A man told my husband that he was wanting to write a book about three of his heroes. All three were preachers. I thought to myself “That is really wonderful! But, if I write a book about my heroes, I wouldn’t need to look further than my breakfast table to find them.”
My heroes as a child, were Ron and Carolyn Courtney, my Dad and Mom. They are not pioneers, or war veterans, but they made an ordinary life, extraordinary. They brought joy to the mundane happenings of life. They brought peace to a chaotic world. For this, they are my heroes.
My Dad never made it very far up the “ladder of success”. He worked as Director of Field Services for the American Cancer Society, and later the American Heart Association. This meant that he traveled the state of Arkansas and organized local fund raising boards. He was a great speaker. He taught the boards how to organize and follow through with fund raising campaigns, such as, “Jump Rope for Heart” and many others. Once he and Mom came to know Christ, they no longer went to the parties that were hosted by the “big wigs” in these fund raising organizations. He quit doing this because they served alcohol, and Dad would not associate with that lifestyle in any way. This forced him into the shadows of the business world, and therefore, he never made it into the boss’s chair. Because he said “no” when the world offered him success at a high price, he is my hero. He spent many hours reading to me about the Presidents. I loved history, and he did, too. He took me on walks in the summer. We each had our own “walking stick” and we enjoyed looking at our neighbors’ well manicured lawns and noting their new riding mowers! We smelled the honeysuckle in the air and he told me stories of his childhood. He took me on long bike rides, and he would take my bike apart and lubricate it every year and then proudly stand back and say “She’ll go like greased lightning now, Valerie!” And he was right. He took me to teen activities, the library, and to my monthly orthodontic appointments. He read the Bible aloud to my Mom every morning. He loved me even when I would get a bad attitude, and he was so proud of me when I achieved a high score on a test. For all of this, he is my hero.
My mother was blessed to have the favor of men and women alike in her chosen field: education. A brilliant student herself, I am convinced that she could have become a college professor if she had desired. Instead, she taught special education. She was, and is, tenderhearted. Her heart broke when a mentally disabled or retarded person was laughed at, or made fun of. I am not as naturally tender hearted as she, but watching her tear up over seeing someone mistreated has made me much more sensitive to the feelings of others. We never called someone “a retard” as a joke in my house. We never made fun of those who were handicapped or poor or disabled. She taught me that it was by God’s grace that we had the intelligence, money and abilities that we have. She taught me that “life and death are in the power of the tongue”. (Prov. 18:21) She spent many hours explaining to me that words can help or hurt people, and that mine often hurt others. She worked long hours teaching, and often stayed after school to tutor students who were struggling. Then, she came home to cook supper, do laundry, write letters, lesson plans, and grade papers. She rose early, and went to bed late. It was a rare evening that she ever put her feet up to relax. She was always doing for others. She never missed her Tuesday night soul winning time. She worked hard at teaching her 3rd Grade Sunday School class. She made us eat breakfast – and supper – together. For all of this, she is my hero.
When I married at age nineteen, I had already been witnessing some amazing examples of character and integrity. I had no idea that I’d be witnessing even more of that in the life of my husband.He got his first job at age fourteen because his bike was broken, and he needed to earn money to have it repaired. He could have asked his parents, or grandparents for the money, but he didn’t. He got himself up every morning at 4:30 and delivered papers on foot. He watched his father face many battles in the ministry, yet he gave his life to serve in the ministry as well. He didn’t get bitter. In Bible college, he had to install his own lavatory in the dorm! He faced very primitive conditions as the college got on its feet, yet, he didn’t quit. He’s been criticized and judged wrongly by others, but he doesn’t get angry or quit. He keeps going. He has many abilities and talents, yet he is humble. He gives his all when he could get by with less. He studies God’s Word, and tries to live it. He’s honest. He’s not a hypocrite. If we have a disagreement over something before services, or if he even just snaps at me, he will apologize before he preaches. He wants to be right with God, and with man, or in my case, woman! For all of this, he is my hero.
I am so thankful that my heroes are not just people I know about, but people I know.