If you have someone who has made a difference in your life, be sure and let them know while you still have the chance. If you don't have a caring neighbor in your life, you can become one.
Even an elderly, diminutive woman had the power of extraordinary love and faith proven by her own life example.
Mrs. Hoeg, a retired grade-school teacher, transformed my life in a way no one else has. I was blessed to have this exceptional woman as our neighbor.
She lived just down the street from us. It was in her backyard where the neighborhood children gathered for fellowship and children's Bible study.
While my mother taught me to pray at an early age, Mrs. Hoeg taught me all about who was hearing my prayers. During the visits to her house throughout my childhood, I came to know Jesus and the peace and power behind a personal relationship with Him, even in times of tragedy, loss and grief.
Years later, a flash flood destroyed our neighborhood and many of the families living there. Mrs. Hoeg also lost her home, and after she relocated, I lost touch with her. Our time after the flood was consumed with recovery, followed by the circular seasons of life. This neighborhood and these life-changing neighborhood connections are now just a memory.
Ultimately, I tried to find Mrs. Hoeg to let her know what a difference she had made in my life. What I discovered about her became increasingly meaningful. She was well-respected by everyone. I learned she had lost a son in a tragic drowning accident during the time I was attending her neighborhood children's Bible studies. Although the grief she experienced was unimaginable, she never missed our lessons. She was passionate about our well-being and shielded us from her loss.
Mrs. Hoeg passed away before I had the chance to tell her how much she meant to me. I think she knew, though, by the importance she placed on our time together as she cared for each and every child's very soul.
She also transformed the lives of other mothers through her selfless love, enduring faith and unceasing prayers.
Included with Blanche Hoeg's obituary was a poem. The heartfelt words paint a picture of this prayerful woman of God who loved her neighbors in a rare and beautiful way. It was written by a woman who lost a son at or near birth, and years later, also lost two teen-age sons in a drowning accident.
Vicky Reinhold wrote this poem for Blanche Hoeg's 80th birthday. I received permission to share it with you from Vicky's surviving son, Larry Reinhold:
This Woman of Prayer
I met this woman many years ago,
As on a hospital bed I lay.
Our first precious little son just went Home to Jesus,
It was a very sad and lonely day.
She walked into my room and told me who she was,
Words of comfort she shared with a tear.
A quick smile, a prayer, and then she left,
This woman of prayer brought me cheer.
I watched her life down through the years,
And to me it was very plain to see.
This Godly woman, a woman of prayer,
Is the model Christian to me.
We have shared somewhat the same sorrow in life:
Dear sons that are with us no more.
They went down in the chilly cold water,
Only to step on Heaven's fair shore.
There have been days when the burdens were heavy,
And my mind was anything but clear.
The phone would ring and this cheerful voice would say,
"How are things going? I'm praying for you, dear."
God bless this dear woman on her birthday,
Shield her from harm with loving care.
I need this woman, I love this woman,
This wonderful woman of prayer.
Becky Canesse, chief executive officer of Just for Girls, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.