She lived in Strawberry Cottage. And although that name sounds like it belongs on the pages of a Beatrix Potter book, Strawberry Cottage is a real place. And this is a true story.
Strawberry Cottage is a beautiful, old home, nestled among fields in the little village of UpHolland, in Northern England. I love UpHolland. I grew up there. At the back of Strawberry Cottage, I remember walking through the woods that she and her husband had bought, so that the tiny bluebells would be preserved. She never stepped on them. Because she was Linda.
Once a month, she would invite all of us Sunday school teachers to Strawberry Cottage. We would gather in her modest living room to plan our monthly lessons. And although she was the Sunday School Superintendent, she never frowned if we had not read through the material ahead of time. She would just smile; and laugh; and pour tea. She would offer us homemade treats; and understand that we had been too busy; and pray with us; and encourage us. Because she was Linda.
And when she first met my four rambunctious sons, who were usually bouncing off the Sunday school walls, and who generally put others off teaching for life, she just loved them. Because she was Linda.
Linda taught me more about how to appreciate and retain volunteers; how to teach; how to love children; and how to live a humble, gentle, grace filled life than any book, or seminar, or training event ever could. Not through words, but simply by who she was. Because she was Linda.
It is twelve years today since Linda smiled. Outside Strawberry Cottage hangs a sign that says 'For Sale.' But her legacy lives on. And if I can leave even half the legacy that she did, I will be happy.