I can use many words to describe who I am–widow, mother, Nana, speaker, and writer. But the one thing that I want to use to describe me is I am a believer. I am saved because of a Savior who loves me enough to give his life for me. Through my years as a Christian I have watched as God has taken the ordinary and made it into the extraordinary.
As I child, I was one of six children. We moved frequently, and when I say frequently I mean I moved at least 16 times that I can remember before I graduated from high school. My dad always worked, but he had a restlessness that never seemed to leave him, until he was well into his 50s and they finally settled in one place for the rest of their lives.
When I was in 6th grade we moved to the country, which in many ways was idyllic. I was one of six children, which always made for an interesting life. We were poor, what some would call dirt poor, but we always had a roof over our head and food in our stomach. In this home we had no indoor plumbing (which necessitated an outhouse), no central heating (only one pot-bellied coal stove for the whole house), and no air conditioning other than the windows wide open and window fans blowing hot air out of the house.
One day I came home from school to find my mother sitting at the kitchen table sharing coffee with a woman I had never seen before. Mom introduced me to our neighbor, Jean Anderson. Little was I to know what a profound impact that introduction would come to mean to me. Jean offered to pay my way to attend church camp. Now honestly, I had no idea what a church camp was. My mom occasionally took us to church, especially on Easter, but my dad never went through church doors unless it was a wedding or funeral.
So off I went to MacGomery Christian Camp. My life was never the same after that. I heard about a Savior who loved me enough to die for me. I gave him my life that week and after I went down to a pond to be baptized, I came up from the water a new creation. I never realized until that moment what real freedom from sin felt like.
When I returned home, Jean Anderson became my mentor. She took me to church each week, she helped me get involved in 4-H, taught me to bake snickerdoodles, and loved me unconditionally. For the next three years, she took me to Youth Rallies, VBS, and revivals. But she showed me mostly how God could take an ordinary farmer’s wife and use her to show God’s love to someone who was hungry for that relationship. I will be forever indebted to Jean Anderson and someday, which I get to heaven, I am going to look her up to say thank you.
Jean was my first experience of seeing God take the ordinary and do something extraordinary. But in my walk as a Christian, I have seen it over and over again. I have watched God take a shy young woman and use her as a missionary in Africa, making a profound impact on the lives around her. I have watched God take a young man who walked for him and use him as a minister in a small town and drastically make a difference to so many lives though the years. I have seen God take a woman whose life was full of sin, who verbally abused her children, and did just about everything wrong you can, and turn her into a woman who is abounding in love and has an amazing testimony. So often, people discount the ordinary in life, but in the hands of God, the ordinary can become extraordinary.
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