Relationships: Steve had been my boyfriend through the first few years of high school, but we broke up the summer before our senior year. I see, looking back, how hopelessly immature I was in how it was handled, but I'm so thankful that the Lord blessed us by enabling us to be friends again not far down the road. I even went to his homecoming dance with him, just as friends, which sounds not possible for a couple of 17-year-olds, but actually was. Several years later I introduced Steve to his future wife, Andrea, who was my friend in college -- I will always be thankful for how the Lord cared for my soul during that age, when it is so easy to have relationships that cause us regrets for the rest of our lives. We did not have any regrets from our relationship, which was really just a small step up from being friends.
After that, I sort of adopted the foolish mindset that I could just look for and pursue another boyfriend if I wanted to. In my defense, I really only considered good, godly boys, but I still somehow thought it would be my job to seek out and obtain a relationship. My mom wisely warned me against chasing boys, and I would have done well to heed her, but instead I was pretty headstrong that I could "make the Lord's Will work out" (not that I really consciencely thought that, but that was the backbone of my mindset). As you can imagine, nothing came out of this sort of pursuit, and I'm thankful for that. I will certainly tell my daughter all about how not to get a boy to like you. :)
I had lots of really great girlfriends in our youth group at church, and Anna and I had lots of fun running around with them. One really fun memory was our "college trip" where 6 of us traveled together for about a week visiting colleges. Everyone was a senior that year except Anna, but she was allowed to come along on the trip since we thought our family would be moving again sometime that year, and she wouldn't have the chance later. We visited a small Bible college in Tenessee, Liberty University in Virginia, and PCC in Pensacola Florida. All those hours in the car were so fun! Since it was only girls (besides the elderly couple that drove us -- Pastor and Mrs. Batley), we felt pretty free to spend long periods of time fixing each other's hair, putting on red lipstick and taking twelve trillion pictures. Our chaperons had great patience. My friend Misty's mom and little sister Shea came with us as well, and I will never forget how good Shea was on that trip. She was just a little kid, but she quietly sat by and listened to us, and then was thrilled when we included her in our merriment.
Spiritual Growth: I have mentioned how blessed I was to be under good teaching at our church in Illinois. I was really shepherded by the preaching I heard from Pastor Joe. In addition to youth group, the senior high had a Bible study on Thursday nights with a single guy who became a great friend to me (and many of my friends as well), Kirby Meyers. He was one of the most influential people in my life, aside from my husband and parents. Kirby was young and funny, but also took the Scripture seriously, and taught us to study through books of the Bible, and apply it to our lives. He helped me think through some real questions about what the Bible teaches, and helped me to see a bigger picture of who God is, and how my faith needed to be based on Scripture. I am so thankful for how he invested in me. Not long after I went to college, Kirby and his wife (he got married right after I graduated) moved to California where Kirb went to Master's Seminary. He is now a pastor near Indianapolis, and Josh and I see him from time to time.
Looking to the Future: I think I was always a kid who thought growing up was exciting. I always looked forward to the next step. In those days, I rarely had a glimmer of nostalgia, looking back, but pretty much was just excited to look forward. Graduating from High School and preparing to go to college was no exception. As I mentioned, my family anticipated moving back to Wisconsin for my dad's job, so my mom encouraged me to apply to Maranatha Baptist Bible College, which would have just been a little over an hour from Kenosha, where we'd be living. For a variety of reasons, that move never materialized, but I chose to go to school there anyway. I visited the college with my friend Melanie and her family, and knew right away it was the school for me. When my graduation came, I invited all my co-workers to come to the ceremony, and my party, in hopes of sharing the gospel with them. I remember I gave a really nice present to one of my co-workers who also graduated the same year, an engraved pen with her name on it. I wrote a card with a heartfelt challenge to her to consider her sin, and need for Christ's forgiveness. I can honestly say that as much as I didn't know, and as sure I was that I DID already know it, I truly knew how much I wanted to live my life for Jesus Christ and be used by him.
One final note: that summer my friend Misty and I attended camp together in hopes of earning college scholarships from the camp. Kirby wrote recommendations for us to win them, and the letter he wrote for me was so kind it nearly broke my heart. Here was this person I looked up to so much describing me in more glowing terms than I could ever deserve. I only mention it here as a reminder that our affirming words have a lasting impact beyond what we could possibly know. I didn't win a scholarship, though Misty did, but I was still blessed to have that experience of Kirby's words of encouragement.
Linking up to Mommy's Piggy Tales -- only one chapter to go!