Who would you go wade in a pond with?

Another influence I’ve been blessed with who I get to tell you about.
She and I both joke about being in a rut.
Me for 25 years with Phantom Screens and she for 15 years with Alpha. No, not the fireplace people. Rather the not-for-profit organization which helps us explore the big WHY questions of life. An awesome, awesome program – check it out here.

But as much as I’d love to brag about Alpha, the point of today is to brag about the gal who heads Alpha in Canada and is on the Alpha Global Executive Team: my friend Shaila Visser.

She has been in my life for what feels like forever, but in truth, more like 18 or so years. We met pretty early on in our careers, not having a clue what lay ahead for either of us.

Our first adventure away together (which is code for ‘we get to drop our professional faces and just be us’) was back in the early 2000s when we attended a Billy Graham Executive conference together in the smoky blue mountains of North Carolina.

The location alone stole my heart, but spending time with Shaila also changed my heart forever.

Now you are probably going to ask: “how so?” But this is where I’m going to have trouble explaining it. In fact I have a feeling that ANY body who is given the luxury of time with Shaila would feel that way.

But let me try …

She should be Oshkosh’s poster girl – she is the genuine article – the real deal. She is solid as gold, perceptive beyond normality, and oozes encouragement and good ol’ humour.

What I love the best about her is this: despite us not getting to see each other much at all, and through her ups (and she has many) and through her downs (she has more than the average) – she stays Shaila.

Her head doesn’t swell when her position has her moving with the country’s elite, appearing on television or speaking to crowds of thousands. Nor does it give up on her faith when family dreams don’t come to fruition or disease and death are knocking at her door.

She will be the first to give God all the glory and be the first to cling to our Creator when it’s all she has to hold on to.

She inspires me to press on, be bold and live life to the fullest enjoying it for the gift it is intended to be.

Not to blow her cover, but she was my stalker-accomplice that you can read about in a blog post back in March this year.

I think every girl who finds herself in a professional place in her life, where 99% of the time you must be “on”, act your age and be responsible, needs a girlfriend in the same predicament. This way the other 1% of the time, you have someone you can giggle with like a schoolgirl, kick off your heels and go wade in a pond and never ever be judged by the other one.

If you got any fun ideas for her and me, I’d love to hear them!