I’m thrilled to introduce you to Shirley this week. Shirley and Paul, Bill and I all attended college together. And we had a mini reunion last month at the end of their vacation. We talked, we remembered, we laughed, we cried. It was a great time.
Shirley and I met at Hope College as freshmen. Or did we meet because we attended the same local church? Perhaps our friendship bonded because of Hope AND Trinity Reformed. I don’t remember. Not important.
But the friendship glue dried that Sunday evening in early November at the college-aged youth group my sophomore year.
Church was part of our family culture. Dad taught Sunday school for a while. I was baptized and confirmed. We fit in with the culture of the times in the ’50’s and ’60’s. It was what we did on Sundays. And it was important to me.
During my junior and senior high years, Old Paramus Reformed Church was our church home.
I love this church. I see it every time I visit Mom in New Jersey. Bill and I were married there. It is a very special place to me. (A historical tidbit ~ George Washington quartered his horses there during the Revolutionary War.) It also is the reason I attended Hope. Hope College located in Holland, Michigan is a college of the Reformed Church. Even typing this memories flood back.
When Mom and Dad, my baby sister Penny, and I hopped in the car and headed for Hope, it was the first time I had ever been west of Philadelphia.
While attending Trinity Reformed every Sunday (probably sitting with Shirley), God was doing something in my heart. My religion was morphing into a relationship, a friendship with Jesus. The seeds that were planted by my family and at Old Paramus Reformed were being watered by my friends and at Trinity Reformed and new growth was happening.
Back to the college-aged youth group and the friendship glue that bonded Shirley and me. It was early November, 1966. The youth group was sponsoring a singing group that evening from a neighboring city. They sang and shared their stories of how Jesus became real to them. God was at work; I was intrigued.
During the refreshment time, I initiated a conversation with one of the singers. She invited me to pray and ask Jesus for that kind of relationship. I looked to Shirley to join us.
Owning your influence is about your maturity.
Your maturity is about your life focus;
a focus from being all about me to living for the benefit of others.
Bill Thrall, HTLC
Shirley owned her influence in my life that night. Not only did she pray with the other young lady and me, but when we returned to our dorm she introduced me to a Bible study she was participating in. That Bible study was published by The Navigators.
I recruited a group of friends and we started a new Navigator Bible study.
Because of the Bible study, I attended a Navigator conference the next spring.
At that conference I met Bill, my future husband.
Bill and I have served on Navigator staff since 1972.
I am so thankful that Shirley owned her influence that night.
“My influence is not about pursuing significance.
My influence is about stewardship.”
Bill Thrall, Bruce McNicol
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God
so that at the proper time he may exalt you,”
I Peter 5:6