“But I was tired of feeling beneath everyone else,” she said. “I had no confidence, and I had no idea how to make things better.”

She’s older. Her skin is weathered, but her eyes are still sharp. She says that for most of her life she thought she was trash.

“Growing up, I never thought much of myself,” she said. “Guess when your daddy says you ain’t nothing, you believe it.”


Her parents were poor. Her father was bad to drink. Her mother was bitter. Life was no cakewalk.

She had her first boyfriend as a sophomore. He was a real winner. He degraded her, called her names. She got pregnant as a junior. He disappeared. She dropped out.

By nineteen, she was pregnant again by another man who treated her even worse—who also left her.

But her life didn’t stay as sad as it sounds. No sir. In fact, that’s why I’m writing this.

During her mid-twenties, fate smiled on her. She got married to a good man who thought she hung the moon. He had two kids; she had two kids. They shoved their families together and manufactured happiness by the bucketful.

He laid concrete. She worked in a restaurant.

They were barely making enough to survive, but money’s not everything. Some things are more important. Like happiness, family, and whether you like your own reflection.

“But I was tired of feeling beneath everyone else,” she said. “I had no confidence, and I had no idea how to make things better.”

One day after work, she got her answer. She was picking up her children from the Methodist church’s after-school program.

In the parking lot, she met a woman who was like her. Same callused hands. Same smoking habit. They hit it off. They talked about things, about their kids, their husbands, about everything.

The woman said she was graduating college that same week.

“It’s taken me ten years to graduate,” the woman admitted. “Had to take classes little by little. You know how hard it is being a mom.”

College. The casual conversation with a perfect stranger worked itself into her mind. She thought long and hard. She lost sleep.

It was her husband who finally pushed her boat from shore.

One night, he told her he was taking her on a date. He hired a babysitter. She got dressed up. So did he. They ate early dinner at a nice place. Then, he drove across town to a community college.

He parked. He shut off the car.

“What’re we doing here?” she asked.

He grinned. “We’re gonna show the world how smart you are,” he said. “That’s what.”

They enrolled in a General Education Development preparation course together. Three nights per week, they learned grammar, multiplication tables, and important historical dates.

And in the evenings, after the kids went to bed, they quizzed each other. They shared a textbook. They burned through Marlboros, made handwritten notecards, and fell asleep with homework in their laps.

She passed her test on her first try. He did too.

She was in college that same year. Her husband worked two jobs just to pay for it. She took as many classes as she could. She discovered she was a crackerjack at math.

And I wish I could tell you more of her story, but we were interrupted when her husband came home from work.

He wore work clothes, painted with dust and mortar.

“Don’t let me interrupt,” he said.

“No, it’s okay,” she said, standing up, stretching. “We’re finished here. Besides, I’ve gotta grade a lot of papers tonight.”

Of course she does.

Because she’s a teacher.


  1. CKD - March 6, 2018 10:54 am

    I love a happy ending!

    • Melody Moore - March 6, 2018 3:18 pm

      I’m a teacher, too. This is very inspiring. I sure did enjoy it! Thank you.

  2. Sandra Smith - March 6, 2018 11:09 am

    I’ve heard, for the last 45 years, ” It takes a special kind of person to be a Nurse” !
    Maybe so…but, let me tell ya something…I would empty FULL bedpans, 12 hours a day, seven days a week, for the NEXT 45 years, before I’d be a teacher !
    I’ve ALWAYS considered them to be Angels, for caring enough to want to help mold our kids into good, strong, productive people… and in 2018, I’m sad to say, I believe it, even MORE SO. !
    God BLESS EM !!!

    • Tara Simon - May 15, 2018 3:30 pm

      Oh Sandy, even though I know you wouldn’t want to, I’d bet you’d make a fantastic teacher. And I’d grade a thousand and one papers and deal with a million and one angry parents before I’d empty a single bedpan! Nurses are angels on earth too!
      Love, Tara (Susie Q’s daughter)

  3. Steven Porter - March 6, 2018 11:10 am

    Yes and YES!!! That’s #goodstuff!!!!!!

    Thanks for sharing, Sean.

    • akismetuser671799908 - March 6, 2018 3:05 pm

      That could be my grandmother. She put my mom through college. Then she graduated in 1956. So far, we’re on our third generation of college grads.

      • Afi - March 6, 2018 3:06 pm

        That could be my grandmother. She put my mom through college. Then she graduated in 1956. So far, we’re on our third generation of college grads.

  4. Sandra Marrar - March 6, 2018 11:16 am

    You know your stories of real people bring a lot of happiness to this sad world. Thank you for sharing . Another real beauty!

