Dear Momma

This letter was written by Gabrielle Holmes, one of my students, as a tribute to her mother.

Dear Momma,

I want to let you know how thankful I am to still have you in my life considering all the obstacles we have faced in life. Since Pawpaw died, you have stepped up and really showed me there is life at the end of the tunnel.

mother-429157_1280I want to thank you, Momma, for helping me with my children even though I know it’s a hassle for you. I want to thank you, Momma, for always inviting me and the kids over for dinner even though you don’t have to. Thank you, Momma, for being my biggest fan through every single stage of my life. I just want you to know I couldn’t have ask for a better cheerleader.

Thank you for becoming my best friend and being my biggest confidant. You always answer your phone with the same friendly attitude every time I call no matter if I call ten times in a row. You have shown me how to respect people and treat everyone with kindness no mater what. You let me know it wasn’t okay to judge people at a young age, and I respect you for that.

You have been my rock through breakups, life decisions, and new chapters. Thank you for teaching me the importance of hard work and the importance of getting your education so  I can have something in life. You have always told me if I wanted something in life, I have to work for it. Thank you for making me independent and telling me to never rely on anyone. Every single day I become more confident in myself.

My hope this Christmas season is for you to find joy, peace, and happiness, and let’s not forget to still cook! I just want to say I love you and thank you for being my backbone.

-Gabrielle

Not so plain Jane

Jane, Jane, Jane,

You’ll probably kill me for this (or at least you’ll want to).

11952017_597555627432_4960712350773105577_nI can’t stop thinking about writing this letter to you, and when I can’t get something off my mind, I take action. I think you know this about me, so I’m pretty sure you’ll forgive me even though you don’t like being in the spotlight and would prefer to be the one snapping photographs instead.

In fact, this is one thing I love most about you and have come to admire about you–you are incredibly perceptive and have me pegged very well, even better than friends of mine who’ve known me for decades.

You recently interviewed a few students of mine during a mock interview session for Oral Communication class, and the feedback you provided me with about each of them was spot on. You described their personalities, assets, and liabilities almost exactly the way I’d describe them myself, and I’ve been teaching them twice weekly since August. This ability to cut through the bull and see people and situations realistically is one reason I often call on you for second opinions and came looking for “Jane’s brain” while trying to sort out my thoughts about my recent presentation proposal.

I also know I can trust you 100% with information, secrets, rambling thoughts, and feelings. Your trustworthiness is an attribute that every person aspires to possess, but let’s be honest–not all our friends are trustworthy, or this wouldn’t be worth mentioning. 11836790_595919815612_3466892458279554535_n

When our friends Chris and Tara moved to the big city of Little Rock, I felt lonely and wondered how God would fill the hole in my life. I relied on those two for companionship, entertainment, laughter, and confidential conversation time. Even though you and I were friends long ago, I think we have grown closer because of the space created by Chris and Tara moving away; God filled the empty space in my life with something new and just as meaningful. 1977343_584011455062_4121734977188759612_n

You’re a deceptive one, Jane. . . you might appear simple on the outside with that cream-colored cardigan, jeans, and bangs, but I’ve got you figured out! You’re the life of my party for two every time we hang out.

I love you more than chocolate with almonds, Seinfeld, freshly brewed coffee, and Big’s Restaurant.

Top that.

And happy Thanksgiving, my friend.

Bethany

 

Big inspiration

 

*Thanks to my friend Debra Dickey-Liang for sharing as today’s guest contributor!*

ElephantI’ve been a long-time fan of elephants! It’s taken me a while to figure out exactly why. I only knew that they were regal, majestic animals, dignified in their bearing, who have such expressive eyes that allow you to see into their very beings, and that they are excellent mothers who are fiercely protective of their young.

So by doing just the simplest of research, some of the admiration I have always felt for the magnificent elephant was put into very meaningful context. I’ve confirmed that:

• Elephants form deep family bonds.

• Having a baby elephant is a serious commitment.

• They are quite peaceful if left alone; typically very affectionate animals.

• Elephants are extremely intelligent and have memories that span many years.

• The matriarch and other senior females carry within their memories the wealth of knowledge gained from their life experiences. This is vital to the extended family’s well-being.

• They also display signs of grief, joy, anger, and play.

