Tag Archive | Hero close to Home

20 Women

Businesswoman Awkwardly Bending over Yellow CounterHere in Alabama where I live The Birmingham News, Birmingham Magazine and Red Mountain Theater Company are having a contest to find 20 women in Birmingham who are making a difference in the city or lives of the city’s population.  The woman can come from any walk of life.   I wonder who will be nominated and the cynical part of me thinks that the ones who are nominated and probably win will be those already in the spotlight.  Local politicians, media personalities, successful business women, women known for the worthy causes they support…the “A” list I suppose, those women who are known widely because they quite often are in the media spotlight already.  Don’t get me wrong, those women are surely making a difference, a positive, uplifting impact on the Birmingham community.  It’s simply that I think of the women who are making a difference who don’t get recognized at any other time.

Women who make a difference live right next door to us and across town from us.  They are in our homes, our churches, our schools, our work places, our courtrooms, our medical facilities and everywhere else.  Most of them rarely, if ever, hear they make a difference in someone’s life.  Sometimes the person is a woman we meet at a crossroad in our own lives and we don’t realize the difference she is making and then we never see her again.  Sometimes we are so use to this woman being in our corner we forget how extraordinary the woman’s presence is in our lives.  Sadly, so many times we recognize her but it simply never occurs to us to acknowledge the difference she is making.

These women may be mothers or may not be.  They may be married or may not be.  They are someone’s wife, significant other, mother, aunt, daughter, friend, cousin, sister or niece.  That’s the point, they can be any woman.  They could be you.

The contest I read about in the January 13, 2013 Sunday edition of The Birmingham News specifies that the contest is for women in the Birmingham, Alabama area and it is limited to 20 winners.  I wonder how many essay entries the paper will receive?  More importantly, I wonder how many women I could nominate who have made a difference in my own life but who also probably won’t make the “in Birmingham” criteria.

What about you?  Can you name 20 women who have impacted your life in a positive way?  Who make a difference?  Perhaps not just in your own life or the lives of your family but in your community?

PROVERBS 31:10-31 N.I.V.

(Though the Scripture is written using the word “wife” this passage can apply to all women regardless of their marital status.)

“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.  Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.  She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.  She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.  She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.  She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.  In her hand she holds the distaff and grasps the spindle with her fingers.  She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet. She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple. Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies the merchants with sashes.  She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:  “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

Modern Day Hero #1 – My Brother

My siblings and I grew up with both parents who were married and who stayed married until “death did them part” when our mother died in August of 1999.  Yet in so many ways it is as if my brother Clint and I grew up in one family and my sister Lynne another.

Clint and I are separated in age by 1 year and 5 months.  Our sister is 6 or 5 years younger depending on which of us you’re comparing her age to.  But age alone isn’t what separates us though we lived and grew up together.

Clint and I knew our father as a man with a severe temper, who viewed his family as possessions, and who thought personal privacy didn’t apply to  anyone other than himself.  He was often physically abusive, even more verbally abusive and rare the time he wasn’t emotionally abusive.  The scars he left in all our lives will never fade completely.

My brother though determined early in his life that the things that I let keep me “down” were going to be rungs of a ladder he’d climb to get out of the life we knew as “family”.  My dad wasn’t a huge fan of education period much less for a girl, so when I brought home low grades it wasn’t as much an issue as it was if Clint brought home less than an “A” in any subject.  In first grade he made a “C” in art – Daddy beat him.  Clint used that unfair and unreasonable expectation, that he never make less than an “A” to propel him towards high grades and he did so taking classes he was interested in.  While Daddy fumed over Clint’s choice to take calculus instead of “shop” or auto mechanics, and berated Clint at every opportunity he could never say Clint was a failure academically.  Our living room walls was covered with Clint’s awards, certificates and trophies.  As soon as Clint could he graduated high school and went away to college.  He never looked back.

Clint overcame every obstacle to obtaining his “higher education” which to date includes a masters from seminary, in education and now he’s working on his PhD and he did it with next to no help from our parents.  He was never one to stand in the wings of the stage and wish he could perform – Clint did it!  He worked through all the “issues” our childhood left him with by utilizing professional help, common sense, much prayer and marrying the woman who understands where he came from and where he is now.

Though he is the “middle child” because he was male he was usually expected to be and acted more like the “eldest”.   Though there were years where in order for both of us to heal we didn’t talk much, never talked about the past and were separated by 100’s of miles we have regained a similar closeness we had as young children.  Clint drove from Mobile the first day I was in the hospital in November 2010 to sit with me in the emergency room and when I was too weak to pick up my fork he fed me.  He came back twice more before I was discharged.

It is never easy to overcome the abusive life my brother and I knew as children and teenagers especially when that abuse was never acknowledged outside the home.  (Though years later people would tell me they knew but “back then” you didn’t intervene in family matters”.)  But my brother has while maintaining his kindness, willingness to help others, a drive to succeed for his self and a peace with who he is…yes, he’s a hero and I treasure him beyond words.