Starting today, I plan to write one letter a day that is dedicated to honoring and expressing gratitude for these priceless gifts. It may get pretty dull for others to read, but I think it will be a meaningful exercise for me; and I hope that someday my children are able to enjoy reading about who helped to shape their mommy. I've always liked hearing my mom's stories about the people and authors who spoke life and truth to her, so this is my way of doing the same. These will be written loosely in chronological order, but don't hold me to that. With that said ...
Dear Amy Carmichael,
The first time I remember learning about you was in early grade school. Maybe first or second? I'm not sure. I sat in Sunday School and heard about how, when you were young, you were disappointed that you had dark hair and eyes. When you were older, you left your home to become a missionary in India. You did dangerous work, rescuing young girls from temple prostitution. Your dark hair and dark eyes helped you to become less conspicuous in that far off land, where blonde hair and blue eyes would have drawn attention. That part of your story resonated with me, because I, too, wished I had blonde hair and blue eyes, like my cousin. You helped me to understand, from a very early age, that God had planned every last detail of who I am. In this culture, it's pretty tough for a young girl (or girl of any age, for that matter) to have a healthy and godly view of her appearance. Your story helped to form the shield that protected my heart when the enemy shot lies about how I look.
Your work in India (along with the pictures of children in India that my parents sponsored) first birthed a heart for the nations and for orphans in me. I feel so blessed that, as a child, I had the opportunity to learn that the world was bigger than America and that there were hurting and lonely people. Thank you for fighting to help victims of sex trafficking a hundred years before it was a popular cause.
Your writing inspired and challenged me in high school and college. You wrote convicting words:
"If a sudden jar can cause me to speak
an impatient, unloving word,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.*
* For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill
even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted."
You wrote challenging poetry:
"From prayer that asks that I may be
Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee,
From fearing when i should aspire,
From faltering when I should climb higher,
From silken self, O Captain, free
Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things,
From easy choices, weakenings,
(Not thus are spirits fortified,
Not this way went the Crucified)
From all that dims Thy Calvary,
O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way,
The faith that nothing can dismay,
The hope no disappointments tire,
The passion that will burn like fire;
Let me not sink to be a clod:
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God."
I wish more modern women wrote with the same beauty and passion that you did ... no anecdotes about shopping, just truth and fire. I will always love the words the Lord gave you.
You were one of my very first heroes. When I gave an address at my high school graduation, I used your words from "His Thoughts Said ... His Father Said," to express my desire to embrace the picture God was painting for my life, instead of the picture painted by my own thoughts. When I spent the summer after my junior year of college living in County Down, Northern Ireland, I had no idea that I was living in the same county where you were born and raised. How I wish I had. It would have made the experience even richer for me. When I spent nearly 4 years working with victims of sexual abuse at the Children's Advocacy Center of Benton County, I thought of you often, and felt that in some tiny way God was allowing me to follow in your footsteps.
As my own daughter grows, I hope to tell her your stories and give her your books, just as my mother did for me. Thank you, Amy, for being a most worthy role model. I can't wait to meet you someday.