Monday, October 14, 2013

Women who changed my life, words that changed my life and becoming that for someone else...

(quote by Cassandra Clare, photo enhanced with Kim Klassen's gray day texture)

There are women who have changed my life, 
some by their direct involvement in my life,
and some simply by their words.

There is some risk involved in giving honor to women who have impacted my life,
for surely I will leave someone out.
A word spoken, a random act of kindness, a written note of encouragement
all have shaped me, even though the event, even though the name, 
may be lost in the fog of long ago memories.
Men have shaped me too, but this post, this one is for the women,
 the women who have helped to make me who I am.

Of course, my mama and my sisters.  
They deserve a writing of their own.
They are my roots.

My three daughters, 
surely they have been my greatest teachers,
oh, how they changed my life,
how they changed my world.
My love and gratitude for them can't be expressed enough.

The aunt who "got me", the one who remarked to my mama about me being tender hearted.
I was such a little thing, yet the memory is still clear and vivid these fifty years later.
I didn't feel labeled, I felt understood.
That someone "gets you" is a powerful thing.

The third grade teacher who was full of kindness,
the woman who loved our hurting family enough to make sure we had a ride to church,
the Sunday School teacher who took our class camping,
the high school English teacher who saw the potential in me,
each one a blessing,
a God gift.

The young wife and mama who sat down one day and wrote me that life changing note,
her five minutes of obedience changed my destiny.
She wrote that God had a purpose for my life,
a call on my life,
perhaps a call to ministry.
It felt like someone had opened wide a door before me,
a door I never even knew was there before I sat down and read that simple one paragraph note.

There was the retired missionary's wife who taught the first women's Bible study I ever attended.
I fell in love with the Word because of her.

There were the two older ladies who convinced me I could teach a Bible study,
me, a young mama with three little girls.
They believed I could, so I believed I could, and so I did.
I'm still teaching the Word all these years later.
If you asked me when I feel I'm in the sweet spot of God's will,
that would be it,
when I'm teaching the Word.

And then we were on our own,
pastoring our own church,
and I was doing the mentoring, 
but I still needed mentored.
And so God sent me word mentors,
women I never met face to face,
but they mentored me through their books.
In my home office, 
one whole wall is books,
just my books.
(The Hubs has his books, 
that cover more than one whole wall,
in his office at the church.)

Edith Shaeffer, Joyce Meyer, Stormie Omartian, Marion Duckworth, Joy Dawson
I tried to pick five books that were most life changing to show you,
but how can I leave out Ruth Bell Graham, Elizabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael,
Catherine Marshall, Evelyn Christenson, Anne Ortlund, Beth Moore,
oh, how their books came into my life right when I needed them
and how I've read them all over and over,
marked them up,
digested their truths,
taught their principles to others.
And there's more I could name, 
so many more.

But, I'm not done,
because perhaps,
quite possibly,
I'm really quite sure of it,
it's the ones younger than me,
the ones I've fumblingly, stumblingly tried to mentor,
that also mentored me.
Because I've never ministered to someone else,
without God ministering back to me,
and I've never taught someone else,
without learning something myself.

And so I leave this post rather open ended,
with some thoughts for you to ponder.
What women have been used by God to shape your life?
What books has God used to shape your life?
What small act of obedience,
(a note of encouragement,
a spoken, "you can do this, I believe in you",
reaching out to someone younger than you, etc.),
might God be asking you to do?
(You might be surprised by the blessing that you experience in return!)

I'd love to read your responses in the comments.

still following,




  1. Thank you for sharing your encouraging story, Elizabeth! All the footsteps in your heart and soul, by the impact the women with great hearts and love for God has left ... I have also many , thankful for each one of them! Mom, cousin, sunday school teacher, youth leader, Bible school teachers, mentors and friends ... Reflecting His light, integrity, love and faithfulness!

    1. I'm so happy you enjoyed the post, but most of all that it made you think of the wonderful women got brought into your life! Thanks, Nina!

  2. What a beautiful post, Elizabeth. My list would include my mama, sister, daughter, grandmother, teachers and authors whose words have been used to direct my path. A few of the authors who have pushed me to higher ground include Elizabeth Elliot, Catherine Marshall, Ruth Bell Graham and Beth Moore.

    1. Love this list. Peter and Catherine Marshall were instrumental in Sarah Young's (Jesus Calling) walk. When I meet a beautiful soul, I always want to meet the sweet people that God used to impact their lives.

