Mrs.Stinson, one of the most beautiful people I know, celebrated her seventieth birthday this week. She gave me a job when I was eighteen, but honestly, it was far more than a job. She gave me my education. I remember my first day at Lynchburg Christian Academy's Early Learning Center. I was so nervous (and um, overweight) that I almost couldn't make it up the stairs! I remember being introduced to Mrs. Starling and Mrs. Bragg as their "new afternoon girl". I remember the dark classroom full of napping children. I remember Mrs. Starling showing me the ropes...It was obvious that she ran a tight ship! I remember Mrs. Bragg laugh...and how she became my instant friend.
The Early Learning Center was a haven for me.... Every school day, the "afternoon girls" met with Mrs. Stinson for prayer and a devotion before we went to our assigned classes. She took the time to really get to know us, but more importantly, she discipled us. I have to say that any person who has had the privilege to work for Dawna Stinson, is better for it. Her standards were high, but for everything she expected, she invested even more. Where would I be without her?
Those college years were hard ones. Away from family and all things familiar, I had to face some tough realities and I struggled to make good choices. One day in particular, I was walking down the ELC hallway, my face puffy and tear-stained, when Mrs. Stinson spotted me from the office. She steered me into a chair next to her desk and listened to me as I spilled out my broken heart. She comforted me with Scripture and led me in prayer. It was on this day that my life turned a corner.
Mrs. Stinson has held her post as director of the ELC for over thirty years and I was not the first "afternoon girl" to seek her counsel.
But I mattered to her.
Dozens and dozens of us have mattered to her.
God bless you, Mrs. Stinson. Thank you for seeing "me". Thank you for teaching me how to teach children. I learned more in those three years from you, Patsy, Linda, Sandra and all the other wonderful women, than from any class or ministry I've been apart of.
A child may not remember what you said; but he will always remember the way you made him feel.
My life revolves around six people. Morning, noon and night.
Do they know how much they matter to me?
Do I take the time, often enough, to reach them individually?
Wayne, you matter to me.
Ethan, you matter to me.
Sam, you matter to me.
Annie, you matter to me.
Phoebe, you matter to me.
Ruby, you matter to me.
These past few years, God has shown me that this family of ours is my work, it is my ministry, it is my calling. I'm weak and I fumble. There are days where I would hide from myself if I could.... But more often than not, joy bubbles over at the dinner table. And it's my prayer that these five children know that they don't just matter to mama, they matter to Him!
It's so important to know that you matter.
Last Saturday night, we were pulling out of the Kroger shopping center when we saw her standing in the freezing rain holding up a cardboard sign. The sign said something about FAMILY but honestly, I didn't really want to read the rest of it. Both of us noticed the pain on her face. After we'd gone by Wayne said, "I've got ten bucks in my wallet, let's turn around and go back."
I almost did.
But what if she does have a family and giving her ten bucks just takes her further away from them?
Ten bucks is ten bucks. Just turn around and give her the ten bucks.
We battled it out for ten minutes going down the interstate.
What is the right thing to do?
How can we really help?
By now it was getting dark and we knew she wouldn't be standing out there much longer. I finally pulled into a Dollar General and went inside and bought as much as I could with $15.00. We headed back up the interstate and spotted her just as she was folding up her sign. Wayne rolled down his window and handed her the bags. She sobbed.
Her name is Heather and it doesn't matter why she was out there. She was out there.
I didn't feel any sense of satisfaction. Our gift was pretty meager.
It's plagued my thoughts and prayers all week. Because, I know that we are expected to do something. Just what?
And then on the radio this morning, the DJ was speaking about his experience on the streets for two nights, digging in the trash for food, recycling a used water bottle, asking for help.... and feeling completely isolated. He said that 99% of the people who passed him refused to make eye contact....
Don't we though?
The DJ went on to say, "In whatever way you feel led to help, make the effort to let these people know that they matter.... that they matter to you."
Words from heaven direct to my heart.
You matter to Me.
And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my Brethren, you did it to Me. Matthew 25:40