Joyful, Faithful, Hopeful, Thankful People

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Joyful, faithful, hopeful, thankful people nourish the hearts and souls of others. Ray and I got to spend time with two of those people yesterday afternoon. We gave ourselves a present on our way to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. We stopped in Kentucky to see our friends, Al and Doris Morris.

My daddy grew up knowing Al in Ashland City. By the time I came along, Al was long gone, first to Christian college and later teaching school in Arkansas, California, and finally Kentucky. I saw Al and his brother Charles, whom my daddy always called by his middle name Elihu, and their families when they came home to visit their parents, Mr. Jess and Miss Eva. Mr. Jess was a godly man who was one of the elders at our church. Miss Eva was a kind woman, whose most endearing feature was a wonderful, sweet smile. She spent her last seven years with Al and Doris. Yesterday Al showed us a framed photograph of his mother that they keep in their living room. It captured her perfectly.

In 1977 Ray and I moved to Oxford, Mississippi. There we became lifelong friends with Kelly Morris and his wife Arlene. To my surprise, Kelly turned out to be one of Mr. Jess and Miss Eva’s handsome grandsons who Elihu and his wife used to bring up from Alabama to visit their grandparents in the summers of my childhood.

In the early 1980s, Ray interviewed for a ministry position at the church in Kentucky where Al Morris served as an elder. We and our children stayed with them during the interview. Though Ray decided to pull his name out of consideration for the position at the church before they made a decision who to hire, that weekend began a lifelong friendship with Al and Doris.

Of course, both friendships have been stronger because of our mutual connection to Mr. Jess, Miss Eva, and my parents..

As we sat in Al and Doris’ living room yesterday afternoon, drinking tea and munching on Oreo cookies, Doris’ deep faith beamed. It beams every time we see her. Al talked about a Bible class he had taught about three years ago and the impact he has seen in the congregation as a result of it. He wanted our opinions. He talked about his expectation of what their church might build in about five years or so to meet the needs of the congregation. With kind humor and joy, he kept us spellbound with his stories and dreams.

When people have lived a life filled with joyful, faithful, hopeful, thankful hearts, they can continue living that way when they are 90 like Al and 94 like Doris. Now’s the time to be living that way ourselves and teaching our children to live that way, too.

Now for this very reason also,
applying all diligence,
in your faith supply moral excellence,
and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
and in your knowledge, self-control,
and in your self-control, perseverance,
and in your perseverance, godliness,
and in your godliness, brotherly kindness,
and in your brotherly kindness, love.
2 Peter 1:5-7


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