Why am I writing about the special people in my life? There are many reasons.

It makes you feel good to think about people who have helped you and encouraged you in the past. I really kind of need those warm fuzzy feelings right now. It’s also good to recognize people who are sView Postpecial, but the primary reason that I’m doing it is because of this verse.

I Thes 5 11

This verse keeps coming back to me. Continue reading

Karen (Brown) Ash

Live so that when people get to know you, they will want to know Christ. Who has been your mentor? Are you mentoring others? – from my friend Karen Ash’s Facebook page.

I was considering who to write about this week, when this quote from my friend Karen popped onto my Facebook News Feed. I had my answer.

Karen Ash was my mentor all through middle school and high school. I was 12 years old, in a new house, in a new town, with few friends and now in middle school. Karen, who was a year and a day older, had gone to camp that summer and decided with friends to start a Youth For Christ Club in our small town. She invited me, which was convenient because her parents could take all of us the seven miles into town. I enjoyed going, and made a profession of faith, that year.

Karen became my best friend. I rode to church with her family. She always encouraged me. I spent many afternoons at her house talking about life. Having a friend take an interest in you is always good, but in our small town it was vital. Back then was cliquish, and if you didn’t belong to a group you were sort of invisible. It was difficult to be in the popular crowd. That left the jocks, which I am most definitely not. The group that was most accepting of new people were those involved in drinking and drugs. I’m not saying that I would have been involved in that group, because I was pretty scared of my mom’s reaction (and it would have been bad). Karen most likely kept me from being one of the invisible people or someone who was picked on a lot. She acted like my life meant something and that I was important. That vote of confidence helped me to succeed in school. She also mentored me in my Christian life and in my relationships with others. As an only child I didn’t grow up automatically knowing how to relate to people my own age. Karen’s patient friendship helped to change that in my life.

We stayed friends until I moved several hours away. In the days of expensive long-distance phone calls and before email, internet and Facebook, it was much harder to be friends with someone far away, especially since I don’t write letters well. We lost touch for several years, and then would see each other occasionally. Once I was on Facebook, I continually looked for Karen, until she finally got a Facebook account. Now, I get questions, like the one I quoted, to make me think about my life, and Karen continues to be a mentor to me.

Karen Ash thank you for making a difference in my life.

Zeta Davidson

When that difficult child walks into your Sunday School class or cub scout troop, think about how you can impact their lives. I was that little 8-year-old girl who walked into a Wednesday night GA program (Southern Baptist missions organization). I wasn’t difficult in the traditional sense. I obeyed, but I didn’t get along with other children. Until I started school, I was rarely around kids. I didn’t know how to relate. I was also a tattle tale. My mother had taught me to always do what was right, and to me that meant making sure other kids did what was right too. Obviously, I wasn’t popular. When I walked into that class, Zeta Davidson came to my rescue.

She couldn’t make the other kids like me, but she could make sure they didn’t bully me. She made sure that they were nice to me. She made sure I was included in everything. It was so much better for me than school. She even enlisted the help of the other girls to be nice to me in Sunday School. Church was my safe place. I loved going there because I always felt accepted. Zeta made sure I got hugged on.

During my last two years of GA’s, we had moved. Zeta helped make sure I could ride the bus on Sunday Mornings, and someone picked me up for GA’s on Wednesday nights. GA’s and Zeta were my lifeline during those two years. Things were incredibly bad at school. I was bullied, physically abused and then sexually harassed almost every day. I never told anyone because I had learned at a previous school that telling meant that the person would hurt you more. Although, I didn’t tell Zeta, she was always there for me being the encouraging voice in my life, speaking God’s love into my life.

I was just one little kid in a big church, but Zeta made me feel like somebody and let me know that God loved me. Although I moved away in sixth grade, I always remembered her. When I went to a writer’s conference years later and found out that she was involved in leadership with the group that put it on, I couldn’t wait to see her again. Today Zeta is till one of those encouraging people always telling others (including me) that they can do it and that God will bless their writing.

Zeta Davidson you did and continue to live the love of Jesus in my life.

Two Special Elementary Teachers

Elementary school wasn’t easy for me. I struggled to read in Kindergarten and First Grade, I had to go to speech therapy for a lisp, and I had to wear corrective ugly shoes. That’s three strikes and your out in kid language. The kids made fun of me because I was different, and they didn’t want to be my friend. Add to that my reading difficulty, and it wasn’t good. I had two elementary teachers who made a huge difference in my life. I’m pretty sure neither of them is alive now, but I would still like to honor Miss Farmer and Miss Bybee.

