Today is going to be a great day! Like most mornings, my husband, Paul, a Cooperative Baptist Fellowship endorsed chaplain, brings me my cup of tea before heading to his job at Children’s Hospital. He’s been bringing our family our morning beverages since our children were small … coffee for the three of them and tea for me. Yes, I know how blessed I am!
I run downstairs to make my daughter’s lunch. Evann is seventeen years old and a senior in high school, which means she is totally capable of making her own lunch, and does sometimes; but since her brother, Turner, left for college two years ago, I am vividly aware that I only have a few more months of making her lunch. Besides I absolutely love that she is totally into Spiderman and carries her metal Spiderman lunch box to school with pride. I write, “I love you!” on her napkin, as I have for years, and draw a happy face that I color in with a yellow highlighter.
As the associate coordinator for Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, every day is different and I’m excited to be heading to Perry County today. Our rural poverty initiative, Sowing Seeds of Hope, is a part of the CBF Together for Hope program and is located in Marion. But before I can hit the road, I have emails to reply to and a few people to call.
By 8:30 a.m., I’m driving the long stretch of rural highway that weaves through farmland and forest on the way to Marion. Although the autumn leaves peaked in color a couple of weeks ago, the sun still shimmers on amber, red, and burgundy trees. The soundtrack for the ride is Brandi Carlile’s latest CD, and her lyrics are the perfect accompaniment for today, “One thing I know for sure, love will find a way.”
Today a group of volunteers from Mountain Brook Baptist Church in Birmingham, students from Judson College, and Sowing Seeds of Hope volunteers are gathering for their annual Thanksgiving project. When I pull into the training center, the van from Mountain Brook is already being unloaded. Boxes of canned goods and hundreds of decorated paper bags are being piled on tables.
We all jump in and begin filling each bag with cans of green beans, corn, and sweet potatoes. Boxes of stuffing or rice are added along with fruit pie filling … all of the ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal. A gift certificate for a turkey from the local grocery store is stapled to each bag along with a Thanksgiving prayer.
In the next few hours, 200 bags are filled by volunteers. The bags are distributed to senior adults in local churches, many on a fixed income and who might not be able to afford a Thanksgiving meal at the end of the month. Members of each local church come by to pick up their allotted bags to hand-deliver. The director of Sowing Seeds of Hope, Francis Ford (one of my all-time favorite people), says, “It’s been a good day.”
By mid-afternoon, I’m back in my home office where I work on some details for our spring youth mission retreat. There are new emails to answer and preparations to be made for an upcoming coordinating council meeting and an event for the ministers in our state.
At 5 p.m., I close the computer and switch gears. Tonight is Evann’s last high school cross country team banquet. I’m so proud of the young woman she has become, and I know that she realizes that her future is bright and open to a huge diversity of amazing adventures. After all, her mom spends her days involved in a ministry she loves, following a calling that God placed in her heart. She can do the same.
Terri Byrd is associate coordinator for Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Birmingham, Alabama.