Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
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Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.
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June 8, 2014 12:15 p.m.

Tina1Iíd have to call Tina to make sure, but I think the name the kid called me was Strawberry Shortcake. I really donít remember that part Ė just the part where time seemed to stop.
He had been bugging me, as kids in middle school sometimes do, and I saw Tinaís hand reach across the bus seat and then the next five seconds felt like 50. Her hand met his cheek. His eyes grew wide with surprise and then wider still with a touch of anger as his head tapped the side of the school bus and bounced back.
I couldnít tell you if he ever pulled himself together to say anything, but I know the bus driver did. She was usually pretty calm, but it was clear she did not approve of Tinaís actions. She had plenty of words for Tina, but she wouldnít let me stick around to hear them. So I waited at the end of my driveway, hand on my hip, for Tina to finally step off the bus at our stop.
I didnít want Tina, who wasnít the kind of kid who got into fights, to get in trouble on my behalf, but Tina didnít care then and she doesnít care now. In her mind, she was stepping in to protect her friend and nothing the school might have to say about that would change her mind.
Yes, she should have talked it through with the kid. She should have asked an adult for help. There are many lessons to be learned from this story. But the lesson I walked away with was one about loyalty. Since the moment that kidís eyes grew wide with surprise, my heart grew wide with faith in Tina and in our friendship.
I knew then that Tina was always on my side and by my side. In the 20 years of friendship since then, she left an abusive relationship, and I sent prayers and checks to help her start again, to find her confidence and worth. When my husband lost his job and depression clinched tight on his spirit, Tina reminded me where to draw strength. And when Daddy died and it felt like I didnít have an anchor, Tina held me and through her own tears she told stories of his kindness and reminded me there is joy in heaven.
Reminded me I am loved and protected by someone even more loyal than she.
And that thought?
Thatís something that will keep you right steady. Thatís an anchor, friends. Thatís an anchor.
Want to read with us? The hardest part about the Simply Faithful book club is selecting the book for us all to read, so this time itís your turn to pick. Send me the name of your favorite inspirational novel by June 9. Weíll vote on my Facebook page June 10-15 and announce the winner here on June 23.

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