Difference makers come in all sizes and shapes. God has blessed my life with so many people who have engaged me, challenged me, encouraged me, sharpened me, and believed in me. I want to discuss 3 Difference Makers in my life (over my next 3 posts). These individuals have all gone on to be with the Lord and I often wish I could get their input.

Difference Maker #1

My Grandmother- Dorothy Snowden  (front row, purple dress in the pic below)

This is my Mom’s Mom. Grandma had a difficult life:

  • Never graduated high school
  • Single parent in her 20’s
  • With no child support, she raised 2 kids
  • A bullet lodged next to her spine

I tell you that now so that you will see how she gave me what she never received. For one reason or another, I was told by several people I was a difficult child (I just think that means I was more fun). I was constantly in trouble at school and I was an accomplished liar. My Mom really struggled with me and I often made her cry because of my obstinate attitude (I do regret that). Needless to say, my Dad could bring the heat and did on a regular basis. When everyone seemed to be focused on my negatives- and there were plenty to see- Grandma took a different edge. For some reason, she began to focus on my strength of personality and saw it as a positive leadership characteristic. She would often tell me, “Hal, you are going to be President one day.” I loved it when Grandma would come and I hated to see her leave! She found a way to cut through my anger and pain and redirect it. I became a Christ follower at 16 and as my life changed direction, I realized Grandma had been praying for me while she encouraged me.

Later on in life, as I began in full-time ministry (student pastor and small groups pastor), I would speak at our church and then send Grandma a tape (not 8-track!). I found out that when she traveled, she would listen to me rather than the radio and I laughed- she thought I was better than anyone and compared me to Billy Graham (sorry Billy). I went to visit her in her mobile home park in St Petersburg and I discovered I was famous. She had been passing the tapes around the neighborhood and encouraging… probably making her neighbors listen. One neighbor told me that Grandma gave these instructions when she loaned a tape, “only play it once, I don’t want you to wear it out.”When she died, I discovered she had every tape I had ever sent her.And so in her death- she was still encouraging me.

One last thought… I performed my Grandmother’s funeral and shared some of the stories of encouragement. I thought I was Grandma’s favorite- what I discovered was that every Grandchild thought that they were Grandma’s favorite! To be continued …


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