During the 30 days leading up to my 30th birthday, I am posting a letter a day expressing thankfulness for someone or something that has played a major role in shaping the first 30 years of my life.
Dear Diane McMichaels,
You were my Sunday School teacher in 5th and part of 6th grade. I think it was sometime during my 6th grade year that you were diagnosed with breast cancer and then about a year later that you went Home to be with Jesus. My memories of you are a little fuzzy, since the last time I saw you I was only 11 or 12. Here's what I do remember, though:
You made a little group of 5th and 6th grade girls feel special and loved.
We made paper angels during the Christmas season one year and I still hang mine in my house every year (if I didn't have babies & limited time, I would have crawled up in the attic and rummaged through the Christmas decoration boxes to find it so I could take a picture to post ... that would have been ridiculous, so the above picture I found will have to suffice).
Your favorite hymn was "Trust and Obey" and you taught us that following Jesus really boils down to those two principles: trusting that what He says is true, and obeying what He asks us to do.
In "big church" when we used to sing the song, "I Stand in Awe of You", you would always stand when the song came to the chorus (I don't know if I actually remember you doing this, but our worship pastor, Mickey, has told the story of you leading the congregation in standing many times).
You used to tell us that when we were seniors in high school you wanted to get all of us girls back together for a sleepover.
Sometime during the last months of your life, you hosted us for a tea party at your house. Your son and husband helped because you were too sick to do it on your own.
At your funeral, you had them read a poem I had written and dedicated to you. It was about Jesus being our Shepherd.
That's it. Those seven memories are the only ones I can scrape out of my brain ... I don't even remember what you looked like. However, I think about you all the time. I doubt that a month has gone by in the past 18 years when I haven't thought about one of those seven memories and the way they changed my life. Jesus lived in you and loved us through you, and though I'm sure you were a remarkable woman in many ways, all He needed were your simple acts of kindness and love.
Your place in my heart is a very deep and tender one. Possibly because of the age I was when I knew you, or possibly because your death was one of the first I experienced. When I was in jr. high and had to write a speech for a class, I wrote it about you ... and I cried when I gave it. When I was a senior in high school and was asked, as part of a group scholarship interview, to tell about someone who had impacted my life, I told about you ... and I cried. Even now, writing this letter, tears have welled up in my eyes several times.
I so look forward to spending time with you in heaven. I look forward to telling you these things in person, even though I think you already know. I have long thought of you as being a part of the "great cloud of witnesses" (Heb. 12:1) that is looking on as I journey through this earth-bound chapter of life. Thank you for trusting and obeying when you hadn't yet seen Him, and I am so joyful to know that one day I will get to join you in standing in awe of Him, face to face.