Published 2/24/2009

Shelia Shares....
"Making A Difference"

In anybody's life, there are people who have been an influence. Is there someone who made a difference in the direction of your life? Perhaps someone comes to your mind as you think back on your life.

Mrs. Starke taught high school English. During my freshman year, I was in her speech class.

She had a rule in her class, that nobody was allowed to make fun of anything another student said. When a speech was given, everybody was to encourage anyone who was talking. If I made fun of another student, my grade would suffer. That was the rule and we all abided by it, even though Mrs. Starke was a tiny lady, small in stature.

I was a freshman in a class that ranged from freshmen to seniors. I was extremely shy. The first day we moved our desks into a circle and went around the circle introducing ourselves. We were to tell our name, our grade and one other piece of information. I was scared to death and remember practicing (in my head) my name and other information as others were introducing themselves. I was so afraid I would forget those basics because I was so nervous that I would have to speak in front of people.

I credit Mrs. Starke with developing my ability to stand before people and talk. She believed in me and helped me to believe in myself. She praised every student's efforts. She talked about progress we had made and never rated us against other students and what they could do.

In recent years, on one of my trips to Michigan, I went to the viewing for Mrs. Starke. As I looked at that empty body, I had the privilege of sharing with her daughter the difference her mother had made in my life. Aside from the techniques of delivering a good speech, Mrs. Starke taught me the importance of encouragement and the importance of seeing the growth we have made.

We all need to have people who believe in us – and we all need to let others know that we believe in them. Others make a difference in our lives and we can make a difference in the lives of others as well.

"When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need——words that will help others become stronger" (Ephesians 4:29 NCV).

- Shelia

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