This year’s Summer Sampler is about “Women Who Have Changed Our Lives,” the women who have inspired or encouraged us in our spiritual walk. These are the unsung heroes of the faith, the Sunday School teachers and neighbors and friends who were instrumental in our spiritual growth. No matter who we are or where we come from, God can use us to make a difference for eternity. And he calls all of us! We’re hoping that these stories will inspire and encourage you that you, too, can make a difference in the spiritual life of another woman.
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Keep Looking Up
By Karen Moniz
In 1975, Miss Coughlin assigned the new girl to the seat right next to mine. Lenore was introduced to the 5th grade students, and before homeroom ended, the teacher asked me to show her the way to the girls’ bathroom. From that day, we were drawn together as best friends in every way – except one: faith. Raised in a Christian home, I accepted Jesus as Savior at the age of 13, and all my weekly activities were “religious.” Lenore, just a week older, was an intriguing blend of tenacity mixed with a bit of chutzpah. My worldview puzzled her but she respected me, and by junior year, after hearing so many stories about Youth Group, she asked to come too. I wondered if she would find it boring or like my “church friends,” but for two years, I witnessed the Holy Spirit’s power to imprint new affections upon Lenore’s heart.
After high school, our paths veered but our friendship continued to deepen. In 1985, Lenore organized a blind date and introduced me to a guy named Dave – and later stood as my bridesmaid when Dave and I were married. “Auntie Lenore” adored our two children, Sarah and Tim, and made sure they knew it. In her own quest for earthly happiness and fulfillment, Lenore’s sharp eye for management advanced her position at every job. She was confident that she had also found true love, but her marriage was soon ended by irreconcilable disappointment. The dark cloud of despair overhead caused such a feeling of hopelessness that Lenore considered moving away. On the day we said our emotional goodbye, I handed my best friend a gift and told her, “Don’t open this box until you’ve come to the end and you don’t know what to do next.”
Lenore started a new life in Florida, and during our years of long phone conversations, I finally heard happiness in her voice as she found good jobs, met her new husband and had a beautiful baby boy. Things were looking up, but a familiar shadow over her house would quickly form. Alone again, Lenore set herself and her son on a new path by summoning every ounce of that tenacity and chutzpah. At some point, though, her resources were depleted, and Lenore found herself looking down at my gift. She unwrapped the box and found a Bible with my handwritten inscription. As Lenore began to read God’s Word, the Holy Spirit slowly removed the veil of unbelief from her eyes and lifted them upward. The merciful Good Shepherd set the feet of my new sister on an eternal path that we both share. During our visits and talks, I was able to interject Biblical principles and watch Lenore apply them to her everyday life. As she grew spiritually, God began to use her as a guide in my life by encouraging and building me up and redirecting my mind away from negativity. Our motto became “Keep looking up!”
Lenore’s life in Florida has been very full. She raised a loving son, married again, and advanced professionally to a management position, all the while praying through life-altering medical issues. In 2017, she was diagnosed with cancer, but she is proclaiming to all she meets that her strength comes from God. As she walks through the difficult valley, her life verse has become “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6. The Marco Polo app on our phones has been a fun way for us to stay connected. In reviewing countless video clips since 2017, I have written down and plan to compile many of her meaningful words of encouragement, her expressions of heartache, and her priceless humor sprinkled with sassy chutzpah. Lenore’s personal daily prayer is to “be a good follower, stop worrying, and keep praying.” Each of her Marco Polos ends with “Bye for now.” We both are confident that in heaven, where there is no shadow, God will be saving heavenly seats for us, right next to each other.
Karen Moniz – Karen’s childhood included dinnertime Bible quizzes, singing in nursing homes, and street evangelism. At 13, she accepted Christ as Savior. She’s been married to Dave for 30 years, and they have two grown children. To celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, Karen entered the Mrs. Essex County Pageant at the Topsfield Fair and won! Karen provides companionship to seniors and leads an evangelistic Bible study in a retirement home for women. Her motto is: Keep God big and keep looking up!
Karen is also one of our featured speakers in the by design Speakers Directory as well as being a member of the board of directors for by design. If you are looking for a Christian speaker for your special event, please visit our online directory or contact us to request a hard copy.