh breeze to your heart. When I met her, she was a week away from marrying one of my hubby’s best friends. Our apartments stand facing each other now across the street, just right for five-minute conversations if we happen to be getting home at the same time.
Because words hold such weight for her, she has kept a growing stash of encouragement in a burgeoning drawer somewhere in her house. On the day of the weird text, she’d been doing some spring cleaning and decided to sift through a stack of notes from 2003, the year she had become a believer in Jesus.
One of the notes was from a camper she met while working at Pine Cove as a counselor. It was written in careful cursive on notebook paper decorated with gel pen swirls.
It was chatty, talking about summer plans to go camping and about how the writer was about to get her driver’s permit. It told Macie she had a beautiful heart and that the note-writer was praying for her.
It was signed, “Cherise Beekman”.
Y’all. That camper was ME.
It’s seriously like a movie! I can picture it in lights: “Girl discovers that she knew her friend before she really knew her.” We had a first class freak out on the phone as we uncovered our secret past.
That summer in 2003, my dad had been out of work nearly eight months. My sweet grandma had died of cancer only a few weeks after the layoff, and our family had been feeling the strain of change, grief, and uncertainty. Some kind person paid for us to go to Pine Cove as a family. The counselors were wonderful—so grown up and so kind to the bony fifteen year old and her three younger sisters.
One of them was a bouncy person with flaming hair and a big smile who went by—wait for it—“Hip Hop Anonymous”. Isn’t that a great name for her?
So our friendship didn’t actually begin in 2008 when Macie bounced in to Jenny’s apartment with leftover wedding shower cake to share. In reality, I met Hip Hop Anonymous in 2003, before our husbands ever laid eyes on each other and before Macie ever joined our church!
God knew we were meant to be friends. J