Diane is a Welcomer! She has a genuine smile and an outgoing yet totally comforting presence. She never overwhelms with a too-hardy handshake or a too-pushy join-our-church-today hello. She definitely finds and reads your eyes, and gives you a tap or a hug depending on how she sees things in you.
I was very fortunate to have had Diane join the church's handbell choir, which I direct. She played with us for our first two seasons before opting to spend more time with her husband. (Who could blame her! "What? He's home!?") Diane was one of THE hardest working bell ringers that we have had--always practicing, always asking questions. Always concerned that her efforts weren't good enough, yet always coming forward with her best, having grown through her concerns to a full bloom! It's not every day you find that kind of spirit in someone's service.
Before that, I only knew Diane in passing. She was a former Mentor Mom in the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) group--a position I am now going to try and undertake. (Thank God for good role models!) She had a part-time job at the library and always gave me a whispered, "Hi, Sue!"
She also, inadvertently, had one of the greatest impacts on my life. As Paul Harvey would have said next, "Now it's time for the rest of the story."
* * *One day, when I was in the library and pregnant with Daughter #2, Diane came up to me.
(Whisper) "Hi, Sue!"
"Hi!" (Back to browsing kids music selections)
"I have something to ask you...."
You know when there's an ask by the pastor's wife that you have to put on your full listening gear and defensive shields against 'something.' What is she going to ask? I'm due in a few months. No. No. No....
Diane gently launched into a conversation about 40 Days of Purpose, Rick Warren's best-seller, that we all would study as part of a churchwide focus.
"Would you be part of the Prayer Team?"
Prayer Team? Where did you get my name from?? Who would I work with, because I'm not doing this myself?
"Do you know Kelly?"
Kelly, now a.k.a. Chatty Kelly, was a very distant somebody-who-went-to-our-church person. Our daughters were in the same Sunday School class and wore the same black velvet Disney Princess boots. We rarely spoke.
"She's expecting, too."
Yes. I had noticed another very pregnant woman a few pews up on Sundays. Diane explained that Kelly was doing this, too, and tried to convince me that my past MOPS leadership would serve this effort well, while somehow implying that working with another pregnant mom would make things easier.
"OK," I said. (Could you answer more meekly?)
I introduced myself to Kelly after a service one Sunday morning. I said Diane had asked me to serve on the Prayer Team. What do you want me to do, etc., etc. Kelly--with negative pregnancy hormones in full swing--basically gave me the brush-off.
"Are you going to the meeting today?" she asked.
"Well....no," (OK, I could be meeker.)
"Oh." (You know the kind. The 'Oh' of disappointment that said, "Then why are you doing this at all, and why do I have to work with you!?")
Then, she may have said something like, "I'll call you later." But, I clearly remember her turning to talk with another mom, commenting on her cute outfit.
* * *I would go on to work with another gal on the team, writing short e-mail devotions/prayers to sustain the church during the 40 days. I had Daughter #2. Kelly had her Daughter #2. And after the 40 Days study, a mutual friend asked me to join Kelly's longtime Bible study.
Surprisingly, I said yes. It definitely wasn't about Kelly. It was all about Bible study. Funny thing, though, 4-1/2 years later, Kelly and I have become the best of friends.
Diane probably didn't ask me to join the Prayer Team way back when to have me befriend Kelly. Though Kelly and I certainly weren't going to do it on our own. (HA! We can laugh now, but this was inconceivable at the time, unlike our baby girls.)
God knew that Diane would be a critical link in making a new relationship happen, and He knew the ripple effect that would be created by bringing Kelly and me together. We are indebted to the one who heard God's Word, put in into action, read our eyes and encouraged our hearts. (And, no doubt, said a few prayers along the way, too.)
Thank you, Diane! You will be missed!!
(And now you know the rest of the story.)