I knew who she was for years but didn't really ever speak with her. One day, as I was considering a future in missions, I found her on Facebook. We became friends and I introduced myself. Over time, we chatted across the continents. And I began to see what a beautiful person she is. I saw all the things others did. But I also slowly learned so much more. I began to see what many others don't know.
What they don't know is all the details of what and how she does life. What they aren't aware of is how much she went through these last years. How hurt she was by people she should be able to trust. How uncertain the terrain looked for a while. How little she had and has at times. How many times she's been robbed. And the way in which despite all of that, she doesn't let the attention and knowledge of this fall on her. Instead, she cares deeply about people. All people. The day came when I traveled overseas on a short-term trip and I finally got to hang out with her in her town. And I saw so much that she wouldn't ever let onto. She is so much smarter than she lets on. She is a linguist. She's learned multiple languages and continues to learn more. She often speaks her husband's childhood language when talking with him because it's what he grew up with. She flips back and forth between several languages with ease when out in public. She sees-I mean-REALLY sees- everyone she comes into contact with. The first time I hung out with her, I was struck by the way she really looked at every waiter, every person working in a toll-booth on the road. She stopped and thanked them. Showed them compassion. Every time. It taught me something I wanted to learn and do in my own life. I was astonished by the way in which she really listens to you. Hears not only what you're saying, but what your heart is feeling underneath your words. And she focuses fully on the conversation and asks meaty, deep questions. Then, when you're done venting, she always cleverly thinks of a way to make you laugh hysterically until you've found some healing. How she manages to do this is beyond me. And even though it isn't her main focus, she easily creates art, writes and sings music beautifully, and should she have time to sit and write anything out, she creates vividly beautiful stories. Yet all of these things are kept quiet and unseen by most. Her daily life is spent quietly and busily serving. She serves her family. She serves her church and the community around her. Her heart weeps over the tough lives of the teens she works with. And she goes through each day simply loving on and really seeing every person. Again. And again. And again. Seeing. Loving. Inviting them into Jesus. Seeing. Loving. Inviting them into Jesus. The passion with which she does this is convicting to any person who sees it and my life has been deeply influenced by her example, her life, her days, her love. And the way she sees, loves, and invites me into Jesus. Again. And again. And Again. The quiet and unassuming way in which she does this is to me a picture of a real "missionary." A picture of what it looks like to set aside all the "coulds" for the simplicity of seeing, loving, and inviting into Jesus. That, to me, is Grace. And that is what I call her.