I have always been a people watcher. I can’t help it. I love people and they fascinate me. The other day we were bowling and there was this little old couple and he had Alzheimer’s. His wife took his hand, walked him to the lane, handed him the ball, put it on the rolling rack, put her hands over his, helped him push the ball, would cheer for him as he stared blankly, and walked him back to his seat where she would then roll the ball and chat to him the whole time and over and over they did this. I was so in love with that precious couple because I could not stop watching them! I could almost post her as my woman of influence! What love and dedication still after that many years of marriage! I have watched so many people through the years, that I have been influenced by many. I think I will share some of the different “hats” that I wear and spotlight who really influenced the direction I have taken in that area. My mother covers most of these areas but since we aren’t allowed to talk about our mothers, I have chosen different people. However, I wanted my mom to have an honorable mention!
“Christian” – I have known some amazing Christians, but I think the award will have to go to my grandmother, Mary Adams. She was not well-known, was a pastor or missionaries wife almost her entire life, was a very creative wife and mother with very little finances, and was the epitome of Matthew 5 and the Beatitudes. She truly was the most compassionate and loving person I have ever known. You knew what she believed in and was an amazing Bible student, but she was never judgmental or harsh with people. She just loved them. When she died, I asked the Lord to please help me take her place in reaching out to others in love. She truly was blessed as the peacemaker.
“Wife” – Besides my mother there are two ladies that fill this role – Mrs. Jennifer Hutchison and Mrs. Janelle Wilkerson. Both were my home-ec teachers at Crown College. They each had such a love for their role that it was extremely contagious. I think that after their classes, many of us single gals went into mourning because we longed for such a home! They showed such a love to cook and clean and take care of children and to do all that unto the Lord. They truly loved their men and their homes and it put such a proper perspective in my heart. I am very thankful for their influence.
“Mother” – This award goes to my Aunt Beth. Oh, how she has influenced me. When I was born, she was only 14 or 15 so she was madly in love with me. I am sure that helped to return my love for her all of these years! She has 12 children and as they were born, I was the teenager. Then, there was a time we were having children at the same time! She has never been rich in money, but has been wealthy in love. Many of her children are grown now and they would all call her blessed. They love their Momma and that impresses me even more. She has always been a no drama, calm, let kids be kids, I am the Mom and you will respect me, can I play with you too, yes you can jump off the porch roof and onto the trampoline, let’s play in the rain, get your chores done now kind of Mom. I always joke with her now that I have 6 children and she has 12 that she is twice the woman I will ever be!! If the Lord hadn’t had other ideas about my health, I would have gladly joined her in those 12!
“Pastor’s Wife” – My mother was my Pastor’s wife until I went to Crown College. I think I never watched my mother much in this area because I never thought of her as my Pastor’s wife – she was just my mom. Mrs. Evelyn Sexton was my Pastor’s wife for many years and even after college as a newly wed. I was blessed to be a secretary in the church offices so was privy to information many times that others would not know. I would especially watch her during those times that I knew her heart was breaking. And there she was, smiling and putting her arm around everyone and asking how they were doing and being the Christian she knew to be, even when it was hard. I absolutely love her spunky spirit, her class, and her tender heart for the Lord to be magnified. I have thought of her so often when I have went through the doors of our church knowing that something was going on that was not pleasant, and have been reminded to keep that smile where it belongs, love people anyway, and give the Lord the praise for the good times and the bad. I always look forward to seeing her and telling her how much I love her and for her to put that arm around me and tell me that she loves me too.
“Wheelchair User” – Hands down – Joni Erickson Tada. There are many wheelchair users that I admire for their attitudes and skills and “can-do” attitude, but she is different because she is allowing the Lord to have her disability and she uses it for him. A lot of people use their disability for pity but not her! She not only teaches such wonderful biblical truths on suffering and brokenness, but she lives it. She recently just recovered from Stage 3 breast cancer. It was extremely hard on her body but her faith never wilted. She struggled with her emotions, like we all do, and she suffered immensely, but she kept her eyes on the Lord and kept her focus on the Light when all was dark around her. I love her because she is real. I love her because she is human. I love her because she is a giver and not a receiver. I love her because she has such a desire to reach out and help others. I love her because her God is big and very much active and alive in her life. I will never be a Joni Erickson Tada but if the Lord will use me to only repeat a portion of what she has done, I would be so honored.
There are so many others that I could write about but I won’t. I am very thankful that the Lord brings people in our lives to influence us for good. Many of them were brief encounters while we have known others for a life time. As I think back to those who have influenced me, it is a sober reminder that I am influencing others. May God help me to bring the characteristics of Jesus Christ to someone else’s life.