The Light-Shiner

At first I assume it’s the result of a venti latte. A caffeine high is the only reasonable explanation. How else could someone be so personable, so kind, so attentive at such an offensive hour?

It’s not yet 6 a.m., and we stand in line at the Omaha airport security checkpoint. When we reach the podium and hand over our boarding passes and licenses, she makes small-talk with the agent. Not any small-talk, mind you. Genuine small-talk. And yes, there is such a thing. When he asks how we’re doing, I manage a polite smile and mutter, “Fine thanks.” But Deidra? She looks the agent straight in the eye, shines a broad smile at him and asks him how his morning is going. She chats up the security agent. And it’s not even 6 a.m. We’ve been up since 4.

This gracious attitude is not a fluke, I later learn. During the entire weekend we spend together in Birmingham, Deidra lavishes this kindness and grace on every person she encounters. No exceptions. From the flustered lady behind the hotel desk to the concessions vendor at the conference center, Deidra treats each person like he or she is the single most important human being on Earth. She isn’t proper or polite for the sake of being proper or polite. She doesn’t offer a distracted, cursory nod or a pseudo-smile. Deidra is 100 percent tuned in. And it’s real. It doesn't matter whether you are the hotel clerk or the security gate agent or the server at Panera, once you meet Deidra, you feel like you are her best friend.

Have you ever met someone like that? Someone who makes you feel like you are IT – the one and only thing happening? I tell you, it’s enchanting. The way Deidra fixes her gaze steady and meets the eye, the way she smiles warm, not with thin, closed lips but big and broad, I tell you the truth: it makes you feel like one in a million.

Brad, the kids and I had dinner over at Deidra and H’s recently, and when she opened the door, Deidra said to my kids, “I am just SO excited that you are here! I’ve been looking forward to you being here all day!”

Mind you, this is something I would say to someone else’s kids and absolutely not mean it. Deidra meant it. I could tell by the look in her eyes and the smile that lit her face.

Deidra shines a bright light wherever she goes. It’s God’s light, I know that for sure – and it’s catchy. By the end of our weekend together in Birmingham, I found myself making an effort to smile more and engage in real conversation with strangers. And for this standoffish New Englander, that’s really saying something.

What's more, she continues to inspire. Now, whenever I’m at the post office, or in line at Super Saver or at the bank drive-up window, I smile broadly and make eye contact with the cashier or the teller. Sometimes I even make conversation. I admit, at first it felt forced and contrived. But it’s getting easier. Soon I may even be naturally graceful.

And when I am, I’ll have Deidra to thank.

Who are the light-shiners in your life? Let’s see if together we can try to emulate their graciousness. How about this: for one full day, let’s shine light onto every single person we meet. I’m willing to bet that before long, it will be a habit!

Christine  – (June 10, 2011 at 6:35 AM)  

I certainly have met a few people like this, there the people you wish to always be around. I wish I was like that, but I'll admit I am way too moody.

Shawn Smucker  – (June 10, 2011 at 7:16 AM)  

What a challenge. Usually I prefer solitude, even when I'm around other people. Opening up and blessing others with a kind word is something I need to work on.

Jean Wise  – (June 10, 2011 at 7:17 AM)  

I love this thought the name you give others who bring joy in our lives. This week I will pray and be thankful for the light shiners in my life. How uplifting!

Nancy  – (June 10, 2011 at 7:18 AM)  

First, what a gracious gift you've given, writing about Deidra and honoring her in this way. And second, yes; I do know people like Deidra and they are just as you describe--100% there, gracious, and shining the light of Christ. My mother-in-law (who I wrote about last week) is just like this. She makes me want to be more like her.

Wendy Paine Miller  – (June 10, 2011 at 7:30 AM)  

What a beautiful way to uplift Deidra. I pray I'm like that with others. I think I have the hardest time with patience, etc. inside my own family (as crazy as that seems).

I love that you were up at 4 and she was acting that kindly two hours later!
~ Wendy

I Live in an Antbed  – (June 10, 2011 at 8:16 AM)  

Such a lovely tribute of a Love-filled woman! And do you know what I love? I love how you noticed all of it. You are such a "seeker," Michelle. You truly desire Truth in the innermost places. Even if it's not fun or comfortable. I love this about you and He does, too! :)

Gaby  – (June 10, 2011 at 8:36 AM)  

I knew someone like that in college and she always inspired me. What a wonderful tribute to your friend. And what a challenge to the rest of us who so easily can live in a world of "one" to open our eyes and really see those around us. I'll take the challenge with you!

