I don’t even remember her name.
She was a friendly resident in a row of community-supported retirement apartments on the edge of Belvidere Park. I was a new reporter for the local newspaper, doing a story on the apartments, and she invited me in to see hers.
I think there was tea involved, and after talking about her living experience there, she directed the conversation to other things. Fresh out of school and lonely in a new town, I was grateful for her interest. When she asked if I attended church, my whole story of spiritual searching came out. I had been a faithful member of my denomination since childhood, but had slipped away when the church’s teachings began to interfere with some lifestyle choices I was making. Now, alone in a new place, I was hungering to return to church–but I wanted something more than just church attendance in my life.
She handed me a thick stack of old Guideposts magazines and invited me to take them home and read them. I had never seen the magazine before, but I was intrigued by the headlines I read on the covers–first-person stories of how faith had helped people through real-life problems. Those magazines became my bedtime reading for weeks to come.
My sweet new friend soon became my weekly passenger on trips to the University of Illinois, where her adult son lived and my boyfriend (and future husband) was a graduate student. Those three-hour drives were great times of sharing and learning for me. I came to understand the value of a life centered on faith in God, a solid marriage, the joy of family life, and the richness of Christian friendship.
After my June wedding, my new husband and I moved away and I lost touch with my elderly friend. But her gentle, informal mentoring reset the course of my life. Other mentors stepped in and led me to a personal relationship with Christ, taught me the Bible, and nurtured gifts of teaching, writing and encouragement they saw in me. But my greatest ministry joys have been as I’ve sat across a table over cups of tea talking with other women about life and the Lord.
I no longer can remember her name, but I’ll always remember what she began in my life.
Guest blogger Marilyn McDonald is a wife, mother and new grandmother whose greatest joy is mentoring young wives and mothers. A former newspaper reporter and business writer, she now looks for ways to use her writing to mentor and encourage others in their relationships with Jesus Christ. Visit her blog, Grandma’s Feather Bed.
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