One of the joys of this time, while we were off in the cold north attending seminary, was that our church provided a sense of family for us as well as a place to minister. We were blessed with many young families close to our age, which was a welcome change after our previous ministry to mostly elderly folks. Our boys enjoyed having other kids to play with, and we greatly appreciated the much-needed fellowship. It was wonderful having people with whom we could share the fun times as well as the spiritual times. I will always remember this as one of the happiest times in our lives.
Someone I remember most from this time was my friend Cindy. Cindy had a remarkable talent for playing the piano, with a unique ability to play some of the more difficult newer (at that time) contemporary and Gospel Christian artists such as Keith Green, The Gaithers, and others. Since I couldn’t play the piano (only “Chopsticks” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb”) I truly admired and appreciated her gift. The highlight of my week came on Thursdays. John usually worked at the church office on Thursday mornings, so I would drop him off and our then two-year old son Scotty and I would go visit Cindy for a morning of sipping cups of hot tea and making music together! She played, and I sang. Cindy’s little girl Heather kept Scotty entertained while we had fun at the piano. Those were very happy days for both of us. She was working through a difficult marriage and this was good therapy for her. I was just happy for the fellowship and friendship, since we were so far away from home and family.
Cindy also had a son named Jeremy, who was the same age as our two older boys, so we often got our whole families together whenever possible. Jeremy was a very outgoing, fun-loving boy. He had a super personality and such a sweet attitude.
Flash forward about nine years after this time, when Jeremy was a senior in high school with about three weeks to go before graduation. Very tragically, Jeremy was instantly killed in an auto accident on his way to school. We had moved away from there many years before this, but we had kept in touch with the family, and this really hit us hard. He was all set to enter the Air Force upon graduation and had a great future ahead. In reading his obituary I saw that Jeremy had accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior on July 3, 1981, at the age of 10, at youth camp, (shortly after we had left that area) and “on May 5, 1989, the day of his death, he met Jesus face to face.” It was a painful reminder to us of the fragility of this life, and how our children really do not belong to us. They are only loaned to us for a little while to love, teach, and hopefully introduce to Jesus at a young age…because we never know what the future may hold. The following is an excerpt from a little story that was in the bulletin for Jeremy's memorial service:
Hold your children close while you can...tell them you love them every opportunity you have, because we never know when it will be our last chance to say good-bye."I'm not yet ready, Father. I haven't had time to say good-bye....Where did the years go, Father? It seems only yesterday that I held the precious blue bundle close to me, gazing into that small sweet face.....I don't understand it, Father. Only a short while ago our house was full of tricycles, baseballs, shouts, and clatter....
'I'll be OK, Mom,' he tells me. And, suddenly, I know he will... "It's time, isn't it, Father? It's time to say good-bye." (from "Time to Say Good-Bye" by Joan Wester Anderson)