Gary and Jo are two of the most positive people I know. They married soon after Jo graduated from high school and recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. We missed the party because we were out of town, but I saw a picture in the local paper. There was Jo in her tiny wedding gown, worn on their wedding day and on both their twenty-fifth and fiftieth anniversaries.
Gary and Jo share many interests, like grandchildren and snorkeling, and they enjoy individual interests, too. Gary is an excellent Bible student and Bible class teacher and a part-time cattleman. He is partially-retired but continues to work part-time as an engineer for the construction firm where he once worked full-time. He is one of those people who makes you feel happy just because you had a short chat.
Jo is trained as a hair stylist and continues to cut hair a few days a week in her in-home salon. Many years ago she got her degree in English from a nearby university, but she kept cutting hair. I know she can’t be doing it for the money because I have had several of her $6 haircuts. It’s a ministry. I know that because I know how comforting it is just to sit in her chair and share conversation.
Gary and Jo are a wonderful host and hostess. We are privileged to be included in their annual December 27th sing-along. We eat a wonderful meal on pretty china in their dining room, which sparkles with beautiful decorations. After supper, we continue at the tables, singing hymns acappella and in four-part harmony for hours (that’s one time it’s okay to sing at the table). Jo loves to sing and is a member of the community chorus in the nearest small city. Gary and Jo always host this party on December 27th because it is the birthday of an elderly man who has led church singing for decades. He leads us during that evening, which is one of my favorite evenings of the year.
Celebrating and honoring others is one of Jo’s specialties. She is the hostess for the annual birthday party for Miss Joy whom I wrote about on September 20 and is already planning for the next one for Miss Joy’s 99th!
Before I knew Gary and Jo very well, I heard that they had suffered terrible losses several years ago. Their young grandson had died of cancer, and then just a few months later the boy’s father died in a car wreck. I marveled at their joy-filled lives. At the hospital last year, when we said goodbye to our precious grandson Avery, I thought of Gary and Jo and knew we could make it. When they came to the funeral visitation, I told her that they had been in my thoughts that day. Just like us, Gary and Jo lost their first grandson. She told me one time that when he was little, she had gotten up every day and thought about what they could do together that day.
Jo is a grandmother extraordinaire. Two of her grandsons live more than an hour away. One has graduated and the other is in high school. For twenty years, she has driven to see them one day a week to do something fun, often taking a meal along or cooking it after she gets there. This is not the only time these grandchildren spend with their grandparents by any means; it’s just their special once-a-week time with their grandma. Last Friday night the community chorus had one of their most special concerts of the year, but Jo wasn’t there. She was where she is every Friday night this time of year–at her grandson’s football game.
Gary and Jo are devoted–devoted to God, devoted to one another, devoted to their grandchildren, devoted to their extended families, and to their brothers and sisters in Christ.
When King Solomon dedicated the temple, he prayed on his knees with his hands “spread toward heaven.” Then he stood and blessed the people. His blessing ended with these words:
Let your heart therefore
be wholly devoted to the Lord our God,
to walk in His statutes
and to keep His commandments, as at this day.
1 Kings 8:61, NASB