In Memory of My Friend Lori

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I lost a good friend to cancer last week. She was close to my age, and a youth minister. Because this has become something I do, I thought I would process a few thoughts about Lori today. (You can read her beautiful obit here.)

I met Lori a few years back when she started coming to our Horizon meetings because she had decided to join us for camp. I can’t remember exactly when it was, but in the time I knew her, I realized pretty quickly she was sharp.

Lori was a rule follower. I’m not usually good at picking up on things like that, but she was always quick to point it out. I have two distinct memories of rule-following Lori.

First, her first year at camp with us. During student small groups, we have a youth worker meeting. It’s a time to check in and see how things are going, but also a time to brainstorm ideas and what not. The problem was Lori didn’t know we had that time, so she hung out until lunch. When we talked about it later, she was mortified she had missed it, because she was a rule follower. I tried to let her know it was okay, but I don’t know if it helped.

Second, around the beginning of August, I started reading through a book with a group of friends, one of whom was Lori. Early in the book there’s a survey of sorts with the line that says “if you’re not able to answer x or more questions on one level, don’t go to the next.” As I was giving some background on my experience with the survey and why I wanted to work through the book together, I admitted the thing that motivated me most was looking at the next level above where I should have stopped, basically breaking the rule. Lori quickly responded, “Well, I didn’t even look at those because the book told me not to!”

Lori was always ready to be better. Speaking of our unofficial book club, Lori was always willing to grow. When I mentioned the idea of going through that book with her, she responded with an enthusiastic yes. In fact, during the COVID shut down, as churches were having to rethink how they executed ministry, we zoomed regularly with a few other youth ministers to share thoughts and ideas. She touted that her friends started referring to her as the “Queen of Zoom”.

But more than just being better, she made those around her better. I know this because I am a better youth minister because of knowing her. She made Horizon better. It’s hard to put into words, but her quiet determination and creativity were assets.

Lori was an advocate for 3QL, and for my own leadership development. I’ve been writing this blog for going on four years (I think. Math is hard.). My views and visitors are not what I would like them to be, but I keep writing, in part, because of the handful of people like Lori who have stuck with me through the journey. I can’t tell you how many times in a conversation she would reference “some leadership blog I read”, and every time it meant the world to me. Knowing she was a faithful reader helps me stick with it.

When I decided to put on a leadership workshop hosted by Horizon, Lori was on board and a support the whole way. Both times.

When I asked her to help me lead Horizon Leadership Camp, she agreed whole heartedly. When I asked her to lead in my place, she hesitantly agreed, and then hit it out of the park.

When I asked her to participate with me in whatever new idea popped into my head, she said yes.

When I started my new job in March of 2019, I had two notes waiting for me in my new office–one from Lori and one from her intern. That meant more than she knew.

She understood one of the best things about friendship is presence.

And to say she will be missed is a significant understatement.

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