Through the Fire

Through the Fire

Out of the ashes she rose

Death couldn’t claim her yet

Red-hot coals glowed at her feet

An intimidating threat

By faith, she chose to move on

Eyes forward, one step at a time

Through the fire, but was not burned

Out of the ash and the grime

Safely planted on new ground

No trace of the fire she tread

She now knew she had the strength

To stand tall and forge ahead


“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2 NIV

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Role Models

It has come to my attention that January is National Youth Mentoring month. Per Wikipedia, it was started in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service to promote youth mentoring. I’ve been planning this post on role models, and it seems this month is the perfect time for it.

Have you ever wondered if you could make a positive impact on someone’s life? A lot of us don’t think we have what it takes to make a difference, or that it takes a special type of person. Usually, it just takes a normal person that cares.

Kids have so many negative influences in their lives. It seems harder and harder to find positive influences. It comes from every direction: TV, games, friends, it goes on and on. It’s not just the kids, though. Young adults face the same challenges.

It’s not really a “these days” thing, though. I remember when I was a teenager how easy it was to find negative influences. I wasn’t one of the popular kids, but the popular kids weren’t immune. No one was.

One person from that period in my life really stands out. He was a police officer named Don McNeil. We met when I had run away from home; the police picked me up and took me to the station for my mom to come and fetch me. Don noticed my level of distress and sat and talked with me. He was able to calm me down when everyone else I encountered just scared me.

Later, Don would look in on me and my sister to make sure we were doing alright. He befriended several of the teens in our small town. I always knew he would be there when I needed to talk. He was almost a father figure. He gave advice when it was needed, and I never remember feeling judged by him. However, he did use the term, “knuckleheads”, to refer to boys in whom my sister and I took interest.

Don became a person I didn’t want to disappoint. Not that I never messed up. I certainly did that. I remember a particularly stupid escapade my friends and I took part in. When Don found out, he rounded us all up and made us make it right. It could have been much worse, but I don’t think any consequences could have been more effective than seeing the disappointment on Don’s face and the way he handled us.

Don made a permanent impact on my life. He was a powerful role model, who just happened to be in a position of authority, at a time I needed it so much. He was not bossy and intimidating, but he could be authoritative when necessary. Mostly, I remember his kindness and his presence. I cannot imagine life if I had never met him. Although, I still made my share of mistakes, what would it have been like if I had not had that one person? That person who had no obligation to spend an extra second of his life on me, but chose to anyway.

So often, I wished there had been a Don around for my kids. Would it have made a difference? There is no way to know. I like to think it could have made some difference, even if it were small—scale. I remember plenty of adults who made them feel unworthy, or not good enough. But very few who spoke love and life to them.

A couple of ladies offered that to my daughter for a while. I was immensely grateful for them. Sometimes teens need affirmation from more than just their parents. It often means more coming from a person who is under no obligation. Also, teenagers are such emotional creatures that, they need someone to talk to outside of family. I never remember anyone outside of immediate family being that for my sons, although I also realize they made it kind of hard for anyone to want to be around them.

Even as adults, we have times when we need someone who has been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. In my late thirties, my husband and I were trying to make the right decisions for our family, trying to hold the reins on out—of—control teenagers, and our lives were being turned upside down. We met Ed and Judy about this time, and they became close friends of ours. Judy became my best friend, but more than that, she was a mentor and a prayer warrior. Ed and Judy’s experiences in their lives put them in a perfect position to lend strength to us.

This all recalls the verses in Titus 2:1-8, which instruct older women to mentor the younger women, and older men to mentor the younger men.

Here’s the big challenge: is there someone to whom we can be a role model? Obviously, not everyone can be a Don. I’m sure that man was a saint, and will never be convinced otherwise. Most of us can do something on a smaller scale. Do you know an angry teenager who could use a smile, or an ear, or a shoulder? Are you a mature adult, who could be a positive influence to a younger adult? It’s not the easiest thing. Teens and young adults often seem to already know it all, but they see what their older counterparts do. They hear the words we say, they see how we treat people, how we react to stress. It doesn’t have to be a mission. Sometimes the smallest of acts can make a huge difference in a person’s life.

Just words to ponder. Thanks for reading, and be blessed!

Vultures

Do you mind if I just talk a minute about something that has absolutely nothing to do with my books or this site? This is kind of random, but that may not be such a bad thing. Ya’ll are probably tired of me just posting about my books.

Here we go. I’m thinking about vultures. Yes, vultures. AKA buzzards. Those ugly, creepy, nasty winged beasties that eat road kill. They are a large, black bird with bare, red or gray heads. If you live in a rural area, you’ve certainly seen them gathered on the side of the road or in a field or circling overhead. Those creepy jokers don’t really hurt anything. Well, unless you’ve been unfortunate enough to have one of them fly in front of your windshield when you disturbed his lunch. Then it’s a bad day for you and him.

I remember a Saturday a few years ago. I went outside that morning and saw three vultures across the street. Two were sitting on tree branches and one on top of a power pole. All three were staring at me. I scanned the area and didn’t see (or smell) a carcass. That was weird, I thought. But, hey, I live in the country. A couple of hours later, I had completely forgotten the vultures. I went back outside to check the mail, and all three were in the same places staring at me. I scanned the area again. Still no sign of lunch. Ok, now it was creepy. Later when I went for a walk, same thing, except this time I saw one fly from the ground caddy-corner to my house to his place on the branch. At this point, my weird little imagination was kicking in. Why were these vultures watching me? Why haven’t they moved (except that one)? Was this a sign? Even stranger, I was tempted to write a poem about them or take a picture since they were hanging around scoping out my house. But who writes poems about vultures? They aren’t cool like ravens. Then I saw it. There was a patch of fur on the side of the road. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was the remains of a squirrel. Well, not much remained but enough skin and fur to be identified. Now I wondered why those nasty birds took all day to eat that little squirrel. There were three of them. The squirrel couldn’t be more than a snack. Oh, and I felt a bit silly for letting my mind go wild. Good thing I hadn’t told anyone except my husband. My husband thought it was hilarious, by the way.

Fast forward to this morning. I was driving to work this morning, and passed a dead skunk in the road. Actually, I drove right over it, so the full impact of the smell sucked through the vents in my car. I held my breath and rolled down the windows until it aired out. I know skunks show up in town sometimes, but this is another one of those things you really appreciate (or not) if you live in the country. Whew! 

I had forgotten about the skunk by the time I got off work this afternoon. When I returned to the area, I noticed a huge vulture sitting on the side of the road. I slowed down as I approached because, you know, the windshield thing. That’s when I remembered the skunk – the skunk that was no longer in the middle of the road. I guess the vulture dragged him to the side of the road so he could enjoy his meal in peace. As I passed, I was relieved that there was barely any smell. It doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but when that smell gets stuck in your car, it is suddenly a big deal.

So, what’s the point? The point is, I just have to give those nasty birds a little credit. We all know they have an important job, but we don’t like to think about it. They really are under-appreciated. They are kind of like God’s vacuum cleaners. Can you imagine if they didn’t exist? Especially in rural areas where there are more animals and less sanitation workers. Just driving down the street would be disgusting and smelly. I passed the vulture this afternoon thinking, “Thank you, buzzard.” There really is beauty in all creation. Some creatures just require a little extra effort to see that beauty.

Edit: I just wanted to add that this applies to people, as well.