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Gift From “Miss Annie”

Whether growing lemons, crocheting angels, teaching English in the ESL program, or playing the piano at her church, “Miss Annie,” as she’s often called, is the personification of kindness mixed with creativity. She would quickly add that she’s simply responding to the love of Jesus and her main aim is to glorify Him.

I’d like to tell you about the Christmas gift Miss Annie gave me. But, first, let me tell you a little about Miss Annie.

I first met Anne Parks in 1968 when my husband and I visited the church where her husband was pastor and she was pianist. We chose to join a different church but have always been friends since then and, a little later, became co-workers in literacy missions. Anne and I first took a literacy course in about 1972, learning how to “each one teach one” in the Frank Laubach adult reading ministry. Then, about twenty-three years later, we both took a weekend course to be eligible for teaching English to folks of other languages. All along, she has inspired me with her enthusiasm and love for the Lord. She never fails to have some new neat idea for teaching. She and I can have an exultant conversation in the middle of Walgreen’s or wherever we meet as we talk about “our children” of all ages.

Anne and her husband Lester were very, very close. When he died suddenly of a heart attack her life changed drastically. But she held her head high and constantly looked for ways to help other people, thus assuaging her grief. The Lord comforted her, she said, in so many different ways, some kind of odd. She tells of a time when she felt very lonely. Her brother also had just died and she was tending his garden and wondering just how she would endure the long rows of peas and corn without even a dog to keep her company. She prayed, she says, that something, or someone, would fill the terrible holes in her life. In less than five minutes she heard a hassling sound, a dog coming down the row. That dog she viewed as an instant answer to prayer. She stayed at her side all day every day, then went home at night. “Miss Annie” laughed and said she had a dog and didn’t even have to pay his bills.

So—that Christmas gift I mentioned. Annie left it at the animal hospital for me, so Charles came in with it one night when he came home from work. It was a generous box of fruit from hers and her neighbor’s yards: grapefruit, lemons, satsumas, and nuts. I laughed when I saw what she had wrapped each globe of citrus in. She used old patterns, the perfect weight of paper for wrapping lemons! Her note indicated she was recycling and if I wanted an outfit made with the pattern I could keep the pieces. This was a reminder of another characteristic of my special friend. She is a very good steward of whatever the Lord has given her and considers waste a sin.

But the best part of the gift was right on top. It was a photocopied poem she’d written. I knew she must have put copies in other gift boxes she prepared. Around the edges of the paper she’d written in bold black marker “Thank you–For Your Gift of Jesus….Blessed Christmas”

Here’s the poem:

Thank You Lord

Just this once, Lord, I want to come to You with no problems, but to simply say: THANK YOU…

For your forgiveness when I fail.

For the sheer joy of sleep when I’m terribly tired.

For the silent strength of humility when pride overtakes me.

For the justice of your laws when men are cruel.

For the remedies for sickness when I am ill.

For the simplicity of orderliness when I face confusion.

For the assurance that you have made a place especially for me when I feel inadequate among my peers.

For the joy of helping others when I see people in need.

For the earthly evidences of your will when I’m trying to find out what life is all about.

For the reality of your world when I stray too far into fantasy.

For the rightness of reason when I panic too quickly.

For the fun and laughter that refreshes when everything gets too serious.

For the renewal in moments of silence when I’m dizzy being so busy in a hectic world.

Thank you, my Lord, for all these things. But most of all, thank You for your abiding presence, and your Book of Directions I can read daily. Your WORD–for directions and how to live a fulfilled life… THANK YOU MY LORD!  —A.T.P.

May we, like Miss Annie, write our thank you letter to Jesus.





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Fishing Hook Dog

It’s amazing how driving by certain places can bring out the stories Charles can otherwise not remember. Like the day he pointed to a white shuttered house set back behind large pecan trees and said, “That’s where I had to come that Sunday we were all at Revonda’s for Mother’s Day. There was a dog with a fish hook.”

I remembered it as he began to retell the story.

We’d just arrived at Charles’ sister Revonda’s for a wonderful family gathering. We greeted Papa Graham merrily as he patrolled the large carefree yard, Tammy’s small Boston terrier snorting around his feet. I went on in the house with my big bowl of potato salad. I’d made it the night before and its flavors would have had time to blend well. Stepping into the cheery kitchen, I found myself well hugged by Revonda and Mama Graham who’d already been at work lining up various culinary creations including Mama’s fantastic creamed corn and Revonda’s fruit salad complete with pineapple and strawberries. We often joked that we needn’t confer at all about a menu if we decided to get together. We’d just each bring our usual dishes and our dinner would be made.

“Oh,” said Revonda suddenly remembering as she handed me a slip of paper. “Charles left our number with the answering service, I guess. He needs to call that number.”

I went back outside speaking to a bevy of nieces and nephews on the way and noticing that our William had already instigated a football throwing with Mike and Ken while Julie and Tammy were settled in front of the den television.

I handed Charles the slip of paper and leaned over to pet Daffy, the Boston terrier while he went off to return the call.

Starting back up the porch steps, I met Charles. “I’ve got to go,” he said.

“Oh, no, not now!”

“Afraid so. All the way over on the north county line road. I’ll be back as soon as I can. I told Revonda not to wait dinner for me. It’s a dog with a fish hook. Why crazy people leave things like that lying around I’ll never know.” But then he grinned. “Have truck, will travel.”

And he was gone.

Dinner was over and the ice cream churn humming when he finally returned. He told us all about the dog between bites.

“Poor fellow. They’d been down by the pond fishing and that hound was sniffing around as they always do. Suddenly Pete heard the dog yowling in an awful kind of way. Said he was afraid he’d been snakebitten but when he got to him he wondered if a snakebite might not have been kinder. The poor thing had gotten a fish hook in his lip.”

“Oh, I’ve seen that before,” interrupted Marcus. “Not pretty.”

Charles lifted a finger. “In his back paw, too,” he added. “Same fish hook.”

“Oh, no,” everyone groaned.

“And that’s not all,” said Charles with a climactic note in his voice. “He’d evidently tried to get loose from one place only to get himself tangled elsewhere. That fish hook had him three ways.”

“Three ways?” Ken asked. “How, Uncle Charles? What was the third?”

“In his scrotum,” said Charles.

The boys giggled. Tammy put her hand over her mouth and Julie looked mystified. Most of us had a picture immediately of a large red hound wound up in a painful position. No wonder his yowl sounded strange and pitiful!

“So what did you do?” somebody asked as Charles practically licked the last bit of corn from his plate.

“Got out my pliers and tweezers and relieved the poor thing. It wasn’t easy. Took two big guys holding him down but I finally set him free. He ran off with his tail between his legs looking totally ashamed.”



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