Stephanie Raquel  —  October 17, 2013 — 3 Comments

{Note: Today’s post is part of a blog hop through Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study of Renee Swope’s A Confident Heart.  If you’re joining me from there, welcome!  ~Steph}



He was a used car salesman … named Lennie … who smoked cigarettes.

Definitely an unlikely hero for a bunch of teenagers in a small town church youth group.

But that’s exactly what Lennie was.  A hero, who showed us what unconditional love really looked like.  In his own cantankerous but selfless style, Lennie demonstrated what #APerfectLove (to use a term from Renee Swope’s book, A Confident Heart) truly meant.

Thanks to Lennie and some crazy scholarship he created (that to this day remains a mystery to me), I went to a national youth conference in Denver, Colo. and then on to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Because I was in Denver, my faith journey took wings that completely allowed me to soar.

This past spring, I had the chance to honor Lennie by sending a note for his birthday.  This was the rare opportunity to thank someone who had influenced my life greatly — and at a time where he could hear and receive it.


Dear Lennie,                                             May 20, 2013
 A little birdie told me it’s your birthday next week.  In addition to wishing you an amazingly happy birthday, I just wanted to send a note to say how very grateful I am for your birth.  My life has been far richer because of you, Lennie.  To this day, I don’t know how it was paid for, but knowing that $500 went toward helping me get to Denver that fateful summer of 1988 was soo powerful.  I count July 4, 1988 as my spiritual re-birth day – so I am almost 25!  Most of all, your encouragement and belief in our youth group, plus telling me that I was a leader propelled me into believing God could really work through me if I would just let Him.
 Today, my husband of nearly 20 years and I have 3 girls …  We have hosted a small group and been part of leading other bible studies since we were newlyweds.  In addition, for the past two years I served as the director of women’s ministry …  And I’ve had the privilege of passing along scholarship funds to women in need who were not comfortable accepting $15 or $20 to cover a bible study … but are blown away when I say I received far more than that, back in high school.
I’ve heard that you are battling cancer.  Not sure if you knew that I had thyroid cancer back in 2006.  I know God only brings us TO what He can bring us THRU … one way or another.  Know that we are praying fervently for God to do a mighty work and heal your body!!  And that we are forever grateful for all the time we’ve been given with you on this planet!!
Have the happiest of birthdays, Lennie.  You definitely deserve it!!  :)
Love,  Steph

In September of this year, Lennie passed away at age 62.  Just five short months after being diagnosed with skin cancer.

I went to the memorial service where he received military honors as an American hero, which he had certainly earned in service to his country.

The flag draped over Lennie's casket.

The flag presented at Lennie’s funeral.

But to me, he was an even greater kind of hero.  He taught me to be God-confident and to embrace my leadership potential.  As a high school student who’d grown up believing in God but who was just beginning to intimately know Jesus, this was life changing.

Sadly, I didn’t get to say my goodbyes in person.  But I know one day I’ll see Lennie face-to-face.  I hope to be one of many to tell him, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  In the meantime, I thank God tremendously for showing me what #Aperfectlove really was.

What about you?  Who was your Lennie?  I’d love to hear!

Headstones in Camp Butler National Cemetery.

Headstones in the National Cemetery where Lennie is buried.



Stephanie Raquel


3 responses to #APerfectLove

  1. Oh I LOVE Lennie! I’ve had so many Lennies….my Aunt who I loved sitting at the kitchen table talking about God, the women’s leader in college who saw enough potential in a new believer to break the rules and put me on the leadership team right away, my grandma who gave me a lot of money for a missions trip against the advice of all her kids and many more.
    Thanks for making think about this today.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this story! J

  3. Hello Stephanie – I’m here from the Confident Heart OBS and I chose your blog to read because it is my birth year. Really enjoyed hearing your story of Lennie. I have had a few of those myself. I finally listened to the most recent one, my ex-boss who retired 2 years ago and is now just a dear sweet friend. She tells me she didn’t do anything, it was God working through her. I told her that is so, but she is the one who let Him in to do that work. Keep up the great work! Annette

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