It was our senior year of college (Amanda completed her two year degree), and we were graduating on the SAME DAY (with our awesome brother James)! In the week leading up to graduation, Amanda and I decided we needed a haircut. We walked into the salon, and the lady at the front desk asked if we were twins. (We get this a lot). Amanda slightly rolled her eyes as she smiled, and told the lady we were not twins and politely asked that our hair NOT be cut the same. This kind lady assured her that she would make sure! However, there was only one girl available to cut BOTH of our hair. (I was dying laughing inside!). After Amanda's hair cut and one last "reminder" to our stylist to make sure we didn't leave looking alike, it was my turn. In the first 2 minutes of our conversation together, we got on the topic of my sisterhood with Amanda. I explained to this stylist exactly WHY Amanda didn't want the same hair style as me. You see, Amanda is original in EVERY way. She always has been for as long as I can remember. She loves to be unique. It's WHO she is. She doesn't EVER go with the flow. In fact, she makes it her goal to go against the grain just to be different. She stands out. She can't help it. People are drawn to her stand - not only for Jesus - but WHATEVER she chooses to stand for. She stands unapologetically and with confidence. She does NOT care what people think when it comes to - well, anything. She never lets what others think of her influence her decision-making. She does the right thing. Always. She hungers and thirsts for righteousness. She's a trendsetter. She doesn't want to be like anyone else - except Jesus. She's authentic. She draws people in by her sincerity. She's real - never fake. What you see is what you get. She's not a people-pleaser. She speaks truth - sometimes hard truth - but always in love. She loves everyone. No matter who you are.
I continued on and on and on until suddenly, she was done with my hair. She spun me around in the chair, and I let out the loudest gasp. It was nearly identical to Amanda's! I quietly thanked the lady and began to nervous giggle all the way to the waiting room. Amanda caught one quick glimpse of my hair, and just slowly shook her head as this teeny tiny grin (I like to believe it was a grin) came across her face. I knew she was cringing on the inside, but she still let out a subtle laugh that let me know it was "fine". I couldn't help but laugh. You see, I LOVED looking like her. I wanted to BE like her in every way. And I still do. Her life exemplifies everything that matters in this life, and I wish I could tell her that. I wish I told her more. Even yesterday someone stopped me at the mall and told me I looked just like Amanda. That was the biggest compliment I could ever receive.
I still remember that proud moment we walked across the stage on graduation day. And now, I picture her walking across heaven's stage receiving her diploma for a life well lived. Thank you Amanda. I'll never, EVER forget all of the amazing things you taught me. My hair may not always look as amazing as yours, but your incredible example of what it looks like to be a Jesus follower is something I WILL strive for everyday! I love you so much, Amanda Grace. Today, and everyday.