Just over a month ago my dear friend, Allison Warmuth, was killed in an accident in Boston. When I first began to grieve for her, ‘Allie-Memories’ flooded over me. I found that random things would trigger the recall of a once forgotten memory. And those were painful, but somehow soothing as well.
When I wrote a blog post in her honor, sharing my heart, I kept wondering – did she know? Did she know how much we cared about her? How much she touched us? Impacted our lives? The doubt swirled around in my mind… I must’ve at least told her how I attribute the fact that I ever dated my husband to her match-making…. Didn’t I?
In my weary search for some sort of elusive closure it dawned on me to read through our old Facebook messages. That’s where I found it. Sweet truth amid the pain. And that’s when an idea was formed- and it settled into my heart. A simple little idea- for Allie.
I could never tell all the people in my life ALL that they have meant to me. I am overwhelmingly blessed. But I could tell one. One person. Some of what I adore, what I cherish, or how they changed me.
For the next year I’d like to shine a light on someone each month who I am so grateful for, but who may not even know the extent of it. I’d like to call it #ForYouForAllie. In no specific order, just whoever “God sticks … in my mind”.
I’d be honored if you, whoever you are, would share a quick memory, or a ‘thank you’, or whatever you feel is right, with someone God has placed on your heart #ForYouForAllie.
At the end of each post I would like to share a memory of Allie, however elaborate or simple, because - trust me- she is stuck in my mind <3
I have always enjoyed working with kids- but Catherine made me yearn to be a teacher. She pushed me so far (but so lovingly!) out of my comfort-zone that I’d sometimes feel nauseous. When I was content to standby as an assistant she handed me a blank lesson plan and told me I was teaching once a week. She poured over those lesson plans- challenging me, adding scripture, and somehow always seeing the good.
Her passion for Children’s Ministry is something I have seldom seen rivaled. To teach children The Truth, in an amazingly FUN way- I didn’t even know it could LOOK like that! Catherine would write catchy songs, dress up in costumes, play games, and be silly- all as she shared the Gospel. She’s emphasized the importance of memorizing scripture in an exciting, encouraging way. I still have our weekly verses stored in my heart.
Her humble, beautiful, friendly personality won us all over – and her God-given gift of teaching sparked a passion in me that has never gone out.
I remember Catherine sharing a story about how she was babysitting one day and the baby was uncomfortable and wouldn’t settle. So she prayed. And sang hymns. (I’m pretty sure it was for hours.) And this may sound silly but it was the first time I had ever heard of someone comforting a baby this way. Now twelve years later, when my own sweet babies won’t settle and I pray over them or sing hymns about their Father to them, I think of Catherine. Every. Single. Time.
Catherine is like a life-camp-counselor. She could even make cleaning fun. Every day we would bounce out of bed eager to see what she had in store for us. Sometimes it was simple, other times elaborate, but it was always wonderful. From running in formation while shouting cadences that ‘We are soldiers of the Lord!’ (We were preparing for our ‘Lord’s Army’ theme), to helping me troubleshoot how best to reenact God using Elijah to call down fire (sparklers- if you’re wondering ;), it was some of the fondest memories of my life. I often joke that I have never been so poorly paid, but so thoroughly JOYFUL, as I was my summers on CE.
One of my clearest memories of working at camp is Catherine having us sing “Now Unto the King Eternal” in a round. It spoke to my heart and I find myself frequently humming that hymn to this day despite having never heard it sung again.
Catherine saw the hand of God in every situation we encountered. When she had to have her heart monitored she told us how neat it was that our theme was all about Jeremiah 17: 9 – and now she had the perfect analogy for a ‘sick heart’.
She is doing great work for eternity. She always has been.
My son constantly listens to her CD, Word on the Street- this editions is teaching kiddos about the book of Ephesians. And I am always refreshed by her honesty, humility, and encouragement each and every time her face pops up in my newsfeed.
Catherine, I am grateful beyond words that you were placed in my path. The Lord has used you to shape key parts of who I am as a person, and often, as a mama, and I am eternally grateful for that. I love you, sweet friend, and I hope our paths will cross this side of heaven <3
My memory of Allie is actually tied into Catherine. You see, Catherine had all the Christian Education workers walk around with a blank piece of paper taped to our backs so we could anonymously encourage one another. It was a favorite camp-tradition of mine. I displayed my completed paper in my classroom but upon walking in the next morning I noticed one more sweet note had somehow been snuck in during the night. It read:
“Hey Sweetie! I think you’re great! You make me laugh, and you are so beautiful. These kids are so lucky to have you. <3 Allie”
Behind the Lens:
Jessi lives near Rochester, NY with her handsome hubby and their three 'Lovebugs'.