In 2004, I went to live in Brussels, Belgium for a semester to teach English and work with some missionaries. But a few days before leaving, I met Arica in Birmingham for a quick training from the program we were going to Belgium through. Since it was before Facebook had spread across the country, I’d never laid eyes on this girl before so through a few text messages I knew what kind of jacket to be looking for when she met me at the airport in Birmingham. To say we hit it off that night as well as our semester together in Brussels would be an understatement. And while we were attached at the hip as we got to know our new home, there was also this level of understanding that while we were at home, a little space was good and then, a few months later, there were no hurt feelings when I said I was going out… on my own.
We’ve never lived in the same city or state since returning home, but that hasn’t put any distance between us at all. This woman has been such an encouragement to me over these past 8 years! She loves the Lord with every ounce of her being and it just flows out of her without her even trying. She loves with no boundaries and she has a gift with children that is such a joy to watch. As Ben and I were dating she was a solid sounding board for our relationship. God hasn’t introduced her to her husband yet, but the wisdom that the Lord has given her and the insight she has for others and relationships is amazing. So when we got engaged, she was one of the first people I called and it’s why she stood beside me as my maid of honor.
Even with all the Lord has allowed her to do, the friendships she has built, and the move to Nashville a few years ago, she still felt unsettled. After some searching and talking with trusted friends and advisors, after being overweight most of her life, she knew it was time for a change. She’d spent most of her life caring about others and taking care of them, that she hadn’t given herself the attention she needed. So, a few weeks after the wedding last fall she began to workout and eat better and just take better care of herself. She had tried to workout before but it wouldn’t last very long… this time though, there was heart change. Her head and her heart were finally on the same page and she WANTED this! And oh my heavens!! It’s like a different person stepped off of the plane in SC on Friday. She’s still the same girl that I’ve known and loved for the past 8 years, but she’s stronger, she’s healthier, she has more confidence and she’s doing things she never thought she would do. And once again, she is such an encouragement to me.
We decided to have a quick session before dinner last night to celebrate the 44lbs she’s lost so far. Her ultimate goal is 100lbs lost and when she hits that, Ben and I are going to Nashville to celebrate with her and capture it with an “After” session. This “Middle” session is because she’s not finished. She’s half way there. But, I wanted to celebrate and help her see how far she’s already come. I know she would love even more prayers and any encouragement you’d like to leave for her!
Here’s a quick before and “middle” picture.
I’m so excited to share these pictures because I’m so excited for Arica and how far she’s come!!
Please check out those awesome shoes.
She has a really great laugh :-)
Arica, you have such beautiful eyes!
I love this one too!
She might not have done this for me even a few months ago. But dang, she can work it!