When you are growing up, you are blessed if you have parents and family members who love you, who cherish you. But since you are a child and you are the center of your world, you take their love for granted.
But when someone loves you who doesn't "have" to -- meaning, they choose you, they delight in you, and you aren't even related to them -- well, that just blows you away.
This is Jim and Violet. They were my youth pastors when I was a bratty Junior High kid. They didn't have fancy programs or play in rock bands, but they had the most important thing. Love.
And when I say "love", I mean they didn't just say it; they showed it. They took us roller skating (cool in the 80s, trust me) they let us sleep over at their house, eat their food. They listened to our petty problems and stayed up all night with us at Lock-In's.
They were so real and warm and available to us. I'm so thankful I was able to be under their influence for a season of my life. Especially a season when I was asking if I really mattered, if knowing God and following Him was real.
I recently found Violet on Facebook and I was delighted to see they are still in ministry, continuing to disciple and love others.
How wonderful Heaven will be for those whose influence has no end!