My Tribute to my Friend, Virginia
I love remembering moments of significance in my life and not realizing at the time how significant they were. This one – so significant and life-changing for me.
I met Virginia at a little church in my neighborhood and after hearing a bit of her story, I knew this was someone I wanted to get to know. Several days later, I saw her walking in my neighborhood. So the next time I saw her at church, I asked if she would want to hike together. She was super excited to have a walking partner and we began to walk and talk. Long walks. Long talks. I’d never heard of ‘prayer walking a neighborhood’ before Virginia. I’d never heard of a lot of things before Virginia!
She became my mentor, although I’m quite sure she wouldn’t have called herself that. She was just doing what she did best – telling the stories of God’s amazing goodness that she’d experienced first-hand and making me hungry for that. Honestly, those first weeks I thought her adventures were wild and crazy!
She loved Australia and she loved Turkey. She’d experienced the miraculous in those places and told me of the people she’d seen God touch with healing and other miracles. So many stories, so much goodness. Sometimes weirder than my comfort level! I’d known God all of my life, but I hadn’t experienced many encounters of this sort!
When she cleaned out her stuff in anticipation of going back to Australia, she gave me a 6 set CD series on healing by a pastor named Bill Johnson. I’d never heard of him and I wasn’t a big fan of listening to sermons on CD’s. But I decided to humor her and gave the first one a try. I listened and loved his teaching. I’d never heard anyone so gifted in presenting the truth of the Bible and he was calm, not a yelling preacher. He’d also experienced a lot of miracles, signs and wonders. This opened up a whole new realm of God to me and I wanted more. Gary and I eventually visited the church he pastored in California and it was an amazing place.
Virginia was sometimes like a phantom. I wouldn’t hear from her for weeks. I couldn’t keep up with where she was traveling. She went to Australia as much as possible. She visited her children and grandchildren in Colorado and Texas. She hung out with her brother, wherever his RV would take him. When she’d get back in to town, she’d give me a call and I’d get to hear about her latest adventures.
She once told me she could pack everything she owned into 2 suitcases except her bed, her computer and her desk and she liked it that way. It was the freedom she needed to go wherever God led her to go.
When her brother became ill, she cared for him constantly. Gary & I went to pray with him several times and again we saw the miraculous in fun ways despite the pain of life. She cared for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and continuously told me how wonderful they were. (Then I met them! Ha! They actually weren’t perfect!) But she loved with great expectancy, knowing their weaknesses and difficulties, but loving them well and believing the best of them all.
We had our own crazy adventures. Once she went to buy a car sight unseen from an individual and just needed me to drive her there, then follow her home in this car she’d never laid eyes on. Really? She loved to ‘prophetically read tattoos’ on the beach in Australia. Her faith sometimes really freaked me out! She’d been a children’s pastor and those kids were now grown up and on their own unusual faith adventures, but she was so proud of these kids who were changing the world.
The last times together were painful. I knew I was much stronger in my faith because of her. I knew she needed me to be strong for her family as they reconciled the news of her illness. I prayed over her when she was unconscious. I prayed with her when she was cognizant. We prayed together for a miracle. I prayed with her kids and grandkids and we cried together as we tried to understand her communication after the stroke.
She has impacted my life and many around me. She invited me into her world and it has been incredibly significant to me. She taught me a lot, but these are the most significant: 1. Live without too much stuff, so you’re available at any time to go anywhere God tugs at you. 2. Invest in people who passionately want to pursue the heart of God because they’ve watched it be real in your life. 3. Take risks and believe for the same miracles of the Bible to come today because it’s the same God as those days. 4. Live life so that’s there’s a big hole on earth when you leave it.
Painful as this moment in time is, I’m forever grateful that our paths crossed and that the seemingly insignificant invitation to walk our neighborhood hills together actually became one of the most significant moments of my life.
With Virginia and her grandson when they hosted a Birthday party for me several years ago.
Copyright © 2016 Nadine Patton.
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