Friday, November 19, 2010

Truly Thanking God

I cannot think of the Thanksgiving holiday without remembering a dear friend from my childhood years. Though I have met so many wonderful people in my lifetime and though many of them have touched my life, none have left the marks upon my heart like Laura Shrout. As children, my brothers and I frequently called her "Laurie". What a delightful woman she was.
Laurie was a large woman with big, beautiful blue eyes. The sound of her laughter would always make us children laugh, even if we didn't know what we were laughing about. She had the most gentle touch and was always telling us how much she loved us. I loved to snuggle up to her and smell her perfume. I don't remember the scent she wore, but she always smelled so divine. It was a pleasure to be in her company.
Laurie didn't have any children of her own. As Mother began to travel with Daddy on his ministerial journeys, Laurie would come and stay with us. She was a true Nanny. Her husband, Tom, would come by each evening and read to us or watch television. We felt safe so safe with Tom and Laurie.
Laurie was among the first of my Daddy's congregants. When he assumed the leadership of our church, Tom and Laurie were there from the beginning. Their faithfulness to the House of God, and their loyalty to my Daddy's leadership, endeared them to our entire family. I recall many times seeing Laurie wipe away the tears as my Daddy preached. She had such a tender heart.
It was the custom of our church to precede the Wednesday night Bible study with a few testimonies from the congregation. I loved to hear various members of our assembly share what God had done for them. Many stories of faith and hope, believing and trusting, fell upon my childish ears. My faith was developed and anchored by the visible proof of God's ability to meet all our needs as I saw it for myself in the lives of these humble people.
Laurie's testimony was the one I loved the most. This gentle, loving woman would come to her feet, place her hands on the pew in front of her and speak the words, "Truly, I'm thanking God for all He has done for me.". Every testimony Laurie gave began with those wonderful words, "Truly, I'm thanking God.". It left its mark upon my childish heart. I knew from the tone of her voice, the softness with which she spoke, and the reverence of her words, that Laurie really knew the Lord. She spoke of Him like she would speak of a good friend, which, of course, they were.
Truly---the word refers to something that is real and genuine. That was Laurie's relationship with God. It was real. It was right. It was genuine. She left her mark upon the lives of myself and my three oldest brothers. My youngest brother, Dwight, never knew Laurie. She died before he was born. Still, her life was not in vain. Her smile, her love of life, her gentleness, and her goodness, are all remembered by my family and I.
So, when the season comes 'round and the time of giving thanks is here, I think of Laurie. I think of a woman who had very little in material goods. I think of a woman who enjoyed the company of friends and family more than the things that money could buy. I remember warm hugs, pats on the head, hot chocolate, and bedtime stories. I recall fondly, a Godly woman who was not afraid to cry when her heart was touched. I think of her daily and I can say, "Truly I'm thanking God" for my childhood friend, Laurie. For all good things that have come down from the Father above, "Truly, I'm thanking God.".

In Grace,