I recently read a blog about giving back on your birthday. The woman I read about had written letters to 40 people who had influenced them. In honor of my 40th birthday today, I had a few ideas of some similar things to do. But I knew I wouldn't really have that much time to write letters. I also had thought about writing 40 different blog posts, one for each person. That wasn't going to happen, either. So I've settled on one blog post about 40 people. Some living, some now gone. Some family, some friends, some teachers. But all added something to who I have become as a (now) 40-year-old wife, mother, friend, and school psychologist. (I think I'm doing it good to get it done within a
1) Jason Johnson. My husband, my friend, the father of my child. We are going on 7 years of marriage, and I can honestly say that you have made me aware of being a more considerate person, more aware of how I come across to people, and more aware of not being controlled by my emotions. I may resist that when it's going on, but I do need it, and I love you for it. Thanks for taking care of us!
2) Emery Johnson. Of course, no event other than marriage changes someone's life like becoming a mother. You made me a mother, and it has been better than I ever thought it could be. I love watching you learn new things all the time, and grow up (even though I don't want you to grow too fast). There's a line from one of the songs on the Baby Signing Time DVD that I totally agree with..."I'm glad that my baby is you."
3 and 4) Rick & Jana Redding. As my parents, of course, you have had probably the most influence on my life, particularly my early years. I'm so glad for the way that we were raised. You had us in church from an early age, and in Christian school, which led to my own faith. Thanks for the example of marriage and commitment, demonstrated by your 40 years of marriage. And thanks for being great grandparents to Emery.
5 and 6) Larry & Barbara Johnson. Of course, I've only known you for a relatively short time in my life, but your influence has been almost as much as my own parents, just by being the parents of Jason. Thank you for raising him in a Christian home, and being an example of marriage and commitment to him, demonstrated by almost 38 years of marriage. Thank you, too, for being great grandparents to Emery, and for treating me like a daughter.
7 and 8) Fred & Roberta Redding. You also have been an example of marriage and commitment, with almost 64 years of marriage. You also have been a great example of hard work and saving money. You've been generous to help me out when I was in grad school, which was so very much appreciated.
9) Amy Martin. You helped shape my personality by making me an older sister, rather than an only child. Of course, we had the normal sibling rivalry when we were younger. But now, we are good friends, even though we're unfortunately separated by many hundreds of miles. There are countless memories of playing our different games--real ones and made up ones, inside jokes, and so forth.
10) Kyle Redding. You also helped shape my personality by being my much younger little brother. We also had some sibling rivalry when we were younger, but now get along a lot better. We are probably more alike than we realize, in many aspects.
11) Ron Upton. As my music minister at Idlewild for the 20-something years I was there, you had a profound influence. From leading choir tours when I was in high school and college, to the Christmas presentations, to praise team, to all of the "catch-up" talks we've had. And of course, you married Jason and me. You are always so gracious with people and quick to forgive.
12) Mike Kahn. As my singles minister for most of my 20s, I learned a lot from you. I appreciated the Bible memory system and the discipleship programs that you taught about.
13) Henry Beiber. As Idlewild's Biblical counseling minister for several years, you were very instrumental in the confidence growth that I went through when I was 30. That's also around the time that I took the Search for Significance class that truly changed the way I saw myself. That class also was under your ministry.
My teachers: Whether in high school, junior high, or elementary, if you are on this list, you truly influenced my life in your work as an educator, as well as your personal investment in me.
14) Linda DeVore. My 10th grade English teacher, you challenged me to actually work for an A. You also were a mentor to me while in high school and college.
13) Paula Brown. My math teacher from 6th through 11th grades. Also, my youth minister's wife in 7th and 8th grades.
14) Selma Grantham. My Spanish teacher from 10th through 12th grades (and I think Doctrine one year)
15) Anna Weatherford. My 3rd grade teacher. Always pushed me to succeed.
16) Denise Gleyzel. My 4th grade teacher.
17) Mona Keister. My music teacher from 2nd through 7th grades, which included chorus from 4th through 7th grades.
18) Ethel Herman. My original piano teacher from age 4 through about 12. She taught me the basics.
19) Susan Nations. My final piano teacher, from my junior year of high school through my freshman year of college. You got me at a point where I was really motivated to learn to play well, and you honed those skills. But so much more, as a mentor to us in high school and college, and even as single and married ladies. I love that you hosted my bridal luncheon.
20) Janice (Brock) Edmiston. You were my Sunday School teacher in 10th and 11th grades, and I learned SO MUCH from you and your example. I will always think of you when I hear Habakkuk 3:19, or the book Hinds Feet on High Places.
My Friends (Early Years): So many memories of church and school activities that we did together. We all went through those awkward years together, but learned so much about how to be friends and relate to people.
21) Kathleen (Gant) Fahle. Really, you were my first friend since we're cousins. So many memories from our school years!
22) KayAnn (Blitch) Hooge. So many memories from 5th through 9th grades, and then again our freshman year at UT!
23) Jennifer (McNichols) Sack. So many memories from 1st through 12th grades!
24) Valerie (Keeth) Cuddeback. Really good memories from high school!
25) Tracie (Bragg) Burke. Again, good memories from high school.
My Friends (Older Years): Friends through when we were in college, being single together, and then as we've gotten married. Through you all, I truly learned how to be friends. There have been ups and downs, but through it all, we have maintained friendships, even when we haven't seen each other in a while.
26) Rachel (Comellas) Arocha. Love '98, the summer of Claire and Rachel (or Rachel and Claire, as you refer to it). And love our Barnes & Noble girls nights!
27) Debra Alderman. My roommate! LOVED the time we lived together. Learned so much from you and cherish the friendship!
28) Karen (Ammirati) Basham. So many years, from teaching at Walden Lake together, to working out at Bally's, and praise team together. Miss you!
29) Julie (Smith) Grant. Loved the time of Julaire, as well as other memories as we got closer to getting married.
30) Wendy (Castleberry) Teague. One Voice, praise team, and lots of other memories.
31) Ann Romagnolo. Loved when I got to be Gershwin's foster mom, and all the hanging out we used to do. And of course, technically, you were how Jason and I met!
32) Kindra (Murphy) Shah. I enjoyed our talks and learning with you.
And the rest...
33) Karen Grimaldi. College Home Fellowship times are some of my best memories from those years. Really admired your heart for us.
34) Linda Raffaele Mendez. You were my favorite grad school professor, I think because I sensed some similarities in our personality. And of course, you were my thesis chair and pushed me to (finally) finish my thesis. Even right after you had your second baby.
35) June Gregory. My intern supervisor. I learned a lot about practicing school psychology by working with you.
36) Willeva VanDenBogaert. My first guidance counselor as a school psychologist. Such good memories of my time at Bryan Elementary!
37) Lori Carmack. Really appreciated working with you for so many years and getting a good perspective of school social workers. Glad we got to be pregnant together for a little bit, but wish our daughters could have been playmates and that you still worked here.
38) Samantha (Smith) Conti. I'll always remember our weekly prayer meets at USF. Those times with our college group are some of my best memories.
39) Ken Whitten. After sitting under your preaching for 20 years, you definitely were influential in my life.
40) Scott Reynolds. Miss singing with you, friend! Thanks for always being encouraging about it.
Of course, many people have made a big impact in my life. These are just 40 of them. I truly appreciate the history that we've had and the memories that we've made. Thanks for giving to me just by being you!