It's not every day you make friends with people on the internet, let alone friends that grow into sisters. And it's not every day that those friends write a book - a beautiful, faithful work that should be required reading for everyone in the church. And, it's not every day that friend and her book get celebrated in Hollywood.
But, last Thursday was that kind of day.
My dear friend, Sarah Bessey - author of the critically-acclaimed book, Jesus Feminist - was thrown a book release party in LA by two other dear friends, Laura Tremaine and Jen Johnson. When they were in the first stages of planning the party, I promised Sarah I wouldn't miss it.
And I didn't. There's no way I'd miss it!
So, early on Thursday morning, I hopped on a plane and flew to Los Angeles, where I met up with Sarah and her husband Brian at LAX. Brian is everything I imagined him to be - tall, gentle, hilarious, and completely in love with his wife. I've known Sarah for years now, but this was the first time meeting Brian and it was one of those moments where, at the end of the trip, I looked at her, I looked at him, and thought to myself, "Sarah makes so much more sense now." It was a real gift to meet the other Bessey half.
We laughed and talked the whole way to Laura's beautiful home in the Hollwood hills, where we would all spend the night after the party. I got to meet Laura's kids and they were so sweet and so funny. We threw our bags down and went back out the door, heading to lunch at a Chinese restaurant on Sunset Blvd. In the parking lot, Sarah almost got run over by Russell Simmons in his Mini Cooper (Yes, THE Russell Simmons).
We ate, laughed, Sarah cried (she cried a lot that day, bless her), we ate some more, then Jen showed up, we ate some more, and all the girls walked across the street to DryBar to get our hair and makeup done. While sitting in the chair getting my hair curled, the nice girl at the counter asked me if I wanted to read a magazine.
"We have all the latest," she said.
"What are my options?" I asked her.
"US Weekly, People, InStyle, Glamour, and then this one." The last one she held up was The New Yorker.
"OH! I'll take the New Yorker," I replied.
"Really?" She looked at me like I had a third eye in my forehead.
"Yeah, really!" I smiled and said back.
"Well, that's a first."
Only in LA, man.
After we were all put together, we went back to Laura's to change clothes (I wore this dress in purple with these shoes), gather a few things for the party, and we made our way to Coffee + Food, the location on Melrose that would end up housing almost 90 people for the party.
The party was fabulous. Laura and Jen thought of everything, the food was fantastic, and there was a steady flow of champagne.
I got to see so many friends - Kristen, Elizabeth & Matt, Sarah & Chad, Maggie, and my friend from SLC who moved to LA, Kiana was able to come! I finally met a few husbands - Mark Howerton and The Gorilla - and most importantly, we all celebrated Sarah and her incredible book. I kept looking at her throughout the night - she was wide-eyed and present, completely in awe that so many people showed up (which surprised nobody else but her), and having a wonderful time. She doesn't like being the center of attention, but we were all so happy to see her finally getting the attention that she has long-deserved.
Brian, Kristen and I read sections from the book for the audience - Brian reading about marriage, Kristen reading about motherhood and me reading about women in ministry. What an honor to hold her book, let alone read a large section of it for all to hear. At the end of the readings, Sarah read the last chapter in its entirety. If you've read the book, you know what I'm speaking of - where she commissions us to go out as believers and do the work that God has called us to, and to be the women that God has made us to be, and to do it boldly, fearlessly and lovingly. She read it with her thick Canadian accent, at one point raising a hand of blessing and speaking truth over everyone in the room. It was a sight to behold. Near the end, you could hear the sniffles and see people wiping their eyes. I remember sitting behind her, smiling, nodding, believing and receiving.
There's something about a woman preaching truth in a crowded room.
It was a magical night. Women were encouraged, heartfelt connections were made between old and new friends and Sarah was celebrated. I'm so, so glad I was able to go.
We ended the night with an 11:30 run to In N Out burger, Sarah and Brian's first experience. "You can't go to California and not have In N Out!!" Laura, Jen and I yelled at them. They humored us, Brian even ordered an Animal Style burger like a pro. We sat around and shoved our faces with fries and soda, talking about our favorite parts of the night. The list was long, we were happy, Brian was beaming, and Sarah was glowing.
The trip was too short. I flew home the next morning, and Sarah jetted off to another event outside of LA with Brian. It's always hard saying goodbye to the people you love. But, what a gift to celebrate our friends.
I'm so proud of you, Sarah.
I'm forever your friend, and I am a Jesus Feminist.