Whether growing lemons, crocheting angels, teaching English in the ESL program, or playing the piano at her church, “Miss Annie,” as she’s often called, is the personification of kindness mixed with creativity. She would quickly add that she’s simply responding to the love of Jesus and her main aim is to glorify Him.
I’d like to tell you about the Christmas gift Miss Annie gave me. But, first, let me tell you a little about Miss Annie.
I first met Anne Parks in 1968 when my husband and I visited the church where her husband was pastor and she was pianist. We chose to join a different church but have always been friends since then and, a little later, became co-workers in literacy missions. Anne and I first took a literacy course in about 1972, learning how to “each one teach one” in the Frank Laubach adult reading ministry. Then, about twenty-three years later, we both took a weekend course to be eligible for teaching English to folks of other languages. All along, she has inspired me with her enthusiasm and love for the Lord. She never fails to have some new neat idea for teaching. She and I can have an exultant conversation in the middle of Walgreen’s or wherever we meet as we talk about “our children” of all ages.
Anne and her husband Lester were very, very close. When he died suddenly of a heart attack her life changed drastically. But she held her head high and constantly looked for ways to help other people, thus assuaging her grief. The Lord comforted her, she said, in so many different ways, some kind of odd. She tells of a time when she felt very lonely. Her brother also had just died and she was tending his garden and wondering just how she would endure the long rows of peas and corn without even a dog to keep her company. She prayed, she says, that something, or someone, would fill the terrible holes in her life. In less than five minutes she heard a hassling sound, a dog coming down the row. That dog she viewed as an instant answer to prayer. She stayed at her side all day every day, then went home at night. “Miss Annie” laughed and said she had a dog and didn’t even have to pay his bills.
So—that Christmas gift I mentioned. Annie left it at the animal hospital for me, so Charles came in with it one night when he came home from work. It was a generous box of fruit from hers and her neighbor’s yards: grapefruit, lemons, satsumas, and nuts. I laughed when I saw what she had wrapped each globe of citrus in. She used old patterns, the perfect weight of paper for wrapping lemons! Her note indicated she was recycling and if I wanted an outfit made with the pattern I could keep the pieces. This was a reminder of another characteristic of my special friend. She is a very good steward of whatever the Lord has given her and considers waste a sin.
But the best part of the gift was right on top. It was a photocopied poem she’d written. I knew she must have put copies in other gift boxes she prepared. Around the edges of the paper she’d written in bold black marker “Thank you–For Your Gift of Jesus….Blessed Christmas”
Here’s the poem:
Thank You Lord
Just this once, Lord, I want to come to You with no problems, but to simply say: THANK YOU…
For your forgiveness when I fail.
For the sheer joy of sleep when I’m terribly tired.
For the silent strength of humility when pride overtakes me.
For the justice of your laws when men are cruel.
For the remedies for sickness when I am ill.
For the simplicity of orderliness when I face confusion.
For the assurance that you have made a place especially for me when I feel inadequate among my peers.
For the joy of helping others when I see people in need.
For the earthly evidences of your will when I’m trying to find out what life is all about.
For the reality of your world when I stray too far into fantasy.
For the rightness of reason when I panic too quickly.
For the fun and laughter that refreshes when everything gets too serious.
For the renewal in moments of silence when I’m dizzy being so busy in a hectic world.
Thank you, my Lord, for all these things. But most of all, thank You for your abiding presence, and your Book of Directions I can read daily. Your WORD–for directions and how to live a fulfilled life… THANK YOU MY LORD! —A.T.P.
May we, like Miss Annie, write our thank you letter to Jesus.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!