What do you get when you cross a charismatic Christian, an earthy hippie and a conservative homemaker who loves a good adventure?
The answer comes in the form of a woman standing barely 5’2, dressed in a conservative dress and sneakers, with her olive-complexioned face browned by the sun and her eyes sparkling with joy and warmth. This woman effortlessly steps over unspoken stereotypes and mixes denominational and cultural differences with an ease and warmth.
She is friends with dozens of Christians from different backgrounds and beliefs, but manages to unite them with their one purpose of glorifying Jesus. Her own beliefs about Christianity reflect the stories in the book of Acts. Her faith is simple and substantial—rooted in a Love that captured her heart and healed her deepest wounds. God is her friend and she carries that responsibility with a joyful solemnity. Where He leads her, she will follow, treating it as an exciting adventure in which her role is to speak and do what He is speaking and doing. Her adventures with Him have taken her to England, Alaska and North Dakota—but also to the next-door neighbor and the local Wal-Mart.
“Praying is coming into agreement with God,” she says, “And He can’t steer a parked car.”
Her car is not parked. She is constantly discovering new and fresh delights on her treasure hunt with the Lord. It is the glory of the Lord to conceal a matter and it is the glory of this woman to seek it out. Her shelves are covered with tactical rocks, keys, and scraps of paper—simple treasures that represent the more important ones that He has burned into her heart.
Her life has not been easy or full of delight. It has been years of walking and stumbling through a wilderness. I walked with her and sometimes God seemed more of a Mystery than a Might, more of a Hider than a Revealer. But like in the story of Much-Afraid, the Shepherd was always closer than we imagined. Sometimes He came in the hardest times and told us stories about Himself and about how He was healing her. I didn’t learn about the Ways the Lord Works after He had worked and the healing was complete. The learning came with the process—slow and painful and steady. She told us things that He spoke to her only hours after He had spoken and before we saw the fruition. Sometimes when she talks about those wilderness years, now in this oasis time, I hear regret and sorrow in her voice. She told me that she was sorry, once, that I was there for some of the years that the locusts wasted. But I learned to follow Jesus in the wilderness by following my mom. I learned that He laughs, that He has inside jokes with us, and that He speaks hard truth that burns our ears and incinerates the barriers around our hearts.
She is not perfect. At times in my teenage years, I expected perfection and resented her humanity. But I am grateful for the imperfection because it allowed me to see, and to still see, a beautiful and messy Redemption. I don’t know a Middle-Class American God because I grew up with a God that sat in our mobile home and told us stories about Himself. I don’t know a comfortable Jesus because I grew up with a Jesus that walked through the discomfort. I don’t know a passive Holy Spirit because I grew up with a Holy Spirit that was constantly moving and active.
Jesus is her Friend and now He is my Friend. Following Him means embracing friendship with the Holy One. I learned how to follow Jesus because my mom followed Jesus.
And I am really grateful.