Judy Sliger and I ended up at the same table at lunch at my very first Kentucky Christian Writers Conference in 2004. I was one of a handful of guys at the conference and the only one at this particular lunch table. Turns out all of us were teachers who also happened to write, so we swapped many "war" stories and bonded over sandwiches and chips. Judy, especially, made me feel at ease and showed true interest in my work.
She and I became fast friends a few years later when we both assumed new roles on the KCWC Planning Committee--Judy as Coordinator and me as Publicity Chair. Talk about blind leading the blind! We spent hours on the phone talking, planning, and learning from each other. Judy never failed to ask about my sons and gave me lots of good advice. I, too, asked about her family, and she loved talking about them--to the point that I feel like I have known them forever even though I've only met her husband one time and have never met her son.
Judy worked hard as KCWC Coordinator, poring over every detail and making everyone feel loved and important. She even handled the worship herself when there were last minute changes in that area.
Judy and I continued to exchange emails and phone calls. If I needed prayer for any reason, I knew to contact Judy, knew that she would lift my needs up to the Lord. We even sent each other samples of our writing and did honest critiques of each other's work (I hardly ever found anything wrong, as she was an amazing writer of both fiction and nonfiction).
One of the main highlights of attending KCWC each year was getting to see Judy, to catch up on each other's lives. She even befriended my wife and sons and always wanted to hear about what they had been up to over the course of a year.
Even this past June, when she was frail and could only visit for a little while, she was still the same Judy, asking about my family and my job and how she could pray for me. That was one thing that always amazed me about Judy--how, in the midst of her battle with cancer, she always thought of others first and how she could pray for them.
In a world where professional athletes are glorified and all manner of superheroes are heralded onscreen, Judy Sliger was a true heroine. She fought the good fight with grace and honor and finished her course, and now she is enjoying her reward. I already miss her and I ache for her husband Russell and for her son Sam, but I take comfort in the fact that she is walking those streets of Glory, healed and whole with Jesus.
KCWC Planning Committee