I first met Patty in the lobby of Cedar Creek Church. I was looking to get into a new small group and I landed in Patty's. I was trying to figure out how to get to her house and she let me follow her home from church.
Patty's group is where I fell in love with small groups (life groups, home groups, bible studies...they're called all sorts of things) in church. It was also the start of my showing up obnoxiously early for small groups and mooching dinner off of people. A habit that continued up to this past spring at Diane's house :) Patty told me that it didn't matter if 1 person or 12 people showed up for small group, however many, that was the amount that God would have show up so He could accomplish His purpose. There were plenty of times that there were only a handful of us, and true to Patty's word God showed up each and every time.
Patty has a dog named Lucy. She is (I'm pretty sure) a rottweiler, a big old hulking mass of a dog. Lucy thought she was a puppy and didn't quite understand why she wasn't sitting in your lap. At the end of our small group we would gather in a circle and join hands to pray. Lucy, no matter where she was in the house, would come lumbering up and want to get right in the middle of our circle. There were many a times that she would lick my face as I was praying.
Patty is also the one that taught me, encouraged me, how to pray out loud and how to pray properly. (Not that there's a wrong way, but I had all these notions about every thought being a prayer and she helped me learn the intentional speaking to God prayers).
She went to a womens conference with some other ladies from our group (and my mom) and during the conference a speaker told the ladies to look in the mirror and remember what girl Jesus loves, this girl. So whenever one of us ladies would get to bellyaching or wallowing in self-contempt, doubt, or any number of other things Patty would put her hand on her face (or often ours) and say, "But what girl does Jesus love? This girl." It always would ground me and bring me back to grace. That it didn't matter if I did everything perfectly or if I fell apart like a big old mess on the floor Jesus loved this girl exactly how she was.
When God told me to move to Cincinnati, Patty was the first person I told. She said that we should pray about it for confirmation, but that if it was ok with me she would pray that I stay. Pray we did. We prayed that God would either firmly open or close a door. That it would be clear beyond doubt that I should be moving to Cincinnati. A week or so after we started praying that prayer I got a call from Juanita, who worked at one of the branches I worked with at the bank in southern Ohio. Juanita said, "If you ever want to move down towards Cincinnati just let me know I have a job you can have for the summer." Well, that was that.
I was so sad to leave our group, terrified really. I knew I should move to Cincinnati, I knew it. But I was afraid. What would happen? Could I possibly find a church I loved as much as Cedar Creek? (Yes) Would I find a small group that I would feel as comfortable in and grow as much in again? (Yes) Could I find women that I connected with and loved hanging out with as much as I loved Patty and the other women in the group? (Yes, which you'll read about in another post to come)
Since I've left I hear that Patty's group just keeps growing and growing. She can't get people to spin off and start their own groups because they just won't leave. I think it's because of how lovely Patty is and how welcomed and cared for she makes everyone feel.
Patty has a wicked sense of humor, a no nonsense view of things and an unbridled passion for Jesus and for people to have a relationship with Him. She sparked and modeled for me a passion for people finding a relationship with Christ. She introduced me to yummy pizza with tomatoes on it and let me eat it almost every week. I watched her interact with and listened to her talk about her kids and how deeply she loved them.
Patty gave me so much and changed so much about the trajectory of my life. But most of all she gave me this vision for what friendship between women in church can look like and that it will make you laugh until you cry and cry until you laugh. Love you Patty!