From the Staff . . .

Happy New Year!

Our Godly Play lesson each Sunday begins with the words, “I hope that something good has happened to you this week. Take those good memories and hold them in your heart forever. If something happened that wasn’t so good, perhaps someone hurt your feelings, or you said or did something that you regret, give those things to God and let them go.” My hope for you is that you can take all the good memories from 2023 and hold them in your heart forever. If there are people who hurt you, or things that you have done to hurt others, I hope you will forgive, seek forgiveness, then lift those memories up to God and let them go so that 2024 can be a new beginning for you.

Sometimes, the painful things that happen in our lives are both things we hold onto and also things we give to God. Saying “Good-bye” is painful, but the memories of the person lost are treasures that we hold forever.

Personally, I said good bye to a beloved aunt this past year. The last time I spoke with her, I told her that I would always remember her as the one who, when all of the children were getting into trouble, she was right there with us. She smiled and said, “Yes, I was the fun aunt!” No truer words were ever spoken. She was the one who was always willing to do what the other adults thought they were too old to do anymore. She  would play games with us, go to fun places with us, and pull pranks on her siblings with us. She spoke softly, but sang loudly with the most beautiful voice I had ever heard. While her singing voice will always be missed and longed to hear again, the sound I miss the most is the sound of her laughter, She was always laughing because she was always having fun. She was also the one you could count on. When my father died suddenly when I was 25, she was the first person I called. She came immediately and did not leave us until she had to. For years after that, every holiday was spent with her and her family. She would not have it any other way. There is so much I will always be grateful to her for, but for getting us through the most difficult time of our lives, she will eternally hold a place in my heart. I try to give the pain to God and hold fast to the memories, but they are too intertwined for that right now. At least I know that she and my Mom are together again and if there is mischief in heaven, Eunice is in the middle of it!

A loss this year that all of Parkway feels is the loss of Bob Parris. I knew Bob when he was the Children’s Minister at Wieuca. He was the first children’s minister that I had ever known. I volunteered with some of his programs and quickly learned to love and respect him. Bob was truly a servant of God, a humble servant of God. Bob never sought the spotlight, he just quietly went about his ministry, making sure the teachers and the children had everything they needed and we always did! Jim King used to talk about how messy Bob’s office was. I can’t confirm that because I never went inside his office. I didn’t have to. He was always somewhere near where the children’s activities were happening, you didn’t have to go and look for him. I don’t really care what his office was like because I had found my own personal teacher’s heaven in the supply room he had created for his workers. Wieuca had impressive rooms to worship in, beautiful rooms for special occasions, but the room I couldn’t wait to go in every week was that supply room. Everything you could ever imagine needing as a teacher was in that room. I would read the lesson ahead of time, but skip the art suggestions and then go and walk around that supply room and let my creative juices flow. I couldn’t recreate that room in a million years! It was amazing!

Bob was also a master storyteller. After he came to Parkway and I became the Children’s Ministry Coordinator, I slipped into his Children’s  Sunday School class one Sunday morning to listen to his story. Just like most of us who work with children, it was evident that he was more comfortable without an adult audience, so I didn’t go in again. His gift, as I believe is mine, was with the children. He knew how to talk to them and he knew how to teach them. He and Paula took me under their wings when I took the job and Parkway and I will always have a special place in my heart for both of them.

Thank you for allowing me to share a part of my heart with you today. May God bless you and may 2024 bring you much joy and many new adventures!

Jane Redman