Saturday, January 28, 2012

Just a Minute

Well, I have to say that this is a rather difficult blog assignment for me to complete.  But it's a good thing for me to do.
Wess Stafford has released his new book, Just a Minute.  (That link goes to, but you can also buy it at Amazon (of course!), Barnes and Noble, and most likely other Christian bookstore sites.)  I read Too Small to Ignore by Wess, and it changed me.  I can't wait to receive this book because his writing is inspiring and real.
In it he shares how we can change the life of a child in just a minute.  Having been a teacher for many years, I do not need to be convinced of the truth of that.  
So my assignment is to share how the words of an adult changed my life for the best or for the worst in "just a minute."  
*Warning: don't expect a warm and fuzzy post.*
I grew up in a family of five children.  We didn't have much.  After this most people say, "But we had love."  Umm . . . can't say that.  We rarely had enough food.  I never had a bike like my friends.  The bills were never paid.  My parents argued constantly (daggers in the stomach of a little girl).  I wore hand-me-downs most of my life, so other kids made fun of me.  I never even owned a pair of jeans until I was in high school, and I can describe those jeans to you vividly to this day.
I never heard my parents say they loved me.  Actually, my mom said it right before she died a few years ago.  That was the only time.
I did hear them say many other things.  "You are the reason for all the trouble between your mother and me."   "That sure is a stupid way to do that."  "You never do anything right."  "You are just a troublemaker."  "For someone who makes straight A's, you have no common sense." (For the record, I made 2 B's in high school, so even that wasn't accurate.)
What did I glean from all those minutes? That I'm stupid and I'm worthless.  
Many years later, I still struggle with those ideas, and I wonder if I will ever, ever on this earth be able to allow myself to find healing.
But here's the good part.  I believe with all my heart that the negative comments my parents made to me (with language I wouldn't repeat) led me to become a teacher.  And as a teacher (although I have failed at times), my goal has been to make as many kids as I can feel good about themselves every single day.  I can't even remember how many former students have told me I have changed their lives because of one positive comment that I don't even remember saying.  And I teach high school students, so if it impacts them, imagine how the words you say will impact a small child.
I have also made an effort for my entire life to make children, especially my friends' children, feel important.  When all the other adults are ignoring them, I talk to the children.  Part of it is my anxiety about talking to adults, but most of it is my desire to let those children know how special they are, and to hope that what I say to them will somehow spare them from what I experienced as a child.  I have no children of my own (you can probably infer from what I've already said what has led me to live my life alone), but I feel like God has used that to allow me to be able to bless other children, including my own nieces and nephews.
And that leads me to my involvement in Compassion.  I didn't really begin sponsoring children because I thought I would make them feel better about themselves.  I just wanted to help.  Then I realized that my letters to them, my interest in them, my telling them that Jesus and I both love them very, very much can literally change their lives.  
Children in poverty lack hope.  Believe me, I grew up in conditions much better than these children live in, yet I didn't have much hope.  To think that I now live in a house (although I don't own it) right across the street from the Atlantic Ocean and have been given the honor and privilege of impacting the lives of many children here in this city and now children in other countries through Compassion, is an amazing thing for this "troublemaker" to believe.  How am I even worthy of all this?
I became a Compassion Advocate so that I could help others to see how they can give hope to children who have no hope.  If I could tell every child on this planet how important and beautiful and special he or she is, I would do it.  Now.
I never, never want a child to feel the pain that I still struggle to forget.


  1. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm sure it's not easy for you to go there. I'm thankful you have allowed God to take the negative and use it for good in your life. I admire you for that, and praise God for the faithful servant you have become. Be blessed.

  2. Thank you, Jill. Your words really mean so much to me.

  3. You said in your post that you wondered if you would ever be able to allow yourself to find healing...I think you just took the first step.

    Godspeed on your journey. Sharing your pain, allowing others to come alongside, to lift you up in prayer...God's got something special for you and the blessing's in the journey.

  4. I think you're right. I've actually been reading this over and over, not because I think I'm so good, but because it is indeed part of healing.

  5. So much of what we experienced as children drives us as adults, yes? I think writing about our experiences is part of the healing process, along with taking action like sponsoring a child. As a teacher, you are in a position to spot children that may be suffering the effects from a troubled home life. You can console and counsel, something which you may have not had the opportunity to receive from teachers when you were in school. God Bless. ~Jim /

  6. Thank you for sharing your story. I believe the other commenters are correct--just telling your story is the beginning of healing. I loved Dr. Stafford's book--so many great stories, including his own. Like you, he suffered in ways children should not have to suffer. But he used those painful circumstances to become a more compassionate person--and it sounds like you have done the same. I takes courage to love when you've been hurt like that. Thank you for living courageously.

  7. Thank you, Keri, for the amazing encouragement.