When I lost my mom to lung cancer at almost 13, I never thought about living the rest of my life without her. I wasn't a person of faith, so I never even thought of not seeing her again, or needing her - or anyone else - at any time in my future. As I grew into young adulthood, then as a new Christian - it started to impact me as what it meant to not have a mom around.
My dad remarried - 3 more times - and each of his choices were for him as a wife - not for my sister and I as a "mom," so my need for a mom was never fulfilled. He is not a God-follower, so his life did little to equip me for a life of faith. Little did I know that God had another plan.
Early in my walk with God, I met Kim at the bus stop, and as we got to know each other, her family soon accepted me into theirs. Her parents were great, her brothers obnoxious, her home filled with life. It didn't look anything like my family - but it was a place where I felt welcomed. Kim and I grew in our faith, in our friendship, and lived a crazy roller coaster of life - marriages, difficult seasons, children. As she and I were living it - it was her mom, Vermille, that was our prayer warrior.
When I got married, inexperienced as a bride and as a hostess, it was Vermille that stepped in and took care of our scatter-brained details at the reception. She was there to encourage me in my walk as a young wife, and as a young mom, and as a woman of God. She didn't always have a meek and gentle spirit, but she led by example in many ways; in her faith - through losing her husband and life partner, in service - through serving in her church and in short-term missions, in community - by supporting my kids in life - not only attending weddings but jumping in and helping with the receptions there too, and then signing up to pray for them and supporting them financially as they went to work on the mission's field.
All this has taken place from 1/2 a continent away, as early in our marriage we started moving for my husband's job. She stayed in our coastal Southern California town, downsized her own home, and traveled the world - including our own home in several different states. She shared her travel experiences with me, and when I made it out there she drove me to the beach to sit in the ocean's spray and wiggle my toes in sand. She's prayed for my needs, too many times to count, and just as importantly - she's asked me to pray for her. Her wisdom is something I strive for, or more so, her life long passion for learning; to never know enough, and to always know that we have never "arrived" in our walk with God, to desire to know Him more and constantly be changed to be more like Him.
She's a student of the Bible, an encourager for other women, a prayer partner. She's the mom that I've never known, and has loved me (and others!) as her own. She's set the example of Jesus in loving unconditionally, but also living a "tough love" life when needed. She's lived a life of faith. It's from her life examples that I hope to model my "next phase of life." She's a pastor in the sense that she's a shepherd - caring for the flock. She doesn't have a church under her authority, but she faithfully attends and serves in her church, and mentors the younger women so we can know how to behave.
Thanks God, for bringing Vermille into my life. Thanks for the fulness of life you have given her, and for instilling such good disciplines in her. Thank you for her faithfulness, her strength when facing diversity, and her commitment to You. I praise You for providing her for me, even before I ever knew to ask for her, as a mom, a mentor, a friend. Thanks for showing Your great love for me, by putting her in my life!
Help her Lord, to continue to serve You in many ways, to open doors of opportunity, to guide her steps and keep her healthy. Allow her to see You at work in her life, in her and through her, and increase her faith. Thank you for the passion You have given her, and multiply it as she serves You. Thank You, Lord...