Oh, the comfort to be found in sorrows shared!
My precious Mom, the original "homespun philosopher", always said that friendship is worth the investment. "With friends to share them, your joys will be multiplied and your sorrows divided." So very true, Mama!
I've spent a lot of time on the phone and reading different things about Sandra over the past two days. It's almost like a collective gasp has gone up all over the country concerning the death of this wonderful lady. She would be shocked to know just how many lives she has impacted! And because Sandra was "Sandra" we all feel the loss in an extremely personal way.
We've already started sharing stories that reveal the truth, "I thought I was the only one she did that for." "You know, that's exactly how she made me feel too."
I didn't get to tell yesterday about the time years ago when Sandra "encouraged" (which actually means: bribed the leadership of) a large church in NC to invite the fledgling (that would have been me) to speak for one of their ladies events.
Since Sandra always noticed everything, she was well acquainted with the fact that I suffer from being "fashion-challenged." So she casually questioned me a couple of weeks before the upcoming event about what I planned to wear. When I told her, she remained very calm on the outside but I now know that an electric jolt probably went all the way through her.
After our meeting concluded, Sandra suddenly needed to go shopping and she really wanted me to go with her. Now, I knew she didn't want me tagging along to give my opinion (our weaknesses should be known to us, that way they are much less embarrassing.) But I was excited to be part of the adventure, so I readily accepted the invitation and hopped into her van with one other lady.
We drove to Fayetteville laughing non-stop and hit the shop of the famous designer, Jacques Penne. (A.K.A. - JC Penny) I strolled around the ladies' dept behind Sandra content to "Oooo and Ahhhh" over the dresses she our other friend were considering.
Several times Sandra said, "Sheri, why don't you look at something to try on?"
"Oh, I'm not here to buy anything. I just wanted to come spend time with you guys." We were pioneer pastors at the time and our clothing budget was non-existent!
They both selected a few things to take to the dressing room and on her way there, Sandra pulled two suits and a dress in my exact size.
"You have to try these on or I'll feel bad for dragging you over here," she insisted. Well, I didn't want to make her feel bad. So I obliged.
As is the custom with most women in dressing rooms, once we had donned our prospective outfits, we would each come out in turn and do the obligatory "twirling" in order for the other shoppers in our party to offer their opinions. (Can you tell that I'm an odd woman and don't really enjoy shopping? Smile.)
In the midst of all the changing and twirling and tugging and........well you get the idea, I came out in the navy suit that Sandra had selected. It fit perfectly! The collar was bright white and the jacket was accented with a front zipper which (I was told) was the "must have" fashion item for that spring.
"Oh, Sheri!" Sandra was bubbling. "That will be perfect for when you speak at _____. You have to be dressed fashionably there, Girl. Those ladies will expect it. Yep, this one is perfect!"
We all turned and went back into our dressing rooms.
Now, buying that suit was so far out of the realm of possibility for me that I didn't even stop to register what she was saying. (What did Paul say about learning to be content with much or little? Smile.) I just hung the suit back on the hangers and started pondering what in my current wardrobe might possibly fill the bill.
We were all standing near the register as our other friend was purchasing her dress when suddenly Sandra realized that I wasn't holding the suit.
"Sheri, aren't you going to buy that suit?"
"Well, I'm gonna get home and think about it some more."
In that split second of eye contact, Sandra knew what was really going on and she acted. "Well listen, they won't have this in the right size at your Penny's by the time you can get there. And I've been wanting to get something for you since you came over here to help me last month. I'm going to get this one and send it home with you. No arguing! You really did help me out a lot."
Not only did she bless me, she also saved me from feeling awkward in front of our other friend. Masterful!
I wore the navy suit to the meeting and did indeed feel like a true "fashionista"!
It was some time later while thinking back on Sandra's kindness that I finally realized - she didn't buy one thing for herself! She hadn't needed anything; that entire trip had been for the express purpose of helping me. Such love.
So this morning as I began packing for the trip and stood trying to select just the right dress or suit for her celebration service, I had to smile. I remembered this story and all the other times that I've called to say, "Hey, I'm speaking at_____. You've been there, what should I wear?"
I feel sure that Sandra's robe is a brilliant white. And her crown? It's too big for her to actually wear. There's probably an angel that has been assigned the singular task of carrying it around until she can lay it at the feet of the Master. That kind of thing (displaying crowns) never was her style anyway.