This month, Journey with Jen as she battles through the Oklahoma winter that just does not want to end and see how it parallels to the trials in our lives and why we need deep roots.
Inspiring. It’s a big word. And so are the people I’ve introduced you to over the last several weeks. Wrapping them into a blog post seems too simplistic for the individuals they are, the lives they live, and the people they’ve touched. This last inspirational series blog post brings home the definition of inspiring.
Dictionary.com provides the following:
- to fill with an animating, quickening, or exalting influence: to influence or impel
British Dictionary definitions for inspire:
- to exert a stimulating or beneficial effect upon (a person); animate or invigorate
- enspiren, "to fill (the mind, heart, etc., with grace, etc.);"
- enspirer , from Old French, "to prompt or induce (someone to do something),"
- enspirer from Latin "inflame; blow into",
One of the greatest, and yet deeply humbling of compliments I’ve been given over the years of sharing my story through personal conversations, public speaking and writing, is “You are so inspiring.”
I’m grateful the Lord has provided the days He has given me to continue living this life and I’m grateful for the people to share with where He has brought us on this journey. I’m humbled knowing it is not anything by my own doing, nothing I have orchestrated or accomplished, but it is completely by His mighty hand at work.
Why have others received inspiration from my journey? Because it has been written, directed, and kissed with the intentions, plans and purposes of my Heavenly Father. It’s what makes each one of our journeys inspiring. God uses His people to influence, to flame, to blow into, to prompt one another to become and to do all He desires, for us to live our lives to the fullest making the greatest impact for Him. These are the reasons I have written this series, sharing these people to inspire you and encourage you to inspire others.
It’s natural to assume I wouldn’t be who I am, nor sharing my life, eager to touch others, if it weren’t for one couple touching mine so magnificently spanning the last twenty-one years.
Steve and Michele Lee became my youth pastors in August 1994. I didn’t even know I was broken when I met them, but God knew I was to quickly find out, and He strategically put help in place before the storm began brewing.
My family had attended church all my life, but were never involved. I didn’t grow up knowing what it felt like to have a church family. Not until my parents decided to get plugged into a church closer to home. It was my first experience in a youth group, although it was quite small, only half a dozen students, and we technically didn’t have a youth pastor at the time, as Steve and Michele came a few months after we started attending.
This couple had a passion for youth. It was evident. They jumped in coordinating after-glows, which were social events after Sunday night service, ranging from pizza in someone’s home to bowling or putt-putt golf; and, weekly visitations, taking us to go visit students who were new to the youth group. Steve and Michele took us to summer youth camp, summer ski days at the lake, a back-to-school retreat where we floated the river and played during the day and had a service with worship, a message and prayer at night. Seems like a lot, but there’s more. They got involved in our schools, and we saw Steve regularly at our on-campus Bible club, he visited us at lunch, came to our sporting events, talent shows, and graduations. Steve and Michele took us to concerts, discipleship camp, mission trips, youth conferences and snow ski trips. A week didn’t go by that we didn’t have an opportunity to serve in our youth group or participate in a youth event, and this was on top of our weekly Wednesday night services!
It’s been said people bond through experience, and Steve and Michele definitely provided the experiences to bond with the teenagers they were called to minister to, growing the group to over two hundred students.
They were intentional.
How grateful I am for them. When the emotional trauma from Jon and my accident eventually surfaced, Steve and Michele were equipped with faith, the Word of God, and prayer to minister to me, speaking healing, vision and inspiration into my heart, into my life, into my bones.
Steve and Michele Lee threw a cloak over me. For years, I had the opportunity to serve in music ministry, singing on the youth worship team, which provided for an array of different experiences. Then years later, after Brandon and I had married and joined the youth leadership team, Steve asked me to take one of the Wednesday night youth services. I never thought of myself speaking; that was beyond my vision. But I did it, because they believed in me. They saw what I couldn’t see in myself, and continued to give me opportunities to grow in what God was preparing. Michele asked me to come speak to her 2nd grade class, which I have done for about a decade now, and Steve plugged me in to speak through the abstinence program at several of the schools. A few years ago, when the Lord was carrying me through my nursing school studies, Steve asked if I would speak in one of our Sunday morning services. God has given me a variety of experiences to demonstrate His calling upon my life as a speaker, and He has used Steve and Michele Lee to illustrate it, as this ministry has been perpetuated through theirs.
This couple has been the most influential on my life. We share a bond. A bond created when I was just a young lady and strengthened over time. Those times have brought much change.
We’ve shared some trials, as we walked through many of my surgeries and also Steve’s own burn injury. They comforted us after our miscarriage and faced all four of our high-risk pregnancies with us. And we grieved the loss of my Dad together, Steve doing the most difficult, being the one who told my Mom of my Dad's passing. Above all, our joys have exceedingly outweighed the sorrows. We’ve had the privilege of being a part of their lives as they started their family, watching their three little girls grow into beautiful young women, one in high school, one starting college, and one soon to get married. They celebrated life goals with us when Brandon finished his engineering degree and I, my nursing degree. And the influence of their ministry continues on in our life, even today, as our lead pastors.
Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith. Hebrews 13:7 NLT
Oh how I’ve followed their example. As a young teenager, I looked at Steve and Michele and I prayed the Lord would give me a husband like Steve and make me a wife like Michele. I desired my family to love the Lord, be passionate for His Word, and be obedient to His callings, to be real, relevant, love people, and choose happiness.
Steve and Michele Lee’s influence upon my life goes back to my parents and the decision they made over twenty years ago. When my parents chose to join the congregation, they chose to commit to a family. As we all know, families go through hard times. We’re not always going to agree with them. We’re not always going to feel important. Things may not go as we think they should. But it’s a commitment. We don’t bail in dry seasons. We don’t jump ship when waters get rough. We commit to where God has called us to be. Church is about serving. It’s an opportunity to give of ourselves. Yes, we get a lot. I’ve written about a portion of it here. But when our hearts are in the place of giving and not getting, then the measuring stick is gone, no one keeping track of who got what and who’s doing what. And then there is so much freedom and liberty for God to work creatively, beyond what we could think or imagine.
When we’re committed to a church, to serve in a body of believers, we walk away with far more than we could ever bring, one thing is a family.
The Lord uses people. He uses people to touch and influence us and He uses us to touch and influence others. Isn’t that awesome?! God who is all-powerful, holy and wise, uses those He created to create what He desires.
I pray you have been blessed by these inspiring people. I pray these normal every-day individuals illustrate that what takes each of us from being ordinary to extraordinary is the influence of the Holy Spirit working through us.
May you feel inspired to let your life be an inspiring influence to this world!
check out Michele's The Mrs. Pastor blog at http://themrspastor.blogspot.com
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