Richard and I are both a bit embarrassed to say we met online on the game, Words With Friends. I wish it had been at a fundraiser or through a mutual friend, but this is the truth. Here is the actual story:

I love word games and have been playing Words With Friends for SEVERAL years. During the school year, my only opportunity to play was early in the morning and sometimes in the evening in between grading essays. (Grade 4 more essays and then you can play 5 minutes of Words! I used to treat myself to a piece of chocolate until the scales began reflecting that habit.)

At the time Richard challenged me to a game, I had my location on my profile. I removed it after weirdos began using the game. Richard noticed I was from Olathe, since he is from Shawnee, only 11 miles away. We began casually chatting and realized that I had taught his first granddaughter during my first years at De Soto High School. 

I somehow ended up helping him update his resume. The first time I saw his resume I was blown away. While he had told me some of what he had done in life, he had vastly undersold himself. I began asking questions and secretly researching to see if his resume was accurate. He must have sensed my skepticism because he emailed me some articles that supported what he had told me of his success. 

During a phone call to discuss some specifics about his resume, he shared one of his early-life stories that had impacted him. I then began to see how his young life, his family, and his community had shaped him for his heart of mission and pattern of success. Everything clicked, and I realized that his story is everyone’s story, we just don’t always realize it.

I shared with my husband, Rusty, my desire to use Richard’s story as my first book. Rusty has been more than supportive in my endeavor to assemble some of Richard’s life into Creating Futures.  

My knee-jerk response is “Why not?”

I realize that answer might be perceived as rude, so let me explain. I never thought twice about the fact that Richard is Catholic and I’m Protestant. While I acknowledge differences between myself and others, those differences rarely stand in the way of my developing a friendship. I’m just glad others befriend me even though I might be one of their weirdest friends. (Feel free to chuckle and disagree.)

Richard’s story needed to be told, and I feel extremely fortunate to be the one to have done that. Richard didn’t feel my Protestantism disqualified me from telling his life story.

The only part of our religious differences that caused some trepidation was the fact that I was naïve about Catholicism and needed to properly represent the Cordi Marian Sisters as well as the significance of different aspects of Richard’s life. Almost everyone I interviewed and met was Catholic and I was warmly received. My one small and short uncomfortable encounter was mild compared with others I’ve had with fellow Protestants.  

My faith is the grounding force of my life, which I believe enables me to better understand other faiths and even consider the perspective of those who do not claim a faith. I have learned many things in my life that I needed to know, but with which I don’t necessarily embrace, and I feel my life is richer for it.

Richard will soon be taking the opportunity to also respond to this question. Stay tuned!