The Year of 40: How to make your mark
by Christie Browning
**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.
I wasn't very old when I started to realize I was going to live a unique life. I didn't think the same way as other kids or even play the same games. While other girls were playing "house" and pretending to be school teachers, I was pretending to interview my stuffed animals and host them on my imaginary talk show.
Fast-forward 30 some years and I now know that God was preparing me for this ministry... this opportunity to share His message with women who want to know a real God, with real answers, who really loves them.
I knew I would have a unique calling on my life and although it hasn't always been easy and I've done my fair share to mess it up, I know God is using me through that calling to reach women. No wonder this means so much to me:
Writer and speaker Elaine Dalton wrote in her book "No Ordinary Women"
"We are daughters of God. We are not ordinary women. We were born to be leaders. Yet the world would make you think that you are insignificant or that there is a certain mold you have to fit. We have been prepared and chosen and reserved to be here now, and that is a divine compliment. We are not here to sit back and be passive. We are here to lead. There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life-changing as the influence of a righteous woman."
My righteous influence came from a lot of different people in my life, especially my mother. Mom is a petite spit fire who is the perfect fit for our family make up. Growing up, Dad and I were always music driven, living large and definitely the dreamers in the family. My sister was creative and not afraid to be different and her true self, chasing after stray animals and nurturing everything that had breath. My brother was musically talented and extremely smart and comical. None of us were afraid to be noticed. None of us were shy.
Because of these over-the-top personalities, my mom sat in the background. Although she could hold her own around the house, taking charge and vocalizing the "mom voice" when we were out of line, she would often say she felt she didn't have a talent. Looking back at the times she made that statement, I think she was really asking... "what's my purpose?" "what am I here to do?"
Mom was here to be a righteous woman of influence. In her home, in her workplace.... mom never minced words when it came to her faith, values, and morals. She didn't waiver, she didn't gray the lines. You knew where she stood and that line didn't change often. She set an example of the perfect balance of strength and meekness. She knew how to be a strong woman with a voice but also how to be led by my dad. Mom taught us kids that all answers could be found in scripture, and she taught valuable life lessons from the Word as well. She was a righteous woman of influence.
Elaine Dalton also writes... "Mothers are the CEOs of a world-changing organization: the family and the home."
Now before you roll your eyes and think... "Great. Another canned, cookie-cutter 'moms are important' speech," let me show you the length of this impact.... at least from my mom's influence.
Of her three children, here's where we are today:
- I am a writer and speaker, sharing God's message with women across the country. I've traveled and toured giving my testimony and have had the honor of introducing God to many hearts that have been changed. God has used me to influence lives that might not otherwise be receptive to a faith message, but because I can speak from the same amount of flaws and failures, there is a captive audience who sees God as a real, redeeming Father who loves and forgives.
- My sister is an awesome mom. No doubt she learned from the best. Her mission, her calling in life, is to be a righteous influence in her family. She is married with three kids who she homeschools and is the Children's Ministry director at her church where she uses her righteous influence to impact little hearts for Christ. She inherited my mom's stance on values, morals, and beliefs -- she is not easily swayed and builds her foundation on the Word, which in turn means her children do the same. Those kids of hers... well, God's gonna do something big with them because of what she has instilled in their hearts.
- My brother is married to a righteous woman of influence. Much like my sister, she leads her home with God in the center. My brother takes after my dad, being a Godly husband and father leading his family. This has created a great opportunity for God to use them all for His purpose. Currently, the crew has relocated to Denver to help start a new church. It's a real-life missionary story and I can't imagine the lives and hearts they will change for the Kingdom.
I share all of this not to pump up my family to look great or to create a measuring stick by which you compare your life. Please don't do that. I could also fill this page with the mistakes and mess ups we have all had. However, what I want you to see is my mom, this "I don't have any talents" type of gal, used her righteous influence to reach the masses. Through her kids who she empowered to live for God, she is touching hearts and changing lives through a righteous ripple effect for which she will never see the end. Her mark in life was to create three lives, three hearts with three different passions that would be the perfect place for God to showcase His glory.
There are times when I get discouraged about the little bit I feel I've been able to accomplish in my almost 40 years. I pour my heart onto a page or open up my story from a stage and the impact seems minuscule. I want so bad to do so much for God and yet I feel stuck, held back and without much influence. But then I look at my mom and I am reminded that God doesn't call us to change the world in one wave. He is looking for us to show up each day with the heart, the faith, and discipline to be the righteous women of influence He needs. And through daily steps and day-to-day actions, we can look back and see our mark for the Kingdom. Whether it's in our home, in our community, in our workplace or any other field of influence God has given us, we can be leaders who leave a mark for our Heavenly Father.