Have you ever had that feeling where you just don’t belong? I had that pretty much through high school. It wasn’t that I didn’t have friends. I did. It was just that they always had other friends who were their best friends. I didn’t really have that one or two bffs. I existed on the edge of other people’s lives. I didn’t expect it to be different when I went to college, but it was.

Our first school function was a dressy open house and luncheon and then it was off to a spiritual team building weekend at a Christian camp. As I was unpacking, I figured out I had a pretty serious wardrobe malfunction.I forgout one of my small suitcases, which left me with no jeans or slacks. During all of the outside activities, I would be wearing my dressy dress. My parents were out of town, so they couldn’t rescue me. One of the staff members suggested I ask Bernie Baron. I was so embarrassed. I shouldn’t have worried, Bernie so graciously leant me her extra pair of jeans. Bernie has always been the kind of person to help and encourage. Every time that I see her smiling profile on Facebook, I get a warm feeling because I know the kind of friend she is.

I had another ah-ha moment that weekend. I was sitting in the back of one of our classes and someone slipped in beside me. It was Melanie Walker. She was someone I had watched on stage the whole time I was involved with the ministry. She had a beautiful voice and was gorgeous – all the things I wasn’t. I had always placed her up on pedestal. She sat beside me and opened her purse to find something. Her purse was just as messy as mine. She was just another person. I didn’t have to put her, or anyone else on a pedestal. We’re all human. Melanie was incredibly kind to me also. She made me feel welcome in her world. I wasn’t used to that with beautiful and popular people.

As school began, I couldn’t find a place to live, so I drove about an hour to the big city.each day. Then two of my classmates, Roger and Lisa Settje, offered me a ride from their house only 20 minutes from my house. They took such good care of me, even feeding me lunch sometimes, and again I felt loved.

Someone else helped me to feel welcome at the beginning of school and throughout the year. Charlene McGowan was everyone’s mom. She took care of you and kept you in line all at the same time. If you were sick, she checked on you. If you needed someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on, she was there. If you didn’t turn in your work, she was there too. If you took of with her pen, she chased you down. There was no doubt that you had it because they were all marked “Property of Charlene McGowan.” She knew we would walk off with them. The thing about Charlene is that you knew she cared. Many of us were away from home for the first time. Some people were from across the country or were international students. We needed tha mom figure.

Two weeks into school I was summoned to the back of the room after class. I had a visitor. It was Evie Philgreen. She was the mother-in-law of one of our school founders daughter. She was one of those people who could command a room. I was intimidated at first. I didn’t know what she wanted with me. Actually she was checking on me because my step grandfather had told her that I was going to school there. It turns out that they used to be neighbors, and she was best friends with his aunt. Every time she came to the ministry where I was going to school, she would stop and check on me. It made me feel good that she cared. it also made me feel good that my step-grandfather cared enough to tell her.


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