11 People Who Have Made Me Me

Our utter dependence on others is so obvious and so complete that it is as invisible as oxygen and just as necessary…. Know whom you owe. Know that you owe. You’re fooling yourself if you think you made it or will ever make it on your own. ~Hugh Hewitt

My Mom I know this is a little like giving the answer “God” for any question at church. However, this is so very true that I am willing to risk allegations of sentimentality. It was my mom who sat at the piano day after day and birthed in me the dream of one day making music myself. My mom read me stories, despite my maddening tendency to ask for the same story over and over and over…  She filled my world with flowers and nourished my love for beauty before any of us even knew it was there. So very much of what is best in my life I knew first because of her.

Mrs. Lois Freels was my third grade teacher. She talked to my parents about the possibility of moving me ahead one grade in school. They elected not to, which I regretted at the time, but am glad of now. But something about her confidence in me helped me to see myself differently. As someone special. Someone smart. For a little girl…already way too tall…awkward…floundering for identity…this was an unspeakable gift!

Darryl Burgess created quite a ruckus in my little back woods Baptist church with his long hair, but he built into the lives of our little band of teenagers. He gave me my first opportunity to play in a real band. He taught us how to be part of an ensemble…what it means to compliment one another. To trade off lead and rhythm. How to be better together. Baby steps. But critical ones for the path that lay ahead of me.

Harry Fritts is a character. A most memorable personage. One of only a few teachers my parents and I had in common across generations. While Darryl was teaching me to play in a band, Mr. Fritts opened to me a different musical world. One of precision and restraint. Of elegant and exquisite harmonies. Of polish and control. This too prepared me for a future I did not even know was coming at the time.

My Husband I know, another sentimental choice. But it’s not always true. In my case, it is. Mike loves me all the time no matter what. And sometimes I have made that very hard for him. He has created a safe place for me to become. He has provided for our family so that I could raise our children, and read wonderful books, and pursue topics and endeavors that have made me richer. I could not be me if there had not been him.

Dr. Nancy Boone I loved…and feared. She was my most influential college professor, and eventually my friend. She frequently put me in situations I didn’t think I could handle. Because she believed in me. Because she saw more in me than I saw in myself. I grew exponentially under her tutelage because she stretched and pushed me. I am forever in her debt.

My Children Being a mom has taught me more about love than anything else I have ever experienced. Here I learn what it looks like to do the hard thing, the unpopular thing, when it is best. Here I come to understand what it means to be willing to give your life away for another. And here, also, is joy. Joy unspeakable. Joy over discoveries, and achievements, and triumphs. Joy when hard things have been survived and lessons learned, and grace poured out. Joy in watching God mix the same gene pool with such extravagantly diverse result. Joy in those moments and experiences that bind us together. Always.

Rhonda Kemp has been conduit to many of the very best things in my life. She was my homeschooling mentor. She opened to me a world of beautiful books, unit studies, and field trips. Ever the great matchmaker, she has introduced me to countless people who have made my life richer and more interesting. Perhaps most notably, she provided my entroit to the remarkable Tuesday Bible study that has, in many ways, saved my life. And now, we walk life as friends. Ever weaving in and out of one another’s stories.

My Bandmates at The Peoples Church Yeah, I know bundling is cheating. But hey, it’s my list. These men and women were a pivotal part of my life for a season. They provoked me, both musically and spiritually. We grieved with and interceded for one another when things were hard. And we celebrated riotously when good things happened. We shared crack of dawn rehearsals and Christmas Eve services that ran into the night. We made some amazing music. We worshiped with our hands and our voices and our hearts. And it was good.

You know who you are. Thank you. You are ever in my heart.

Kari, Jen and Jen  These three young women and I have lived life very closely for the past 5 years. We have something of a mutual mentoring society. We read books together. But mostly we live life together. And when one of us is weak, the others are strong for her and stand in the gap, and pray, and remind her who she is. And when one of us wants to take the easy way out and do something cowardly and destructive, the others bar the door and refuse to let her quit. I am ashamed to say how often that someone has been me. But the giving and the receiving are all grace, all gift. And who we are together is far better than who we are alone.

Gail Hyatt  A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. ~Sirach 6:14 A friend who has the grace to forgive much, the courage to speak difficult truths, the vision to see in us what we cannot see in ourselves, such a friend is indeed a treasure. Such is Gail  to me. She has given me courage when mine was lacking. She has called forth from me that which I did not believe was in me. She is remarkably wise. She has been God’s provision for me in ways I am incapable of speaking. For such a time as this, to be sure. Hopefully until we are both of us old and toothless. 🙂


Your turn. Who has helped knit the fabric of who you are together? Tell us here. Better yet, tell them. Our lives really do matter more than we know. It is good to be reminded of that, sometimes.


*Second in a series of eleven posts of elevens; one for each of the first eleven days of the eleventh month of 2011.

**Special thanks to Chelsea and Bryan who inspired this post (with slight adaptation).

***Finally, my list, as you might have perceived, is in strictly chronological order based on our first meeting.