Looking back at my life, I am pretty sure that I have had the best life in the world. I am so blessed, and reflecting on what to write in this post has reminded me of the true blessings that God has given me in the many relationships that I have. Growing up, I didn’t know how blessed I was. Sure, I knew that my parents loved me. But I didn’t realize that so many other people were loving on me and leading me towards God. Even now, I know I am naive about the positive influence that so many people have on me! My maturity, experiences and outlook on look can almost all be attributed to the circumstances that I have lived in, but also the people that I have lived/grown through those circumstances with. So, without further ado, the 10 most influential people in my life:
1. My parents- this one is pretty self-explanatory. They raised me, loved me, challenged me, have prayed for me, supported me and cherished me in a way that I can only hope to do for my own kids one day. My parents live by example. They have influenced more through their actions than anything else. The life they live is for the Truth, and that is evident as I look back on my childhood and even now as I learn more about them as a “fellow” adult.
2. My brother. My brother is probably the most influential person in my whole life…simply because he has been in it from day 1. I think I learned most everything from watching this dude, and although we have not always been friends…we are close now. My decision of where to go to school, church and the friends that I have made were highly influenced by him. He constantly challenges me to seek the Lord, ask questions, be wise and calm down. And he always, always, always makes me laugh.
3. My husband. Um…clearly Theo is very influential in my life. He loves me, prays for me, challenges me, and makes me laugh. We live every day together, and when that happens, we grow a bond that his very attitude can influence my own attitude (and vice versa!). Our wedding vows ended with, “by my love, I hope to prepare you for the day when you will meet Jesus face to face.” He truly does this.
4. My dorm parents and dorm family
Growing up, I had the unique experience of attending boarding school. This boarding school is not the stereotypical “rejected, bad children” school, but was more like a big, diverse family. Living in this family taught me so many things about life, getting along with others, and being a Christian. These truly were some of the best (and most “growing-est”) years of my life.
5. The Irvings- This family made my time at college so much more comfortable, gave it so much more purpose and continue to influence both Theo and I from a distance. This is a family who serves without abandon, and isn’t afraid to get invested. Growing up in a missions community, I took this for granted. I missed it with my whole heart when I got back to the States, and one of the only places I have found it is in the home of the Irvings. Sidenote: DC-10 has and is also highly influential in my life!!!!
6. The Totmans. This family did the same thing, opening up their home, their lives and their hearts to me when I was still in high school and creating drama out of little nothings. Their passion for serving, leading and pouring into youth still impacts me to this day. There are so many conversations that I had with Aunt Anora that changed my mindset about God or about my attitude and the decisions that were to be made. High school would have been so different without the Totmans in my life.
7. Missionaries in Niger. The Riggs. The Freemans. The Childs. The Rideouts. The Chamberlains. The list goes on and on. As I mentioned earlier, I never realized how influential each of these families were in my life. Looking back, I see the sacrifices, I see the hard work, I see the energy that was poured into my life and the lives of all those around me. So many of these people have led me to where I am today, with my passions and simply where I am at.
Honestly, children influence me. Their faith. Their perspectives. Their sweet, innocent desires.
9. My in-laws- the whole family. I am so blessed to have married into such a fun, godly and loving family. I continue to learn about them and from them as we journey together through this life. And it is SUPER fun to have nieces and nephews!
10. Friends. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I love deep relationships- the kind that allow me to have a blast, but also have those conversations that leave me feeling closer to the Lord. I am so thankful for the friends who have challenged me, laughed with me, cried with me, led me towards the Lord, led me to do things I never would have otherwise done.
To all those who have influenced me…even if you didn’t realize you were influencing me…Thank you. I feel like I could write a whole post on each individual mentioned or pictures in this post, but I will refrain for now as I know that this is getting long. To those of you who have influenced my life, you have made an impact…and it is a big one. Trust me.