Miss Farmer was my second grade teacher. It was a very difficult time for me. We had just moved because we needed to be closer to my dad’s work. He had started having seizures and wasn’t able to drive. Miss Farmer seemed old to me. I’m sure she wasn’t as old as I thought, but she was close to retirement. She taught me how to read. She used phonics even though most of the curriculum was Dick and Jane. Within the first quarter of school, I was caught up and passing people up. She opened a whole world to me through reading. She was one of the most loving teachers I had ever had. She did have some steel mixed in with her softness, and I needed that. When I did something wrong, she told me that I had done something wrong and gave me appropriate consequences. She would then let me know that she still cared about me. Mostly we didn’t do anything wrong because we didn’t want to disappoint her. Thank you Miss Farmer for introducing the whole world to me through a love of reading.

Miss Bybee was my fourth grade teacher for the first quarter of the year. She was firm but loving. She expected a lot from me because she knew that I could achieve it. She was the first teacher who ever told me how smart I was and that I could do anything that I wanted. She loved me enough to call me on it when I did something wrong. I wrote a note to a boy in class, and she found it. She told me that I was a lady and that ladies don’t chase boys. She also said that I was too smart to be chasing a boy. She made me focus on school, and she helped me to learn my strengths. I was heartbroken when I found out we were moving because it took away one of the most encouraging women for me.

I never saw either of these ladies again, but I still remember them almost 45 years later. They helped me to learn how strong I was, and that I could do anything that I put my mind too.

Thank you!

A Daddy for a Princess

You can’t get much more special that my daddy – Calvin Carlson. I was his princess. He spoiled me (a little). He was a man of few words but showed his love for me every day with his actions. He rarely got angry, and he was not a strict disciplinarian where his little girl was concerned.

He tried to get me to do new things, even when I was scared. He tried to teach me to ride a bike, water ski and ride a motorcycle. He didn’t have much success with those, but kept trying and he never made me feel bad. He even forgave me when I tried to drown him during the water skiing lesson. He gave me the courage to learn to drive and always told me I could do it.

He always thought the best of people, including me. He would assume that I had done what he asked, and I didn’t want to disappoint him. He appreciated when I did things. One night when I was 12, guests came to our house. We had just finished dinner, and while my parents went outside, I cleared the table and washed the dishes without being asked. When I came back into the kitchen, there was a dollar bill in the dish drainer where I had put the dishes to drain.

Instead of telling me no, when I asked to do something, he lead me through the decision process. I called at 8:30 one school night to ask if I could go with friends to McDonalds. My dad asked questions about what time I had to be at school the next morning, how much homework I had, etc. By the time he was done, I knew the answer was no, even though I wanted to go. I couldn’t even argue with him, because I was the one who made the decision.

When I was almost 20, he didn’t feel my car was safe. He knew I didn’t have the money to replace, so he bought me a better used car for my birthday. It even had front wheel drive for driving in the snow.

When my daughter came along, he cherished her. He was the only one who could comb her hair because he was so gentle. She did almost everything Poppa asked. Once she didn’t put her blanket on the bed after her nap. He took her hand and together they picked it up and put it up. He expected her to obey, and she usually did. He babysat her one summer for several hours two days a week when I was working nights.

He was my son’s best buddy. They sat down every Sunday to watch races on TV. The little boy was cuddled in next to Poppa in the recliner. They always fell asleep and shared a long nap. Grandpa showed him how to use tools, and told him that he had to take care of Mama, Sissy and Grandma. My son took that to heart and still tries to do anything his mom or sister need.

When my son was four and my daughter ten, my dad rented a limousine so that we could go see Christmas lights together. He wanted to make Christmas magical for them. He accomplished that. That is probably the only real memory my son has of Poppa alive. A year and a half later, a ruptured aortic aneurysm took my father’s life in just a few short minutes.

Daddy, you are truly one of the most special people I have ever had in my life. I love you, and I miss you every day.

A Ruby of a Person

A ruby is a precious red gem. That pictures describes my Aunt Ruby perfectly. She was beautiful as a ruby on the outside and even more precious on the inside.

Aunt Ruby loved everyone. She was not extremely outgoing, but she was always there to welcome you , commiserate with you, pass out hugs, or do whatever you needed. Her son-in-law preached at her funeral, and he talked about how she always made you feel like you were her favorite. Time alone with Aunt Ruby was something to treasure. Aunt Ruby and Uncle Elmo’s house was always full of people, but even a few moments alone with her in the kitchen or as she did chores were cherished. When I was about 13, I got to spend a week with her. That was a treasured week of of uninterrupted time with her, and of course she spoiled me.

