As I rounded the corner from the living room into the kitchen, there she stood in front of the stove wearing her nightgown, a grin, and a pair of panties on her head. I think I might have been five or six years old. I wondered the purpose for the panties on her head then, and I still wonder now. Maybe, she used them as a type of hairnet. Anytime she cooked or cleaned, you could count on those panties being on her head. And, that is the beginning of my fond memories of my crazy Auntie Joyce. She was my daddy’s older sister. All four of the siblings were similar in their ability to make you laugh until you cried.
We would travel to see her in Jackson, Mississippi and I couldn’t wait to get there. On one memorable visit, the rain was pouring down in buckets and her back yard was sloped downward. The rain had been steady for sometime, making her yard slippery. Despite the downpour, she headed out to feed the puppies in the doghouse. The minute her foot left the porch and touched the mud, the rest of her body joined her foot. She slid and rolled all the way down the sloped yard. My daddy ran out the sliding glass door to help her. Evidently, he didn’t learn by example. He, too, stepped off the porch to find himself rolling down the muddy backyard. Uncle Joe stood on the porch yelling “Joy, are you alright, honey?” Now, he had the good sense to stay on the porch and not join them in the mud hole. When they came back into the house, they were slicked up in mud and laughing hysterically. I don’t recall ever turning on a TV when we visited there. The live entertainment was better than anything you could find on television.
Auntie and my Momma loved a big southern breakfast. When she made her visits back to Arkansas, they would cook up bacon, eggs, gravy and biscuits and sliced fresh tomatoes. Yum, I can almost taste it. They would eat and tell stories until we realized it was lunchtime and we were still at the table. I could listen to her crazy antics for hours. Oh that sweet laughter that I would long to hear again.
Recently, I mailed Auntie some of my blogs and a CD of some of my Bible lessons that I’ve taught. Wow, the encouragement! She said, “Little Bethie” (She has called me that all of my life.) “Little Bethie, God has a call on your life. You keep writing and speaking and follow His Will. I am just so proud of you and Brad.” Her encouragement was just what I needed, and it was her gift. God blessed her and all who knew her with her gift of encouragement. I never received a card from her that she didn’t write a scripture on the outside of the envelope. She wanted to bless everyone including the mailman.
Today, this crazy, funny, encouraging, panty-on-her-head-wearing woman got to meet her Jesus face to face. If I had to narrow her life down to one word, it would be “faithful.” She prayed. She read the Bible and she sought to know Jesus more and more. My extremely selfish side already misses her and misses her prayers that I know she prayed for me. I can’t recall talking to her that she didn’t express her love for the Lord. She was a walking testimony of His goodness and grace. If there was one thing she wanted more than anything, it was for all her family and friends to accept Jesus as their Savior. Nothing brought her joy like telling me about Jesus and how much she loved Him.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 The Great Commission. She lived it. Sharing Jesus was a joy. Some folks were offended and thought she was too religious. However, her zeal for Jesus was one of her special gifts; one I will not forget. Being in her presence just made me feel better. That’s just a small taste of the love of the Lord.
Dear Lord, grant me a heart like Auntie’s. Fill my heart with the zeal and courage she had for sharing the gospel no matter the cost. Give me the love for family as well as strangers that she showed. Thank you Lord for sharing her with us. I know she heard, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” when she entered your presence. Amen.
This is the last card that I received from Auntie. Notice the “In God we trust” on the envelope and the scripture on the card.
“The New Year will be the best yet for the Whole World.” She sent this Christmas 2019. Will this be the year that people finally return to God?