I had the sweetest Grandma. She passed away about four years ago and left behind a big, extended family who will continue sharing stories about her for generations to come. Because she was that special. She lived a difficult life, full of heartache and hard times, but I don’t remember her ever complaining or showing bitterness. She came from a generation that seems to better grasp the fact that life doesn’t owe us anything. We never really get what we deserve (see Romans 6:23) and we are better off counting our blessings and thanking our Father for all we have.
Some of my favorite memories with Grandma Lucy involve trips to Columbia, Missouri. My brothers and I were active 4-Hers as kids. In high school, I participated in county-wide 4-H public speaking contests. We prepared a 3-5 minute speech on the topic of our choice and presented it first at the local level, competing with other students in our age group.
I remember writing about such topics as the Statue of Liberty and similarities and differences in twins. I guess I got pretty good at giving these speeches because most years I won the honor of continuing on to compete with my speech at the state level. Which meant a road trip to Columbia, Missouri. From the first time I did this, my mom invited Grandma to go with us. We would spend the night at her house, get up early, grab breakfast on the road and trek to the middle of our state. I would give my speech in front of a panel of judges, who would critique my delivery.
Not really a big deal, right?
Until I look back. Largely because of the variety of activities I did in 4-H, including these public speaking contests, I don’t blink twice at speaking in front of an audience. I get nervous because I believe it means something and hope it will have an impact. But having a captive audience does not intimidate me. That fear, if I ever had it, got conquered years ago before I could even identify it.
The first salaried job I had after college was at a public relations firm. Many times, I spoke in front of groups; offering training, administering meetings, sharing the details of my career in front of younger students. My mom used to tell Grandma Lucy about these times when I would speak in front of large groups. Her response, “Well, that’s no surprise. She’s been doing speeches for years and always does such a great job!”
So, my ability to speak in front of large crowds served me well in my career. When we had our daughter, I set my career aside. God took me in all kinds of different directions. One would wonder if public speaking skills are necessary as the mom of a toddler? Well, I volunteer at my church these days. One of the things I do is deliver our church announcements from the pulpit on Sundays. Each week, I gather the various church ministry activities and updates, then I organize them into a “speech” approximately three minutes in length. And I stand before a congregation of 200-400 people to deliver the news in a relevant and worshipful way. Can you trace God paving this path for me? Can you see Grandma Lucy smiling?
I hope you’ve caught glimpses of your own faith journey as I’ve walked you through parts of mine. Hearing someone else’s story creates an awareness in us. I pray you’re seeing God traces all throughout your life too.
My story is unique and amazing. But yours is too, because God writes them! Are you naturally shy? Believe me, you can reach people with God’s love that I cannot. Do you only know a few Bible stories? Then I bet you’re not at all intimidating when you learn Scripture with others. The key is to live your story. See traces of God all over it. Share what you are finding. Together, we put our focus right back on God. To Him be the glory forever and ever. Through us.