Everyone enjoys a little confidence booster every now and then, right? Okay, we would accept a daily dose of it provided it was offered! Today I got one of those little boosts. I received a phone call from a very sweet, and I don’t think she will mind that I say elderly, lady from our community. Not only do I admire her for her stamina through illnesses, losses and aging, but just in general as a real lady. Gail Dunn is the wife of our retired elementary school principal, the mother of three beautiful children and has many grandchildren. With all that and a large extended family, I wouldn’t expect her to take the time to phone me just to tell me how much she enjoys reading my posts. But she did. And that meant the world to me. As I said in the intro to my blog, I just enjoy writing about life, giving glory and honor to God; and if others get any pleasure from it, then that is like icing on the cake. Gail has told me that she would like to see me write more. I needed that encouragement. Sometimes I think about writing a book of encouragement, and then I get distracted, even discouraged. But then a sweetheart like her reminds me that God may have given me a purpose with writing.
I asked Gail about her health and that of her husband. To this she modestly replied, “Oh, fair to middlin’ at least for going on 80 years old”. I laughed because I’ve heard that phrase most of my life and I understand it to mean, “I can’t be an honest person and tell you I am doing well, and I’m too polite to go on about health problems”, and it carries the implication that right now I’m about as good as it gets. I actually heard myself use that very phrase last week. Yikes! I’m very possible becoming that parental (to quote my daughter) generation, with all its ups and downs. More ups than downs when you know someone like Gail.
Mr. and Mrs. Dunn have been pillars of the community for longer than I’ve been a part of it. Quiet, unassuming, but strong in character and always smiling and showing interest in others. Just like asking today about the welfare of our children, they have shown that kind of interest in the hundreds of young people who passed through the doors of his elementary school and the churches they’ve attended. They have opened their home with generous hospitality to many a crowd. They’ve given much-needed advice to young parents, and have been great role models for all those kids as well.
I recall that they used to grow blueberries when they lived “out in the country”, and they often opened their blueberry season to friends. Being a blueberry lover myself, that one stuck in my mind. An impressive encounter with Gail’s husband Ray, was when I applied for a bus driving position for the district where he was principal. Knowing I had not been the most punctual parent throughout my son’s kindergarten and first grade years, he looked across his desk, over the top of his reader glasses, and said, “You WILL NOT bring a bus in late, right?” I left with the position, although on shaky legs. One doesn’t fail to live up to an expectation stated just that way. I wasn’t ever late unless it was due to weather or bus break down. Another very appreciated occasion in his presence was when my son had leg surgery between Kindergarten and first grade, and so started to school with a cast and crutches. Mr Dunn asked me into his office, and explained how children never want to be different. They want to be just like everyone else for the most part; and that the cast and crutches made my little boy feel different, so if he acted different from before, well, he was different. He gave to me a set of tapes made by Zig Ziggler that had amazing parenting and kid advice. He didn’t have to do that. But that’s the kind of caring, concerned people the Dunn’s are.
I don’t know all about their lives, but I do know that Gail lost a sister tragically to an automobile accident; that Gail has assisted many years with their aging parents; dealt with their son’s juvenile diabetes; and did all those behind the scenes responsibilities that make a successful husband’s life easier. Gail has the most peaceful smile and voice you could ever hope to know. Gail and Ray have had their own share of health problems. And, I don’t even know the half of it!! Like I said, we knew them through our children’s elementary school years, and my mother taught third grade under Mr. Dunn’s leadership. We attended church with them at two different congregations over the years. Never did I hear anyone say anything negative about this lovely couple. Their children adore them, and their community admires them. Fair -to-middlin? I don’t think so Gail. I think you are great-and- gettin’ better!! The first two verses of Proverbs chapter three portray Gail and Ray’s life so well. “My son, do not forget my law, but let your heart keep my commands; for length of days and long life and peace they will add to you.”
I love the next four verses, Proverbs 3: 3-6, in which we are told to keep God’s truth, even bound around our neck, written on our hearts, finding favor and high esteem in the sight of God and mankind. ( Just as the Dunn’s have.) Trusting in the Lord, leaning not on our own understanding, in all our ways acknowledging Him, and He will direct our paths. Gail’s phone call reminded me that if she could take the time for such an encouraging call, I can devote more time to writing and encouraging. Several other verses of scripture refer to “writing on the heart”. Gail wrote on my heart today. I hope that out of my heart will come encouragement for others.
We never know what good things God will do with what we give. That little incidental kind thought you have for someone today could be the rope they need tomorrow. So, go ahead and speak that kind thought to them. Life already has too much bashing and belittling. Let us counteract that with encouragement, words of kindness and acts of generosity.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver”. Proverbs 25:11