Almost a year to the day, Jennifer Huston, a 38-year-old wife and mother of two went missing in our small community in Oregon. News of her disappearance spread throughout the nation quickly as photos of her smiling face flashed across our screens. I found myself taking breaks from my writing to look for updates on the search for Jennifer, praying she would be found safe and alive. Her disappearance turned more and more mysterious, senseless, and urgent.
Given the closeness of our area and the familiarity of her face, I was convinced someone I knew must have known her. I asked about it on Facebook, and sure enough, I was right. The response? She was a private person. I didn’t know her well. I heard she moved.
Last August I sat in the back of a small brick church at a gathering to honor her life. Her body had been found, miles from her home. She had taken her life. The pastor read aloud a statement from the woman’s mother. The stunned and grieving mother wrote that not in a million years could she imagine her daughter making a decision like she did. The mom concluded: If you are a mother, aunt, sister, girlfriend, or daughter, please take the time to be a friend and comfort someone, even if you don’t think she looks like she needs an encouraging word, a spirit lifted, or a few minutes of conversation.
This church was not Jennifer’s family’s church, or her mother’s. But the pastor felt called to reach out to this family in crisis, and in response, to continue the conversation about the power of community—particularly for counseling, mentoring, and caring for younger women in our lives, for looking out for one another and caring for one another.
I had been studying and honing ...1
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