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Intentional Relationships

This week, I start a new theme on my podcast about intentional relationships. I feel like, in so many ways, this has been one of the running themes of my life--something that I value, something that I spend my time and energy pouring into--intentionally building relationships with others. This is what drew me to Ghana and the work that happens here at City of Refuge Ministries. But, when I think about intentional relationships, I think the ones who have taught me the most are my "Beatniks", my group of friends that we have maintained since college. These ladies have seen the ups and downs, the ins and the outs, and even in the ugliest messes, we have continued to pursue relationship with each other.


On this week's podcast, I talked about this bracelet:


Our traveling bracelet, that went friend to friend, sharing our biggest moments for many years. Here, it graced the occasion of the birth of our 3rd beatnik baby, Nasia. Remembering those years with that bracelet brings tears to my eyes as I think about the intentionality with which it came--the desire to be witness to the lives of the ones you love, the grace that comes with facing hard things knowing the prayers that surround you in those moments, the words, the prayers, the pictures, the memories--our little family of friends growing together across the miles, across the space that comes when marriage and jobs and children come into play.


We were in each others weddings.


We were at the births of each other's children.









We have been present in the great big moments and the small little ones too, not always physically, but definitely with a call or an email, a message over text or video. We have prayed over each other time and time again. We have cried together through lost hopes and dreams, hurts, and fears. We have celebrated victories and mourned great losses. We have spoken truth to each other, gotten angry with each other, walking in forgiveness with each other. This is what being intentional over time looks like. It looks like not giving up, but pressing in and continuing to fight for relationship.



We have spent endless holidays together, though it is harder these days with everyone married and 14 kids (plus one almost ready to join us!) among all of us. We are spread all over the world, from California, Oregon, Minnesota, North Carolina, and me here in Ghana--but that hasn't stopped us from being intentional to maintain friendship. What started as spring break road trips around the western United States in our early years at Hope International University together, turned into adult vacations together with President's Day Weekend getaways to Memorial Day weekend travels to summer roadtrips. Rented weekend houses, planned menus, long conversations, endless laughter, games together--this crew has memories that have been built over years, but also over cups of hot chocolate and under starry nights, in early mornings, and in and out of new seasons of our different lives.




















This past year, when I traveled back to the States with my family...guess who popped in for a visit first? (If you listened to my podcast, you'd already know the answer...)



Christina flew in from Minnesota, pregnant and braving the snow and the long flight to meet up with Katty and I in North Carolina. I got to meet Katty's daughter, who they had recently brought home from South Africa. And they both got to meet my husband and children.


And for my 40th birthday, who better to celebrate with?


On the beach where so many of our memories together take place, Christine, Yona, and Joanna were all there (along with all the hubbies and kiddos, my beautiful sister, Brianna, and bestie, Jenni) to help me ring in my 40th year.


Intentional relationships aren't always easy. They require something of you. They require time, as you have to follow up and engage and ask questions and make sure that the friendship continues to grow. It requires trust, trust that the love will be reciprocated, that the friendship will be honored, that you will matter to them and they will matter to you. It requires risk, putting yourself out there, sometimes talking about hard things that you don't want to talk about, but you know you need to to be healthy. It requires vulnerability. It requires conflict, at times. It requires seasons where it is a bit quieter than you'd like. It requires other seasons where the burden of need is really heavy. It's a give and take.


The reward of intentional relationships is this...it is years of beautiful memories, lasting friendship, and someone that knows you to your core. It is long times apart and the very second you are together, it feels like home again. It is hearts growing together, sharing life together. It is good and beautiful and rich and deep. The reward is that YOU become a better YOU because of the way you have shared your life with someone else.


These ladies have changed me. Their hubbies, gladly welcomed into our Beatnik crew with open arms, have changed me with their love and pursuit and encouragement, especially during my single years, but now as I have seen them love on my hubby and kiddos too. It has been one of my life's greatest gifts to have them as my friends.


This is how I long to live my life. With intention. With passion. With a heart to risk it all for the sake of relationship. This was the way that Jesus lived. And I long for my life to look like His, though mine sometimes resembles my own broken patterns and my need for forgiveness is constant, it is His heart that I long to live out when I am building a relationship with others.


My prayer is that we will all be challenged to walk out a road towards intentionality in our relationships and find a depth and richness that our souls are longing for...may it be so.

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About Me

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I am Autumn Acheampong, a missionary in Ghana, West Africa. Here, I share pieces of my story and journey regarding the various seasons of "in-between" that I have experienced as a woman in ministry, a teacher and educator, a musician and creative, an abolitionist and passionate follower of Jesus, a mom and wife, and share conversations with others on journeys through their own in-between seasons as well.  So glad you are here!

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