    2. I didn't know that about Catherine Marshall influencing Sarah Young. Thanks for the information Rhonda. And Southern Gal, we have so many of the same book mentors!

  3. When I was a very young girl, I had a youth director in my church that was a woman, very odd for that time. One day she asked me if I would like to help her fold the bulletins for church, which of course I did. While folding she noticed that the ones I was folding were uneven. She so sweetly gave me a life lesson that I have never forgotten. She explained so sweetly and with such love that it impacted me for the rest of my life. She explained that when we do something for God it is to be our very best. That he did something so wonderful for us that we want to do wonderful things to show our appreciation and love to him. It was more than her words, it was that you could just see her love for God in her eyes. So she helped me to refold those bulletins and as we did it she told how very happy we were making God by our loving way in which we served him. As we did it she told me other ways that we could always give God our best. I know it took her way longer to get her job done that day but it made the impression that lasted a lifetime.

    1. What a sweet story! I love that you shared it with me.

  4. Hi Elizabeth,
    Loved your thankful list in your other post. I do that weekly too. Transforming to your life, isn't it??
    You are so right about how many women impact our lives in such astounding ways with very seemingly small ways. The wonder of it God uses others to touch our lives and us to touch the lives of others.
    It is so true that we many times learn more than our students and we get as much if not more out of helping others. God's economy is so different and so
    My life has been touched by so many wonderful ladies too, and men and children. But some of the ladies would be My Mom, My christian neighbor as a child growing up, (she is the main reason I am a christian today) my step-Mom, My late Mother-in-law, many dear friends, and my own daughter and my new daughter in love and my 7mo. old grand daughter............and so many who have written books and on and on I could go.................
    Thanks for asking, always good to think about those things.
    Cause we didn't get here by

    Blessings for a good week ahead,

    1. Nellie, I should have mentioned Ann Voskamp in my list, but I was going back a few years before her in my mind when I wrote my post. Counting my blessings has been life-changing, so she has definitely influenced my life. I love how you shared about the wonderful ladies in your life. Thanks for taking the time to do so!

  5. My life has been blessed by women who have made a difference from the beginning of my life! My dear mother, a lady who was like a big sister to me, a Sunday School teacher, school teachers and ladies I admired while growing up. They often didn't know that I was watching their lives and the way Christ worked through them. Ladies through the years have shown the love and grace of God in every day life. And I have been blessed!

  6. Exquisite post, Elizabeth. One woman, my BFF's mother, held a small Bible study in her home for women. She always had the coffee going when we got there, and the biggest smile.

    She's in heaven now, but I'll never forget how she made me feel.


    1. Thank you for always being such an encouragement to me, Julie! I am loving that everyone is remembering and commenting about women who have blessed their lives.

  7. Oh Elizabeth! This is so precious and beautiful. I was thinking that one of the reoccurring words I associate with you, is "beautiful." I had actually thought that the subject of mentoring should be a series, because of the scope of it. I do believe you tightened the lens on what it looks like friend.

    And just so you know, the Lord has used your heart, love, maturity to impact me in the short time we have know each other. The internet community is such a gift to connect sisters-in-Jesus. Love you.

    1. I love you and you bless me so much! I'm so thankful God brought you into my life.

  8. So nice to meet you! I found you over at Kims Texture Tuesday. This post you talk about two of my loves...God and heavenly! I just finished "Harvest of Rubies"...have you read it? Fell in love with the characters. Blessings. Laurie

    1. I haven't read Harvest of Rubies, but a good book recommendation is always welcome!

  9. Definitely my mom...and there have been other women at various stages of my life. Barbie during college, Carol is that woman now.

    As for books...Beth Moore changed the way I study the Bible and helped me fall in love with Scripture and memorizing it. Ann Voskamp opened my eyes to a world and life full of gratitude. But some of my absolute favorite books were authored by men...(Too Small to Ignore by Wess Stafford, Crazy Love by Francis Chan)

    1. I should have had Ann on my list! I've been journaling my gratitude sine 2009 thanks to her influence...that was before her book!

  10. It is hard to find and figure out a mentor, my life was not normal growing up. What I do know is the reason God pursued me and won me over so I can help others. If in that process he shows me 'how' to mentor and walk alongside them, that will be the gift I had been waiting for.

    1. I'm sure you're a blessing to lots of other women and that God has used women in your life along the way to bless you as well.

  11. I love your list, Elizabeth. It would take me some time to craft my own, but, without hesitation, my mother is at the top of that list. She's been my greatest encourager and supporter throughout my life. I'm grateful to be her daughter.

