(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,
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.