One of my original goals for this blog was to interview every day women in order to inspire and encourage all of us living our extraordinary ordinary lives. For my first extraordinary story, I think it would be best to start with those who inspire me on a daily basis. To start within my circle of friends and family and move outward is an obvious choice for me. I am very fortunate to have a loving and supportive family and in-laws. I know not everyone is as fortunate. So who is the main woman in my life, present, past, and future. That constant has always been my mother.
Here are some of the extraordinary things you may or may not know about her:
She traveled abroad as a teenager.
She raised three children with ages between 1 and 4 years on a very tight budget. We were never without, but I do remember her having to put things back in the grocery store. As a mother myself now, I can only imagine how stressful that would have been. We never had name brand clothes. We didn’t go on lavish vacations or have a lavish house. We had three bedrooms and one shower for five people (four being female!) But we had a home, and that is where my many memories lie. I only mention these things because as a mother myself now, I realize how easy it is to overlook the most important thing in our lives: GOD That one word encompasses the rest of the world: our families, relationships, jobs, and everyday lives. To truly understand the importance of the listed things, one must have God. For without God, there is no love.
When my mother was in her late teens or 20s, she moved to a small town in Arkansas, hundreds of miles away from her hometown. That is always brave .I have done the same thing myself. I have never regretted my decisions, but there are definitely times when I wish all my family was closer.
My mother was the oldest of 6, the youngest sibling being 18 years younger than her. (I think that one may have been a surprise). I fought with my two sisters, I can’t imagine fighting with 5 siblings.
She led girl scouts for years, of which many of my most joyful memories and friendships were developed. She was also a Sunday school teacher for years. I know she imparted so much joy and memories to so many young girls. That’s a hero in my book.
One of the most admirable things she did was moving away from her childhood home. To choose a different life than the only one you have ever known takes bravery. It is on that point that I wish to expand. I hope her story inspires you to be brave and to take that unknown step if that is what is called for in your life.
Have you ever felt alone or that you didn’t fit in anywhere? Have you ever had a stirring in your heart, but you don’t know what it is or where it is coming from? Have you ever wondered if there is more to life? That’s where this story begins:
There was once a young college lady living in a small town. She had lived in that town her whole life, that is the only thing she knew. Then her life started changing. She had just broken up with her fiancée. Her heart is breaking, she’s confused, there is more to life, there has to be. A friend who left for a far away college comes home for a visit. She tells you how great things are at her college, the friendships, the fellowship, the distance. Oh, the distance. She thinks to herself how that distance might just be what she needs. Her friend tells her to pray. PRAY? What is that, I don’t know what that means? But God knows her heart and her prayers. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do no know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26 -27 NIV
With unknown faith and courage, she takes a step, 700 miles a away. She is already lonely, lost. But there is something compelling her to this unknown place and world. Once there, she finds friendship, and she finds a friend in Jesus. She finds the courage to be different. She gave her life to Christ. The sacrifices are worth it because she understands the value of showing her children God’s love.
Do you relate to this story? Know there is an answer. God made you, he has a plan for you. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
It only takes one person to make a difference in countless lives. We may not always see the effects, but they are there. Think about the friend who shared Jesus in this story. Though she may have thought she only made a difference in one woman’s life, she made a difference in many. You see the woman whose life was changed went on to marry a Christian man, they had three beautiful daughters. Their daughters had children, and the story is not over. That’s not even counting the ways in which she touched young girls’ hearts who then went on to touch others’ lives. In our culture, we like to see immediate results, but that is not always how God works. You don’t always see what he is doing in your life , but he is working. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6
I’m reminded of the children’s bible song, “He’s still working on me”:
He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be
It took Him just a week to make the moon and stars,
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.
How loving and patient He must be, He’s still working on me.
There really ought to be a sign upon the heart,
Don’t judge her yet, there’s an unfinished part.
But I’ll be perfect just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master’s loving hand
God’s work is not finished. It only takes one drop. We do the sowing. God does the growing. Your don’t always see the fruits of your seeds, but they are there. Know you are not alone. God is with you. He is waiting with arms wide open. Waiting for you.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7: 7-8 (NIV)