Oh, To Get It Right

From my Mom

From my Mom

This card was from my Mom at the party in 1981 or 1983.  I don’t know when it was.  I’ve tried to figure it out, and right when I think I have, I post a card from B. O. and Jane Young that says June of 1983.

Which explains the gist of most of the cards and letters:  I love you, you dork.

Which is also pretty much the gist of my life today:  I am a dork.

But my Momma loved me, and did right up to the day she left for Heaven.  I would imagine she still does.oh if I

This card is especially precious because of my Mom’s handwriting.  As we walk through life, or run, we have no idea how we will miss those little things like handwriting, a voice, a chuckle.

Here is another one of my cherished gifts from that day:  a long-ago picture of some neighborhood kids.

Jamie, me, and Terry

Jamie, me, and Terry

A lot of us had horses or ponies in those days.  We all played and played together: sledding down the big hills in the snowy winter, pretend ice skating with our boots in the freezing weeks, riding ponies and bikes in the hot summer, playing in the water hose or in the rain.  Gail tells it well:

Gail's letter

Gail’s letter

Gail's letter back

Gail’s letter back

Oh, the times we had as children!  Wonderful, imaginative, exciting times!

There were more letters from my Acteens youth girls and my Sunday School class, sweet letters from sweet girls who became good, sweet women, mothers, teachers of their own Sunday School classes, employees.

A time capsule of sorts.  One that I hope you have enjoyed opening.

The Party of 1981 – Part 3

As I read the letters, I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that I am the same today as I was all those years ago.  Several voiced in their letters qualities or lack of them that are my personality traits today.  And I was overwhelmed with joy that I had been blessed with such good people in my life.  They each had stories or an encouragement or accolades.  They each took their precious time and sat down and wrote something to me, something I have cherished all these years.

There were letters from the Acteens group at church that I was leading; busy teenagers who wrote me the sweetest, most heartfelt letters that I cry over.  Older women who have now gone on to be with God, women of substance who gave me moments of themselves.   Women my age (older women now) who spent time reminiscing, blessing me, loving me. Women who acknowledged the positive things about me and laughed at the not-so-positive things.  Good stuff there in that book.

I’m going to share some of them with you.  Perhaps you will remember writing the letter, and it will bring back a good memory for you.  Make you smile.  Make you happy.  As Dymisha said in her letter, “You know, if there has been one moment of happiness  brought to her through this surprise party, or this letter… then I’m happy.”Keely, Nate, me

(to be continued)

A Man Of God

(This week the header picture will be one James took; he loved shooting animals and landscapes.)

Jimmie Joe, JJ, (James to me because that’s what he liked to be called) had the most infectious smile that lit up his whole face and the space around him.  He was such a stinker until the day God grabbed his heart and changed him forever.

what a cutie

I have always loved God, loved my relationship with Jesus the Christ, and loved the fact that the Spirit can move me with the His quiet presence.  Some of my favorite radio stations are the ones that play contemporary Christian music: 104.5 around these parts is one.  I had been telling James he should listen to it because it played great music, had great stuff on there.

One day, he came home and said he had been listening to that station all day, and I don’t think he ever turned the radio dial away from it after that, calling in and winning contests; books, CD’s.  Nor did he turn back from the path he had embarked on with God as his guide.  He began to lead the youth in our church, play his trombone in worship, and love the things of God.

His love for the youth of our church, as well as the whole county, was obvious to anybody that was around him.  He had a deep conviction to show these youth there was a better, greater, more exciting way than drugs or alcohol.  He was filled with the joy of the Lord and wanted them to experience that too.  He worked diligently to teach them, to make things interesting, to give them opportunities that showed them who Jesus really is.

with the youth at Agape

He took them to the Agape music festival at Greenville College, had lock-ins, had cook-outs at our home, and just generally was there, present, in case they needed him.  Those kids still, ten years later, have him in their hearts.

cooking for the kids

He loved music and encouraged those of us who could play a musical instrument in church to get together and practice to play during worship.  And we did:  keyboard, drums, trombone, clarinet, guitars, whatever we could play.  He also worked at getting the sound system just right, good for recording the music and the church services.  My sister and I have always sang together and wanted to make our mother a recording of songs for her birthday.  James went with us to the church to record the music.  At one point in the evening I noticed him leaning back in the chair with his eyes closed.  Thinking he was getting bored and tired of listening and relistening to us, I told him we would hurry.  He sat up, tears on his face, and said, “No, I’m enjoying this.”

Joe, his grandfather, would come to the house, and we would all three watch the Gaithers on television.  I mean, I love the Gaithers, but contemporary Christian was more our style, and yet James would sit there and loved watching this.  His grandpa loved it, too.

He would call me outside of an evening to look at a particularly beautiful sunset and say, “I stand amazed in the Presence.”  And although that beautiful senset was, of course, amazing, it was not nearly as amazing as the transformation that took place in James’ life.

An amazing man of God.