I was given the name Esther Janet Jensen when I was born. I was named after two amazing, strong women. My first name, Esther, came from Queen Esther in the Bible. I remember a few years ago when my friend Heather said, “You must be such a great person to be named after Esther in the Bible. That is such a huge name to live up to. If I was named after Esther, I would feel like I could never do anything wrong or make a mistake.” My eyes got really big and I remember thinking, “Well great, thank you very much!! Now I feel like I will never measure up or be good enough no matter what I do!” (Ha ha ha!!) I have thought about that comment through the years. Queen Esther from the Bible is definitely a huge name to live up to. If you remember the story, Esther was chosen for her great beauty to be a new queen. (That’s why I was named Esther…my great beauty…hahahahaha!) As the Jews were being persecuted and killed, Esther bravely went before the King, risking her own life to save her people. I love this part in the Bible where Esther had just found out that a decree had been sent out to kill all the Jews. Esther was the only hope for her people. Mordecai, her uncle, said,”…Thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” She did come to the kingdom at the exact right time to save her people. No one else could do what she did. She was born for this.
It’s such an amazing and powerful story. Have you ever wondered about what YOU were born to do? What special or amazing mark will you leave on the world? I have often thought that Esther did not think about that. She called upon her God to save her and give her the strength that she needed to face the king. And she stepped forward with FAITH.
Our theme for Fall Retreat is…Born for This. As we thought about many different themes, this one stood out. Stephanie and I believe that you were born with a special purpose and there are amazing things to accomplish in your life that only you can do. And we KNOW you are doing those amazing things. We know the sacrifices you make to raise your family and support that family the best you can. We know that many of you serve the world in your occupations. You work to make the world better, no matter your job or position. It’s WHO you are. You serve in your communities and your churches. You check on the neighbors, take food to the sick…the list is too long to record here. These acts may seem small and simple, just day to day things, but these are the things that change the world. I know that many of you think you offer the world so little. You are wrong. The outreach and rippling effects of your life are endless.
This brings me to the second amazing and strong woman that I am named after…my mother, Janet. Let me share a little bit about her. She had a great desire to marry and have a big family. She once told me that she always wanted to have 12 children. Well, she only had 10 (ha ha ha)! Throughout motherhood and with this large family, she became an expert in many things. She was a great cook and baker, cooking every meal from scratch. She was a gifted seamstress, sewing clothes for her many children. She gardened and canned every year, filling our storage room with fruits, vegetables, jams and juice. She was a pretty great nurse and healer, keeping us healthy and strong daily. She had a great love for learning and education and taught all of us how to read and love those things too. She ran a pretty busy laundromat by washing all of our clothes every week. I could go on and on. These all became things that she did and did well because she loved us and she taught us how to do these things at her side. She loved being a wife and mother. They were the daily simple things that mothers do each day because they love their family.
My mom’s greatest challenge came when my father died in a farming accident. This uprooted her whole life and her 22 years as a stay-at-home mom ended. Her children ranged in age from 3 to 22 years old at this time. She recertified her teaching degree and became a full time teacher, single parent, and full time farmer. As children, our lives were completely shattered, but we followed her as she moved forward. Her life was not easy. Her days were long. Her prayers were long. She walked with faith much like Esther of the Bible. She lived her life to raise and teach her children of God. She taught us to work together and that families are forever. She taught us to pray and that God had a plan for each of us. She was born for this. Her life reflected her dedication to her God and her children.
One thing that really amazed me at her funeral and viewing five years ago is how many people were touched by her life and faith. We stood for hours as so many came to honor her. Many told of how Janet had brought them food or called to check on them. They said how she helped encourage them through their trials. Many of her students came saying that not only did she teach them how to read, but she believed that they were smart. Many grateful parents expressed their appreciation of her dedication to teaching and loving their kids. Many from our church said how a lesson she taught affected them or how they loved serving with her. So many told of how Janet served them. It was profound and amazing. Doing those little simple things day after day and reaching out to others was bigger than she may have realized. She had a huge ripple effect, not only on her children, but so many neighbors and friends. She was born for this. It’s who she was! No one else could do what she did. Her life and faith reached far beyond, touching so many lives.
Just as these two great women have taught me so much through their lives and great faith, we can see the power of one life on the world. Each life does have a ripple effect. The reach, touch and love of a life expand further than one can even imagine. The daily acts, often considered insignificant, definitely impact our day-to-day lives. One life can inspire so many. YOUR life inspires so many. No one can have the influence that you have. Think about that. NO ONE CAN DO WHAT YOU WERE BORN TO DO.
Please join us October 20-21 for a weekend of inspiration. Bring a craft that you love. Come with your cherished friends and sisters. We will laugh, cry, learn and grow. We will fill your empty bucket so you can return recharged to your life. Your life that only YOU can do. The life that you were born to live.