Well, I’m a few days behind in writing about the happenings of my trip home to Alabama but I have managed to grab a few spare minutes to tell you about a special meeting with a very old yet very new friend. First of all let me say, this friend is not old, it’s just that we go way back…then how can we be new friends? Let me explain.

In some of my past posts (entitled I wish and Hy-poto-what?) I have mentioned the name of my old high school history teacher, Mr Powell. I was a horrible student….no, I really was. I giggled, and talked, and passed notes, and turned around in my chair, and giggled some more, and was late for class, and failed tests. See, I told you…every teachers nightmare.

Two years ago, through the magic of Facebook, I found Mr. Powell. Then, a few months after that, I saw him at our All School Reunion. Frankly, I was a little nervous about seeing him again. Maybe he hated me. Maybe he would be disappointed in me, with what I had or had not done with my life. Maybe he wouldn’t recognize me or even worse…have no idea who I was. But none of those things happened. When I went up to him and introduced myself he knew exactly who I was (not sure if that’s good or bad) hugged my neck and asked me about my life. I told him in brief about my life and that all of that talking I did in his class had paid off because now people pay to hear me talk….isn’t it funny how God works 😉 It was a short meeting but I was pleased that it went well.

Fast forward a few months and to my surprise, Mr.Powell sent me a facebook message telling me that he had read my blog and that he thought it was great! First I was surprised that he would take the time to read it and second that he liked it! Anyway, over the past two years we have kept in touch and I have also had the pleasure of becoming Facebook friends with his sweet wife Reecie…actually, Reecie and I talk more than Mr. Powell and I do!

I had mentioned recently on Facebook about my upcoming trip Gulf Shores. Reecie saw it and asked if I would like to get together for dinner while I was home.

What a fabulous idea!

After planning the date, time and place, the time had finally come. We met outside of the restaurant, hugged necks and greeted each other. Reecie and I had never met in person before but we felt like we knew each other pretty well through our many conversations on Facebook. Then I saw Mr. Powell. We started talking when he walked up and we didn’t stop all night. We had a blast.

We talked about the past and what a pleasant student I was 😉 just kidding. Actually, I asked him if he rememberd how awful I was in his class. He said he didn’t remember me being a particularly bad student but he did remember that I liked to “visit” alot. Bless his heart…I do declare I talked and laughed through every one of his classes. I can still see him leaning back in his chair, rolling his eyes in the back of his head and saying in a very exasperated tone, “Mizzzz Kittrell, would you pleeeze turn around and stop talking?”

During our dinner I apologized AGAIN for talking in his class and for being disrespectful. And then I thanked him for being a faithful reader and supporter of my writing. After we had talked for hours he said, “Tonya, I know old habits are hard to break, but you dont have to call me Mr.Powell any more, you can call me John”. “Well Mr. Powell…I mean John, Im not sure I can get used to that”, I said, “but I’ll try”.

Before I knew it, our time was up. Mr Powell and I had such a nice time catching up on each other, and everybody else, that the time had just flown by.

After we left the restaurant, we lingered outside for a few final goodbyes and promised to meet again next summer. I was instructed next time to bring Mr.Wonderful…I think he wants to see if he’s actually wonderful (he is). And I invited them to come see us in Oklahoma. Then the weirdest thing happened, he gave me a gift. Not a tangible gift. Not one I can hold in my hand or show to my kids. No…it was a gift just for me. It was a gift I didn’t even know I needed. One that only I can appreciate. One that I never expected but will forever cherish.

Mr. Powell told me he was very proud of me…he even told my kids how very proud he was of their mother. I know that probably means nothing to everyone else, but to me it meant everything. It meant acceptance and forgiveness. For most people, that statement, would have gone in one ear and out the other (much like I did in his classes) but it really struck a cord with me. He gave a gift that was really unwarranted and undeserved, but somehow he knew I needed. A gift I never expected but was so grateful for.

Thirty years ago Christ gave a give to me a gift similar to what Mr. Powell gave but on a much grander scale. Much like I did to Mr. Powell in history class, I ignored God, disrespected God, laughed at God and discounted everything he tried to teach me. I felt what God had to offer was boring, restricting and nothing I needed…so I rudely, disregarded all he had to offer.

Thankfully I came to my senses as a teenager and accepted Christ and all that he had to offer. I felt bad for rejecting God all those times that He gently approached me, so I asked for his forgiveness. And as a gift, he mercifully and graciously forgave me and never brought it up again. That was the first of many, many gifts that He has freely given. Gifts I didn’t even know I needed or wanted.

Mr Powell displayed a Christ like love to me that day. I didn’t really deserve it but I accepted it and now I no longer carry the burden of my past actions.

I am free! You can be free too! Free from the past, free from sin, free from addictions, free from bad habits. Free indeed!

1 John 1:9 says that if we ask God to forgive us He is faithful and just to forgive.

John 8:36 tells us that if Christ set you free, you are REALLY free!

If you’re reading this and are carrying around a burden. Or if you’ve spent years rejecting the gift of forgiveness. I urge you to read these passages and receive all He has for you. I did and it was the best decision I have ever made….and still make every day.

Thanks Mr. Powell, I mean John and Reecie for a lovely evening. Can’t wait till next year!

Thanks for reading! I love you more than flip flops!