My mother was my original faith influencer. She was the first to teach me that God knew me by name and that God would give purpose and direction to my life. Those childhood conversations formed a faith foundation on which everything that came after was built. 

I remember many other women of influence. Mrs. Laney was my fifth-grade teacher.  She redeemed education for me (before 5th grade I was very uncomfortable at school). Mrs. Laney taught me to love learning and to look forward to school every day. Louise Thrift was my first Sunday school teacher. She expressed gentleness and kindness for a classroom of rambunctious middle school students. Jan Baggett was the music director at my home church. Jan encouraged me to explore music ministry and gave me opportunities to belong and contribute.

Several women pastors have been valued colleagues in ministry. Each of them left a positive mark on my understanding of ministry: Diane Parish, Betsy Haas, Carolyn Clifton, Shannon Karafanda, among others.

And then, of course, is my amazing wife: a woman of limitless energy and fierce devotion to family and friends alike. 

My life would be immeasurably poorer without the influence of these women. I have but one mother (and a wonderful mother she is), but God has used many women to lead me along my path. For each one, I am thankful.

Count the blessings God has given you in the women who have shaped your journey. Without them, your life would be tremendously less than it is.