Here’s to the Women Who Taught Me How to Live: Melissa

Roughly four years ago I was a college student working part-time at my university’s library. While I was interested in my library and liked the “adults” (aka, the full-time staff members) who worked there, changes in most of the staff positions didn’t really affect me all that much. When Melissa started working as the library’s business secretary, I didn’t think of it as an opportunity to be mentored by an amazing woman. I was just coming to work and going home. Over the years, however, I began to appreciate the incredible opportunity God had given me.

After I graduated I was hired into a part-time staff position. Among many other changes, this brought me a schedule change. Melissa always worked the opening shift, making sure everything got open with plenty of time for students to get their papers printed in the mornings before their 8 o’clock classes, and now I was working this shift with her.

I grew to love those moments in the morning before everyone else got there where Melissa and I would sip our coffee and share our hearts. She used words to remind me of concepts once learned and recently forgotten, but more importantly, she showed me how to live by how she lived. She seemingly eats and breathes compassion and hospitality, always trying to make sure the people around her are taken care of. She showed me that it’s just money, and people are more important than money every single time. She showed me the value of believing the best of people and giving them the benefit of a doubt. Maybe that person acted mean because he’s worried about his sick wife; maybe that person hurt you because she herself is hurting. She showed me that one can be strong and need a hug all at the same time, and one does not lessen the other.

She showed me how to love those around me.

So here’s to you, Melissa, for teaching me how to live with grace and compassion.

Here’s to the Women Who Taught Me How to Live: Brandy

After recently receiving this challenge, I have decided to write a series of blogs dedicated to the women who have greatly impacted my life. So here we go.

Here’s to the women who have taught me how to live.

There has not been a time in my memory when I did not know Brandy Wilson. She has been a fixture of my life for as long as I can remember. A vast majority the time I have known her, however, she has been out of the country. See, Brandy is a missionary. She has answered the call God has placed on her life and is pouring herself out for hurting girls around the globe. She gives everything she has to bring hope and compassion to girls who have none.

But before I understood any of that about Brandy, I knew her as a friend. I knew her as a woman with a kind heart, a big smile, a ready laugh, and a coffee cup seemingly super-glued to her hand. But most importantly, I knew her to be a woman who speaks with godly wisdom, wisdom birthed from spending countless hours in prayer and in Scripture. She always seems to know exactly what I need to hear, and she never held back from telling me things I didn’t want to hear. She pulled me from the brink of disaster, and she gave me a torch for the dark times she knew were coming.

I treasure time spent with her. Stolen moments at coffee shops and unexpected trips to women’s retreats and any other time I can manage to capture. I treasure it.

Brandy, I salute you. Thank you for seeing something of value in this confused, messed up girl and taking the time to invest in me.

 

If you would like to find out more about Brandy and her ministry Compassionate Justice, click here.

Five Minute Friday: Hero

There seems to be a sentiment among women today that a man must be a hero in order to be good enough to date, let alone spend a lifetime with.  A popular song called “Holding Out for a Hero” expresses this perfectly (if you haven’t heard it, check it out here).  A man is only worth a woman’s time if he is

  • godlike
  • street smart
  • makes unwise bets
  • has a taste for danger
  • strong
  • fast
  • hotheaded
  • confident
  • gives instant gratification
  • the stuff of fantasy
  • Superman

No wonder women are marrying later and later in life, if this is the standard to which they hold men! Come on, ladies, get real. No man is ever, ever going to meet those criteria. Why? Because men are human beings, not Greek gods.  If you’re holding out for Hercules, you’re going to die alone.

Am I advocating having no standards at all and marrying the first guy who shows interest in you? Absolutely not! In fact, I’m not even saying that you shouldn’t think of your spouse as a hero. What I am suggesting, however, is that our perception of a hero needs adjusting.

What makes a man a hero?

  • Loving God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27)
  • Providing for his family (1 Timothy 5:8)
  • Laying down his life for his wife, as Christ laid down his life for the church (Ephesians 5:25-27)

This may be a short list, but these three things encompass all the things that cause women to respect men, and what is the title “hero” but the ultimate term of respect? If a man loves God with everything he has, takes care of his family, that man is more of a hero to me than some guy with godlike features.

“But two of those three descriptors only apply to married men. How does this help me find a single man??” If a man truly loves God with his entire being, then the others will follow naturally. You can count on it.

By all means, hold out for a hero. But make sure he’s the right kind of hero.

Things I (don’t) Miss about High School

People often laugh when I talk about “high school.” Well, the people who know me laugh. I was homeschooled, so they say I didn’t go to high school. True, I didn’t. But in our culture, the easiest way to reference the ages between 14 and 18 is by saying “high school.”

1. Math! Seriously, I have never once used trig or calculus since I left high school. I tested out of math for college, and skills more than algebra and geometry aren’t tested on things like the THEA and GRE. Completely useless skills for an English-teaching-librarian. However, I do miss the challenge of the puzzle of looking at a pile of numbers  and letters and making sense of them. I miss using math to solve complex problems in chemistry and physics. I miss the thrill of figuring it out and getting it right. Somehow I just don’t get that thrill from analyzing characters in literature.

2. Having no friends. High school was the Sahara Desert of Friendship for me. Every day I longed to have a best friend, someone to hang out with and confide in and generally have fun with. But my enforced solitude necessitated me learning to be comfortable in my own skin. The silence doesn’t scare me (unless we’re talking about The Silence, which is a whole other story), and I can enjoy peace and quiet in a way many of my peers seem incapable of doing. While I do have friends now, I understand that I don’t need friends to complete me.

3. Being a janitor. The last three years of high school my mom and I worked as the janitors at my church. While it wasn’t a mega-church, the building was pretty big and had to be cleaned two times a week. I learned to hate vacuuming. But years of cleaning a huge church gave me the practice I needed to be able to quickly and efficiently clean my house now. After all, what’s an hour cleaning my apartment compared to 15 hours a week cleaning a church?

4. Diagramming sentences. Grammar was pretty much all I did in English during high school. I corrected and diagrammed sentence after sentence, so much so that I literally had dreams about diagramming. It was hard work. But when I had to start writing all the time in college, I almost never got marked down for grammar. And when I had to take a senior level grammar course, I didn’t struggle very much with it. The endless grammar studying made me a better writer.

5. Not having a dad. Okay, I had a dad, but he and I didn’t get along very well. It was mainly just me and my mom. It wasn’t until after I left for college that my dad and I started getting along and building a good relationship. Now I go visit him on a fairly regular basis and talk to him on the phone all the time. I didn’t realize it during high school, but I had a gaping hole in me that could only be filled by my father. Now, I wouldn’t trade my relationship with my dad for anything.