Monday, October 20, 2014

Inspiring People Series: Sharla Biggs-Bahl-Cotton (Part 1 of 3)

I love people-watching. Have you ever sat at the airport and just observe the people passing by. It is so interesting and entertaining. I also love reading biographies and fiction stories about communities and all the different kinds of people that make up a town.  It is often the differences in people, the quirks, that make the most interesting stories.   

Have you ever read the Mitford Series? Or watched shows like Andy Griffith, The Gilmore Girls, or Mary Tyler Moore?   We wouldn’t watch it without all the different personalities involved. It would be soooooo boring. I remind myself of this whenever I am tempted to get annoyed at someone. I think, “This is what makes a good novel or TV show. It is what keeps life interesting.” You should try it. It will give you a new perspective.

Well, I don’t need a TV show or a book to entertain me, because I have so many interesting and great people involved in my life.   I want to share their life stories with you, because I have learned so much from these people in my life. They have inspired, encouraged, challenged, delighted, and comforted me. (I am sure they've done so many other great things as well, but I can’t think of anymore adjectives right now.)

Oh, boy.  I hope that it doesn’t sound like I am calling my friends quirky or annoying. Please don’t get me wrong! On the contrary, these people have put up with my idiosyncrasies and have helped me grow. Well, at the least they have watched me grow old if nothing else. 

I would like you to meet my friend Sharla. I have known her since January 1987, which makes it almost 28 years now. I met Sharla during our 1 year stay in Pensacola, Florida. I was pregnant with my 2nd son, Jed, and she had just had her 4th child, Molly.  Tom and Sharla had a homeless and military ministry that they ran out of their home, which they paid for out of their own pocket. 

Everything they had went into their efforts of sharing the good news of the gospel of Christ to the world around them. Maybe some other time I will write about this period of our lives, but for now this about Sharla.

If there is ever a person you would want on your team, it would be Sharla. Believe me, she should be one of your first picks. But remember that I saw her first, so please don’t take her from me!  Truly, I don’t know what I would do without her. I guess we all just need to be on the same team!

Don’t let Sharla’s small size fool you. She is a fireball. Really! The creative juices that flow out of that woman are nothing short of Niagra Falls.

When I first came to Virginia I decided that I was interested in quilting, and I also wanted to connect with people in the community. I convinced Sharla to go to a quilting guild meeting. I dabbled in quilting for a bit, and then decided I was too busy with church and my little people. I didn’t need another creative outlet, but not Sharla. That woman not only learned to hand-quilt during her busy life schedule, but went on the road with quilting shows, taught classes, and hand-dyed her own fabric to make beautiful works of art. She left me behind in the dust! 

This is just Sharla’s way. All in. Full intensity. Often no sleep required. Truly inspiring. That's why I say that if there was ever a time you had to pick people to be on your team, she should be one of your first picks. 

Sharla has cooked thousands of meals for the people that they have invited into their home. Every Sunday, for years, Sharla and Tom would cook dinner and invite military people over to join them in a Sunday meal and volleyball. Thanksgiving was a huge outreach time. For several years we even helped them rent a Recreational Center in Norfolk on Thanksgiving, because there were so many people.  There was food, games, and always an invitation to know more about our best friend, Jesus Christ. The military ministry has changed, but Tom and Sharla’s hearts haven’t wavered.

Sharla has been, and is still, instrumental in helping with Avalon’s women’s Bible study and other events. She also has written and directed many of our Christmas plays and Vacation Bible School events. She has taught debate at a homeschool class. She also teaches sewing and quilting to our ladies.

Well, I could go on and on, but, out of all the many things I admire about Sharla, I want to share with you two specific aspects of her life that mean something special to me. First, and on the playful side of life’s happenings, is the creation of her tiny house, which I totally LOVE! And second, something about her journey to faith during which her first husband, David, was murdered. Truly inspiring.

So hope you will come back for more of the story --~Sharla’s Tiny House~


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