  5. ponder304 - March 6, 2018 11:17 am

    God bless this couple for believing in themselves. If you believe it, then you can achieve it! She did! I told my students this for 39 years…..I would sign retired….but we really NEVER RETIRE!

  6. Cathi - March 6, 2018 11:48 am

    Grinning ear to ear, Sean!

  7. Dianne - March 6, 2018 12:08 pm

    Sean………..Twice a year, I work with women who are working on overcoming addictions and who have fled from abusive relationships/marriages. I will be doing the opening devotional tomorrow morning, and the song I had chosen to open the devotional is “Overcomer”. I will be adding this story of yours from today to my devotional to illustrate a true story of a woman who is an “Overcomer”. Thank you so much for sharing this timely story.

  8. Suzette Bowman - March 6, 2018 12:22 pm

    I look forward to your writing every day! Thank you for using your gift for the positive! It’s good news!

  9. Sandi in FL - March 6, 2018 12:33 pm

    Oh, the many lives she has touched and will continue to touch as a teacher! God bless and protect her in the classroom and out!

  10. Laurence w church - March 6, 2018 1:22 pm

    Every morning, when I read your post, I am lifted into positive territory. Much better than reading the news.

  11. Alyse - March 6, 2018 1:22 pm

    Sean, I’ve gotten used to the taste of tears in my morning coffee. Breakfast is better with them.

    • theholtgirls - March 6, 2018 2:41 pm

      You’ve got a way with words too – I need your 2 sentences on a coffee cup! Thank you for sharing, Alyse. <3

  12. paula jones - March 6, 2018 1:25 pm


  13. karen - March 6, 2018 1:33 pm

    thanks for an early morning cry. that was a good one. implies some are not good? not the case though.

  14. Theresa Clark - March 6, 2018 1:58 pm

    Another awesome story. Inspiring and touching each and every one. Thank you for starting my day off right.

  15. Phyllis Hamilton - March 6, 2018 2:07 pm

    I know how she felt when her daddy called her a nobody. My daddy did that to me and I also survived with an accounting degree. It took years to get stupid and ugly out of my brain. But with real love you can conquer!!!

  16. Arelene Mack - March 6, 2018 2:15 pm

    My husband also worked long hours and pushed me to get my Master’s degree while our 3 sons were young. God bless him, and God bless school teachers everywhere. The breath of God and the light of Christ ignited our souls before we ever left heaven. We need to look for that in each other.

  17. janiesjottings - March 6, 2018 2:22 pm

    Very inspiring! I have two second cousins, sisters, close together in age. One worked and paid for the other to go to nursing school. Then the nurse worked and paid for her sister to go to nursing school. That’s the way love works.

  18. Mary Talton - March 6, 2018 2:27 pm

    I SAY this EVERY time!!!!!!! Best one yet!!!! Thank you for blessing all of us with your writings!!!!! Mary

  19. John Paschall - March 6, 2018 2:39 pm


  20. theholtgirls - March 6, 2018 2:46 pm

    A good man blesses so many around him. You are a good man too. Thank you, Sean.

  21. Donna Brown - March 6, 2018 2:48 pm

    Tears in my eyes. Im a teacher too. You go girl!!!

  22. Trula - March 6, 2018 3:10 pm

    Oh Sean! I look forward to your writings each day! This one has made me smile on the outside and has really made my heart happy !! God bless this couple!!

  23. Jack Darnell - March 6, 2018 3:15 pm

    I know this lady! I love a story that hits to the heart of a good life, once the nasty part is realized and left behind.

  24. W. Gary Smith - March 6, 2018 4:12 pm

    God is good all the time and all the time He is good! If we can only realize that when life comes at us like a quick left hook. If we can just keep getting up off the canvas and shake off the blows He will help us through the times when life beats us down. Thanks for another goodun Sean!

  25. Susan Hammett Poole - March 6, 2018 7:12 pm

    Heartwarming and Awesome. I’m smiling after reading this story. Thanks for sharing, Sean.

  26. Glenda H - March 7, 2018 1:08 am

    So, where are the Kleenex? SEAN, the last thing I needed was for you put me into tears!!! Where is Willie Nelson ???

  27. Lulu - March 7, 2018 2:27 am

    I am so happy you shared this story! Many people grow up and do not realize they can achieve an education. I was one of those who had to work 3 part time jobs to make it through college and every step of the way was motivated by a voice I had heard tell me you will never make it! You have to believe in your self and you can accomplish great things! Sean love the story and the way you tell it!

  28. Susan Parker - March 7, 2018 3:42 am

    Bless her heart…and yours to, Sean!

  29. Jody - March 15, 2018 4:09 pm



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