SIMPLE TRUTH: An evergreen wreath and 200 Good News leaflets

Published 5:07 pm Thursday, January 3, 2013

By Charles Christmas

Dec. 19 was the 65th anniversary for Louise and me. Although she went to be with the Lord exactly five months prior, I was determined we would experience the best of all anniversary celebrations this year.

As many of you are aware, Louise’s foremost passion was sharing the Good News of the transforming love of Jesus by different methods. In her final three years on earth, following lower body paralysis, her method was limited primarily to handing out Good News leaflets publicly while seated in her wheelchair. In fact, in one 12-month period prior to her death, approximately 5,000 persons received such a leaflet from her hand in public places.

Therefore, on Wednesday morning of the 19th, I deposited in my blazer pockets 200 Good News leaflets. One hundred were titled “The Good News of Christmas” by a best loved author, Max Lucado, and the other 100 were wallet-sized 2013 calendars with Good News verses on the back side. Then I placed in my Camry trunk the beautiful large all-weather evergreen wreath with a nice red bow at the bottom, which I had picked up at my florist.

I departed my house at 8 a.m. for seven public business establishments, Jefferson Memorial West (Hoover) Cemetery, and with my final destination to be top and bottom floors of The Galleria. At each business I had purchases to make, with one exception. The locations were Calera’s MacDonald’s, Walmart and Cracker Barrel; Hoover’s Hobby Lobby, Office Depot and Johnston Murphy show store; and Pelham’s Cracker Barrel. At each store or restaurant I had the exciting joy and happy opportunity of giving the Good News tactfully, selectively, quietly and happily, as I was impressed to do so. The receptivity of individuals was beyond what you would probably have imagined.

There were several outstanding examples of this but my limited space prevents me sharing them, except this one at Cracker Barrel in Calera. Nine persons seated around a large round table each politely accepted the wallet-size calendar and then each was receptive to the Lucado leaflet. I explained that I was celebrating our 65th wedding anniversary, then left to visit other select tables. After a few visits, I was approached by a young man from the “table of nine.” He apologized for an interruption and I followed him to the fireplace. He explained that the eight at his table were his office staff and company leaders whom he was hosting for a Christmas breakfast. He explained that he had wanted it to be something special and had not known how to go about doing such. He remarked that I could not know what my coming by the table and sharing the Good News had meant to him, personally and his employees. Then he insisted I return to his table and employees. I did, for a moment, share a bit and then continued table hopping.

The centerpiece of our 65th anniversary celebration was at 11 a.m. on this flawless day of sunshine. Arriving at my forever darling’s grave with my evergreen wreath, I elevated the recessed bronze vase and its cross emblem from between our separated markers. This allowed the vase to rise through the wreath and secure it in a flat position. I stepped back, took two snapshots and then returned to kneel at the marker and wreath for an extended time of praise, thanksgiving, meditation and commitment. I thanked God for all he had made her and all he had made her to mean to me, her family, the churches and multiplied thousands of others of all kinds of people. Then I thanked the Lord that I love her now far more even than ever before and that in multiplied ways she means more to me now than ever before.

I thanked him that we are one, still, and always will be: that memories of her daily encourage, support, challenge, set an example, teach, rebuke, correct, sympathize, commend, forgive and say to me, “finish well.”

Returning to my car, I continued with our celebration: first to lunch and sharing experiences at Pelham Cracker Barrel and then on to The Galleria. I strolled on the first level and then on the second, encountering appropriate times and persons.

Soon, out of the 200, at the beginning of the day, one Lucado leaflet remained, which I kept for my sample, and 15 New Year’s wallet calendars, kept for special holiday events. I left for home at 3:15 with the happiness and joy that Louise and I had experienced our best anniversary celebration ever.

Her favorite praise filled my mind and came to my lips, “Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.” (Psalm 103:1)

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.