Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. (Matthew 11:28-29)
It might seem a tad peculiar that as we begin Father’s Day weekend I would want to introduce you to my faith-filled friend, Linda Ray. However, I promise you there is a method to the madness. As you can see from the photo above, she is the mom of two absolutely beautiful daughters, Lucinda (center) and Rose (right). They are both very bright and accomplished students as well as fine human beings.
It’s not at all that I have run out of wonderful men to feature, it’s more like I wanted to properly honor a woman that has played the role of two parents to two little girls since her husband, Carson, passed away in 2007. Linda is a friend I know from church and from my oldest son’s grade school days. Linda’s oldest daughter, (who would now be 21 years old or so and about to enter her senior year at Purdue University this coming fall, I believe) was a classmate of my son, Nick. I believe they were in the 4th grade when Lucinda lost her Dad. I remember Carson as an artsy guy with a lovely smile who was talented behind a camera and who clearly loved his girls.
Also, though, I remember that when it must have felt that her life was falling apart around her, Linda ran to the Lord. It seemed to me that she quietly handed her world-weary heart to Jesus and put one brave foot in front of the other and just kept on going. Yes, she worked hard and played the role of both mom and dad every single day. Yes, she must have had many moments where doubt overwhelmed her. However, the Ray girls have thrived, and Linda, by her quiet and graceful example, has shown me and many others how to trust our good and gracious God with our very lives. By watching her smile and hearing her always positive words for others (myself included) she has encouraged me to remember that God loves us more than just a little. If we simply call His name, He will swoop down into our lives and pour out overflowing grace.
As I have been writing each day about the folks around me that I think make a positive difference in the world, it has occurred to me that often those who make truly lasting impacts aren’t the usual suspects. Often, they are folks passing by in the background, quietly and courageously living their lives and carrying their crosses– out of love. Linda is such a woman. Today, as we begin to celebrate the terrific fathers all around us over the next few days, I want to say THANK YOU LINDA, for being a beautiful example to me and others of what selfless love looks like! You are stunning and exceptional, and without a doubt I know Jesus smiles at the work you have done and continue to do, in His name!!