by Laurie Dodds

I would like to introduce you to a woman who motivates and encourages me by her life, which is filled with faith and passion. Please meet my mother-in-law, Norma Dodds.

At 78 years young, she continues to thrive and testify of God’s faithfulness. An active member in her church and community she lives an authentic, fun filled, passionate life. God continues to use her in powerful ways

Norma’s life was far from trouble free. From her early years filled with anxiety, to the loss of a child and later a broken marriage, Norma recounts God’s faithfulness and she inspires women all around the world to continue in their journey of faith.
This is Norma’s story, as she tells it…..

“I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations.” Ps.89:1

The greatest thing about growing old is the trust in God that comes with history. I have 78 years of history to look back on to see what God has done. There has been no bend in the road that was a surprise to Him. Not once did He leave me to fend for myself in deep waters. Many times I had no sense of His presence. But now, looking back, I see that God was there, using every circumstance to build His character in me.

I grew up attending Sunday school. Even as a young adult I was an active church member. I knew the Bible, but it wasn’t until I attended a neighborhood women’s bible study as a new mother that I understood the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as my Savior. I didn’t even understand it all then. But I knew that these women had something I didn’t have. And I wanted it.

I went home and prayed, “God, I don’t know what they have. But I need it. I want it.” Opening my Bible, I read, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled (Mt 5:6).” I knelt right there and told God, “I don’t know if I am your child or not. But I want to be.” Instantly I knew something had happened, a transaction had taken place between God and me. I didn’t understand it then as a 23 year old. But looking back, I see that my life and my thinking began to change from that moment on.

Anxiety had been my constant companion. I didn’t know a single person in my family who had died a natural death. The traumatic losses I’d experienced in my childhood had planted a deep-seated fear in me, and a lie that I would die young. Loneliness and fear increased after the death of my third child, who was born with a heart defect. During these years, the Word of God became an integral part of my life as I learned to trust God and find my peace in Him alone. Looking back, I see that it was through the study of Scripture and learning to pray that God released me over time from that crippling anxiety and continued to shape His character in me. (Phil.1:6)

A women’s Bible study opened my eyes to the gospel. And God began to use me to start neighborhood Bible studies and women’s ministries in the many places we lived as an Air Force family. I had the joy of leading many women to the Lord and training many in Bible study and evangelism. But after 40 years of marriage, I went through a very public and humiliating divorce. After decades of teaching the Bible to women and enjoying a close walk with the Lord, I despaired. I feared that God would put me on a shelf and never use me again. But He did not leave me alone to fend for myself. He surrounded me with His people who could carry me through that dark place into a deeper life of faith in God’s mercy and grace. A women’s prayer group was a valuable lifeline. Those dear women patiently loved me and prayed for me as I grieved the loss of my marriage. They understood when I couldn’t pray, but just sit and cry as they prayed. They gave counsel when I had decisions to make that seemed beyond my ability.

At this lowest time in my life, “out of the blue” an application to work in a Christian School in Moscow, Russia arrived in my mailbox. I had attended a Bible Study taught by Shirley Hinkson when I was living in England. This woman and her husband had been pioneers in establishing missionaries in Russia. After the fall of communism, those missionaries, who had been home schooling their children, started a Christian School and named it Hinkson Christian Academy, in honor of my friend and her husband.

The day that the application arrived I had a lunch date with my friend, Ruth. I asked Ruth if she knew anyone who might want to apply for this job as “office manager” because I certainly was in no condition to do it. The biggest obstacle, I thought, was that I must raise financial support for the year. Ruth’s simple suggestion was “Norma, before you put that in file 13, you should pray about it.”

When I got home that day, I got on my knees and told God that if He would open the doors for this I would walk through them. I was absolutely confident that all the doors would remain closed because “who would give an old lady money to go to the mission field?” I was 62 years old. My daughter was more confident that “all those women who you have taught in Bible Studies will just come out of the woodwork”. And the women in my small prayer group said “it’s a no-brainer”. So, I began the process of “knocking on doors”. In just 6 weeks I had raised all the money I needed, so I chose to walk through that open door!

When I got off the plane that first day in Moscow in 1996 the thought that came to me was “God’s boundaries have fallen for me in pleasant places.” Ps. 16:6. That joy remained with me and instead of staying just a year, I spent 3 years there. I loved the kids and their parents, I loved the teachers. I loved working in the office. I loved the little opportunities that came to me, like teaching a cooking class called “Gramma Dodds School of Down Home Cooking” and sponsoring the school newspaper. I love keeping in touch with many of those teachers & students now on Facebook. God used those years in Russia to heal me. Looking back, I see now that I came through that time with a greater confidence that God is not finished with me yet.

Clearly that idea I had as a child that I would die young was not true! I was 40 when I was diagnosed with a progressively disabling lung disease. Doctors told me that I must live a very quiet life. But I am 78 now, still leading an active life: leading women’s Bible studies, serving in church, sharing my faith with others, and still watching God build His character in me as I study the Word, continue to learn to pray and to trust God in every circumstance – even old age.

Today, as I look back on my history with God, I’m sure of His presence. Today, as I look ahead to life with my Savior, I’m sure it will be an adventure of faith. Today I can joyfully affirm that God continues to build His character in me.

 

 

Laurie Dodds: With over 25 years in ministry to women, Laurie Dodds has inspired women of all ages and backgrounds to break free from outside pressures and insecurities so they can see themselves the way God sees them and fulfill their unique, God given, potential. Laurie loves to teach God’s Word. She mentors women in her home, teaches bibles studies in her church, teaches and mentors in women’s prisons, and inspires women at conferences and encourage congregations all across America. Her first book, Regret, Rehearse, Rejoice, was published in May 2011. Enjoy the first chapter here: RegretRehearseRejoice.Chapter1

 

Contact Laurie for your next event. Email: dodds.laurie@gmail.com Website: www.lauriedodds.com Website: http://www.ibelieveispeak.com

 

Laurie loves to invest in women and finds her greatest joy in serving her family—her husband, Duncan and three grown daughters who all live in Texas.

 

5 Comments

  1. 3-8-2012

    Dear Laurie,
    What a wonderful tribute to a very special woman!
    You are blessed to have Norma as your mother-in-law.
    We are blessed to have her as part of our faith community here in Wisconsin.

    Glynn Laing
    Counseling and Pastoral Care
    Blackhawk Church
    9620 Brader Way
    Middleton, WI

  2. 3-8-2012

    Laurie, What a truly inspiring story that God is never finished with us! How blessed you are to have such a mentor in your life. Peggy

  3. 3-8-2012

    Laurie,

    Thank you for honoring Norma, whom I’ve been privileged to know the past few years and who has been a constant source of encouragement to me. She “walks her talk” and is, indeed, an “angel unaware.”

    Verla Wallace
    Pilgrim on the Loose
    http://www.pilgrimonheloose.com

  4. 3-8-2012

    Laurie,
    What a truly inspiring story of an amazing woman. Thank you so much for sharing you beautiful mother with us.

  5. 3-10-2012

    Laurie,

    Knowing Duncan and your girls, I see the influence of Norma in their lives genetically and in all of your lives spiritually. I tweeted her comment about growing older and trusting in God even more. Thank you for sharing the testimony of a truly beautiful and courageous woman that the Lord has used in masterful ways to show His love and shine His light into the hearts of others. She is a true blessing and so are you!

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