Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The Ones You Can't Forget

I recently had the honor of hosting one of my lifelong mentors and big sisters in the faith, Esther Flores, at our annual Ladies' Retreat. She was my Youth Pastor's wife from the end of my junior year, to my senior year in high school. From the very moment she said yes to my invitation, I could hardly stand it! There were times, via texts and phone calls, when we were both so doggone giddy that you could've sworn we were a couple of junior high girls! It'd been 11 years since we'd seen one another, and boy did we have some catching up to do!
Esther and I at her eldest daughter's wedding. Her daughter, Melanie, was six months old when we first met.

Just before one of the sessions where Esther was speaking, I told our ladies about how dear she was to me. I was talking about honoring others and how important that is in our relationships, especially within the church. We'd just spent some time during the weekend honoring our pastor's wife in a special way. So it seemed appropriate for us to remain there for a bit. 

Here's the story I shared...

My plan to attend a particular college fell through at the end of my senior year. It just didn't feel right. So I stayed home and attended the local junior college while working full-time at a TV studio just a block away from my house. Somewhere during the course of that year, I became interested in attending another college, but my parents just couldn't see it. Never having more than an eighth grade education - either one of them, they did not understand why I couldn't be like my sister and stay home, get a job right out of school and be happy. Bottom line - that just wasn't me. So if going off to school was going to happen, it would be all on me - every single bit of the process.

Not able to drive just yet, and with no one to take me for a visit, I asked Esther if she would drive me up to see the campus. A week or two later, she and I, with her one year old in tow, drove up to Houston to see the place that would forever change the course of my life, for it was there that I met friends who introduced me to this little church in NW Houston, where I've since been a member for over 20 years, and now am on staff.

I will never forget walking that campus with my friend who thought my future important enough to make this trek happen. What a gift! And here we are today - full circle with her as my guest for an event I oversaw, at a church I never knew existed until I met a friend at the school she drove me to over 30 years ago. Only God could orchestrate something so intricate!

There are people like that who make a deep impression in our lives, who you simply can't forget. Esther is just one of those for me. I cried while telling my ladies that story. It's not that my parents didn't want me to become more than I could where I was. It's just that their limited education couldn't see possibilities beyond where I was. I don't fault them for it, but I thank God for placing people in my life who could see possibilities, and who were willing to help make them happen.

Have you ever looked back on your life and traced a success or an accomplishment back to the efforts, no matter how small, of maybe one or two people? Now I realize my friend wasn't the only one who had a hand in making this story possible. Her part, at the time, may have seemed small. It didn't to me, not then or now, but it might've to others. She drove me to the big city for a tour. That's it, but that was the start, and without her part I'm not sure how any of this would've played out. 

I think we often take for granted the people in our lives who've helped to make us who we are today. They deserve to be remembered whether in our prayers, with our thanks, and sometimes with an invitation to show them how significant their little part was in our story, and even more so, in God's bigger story. 

Esther had no idea the course God placed me on and how He used her to help bring it about. My story isn't over yet! We have no clue the greater impact which neither of us can see. She was surprised to hear me tell my story because she didn't remember our little trip until I shared about it, even then, vaguely so. But I remembered. Always have. Always will. And I'm forever grateful.

Esther and I at the retreat...