I thought I'd share about my friend who passed away recently. I share this picture of the word 'connect' because between Christmas and New Years, I took a quiz on the Dayspring website to figure out a word I could claim for myself for the year and this was my word. I cannot think of this word without thinking of my friend Eileen. Let me start at the beginning.
My friend Amy heard that I wanted to strike up a friendship with a lady who was in the older in the faith than me, and when she and her friend Barbee put their heads together, they set up a time for me to meet Eileen. Barbee called me early one morning in the spring of 2019 and asked me why I wasn't at Starbucks yet. (I'd gotten the dates mixed up.) With very little makeup and easy clothes thrown quickly on, I made the short drive there and sat and talked with both of these godly women for almost two hours. The day was warming up and I needed to get back home, so we all parted ways. Eileen and I put a date on the calendar to meet again in two weeks, and thus, a friendship and mentoring relationship was born.
My favorite thing to do was to go to her apartment and to talk as we sat and became very familiar with one another. I always went on a Monday, and I was usually there by nine in the morning. Eileen wasn't from here, but from a small town nearby in Mississippi. She moved here a bit after her husband had passed away and was very active in our own church and in teaching a Bible study every week at another church. The connection we made was instant and I told my friend Missy that she even wore the same brand of clothing that I love to wear! I took that as a sign that we were a match made in Heaven.
Eileen was a nurse and she was very interested in knowing about Drew's plans of someday having that same profession, Lord willing. (I smiled as I wrote that phrase, 'Lord willing', because that was something we would always say and we loved that we had that in common.) She was also a mom and though she was always quick to point out her faults and how the Lord had been faithful to teach her through mistakes she made, she always gave me such sound wisdom regarding me letting my sons grow up. I could talk to her about anything and everything, and she always listened intently.
She loved to travel and in the years that she was a widow, she enjoyed several trips with friends that she'd come to know well here in our area. I loved this about her—she was a very young mid-seventy something year old woman, she was independent and she was fearless. She loved adventure and doing new things, hence her traveling and I loved to hear about her trips and lived vicariously through her. I hope to be like that someday and I told my friend Missy that I wanted us to do that same thing someday. I don't want to just grow old, I want to have fun at the same time. I do believe that staying active helps one achieve this, as does keeping your brain and mind occupied and staying strong mentally.
I love that when she traveled, she thought of me and would always bring me back litle trinkets to let me know I was never far from her mind. I have letters she wrote to me and I treasure the times we had together, both in person and in one of the many phone conversations we had. (We could literally talk for HOURS.) She shared my love of books and would always share her favorites with me. One day when I got to her house, I found her kitchen table almost identical to how I'd left mine—covered with all kinds of Bibles, books, a laptop and something to write in. I'm telling you, we were like the same person with thirty years difference between us.
(Why yes, I did sneak this picture one time while at her home.)
I say all this to say that in the fall of 2019, Eileen suffered a stroke and had to be moved to Alabama to be closer to her son and to recover in a rehab facility. At one point, a few of us thought about going to see her, but then when Covid became a thing, that was no longer an option. I hadn't heard anything about her for a while. I found out that before Christmas, she suffered another stroke and a few days later, she met Jesus face to face.
Barbee called to tell me that she had passed away, and something she said to me reminds me of the verse 1 Corinthians 13:12—
Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
What we long for, Eileen now sees face to face. Isn't that a glorious thought? I will miss her for the rest of my days, but I will never forget the impact she had on my life. She was a very real, open, honest, genuine lady who loved Jesus more than anything or anyone else. She longed for everyone to know Him in that same way and she devoted the last years of her life teaching His Word to anyone who would listen.
I share this with you to encourage you to be on the lookout for someone like this in your life. Or maybe you're the older one—pray and ask the Lord to bring you someone to be a spiritual mother to, much like Eileen was to many. This is something we are always supposed to be doing, we will never be too old to pour into other people. The beauty of our differences is what makes each relationship like this so special and you can tailor your own mentoring friendships to fit you and the mentor/mentee. We are to pour into others the things of God, my friend. I encourage you to pray about a relationship like this, if you aren't currently in one right now.
I will say that this may ebb and flow in your life, sometimes you'll be strong in this and other times you'll be lacking. Be diligent about seeking out opportunities like this, though, because you never know who the Lord will bring into your life. I'm not talking about someone on social media, either, though there is a time and place for that. I'm talking face to face, intentional times of meeting and getting to know each other. Discipleship isn't one sided and it's not just serious. Often times it's about doing life alongside people around you and inviting them into your own life, whether in your actual home or by going out and having dinner. Eileen liked to say that we learned from each other, because we always spent a good portion of our time together praying. What she taught me about being a wife and mom to kids who were growing up, I was able to share and teach her about prayer. That is a beautiful thing to behold, and I will always be so thankful to the Lord, Barbee and Amy for pairing us together. I didn't take a moment of our time for granted.
I'll end this post with a picture and a short story.
On this particular day that this picture was taken, in the spring of 2019, Eileen (far right) pulled up to her apartment where I waiting on her and told me get into her car. She whisked me away, claiming to have a surprise for me. She drove us to the square here in The Ville and got out and went around to the trunk of her car. She had me help her carry in two potted plants and two gift bags. (I was clueless.) When we walked up to the storefront on the square, I saw Barbee and Missy (the two on the left) sitting outside of Square Beans, our local coffee shop. She and Barbee treated us to coffee flavored milkshakes that day and lavished us with love and gifts and their sweet words of wisdom. They bought us each a gerbera daisy plant (my favorite) and little spring signs for our homes. They each signed their names on the bottom of the little signs, and it'll be something I always treasure. I was so choked up later that night as I sat on the phone with Missy and we talked about how fortunate we were to each have someone like these beautiful godly ladies who loved us so much.
This day will go down in history as one of my favorites of all time and I will always treasure my memories of Eileen in my heart. Thank you for walking down memory lane with me as I thought about her and processed her homegoing. Love to all.