Sunday, January 29, 2017

Five People I Admire

When my sister and I decided to participate in a monthly book swap this year, she asked if she could send me a blog topic each month. She set a few "rules" - no scouring my blog for previous posts before completing this post, no changing the post after it's written, must be posted by the last day of the month, have FUN! After several months of slow blogging at the end of last year, I thought this was a great idea and would help me be more ACTIVE here at Daily Life - Bits & Pieces.

I did not, however, anticipate how difficult the first topic would be!

I've been pondering this topic since the beginning of the year and have to admit I've had a difficult time choosing who to write about.There are so many people that I admire for a variety of reasons. I hope you'll enjoy learning more about five of them today. 

Corrie ten Boom - Forgiving (Almost) Martyr

I don't remember when I first read The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, sometime in my early teens probably, but her story had a profound effect on me. (Read my review of the book HERE.) Over the years, I've read many other books by Corrie ten Boom and have always been awed by her ability to continue writing and speaking well into her 80s. Despite the fact that she spent time in a concentration camp (and was "accidentally" released only a few days before all the women her age at that camp were exterminated), she spread the message that it is essential for us to live a life of forgiveness.

The story I most remember is when a former prison guard came up to her after she had spoken on forgiveness. She recognized this guard and stood frozen for a moment when he stuck his hand out to shake hers. Could she really forgive this person who had been so cruel? Yes, she decided, with God's help, she could and did forgive those whose atrocious acts led to her father and sister dying in a prison/concentration camp. She does not sugarcoat the fact that it was a very difficult choice to practice forgiveness, yet it was essential.

Dr. White - Enthusiastic Teacher

I met Dr. William F. White in the late 1990s. He was the professor for one of my pedagogy classes at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. I had returned to college to obtain my teaching certification. Dr. White's philosophy of education can be summed up in one sentence: The attitude of the teacher affects the attitude of the student. I was excited to begin this class and knew it would be pivotal in my development as a teacher. Dr. White was an enthusiastic teacher!

Unfortunately, one morning fairly early in that semester, as he was preparing for another day of teaching, he suffered a massive heart attack and passed way. I received a reply from his wife in response to my sympathy card; she said, "he died still doing what he loved to do - teaching!" (I spent the rest of that semester listening to a professor who had no desire to teach the class. It was difficult and boring, which only served to reinforce Dr. White's philosophy!)

Miss Linnie - Compassionate Giver

Back in the late 1990s, I was the church and financial secretary where Mrs. Linnie Greenwood had been a member for many years. She was in her early 80s when I met her, yet she rarely missed a church service or gathering. She always had a smile and had keen observation skills. She would learn of a need and find a way to help if she could. She found great joy in helping others and was a living example of the fact that it is better to give than to receive. (Read more about how she taught me the joy of giving HERE.)

Miss Linnie was also very compassionate. During a very difficult time in my life, she called me and simply said, "I'm not sure what's happening in your life right now, but I felt that God wanted me to call and let you know that I love you." She'll never know how much that call meant to me that day or how I've used that example of heeding the Lord's voice in my teaching over the years.

Daddy Dave - Selfless Patient

David & Anne Bleakley were members of the same church as Miss Linnie. Everyone called them Daddy Dave and Mama Anne. They, too, went out of their way to help others. (Read about the time they gifted me with a washer and dryer HERE.) However, my favorite memory is of the day I stopped by their house (with a casserole and cookies, of course) after Daddy Dave had been diagnosed with cancer. My heart was hurting and sad as I hugged Daddy Dave and expressed how sorry I was to hear the news. But I'll never forget the look on his face, the smile and twinkle in his eye, as he said, "I don't know why this is happening, but I can hardly wait to see how God is going to use me to bless others as I go through my treatment."

Daddy Dave was actually excited about the opportunity to share the love of God with others!! When I visited him in the hospital after his surgery, he spent time telling me about the nurses and other members of the hospital staff that he was meeting and praying for each day. He was such a selfless patient, always thinking of others even as he suffered with pain. In fact, he requested that anyone who wanted to do something for him should purchase shoes to be donated to the Shoes for Orphans program hosted by Buckner International, the organization that also runs the orphanage where he grew up. His request brought in hundreds of pairs of shoes and quite a few monetary donations, which brought him much pleasure as he recovered and eventually returned to his normal routines.

Ms. Faye - Faithful Mentor

When I moved to Rockwall, Texas, a week after marrying Robbie, I didn't know anyone except him in this area. We began attending church and soon made friends. The church had lots of small groups available, and Mrs. Faye Holt and Ms. Ruthie Allison led a group called Mentors & Moms. These two ladies (both in their 70s at the time) wanted to encourage and mentor younger women in their lives and walk with the Lord.

Ms. Fay was a wonderful encourager and spent time in prayer for each of us on a daily basis. Even when Robbie and I moved away from the area for several years, she kept in touch, calling occasionally and sending cards to remind us that she was praying for us. When we returned to the Dallas area, we were able to enjoy lunch and short get-togethers with her on several occasions, however her health was declining and it was harder for her to get around. The last time I spoke with her, I don't believe she really knew who I was . . . but it didn't matter, because she knew I was one of "her girls" from the group and she was just as encouraging as she'd always been. She asked what I was up to and how we were doing, then she prayed for us. Even in debilitating health and failing memory, she was a faithful mentor! (Ms. Faye passed away this past October, and her memorial service was one of the most loving I've ever attended!)

As I think about these individuals, I realize they have several things in common:
*each one possessed a personality trait that I'd like to cultivate in my own life.
*each one was older, yet still willing to invest in others, especially those of younger generations.
*each one was only in my life for a short period of time (or really not at all in the case of Corrie ten Boom).
*each one taught by example, living out these lessons in everyday life.

I'm so blessed to have the example of these individuals in my life! If you had to choose five people you admire, who would you pick and why?


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