30 day challenge, Question #9: "List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how."
When I hear the words "influential people" I admittedly resolve to thinking of celebrities, politicians, authors...famous people.
... But so often it's the influence of ordinary people, not obvious, not flashy and bright, not so immediate, that have the greatest impact within our lives.
Ten people that have influenced my life:
1. Beth Campbell (or Mrs. Campbell, as I called her). Mrs. Campbell was my algebra teacher in high school...and for those of you who know me, math does NOT come easy for me. To add to that, you must also know that I was NOT an "easy" teenager (this is not a secret, I've been very upfront about this fact!) Mrs. Campbell was so very patient with me on a daily basis...putting up with my constantly flapping jaws, note passing, unfinished homework assignments and comments like, "Seriously Mrs. Campbell, when in 'real' life are we ever going to use the Pythagorean theorem??" One very specific memory I have of Mrs. Campbell (not that this is very flattering for me) is when she pulled me out of class after I refused to stop talking to my desk mate about who I should go to prom with and very calmly and lovingly said, "Betsy....if you cared as much about algebra as you did who you are going to go to prom with, you would be an algebra genius!" It was true...I simply did not care about or like algebra, but I ABSOLUTELY adored my teacher! Mrs. Campbell NEVER gave up on me. She challenged me to know the rules of "operations" and "relations." She was sensitive to my constant need for attention and she loved me for who I was...diva and all! ;) Because of my love and adoration for Mrs. Campbell I decided that I wanted to be a teacher...I wanted to pass along the same attention, influence and guidance to those who most needed it just like she did for me! Although I did not end up becoming a teacher, I do have the value of loving on others for who they are all because of Mrs. Campbell's influence!
2. My grandmother Czarlinsky. Oh, I could go on for pages and pages about how my grandmother influenced my life. I was a first born grand baby and from the moment I was born my grandmother spoiled me rotten! I was her "baby" up until the day she passed away, I was twenty-four years old. My grandmother passed away from breast cancer at the very young age of sixty-four years old. I was devastated and fourteen years later the pain of missing her is no less than it was the day she left our world. My grandmother was the epitome of what a hardworking, passionate, courageous, fun-loving, and wise woman is! Alongside my grandfather, my grandmother ran a family business, was a mother to three girls, a wife, community volunteer, AND while working her full time job at the age of sixty-two she went to night school four nights a week and graduated from college!! My grandmother inspired me to be the best that I can be! She was my biggest cheerleader, always by my side no matter what. When I made mistakes, she would tell me to "pull yourself up by the bootstraps and start again..." She also was "famous" for the saying, "I'm gonna set you on fire!" referring to spanking our bottoms when we as grandchildren misbehaved....of course I cannot recall one time that she actually spanked any of us....it must have been a vision that was enough to scare us into behaving!
3. Darla Porter. Darla is one of the owners of the company that I work for. I was introduced to Darla just over five years ago and little did I know at the time she would be an instrumental piece in some very major changes and decisions within my life! Darla was my first "real" introduction into the Christian life. She was full of grace, mercy, love, friendship, compassion....second chances ;) I say that because when I interviewed with this company some of the other owners did not want to hire me. I had a "party girl" reputation and I was not what they were looking for. It was Darla that offered the opportunity to prove myself...a "second chance" so to speak. She saw something inside me that nobody else did. Offering friendship, Darla took me under her wing and I began to attend a Bible study with her on Wednesday nights. Through the Bible study I was introduced to Christian women who loved on me like nobody else had ever loved on me. There was no judgement, no pressure...just pure, Christian love. I saw Darla as someone that I wanted to be like and so I began to pursue Christ...it was something I saw in Darla that I didn't have. Darla inspired me to begin living the life that Christ has meant for me to live along....
4. Becky Meeker. Along the same lines of my work, Becky is also an owner of the company I work for. Becky is married to my sales manager (together they are part of the ownership group), and so I really began to get to know Becky through business trips. It was our first business trip to New York City that I asked Becky what it meant to be "saved." I had heard the term in Bible study and I didn't know what it meant. Becky explained to me that being saved meant asking Christ to come into your heart, to forgive your sins, to cleanse your heart and fill it with Christ's love. Becky is another friend that has excepted me for me....faults and all. She offers unconditional love and friendship and after talking with her in NY about what it meant to be saved I quietly in my personal time cried out to the Lord and said, "Father God, all of these people you have brought into my life recently, they all have one common thread...You! I want the same love, grace, mercy, FORGIVENESS, passion....I want You." Becky has nurtured my spiritual growth in ways she probably doesn't even realize and I love her more than she could ever know!