Deidra  – (June 10, 2011 at 8:37 AM)  

Oh my. I am stunned. And blushing over here. Most of all, I'm just glad that God shines through this broken woman every now and then.

Michelle? You are a gift to me. You are changing this world. And God's light? It shines bright in you - everywhere you go! I remember hearing you say once, "I'm always looking for God." That one phrase has stuck with me, and become a sort of mantra for my days. I want to be like that. Always looking for God. He's there. Everywhere we look. I'm so glad our paths have crossed, my friend.

(I love those boys of yours.)

Alita  – (June 10, 2011 at 8:57 AM)  

What a lovely tribute to Deidra. Her light shines in her words on her blog, too. Both of you have so much talent and love to share.

I have met a few people that just glitter like diamonds with love and compassion. I always want to be more like them, but fail in so many ways. I tend to not believe in angels on earth, but "light shiners" make me re-think the whole concept.

Leslie  – (June 10, 2011 at 11:04 AM)  

i love this. but remember... you shine light in your very own special way, too. you really do.

Laura@OutnumberedMom  – (June 10, 2011 at 11:38 AM)  

What are you talking about? You're both light-shiners!

Don't you two both live in the same town? I SO want to come for a visit!

I love "light-shiners" - such a great phrase. You and Deidre both inspire me, Michelle.

H. Gillham  – (June 10, 2011 at 2:47 PM)  

Deidre is like my mother -- and supposedly Jay Gatsby -- LOL. If my mother asked a question of you, she listened to the answer. Really listened. It was from her and my daddy that I learned to befriend everyone whom I worked beside-- as in, we're all in this together --- all the way to the sweet gal who vacuum my room. I learned that if you pay attention to "other" people you can learn from them and they can learn from you.

My husband and I both try to be nice to everyone we meet. In fact, I kid my husband that he is nicer to strangers than he is to my family.


He actually is.

I'm sure that Diedre has a gift -- bless her -- let her light continue to shine, and may those she meets know that she is God blessed and that whatever she has, they should want.


M.K.  – (June 10, 2011 at 4:10 PM)  

Those kind of people are such a blessing. You feel SO special when they just look at you. One person I met like that is Joel Belz, editor of WORLD magazine. I met him face-to-face only once, at his mom's house. I remember he crossed his arms, looked me straight in the eye, listened to every word I said, and asked me interesting, caring questions too. Just for a few minutes. But I was stunned at how remarkable he made me feel. Just with his attention.

Linda  – (June 10, 2011 at 5:01 PM)  

I just knew she would be like that. I am so happy.
You write with such sweet, generosity of spirit Michelle.
That brightens my day!

Lyla Lindquist  – (June 10, 2011 at 5:41 PM)  

I'm always blinking in Deidra's radiance. You nailed this one, Michelle. :)

Looks like you have your super power she talked about on full display here.

Gabe  – (June 11, 2011 at 11:12 AM)  

The picture just fits so well. . .like a flower that you can't help admiring! People that shine like that are like a magnet!

Lovely post, Michelle!

Cheryl Smith  – (June 11, 2011 at 1:04 PM)  

Isn't she just so full of grace and beauty? I say of Deidra, "it was love at first sight!" and I mean it!

Tiffini  – (June 11, 2011 at 4:46 PM)  

yes..yes..this is what I desire. My best friend has that effect on me and it makes me want to heart emulate it. The more you pray for God to help you love others...and really desire it...I think He does!
Your post just confirms this for me..thank you thank you:) praying a weekend FULL of grace for you:)

Sheila  – (June 12, 2011 at 9:52 AM)  

God's far as I know, it's the only light that can be contagious.

Michelle, thanks for sharing the "germs"!

Ann Kroeker  – (June 12, 2011 at 8:56 PM)  

I love it when we can inspire one another, spurring one another on to love and good deeds!

alicia  – (June 13, 2011 at 6:48 AM)  

I love this!
I am often in awe of those light shiners in my life, and yes, they do inspire an introvert to try just a little harder... :)

alicia  – (August 17, 2011 at 2:25 AM)  

I love this!
I am often in awe of those light shiners in my life, and yes, they do inspire an introvert to try just a little harder... :)

Gabe  – (August 17, 2011 at 2:25 AM)  

The picture just fits so well. . .like a flower that you can't help admiring! People that shine like that are like a magnet!

Lovely post, Michelle!

Linda  – (August 17, 2011 at 2:25 AM)  

I just knew she would be like that. I am so happy.
You write with such sweet, generosity of spirit Michelle.
That brightens my day!

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