My Wall of Remembrance brings me great joy because it reminds me every day how He worked in miraculous ways in my life through earnest prayers. This was one, in particular, that I wasn't sure if it would be answered. I want absolutely no credit, not even a little, for this. Salvation is all God and to Him be all the glory. I am just so thankful that I was entrusted by Him to be able to participate in His work and that He allowed me to see the results. It is all Him. I can talk NO ONE into salvation. I wish that I could, but I have learned that I can't.
Landon and I met Micah and Gretchen through real estate in 2010. They called Landon to look at a home, after looking at a few they ended up purchasing the one that we were living in at the time. We became friends immediately. Micah was an IU fan!!! WHAT?!?! Landon was thrilled to have met someone else in Sparta who shared his enthusiasm for Indiana Basketball. They were both so kind, loving, and generous to our family. We ended up getting busy with our own lives but continued to see each other often at the YMCA.
I had a feeling that Gretchen wasn't a believer. We hadn't had conversations about it, but when I noticed books on her bookshelves about atheism and such, I began to have that feeling confirmed. However, there were also many books I recognized that were by Christian authors. I discovered after talking with Micah's mother that, indeed, she wasn't a believer. They had talked with her and had been praying for her for years.
Fast forward to 2014. I went to a Precept conference in April and one session really spoke to me. The whole conference was on the book of Colossians. There were several speakers who took a portion of a chapter and taught through the book. There was one session that was a completely different topic. Stephanie Kreikemeier taught an hour on discipleship. She spoke about how discipling others takes effort. Sometimes it can be inconvenient and will require our time to develop relationships in order to make an impact in other's lives. She said many other things during that hour that I had never been taught, or perhaps I had never heard them fully. I prayed at that meeting that God would send me someone that I could minister to and invest in the way she was describing, not as a project or anything, but a way to help someone else draw closer to the Lord.
Like I said earlier, I saw Gretchen often at the YMCA. Every time I would see Gretchen, she would ask me to go run with her. I declined countless times. Honestly, I hadn't been running consistently and knew that there was no way that I could run with her. SHE HAD RUN A MARATHON! She runs ALL THE TIME. I knew I could barely make it through a 5K...maybe, on a good day. I was extremely intimidated and always told her no giving a lame excuse why I couldn't go. Well, she asked me one day in either late April or early May of 2014. I can't really remember when, but on this day, she asked me to go run with her. She told me that she would walk whenever and as many times as I needed, so after a moment of panic with a fear of making an absolute fool of myself, I decided that I would go. She never made me feel like a horrible runner and encouraged me along the way.
This was the start of a love/hate relationship with Gretchen Grenz. Everyone needs a Gretchen for a workout partner. SHE. IS. RELENTLESS. I am not even joking. We began running together about four times a week, and if I ever wanted to skip just because I didn't feel like it, she wouldn't have it. I have had 49 text messages in a row with one word per text telling me to get my butt there and all other types of messages. It was quite torturous, but wonderful at the same time. During this time together, we had the opportunity to develop a relationship which was beyond surface level. I began asking her about what she believed about God and telling her what I believed and why. I intentionally tried to bring God into a conversation in each run while trying not to cram it down her throat. She said when she used to see me coming she thought, "Here comes the Bible girl. She's gonna talk about God."
Also during this time, she decided to read the Bible for herself because she said if she were going to join a club, she would want to know what it is all about before committing. She wanted to read the whole Bible for herself before she made a decision. I thought, "WOW! There are lots of Christians I know who haven't even done that!" She began reading and she would ask various questions during our runs. I also had let her borrow my kid's "What's in the Bible" DVDs which she would listen to and have questions. I could answer some, and others I would have to get back to her with answers. This went on for months. We had lots of great conversations, and she was very open and honest about her rejection and disbelief in God. She knew what I thought about a person who didn't believe. We joked often because I didn't want her to run on the outside because if one of us were to get run over by a car, I wanted it to be me because I knew where I was going.
I very distinctly remember having thoughts and conversations with Landon about how I didn't know if she would ever believe. I would feel as if she were on the verge and then back off, but I was very impressed that she was reading the Bible so quickly. She was already in Psalms by this point. In September, I invited her to go with us to a Beth Moore simulcast.
We went to church and she didn't say anything in Sunday School except when some people were talking about a possible mission trip and she wanted to go since it was a Spanish speaking country. I remember looking at her thinking, "Why would you want to go on a mission trip if you don't believe?" After Sunday School, but before church started, we were in the auditorium talking. I was standing with Jamie and Gretchen told us both, "I did it," with a big grin on her face. I didn't have words. Jamie said, "I have prayed for you before I even knew you." It was a beautiful moment that when I replay in my mind I get emotional. I had to dart out of there. I went in the back, got down on my knees again and started bawling my eyes out. I knew Gretchen would make fun of this because she doesn't ever cry.
The salvation of any person is truly a miracle. This is no other. Boy, was she stubborn. :) It has been the most amazing transformation and she has grown so quickly! She has such faith that leaves me speechless. I knew that if she ever came to know the Lord that she would be an amazing witness for Him, and that has been the truth.
We have been good for each other in many ways. She has finally turned me into a consistent runner. We still run together and I know I don't want to have her nagging and relentless texts so I just go. She has taught me so many things and I feel that the Lord sent me her way to be relentless with questions about the Lord. We both had to overcome a fear and put ourselves out there in spite of ourselves. I had to just go run even though I was intimidated and made excuses for a long time. In reality, she truly didn't care how fast I could run. She didn't mind that I had to walk and never made me feel bad for it. She was such an encourager and taught me many things about running. She, too, had to put herself out there on September 14, 2014 and take a scary leap into faith. I'm so glad we both did!!
Sometimes in the middle of a situation, you can't see what is going on very well. If you picture life like a film strip, we sometimes get fixated on one little frame of whatever is going on at that moment or season. That one frame is only one part of a much greater compilation of frames that make up the filmstrip of our lives. Looking back now, I see how God was working and orchestrated so many details that I would never be able to imagine. When I dwell on these, I am overwhelmed and just in awe of Him. I am so thankful to be able to be a part of seeing a life completely changed by faith in Him. It is truly a joy to see anyone come to know the Lord, but this one is very special to me.
This is a video of her testimony. It is just amazing! Watch and be blessed!