5. Hottie Hubby. Hands down, most likely the MOST influential person in my life. Mark is my gentile giant. Quiet in his ways, he comforts me in his mere presence. My love for him is pure and complete, and the happiness he brings into my life on a daily basis is like nothing I ever imagined I could have. Mark gives me the freedom to be me, in all my quirks, pouts, mistakes.....and my glory :) Mark is the reason that I shine...my confidence and my strengths come from him.
6. Kris Crawford. Kris Crawford is a young lady (younger than me) who I go to church with. She doesn't know me well at all. Honestly, I don't know Kris all that well. Roughly six years ago I met Kris in a business meeting at a local bank. She was introduced to me as the Graphic Designer for the bank and I was meeting with the marketing director, selling advertising services. Kris came into the meeting with a notepad and sat across from me. Kris is quiet...and strikingly beautiful. Kris has the sort of face that brings peace and comfort to others. I remember sitting across from Kris and studying her demeanor...gentle. I glanced at her notepad and saw that she had drawn a cross, circled by birds. There was a Bible verse written at the bottom of the page....I looked at my notebook, circles, triangles, a flower and the scribblings of various notes from a previous meeting. I looked at Kris and I thought, "I would like to have a friend like Kris, but I could never be Kris's friend....I'm not good enough." In that moment Kris looked across the table and smiled at me...it was a smile that would stay with me for a very long time....a smile that I needed in the particular moment. I walked away from that meeting thinking that I would like to be someone that can make others feel as good as Kris Crawford had made me feel in that very moment...like maybe I was worthy. I now see God's plan...and looking back I smile at His awesome and AMAZING ways. Kris and her husband Brooks attend the same church that my husband and I do. Occasionally Kris's husband leads worship and I've have the opportunity to worship with him. I've gotten to know Kris just a tiny bit more than that first meeting so many years ago...what I have learned is that she is kind, extremely talented, warm, faithful, devoted, pure....influential. Kris inspires me to expand my faith to new boundaries! She inspires me to smile more!
7. My step-dad. My step-dad came into my life when I was eight years old. He was my mother's "Prince Charming," having come in on a white horse, scooping my mother, my brother and me up and all of us riding off into the sunset. Of course, it wasn't that easy...in fact, it was painful. My brother and I rebelled as many "step-children" do. But my step-dad loved us unconditionally. My brother and I were never introduced as "step-children," but rather, "my children." My step-dad met every date I ever had, bought every formal dress for every dance, attended every cheerleading competition, applauded and whistled at every piano and voice concert...he was my rock, my strength and my dad. More recently my step-dad has taught me the meaning of faithfulness no matter what....he suffers from MS and no matter how much pain he is in, no matter how much "life" is taken from him...he continues to give praise to God. He trusts in the Lord's plan for him. He is comforted in knowing that one day he will be called home to be with our Lord and Savior. My step-dad is incredible.
8. "The Tuesday Night Club." Ha! The Tuesday Night Club is from YEARS ago...my grandparents and their group of lifelong friends would meet one night a week (you guessed it, on Tuesday nights) for dinner. Fellowship, laughter, political arguments, tears, support, comfort....they were valuable friends. Little did this group know how much influence they had in teaching me the importance and worthiness of friendship!
9. Lana Patterson. Lana was my very best friend in childhood. We were born within five months of one another, our mothers were friends, we lived fairly close to one another (close enough that we spend each and every day of our lives together) and we were in the same first grade class together at West Elementary School. Lana had leukemia. She was very ill and often are times together were spent in her home while she lay on the couch and I sat with her, watching cartoons. Lana had lost all of her hair due to chemo and she wore a wig. One day at school, Lana and I were playing on the monkey bars, hanging upside down, our arms swinging free, legs hooked over the bars, blood rushing to our cheeks. We were full of laughter, simply enjoying the moment....one of the other girls in our first grade class came running by where we were playing and she grabbed the wig off of Lana's head and ran across the playground, waving the Lana's wig in the air, poking fun of Lana's bald head. I immediately jumped off the monkey bars and ran over to Lisa Robinett, who was standing in the middle of the playground, twirling a baton. I grabbed the baton from Lisa's hands and I chased the little girl that had Lana's wig....catching up with her, I took the baton and swiftly hit her over the head, grabbed the wig and took it back to Lana. Of course I got into BIG trouble....but it was worth it. I had Lana's back....all the time. Unfortunately Lana passed away a few months after that. We were seven years old. In the short time I knew and loved Lana she taught me about taking life as it is and running carefree with it. No matter what the circumstances are, they can always be worse. Always hold your head up high and fight for what you cherish!
10. Jesus Christ. No explanation needed. :)