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Having grown up in large churches in Memphis, Tennessee, Kimball and I were about to embark on a most wonderful journey. It was June of 1967. He was appointed to serve as a student lay pastor of two rural churches in Kentucky. My goodness, we had never even been in a country church. Yet, it was exciting to think he could really serve as a pastor while going to college, and that our young family of six would be a parsonage family. We loaded our station wagon with four children (7, 5, 19 months, and 3 weeks), hitched on a U-Haul trailer and headed for our first appointment and parsonage in Water Valley, KY.
With Kimball going to school full-time, serving our churches full-time, visiting, preparing sermons and being a daddy, I sometimes found myself overwhelmed with a sense of insecurity that I could not do all that I expected of myself. I’d throw up a prayer ever now and then, but I was busy… I thought I didn’t have time to be still and pray, and just as important, listen.
One day after a hard morning with two crying, sick babies, I began to cry. My 7-year-old son came to my rescue. “Why are you crying, Mama, what’s the matter?” I hugged him and said, “Son, I’m tired, and I just need a place to call my own when my spirits are down.” He wiped my tears with his shirt tail, gave me a hug and disappeared. I thought he had gone to play with his little brother, but he had another idea. After awhile he came back to me, “Mama, I found you a place you can call your own. Come see!” He took me by the hand to the large closet in my bedroom. He had taken most everything from the floor and piled them on our bed. He couldn’t reach the hanging clothes so he just grabbed the bottom of them and scooted them from the center of the closet. He had put a little table and a chair from his table and chairs set, in the center of the closet. He put a Bible, paper, pencil, and flashlight on the table for my use. When his Daddy got home from school he asked him to help him make a sign for my prayer closet. When I was in there, I was to hang it on the doorknob…”DON’T BOTHER MAMA…SHE IS IN THE PRAYER CLOSET!”
I loved that little prayer closet and I used it. I used it a lot! I smile when I remember the day when our 3-year-old, Kathy, came down the hall from her nap, yelling, “Where’s my mama?” “Shhh, she is in the prayer closet,” her brothers told her as they took her back to their room to play. I finished my prayers refreshed and renewed to be a mama, a minister’s wife, and ME once again. I learned from my thoughtful 7-year-old the importance of finding a place to call my own when feeling overwhelmed with the noise of the world around me. I did not know how to be still. I did not realize how much I was missing in my life. My ‘still be still’ times saved my sanity, but also refreshed me for living a life with meaning and purpose. I didn’t have a name for those quiet times like I do today, but I do know I am who I am because of my times in prayer. I believe in its power, especially when praying with heart and soul for others, as well as myself.
In these days of Lent, I hope you will find a place to call your own, and have some ‘still be still’ times to find hope for the living of these days.
As we journey together,