When I as young, my parents were gracious enough to allow me to fly (alone, it was the ’70’s) to Florida to stay with my cousins. I would usually call home during my stay and beg to stay longer. My cousin Ryan and are I only two months apart in age. We practically grew up together and were more like brother and sister. Although, when I was a little girl he was so perfect in my eyes that I thought I would one day marry him! His sister, Nicole, was five years younger than me. I adored her.
But, it was my Aunt Marilyn who made these trips so special. (I love my Uncle Dave to death, but at that time he was VERY busy with his church and I just didn’t see him much). My Aunt made my visits wonderful. I’m not sure she actually did it on purpose. But, she always greeted me with hugs. She had special foods: little pecan rolls for breakfast, Cheetos Balls, Yo plait yogurt, little frozen pancakes…these things would be there, year after year. When I visited, I was one of her children. She treated me just like she would Ryan or Nicole. She would punish me when I made mistakes (often intentional mistakes) and love on me when I had troubles.
I remember one time, as I was hitting my teen years, I had gotten in the shower for church. Shaving my legs was a new adventure for me. As I was drying off, I heard my uncle say, “What does she do in there? She has been in there forever.” My aunt quickly came to my defense, explaining the necessities of being a girl.
During the day she would take us swimming, and shopping, and out for lunch. Some days we would just go to the church with her while she worked on the books. She paid for me to get swimming lessons (which didn’t stick). And each summer we would stay in a condo for a several days on the beach. She would plan all the meals, pack all the supplies (including games) and off we would go. It was a wonderful time that I will never forget.
But, it was recently that my relationship changed with my her. Last year I became very sick. In fact it was one year ago yesterday. As if on que, my aunt went into rescue mode. She called me a number of times, talking me through moments that I thought were hopeless. Every morning for weeks, months, she texted me EARLY in the morning She would have a scripture for me and a word of encouragement. As soon as my eyes opened each day, I would reach for my phone to see what God had given her for me.
Have you ever heard the term “be Jesus to someone”? She became Jesus to me. I’m not saying she was some kind of “god”. I’m saying she showed me the love and devotion that Jesus has for each one of us. She sacrificed for me. And, had she not, I honestly don’t know if I would have made it.
At the same time, she was teaching me the importance of studying God’s word daily and was an example of being an encourager. You see, she was mentoring me. I look back now and I’m sure that all I went through, all the suffering, was in preparation for today. As I write daily devotions for a book club, and as I begin the journey of co-authoring my first book, I have to give thanks where thanks is due.
God is so great. He knows exactly what we need, and when we need it. He knew the battle I was getting ready to face and placed my Auntie in my path ready to fight with me. I am grateful that she was willing to do what He asked of her and invest her life into mine.
Thank you, my sweet Aunt. Thank you for the memories you gave me as child. Thank you for carrying me through my storm. Thank you for mentoring me and teaching me to be an encourager. I love you.
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