One of my best friends, Shannon, is taking a class and for an assignment she had to write about ten exeperiences that have made her into the person that she is today.
So I started thinking. If I had to list ten experiences or reasons for who I am today, what would they be? This is my list in the best chronological order I can get it in.
1) My grandparents moving
My mom's parents moved to Arkansas when I was quite young. Befor they moved they had lived five minutes away from us and I had spent a lot of time at their house. The move was very sudden and it was hard for me to lose my grandparents to a place so far away.
2) becoming a christian
My chrsitianity makes me who I am. It is the reason I have the worldview that I have and I have no doubt that I would be a much different person without Christ in my life. I remember very vividly the night I was in bed reading a book and it described hell. It talked about how horrible and aweful it was and it was then that it hit me, "That's where I would go right now if I died." I had been raised in a christian home my whole life, had attended vacation Bible school, learned about God with my parents. But I hadn't made it real. I hadn't accepted Him as MY personal Lord and Savior. I was just trying to piggyback onto my parent's salvation. If I recall correctly I was eleven years old at the time. I remember kneeling at my bed and telling Jesus that I didn't want to go to hell. I didn't want to be seperated from Him and that I knew that I was a sinner. It was as though a burden had been lifted off my shoulders and I cried. I know that it is not an emotional thing for everyone and I truly believe that God knew that I am an emotional being and that I would doubt my salvation. I think I was given that experience so that it would be imprinted into my mind and that when doubts would come I would have such a strong memory of that experience that I would be able to overcome my doubt.
The summer before ninth grade my youth pastor approached me and told me that our church would be going on a mission trip to Wales. He said that our head pastor had come to him and asked him to pray about inviting some of the youth to come along. He prayed and invited five highschoolers, and I was one of them. I remember telling my dad excitidely that Justin wanted me to go to Wales and my dad told me that it was a lot of money. I think he just didn't want to see me get hurt. I told my dad if God wanted me to go He'd provide. And He did. And he continued to provide for the next 3 years. Even with a church change God provided a way for me to go and the money to go. I really have no other word to describe it than miraculous. I was able to see God move in amazing ways in Wales, my eyes were opened to the darkness that so many people are enshrouded in. I have a Welsh flag hanging on my wall still, and Wales holds a special place in my heart. I long to see a revival in a very spritually dead country.
Kathleen was the mother of a good friend I had in highschool. She was a beautiful woman inside and out and her passion for God was amazing. I learned so much about being a woman of God from just the couple of times I spent with her then I had in all my years of attending church. She lived out the verse, "pray without ceasing" and had such a joy and peace about her that I was instantly drawn to. She was compassionate but could be firm and had a deep love for God and her family.
5) My Grandma's death
In 2005 my Grandma Helen, the same one who had moved to Arkansas, was diagnosed with having stage five brain cancer. She died less than a year later on January 7th, 2006. Her death has been the hardest thing I have ever had to experience. I miss her more than words can say and am deeply saddened that she will never see me get married or have kids. I miss her hugs and her laugh and being able to spend time and talk with her.
6) SET 122
While I was at the junior college I attended I took a class, SET 122 (Special Education Technique). This class required 90 hours of volunteer time in a special education class. I went into it not knowing what to expect and came out of it with a heart for kids with special needs.
Jason is my sweet boyfriend who is the polar opposite of me. He is shy, I'm more outgoing. He's brillant with math, I can't understand any of it. When I'm upset he encourages me. When my temper flares he lovingly puts me in my place. While I was not dating him when my Grandma passed he has been there with me through the grieving process, holding me when I'm upset, telling me it's ok to cry, consoling me when my Grandpa re-married and gently telling me it wasn't ok for me to hate his new wife. He loves me and my family and he's generous and thoughtful. He has a strong sense of justice (even though he cheats while playing games and makes up rules...) and makes me laugh. He loves the Lord in a quiet, solid, way and will wake up at 4 in the morning on Thursday mornings to go to Men's Bible study. He is my better half.
After falling in love with special education after my 90 plus hours of volunteer work I applied to become a special education aide and got the job. There was a little boy in my class, who I will simply refer to as J, that stole my heart. He was difficult to manage but smart and I was assigned to be his one on one. Working with him has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done. It's also been one of the most rewarding.
9) Travis' birth
My sweet friend Marlene was pregnant with her second child and asked me if I would like to be persent during his birth. I stayed at the hospital through her labor and was blessed to experience the absolute miracle of birth. I don't think that anything else in the world can compare to seeing a new life for the first time or the look on mom and dad's face the first time they see their baby. It is somethign I will never, ever, forget and I am truley honored to have been able to be a part of it.
10) Lizbeth's wedding
One of my best friends since 6th grade was recently married to her college sweetheart. She and her husband are a wonderful example of a christian couple and I strive to be like them. I was honored when she asked me to be her maid of honor and I strive to a friend worthy of that title. She is the very first of my group of friend's to have gotten married and I cried when she told me she was engaged. I was so worried about losing her but my fears were completly unfounded. I will never forget the intense highs and lows I felt during her wedding planning and actual wedding.
So, what about you? What ten things have shaped you to make you who you are?