We moved to Illiopolis/Mt. Pulaski nearly 9 years ago. It was an exciting move because we were moving from Decatur where we had houses right next to ours, to our farmhouse with neighbors on the next block. We knew absolutely no one here. I was pregnant with Liam and Maggie wasn’t old enough for pre-school. I was a stay at home mom and Chris worked (still does) in Decatur, so meeting anyone was incredibly difficult. When Maggie turned three, we signed her up for 2 day preschool at Zion Lutheran School.
It’s crazy to think about how that one decision basically shaped who I am today. We walked into the school for orientation and the first person I met was Janette Cooper. She was the first person I had really met in Mt. Pulaski at all. It blows my mind that one simple interaction started a 7 year friendship. You never know how big a part someone will play in your life when you first meet them. Janette became my first friend here. She welcomed me and treated me like a friend from the beginning. She drove down to DQ for my dad’s funeral. She and Chad are our Cards Against Humanity buddies and friends we can always count on for a great time. Although we don’t go to Zion anymore, Zion brought many wonderful people into my life.
I had no idea when I walked into Zion’s office for the first time to pay tuition, that Gloria and her family would become near and dear to my heart. I, maybe, spoke 3 sentences to her before I was asked to take on a few hours a week in the office to learn Gloria’s job and take some stress off her plate. From that moment, Gloria and I became really close. Gloria and Butch are my Mt. Pulaski parents. If you would have asked me when I first began taking Maggie to Zion if I could see my life turning out that way, I would have laughed… I barely knew Gloria and she became my family!
Zion also brought Abby into my life. The day I met her, in the Narthex after church, I just thought I had better introduce her to Maggie because she was going to be her new teacher. I literally thought nothing of that encounter other than she seemed like a nice person. As the year went on, Abby became my person. She was the Meredith to my Christina. We spent ridiculous amounts of time together, laughed at ourselves regularly, and knew what the other was thinking. I wonder how my life would have been different if I hadn’t stopped to meet her after church that day.
Zion brought so many amazing people in my life, PCD, Susan, Jill, Sam, Pam, Tricia, Barb, Kelly, Sarah, Shelby, Debby, Heather, and more people than I can even name…. One simple act of registering Maggie for preschool, changed my life and put it on a new path.
Quite a few of my friends have moved away over the last couple of years and we left Zion… felt our calling to go back to the Catholic Church and move our children to the public school. I was ridiculously nervous about leaving my little bubble where I knew everyone and knew exactly how things worked. I had acquaintances at the grade school, but no real friends. I was terrified I wouldn’t make any, but as always God had different plans.
Jamie and I had talked on and off over the preschool years since our daughters attended Zion together. Jamie put her kids at the grade school right after finishing preschool, so she knew the ins and outs of the public school much more than I did. I would go to her for advice and to pick her brain. Maggie and Jamie’s daughter were good friends, so it was nice to have someone who was willing to chat with me and help me figure out things. I had no idea that Jamie would turn into someone who I text nearly every day. Someone who organized an entire afternoon for me on the anniversary of my dad’s death, so I wouldn’t be alone. Jamie went from an acquaintance to one of my best friends. She was the first person to make me feel like there was life after Zion and I’d make new friends and be okay.
In the past year, Angie who I spoke to on occasion when we’d run into one another and Kathy who is my neighbor and I hadn’t even met until our first open house at the grade school, have become my sounding board for everything… my running companions… and my best friends. I can’t even tell you how it happened, I can’t pinpoint the moment when we became bosom buddies…. it feels like it’s always been that way. One day I’m being asked if I want to run a half marathon and the next day we have an ongoing group chat where we discuss a variety of randomness daily. These two probably know me better than most people. I’m not afraid to tell them those crazy things that I’m scared someone will judge me for. They get me….or at least I think they do.
About a year ago, I walked into the open house at True Form fitness. It had just opened and I wanted to check out what classes would be available and what machines were there. I had seen the owner, Danita, quite a few times at the library, but we had never really had a conversation. I met her again that day at open house and thought nothing of it, she was just the lady who was opening the gym. I had no idea that she’d be the person who would help me on my health journey. I had no idea that I would start taking classes from her and love them. I didn’t realize that because of her classes I would form a bond with other people working on getting healthy. I didn’t know she would be the one who would push me, encourage me, and motivate me. She opened my eyes. She had me take a good long look at myself and decide I needed to change. Danita means more to me than she knows! It’s because of her that I no longer look like this…
Of course, I’ve met many more people along the way and I’m making more friends all the time…Renee and Julie to name a couple. I’m just so grateful for this journey and how each of these people have helped shape who I have become and who I will become.
My message to all of you is to be open. Be open to new circumstances. Be open to change. You have no idea how someone will impact your life when you first meet them. A chance meeting with a neighbor, a teacher, a person at the grocery store could turn into something really special. So, keep your eyes open! Have a blessed week.