Posts Tagged joy

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Dear Family and Friends,

As you know our lives have changed over the last few years. I thought that our traveling days were over; however, we weren’t ready to give in so easily. In 2016 and 17, we went to the grand celebration on the 4th. Of July to be with my sister’s family in Lincolnton, NC. For years I have wanted to attend the Christian Writer’s Conference at Green Lake, Wisconsin. Thanks to the help of our helper and friend Jan we took the plunge. We flew to Milwaukee and rented a car. The center is on the lake. We had a wonderful time, learned a lot, and made new friends.

This year we ventured out west to North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monuments were all that I expected. Devil’s Tower and The Badlands added to our excitement. Jan again did all the driving. Thanks to daughter, Suzanne, we had a wonderful hotel in Spearfish. Spearfish Canyon is spectacular. This trip and the trip to Green Lake were simply great gifts of joy.

Each Friday Ann Cheek comes to play the piano and sing with Carol. On the last two Mondays in each month, we go to hear the Joy Singers from First Baptist Church sing at one of the long term care facilities. I continue with my Monday lunches with the preacher boys. I continue at First Baptist. Jan and Carol often attend Stono Baptist were they have made good friends. The service is far more informal which works out well for them.

Say Something Nice Day and Say Something Nice Sunday continue to gain momentum. They are more needed now than when we started. and have been very supportive. I continue to eat with the Wednesday night gang. We have been doing this for over thirty years.

We are grateful when Suzanne makes it down from Nashville. Her son Christopher has been on a ship in Bahrain to fulfill his Navy Reserve obligation. Christina, Nancy and Michael’s daughter, continues at the day care center and their son, Colin, continues at Publix. Our friends Marvin and Kathy Cann come down from Spartanburg once or twice a year. Marvin was my roommate at Furman. We are unhappy about losing the wonderful help from Brandy Brown, but she is needed at home. Cassie Shokes, daughter of our friend Clyde has stepped into the post. Carol’s doctors are pleased with where she is with her Alzheimer’s disease and I am grateful to them. Our friend, Gene Plyler, is a great source of help. Will Wilcox, Liz’s cousin, came from Seattle for a visit. Unfortunately Kay, his wife, could not make the trip. My good friend, Gayland Poole an Episcopal priest in Texas, died this year. Joe Gilliland moved to Birmingham to be closer to his son. My sister, Jean, and Bunky spent Christmas with us. What fun! My boyhood friend, Ansel McGill, and wife Susie called Christmas night. Ansel suffered a severe stroke, but he still has that wonderful deep voice. The call made my Christmas. We are thankful for all of you. We know how blessed we are to have each of you in our lives. We are concerned with the turn our nation has taken away from a, “Kinder gentler society,” but we can each do our part to help restore decency to our national life. May God bless you and your family in the New Year!

Carol and Mitch


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Amazing Grace: Settling a troubled soul – AILEEN LAWRIMORE*  

July 4, 2017 –

When I stepped onto her hall, I could see her slippered feet just outside the door frame of her room. In her wheelchair, she rocked heel to toe, toe to heel, back and forth and back again.

“Hey, there,” I said, crouching to her height and attempting to push her chair back so I could get into the room. (Imagine a 5’4” duck wearing jeans and a tie-dye T-shirt pushing a wheelchair backwards; you get the picture.) I managed it, then pulled a stool right up next to her chair so I could speak directly in her ear. Nonagenarian ears aren’t especially known for their acuity, you know.

She does not know me; when I began my job at her church, she was already at the point of needing care. I do know her, though — at least vicariously. Her heart is woven into the fabric of our church. I’ve heard stories that told about her love for her church family, her heart for missions, her love of worship. “Such a sweet person,” they all say. “Such a tender soul.”

That day though, she was all out of sorts. She reached for me, her brow furrowed, her gaze unfocused and skittish. In a frantic, high-pitched tone, she began explaining the reasons for her angst. Sadly, her mind had played havoc with her reality again, leaving her agitated by imagined evils. Yet regardless of the validity of her concerns, the fear she was experiencing was undeniable. She begged me to do something to right the wrongs she had described.

“I promise I’ll check on that in just a minute,” I told her, kissing her cheek and stroking her arm. “But before I do that, let’s sing a song, OK?” When she refused, saying we didn’t have enough time and that she was just too upset, I started singing anyway, hoping she would join me.

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound ….”

That’s all it took. Recognition dawned and she began singing along, her memory as sharp as ever.

It reminded me of when I sang those words with my own Grandmama. We sang it in church, Grandmama all dressed up in her pink polyester suit, me with my ’80s hair teased to perfection. We sang it years later too, when she lived with my parents, her favorite pink suit now several sizes too large. By then, Grandmama had lost track of the decades, but she knew “I once was lost, but now I’m found.”

I remembered singing it to my tiny daughter when I was a young mother. We’d be awake, just the two of us in the wee hours of the morning, when fear would cease me. How could I possibly be worthy of this gift I hold in my arms? The song sang itself: “Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound! That saves a wretch like me.” It became her lullaby. And mine.

There in the nursing home that day, we sang all the verses, then moved on to Jesus Loves Me and other familiar favorites. Once between hymns, she squeezed my hand and, exuding absolute joy, said, “Oh honey, I love this!”

When it was time for me to go, I promised to come again and to bring a hymnal next time. She smiled, content, and said, “God bless you, honey.”

“We’ve no less days, to sing God’s praise, than when we first begun.”

*Aileen Lawrimore is pastor to children and youth at First Baptist Church of Weaverville, NC. 


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A New Adventure Dawns

A new year is dawning and a new president will soon be sworn in to fill the most important job in the world. The rest of us are wondering what the New Year holds and what is our place in it.  I am filled with gratitude for the friendships, adventures and surprises that came my way in the year about to close. I am excited and a little anxious about the year ahead.

I know that there will be good things in the year ahead. How do I know that? I know because there have been good things in every one of the past years for me. Yes, there have been tragedies from which I thought I could never recover even if I wanted to. There were some so deep that I was not sure that I wanted to survive, but survive I did.

I know that I face some overwhelming challenges in the year ahead, but I am just as certain that the good will outweigh the bad. I have a loving family, good friends, and a caring support system. Most of all I know that even though I am still working out my salvation I am confident that the grace that has sustained me through these many years is still there surrounding me, upholding me, and beckoning me to take another step into faith. One step at a time is all that I can muster and I know that it is enough.

I have had an unbelievable life. No one could have dreamed it other than God and my mother. For some my life seems ordinary and dull, but to awaken every morning with joy, thanksgiving and a sense of awe is all the assurance I need to sustain me.

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I AM A REBOUNDER (From grief to joy) by Rev. Paul Stouffer*


David, the Psalmist said: “For my life is spent with sorrow.” Psalm 31:10

Both he and I needed a new Holy Spirit tomorrow.

The dictionary says that to rebound means to spring back from the force of impact.

I am writing my family and friends to inform them that this is not a play-act.

I have great pleasure in announcing on the second anniversary of the passing of my beloved,

I am now a believer, rebounder, and I am rebounding by the goodness of God; all of us awaiting our reunion in Heaven above.

August 16, 2016

Paul Stouffer

*Paul and I met at Mars Hill College as undergraduates. We have been friends for all of these years. He and his wife, Peggy, spent years as missionaries.

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