  12. And thanks for the inspiration. I plan to work on that list.

    1. Maybe I'll be reading your list in a blog post someday!

  13. Elizabeth,

    I'm a 29 year-old in Oklahoma, learning to listen to and obey the Lord. You speak into my life!


    1. Oh, Claire, that blesses me so! Keep praying, keep obeying, keep your heart tender and yielded to God and you will be amazed at what He does in and through you!

  14. What a beautiful post, Elizabeth. I would have trouble naming them all too. My sweet mother was such an inspiration...not so much with her words since she was very, very humble...but with her quiet witness and she never once waivered in her beliefs. My older sisters (4) all had a hand in it too, some of them old enough to be my mother since my mother was old enough to be my grandmother when she had me! Then I went for many years not listening to them much...and then little by little the Lord used situation after situation to get me back to where I needed to be. Into a church where I learned for the first time what it was like to have "Sisters in Christ"...women who were role models and mentors...of how I wanted to live my life. When I first heard Joyce Meyer on TV I thought she was a sort of characature of the typical televangelist and I wasn't sure I liked her. She drew me in and the longer I listened I knew she was the real deal. Many years and many books and few videos later, I add her to my devotional time every morning. A beautiful servant of God who was my SS teacher when we first moved to NC...away from our home and in a strange place...she enveloped me and my family until the day she died...she was well up into her 80's. Then there's my precious friend who has led several retreats for our ladies...and is an encourager if there ever was one. It's hard to stay down when she's around. Presently I'd say my main source of encouragement is my special friend who is also my associate pastor and current Sunday School teacher. God's loving kindness and his holy word just flows from her and if you ever need someone to pray for you...well, she'll bring heaven down. Oh sure, there must be more but this is getting way too long. Thanks so much for giving the opportunity to remember these lovely women.

    1. I love reading about the women who have influenced you. I felt the same way about Joyce Meyer at first! She's so straightforward...but now that's why I love her!

  15. Elizabeth. Thank you for encouraging me to ponder on this important part of my life. My precious Mother, my BF, encourager, supported me always. My sister, my bible teacher, encourager, mentor. My daughter, has changed my life, my world she has taught me unconditional love. Few authors. Joyce Meyer. Gloria Copeland. Marilyn Hickey. Joel Osteen. Holly Gerth. Many more. I am working on my list there are many more that have impacted my life & encouraged me to become who I am today. My Husband my best friend, encourager, shows me Grace, Patience LOVE everyday. Blessings

    1. I've loved reading your list! Isn't God good to give us who we need and when we need them, even if it's just a book at the right time!

  16. Thank you for your thoughtful, lovely post, Elizabeth. My list would start with my mom (who turns 89 this week!). Beth Moore is my most recent teacher of influence. Her study on Esther helped me during a hard time to tackle life afresh. And I've ready every book Elisabeth Elliott wrote -- her writing helped shaped my views when I was in my 20s. Glad I found you through Texture Tuesday!

    1. I'm loving reading everyone's comments about the wonderful women who have influenced them. I'm so glad you found me via Texture Tuesday. And wish your sweet Mama happy 89th birthday from me!

  17. What a beautiful testimony to God's faithfulness in your life. I'm always encouraged when I read lists like this because we usually think we are having no memorable influence when we're teaching 3rd graders or writing a quick card. But we never know how God will use the "little" things...

    1. You are so right, Lisa. By the way, your encouragement when I was a brand new blogger meant the world to me. Your "little thing" meant, and means, much to me.

  18. Living in the path of the Legacy of believers before us and leaving a legacy for others to follow are both blessings in and of themselves. I don't know that my list would be quite as extensive as yours but God might surprise me if I really sat down and wrote it all out. A few people in my life right now do come to mind as well as a few authors. Maybe I will just pick one and write a note of thanks for their influence in my life. Blessings to you! love Rachael @ Inking the Heart

    1. Rachael, yes, a note saying "you made a difference in my life" would mean so much!

  19. Beautiful still life that you created here for Texture Tuesday! I love photos of books, simply because I love books. However, I have to admit that I don't know any of these books and hardly recognize the names of the women you mention. I do like your description how these women influenced you, their books came to you in just the right moment. I have experienced that also in my life, more than once.

  20. The timing of this post is perfect. I'm about to write a post for The High Calling about a woman named Paula who deeply impacted my spiritual life. You won't find her name on the spine of any books, but she shaped my spiritual heart.


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