This one is for you Shellie!
There was a friend I met in high school who changed my life forever. I was a "smart" kid. I loved school and I always had. School came easy for me, I could have studied and had a 4.0, but I chose to live life, have fun and have a 3.8 instead. I was involved in every club I was allowed to be in. I wrote for the school paper, was very active in FFA and LIVED for school. I had alot of friends. Most of them were very smart too. I had one friend in particular who was smart, but really disliked school. Church was it for her. She lived and breathed Christ and church. (still does!) I was intrigued by her. A friend that did not REALLY care about her grades was so unusual. Because I was in honors classes, most of my peers were shooting for valedictorian or salutatorian. It was very odd to meet someone so different. Someone who did not love school but loved people so much. She loved everyone. With the love of Christ. She was always friendly and always inviting people to church, to Christ.
I had always gone to church, but having seen so much church related trauma and unloveliness, it was hard for me to be excited about it. I would NEVER have invited anyone to our church. I was embarrassed to be there myself. Two of the board members were having an affair and everyone knew it, yet no one seemed to care. In the youth group, we stood around and talked about all the places we would rather be. We sat in cars and played Prince tapes and learned all the bad songs. When I got a car and was able to drive, I went to church with this friend. I was loved and accepted immediately. I was invited to her home anytime I needed to be there. I was there alot. It was a sort of sanctuary for me. I'm sure this family might have liked more alone time than they got-but they were never unwelcoming. If it was a burden to have me so much of the time, they never showed it. They opened their home, their refrigerator, their cupboards everytime I came around. They were a special family. They were Christ to me. I can never express what is was like or how it changed me, but it did. My homelife was horrendous. This family taught me all families aren't awful, some homes are soft places to land. Some moms are nurturing even when they are exhausted. Some Dads care about their daughters and also the friends of their daughters. I felt loved, honored and important at their home. Did I mention I was there alot? I don't suppose I ever missed a church youth event or class. God used this church to teach me what it was to be a Christian. God used this friend to show me how to be real. I still slipped away from God, but the fact that I came back had alot to do with this family!!
This friend was Shellie and I love her so much for loving me back when I was the biggest struggle of her life. I grilled her and teased her about God and church relentlessly. I said and did things that shocked her. I asked her questions she could not answer and did my best to shake her faith. She did not always know the answer-but that did not shake her one bit. She just kept on loving me, loving God, and discreetly passing me her glasses so I could read the chalkboard. (Long story-but my mom did not believe I needed glasses. I was blind all through school and when I was finally working and making decent money, it was one of the first things I bought myself.) She was a rock and a spiritual anchor for me then. Her parents were ministers at her church, but oh my were they involved in the lives of their church. They were the best example I have ever seen of Godly parenting. I'm sure they had flaws. I'm sure they had struggles. I just never saw it. I never saw anything but 4 shiny halos and the love of Christ when this needy teenager came around. Let me tell you, it was completely one-sided too. I was broke and broken.
God still ministers to me through this family. I am so thankful to know them even though I don't see them as often as I used too-really hardly ever. I don't think any of them know the pedestal I have them on either. Always did, always will. Shellie made a point of telling me of a very private, scandalous thing her family went through. She did not have to. I know it was hard to tell me. She knew it would come through the grapevine and she wanted me to hear it from her. It was shocking. I felt horrible that I could not be there at such an awful time to love this family through it as they had done for so many. The devil is very cunning and none of us are immune. They were not rallied around and supported. They were scorned and shunned. This is wrong. They are still ministering for Christ. They are still on pedestals in my book too. Not in a worshipful kind of way, in a "this is what it means to LOVE GOD" mentoring kind of way. Shellie, Chandra, Mark and Sharon, you helped God help me and I love you forever for it.
Shellie, I am so glad you were able to visit with me and even gladder to see our children hang out together. I am glad to know we serve a God who brought you and your family to a little po-dunk town to touch the lives of so many, mine included. Thank you.