I met Vickie February of 2003 – the same day Kris Takle came into my life. My relationship with Vickie has been one of the most defining elements in my life as an adult, as a woman, and as a friend.
I have been blessed with many close friends. This verity made moving to Oklahoma bittersweet. But, I found a friend in Vickie. She embraced me instantly. She has also taught me the beauty in not only being a friend, but what it means to truly care for one. You see, when Vickie is with you, she is with you. You know those people that you talk to who are usually thinking of the next thing they are going to say instead of listening to you? That’s not Vickie. She lives in the moment with her friends. She listens to them. She is genuinely interested in what’s going on their lives.
Her home is her haven, and she welcomes you…..really welcomes you into it. When she invites you into her home, she makes you feel like you’re the only person that exists – and, she takes care of you to perfection. And, when she invites you into her life, she invites you in for good.
She is one of the most caring women I have ever met. She can be trusted. She is genuine to the core. She is blessed but unpretentious. She makes me proud to be a woman and even prouder to be a friend.
Vickie once gave me a beautiful kitchen towel that reads “Friends are relatives you make for yourself.” No one emanates this adage better than Vickie.
Because she and her husband, David, loved Kris so much, they also loved me. I cannot say enough about their friendship. They have believed in us and loved us with a love that is extraordinary.
I moved to Oklahoma for love and found much more in my dear friend, Vickie.
….but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
My relationship with Kitty began when I was only ten years old. For the years that followed, I was connected to her as a piano student, a caregiver to her precious children (who are all grown up now), and through praise and worship. Throughout these connections, we became friends.
Kitty imparted to me one of the greatest gifts I think exists in the world: the gift of giving. I can remember her buying me Easter dresses and my first prom dress just because she wanted to bless me. Her giving continued throughout my adolescent years. It wasn’t just the dresses or the piano lessons that she gave, but it was the heart and significance behind it. And, she gave with no expectation.
She doesn’t give because her life has been without heartaches and broken roads. She has endured more than most. She gives because she chooses to live no other way. Kitty understands and lives out that she is “His hands and His feet.” She takes the call to be like Jesus seriously. Like we all should.
I could say so much more about Kitty besides her generosity. Like the fact that she loves and cares for people deeply. That she seeks Christ for direction and listens….really listens to His voice. That her dedication to the house of God has been steadfast. And, how she always put her children first and took the role as a mother as her greatest call.
Just as Kitty has blessed me, I hope I always bless others. She gave, and she continues to give. May we all receive the gift of giving and be more like Him.
But just as you excel in everything…see that you also excel in this grace of giving. 2 Corinthians 8:7
For more than twenty years, I’ve been mentored by and friends with Linda. Some may find it odd that I considered Linda my friend even as teenager, but I did. As a matter of fact, I can remember calling her and her husband, Joe, up when I was 16 so we could “do something” together. For real. Besides, while they imparted Christ to me, I imparted “cool” to them – at least, I thought I did.
Linda has been whatever I’ve needed her to be. She has been a mother, a counselor, a pastor, and a friend. She has cared for me in her home more times than I can count. I’m not sure what I would do without her chicken and broccoli casserole. That alone places her on the list of my greatest influences. And, my Christmas china collection is largely thanks her to kindness.
What is probably most admirable about Linda is that she is a seeker of truth. But, she doesn’t seek truth for knowledge’s sake, but for the sake of living it. She embraces tightly the scripture, “You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” She will tell you that knowledge is not knowing with your mind but with your heart.
She loves God. She loves her family. She loves her friends. I’m blessed to call her one of mine.
“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” – George Washington
Judy came into my life when I was only three years old. Her daughter, Bonnie, has been my best friend since we were tots which pretty much crowns Judy as my second mom. I’m sure she’s worn that crown proudly. For real.
Judy has experienced everything with me from the loss of my first tooth to the birth of my firstborn. She has cleaned up my messes, played games with me (this was no sacrifice – she loved to play more than I), watched me become mesmerized with Tinker Bell flying from atop of the Disney castle, and loved on me like her own. All of this by itself is enough to make her shine in my life, but she has been more.
She believes big. I mean really big. Her faith is big. She not only believes big for little ole’ me, but she believes big for the local church. She loves the local church more than anyone I have ever known. I have never, EVER heard her criticize the church. She only speaks positive and powerful affirmations over the house of God. You see, Judy believes that God really does live in the local church. And, that’s just cool.
She understands that God is truly in control. And, she believes that the best is yet to come – always.
She’s called me many affectionate names over my lifetime, but for the past few years, she has come to call me “Grasshopper”. She believes that God uses me and wants to continue to use me. Oh, I get weekly e-mails where she gently pushes me into all that God has for me. She dreams big and believes big.
There is no one like her. I’m beyond grateful that she has imparted to me the gift of BIG. And, this little grasshopper loves her big.
I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by some pretty spectacular people in life – men and women. I decided to take an opportunity to celebrate a few of the women who have imparted to me throughout my life. Any good in me is largely due to their influence. While my mom stands in front, I’ve decided to celebrate her for a nice Mother’s Day write-up. Besides, who else would I talk about on Mother’s Day?
So, this week is dedicated to a few of those women.
Susan Woodward (A.K.A. Mimi)
I have known Mimi since 1985. That would have barely put me into double-digits in terms of age. She has loved on me with the greatest of depth since that day. She has rejoiced with me, and she has been one of my greatest encouragers when I’ve suffered.
I’ll never forget her coming to visit me and my newborn baby boy. While I was experiencing so many joys as a new mom, I was also enduring one of the most difficult times in my life. I was facing life as single mother with a broken heart, and I could barely catch my breath most days. Sitting next to me on my living room sofa, Mimi gently embraced me and said, “Dusty, one day you will look back, and this will have been only a bump in the road.” I struggled to wrap my brain around her confidence, but I held onto to her words. Today, I can say without hesitance, it was a bump in the road. She believed. She prayed. She loved. And, so it was.
Mimi wakes up daily with a freshness of God. Her spirituality is truly new every morning. She has walked with God many years and still gets excited about the things of Him. One would think she just got saved only a week ago.
She has the purest love for the body of Christ of anyone you will ever meet. She loves people. She is the greatest encourager and prayer warrior. If you ask Mimi to pray, rest assured she will.
She lives out the 1 Corinthians 13 definition of love. She endures all things, believes all things, and hopes all things. Mimi’s love never fails.