I hardly know how to begin to recount the blessings I received from the ladies at the Old Hickory Church of Christ on Saturday.
First was the blessing of meeting with Felicia Austin and Pam Loftis in April. I’ve known Felicia for over 30 years, and Pam and I bonded quickly as we discussed spiritual matters and what our theme would be.
Speaking on “What is Courage?” and “What Am I Wearing?” was a good challenge for me. The “wearing” part was to cover the armor of God and how that armor protects us, but it took me much time, prayer, and research to figure out what God wanted me to say to the women there.
I stayed overnight with my brother John and his wife Liz, and Liz drove me—eventually, and still on time—to the church. I was honored that she stayed to hear both talks and was such a wonderful support for me. (Explanation: John accidentally took both keys to Liz’s car, so Steve took us to their friend’s house to borrow his car. Liz had to have a car to get home because Steve was going to pick me up afterwards to go to the airport for our flight to Fort Lauderdale. A bit stressful for a while, but it worked out okay. We were going too early, anyway!)
Felicia hugged me the minute I got out of the car. We got our name tags and were encouraged to choose a handmade bookmark as our gift for coming. Many precious women greeted me warmly, already knowing my name. Turned out they’d been praying for me by name.
Bitsy introduced herself, with the added information that her sister’s husband, Glenn Martin, had preached at Central long before Steve did. I’d met him when he returned to perform a wedding ceremony soon after Steve started preaching at Central, in the 70s. Bitsy had visited them when they were in Cincinnati, so I felt close to her right away.
Harriet made a comment that prompted me to say, “How did you know that?”
“Oh, I looked you up!” She smiled, so I assume she’d found my website. I have a pretty distinctive name. Thanks, Mother. I’ve found other Lanitas, but no other Lanita Bradley or Lanita Boyd. Later I found out that Harriet was a retired teacher and we had a lot in common in our parenting.
Melva grasped both my hands and said, “How was your trip down?” When I said it was fine, she added, “We’ve been praying that you’d have a safe trip.”
Without pausing to consider, I said, “Well, I wish you’d known to pray for our car keys!” Then, of course, I had to explain. Fortunately, she got a kick out of it.
The whole event was so well-planned and executed that I was inspired and encouraged before I ever got up to speak. Pam gave me a lovely introduction and even mentioned that I’d gone to the Kentucky Derby, which was a great segue into my Derby picture.
What great attention I had! As I looked out over the audience, I figured that 50% of them were older than I. Would what I’d prepared be relevant to them? I wondered. Well, I looked at the clock and at my notes and let the Spirit guide what I said. I left out some things I thought were good, but I really felt guided in my words.en there
At the break, Meta came up to me to tell me about her miserable experience at the Kentucky Derby years ago. She validated why I’d never wanted to go the cheap route just to say I’d been there; they’d been in the infield and it was crowded with no seating, and the restroom lines were interminable. I mentioned that as I spoke, adding that on the day we went it was also muddy, and most in the infield are drunk. We were fortunate to have bleacher seats under cover since it was chilly and rainy.
I’d ended the first part with singing the “Fruits of the Spirit” song and talking about them. So after Meta talked to me, Bitsy and her friend Melva came over, holding a tissue-wrapped item in their hands. “We’ve been studying the fruits of the Spirit in our Sunday class,” they said, “and we bought this for our teacher. We were going to give it to her today, but she isn’t here. We just looked at each other and knew we wanted to give it to you.” It is a beautiful silver and gold bracelet inscribed with the fruits of the Spirit around it. It is gorgeous and I will treasure it as well as the other gifts the sisters at Old Hickory gave me.
The songs were perfect. Elissa led them and each one had to do with courage and wearing the armor of God. Harriet’s final thoughts and prayer were so dear.
After it was over, so many sweet women came to thank me and say they enjoyed it. They certainly seemed to—such an attentive audience. The luncheon following was delicious, and I enjoyed chatting with those who had been in my audience. One lady had actually served as a missionary in Kuala Lumpur with her husband; others mentioned other things we had in common, such as the woman who said, “You mentioned that Bitsy’s brother-in-law used to preach in Cincinnati. Well, he’s my brother-in-law, too, through my husband’s family.”
Later, I received a text from a young woman in my Thursday Bible study, asking how it went. I told her my reservations about relevance, ending, “But many told me it was just what they needed to hear, so I guess what’s relevant to me at 72 is still relevant at 82!” She responded, “And at 32!” because I’d practiced part of it on them last Thursday.
All in all, God was in charge. He came out ahead, acting immeasurably above all I could have thought or imagined. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!