Tag Archives: Frank Laubach

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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Blood Rushing Through My Veins

I’ll call her Kathy. She was 60 years old and my first reading student in the Frank Laubach “each one teach one” literacy program. I had had a week of intensive training provided by my church and the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board. But was I ready for this?

Kathy lived on a narrow little lane that trailed away from Belcher Circle between crowding fields of corn. I put my car window down and heard a mockingbird going through a long string of calls. The house was small but very, very neat. I parked under a chinaberry tree in the swept yard and approached the porch steps. Kathy called out to me to come in. She sat just inside the screen door. Her warm smile greeted me as I walked in and my nerves began to settle.

We sat at her kitchen table getting acquainted that first day. She said she wanted to be able to read her Bible. She was a leader in her church and yet she couldn’t read. And she wanted to be able to sign her name and even write short notes. She had dropped out of school at a young age to work. She and her husband had raised several children and often she’d “spied” on their homework but always she had to work and couldn’t take time to learn.

“I guess now I’m sixty it’s time,” she said, white teeth shining in her beautiful brown face. “Maybe if I hadn’t had this stroke I still wouldn’t think I had time.”

Before we opened her book for each week’s lesson we had prayer, each of us praying. Her prayer always began with “Thank you, God, for the blood rushing through my veins this morning.”

As we progressed through her colorful book, she caught on to the “a” looking like an apple with a leaf, to the “d” looking like a dish with a knife beside it, and to the “v” looking like a valley. She learned to read simple paragraphs. And she learned to read in her Bible.

And every day when we prayed she said, “Thank you, God, for the blood rushing through my veins.”

There were many song birds around Kathy’s house. It was easy for her to see that a “b” looked like a bird with a tall tail but, for some reason, it was hard for her to make the sound of a “b.” She would laugh at herself and, as we became more and more comfortable with each other, we would laugh together. As she rubbed an aching knee, afflicted by her stroke, she would talk about her church. She admitted one day, very shyly, that her fellow worshipers called her “Mother Kathy.”

Her main goal was to be able to stand in her church and read from her Bible to her friends.

I met her husband only a time or two. He was busy in the field and, beyond that, I think, recognized this adventure of Kathy’s as a fulfillment of a dream. He respected her privacy. I never met any of her five children except in seeing their pictures everywhere in her small living room and hearing her tell about them.

Once I took my little boy to see “Miss Kathy.” It was so sweet to see her brown hand on his blonde head as she blessed him.

Kathy faithfully covered the ground, studying all three books in the Laubach series. Some parts were very difficult but she never gave up.

One day Kathy asked me if I would come to her church the next Sunday and “stand with her” while she read Psalm 23.

“But, Kathy,” I said, “you don’t need any help. You can read it all by yourself.”

She turned that bright white smile on me and pleaded. “Please. I want you to be there with me.”

So of course I went. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for a ship full of gold.

Kathy’s face shone that day. It was hard for her to stand but her husband provided her with a sturdy lectern. Her audience seemed to hold their collective breath as she began to read. I kept my arm around her shoulders and felt her trembling subside. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…He leadeth me beside the still waters…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Never have I heard a more beautiful reading of this favorite psalm.

Everyone burst into celebratory shouts and applause when she finished.

There was a covered dish dinner after the service. My friend Nell Rose had come with me as well as my little William and we all enjoyed the bounteous feast. We were made to feel like royalty by Kathy and her friends.

Soon after her “graduating,” Kathy and her husband moved away, maybe to be closer to some of their children. I lost connection with her. Then one day I saw her obituary in the paper. Tears stung my eyes. My friend had died and I hadn’t even known she was sick. But immediately I was comforted by the sound in my head of Kathy reading “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

When I pass Belcher Circle I often think of Kathy and remember her simple thanksgiving for “the blood rushing through my veins.”

She was my student. She was my teacher.


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