"Intentional," I wrote in my journal one Sunday morning. I thought on this word for a mere second and a light went off inside of me. Throughout the next few days, I began to find myself doodling the word every which way, with its connotation deeming itself intriguing to me every time my thoughts stumbled upon it.

This is it, it thought... I want intentional to set the tone for the new year. I want my relationships, my friendships, and all of my interactions to leave every evidence of me wanting to dive deeper, dig harder, and ask the hard questions with my girls.

Throughout the second semester of my junior year and the summer thereafter, I intentionally sought out connecting on a deeper level with my girls, and creating a Godly community that was lasting, and left me feeling fulfilled. While I have always sought out women who push me to be a better version of myself, I found myself really honing in on connecting deeper with the friendships I had already created.

To me, being intentional meant actively asking my friends what they were struggling with and responding. I'll paint the picture for you; my friend and I went over to our other friends' hotel room last week, excited to be back with her after she had left us for almost a month after graduation.

These girls are who I call my "soul sisters", the people who I run to when I just need someone to put their hands on me and pray if I'm ever struggling with something. This particular Sunday, we went straight to her pool, got a couple of drinks, and got ready to spill our guts on what had been going on in our lives for the past few weeks. After we were done conversing and the night was creeping in on us, we decided to go back to the hotel room.

Once we got in, we knew what was about to happen. We sat on the rounded chair all snuggled up with each other and went down the line actively asking each other intentional questions to see how we needed to be prayed for.

To me, that was a just a tiny slice of what being intentional with my friendships looked like. To me, that was the side of friendship that left me feeling fulfilled and not wanting more.

On another occasion, I got coffee with one of the same friends from the night at the hotel, and one that I had not connected with in a while. We had always made it clear that we wanted to hang out or get coffee at some point, but this time, I really made it a priority. We sat down, did our usual small talk, and began to dive deeper into the reality that one of our friends had been facing over the past few months — everyone knows her, everyone loves her, Reedy DeRienzo!

We went through the series of events that had happened over the past few months and how these series of unfortunate events had changed her life for the better, and how she was glorifying Jesus in the midst of it all. My friend and I, Ashleigh, both looked at each other at the same moment and said out loud, "where has she been all of our lives?" We went on to dinner, and continued our conversations up and down King Street, sitting in the reality of the amazing friendship that we had mustered up over the past hour.

To me, whether you grab a quick cup of coffee, or go hang out in a hotel room with your long lost friend, the deliberate effort to get to know that particular person and invest in them, is worth it. To know someone and to intentionally seek to dig deeper within them, is something that has changed my life for the better and will to continue to inspire me to really REALLY get to know someone.