Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Precious Friend

I received a call a little over a week ago from the grandson of a dear lady who has been a family friend for almost 30 years, Elizabeth Griffis Reynolds.  Her grandson, Patrick, told me that Liz had had a stroke and was now in the care of hospice.  He was calling to relay her request that I sing at her memorial service when her expected time arrived. The Bible says that "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints."  I have no doubt in my mind that my dear precious friend Liz knows our Heavenly Father well,  and when her expected time arrived she was safely delivered into His arms.

When I first met Liz, I wasn't so sure if I was going to like her.  She was one of those people who was pretty plain spoken and would tell you like it was.  She was a strong woman and had served the small town of Italy Texas as the Postmaster for many years.  So she was the sort of person that knew everyone in town and where they lived, and pretty much everyone knew her.  They knew they could depend on Liz to see that their mail and packages were delivered on time!  Little did I know at the time that she would turn out to be one of the best and most faithful lifetime friends anyone could ever hope to have.

When our family moved to Italy Texas in 1983 to pastor the First Baptist Church, we moved into the parsonage which sat basically on the church parking beside and in front of the church building.  I actually could walk from our kitchen through the carport into the back door of the church.   Liz, who had been recently widowed, lived in the house right next door and had been a faithful member at First Baptist for many years.   There was a door that served as a short cut from Liz's house, through our carport that went to the back door church.  That should tell you how close we were as neighbors!

At the time we were called to First Baptist we had 2 boys ages 1 and 4.  During the 7 years we lived in Italy, we made many strong ties and close friendships.  People who have continued to be involved in our lives, prayed for us, expressed concern for and had an impact on our family.  In the brief time we spent there God blessed our family with 2 more children, and our church family  blossomed and grew as well.

Liz was a strong role model for me.  She had a love for God's word and shared her knowledge and gifts by faithfully teaching taught the JOY women's Sunday School class.  Liz was someone you knew you could count on to be at every service unless she was ill.  Everyone who knew her loved her and knew that she could be depended upon to help wherever needed.

When I remember Liz, the first thing that comes to my mind is the fact that she came at a moment's notice the night I went into labor with my youngest child.  In the middle of December 1986, after having 3 boys, and desperately wanting to have a girl, we were expecting our fourth child.  (We did not know at the time whether our new arrival would be a boy or a girl.)

It was on a Saturday, 2 weeks before my expected due date,  I had been working hard to prepare for our annual Christmas Open House.  My day included shopping, baking, cleaning, all the things you do to get ready to invite the church family over for a taste of Christmas goodies and traditions. As the sun began recline, I decided to take a break to have a bite to eat and suddenly realized that the gentle "nudges" I had been feeling all day from my tummy, were getting more regular and intense.  When it occurred to me what was happening and knowing that we almost an hour away from the hospital, I quickly called Liz to come watch the 3 boys.  She never hesitated.  She immediately came from next door to our house and sent us packing in the car with a blessing.  Knowing that my boys were safe in her care meant the world to me that night.  Our daughter,  Lawren Beth Comer arrived before midnight and I am pretty sure that Liz was the first one that Jack called with the news that night and  every one in town celebrated the news that we finally had the little girl we had been longing for to arrive.  Our first and only daughter had been delivered right on time according to God's timetable and not ours.

I am sure I could share many more stories about how our precious friend Liz, our neighbor, and second mom, came to our aid.  Jack is better about remembering the small details of life than I am.  But I wanted to share here about how much this woman made a difference in the life of my family because she was willing to share herself with others.  Now that Liz has been delivered into the hands of our heavenly Father I am sure she is enjoying His presence and celebrating her new home with Him. At Liz's request, Jack and I will be taking part in her memorial service. What a privilege it is to return a favor for someone who contributed so much to our family and enriched the lives of everyone around her.

Here is the song that Liz requested for her service.

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