My earliest impressions of Debbie--way back from the first time we met in 4th grade--were that of a quiet, compassionate, humble little girl who didn't know she was pretty but who would never have flaunted it even if she had known. She was shy, blushed easily, and hardly ever spoke (to me, anyway). I loved watching her grow as we got older--seeing her develop her talents and become aware of her strengths.
While I can't say anyone I know, including Debbie, is perfect or ideal, I have to admit that I wanted to be her so many times in high school. She was pretty, smart, kind and thoughtful, had a lovely voice, and seemed to me to be the closest to God. I know that you can't really judge others' closeness to God, but if her lifestyle and words were any indication, she knew God in a way I have never known Him. I may have been smart, but she was beautiful--as much on the inside as on the outside. I so envied her. She learned to play the guitar, led worship at chapel and on Sunday mornings, taught us several beautiful songs, one of which is now one of my all-time favorites, "How Deep the Father's Love For Us."
"I hope this will help you. It did me good. Remember God loves you. He wrote his love letter to us. He does not change, even when everything around seems messed up.
"Mrs. L--- told me this one time: It's like being in a valley, a valley with a small, old village that is falling apart. All around you are the hills, beautiful scenery. Now, sometimes it gets misty, and all you can see is the horrible things around you. You don't look to the hills. But are they gone? No. They never change. God never changes. But the things of this world, the people of this world change. So chin up, Sara. Lots of love, Debbie"The other note begins, "I know you are feeling a little down, so I thought this might cheer you up (a poem I found." She went on to copy a love note from Jesus, which at the time brought me to tears. At the end of her note, she writes, "P.S. Read Zephaniah 3:17." This was my first introduction to this verse, and the words in Zephaniah have never left me.
Maybe you can see why I still keep these notes in my Bible, almost 20 years later.
And also why I treasure Debbie. I haven't seen her in several years, and I don't know when I might see her again, since she lives on a different continent, but I think of her often and am especially mindful of the joy she has brought me (and so many others) on her birthday.
Thank you, Debbie, for helping to carry me through some rough times, for your encouragement and kindness, for your love, and for showing me that God's love encompassed me in every situation. You have brought much light into my life--and much music. I thank God for you, and wish you a wonderful birthday.