I've been thinking lately about all the ways that different people in my life have touched my heart, and changed me, and helped make me the person I am today. I do believe that we can learn something from just about every person we meet (whether it's good or bad), and so I wanted to do a short tribute to a few of those women...a small thank you for sharing nuggets of truth without even knowing it. For teaching me life lessons and valuable examples on how to live life to the fullest - I'm very grateful for these women (and so many more!). If any of you reading this happen to know even one of these girls, you're blessed!
My momma (Gina Harmon) has taught me a lot...many of my mannerisms belong to her...many of my facial expressions and voice tones...many of my quirks (some good, some bad) come from her, and many of my values were learned from her. But one of the best things that I got from my mom is a desire to laugh...in fact, I think that has already passed down to our fun-loving Shepherd. My mom laughs (hysterically laughs) more than any person I know...she doesn't even need anyone around to start laughing because she'll just laugh at herself. I love that about her and I love that she passed that love of laughter down to me. Sometimes I will embarrass myself from laughing out loud, but I usually catch myself and think "why the heck should I be embarrassed for expressing joy?". In a stressed out and highly depressed society, laughter is truly good for the soul!
Linda and Jenny (Chad's mom and sister) have both taught me what a "gentle spirit" looks like. I have watched them over the years and often times have been in awe of their gentle ways. I am NOT a gentle person...I'm loud and oftentimes impatient and can be a bit gruff and because of that, I'm more aware of their gentle touches and calm demeanor - it's so feminine and beautiful and I really do love that about them. Rauly takes after these two women in many ways and I'm very thankful for that!
Amy Bell taught me what true optimism is. This girl is like a walking ray of sunshine...she just spreads joy wherever she goes! It was such a blessing to be her roommate in college - truly, it is impossible to not get along with her. She taught me to always try and look at the bright side of life and because that is NOT my true nature, she really stretched me...even though I don't think she ever knew she was doing it at the time. Her attitude was inspiring and I've tried my best over the years to continue to allow her attitude to rub off on me. On that note, I'll add a smiley face! :-)
Melissa Hicks is one of the most conservative minded friends I have...many people think of the word "judgemental" when they think of ultra-conservative, and yet she is the one who taught me what it means to be accepting of others. Not just tolerant...but truly accepting. When I say this though, I'm not referring to sinful lifestyles. Melissa has a strong value system that is based on scripture and her values and beliefs aren't easily swayed...when I say she's accepting, I am referring to physical appearances and personalities and people's upbringing's that make each person an individual. I can remember a conversation we had in college about something...I don't remember who we were talking about or what we were talking about, but I was venting about someone and her response was "Linds, that's just how they are.". So simple...so true... She understands very clearly that each person is made unique and different and that we are all children of God...no one person is the same in personality or appearances and that is OK! So, through the years, she's gently reminded me that we are called to love everyone and accept them where they are at. Everyone has their own fair share of life hurdles, and she's had some incredibly tough ones to walk through...she's handle each one with grace, dignity, poise and many times I've look upon her with awe. I'm grateful for the example she's given so many in the area's of perseverance, forgiveness and agape love.
Jamie Graston has taught me what it means to be authentic. She is one of the "coolest" girls I know - she makes the two roles of being a home school mom and housewife extremely attractive! She's just a beautiful person (inside and out) and she naturally spreads beauty and eloquence wherever she goes. She is true to herself..again...it's a simple concept but NOT an easy thing to. And although she may not know it, she's encouraged me to be more confident in who God made me and in the roles in which God has called me to. She's actually taught me a WHOLE lot more because this girl is overflowing in biblical/parental/marital wisdom. The bible says "If you walk the wise you will grow wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." I have grabbed on to Jamie and clung to this girl - she's going to have to stick wtih me for life whether she wants to or not because I love her dearly! :-p She makes the choice to daily die to self as she serves her family,...she also makes the daily choice to fall deeper in love with the Lord (despite the chaos that surrounds her). Well, I could go on and on about all the ways I love this girl and all the ways that make her special, but I'd be here all day, so I'll just suffice it to say that Jamie is a gift from God!
Jennifer Sherman has continued to amaze me over the past three years. The more I get to know her and see the direction her life is going, I'm simply amazed at how God has continued to change her, and grow her, and use her. She has taught me just how much God can affect not only one person but an ENTIRE family (parents, siblings, children, grandparents) if we would simply allow ourselves to be used...isn't that what God promises??...a complete and total transformation? The old life is gone forever! Jennifer has also taught me about humility...she has learned how to be confident in who she is in CHRIST...not who she is in herself. She is very uncomfortable when others try and build her up or compliment her and reminds everyone that anything good that comes from her comes because of CHRIST in her. Pride is the downfall of many, but I know it will never be hers!
Mary Beth Picker and Shannon Kneisley have both taught me the same thing. That abundant blessings can and will come when you make the choice to step out in faith and follow God's will for your life. These women have both adopted two children (from two different countries) and have shared their stories with Chad and I. They are inspiring and blessed to the point of overflowing...not with restful sleep, or quiet organized afternoons...but rather with the peace that comes in knowing that they said "yes" to the Lord. These ladies have serious jewels awaiting their crowns one day in Heaven!
I could name a few more who have touched my heart and left a lasting impression, and I might one day...but not today. I've absolutely got to get off this computer now. :-) So to each of the ladies I mentioned today (and to those of you who I haven't mentioned yet!) - thank you for being the person God created you to be!