Thursday, November 3, 2016

November 3: Thankful for Earl and Carolyn

Today, I want to say how THANKFUL I am for the ones who have invested in Jim and me over the years.

Few have had a greater influence on our lives and family than Earl and Carolyn Peeples.

When we moved to Little Rock in 1984, we were just two green kids, with no idea of life in the "big city." We'd been married for 4 years, at this point. Jim had just been hired at ENTERGY, and we felt like we were just starting our "big kid" lives.

We got married between our sophomore and junior years of college, and we had lived in a mobile home (my mother-in-law called it a "trailer house") for 4 years.

On the day we moved to Little Rock, a caravan of family and friends, driving a variety of vehicles, helped us load up all of our worldly goods...and we headed out. Jim and I joked that if we had lost everything we owned on that short trip, we would've been out about $35.

No, really.

And not much has changed! Even today, most of our furniture and "fixin's" have been given to us by family members...and we love it all.

We moved into a brand, new apartment in LR. After living for 4 years in a "trailer house," I thought our apartment was the most beautiful place I had ever seen!

Bless my heart! 

I can't remember why exactly we ended up at LRFBC. I think it was because of the invitation of a friend...but I don't remember who. But, by God's plan and provision, we ended up there...and we somehow ended up in Earl and Carolyn's small group...and that began decades-long friendships for our family.

We, the couples in this class, were all kind of in the same boat...just starting out...just starting our families. It was such a precious time for us...because this group of friends? We experienced life with them. There were births and miscarriages and sickness and job losses and job changes. People moved away. There was divorce. It was hard and beautiful, and our faith was stretched beyond what we could've imagined.

The constant in it all, besides the Lord, of course...was Earl and Carolyn. For the men, Earl was a fountain of wisdom...and he did.not.mince.words. One of the smartest men I've ever met, he had the ability to see the big picture. He knew the right thing to do, and he would tell the guys to do it. And he would EXPECT them to do it (We never will forget his lessons on TITHING!). For the women, Carolyn was our source of daily encouragement and wisdom. She would always say Earl was the Director of our department, and she was the "sec-ah-tary," but she was way, WAY more than that. We went to her with everything. She had mercy. She had knowledge. She taught us to be wives and mothers, and modeled a life of service.

It was into this group that Joshua was born. He was born, and he Or, his birth had the potential to rock our world. Our friends...this group...they, along with our entire church body, rallied around us...and God used them to "steady our ship".

So many people encouraged us, prayed for us, ministered to us during this time. Joshua had to have a pretty major heart surgery when he was just 3 months old. We were able to carry him to the doors of the OR, and then we had to hand him over to the nurses. We walked slowly back to the waiting room...they said his surgery would take several hours. I will never forget walking into the waiting room. It was FULL of family...and friends from our church. In fact, someone from the hospital came and moved all of us to a private waiting room, because there were so many people who were there to wait with, support, and pray for our family during this time.

And when the surgery was done, they told us that Joshua could have two visitors...and we let everyone who wanted to see him, go back, two-at-a-time, and take a look at his fresh, pink skin.

This support did not end when we moved away from Little Rock. It continued...with each joy, with each trial. It continued with prayers during Clark's premature birth, with me being VERY sick after delivery, with me needing blood...which led to someone at LRFBC putting out a call, and, within an hour, 3 church members (of this FORMER church of ours) had donated blood...FOR ME.

It continued with this group (and others) praying for Clark during his cancer diagnosis, his surgery, the chemo...and with people praying for me and my family when my Mom died suddenly. And on and on and on.

And not just this group...there were other groups and other churches and other friends who have supported us during our lives, but this post is about this particular group.

Because this group? We have kept connected with many of them over the past, ummmm...30 plus years. That's over 30 years of life and kids and moving away and moving back and trials and joys and GRANDCHILDREN.

All because one couple...two people...yielded their lives and their the plan of God. Never underestimate the power of a surrendered life.

God's plans are always better than our plans.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

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