When I met Lori, I met Jesus.
Lori is the wife of the youth pastor our church had hired, and imported to Virginia from the middle of Florida when I was 14. We loved her immediately for her spunky personality, her musical gifting, her sugar cookies which she frosted with vanilla frosting made from Columbian vanilla beans–that, and the fact that nothing we did or said shocked her.
In those days, we were full of ourselves, while Lori remained cool and calm in the face of some of the most outrageous teenage drama we could manufacture.
Drugs, promiscuity, gang activity, foul language spouted (purely for shock value), and teen pregnancy–our youth group had all of it amongst us. When we most expected to be turned away, we found instead, a haven in the home of our youth pastor and his wife Lori.
By the time I could drive, she invited me into a one-on-one discipleship relationship with her. Hungry as I was then for Jesus, I leapt at the chance to spend uninterrupted time with her.
After school I’d swing by her house to pick her up and she’d buy my value meal and feed me body and soul for 2 hours, once a week.
Together we walked slowly through the New Testament, where she introduced me to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. We talked about boys and the bible, we talked about Jesus and what it means to live and love the Son of Man. We talked about the beatitudes while confessions tumbled out of my convicted heart.
Week after week, Lori shined a light into my angst-wrought teenage life, forever changing me.
When I dated boys who weren’t interested in my heart, she told me as much. When I struggled with faithfulness, she held my hands and encouraged me to hold on. When my friends dumped me because of my growing joy in the Lord, she comforted me and spoke the kind of wisdom and peace over me that carried me back to the foot of the cross. She prayed faithfully with and for me. It was all of these things that tethered me tight to God even as I watched many of my other friends fling themselves wild into the merciless arms of the world.
It’s only now, as a mom myself, that I see how precious this time was. She had a family of her own; children, chores, a life–but still she made space for me, without complaint or hesitation.
I call her a saint, because she is. Lori stepped into my life and pointed me north time after time. No matter how lost I felt, I knew my way to her house, where she would lead me back to God’s Word.
I can’t look at my faith story without seeing her face. She is a gift still in my life, a woman I will always admire and honor for her unrelenting passion for bringing the Word of God into the hearts and lives of youth such as I was.
Mentor, surrogate mother, sister, friend, confidant, intercessor, friend. These are all words that describe Lori to me, which is why she is my faith heroine.
As a sequin-wearing, homeschooling mother of four, Kris is passionate about Jesus, people and words. Her heart beats to share the hard, but glorious truth about life in Christ. She’s been known to take gratuitous pictures of her culinary creations, causing mouths to water all across Instagram. Once upon a time, she ran 10 miles for Compassion International, a ministry for which she serves as an advocate. Kris is the author of, Holey, Wholly, Holy: A Lenten Journey of Refinement, and the follow up, Companion Workbook. You can read more from Kris at kriscamealy.com.
This post is part of the My Faith Heroine Series in conjunction with the release of 50 Women Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Heroines of the Faith. Click here to read other posts in the #MyFaithHeroine series.