• Recent discoveries have shown that elephants can communicate over long distances by producing a sub-sonic rumble that can travel over the ground faster than sound through air. Other elephants receive the messages through the sensitive skin on their feet and trunks.

• The elephant is not thick-skinned, but actually has a very sensitive outer dermis.

• The elephant’s feet are an amazing product of genetic engineering making them unsurpassed as a means of traversing saturated ground or marshland. (An amazing, but nevertheless accurate, fact is that an elephant’s height at the shoulder is twice the circumference of his foot.)

• Different herds can come together at favored water holes or grazing sites. There is never friction between the groups, and observers have reported that often these appear to be joyous reunions. (Peace holders!)

• Although they are the strongest of animals, they can truly die from a broken heart.

• Elephants have no natural predators; however that doesn’t mean they are always safe out in the wild.

Strength of character, unconditional love, quintessential sensitivity, together with rich knowledge and abundant understanding, family-oriented, peace-loving souls, also possessing essential tools which enable them to negotiate perilous ground without misstep, fault, or waver – yes! Not only are these the same traits that I seek to find in myself, but these are also the beautiful characteristics that I find demonstrated in the wonderful array of fascinating, gifted, talented, and caring people in my life. Now I absolutely understand the reason that the elephant has always held such a high degree of regard and attraction for me!

As an aside, I have also noted that the elegant elephant expresses positively no self-deprecation about being gray, wrinkled, and completely devoid of an hourglass figure . . . yet she still exhibits an abundant supply of confidence and self-esteem. Such a resplendent, stately creature. Who of us wouldn’t admire that?

New names

*Thanks to Amy Driskill for pitching in as today’s guest contributor. Happy spring time, everybody!*

009Spring time is a time of growth and renewal.  I look around me now, and I see wildflowers popping up all over my yard.   As I sit here, I think about how God has changed me.  It made me curious about how God changes people.  In particular, I became curious about name changes.  Every year for the past four years I’ve volunteered at Royal Family Kids Camp.  We have a song that sticks with me throughout the year.  The words are:

 

I will change your name.  You shall no longer be called wounded, outcast, lonely, or afraid.

I will change your name.  Your new name shall be confidence, joyfulness, overcoming one.

Faithfulness, friend of God, one who seeks My face.

 

This song resonates with me because I was so wounded lonely and afraid.  I was all of those things.  I was all too familiar with the hurt look in the eyes of the children at camp.  I had been where they are.  I spent years in that dark lonely place.  It took the light of God and the renewing power of His grace that transformed me into one who is confident and joyful.

In the Bible, God changed Abram into the faithful servant Abraham and Sarai into Sarah, which means princess.  It is fitting considering that she would be the mother of the tribes of Israel.  Paul had a significant change in his life as he walked down the road.  Saul was a man whose goal in life was to kill Jews, but after an encounter with God he was a changed man.  He became the great apostle Paul bringing many into the family of God.

You see, he doesn’t just change our names.  He adopts us into his family and makes us new.   That which was lost and broken was brought into his presence and was not only restored, but we are made into a new beautiful creation as a child of God.

Worth

*Thanks to Linda Unger, inspiring writer and photographer, for serving as today’s guest contributor. To view more of Linda’s amazing photography, visit her website.*

I am a mother, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a niece, a wife and many other things. But the most difficult to believe “role” has been child of God. So many times I calculated my self-worth by the grades I got in school, by the scores I got in sports, and by the looks of others. My heart just felt unworthy of the love of God.

Today I am treated no differently than anyone else in recovery. I am no lower than child of God. I am afforded the same opportunity to recover as the next person. My words are heard and acknowledged. I am valued as an employee and as a friend. Today I have a new appreciation for the hard road I have traveled, as it has brought me to this point of self-examination.

Photo by Linda Unger

I’ve learned to look for the beautiful things in other people, and by doing so, I find beautiful things in me. I’ve learned to be grateful for time spent with friends and family as time is the most valuable gift. I’ve learned to pick out one special thing about every person I meet, keeping me from sinking into anger over minor issues. I am forever amazed at the changes in perspective that the program has given me. If I spend my time being grateful for all the people that have brought me to where I am today, good or bad events, I can keep a better handle on “life’s terms” when they arise!

 

If I ever doubt who I am, the truth is as close as the words spoken to me by God, through you.