She always made sure that the kids had a place. We had a big room with many toys in the basement and mostly had the run of the rec-room as well. She didnt’ ignore the kids the way that some adults would. She would encourage us to play a board game or do a craft at the dining room table and often came and joined in with us.

She was an encourager. When you were doing wrong, she offered encouragement and challenge instead of rebuke. I needed to lose weight when I was in junior high, and she challenged me to a competition. She said it would be fun to lose weight together. Now, I realize she did it to help me. We wrote back and forth often. I even got a phone call which was very rare because we lived a couple of hundred miles away, and this was before free long distance. Of course she let me win the contest and was so proud of the 13 pounds I lost. She also sent me $5.00 for winning.

She expected the best from us kids, and we usually behaved that way. Even if we had misbehaved or upset her, she would not never say anything. She didn’t have to be upset with us. We knew that we had disappointed her and put a frown on her happy face. We always felt so bad that we were immediately contrite. I don’t really remember her being angry. She always made me feel at peace.

She was also self-sacrificing. Aunt Ruby was a baker. One of her specialties was her pies. She made coconut for my uncle, chocolate for my dad and cherry for me. She knew everyone’s favorite and made it for them. One of the first questions she asked my husband when she met him was “What kind of pie do you like?” He told her that he really like lemon meringue. She was happy because that was her favorite, and now she had a reason to make it.

Her funeral in 2007 was happy and sad at the same time. It was happy because she had suffered from dementia for several years and was ready to go home to heaven. It was sad for all of us because of how much we would miss her. I sat next to two of my dad’s 70 something cousins, and these grown men had tears trickling down their faces. She had an impact on everyone she met.

I’ve thought about how I could honor Aunt Ruby. If I took the Christ-love that she exuded and passed even half of that love on to other people, the world would be a much better place and more people would know what it was like to experience that love in their lives.

Aunt Ruby, we know that you’re in heaven now! We miss you, but we know you’re in a much better place. Now you’re able to have your Lemon Pie and all of the other rewards that God has for you. Enjoy them! No one deserves them more!

Special Person – DeAnna McClary

Rarely in life do we get the opportunity to interact with someone who radically changes our life! DeAnna McClary was one of those people in my life.

On March 3, 1968, during his 19th reconnaissance mission in Vietnam, DeAnna’s husband was critically wounded by an enemy attack. Clebe and DeAnna had only been married a few months, and he expected her to turn and run when she saw him. He was missing his left arm and left eye and was told that he would never walk again. DeAnna lived the commitment for better or for worse, and stayed by his side during the two years and over 30 major surgeries he had in military hospitals.

I heard Clebe McClary speak in 1981 in my hometown. I had no idea that a few years later and almost 900 miles away my life would intersect with DeAnna.

In 1985, my husband and I went to New Orleans for a conference. There were several thousand people, and we didn’t know anyone. We were adrift in an ocean of people, and things weren’t going well that Saturday morning. A server dropped a huge tray of breakfast plates almost right on top of me. I was dripping scrambled eggs and had a cut on my leg from the broken plates. I went to the restroom and cleaned the eggs the best I could but decided I needed to change clothes. As I walked away, I sniffed back tears. I had felt invisible the whole time we were there, and especially when I was wearing eggs and no one noticed.

My tears triggered the radar of DeAnna McClary who was walking into the conference. She asked me “Honey, are you ok?” I tried to say that I was fine, but it was obvious to her that I wasn’t.

She looked down and saw my leg and said “You’re hurt.” She led me over to a bench and asked my name and told me that she was a nurse and she wanted to make sure my leg was ok. She said if I cleaned it and put on a bandage.

She told me that my hose were the biggest casualty. That’s when she offered me the shirt off of her back – well almost. She offered to give me a pair of her own hose to replace my torn ones.

To me there was nothing more selfless that she could have done. In that moment, she made me a person, someone to care about. I wasn’t invisible.

I saw Clebe and DeAnna a few tables away from us that night and went to say thank you. She introduced me to her husband, and then she told me that I should have taken the hose because she had a pair that would have been beautiful with the dress I was wearing.

I went away from that experience knowing that I could make people feel like they mattered. I could notice them and let them know that they weren’t invisible that someone saw. It could be as easy as the tissue I gave the crying girl at the ER, or the help I gave my daughter’s friend who told me that no adult had ever kept their word to her.

Here’s a link to an article about one of those special people in Clebe McClary’s own life.